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A word from • Two witches who gave birth before getting to the hospital
One from the archives
Rebekah’s story: Rebekah's second baby was delivered in the wheelchair taking her from the car to the hospital, and thanks to a bank promotion, won $1,000 for her troubles. You can, conveniently, read about it here in the Chicago Tribune.
Maeve’s story: The nurses sent Maeve and her husband home from the hospital at 3:30 am because, according to the admitting nurse, her labor with her third child wasn't progressing quickly enough. However, they had a 2-year-old and 4-year-old that were going to wake up at 6:30, and she didn't want to be near them while in labor. So they went to a hotel. After laboring in the shower for an hour and a half her husband ran to get the car to take her to the hospital but when he got back to the room, the baby’s head was emerging. He called 911, and while on the phone, pulled the baby out with one real push -- two and a half hours after the hospital sent them away. He put the baby on Maeve, grabbed some towels from the bathroom, and wiped off her face. The baby let out a cry (establishing she was alive and well) and Maeve’s husband followed the 911 person's instructions to pull his shoelace out of his shoe and use it to clamp the cord. The paramedics arrived and took her to the hospital five minutes away (during which time Maeve delivered the placenta while strapped to the gurney). At the hospital they finished up the post-birth process on their healthy baby girl.
The actual labor:
Maeve: I didn’t remember any of the [natural birth] techniques when I was in the hospital having my first son. They were like “Remember get on your knees!” and I was like “What, no!” With my daughter, I had to. I remembered that getting in the shower was supposed to help, and it did. A couple of hours later (although it felt like a few minutes) I remembered that it supposedly helped to scream. That was a major tension release. It helped with the pain. I didn't remember any of those strategies until I really needed them. I had moments there when I was sure I was going to die, and I was mad at myself for getting into a situation where I might abandon her two older brothers. After I screamed, my husband came running into the bathroom. He decided we had to go to the hospital, and he ran down to get the car from the hotel garage. When he got back, he was ready to run out the door but there was no way I could make it. I said, “I think the baby is coming now”. He said, “Okay, hold it in”. Yeah, okay.
Rebekah: I didn’t really push at all. She shot out like a rocket. The cord snapped, she came out so fast.
Rebekah: I got the bill from the hospital and it was much less than the bill for my first born’s delivery. I I think the whole thing was $5,000 which by American standards is basically free.
Maeve: I got the normal labor and delivery bill which made me fly into a fit of rage because I didn't labor or deliver there. I was totally expecting to pay it, but seeing it in print made me crazy. I got an ambulance bill for $900 since I had to take it from the hotel to the hospital. I was like, “It wasn't an emergency when I went to the hospital. You made me have an emergency.”
Response from the medical system:
Maeve: I filed complaint with the hospital. Now I’m getting all mad again—I called to question my bill. “Why did you send me a bill for labor and delivery? I don't understand this bill.” They were like, “What do you mean?” I started to cry. They had me call the patient relations line and explained the whole bit. Then they did a whole investigation. “We’ve concluded our investigation and the hospital wasn't at fault.” I got very mad not because of the bill but because I wanted them to learn from this experience and change their process and say “We screwed up.” Just say you screwed up. I actually don’t want to go back to my doctor. When I went and talked to them at my 6 week appointment they were like “Yeah well, okay. You never know”. Every other medical person I have spoken with since then has been outraged. They acted like it was no big deal. But other than that I didn't have any feelings of loss of control that made me feel like I needed to seek someone [professional] to help me with that.
The scene of the crime:
Rebekah: I made the doctors and nurses take me out of the car. In hindsight that seems smart: it wasn't my car, it was my moms car. We were trying to get out of the house so quickly that we jumped in her car. I’m sure she’d be thrilled that we’d come back and be like, “Your granddaughter is part of this forever.”
Maeve: The people at the hotel were super nice: they sent me a cookie basket. They kept calling to check I was OK. The local news called them, and they were wondering if we wanted to be on the news (it was fine with them).
On being approached by the media:
Maeve: I didn’t agree to be on the news because I felt I was going to regret it later. My husband was like, “Do you want to be on TV with your hair all messed up, in a hospital gown, after this crazy experience? Do you really want that to be on TV?” No, I did not. We delayed our interview until we got home, and then we just canceled it because it was weird and we were over it.
Rebekah: I was glad that I’d worked as a creative director because I knew what makeup I needed to look less tired. You need eyeliner. Not so much that you look like you’re wearing too much makeup, just enough to not look like I hadn’t slept in two days.
Maeve: With her, maybe, because my labor was shorter, I wasn't lying in a bed. it seemed to go much faster. I felt better the next day, even an hour later.
Maeve: That was a cementing life experience. We both brought our baby into the world with nobody else present or helping. We were, for a little while, the only people responsible for her. You’re used to having other people there saying “That's normal,” or “Her fingers are a little blue.” There wasn't anybody to tell us if she were a boy or a girl. My husband was so frantic, I was so out of it, we didn't even know until later.
Advice for others in your situation:
Rebekah: Be comfortable with being some doctor's cocktail party story. And be comfortable with the idea that you can’t control anything. Whatever your birth plan is, it’s your birth maybe.
Maeve: I got very disoriented about how we should call for help. I was like “Call the doctor! No, it’s an emergency! Call 911.” We called them, but we didn’t know where we were. So, know where you are, and find some towels.
On that noteworthy baby:
Rebekah: With her, we had IVF, I had to travel 50K miles for work -- she and I had always been on this adventure. Maybe this was the fitting cap to that journey. Who would deign to come in the banal way? “No, bitch, I’m gonna come in and win a thousand dollars.”
Maeve: I hadn’t had anything traumatic happen with the other two so I had a moment after she was born where I was like, “Did I make the right decision for her?” “Was I not being a good mom to her because I didn't fight to stay at the hospital?” I got really upset and my husband was like “No, we tried to stay at the hospital. We argued with them for three and a half hours. Don’t get upset. They are the experts in that situation.”
What helped me is that I had to decide if I was going to be mad about her birth or feel OK about it. Part of the reason why I don’t have lingering resentment is that I had to decide I don't want her birth to be a bad story. I wanted it to be nice. It was a quiet moment, just the 3 of us. I don't think of it as a terrible thing that happened, because I can’t think of my daughter's birth that way.
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This issue is brought to you by the ritual of getting cute for an out-of-town trip, as if everyone at the water park/Disney cruise/Florida retirement community/road stop/Indianapolis Sheraton is going to get one look at your pedicure and be like:
One Witchy Thing
There's no happier sound in the universe than someone else's child throwing a tantrum
— Richard Rushfield, father of two