When deciding to give up driving for a year, there was one life-changing event I saw in the near future that would make this particularly challenging, the birth of our first child. How to get us to the birth center when I couldn’t drive because of the agreement and my wife shouldn’t drive because, apparently, contractions are distracting and make driving dangerous (who comes up with these rules?).
Years ago, a friend loaned me his pedicab in exchange for me doing some work on the brakes. When I started thinking about how to get move us all about, this was my first option. Unfortunately, he has since sold the pedicab. As luck would have it, I overheard a conversation at work in which someone was about to donate their pedicab to a local non-profit which happens to be five blocks from home. After interjecting into the talk, the current owner thought this was a great use for the pedicab and agreed to let me borrow it before it went to the non-profit.
Two important facts about pedicabs: they are heavy and they are slow. This one has an electric assist, which I admit felt like cheating, until I realized it no longer worked and only added weight to the already heavy machine. Once we had it, we had to do some practice runs.
These ensured that we could make the one mile trip to the birth center without trouble. As a bonus, it’s pretty fun to ride around with a pregnant woman in the back of the pedicab. We got lots of interesting looks and many encouraging comments.
The time finally came 12 days after our due date and we were ready for the next stage. It also happened to come at 4:00am which meant pulling out all the bike lights we had to make this pedicab radiate in the predawn darkness. It turns out, that wasn’t too important since we only saw one car on the road, but still, we were prepared.
The ride down was wonderful. We had clear skies and cool (but not cold) temperatures. The stars were out to put on a beautiful scene between contractions and the pedicab cushioned most of the bumps in the road to give a gentle ride. My wife and mother-in-law rode in back while I pedaled. The whole trip took about 10 minutes and I can’t imagine it going any better if we’d been in a car.
When we got to the birth center, Charlotte, our midwife, had the place warm and ready. The way everything was laid-out and prepared was almost enough to make me want to give birth… almost.
We watched as the sun rose, bringing a soft predawn light into the room. Then as it rose higher, to the full brightness of midday. And still she labored.
As afternoon progressed towards evening, we were all ready for this kid to be out and completely exhausted. When evening turned into night and we hit the 24 hour mark for labor, we reassessed. Charlotte suggested we think about transferring to the hospital where Dom could get some meds to help her rest for the final push.
At this point, speed was critical and I was too tired from being awake for ~40 hours to pedal us anywhere. With Charlotte and my in-laws driving, we made the 1 mile trip in no time. Once at St. Luke’s, Dom was able to get a few hours of much needed rest.
When she awoke, it was time to get this baby moving. Unfortunately, with all the stress getting here, our kiddo was not liking the idea of more contractions. After discussing with doctors, nurses, midwives and family what the options were we decided a cesarean was the safest route. This was definitely not part of our birth plan and wanted to avoid this option if at all possible. But when the decision was almost made for us with the hospital prepping for an emergency c-section, before things improved enough to cancel that order, we decided this was our best option.
In the end, we came away with a happy, healthy baby girl. She was born Sept 2 at 9:04am and weighed in at 7lb 14oz. We were kept at the hospital for a few more days of monitoring (every hour on the hour which seemed excessive) and were finally release on Sept 5. The hospital, with all their rules about how and where you can carry your child, was not too keen on a pedicab ride home for mom and the new born. Overall, I’m not sure Dom was either. Her parents drove all of us home where the three of us were finally allowed to sleep, uninterrupted for two hours, until she informed us that she needed changing… or food… or to burp… or…