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Seven Years Ago Today: Emma’s Birth Story

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Seven years ago today I took two buses to the hospital. We were living in Edinburgh, Scotland, where public transportation is pretty awesome. We didn’t have a car and we didn’t have much money either, so I didn’t want to take a cab. Besides, I was only in very early labor – I wouldn’t have gone in for several hours if my midwife hadn’t called and told me to go in because blood tests showed that my pancreas was shutting down. I even sprinted across a four-lane road (the walk sign was on) from one bus stop to the second. I saw the connecting bus sitting at the light, and it was one that only ran every half hour or so (which I knew because I had been teaching classes that met at the same hospital). I’m going to guess that that sped things up a bit!

I tried to convince Mike to meet me there, but he gave the “first babies take FOREVER” line – and he had things to do, including teach an evening class. So I went there on my own, where I tried to convince the triage doctor, who was trying to put me up for the night in some random ward while they figured out what to do with the pancreas thing, that I was in labor. He said “No, you’re wrong. you would be much more upset than this if you were in labor.” Sometimes being a calm person works against you.

Luckily, my water broke, Hollywood style, drenching me and the entire room, so they decided I was right. They transferred me from triage up to the maternity ward. I called Mike, interrupting his class. I convinced him to COME NOW. So he ended class fifteen minutes early, and some kind student drove him to the hospital. Emma showed up a couple hours later – two days late but still quite small at 6lbs, 1.5 ounces. Emma was born on the stroke of midnight, so they let me pick her birth date – 2/23, or 2/22. I liked 2/22/06 better, so we picked that – and then had to amend her birth time to 11:59pm at the registrar (from 24:00 they had written at the hospital).

I love many, many things about the UK NHS health care system, and I was happier with my prenatal and birth care for Emma than any of my other babies. The one thing I don’t miss? Shared recovery rooms with no nursery. I was in a room with three other women, all recovering from C-sections (I was on the high-risk ward). Those three other babies cried all night (Emma didn’t cry, but didn’t sleep, either – just stared wide-eyed. I was a little relieved when she passed her hearing test the next morning!) So we got out of there as quickly as they would let us (6pm – once they realized that, with the baby gone, my pancreas was happily functioning once again), and a friend picked us up and drove us home.


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My beautiful baby Emma has grown into a beautiful girl. I love being her mom, and seeing her learn and discover new things every single day.

My Other Children’s Birth Stories

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

38 thoughts on “Seven Years Ago Today: Emma’s Birth Story”

  1. I love hearing about births in other countries. My friend had hers in Dublin and said it was very strange to be in a room with three other women and their babies, and that her husband couldn’t stay there that night!

    Happy birthday, Emma :)

  2. Wow, born on the stroke of midnight! What a wonderful story of her birth! I’m glad that your water broke to prove you were in labor! You really had a good sense of what was happening to your body!

    Happy birthday to Emma!!

  3. Happy Birthday Emma! What a story! Way for your water to break on queue too, Hollywood style. Picking her birthday sounds fun too. What’s in store for this year’s birthday party?

  4. Happy Birthday Emma!! What a remarkable Mom and Dad you have! They are very proud of you and love you very much! I hope you have a beautiful birthday, and every day is wonderful for you in your lifetime.

    I enjoyed your story of Emma very much. Emma is a very lucky little girl to have the parents she has. Baby and growing up Emma picture are both so sweet.

    Are you writing a book “Emma”? I think it would be an awesome story. Everyone with alittle girl in their life will find Emma to be inspiring, heart warming…and may even be helpful to those that haven’t really honored their children as much as they should have. You never know how a story can affect anothers life.

    Thanks for sharing with us!!

    sandysanderellasmusings

  5. What a great birth story. The pictures are wonderful and 7 wow. I was lucky and both times after my c-section because I was high risk in the NHS hospital I was lucky to have a private room but still no husbands after 9pm – this included the time my son was born at 8:59pm as soon as we were on the post-natal ward and I was in my room he had to go.

  6. What a lovely birth story! I like the part about picking her birthday. And the water breaking on cue. I cannot even imagine a seven-year-old baby girl.

  7. Elisa | blissfulE

    Both photos are beyond gorgeous! And I love your birth story! I would have had to take a bus to the hospital for Nikki’s birth in the UK, too, if I hadn’t elected home birth and then had to transfer by ambulance after many hours of labour. So glad Mike got there in time and that your pancreas was back to normal after Emma arrived.

    Happy birthday to Emma and anniversary of becoming a mum to you!!!

  8. Happy Birthday, Emma! That’s too funny about the doctor not believing you were in labor because you were calm. That’s why I had Emma Grace in the doctor’s office because the midwife didn’t think I was ready to go to the hospital from listening to me talk on the phone!

  9. I was in labor with my daughter Eve for a little over 24 hours and she was born 12:47 am on 6/6/12. So at least she got a cool birth date from the long labor!

  10. Glad giving birth fixed your pancreas! But the most amazing part is the 2 hour thing from water breaking to delivery – WOW! With my daughter my water also broke dramatically but I didn’t give birth for another 24 hours with 4 hours pushing!

    1. It was super fast and super intense. None of my other babies were anywhere near that fast – 7 hours pushing with one of them – AND a midwife complaining that it should not be taking this long so I must not be trying hard enough. We’ll see how long it takes me to find words for that birth story… NOT fun, but at least we both got healthy kids in the end!

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