Our New Year's Day baby was nearly born into the toilet

September 14 | Guest post by Alyssa Armstrong
New Year's Baby with Top Hat
Photo by Rochelle.

There's a lot you don't know as a first time mom. Nothing showed how unprepared I was like my son Owen's actual arrival. On New Year's Eve in 2010, my husband and I met friends for a celebratory dinner. Along the way, I stopped at my mom's house and accidentally mixed up my phone for hers — which will be relevant later.

At dinner I ate an entire appetizer, entree, and dessert — in retrospect this probably should have been indicative of impending labor since I typically struggled to finish half an entree. Early that morning I wandered out of bed to use the bathroom. I had become used to needing to pee at least three times a night, and right as I entered the bathroom I felt a gush of water exit. I looked down and thought, "Hmmm…"

I woke up my husband, Niles, who was sleepily bemused by the situation — until he realized that I was serious, and yes, my water had broken a month before my due date. He was too freaked out to to talk to the Labor and Delivery people when we called, so I told them calmly that my water had broken but I didn't have contractions. I knew I had to deliver within the next 24 hours.

I went to call my mom and discovered I had her phone, so it took calling my sister to get the name of my mom's friend who lived in her neighborhood, calling said friend who turned out to be out-of-state, and finally waking up another of my mom's friends and convincing her to wake up and go to my mom's house to let her know I was in labor.

Niles called his parents, and his father had exactly the same reaction that Niles had. My mother-in-law's sleepy response was, "What do you mean Alyssa's gone into labor? We're in Delaware! If we had known she was going to be in labor, we would have never gone to Delaware!"

This is how the rest of the morning played out:

Approximately 6:30 am at our house

  • Me:* Sweetheart, it's been about two hours. We've showered, you started the laundry, picked up the living room, packed our bags… It's probably time for us to get to the hospital.
  • Niles:* I want to get a load of dishes in the dishwasher first.

Approximately 7:00 am at the hospital (finally)

  • Intake staff member:* You're the woman who called us at 4:30 this morning? When we said to take your time, we meant to not speed on the way here. We didn't mean come in here two and a half hours later.
  • Me:* My husband had a last minute nesting phase.

Approximately 7:15 am in the triage room

  • Triage doctor:* On a scale of 1 to 10, what's your pain level?
  • Me:* Oh, I don't know… a 2 maybe. I'm a bit uncomfortable.

(Triage doctor proceeds to check how far I'm dilated.)

  • Triage doctor:* Well, you're 5 centimeters. I can see the baby's hair. You need to get into a room.

Approximately 9:00 am in my delivery room

  • Me to the nurse:* I really need to use the bathroom.
  • Nurse:* I don't know… You really shouldn't.
  • Me (still without an epidural):* I REALLY NEED TO USE THE BATHROOM!!!
  • Nurse:* Okay. Just let us know if you need help.

Approximately 9:15 am in the attached bathroom to my delivery room

  • Nurse (from outside):* How are you doing?
  • Me:* I'm fine.

Approximately 9:30 am still in the attached bathroom to my delivery room

  • Nurse (from outside):* How are you doing?
  • Me:* Still fine.

Approximately 9:35 am in my delivery room

  • Anesthesiologist (to Niles):* Where is the patient? I'm here for the epidural.
  • Niles:* She's in the bathroom.
  • Anesthesiologist:* No problem. I'll be back in five minutes.

Approximately 9:40 am still in the attached bathroom to my delivery room

  • Me (thinking):* Either that is a huge poop… or that's the baby's head. That burning sensation was exactly like what the book said it would feel like when the baby's head…
  • Niles (from outside):* Are you okay?
  • Me:* Not okay this time.

Niles bursts in to see me standing above the toilet with a baby's head fully clear out of me. He then shouts something unintelligible involving the words "baby" and "toilet." The nurse runs in, pulls the emergency cord they keep in bathrooms for reasons exactly like this, and when I look up next, there's an entire medical team. Luckily, it's a large bathroom.

I took two steps and Owen literally falls out of me. Owen was born 3.5 weeks early, healthy, 6 lbs 1 oz and 19 inches long at 9:43 am on January 1, 2011 — 1/1/11. He was not the first baby for the New Year, but he was the only one to be delivered perilously close to the toilet.

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  1. I loved this story! Way to stay calm in the midst of a stressful situation. I kind of hope my birth goes this well, though I could do without the month early aspect (though if I'm two days earlier then my due date my baby and I will share a birthday)! Good job mama, I can only hope to stay as calm as you!

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  2. Oh my goodness!!! Incredible story! And hilarious, I hope you don't mind me saying. Congrats!!

    1 agrees
  3. Ha–great story! Love the "last minute nesting." My youngest was born on the bathmat in our bathroom at the end of a very similar story (except he was 2 weeks LATE). Once, when he was 5 or so, in response to his older brothers' teasing, he said, "…just because I was born in a bathroom doesn't mean I'm stupid!" This is the stuff of family legends. Weird how it's more surreal than scary in the moment, isn't it? It wasn't until much later that I realized how different everyone else's experience of that event must've been.

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  4. I love this so much. my labor was 7 hours…. from about 4am until 5am I refused to get off the toilet in my house. i even had the shaky gonna-vomit-I-can't-continue-this period that is like TEXTBOOK transition. I finally came out of denial that my body was NOT trying to push poop out, but that I was really sitting on my toilet trying to push my baby out unattended. that is when I finally told my fiancé that if we did not get in the car and get to the birth center immediately we'd be delivering our own baby. we got there 20 mins later, fully dilated, waters gushing, and 20 mins later baby was born. I preferred the toilet there, too, until my midwife made me move unless I really wanted a toilet birth. haha. no one told me having a baby feels like the biggest poop ever!

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    • Actually, my dr did! Her exact words were, You may feel the urge to poop. It may actually be poop, but since you haven't eaten in 15 hours, it's most likely your baby.

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    • i was told, by another mom, "it feels like pooping a huge medicine ball".
      first thought: "yeah, right."
      thought while delivering: "shit, she WAS right!"

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  5. My son was almost a toliet baby. I had to go to the bathroom when we arrived at the hospital. The nurse wanted me to give a urine sample. I said I also had to poop. I was taken back to my bed. I remember turning back into the once empty room to see a team of people suddenly there.

  6. Not to be disgusting, but you are SO RIGHT. I think it is impossible to convey this to anyone who hasn't done it yet, but it does feel EXACTLY the same as pooping. EXACTLY. I kept thinking, "Oh my gosh, Ireallyreallyreally have to poop, I don't have time for this, I'm trying to have a baby? What did I eat/why did I eat/why do I have to go NOW of all times??" … But of course, it was the baby 🙂

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    • This is what I've always wondered! Your commentary made perfect sense in my mind too! Thanks for the laugh!

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  7. Did someone catch the baby? he didn't just fall out onto the floor did he?

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    • The nurse helped her up off the toilet and then caught the baby as he came out. She even managed to put something on the floor. And the rest of the medical team was there seconds later.

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  8. This almost happened to me too! We induced with castor oil, so my belly was feeling queasy but not in any pain. I didn't have the "cramping" I thought I would, only bad back pain, so I didn't even think I was in labor. I just thought I was the only person in the world who could feel constipated on castor oil! Thankfully, my husband had convinced me to call the midwife given the regularity and intensity of the sensations.

    I felt like I needed to "go," so I sat down and started to push. It was only when I felt the baby's head bulging that I realized labor had already progressed to delivery! Thankfully I made it onto the floor in the family room, although the bathroom would have been easier to clean ;). From waking up to holding my baby was about 90 minutes. I must say though, my husband makes a damn good midwife!

    2 agree
  9. Hilarious! And I am also so, so jealous. Several days of labor and 5.5 hours of pushing and my baby just did not want to come out!

    • I am the wife who must load the dishwasher at the most inopportune times. Usually when the husband is trying to cook and our kitchen is too small for both of us :3

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  10. Love it! The toilet is actually a great place to labor (deliver, not so much), since you have gravity on your side and your close to a squatting stance. The toilet was my fave place to sit , besides the tub, during late early (early-ish? middle?) labor.

  11. If your pain level was a 2 and you said you were fine at 5cm, I'm confused as to why they were planning an epidural…

    3 agree

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