I have no idea where it came from. But there it was.
A gorgeous hat.
I was never really a hat person, but whatever.
I popped it on my head and was immediately disappointed.
God it was so pretty.
But it hurt. A lot.
And it didn't fit well.
And I had absolutely nothing in my closet that worked with it.
So I scrounged through the box to see where it had come from so perhaps I could exchange it for something that fit me a little better.
Maybe I really wasn't a hat person after all.
"No returns or exchanges," the note said.
Considering I'd have been stumped by much more in my lifetime, I wasn't going to let a hat confuse me. So, I forced it on my head and went about my business.
After awhile, I saw a bunch of other women wearing the same damn one.
A few looked like me, tugging at it constantly, hiding behind it, even trying to stuff it in their bags, to no avail.
Awkward was an understatement.
Then I ran into a few women who looked amazing.
"So, I have to ask you - Did your hat hurt like hell at first? Because I'm not sure I can wear this for much longer," I told them.
"Yeah, it takes a little getting used to," said one.
"That's an understatement," another giggled.
"Mine hurt like hell for the first year. But now it fits like a glove, " said the third.
A year? Seemed like a long time to mess with a hat.
But they all looked so good in it.
So I did what I could. I put it on all the time. I bought new clothes to match it.
I wore it proudly. Though I'd often get odd stares.
I can't say it always felt right.
But I just got used to it. And it just sort of became a part of me. I even started to feel naked without it.
A couple of years later another one arrived. Then another.
Even though they're a little different than that first one, they still look pretty much the same.
And now I know how to wear them, or at least, make them work so they don't look like they're wearing me.
Sometimes I even wear more than one.
I don't expect the hat deliveries will ever stop. The new styles, yes, but updated versions of my original ones - they'll keep coming, as I've learned.
And I'll do my best to rotate them into my wardrobe, trying to figure out how to wear them just like I did with that very first one, hoping it doesn't take me as long to adjust before another one arrives.
I can't say I ever thought much about hats.
But now I really like them.
And I think they fit me quite well.
In fact, I'm not sure I'd recognize myself without one.
I'm all for home births, really I am, but I have to say that I'm taken aback at how my experience could be used as a way to somehow justify their awesomeness.
Last time I checked, most home births do not involve a firemen and an EMT telling the laboring mom that they can't see the baby SO IT MUST NOT BE TIME TO PUSH YET.
I admit that as someone who has chosen to go the meds-free birth route (and has been afforded the good fortune to have success in that endeavor), I've made the joke about how I wouldn't mind if I didn't make it to the hospital just to avoid the rigamarole that one often times needs to endure when it comes to attempting a meds-free hospital birth.
And given the bitch that is back labor, the baby sliding out in the car sounded magical.
Irony? Foreshadowing? Coincidence?
I can assure you, however, that the prospect of it actually happening in the car and then it really happening in my guest room was not as "tee-hee, giggle giggle" as it sounded when I'd joked about it.
Though it was about 50,000 times easier than a back labor.
If you want to know the nitty gritty, my ideal situation would have been to deliver at a freestanding birth center, however, those don't exist here in Georgia. Also, home births are only facilitated by CPMs (Certified Professional Midwife) not CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwife), and it's our personal preference to have a CNM.
And, finally, the big kicker - we didn't want a home birth.
Keep in mind that most people who have home births actually plan them, with their midwife and doula in attendance, and not the local fireman and his posse of not-so-birth-savvy EMTs. And I think it's a bit far fetched to say that Bridget's home birth was or would have been far better than one I'd have in a hospital.
I've had three amazing meds-free hospital births so there would be no reason for me to expect otherwise. And it doesn't change my mind about not wanting a home birth.
Given what could have happened, I'm just thankful for birth choices, that my kids didn't wake up, and that we're all okay - mom, baby, husband, and yes, carpets too.
On Saturday night, I started having some contractions that ended up lasting throughout the day on Sunday, so I figured it was probably a good idea to find my packed bag, charge the cameras, and get some rest.
Instead, I went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and cleaned out all my kids' drawers.
Later on that evening, the contractions did regulate at around 6-7 minutes apart, so I tweeted first (duh!), asking folks how close contractions were supposed to be before I hauled my ass to the hospital and then texted my midwife.
I figured since I was able to continue watching "The Kardashians" during my contractions (and snoozing in between) without being completely annoyed, I'd wait a bit and then come in when they started to pick up.
That was around 10pm.
A few hours, or Chelsea Lately and then some other E! crap later, they were definitely stronger, but not unbearable.
However, I felt the teeniest amount of rectal pressure and was oddly a little vomitous, so I woke the husband, called the midwife, and told our neighbor to come on down.
That was around 1am.
As I walked to the door to open it for my neighbor, I felt my water break, so I scampered back with my skirt between my legs, protecting the carpet AT ALL COSTS, and hopped on the toilet.
I then I had a sinking feeling that I was in deep shit.
Before I tell you how I piled myself into the back of my husband's beater car, got about a mile from home and literally felt the baby's head move down, shoved my own hand up there and felt the baby's head, and screamed for him to turn around and call 911, I will say this:
a) I've had two extremely long and painful back labors, which, if you've had them you know that you feel like you have to poop (AND DIE) the entire time;
b) Margot was one of those said long and painful back labors, so it was not immediately obvious to me that I would go quickly, or at least, feel rectal pressure and that would mean the baby was coming and not "Oh sorry, you're only 5 cm, enjoy the stabbing pain in your back for another five hours."
c) I like to go naturally and spend the least amount of time at the hospital as possible;
d) My water has always broken during regular but not so strong contractions. So, I was sort of thinking that it would do it again.
Okay, so - we're driving back home, I'm trying not to push the baby out in the car, and he's on the phone with 911 trying to explain to them where we live, which was much more complicated than it should have been, mind you.
I hopped out of the car, banged on the door, and ran my tail back into the guest bed that was still warm. My husband called the midwife and she coached him on how to catch the baby.
We decided that if I could wait for the EMTs, it would probably be best, so my midwife talked me through a couple more contractions. My neighbor yelled that the EMTs were here and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Until I saw them.
A young dude. And a scruffy old dude.
"No lady? No hot, nice, strong men LIKE ON THOSE TV SHOWS?"
WHERE IS EDDIE CIBRIAN?
"So. What's going on?" one drawled, nonchalantly, like we had just asked him over for beers and the baseball game.
I looked at my husband with a look of complete and utter TERROR, mouthed "WHAT THE FUCK?," and then shrieked something about wanting my midwife RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW OMFG.
There I was, my legs spread wide open with two of the Atlanta suburb's "finest is in the eye of the beholder" firemen gazing upon me.
My husband asked the one if he had done this before and he said "yes," and then I heard a woman's voice and sighed a bit, only to have her say "Well, these contractions are too far apart. I don't think you're ready to push."
"Yeah, I mean. I don't see a baby," the dude fireman said.
"Yep, nothing crowning," said the lady.
I stuck my hand up there, now worried that the head of the baby I felt wasn't really a head. And maybe these contractions weren't push contractions.
But then I had to push. And I did. And nothing really happened.
"Do you want to check me?" I asked.
"Nope" they said. "But really, we don't see a baby."
At that point, I was so incredibly freaked out, but also in enough pain to know better that I figured if they couldn't see the baby, then maybe I would show them.
And so I did.
I think the dude grabbed the baby. Or maybe she just came out on her own.
But it was fast. And easy. And done.
To the fireman's credit (later learned that his name was Kelly), he and the female EMT did a great job of cleaning the baby up, checking her out, and making sure everything was okay.
They also popped me pretty quickly into the ambulance, where my series of tweets began, and drove me to my hospital where the baby and I were attended to by some great nurses, including my midwife, who thanked me for at least letting her deliver my placenta.
The irony is that I had to stay an extra day to wait for sepsis tests to be done since my daughter was born at home and not at the very clean and sterile hospital. Ha.
(They also don't know my home. Or my husband).
But I'm thankful that we're all safe, healthy, and home. Again.
The bed is surprisingly in tact. As is the carpet.
And I'm not sure I'll ever look at our local firemen the same way ever again.