If you read my last blog post, you will note that Lauren was born just four hours after I posted. Incredibly, that post was recounting Evan's birth story. Here is Lauren's.
My labor with Lauren was fast and chaotic, so I think it's best told with a (loosely recreated) timeline. Also, this is a birth story, and although I spare some details, there will be references to fluid, crowning and the like.
Thursday, June 16, 12:30am - I woke as I did many times a night, needing to pee. When I stepped into the bathroom, I had a small accident on the floor. I thought this might be my water breaking, but was unsure because there wasn't a lot of "water." (My water had not broken spontaneously with either of the boys. ) I told Matt I thought my water might have broken. He immediately got up and started reading on the Internet, suggesting I should lie on my side for about 30 minutes and then get up to see if any amniotic fluid came out. While lying down, I had a few strong, but well-spaced contractions. When I got up, there was no extra fluid.
1:00am - My contractions continued, but remained irregular. I called the midwife on call at the hospital to describe what had happened. She wasn't convinced my water had broken--thought it was maybe just some urinary incontinence--and told me to lie down and call her back if the contractions came more frequently. The guideline for active labor we were working with was the 4-1-1 rule: contractions every 4 minutes, lasting at least 1 minute each, for 1 hour. Basically, we were just in wait-and-see mode.
2:00am - We called our friend Bryon to come stay with our sleeping boys. My contractions were intense but irregular up until about 1:45 and then they started coming 2-3 minutes apart and I was having trouble discerning much of a break between them. This was the point at which I hardly was able to do anything except have contractions. Fortunately, our hospital bag was mostly packed. I got my driver's license, insurance card and some cash from my wallet and put it in an envelope. I remember asking Matt like 10 times if he'd put that envelope in the bag. I did the same thing about the baby's coming-home clothes. And our toiletries. Matt was the one who had the presence of mind to call Bryon; he did so when I threw up after a contraction. By some act of God, I put on a bra, tank top and yoga pants.
2:25am - I called the midwife at the hospital and told her "WE ARE COMING WE ONLY LIVE 15 MINUTES AWAY." (Or at least that's what I think I said.) Matt urged me to get in the car. Bryon was not quite there, and I hesitated. I then had a huge contraction while on all-fours in the living room. I think this was the point when I started to panic that we might not make it to the hospital on time.
2:30am - After this contraction, we walked out to the car. Again, I feel like it was miraculous that I was able to walk the 20 yards (including 9 steps down) to our car. Bryon pulled up at the same time. I contorted myself into the front seat of our Honda Civic and somehow managed to put on the seat belt. I was sitting kind of on my side and gripped the center arm rest and the back of Matt's head rest when I had a contraction. I was well aware that I was fighting the urge to push. I tried short exhalations during contractions. I think I fought the urge for a few contractions, but then I really couldn't control what was happening. I was yelling the whole way. When Matt told me it would be okay, I said, "Okay, but I still need to yell. And I really think she's coming right now." The main drag between our home and the hospital is NC Highway 54. At one point, Matt looked down and saw he was going 80 mph; the speed limit was 45. I was telling (again, yelling at) him that he could NOT stop at red lights. For those of you familiar with the drive, I am fairly certain Lauren crowned around Meadowmont shopping center, which is 3 miles from the hospital.
2:40am - Matt pulled up in front of the hospital, which is what we would have done even under less emergent circumstances. When he opened my door for me, I had already pulled my pants down to my knees and I was holding her head, trying to lean back. I told Matt, "She's here, and you need to catch her." Up until that point, Matt may have believed I was exaggerating, but then he saw that her head was delivered up to her nose so he put his hand on her. I gave one push and she slipped out, gently into her daddy's arms. She started crying immediately and Matt handed her to me. She was slimy and bloody but perfectly beautiful, and I remember the sound of her crying was absolute music to my ears. I was still sitting in the front seat of the car.
A valet came out to greet us and quickly realized we did not just need to park. He ran back in and at the same time Matt banged on the front window of the hospital so hard that he hurt his hand, trying to alert the staff inside that we needed help. I lost all sense of time at this point. Everything happened so fast. I just remember holding Lauren and looking at her. Matt said it took a few minutes for a team consisting of our midwife, a pediatrician and a few nurses and techs to come out with a stretcher. Everyone was so friendly and reassuring. They helped me get on the stretcher. I was still holding Lauren, and I think at this point I actually felt comfortable enough to maneuver her to confirm that she was a girl.
They wheeled me up to labor and delivery, where the midwife began examining me. They did look at Lauren and gave her a hat and a blanket, but I remember it was so sweet that they just let me hold her. They didn't whisk her away. They knew she was fine. My midwife said something like "When babies deliver that quickly, they're usually perfectly fine. They rarely need us." I appreciated hearing this. I also loved that they waited until Matt made it up to the room (he had lagged behind to get our bag and try to clean up the car a little before handing it off to the valet) to let him cut Lauren's umbilical cord. In fact, it was probably a good 30 minutes before she left my arms and that was only briefly so they could weigh her. As I was holding her, I thought she seemed so tiny. So I was tickled when they weighed her and sure enough, she was a robust 8 pounds, 7 ounces--which is smaller than her brothers but then again she was born 10 days before her due date.
Right now, I am marveling at what a blessing it is to have three beautiful, healthy children. I am also thankful for my sweet, modest husband, who seems perplexed that in the telling and re-telling of Lauren's birth story he has emerged as its hero. Well, here's my attempt to explain it to him. First, he was calm and steady in the chaos that reigned at home during my labor. Everything happened so fast for me and I was so suddenly overwhelmed physically and emotionally, but he held it together enough to call Bryon and get me out the door and into the car. He also got us safely to the hospital very quickly, despite what I recall as my absolutely crazy, panicked laboring (trying not to push) in the seat right beside him. And then finally, when I told him that Lauren was ready to be delivered, he did not hesitate to help me. He remained calm, and he caught her. The first person to ever hold sweet Lauren was her daddy. And though I wish Lauren's entry into the world had been less adventurous, I can't help but think what a tremendous gift the moment of her birth is--for Matt and Lauren, for all of us.
Both of our daughter's names have family connections. Lauren is the middle name of both my mom and my sister Ashley. I've just always liked it and, though a lesser consideration, we also think phonetically it goes well with Tobin and Evan. Lauren means "crowned with laurel," which we think is appropriately regal for our girl. And finally, as a form of Laura, it is a feminine form of Lawrence--in memory of her Granddad, Charles Lawrence "Larry" Smith, who we miss so much and know would have been delighted to meet this little girl. Lantrip is my mom's maiden name. Mom has two brothers and three sisters, so Lauren has an abundance of Lantrips in her life who she will get to know and love.
And here are some pictures of Lauren's first day with us. More can be found at our Flickr site.