As a birth worker, I’ve learned that every birth is as unique as the baby being born. With time and experience, anyone who works in birth can tell you that while there are trends in birth, they have never experienced two births that are the same. 

One thing that often gets bypassed when talking about birth stories is the journey it took to get there. Many people may not have a lot to say about their pregnancy, I am not one of those people. I experienced a hard pregnancy and birth with my daughter in 2018, leaving me unsure if I wanted anymore children. Between hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), subchorionic hematomas, restless leg syndrome, and severe PUPPS leading to a 28 hour induction at 37 weeks pregnant, I felt I had some major emotions to work through. After over two years, I agreed to try for another baby (having two kids is something my partner desperately wanted), little did I know the storm I was about to walk into. 

After nearly a year of trying and a few months of being treated by a fertility specialist, I felt like I was done on my journey trying to conceive a second child. I stopped obsessing about peeing on pregnancy test strips when it was way too early to even tell if I could be pregnant. On the morning I found out I was pregnant, I had not taken any tests that month and my period was due the next day, to my surprise there sat my big fat positive. A whole range of emotions from excitement to fear spread across my entire body. But, that was only the beginning.

When anyone would tell me that I would forget how hard pregnancy was the moment I saw my baby’s face, I would politely say “you seriously have no idea”, and promptly bit my tongue hard enough to draw blood. My first pregnancy was nothing shy of horrible when it came to HG, but my second pregnancy was downright traumatizing. My first visit to the emergency room happened at only 6.5 weeks. I remember for the first time in my entire career as a doula, I had to leave a birth midway because I started profusely vomiting out of nowhere and go to the hospital. By 7.5 weeks, I had my first hospitalization. By 14 weeks, I barely weighed 100 pounds, I had two feeding tubes placed, a PICC line and two midlines placed, and had spent 26 days as an inpatient in the mom and baby unit. I spent my entire pregnancy vomiting, bed bound and in severe agonizing pain. 

As my due date slowly approached, talks of induction at 39 weeks started to happen. Every single time, I declined. I desperately had wanted an out of hospital birth, but because that wasn’t an option for me, I prepared myself to wait it out. For weeks I had been struggling through having an irritable uterus and prodromal labor. My providers were not very happy with my decision but politely respected it. I prepped everything for the birth I was hoping for. As a doula, I know birth rarely goes according to plan, but I knew I couldn’t be too prepared. I made birth affirmation signs. I created music playlists. I created a well thought out birth plan. I hired a henna artist to do belly henna for my birth photos. I had my essential oils ready, my snacks made, my bags packed. My outdoor lights were set up for a peaceful laboring space. My birth ball, CUB, and rebozo were all ready. I planned to stay home for as long as possible before leaving for the hospital. My best friend Jackie, who was also my doula and birth photographer, came into town to stay at my house for two weeks when I was 38 weeks and 2 days.

I went on two mile walks almost daily for the last trimester of my pregnancy. I did massage and reflexology regularly. I had a membrane sweep done at 38 weeks and 4 days, but nothing happened. We sat patiently waiting, not sure when baby would come. One evening when I was 39 weeks and 2 days, Jackie and I went out walking, we painted our nails and sat down to watch Working Moms. Around 10 PM I told her I was tired and was going to take a shower and go to bed. I took a shower and got out and remember trying to pee several times but nothing was coming out, so I gave up and went to bed. But, the second I laid down at 11 PM, I started feeling intense waves of pain. I decided, it was probably just the prodromal labor but decided to get up to see if the pain would subside if I got up. I decided to try to pee again. The second I sat down, I heard a large release of fluid. I didn’t know if my water just broke or if I was finally able to pee. But I was guessing it was my water. Jackie was still up watching TV. I decided to tell her that I thought my water broke (and yes, my water did break). She immediately jumped up in excitement. I woke up my husband, who promptly jumped out of bed. I laughed a little, and told him if he wanted to go back to sleep for awhile he could. Thankfully, he chose not to. 

It was my plan all along to have my makeup and hair done perfectly. So, I started out in my bathroom doing my makeup. It quickly became apparent things were moving quickly. I told my husband to finish packing and get everything in the car. By 11:15 I told him he needed to call my dad to come get our daughter and that we needed to leave as soon as possible. I repeatedly kept saying that baby was either positioned incorrectly or things were happening fast. By the time I finished my makeup, I was falling to the ground with every contraction and letting out deep long moans. Needless to say, my hair never got done and thankfully my dad made it there quickly. Jackie knew at this point, she needed to be in our car (and scrubbed her arms up to her elbows before ewe left), even though her original plan was to drive separately. The hospital was about forty minutes away. 

About halfway there, it became very real to me that we may not make it to the hospital. I was trying to position myself in any that wasn’t excruciating in the back of my husbands 4runner (I seriously wonder what every car around us was thinking). I didn’t want anyone to touch me. I kept throwing up because my mind could not process the intensity of what was happening at such a fast pace. But, I kept getting through one contraction at a time. 

We got about three blocks from the hospital when I started unintentionally pushing. I told Jackie to call L&D, we needed someone to meet us immediately. I was instructed to go to the emergency room. The next thing I know, there’s a trauma doctor in the back seat of our car, checking for baby’s head. It was clear there was no time to get me upstairs, but he did get me into a room in the emergency department (along with about every resident doctor in the entire hospital). At 12:39 am, Emerick Anthony Kochar was born and all I could think was what the f**k just happened and I just got through the most traumatic journey of my life (and no, I don't mean my birth).

But, apparently even after all that, the excitement wasn’t over. I was wheeled upstairs, still sitting upright, holding my newborn baby on my chest. Once we were upstairs, we knew something wasn’t right.My placenta wasn’t coming out, even with the best efforts of me on hands and knees. The doctor told me she had to manually remove it. Once she did, I was covered with a blanket and suddenly felt blood pouring out and I started to loose consciousness. I was hemorrhaging. My husband and best friend kept switching off between me and my baby. The doctor quickly grabbed the ultrasound machine only to realize my uterus was filled with multiple blood clots. She looked at me and told me I had two choices: a spinal or the operating room. I chose the spinal and signed an emergency consent for hysterectomy in case the need came up. Within ten minutes I was given an improperly placed spinal and clots were being manually removed from my uterus. I don’t remember much of anything (I’m grateful to have photos of this time with my baby next to me), except the overwhelming pain of a hand cleaning out my uterus (the spinal was placed way too low and only numbed me from my belly button down). Once the clots were removed, the hemorrhaging immediately subsided. 

I do not remember the next few hours. I just remember waking up, with my husband and Jackie sitting on the couch in complete silence. It had felt like the end of one chapter and the beginning of something new. I see stories on the news all the time of people having their baby in the car or accidentally at home, never did I think I would almost be one of those people, missing a car birth my just minutes. In the three years of my career, I have only had one client give birth faster than myself. 

Every single birth I’ve ever attended has had one thing in common: a fearless badass birther full of strength and courage. Whether your labor lasted an hour or two days, whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean birth, whether you had a baby with or without pain management… your story is one for the books.

Birth Photos by Jackie Marie Burke of Unscripted Birth and Baby

Newborn Photos by Andrea Rae Persichette of Andrea Rae Photography