Violet’s Birth Story

How have six months passed since she was born? I am terribly behind on writing our year in review and have been working each night to summarize our sixth year of marriage. I tried so hard to simplify November into a few paragraphs, but Violet’s birth story came pouring out. A separate post it shall be.

My due date on November 15th came and went with no signs of labor. I drank lots of red raspberry leaf tea, curb-walked daily, visited the chiropractor a few times, and had two acupuncture needles placed in my pinky toes. (The chiropractor offered and I accepted.) Who knows how many more wives’ tales I tried. I was so ready to not be pregnant and finally hold that precious baby. (Well, I was mostly ready. Scott and I still hadn’t settled on a name and I was really pulling for a dark horse at the eleventh hour.)

Thankfully, Scott’s mom had arrived and was doing pretty much all of the cooking, cleaning, and Jane entertainment. She helped us so much, and I’m incredibly grateful she was there during a stressful month of preparing to move internationally and also have a baby.

I scheduled a just-in-case induction for the day after Thanksgiving. (Fun fact: I was born on the day after Thanksgiving because my mom wanted to have her Thanksgiving dinner and then go in for her c-section. Planning my induction in a similar way seemed only fitting.) Despite the scheduled induction, I desperately wanted to go into labor naturally. I was not up for a 24-hour situation after my experience with Jane.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with a turkey Scott roasted and delicious sides we all cooked together. I knew we’d be gone the next day at the hospital so I wanted to leave our bedroom and bathroom clean and stocked with fresh linens for our return. I worked on that for most of the day and—when I wasn’t cleaning—even made some homemade cranberry sauce. I was tired but now we had a sparklingly clean bedroom + bathroom.

After enjoying dinner together and a final piece of pie, we went to bed. I woke up around 4 am with mild contractions but was able to doze until 5 am. I got up and went to take a bath to see if soaking in the tub would either 1. relax the contractions away if this was false labor or 2. ease the pain if this was real labor. Things started getting serious because when Scott came in to check on me about a half hour later, I wasn’t really talking anymore. And if I did say something, it wasn’t coming out very nicely.

I’d been doing my contraction counter on my phone and he studied it for a bit before saying we needed to head to the hospital soon. I agreed and got out to dry off. He called the American hospital on base (about 25 minutes away) to make sure they had room (they did) and I was so relieved. I was looking for my coziest sweatpants when my water broke everywhere. I immediately felt the urge to push.

“We’re not going to make it to the hospital,” I said.

I remember him looking at me and saying, “We either leave right now or we’re doing this here.”

“We’re not going to make it,” I sobbed. I was officially panicking.

I ran to the bathroom, sank to my knees and leaned over the edge of the tub. Dynamite wasn’t going to move me from this spot. Contractions cascaded over me but I was aware of Scott dialing 112, calling for his mom to come upstairs, Ralph barking in the background, Scott telling me he was running next door to get our nurse neighbor, Laurie, and, finally, a bunch of boots tromping up our stairs and into my (very clean) bathroom.

The first wave of the German emergency crew had arrived and they were 1. all men, and 2. completely out of their depth. I was barely looking at them and could tell they were very uncomfortable with a naked lady in labor. Things didn’t improve when they wanted me to move from the bathroom to our bedroom so they had more room to work. I basically snarled at anyone who suggested this idea until finally Scott used the sweetest voice he could muster and told me it’d be the best thing for the baby. I growled at him one last time and then hoisted myself up–naked as a jaybird–and walked to our bed.

“But I’m staying on my hands and knees!” I announced.

Thank the Lord our friend Laurie was home. She rushed upstairs to find us and quickly informed the Germans that she used to work labor & delivery. “Give her some gloves,” they said. Laurie coached my breathing and contractions–although there weren’t very many. I think I consciously pushed three times. I’d never felt the final stages of labor without an epidural, so I was shocked that when I pushed, the pain nearly vanished. Like my body was telling me, pushing is good! Keep it up! Sometime between contractions, Scott came to my side, rubbed my back and I could hear the smile in his voice: “You can name her whatever you want.” I took a deep breath. “Oh, I know.”

With a final push, I felt the baby’s absence from my stomach first, just a big whoosh and a weight gone from my belly. Almost instantly, before I could process that she was out, I heard her cry. A big, healthy cry and I just collapsed onto the bed.

I didn’t know it, but Laurie had caught her and was officially in charge of the whole situation. I could hear voices and baby cries and equipment being jostled and discussions about what to put where. I vaguely remember Scott cutting the cord and more towels being brought in. Finally, in the jumble of it all, I asked, “Can I see her?” They quickly brought her to my side. She was crying that perfect newborn cry. I reached out to touch her. “Hi, baby,” I said. For just that moment, I swear she stopped crying.

I remember not being able to fathom that Jane was really here, but this was another level of disbelief. Violet was here in the bedroom where I’d been sleeping less than two hours ago. At some point, one of the German EMTs told Scott, “It’s like you were ready for this. All these fresh towels and a clean changing station in the bedroom.” Somewhere, yesterday’s manic-cleaning pregnant Kristen smiled a most satisfied smile at a job well done.

Scott went with the baby in an ambulance to the German hospital about five minutes from our house, and I followed in a second ambulance–after a bumpy trip down our stairs being carried in what felt like a canvas bag. Scott’s mom stayed with Jane (and a very angry Ralph who was completely traumatized from all the strangers and the smell of blood).

Into the freezing night we went, me asking for a blanket in the ambulance and receiving…sympathetic nods and no blanket. Dang German health care wasn’t impressing me with robust hospitality. But before I knew it, I was in a room with Violet on my chest and a much-needed calm descended over us. I was able to finally nurse her, stare at her in awe, and then close my eyes for a few precious minutes.

After some uncomfortable stitches, less-than-impressive pain relief, and chatting with my genuinely kind nurses, it was time to settle on a name.

I looked at Scott. “I like Violet.”

“Okay, me too,” he said. Good man that he is. He also probably knew this story would be told a thousand times, so he needed to get on the right side of history.

They’d put us in a labor & delivery room, and we didn’t want to move downstairs to the mother & baby unit–mostly because I was hungry and hadn’t seen any sign of food. And believe me, I’d asked. I was ready to go home to Thanksgiving leftovers. Scott filled out lots of paperwork and Violet and I snoozed. Eventually Scott walked home, retrieved some yeast rolls and clothes for me (prioritized in that order) and drove our car back to the hospital.

We both laugh because discharging from a German hospital was so chill. We basically just walked out, and there was no wheelchair like in an American hospital. We asked how we were supposed to leave. The nurse looked at us strangely and let out a little laugh. “Um, you just…go.”

We arrived back at our house by 3 pm and Jane was able to meet her new baby sister. She was overjoyed–and had thankfully slept right through the chaos that morning. Saint Gmom had already washed all the linens, cleaned the crime scene, and made the bed. I’m telling you, everyone needs a Gmom.

We asked Laurie and her husband John to come over that evening. I don’t think I really processed any of it until we were able to talk and laugh about it with them. God truly knew she needed to be there that day, and I’m forever thankful. We realized that between the time Scott called 112 and Violet being born, only 26 minutes passed.

[Laurie & Violet, just before we moved.]

I’m assuming, based on her birth, that Violet will constantly surprise us. I can’t wait to see what that precious girl will be like when she grows up, but for now we soak up every inch of her and marvel at the beautiful baby she is. We all just adore her.

So there you have it. If you’re asking, ‘How did you not make it to the hospital in time?’ I guess ask Violet why she was in such a hurry. I was just along for the ride.

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