I love this! I meet women all the time whose confidence in their bodies has been dashed by the “failure to progress” diagnosis they received in past labors. This woman had three cesareans, all with that same diagnosis, because, as she says, she got to the hospital to early. And look what happens when she is permitted to labor in the peace, privacy, and safety of her own home – she gives birth vaginally!!
Posted: July 27, 2009
The baby’s name was supposed to be Cecilia Violet Marie Schulte.
But "supposed to be" doesn’t work for a child born in the front passenger seat of a 1998 Toyota Corolla driving through rush hour on I-43.
Her mother, Annmarie Schulte, delivered the baby herself at 7:28 a.m. Monday, moments after she reached down and felt the little head in her hands.
One contraction later, the baby slid out into her mother’s arms: pink, still sleeping and – her mother knew instinctively – healthy.
"She’s here!" Annmarie exclaimed to her husband, Matthew, who still sat behind the wheel.
By the time they got to the hospital, they would christen their daughter with a new middle name befitting her special birth.
But the story of how the newborn got her name began months ago.
Annmarie, 34, a stay-at-home mom, and Matthew, 39, a teacher who is looking for work, have three older daughters – Megan, almost 7; Millie, 5; and Libby, 2.
For each of her three previous childbirths, Annmarie had gone to the hospital too early and had to have a Caesarean section because of failure to progress. This time, Annmarie wanted a natural childbirth. Some doctors told her it shouldn’t be done. Vaginal births after two C-sections are considered risky because they can cause uterine rupture. She was due Aug. 4. Two doulas – Wendy Kogler and LaNette McQuitty – worked with her during pregnancy, and a physician and a midwife worked with her at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, where she planned to give birth.
Wait until you know for sure the baby is coming before you go to the hospital, Annmarie was told.
At about 1 a.m. Monday at the Schultes’ Muskego home, Annmarie woke up Matthew. Her labor pains had become more intense.
By 3:30 a.m., contractions came about two minutes apart. She and Matthew called the doulas.
They came over and monitored Annmarie’s progress. She got in the bathtub. She changed positions. Around 7 a.m., she was fully dilated. They called the midwife. It was time to go to the hospital – now.
Leaving their other girls with neighbors, Annmarie and Matthew rushed to the car. In their hurry, they grabbed towels but forgot everything else at home – a change of clothes for them, the baby’s clothes, the car seat.
They drove toward Aurora Sinai, Annmarie still in her black-and-white striped nightgown and Kogler and McQuitty following behind in separate cars.
Matthew remained calm, driving below the speed limit and soothing his wife when she felt a contraction.
Kneeling on the passenger seat, Annmarie felt between her legs and cupped her baby’s head.
"She’s coming!" Annmarie screamed.
"Do you want me to stop?" Matthew asked.
"No! Keep going!"
With the very next push, the baby entered the world. She didn’t cry; she slept peacefully.
"She’s here!" Annmarie said.
Annmarie looked at the baby and experienced a deep feeling that everything was all right. Unconventional, but all right.
Matthew was not so sure. He looked at the baby and felt the deepest sense of terror he has ever known. He let out a primal scream. He pulled over into the distress lane at the Plainfield Curve on I-94/43. The doulas pulled over after him.
He ran from the car, still screaming. Words finally came. He frantically waved and yelled for the doulas to come out of their cars.
Kogler called 911. McQuitty checked on the infant. The baby turned a bit purple.
McQuitty gave her a breath and rubbed her back. The newborn turned pink again, letting out a tiny mewl.
Everyone cried. Annmarie wrapped her daughter in a towel and held the 7-pound, 4.8-ounce baby to her chest.
Emergency responders arrived, giving the baby a clean bill of health. Matthew clamped the umbilical cord and cut it.
People driving by on their morning commute, having heard about the freeway birth on news radio, rolled down their windows and yelled: "Happy Birthday!"
The emergency medical technicians joked: "You should name the baby ‘Plainfield’ or ‘Freeway’ or ‘Shoulder.’ "
"Her name is Cecilia," Annmarie said.
Matthew and the doulas followed behind Annmarie and the baby in the ambulance to the hospital.
"We freakin’ did it!" Matthew yelled when they got to Aurora Sinai.
"I think we really should make her middle name ‘Freeway,’ " he said.
Well, Annmarie thought, this child has a free spirit. And the name certainly fit the occasion.
So it was agreed. Cecilia Violet Marie Schulte would be Cecilia Freeway Schulte.
"Each one of my kids is an amazing blessing, but this baby, I delivered – not only vaginally but on my own," Annmarie said. "With the help of my husband and the doulas, I did it. I feel awesome."