Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Danielle!

November 30, 2009

Danielle has always been her own person, since even before she was born. Even in the womb she did her own thing, on her own schedule. At one of my pre-natal check-ups, the doctor couldn't find any heartbeat at all for several minutes, causing both the doctor and me great concern. At another appointment, the doctor thought he might have been able to detect two heartbeats. In reality, Danielle's heartbeat was just marching to its own drummer, not interested in anyone else's agenda or timeline.In addition, Danielle defied the doctor's ability to narrow down a due date. Her first due date was November 24. Then he revised it to December 4, then finally to December 8. She had other plans, though, and decided she'd make her very sudden and unexpected arrival early in the morning on November 30, 1998.

On the day before Danielle was born, I recognized the signs of early labor. This was my third, so I was familiar with the signs. I was in labor for most of the day, but wasn't interested in hanging out at the hospital while the work was in progress; I wanted to wait it out at home for as long as I could. I was a little distressed since I hadn't been expecting her arrival just yet. I still hadn't even registered at the hospital yet, and there were still finishing touches to put on the nursery. Until the pain grew too strong, I tried to take care of last minute details around the house.

Late into the night, my husband had already gone to bed. I was too uncomfortable to sleep, so I started timing the contractions. Five minutes apart, ten minutes apart, two minutes apart, ten minutes apart...they never came at routine intervals. My doctor had said not to go to the hospital until the contractions were consistently five minutes apart, but there there was no consistency. Danielle at her finest, doing her own thing in her own way. Suddenly, though, it became more difficult to breathe in between contractions--there wasn't enough time in between. I started timing again--two minutues apart, two minutes apart, two minutes apart.... I realized this was the real thing, and I'd better get myself to the hospital quickly.

By that time, it was about 2:15 a.m. (None of my kids had the decency to be born in the late afternoon--they all kept me up all night when they were born.) First, I called my mom, who lived across town. She was on-call to come stay with Brianna and Nicholas whenever it was time for us to go to the hospital. Then I went in to wake up my husband, who was sleeping soundly and obliviously. I told him it was time to go. He told me later that he thought about asking if he had time to take a quick shower, but took one look at me and knew he'd better not. As soon as Mom got there, we jumped in the car.

That ride was one of the fastest and longest rides of my life. Is that possible? I remember it vividly, because Bill was speeding down Herndon Avenue, even running the occasional red light (which of course, scared me to death!). We were racing, but I was in so much pain and so in fear of my life from Bill's frantic driving that it seemed as though it was moving in slow motion. Thank goodness it was nearly three in the morning and we appeared to have the roads to ourselves.

Somewhere along the drive, I said to Bill, "This really doesn't feel like the other two. I'm in a lot of pain. If they ask you at the hospital if I want pain medication, you go ahead and tell them yes. I don't think I can take much more of this." With my first two, I had wanted to forego any pain medication (though in retrospect, I can't think why I would have done that--I'm no martyr), and I had managed just fine. I was ready to throw in the towel with this one, though.

We drove up to the hospital entrance, and realized we still needed to register. It was just barely three a.m. They wheeled me in to a young lady sitting at a desk, pen poised in hand, ready to help me fill out all the necessary forms. She asked my name--first, middle, and last--calmly and sweetly. I couldn't get the words out, so Bill had to fill her in. She asked me my social security number. Bill didn't know that one off the top of his head, so I had to field that one. She looked at me expectantly. I held my breath through the pain of the contraction that was gripping my body while I held up a hand to let her know I'd be with her shortly. Suddenly her expression changed. "Hey! Are you pushing? You look like you're pushing! Just a minute--don't push. DON'T PUSH!" I was nodding my head, but she wasn't convinced. "We'll have to finish this later. We've got to get you up to a room NOW!"

Bill looked a little lost and confused as he followed the wheelchair up the elevator to the third floor maternity ward. They scooted me onto a bed, but didn't even have time to put me in one of their oh-so-fashionable hospital gowns or put an IV in me. Danielle was on her way, and she wasn't waiting for any paperwork or hospital protocols. As soon as the first nurse checked she said, "Get a doctor in here NOW. This baby is going to be born with or without him." Meekly, Bill said, "Um...I don't know if this is a good time to tell you this, but my wife said that she thinks she wants pain medication this time. So I'm supposed to tell you that. Can she have some?" The nurse smiled at him and said, "Honey, this baby is going to be born before we could even get someone up here with the meds. Your baby is almost already here." And within another four or five minutes, she was indeed. Arrival time? 3:19 a.m.--Nineteen minutes after we pulled into the hospital parking lot.

And who knew that arrival would be the harbinger of things to come? Danielle, my sweet little baby girl who turned eleven on November 30, still does things her own way, marches to her own drummer, doesn't worry about what she's 'supposed' to do or look like or think. It's not always convenient or easy for me, but she certainly manages to keep things interesting, and I'm excited to see where her own path leads her in the future.

(Oh, and for the record, it drives me up a wall when people hear about Danielle's birth and they say, "How lucky you are that you were only in labor for nineteen minutes!" Being in the hospital for nineteen minutes and being in the labor for nineteen minutes are NOT the same thing! I was in labor all day long, thank you very much, and I want credit for my suffering. I was stupid for waiting too long; luck had nothing to do with it.)

Danielle, exhibiting her very own sense of 'style'


  1. With my son the first time they checked me I was dilated to 10. I about gave the nurse's a heart attached too.

    Thanks for sharing your story. And Happy Birthday!

  2. I love reading birth stories! They always bring tears to my eyes. What a sweet girl you have! I love that she marches to beat of her own drum!! Hope she had a very happy birthday!!

  3. With our first we got to the hospital on a Thursday and he didn't show up until Sunday morning. Happy Birthday, Danielle.

  4. Aw, I love birth stories, too! As someone who also has a daughter who (even at her young age) already marches to her own beat, I enjoyed reading this. Happy Birthday to your girl. :)

  5. Happy (belated) Birthday to the darling! I love hearing the story of her birth - so great. And you definitely get credit for the day long labor!

  6. What a story! I love that your husband didn't forget to ask for pain meds-good guy.

    I have some pics of my youngest daughter in the same kind of dress ups.
    Made me laugh.

    ps love the word 'harbinger'...yes I do. :)