Friday, May 13, 2011

Confessions of a Mom who Birthed her Baby in the Front Seat

© Li 2011. Li continues her story with the birth of her second child, who was born in the front seat of their car on the way to Hospital in Australia. She shares her realization that her first birth was not an accurate picture of normative childbirth:

Giving birth to my 5 week premature firstborn was unnaturally long, painful and complicated due to posterior brow presentation and no (natural or medicated) pain management.

Two years later, with the birth of our second child fast approaching, I was advised that I would have to deliver my second baby at Hospital under specialist care. The midwife had told us that the second birth is generally quicker than the first, but I was still terrified as I was still processing post-traumatic shock from my first birth.

About 18 days prior to the due date, my Braxton hicks contractions were more frequent and became painful enough to interfere with my ability to work. I went to see my midwife, who on examining me said that she was able to feel the head, and that labour was imminent. As we live 80km away from the Hospital, it was suggested that we go up to the City to stay with friends.

My husband spends most of his day underground in caves and I was worried that I would go into labour and not be able to contact him. I wanted to make sure I was up there early enough to demand an epidural this time. The Braxton hicks then stopped and I started to wonder whether the baby had changed her mind. We spend two nights up in the City at a friend’s house, with nothing more than a bit of light cramping every now and then. 

On the third night after a brief time asleep, I awoke at just after 11 with the most incredible contraction lasting 40 seconds, which made me physically sick from pain, just as it did with my firstborn. I told my husband to get me to the hospital immediately. I didn't even change out of my pajamas. I knew that contraction meant business and either the baby was not far away or at least we would be getting painkillers! 

Four minutes later the next contraction arrived just as we were getting into the car. My husband called the delivery room to tell them we were on our way as we sped off to the hospital, which was about 15 minutes away.

As we approached the main street of the CBD, I felt her crown and informed my husband that the baby was coming. He thought I was talking about the probability that she would be arriving soon and reassured me that everything would be ok, and that we were not far from the hospital. I said, “NO, pull over... the baby is coming right NOW!”

He stopped the car just outside Burger King and noticed some police officers having some food in there. He banged on the window, as he was calling on his phone for an ambulance. They heard the screams and seemed to expect to see a case of domestic violence. Except instead they found me about to birth my darling girl. Despite the pounding rain outside, one police officer (a male nonetheless) held my hand from the back seat of the car and kept me “calm” telling me over and over that I could do this, and that I was doing an amazing job whilst I crushed his hand! Another officer (also a male) stood behind me and held up his flashlight whilst my husband took care of business down in the “nether regions.” They afforded us privacy whilst still being important to the process. I was on my back on the front seat of the car, too pain-stricken to move. I laughed when I saw the young female police officers in the background, directing traffic and looking very rattled. 

It has always upset me that I never got to have a positive birth experience with my firstborn. I didn't get to hold her, as she was whisked away to Newborn Intensive Care soon after delivery whilst I was being attended to for complications after 15 hours of intense labour, and almost four hours of pushing, I had long gone into a place where I felt like a torture victim rather than being on an emotional high during my first labor.

With this birth, I was able to see and feel her crown. I could feel her being pushed out. With every contraction there were significant gains. Another two contractions and our beautiful daughter was born into my husband’s hands. He placed a pink and healthy baby onto my lap. It was an intensely rewarding experience. We will never forget that day. It completely restored my faith in myself and reassured me of the sanctity of childbirth.

So this is what it’s meant to be like I thought. This is easy. Bollocks to people who say that the pain I felt the first time around must have been due to having a low pain threshold or who implied I was not mentally strong enough to birth. This was a completely different experience; this was childbirth in all its glory. I felt alive afterwards! I felt love. I felt life itself.

The ambulance arrived 10 minutes later at 11.45, to hand over a pair of scissors for my husband to cut the cord. Needless to say, the front seat of our car will never be the same again!”


  1. :D This is so beautiful. It helps to reassure me that things may be able to get better when/if we have a #3.

    I've been slowing struggling through writing out my story (it's taken me a week so far, just for the first baby) and I'm looking forward to any relief that sharing my story may give me.

    Congratulations on a brave and miraculous delivery.

  2. Amazing story! It's really inspiring to hear that the second birth can heal some of the wounds from the first.