This post shares the story of the precipitous labor and delivery of my fourth child. A precipitous labor and delivery is the birth of a baby within 3 hours or less after beginning regular contractions.
Charlie is the baby I never saw coming.
Not because of infertility or some circumstance that rendered his conception difficult – I just never thought we’d have another baby. We had three beautiful children. Three beautiful children who no longer needed diapers, I might add. I’d had a double mastectomy the year before, certain I wouldn’t need to breastfeed ever again. And, we’d hit a comfortable groove in our life.
Had I entertained the thought of trying for a fourth? I had. But not seriously. More so in the I’m just not ready to say we’re done.. kind of way. (I had told my husband, probably even before we married, that I wanted four kids someday…)
All that to be said, Charlie’s pregnancy came as a complete – yet wonderful – surprise. It was a snowy day in early January. The kids had been playing outside all day, making trips indoors for hot chocolate and homemade bagels. I was a few days late and told Brandon to grab a test on his way home from the gym. He laughed because the thought of another baby was slightly comical, but he obliged.
With a baby not on our immediate radar, you can imagine the disbelief as I emerged from the bathroom with a positive test in hand. It was just so unexpected. So completely unexpected.
I should’ve known – based on the surprise pregnancy – that this little guy would be full of surprises…including his precipitous labor and delivery.
September 7, 2019 was an ordinary Saturday.
We went to Beckham’s soccer game that morning (he scored his first goal of the season!) and came home to make lunch. Brandon had agreed to go to the grocery store, so I could stay home and rest. At nearly 38 weeks pregnant, our newly delivered sectional seemed like the perfect place to spend the afternoon. So, I scribbled out a list – a long list – and threatened Brandon not to return home unless he purchased every. single. item. Like, don’t even bother showing your face in this house unless you’ve managed to GET IT ALL. (He’s a notorious I couldn’t find _______ anywhere! shopper. You know the type.)
After lunch, Benny and I snuggled up on the couch to watch a movie, and about an hour later I woke up – surprised that we’d both fallen asleep. It’s so rare that he naps – let alone with me – that I snapped a pic of the two of us.
Moments later, I felt a gush of fluid – my water breaking.
First thought: GET OFF THE NEW SECTIONAL.
Second thought: OMIWORD, MY WATER JUST BROKE.
Third thought: CALL MOM.
So, I called me my mom and with a shaky and excited voice announced that IT WAS TIME! (She had a 20-minute drive, which is why I called her first!)
Fourth thought: CALL BRANDON.
Brandon’s first thought: WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS CART FULL OF GROCERIES?! Abandon them and GET HOME NOW.
My water had never broken with my prior pregnancies, so I truly didn’t know just how long it would be before baby would arrive.
With my mom and Brandon on their way, I waddled upstairs and thankfully located one of the Titanic-sized hospital-issued pads my sister had sent with her loaner maternity clothes several months earlier. I changed clothes, readied my suitcase and waited. My contractions were minimal, but definitely present and not yet painful.
Once Nana arrived to take care of the kiddos, and Brandon and Beckham arrived home, we were off to the hospital. Funny enough, I hadn’t showered and looked a mess because I’d spent all morning outdoors in the summer heat at the soccer game! I’d totally planned to have my game face on before delivery (i.e. makeup), so I looked somewhat decent in pictures after delivery. 🤣
I checked into triage per my doctor’s orders. They verified my membranes had, in fact, ruptured (believe me, there was no doubt in my mind that they had), and registered me for delivery. They also assured my husband that we were having a baby – a fact he questioned, wondering if I was just being dramatic. “You’re not leaving this hospital without a baby!” she chided.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t in active labor. I was dilated to 3cm – which I’d been sitting at since my last OB visit the week before. Boo. I mentally prepared to labor for the next several hours, telling B that I still thought he’d arrive before midnight.
We transferred to the room I’d deliver in, turned on Avengers: Infinity War (B’s selection, of course), and made small talk with the nurses. My contractions were picking up, but still very manageable. I bounced on the birthing ball for a bit and then decided to transfer to the bed and try to rest since I knew we had a long night ahead of us.
My doctor came in to say hello and to see how I was progressing. The nurse shared my stats, and then he specifically asked me if I was having any ‘rectal pressure.’ I responded with a shrug and that, yes, I was having some pressure…but didn’t believe it was the kind of pressure he was referencing. From my prior deliveries, I knew that that kind of pressure implied the feeling to push. Like, push the baby out. And, despite feeling something, I thought it impossible to actually be feeling the urge to push since I’d only been a three less than 2 hours before. [insert snickering]
He decided to start me on some pitocin, the Drug of the Devil, that I was familiar with from being induced with my other boys. I’d resigned myself to this, despite really wanting to go into labor without it. He said he’d check in later and headed off to a c-section. The nurse hung the bag of pitocin shortly after and I waited for my contractions to intensify.
I intended to deliver without an epidural, as I had with Benny’s birth, so the nurse decided to put me on a wireless monitor that would allow me get up and move around.
7:30 PM (the times start become important here…)
My contractions picked up dramatically and the pain was no longer comfortable. I HATE YOU, PITOCIN. Just as the nurse finished hooking me up to the wireless monitor, I began to backtrack on the original plan.
I think I want an epidural, actually! I quickly informed her, breathing through another contraction. Why make it any harder than it needed to be, right?! This was for sure my last pregnancy and delivery, so I might as well enjoy this final phase.
She called for the anesthesiologist, promising he’d arrive quickly and that the pain would subside soon.
Meanwhile, my youngest sister, who was supplying donor milk, texted me asking if it was a good time to drop off a stash for the hospital. I told her to come on up, not knowing if I’d actually get to see her since I was waiting for the epidural.
The anesthesiologist arrived and began verbally prepping me for the next steps. Brandon was asked to leave the room for the procedure, and the nurse lowered the bed completely horizontal so that I could sit on its edge during the placement of the needle.
She asked me to sit up and slide my legs over the side of the bed.
I sat up and breathed silently through the most intense contraction yet. She patiently waited for it to subside, and I could tell things were progressing quicker than I expected. My eyes locked with the nurse and I immediately knew that I needed to push.
You need to push?! Let me check you! she quickly replied.
I laid down on the bed and with more excitement than I’d anticipated – because I couldn’t possibly be ready to push – she exclaimed, You’re complete! It’s time to have this baby!
With wild eyes, I firmly but politely told her, No. I want an epidural. Nope, I’m not pushing. You said I could get an epidural!
You’ve never seen a doctor escape a room as quickly as the anesthesiologist did at the moment he realized he wouldn’t be giving me an epidural because I was moments from delivering a baby.
The next few minutes were a flurry of activity. The room wasn’t prepped for delivery, my doctor wasn’t available, and the delivery team hadn’t been summoned to my room.
The nurse yelled something down the hall (likely asking for some additional help!), and Brandon made his way back into the room assuming the epidural was over since he’d seen the anesthesiologist exit. The nurse quickly informed him it was actually time to deliver the baby!
The hospital laborist arrived within seconds, introducing herself briefly and checking things below. (FYI: the hospital laborist is the doctor on hand to deliver for women who arrive without a designated doctor, and since my doc was busy delivery a baby via c-section, she was mine!) She immediately noted the baby’s head was visible and that it was time to push. WHAT?!?!
All the while, I’m in absolute denial that the baby is coming. How is that possible? I was just 3 centimeters upon arrival! Despite the obvious, I kept telling everyone that I wanted an epidural and that I wasn’t ready to push.
The doctor positioned herself at the foot of the bed, urging me to push as soon as the next contraction hit.
I did as I was told, laying completely horizontally on the bed – not the most comfortable position, nor the most conducive to delivering a baby.
That was a half-push, she informed me and then told me that the baby would be here in less than two pushes if I would really push.
At that point, I was highly motivated to GET THE BABY OUT because #ouch and Charlie Michael Mullins arrived at 8:03pm in, literally, 2.5 pushes.
8:03 PM, y’all!!!! A mere 17 minutes after the anesthesiologist arrived and subsequently left. Approximately FOUR HOURS after arriving at the hospital and being told I wasn’t in active labor. IT WAS CRAZY!
You’re a badass, the doctor informed me. And, I kinda loved her for that title. She also went on to explain that I’d had a precipitous labor and delivery – the name given to describe the rapid birth of a baby within three hours of regular contractions. A fun story to share for sure!
To be honest, I love being surprised, though I’ve always managed to figure the surprise out before it actually happens. (I’m a good over-analyzer, what can I say?).
But, this surprise? This 7 lb 5 oz snuggly little surprise? I couldn’t have predicted him if I tried.
Best. Surprise. EVER.
Image credit to my BFF and incredible Cincinnati Wedding Photography Amanda Donaho Photography.
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