Birth Story Contest 2019
A Blazing Birth
By Mandee MacDonald
Mandee MacDonald lives in Napanee, Ontario. She is a Queen’s University and Southeastern University alumni. She is also a hairstylist and a teacher, but at the moment she is a stay-at-home mom to four little ones. So, these days, she changes diapers, makes peanut butter sandwiches, and watches Paw Patrol. The days aren’t always glamorous, but she counts being a mom as one of her greatest accomplishments.
“You don’t want to have this baby in the car,” my doctor joked at my prenatal appointment, referring to the speed at which my first was delivered and the fact that second births can be even faster.
Imagine that, having a baby in the car...
Now that could be traumatizing.
We were ecstatic about expecting our second. Daddy would get a son, my daughter would become a big sister, and I loved him already.
The pregnancy was progressing as planned. With my first pregnancy, I was a huge worry-wart, worrying about what I ate and how I moved and the positions I slept. But with my second, I was much more relaxed.
Despite my firstborn being nine days late, I found myself in early labour in my 38th week with my little boy. After having contractions increase and then taper off for a couple of days, I made an appointment with my doctor for that evening. Our 20-month-old was at Grandma’s, which worked out really well when I found out at my appointment that I was over 2 cm dilated. We got some pizza and movies and were enjoying our time together while we waited for the contractions to progress. It was exciting, imagining that it could be the night we’d meet our newest addition. Jordan, my husband, did some massage on my back, to the point that I couldn’t even time the contractions anymore. His technique worked so well that I couldn’t feel when they started and when they ended. We were pretty chill and relaxed that evening, optimistic about meeting our son but having no idea what was about to happen.
Throughout the evening, we discussed whether we would head to the hospital, but kept waiting until the contractions intensified. Finally, we decided that we would lay down for thirty minutes, timing the contractions to know whether they were increasing or find out if they were slowing down. We laid down, Jordan started reading a book, and I waited. Suddenly, a contraction enveloped me in pain, holding me tightly for many seconds.
It felt different, more intense, and it held me tighter as I waited for it to end.
“Ok, we’re going!” my husband said, as I recovered from the contraction, and I didn’t argue with him. I was ready to go.
It was official. We were heading to the hospital! The excitement of the occasion, the nerves of the unknown, and the anticipation of meeting our baby boy was setting in.
For about ten minutes, Jordan swiftly attended to the details - informing his mom, getting the bags, moving the cars - but suddenly, unexpectedly, the urgency intensified. Instead of being patient, calm, and relaxed, a feeling of panic grew that told me, we need to go now. The excitement began to be replaced by fear - fear of not making it in time, of being alone having a baby, of not knowing what to do, of facing the pain myself. Pleading him to hurry, I stepped out into the dark winter night and we rushed off in the car.
The contractions were increasing without much break in between, relentlessly. Quickly dialing my doula, I gripped the car as we sped into the night. At first, my doula calmly explained that she could head out to meet us at the hospital. Then I told her, ‘I feel like I’m peeing myself”. She heard my pain in my voice and she quickly deduced that Jordan needed to pull over. Out of fear, we kept driving. What if we didn’t make it on time? What if something happened?
At that moment, I started feeling a sensation, a strong urge similar to needing to use the washroom, and I clamped it back. The pressure continued, with me resisting and squeezing back, but each time, it got stronger. My doula told me to call 911.
In that moment of confusion - the darkness and coldness of the night, Jordan speeding down the road, my doula insisting over the phone that we pull over, my holding on and trying to resist the feeling that something was coming out, the intensity of the fear - we were about to birth our miracle.
I tried to explain the situation to the emergency services, provided a general location and that I was about to give birth, but then quickly hung up so that I could call my doula back.
During one of those calls, the pressure came on again, but this time, something different happened. I did not hold it in, I did not keep it back, I did not make it stop. And then it happened. Amid the fear, the uncertainty, the reluctance, there was a freeing of release. The sensation overwhelmed my efforts to squeeze it back, and in that surreal moment, I felt it all come out.
“Jordan, he’s out!” I exclaimed as we whizzed past Richardson Stadium and a soft crying was heard from my pants.
Jordan, hands on the steering wheel, darted his eyes in my direction and witnessed his slimy little son in his wife’s stretchy black leggings. He turned around the car and pulled into Richardson Stadium. My doula told us to wrap him in Jordan’s jacket to keep him warm, but I hesitated. I was so scared that he was not okay. In the moment with the rush of adrenaline, I could not bring myself to physically reach down and touch him. The fear crippled me. Jordan came to my side of the car and picked him up, unwrapping the umbilical cord which was loosely around his neck. It was then when my maternal instincts kicked in and I told Jordan to give him to me and we did skin-on-skin. My doula instructed us not to cut the cord, to keep him warm, and to rub him until he cried. The ambulance arrived rather quickly, whisked me and the baby off to the hospital and Jordan followed behind, repeating “no, he’s really here already!” to my mom’s disbelief over the phone. Upon arrival, we were greeted by numerous hospital staff and we felt like little celebrities.
So, there we were, a family of four before we even arrived to the hospital or into the hands of doctors and nurses. They reaffirmed that Blaze and I were fine and I felt amazing, having a relatively easy recovery.
The name Blaze, surprisingly, had been chosen prior to his birth. But the birth, of course, fit perfectly with our choice.
Oh, and the really cool thing was that Jordan was an auto detailer back then, so he had the car mess dealt with before discharge.
That delicate instance when Blaze arrived, an experience only the three of us shared - unexpectedly, of course - bonded us as a couple and as a family in a way that we never would have expected. That night was over four years ago now, but the events that changed our lives, the details that characterized those moments, forever remain etched on our hearts.
All of my kids came into this world in unique but amazing ways - one came while I laughed at the way everyone around me was smiling with each push and my lack of pain due to the epidural; another came before the doctor had time to put her second glove on; and the final, fell into the nurse’s hands as I was standing up. When I tell people my birth stories, some find my birth stories crazy, some think they’re interesting, and some say they’re scary or traumatic. One thing I don’t find them is traumatic. Surprising? Sure. Unplanned? Absolutely. But not traumatic. Each story, including having my son in the car, shaped us as a family, taught us about parenthood, forced us to trust, and prepared us for raising them in a very unique way. It signified their very first moments in the world, and it was perfect.
I came to the profound realization that my body was created and designed to do something spectacular - on that February night, it brought new life into the world without any prodding, pushing, or monitoring, and, in fact, despite a whole lot of resistance on my end.
Now I would not advocate for doing that again; in fact, I made a point to be at the hospital on time with my last baby, which I was. But I am so thankful to God that there were not any complications that required immediate medical attention and that I really was given such a gift in the unexpected. It wasn’t traumatizing at all - it was miraculous.
In the dark of that Friday winter night, we became a family of four - swiftly, uniquely, but perfectly.
Your birth story, whether unexpected or planned, equips you for all the uncertain moments in parenting, the times you question yourself, the days you wonder what the right choice is, the instances when things do not go as planned.
We don’t let those parenting moments traumatize us - we let them shape us, so that one day, when we look back on them, we are actually really proud of the things we accomplished that we never knew we could.
And, quite honestly, being able to look back and see the feat that you accomplished, the journey your body completed, and the growth that came from it - well, that is the most amazing birth story anyone could ask for.
And for us, to this day, it makes driving past Richardson Stadium just a little more interesting.
So, from now on, if anyone around us admits their fear of having a baby in a car or not making it to the hospital, Jordan and I can look at each other, smiling, sharing an intimate twinkle in our eye that only us can understand.
“You never know,” I would shrug. “It happens”.