Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Dramatic Delivery Story from Danika Gunn

Note: Fair warning — it's a long story. Also. Times are estimated because I wasn't really looking at the clock. I just know I woke up around 2:30 AM and Lia was born at 3:15 AM.

September 15th, 2004, 2:30 AM- I woke up with really bad cramps. I thought they were just diarrhea cramps from the castor oil I'd taken to try and get labor started.

2:45 AM- I realize they are not diarrhea cramps. They are contractions. And they have now turned into super, incredible amazingly hard contractions. I had my first child without any medication and remembered that the contractions hurt pretty bad at 5 cm, so I think I am about 5 cm and go get in bed to do my hypnobirthing (a deep relaxation technique to help reduce the pain of labor). I told Matt (my husband) I was in labor and for him to start timing the contractions for me. I would tap his arm once when they started and once when it ended. Every time I tapped him it would wake him up and he would say "Oh it wasn't even a minute long" and fall asleep again. (Later he told me that he was just trying to count to 60 in his head.)

Finally the contractions are so hard I can actually feel and see my belly jerking or crunching as the muscles contract. I tell Matt, "I am in so much pain. Call the hospital and tell them to have that epidural at the door. I don't know how I can even get to the car it hurts so bad." He says "You're okay," and kinda rubs my arm a little and falls asleep again. In his defense I have to say that when I was talking it was in a very calm quiet voice, because in hypnobirthing you try not to tense up at all. Not even your eyebrows. I knew that if I lost concentration I would be in way more pain. I looked and sounded very calm, almost sleepy. So he thought I was just fine.

2:50 AM- I am ticked at Matt for not listening to me. Plus I am super scared because of this intense pain and I think I still have 6 more hours of it. I ask Matt to help me get ready to go. He doesn't move (I had false labor a couple times the week before and he just thought this was another one of those).

3:00 AM- I get so ticked off and can't control myself any longer and I say, "Fine I don't need any help! I'm only in labor and dying and I can do it myself!" and I rip the covers off and start moving as fast as I can for the bathroom. That got his attention! Again I told him to, "Call the hospital and tell them we're coming," and "I don't know how I can get to the car in this pain." I get to the bathroom and think I should go to the bathroom before I go to the hospital. I sit down and start another contraction and it is so intense that my legs shot straight out in front of me. I still think I have a couple more hours of this.

3:01 AM- I hear Matt talking on the phone saying our address and how old I am. I'm wondering, “Why he is even telling the hospital those things?” (Later I find out he was talking to a 911 operator, not someone at the hospital) “All he needs to do is to tell them to tell the doctor we are coming in.” But before I can yell at him to just get to the point, my body is overcome with this super intense pressure and I can't talk or breathe. I grabbed the side of the sink terrified. My body had never done that with Abe (my first baby). I didn't know what was going on. But then I felt "the burn." Most of the ladies should know what I'm talking about here. I realized that I did not have any hours left. The baby was coming now!

3:05 AM- I tried to tell Matt but I couldn't get my breath. He is still talking on the phone. I finally get a little voice back and tell Matt, "She's coming. She's coming out." The phone is not cordless so I hear him trying to make it over to me and telling the operator, "She says the baby is coming, but I don't think she is." Then he turns on the bathroom light and sees Lia's head starting to come through. He tells the operator that she is indeed coming and the operator says, "stay on the phone."

He can't reach me and stay on the phone at the same time. He chucks the phone and gets to me just as Lia's full head comes out. At this point I remember everything calming down a bit. I wasn't in pain anymore. So we were just sitting there trying to gather our thoughts. I asked Matt if the cord was around her neck. He said no, but then he checked a little harder and found that it was wrapped around her neck. Later he told me that due to all the pressure the cord was so, so hard to get off from around her neck that he was just pulling on that thing! He got the cord off her neck.

3:15 AM- Lia is born! And she is breathing! Hurray!

3:16 AM- I am sitting on the toilet looking at this beautiful baby in my arms, wondering what just happened. Matt gets back on the phone and tells the operator the baby is okay. We wrap her in a towel and try to figure out what the heck is going on. And just oohing and aahing over her. She was so sweet. We found out later that she was 8 lbs 10 oz. So beautiful!

3:19 AM- I am buck naked so Matt tries to put some grey sweat pants on me but the placenta hasn't come through yet so we decide no pants.

3:20 AM- The paramedics arrive. There are ambulance dudes and fireman there. Three of them cram into our tiny little apartment bathroom and stare at me. Naked and holding a baby on the toilet. They ask me if I'm bleeding. Duh. They just stare. I am still holding Lia and I am shaking. I feel like I should say something to them so I tell them, "I was just sitting here and I had a baby. Will you please take her? I'm afraid I might drop her from all this shaking." So they let Matt cut the cord and take her away.

Matt called the only friends we had, The Sanchez family, to see if Sarilu could come over and pick up Abe so we could go to the hospital. Sarilu had been an ER nurse for a long time so when she saw the baby was still not dried off and wrapped up warm she told them, "Get that baby wrapped in a space blanket," and then she had to leave. They didn't wrap her in a space blanket. I remember one of them saying "She looks kinda blue," and the next one answering, "Don't worry she'll pink up at the hospital when they dry her off and rub her a bit." I wish I could have been thinking clearly, because I would have just taken the baby from them and done it myself.

(No more time line because I have no concept of time or much else at this point).

I still have not delivered the placenta but one dude says "Well, let's get you to the hospital." I'm still buck naked and I am trying to stand up. Finally one of them notices I need a little help and grabs my arm to help me up. Then he waits for me to start walking out the bathroom door. (Sorry this gets a little gross). Problem. My umbilical cord is just dangling there dripping blood on the tile and I don't want to get blood on my carpet. So I tell the paramedics this. One of them glances around and then pulls one of my towels off the rack and says "Straddle this". I do. "Let's go," he says again.

Problem. I'm still naked. There are all kinds of lights flashing outside. "I don't want my neighbors to see me naked." One of them leaves to go find me something to wear. He returns with this dark green, really short, satin robe that I have not even seen for a long time. I put it on just happy not to be naked. And then out the door we go. No help. Just me waddling out into the cold, September Colorado night with no shoes or socks, a nighty, and a towel between my legs trying to make it down the flight of stairs to the ambulance.

If I had been able to think clearly I would have done things a lot differently. I think my husband and I were in a bit of shock and we were just doing what the guys in uniform told us to do. I had to stop 2 times on the stairs to have 2 more contractions. I was just shaking and gripping the rail. Matt was busy with the baby or else he would have been taking really good care of me. These paramedics had no idea what they were doing.

When I get to the bottom of the stairs I start to cross the sidewalk to get in the ambulance which is 10 feet away. However, the paramedics then decide it is too dangerous for me to walk that 10 feet, put me on a stretcher and then put me in the ambulance to go one block away. Ladies, you know how after you have a baby the nurse rubs your belly. Well these paramedics do that to me and they each take a turn learning how to do it. I kept telling them that it really hurt and that I needed a break. They just told me to take another breath. I wanted to hit them. I arrived at the hospital in my sexy little green robe and immediately the nurses ask why the baby is not in a space blanket and whisk her away.

I was taken to a super small room past the broom closet and was left alone there for a long time. I was covered in blood and really, really, really thirsty. Finally someone came in, and I asked for water, but couldn't have any because they were putting me on pitocin to try and get me to deliver the placenta. My doctor came in with crazy hair and I thought I woke him up so I say, "Sorry I woke you up," and he says in a dazed voice, "You didn't. This is like the 15th baby I delivered tonight." After his work is done, placenta and all, he leaves. The nurse says she'll get me some water but then leaves.

I was alone, and had patches of blood on me for a long time. Wondering how my baby is doing and what the heck just happened. Matt was with Lia and she was having a hard time. She was only around 95 degrees when she got to the hospital and was low on oxygen. She had to go to the NICU and Matt stayed with her until she was settled. I am so grateful that he would stay with her when I couldn't.

In hindsight we wish we had never called the paramedics. Matt could have done a better job, and drove us one block for free. But happily (so happily!) at the end of the story we had a healthy baby and a healthy me. Plus a really great story to tell. : )

(For those who are curious, I had my next two daughters at home with a midwife attending. With Hazel, labor started when my water suddenly broke and thirty five minutes later I held her in my arms. Olive's birth was very similar. It started with my water breaking and thirty minutes later I held her in my arms. I am so glad I was at home and not out in public!)

From Danika Gunn of LoGunns.


Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I'll be posting stories about pregnancy, childbirth and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here.


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Blogger Erin said...

Wow! I had a similar birth story, though it was much more positive, thankfully. We did not make it to the hospital, but the EMTs (both women) were so supportive and sweet and my son never left my arms. It's amazing how much I could relate to this, though. I had a long labor with my first, so the contractions I felt right before I started pushing really felt like the contractions that I felt at 5cm with my first labor!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Team Cowan said...

This is crazy. I was just reading this thinking "I've heard a story just like this before!" And then when she said what her daughter's name was I realized it was the same story! Danika is friends with my sister-in-law Mandi. We've met before and everything. What a small world.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 1:19:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Christy said...

Wow - I can't believe that story - poor you. I don't blame you for having the next two at home. Those paramedics should be fired! Incompetents! I tried clicking on the blog link Gabrielle included, but it said permission denied. Oh well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 7:32:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Barchbo said...

Wow! I don't have any kids but that is an exciting and terrifying story!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 9:02:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great, intense story. I'm betting the paramedics in that town have done some serious re-training since Lia's appearance.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 11:53:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Jeanette Mc. said...


Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 12:15:00 PM EDT  
Blogger amanda said...

This story is so insane and I'm so sorry to say - horrible!! I can't believe this poor woman was treated this way. And her attitude is incredible. I'm not sure I'll ever deliver another baby in a hospital again after hearing this. Seriously!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 1:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger sania said...

Danika is such a tough, tough cookie! Baby Lia looks beautiful and healthy. I'm glad to see a happy ending here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 4:11:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh! What a sweet story. I'm glad you did this Danika! I'm glad you wrote this all down so we could be apart of it. I'm glad things turned out all right! I would like to try the midwife thing if possible next time too. Good work, Danika. We've learned a lot from you! ~Susan Moeller Elkins

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 4:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Petit Elefant said...

holy of the moley! I'm so glad everyone was okay in the end, but awful, traumatic story!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 8:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Wimzie Prints said...

Wow, what a story! I had a pretty traumatic birth experience including emergency c-section but was lucky enough to get really great care at the hospital. The real shock came for me after the baby was born and we found out he didn't have any collar bones. Turns out he has a really rare genetic bone disorder (only 80 known cases in the world). That was a hard thing for me to accept but he is a happy boy and we feel blessed to have him in our lives. Thanks for sharing your story!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 11:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger sara said...

What an incredible story! I have really enjoyed reading all of these. Thanks!

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 10:45:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Hannah said...

Wow. On one hand I'm slightly jealous because after 20-plus hours of back labor I ended up having a C-section, so when I hear stories of babies that just "pop out" there's a small part of me that wishes I'd gotten to experience that moment. On the other hand I had an epidural and didn't feel a thing, so...

Even though our delivery was very controlled, there were still things I wish had been done differently. Luckily, when baby #2 arrived two years later I was more in control and aware of what I wanted. And I was definitely not afraid to ask!

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 12:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Laura said...

I have heard this story before and I LOVE it! Congrats!!! What a story to tell!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 3:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Danelle Grossnickle said...

st read your story and don't know you but what a story it is! I am a doula and have heard some dousies but yours tops them all! So glad you opted for homebirths the next 2 times. You are a PIONEER! Way to go...I would have been super pissed about how they treated you but I too have a dumb paramedic story and birth so I guess they go hand in hand:)Thanks for sharing, it was good reading..ha ha:)

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 3:55:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Zoe said...

And I thought I had a dramatic birth story! Yours beats mine hands down! = )
I had a midwife in my first pregnancy, but had opted for a hospital birth. I was expected a long labour because it was my first, so I was pretty shocked when irregular, mild contractions turned into I'm-pushing-the-baby-out-now. My husband had gotten home from work just 15 minutes before our son was born. He managed to page our midwife and by the time she called us (2 or 3 minutes later!) the baby was already crying in the background. I wasn't bleeding much and the baby was pink and healthy so the midwife told us we didn't need to call 911. THANK GOODNESS is all I can say after reading your story! Our midwife got to us in about 20 minutes, helped me deliver the placenta, did the newborn exam, and stitched me up. I never had to leave home. It was not at all what I'd expected, but it was a very positive experience.
I had my second child at home after a quick labour too, but at least one midwife made it in time to assist! If we have another child, it will certainly be at home.
Your husband's reactions made me laugh and think of my own husband. When he first walked in from work and found me yelling that the baby was coming, he thought I was overreacting and asked if he could make me a sandwich or rub my back. LOL He said the most important thing he learned in prenatal class was that newborns are very, very slippery. = )

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 6:27:00 PM EST  

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