This is a birth that’s much like pregnancy itself – a slow build with a huge rush at the end.
Jes Hogan had laboured for days, not sure if her body would kick into gear and birth her little boy. What happened next is edge-of-your-seat stuff – a hospital corridor birth, spectacularly captured in a series of raw photos.
It’s the birth story of Maxwell Alexander – the little boy who couldn’t wait.
A slow build
Kansas mum Jes Hogan explains her sixth pregnancy was unpredictable and not what she thought it would be – in a good way.
“After pregnancies in which I had been hospitalised for preterm labour and complications from HG, I was happy and astonished that I had very little to report in the way of labour progress up until 37 weeks and only outpatient infusions for iron and fluids. It wasn’t entirely smooth, but much more so than my previous pregnancies,” Jes said.
Leading up to the birth, Jes had been having Braxton Hicks contractions that intensified over a couple of days. When they began showing a regular pattern, she went to hospital with her husband, convinced her little boy wouldn’t be far away. But things didn’t go to plan.
“Contractions coming every three minutes, mildly intensifying and becoming closer together. Went from almost three cm dilated to a four in the first hour of arrival, and we thought we were in the early stages of welcoming our last baby into our family.
“After four hours labouring in the tub, bouncing on the ball, and walking
the halls, we decided we wanted to try to stick to our plan of an intervention free birth. So we chose to leave the hospital without any further progress and contractions that had begun to space out. We spent the following days gently encouraging the contractions, hoping to edge them on into labor. At home I was five centimetres dilated but would not move any further and contractions were uncomfortable, but never really gave me the feeling they would amount to anything more than a sleepless night.”
The family spent the next few days swimming with their daughters and pottering around at home. Each night Jes would feel contractions that stopped her from sleeping.
“I was losing faith in my ability to tell when I would actually be in labour, and losing faith that my body knew what it was doing. Sunday we spent nearly the whole day at our local pool and ended the evening with my mother in law and I painting our nails while we watched Game of Thrones with my husband. I put our two-year-old to bed, still contracting, and we snuggled for some time. Later, I vividly remember telling my husband, ‘I’m having contractions again, but I don’t think they’ll amount to anything’. I confided in him as we lay in bed that night that I was afraid I would either need to be induced or that I wouldn’t know it was the real thing until it was too late and we were having a baby at home.”
A mother’s intuition
It turns out, everything was about to happen at a lightning-quick pace. As Jes once again stayed awake contracting, she confided in a group of expectant mums online that she was afraid she wouldn’t make it to the hospital on time.
“Oh, that intuition is real, if only I had given some credit to that voice in the back of my head that night!”
Instead, Jes drifted off to sleep, in the hopes she would know when her body was ready – it was her sixth baby after all!
“The pain wasn’t troubling me too badly, I kept telling myself I would just ‘know’ if this was the real thing. About one hour later I woke to a strange, long contraction. It wasn’t incredibly painful, but it caused me enough discomfort that I felt around in the dark for my husband and said ‘Travis, I think this is it’.
“That same contraction made me roll onto all fours to sway. Finally I asked my husband to help me as I made my way off our bed. It was that moment that it happened. I felt my water break. I scurried off the edge of the bed, hurried to the bathroom in shock, and said ‘oh god, we’re not going to make it. We are going to have this baby at home’. The contraction went from uncomfortable to painful in a blink. I had somehow managed to make it to the bathroom before my ruptured waters made any mess, something I’m admittedly still pretty proud of and mystified by. But standing in the bathroom it felt like that contraction that woke me was never going to end.
“My husband assured me we would make it to the hospital. I cried that there was no way I could move, but he said he would get me to the car. He disappeared for what felt like an eternity, but in reality was maybe three to five minutes. In that time my contractions were on top of each other, I was certain things were moving fast. I wasn’t sure just how fast, but I knew we did not have long. When my husband returned he helped me to the dresser where I tossed on a pair of underwear and sweatpants, and he had already gotten his mother up, loaded up my bags, and pulled his car right up to the front door.”
Jes was in awe as her husband took control, helping her into the car. The labouring mum then texted her birth photographer, confiding she didn’t think she was going to make it to the hospital.
“Travis put his hazards on and made time I didn’t know we could make, while I laboured intensely in the passenger seat. I could feel the baby moving down quickly with each contraction. Thinking back, his head must have been very low and blocking my waters as I did not leak the entire ride to the hospital. I didn’t have time to time the contractions, but there had to have been less than a minute between them. I called labor and delivery and told them we were on our way, waters had ruptured, sixth baby and he was coming fast and I wasn’t sure we’d make it. My husband gently held my back during each turn, letting me know how far out we were, encouraging me to hold on. Telling me repeatedly that we would make it.
“As we neared the last turn to the hospital I began screaming that baby was coming. He honked the horn rapidly as I screamed through the contractions and he pulled quickly into the ER drive. No one came out so he ran around to help me out of the car. I told him baby was almost there. I also said I couldn’t get out, I felt as if baby was ready to emerge. That feeling made it nearly impossible to move. He disappeared for a moment into the ER doors. I tried to maneuver out of the passenger seat so I could somehow walk inside in the few seconds break I had between contractions.”
The final push
Jes’ birth photographer Tammy Karin from Little Leapling Photography came sprinting across the parking lot and raced into the hospital. She yelling for help, as the couple struggled to make it past the front doors.
“I made it just past the second set of automatic doors, into the next hall which luckily was not carpeted like the one we had just stepped out of. Tammy yelled to them that I was going to have the baby right there on the floor. I know at this point I said something to the effect of, ‘oh god, he’s here’. I then started to take my pants off because I could feel my body pushing the baby’s head out. I reached down and could feel his head crowning with my hand. I looked at my husband and said, ‘Travis catch him!’. Without any hesitation he did just that as I felt my body involuntarily pushing his head the rest of the way out. At that moment Tammy began snapping away! Then the nurses came rushing down the hall. It was a blur at this point, they reached us, helped me lay down just as my body began to push again.”
Little Maxwell Alexander arrived on the floor just inside the emergency entrance at 3.38am – less than 25 minutes from Jes’ water breaking at home.
“They placed him on my chest, his head was so bruised from arriving so quickly. The nurses were amazing, so was my husband. They all gently helped move baby up to my chest, and my husband placed a towel sweetly under my head. I wasn’t aware of much other than his presence at my right side.
“Our son took a moment to cry, then he went very calm. As it turns out, this is just his demeanour so far. It was a bit scary only because he was so incredibly bruised from his entrance, but then he let out several more cries as they rubbed his back. We delayed his cord clamping until it had stopped pulsating. Travis then cut the cord, and our sweet nurses took excellent care to keep me with baby. I lay there on the ground holding him while Tammy captured it all and they took our blood pressure. They moved us to a gurney after that, and we made our way to labour and delivery. I don’t remember the ride up there as I was still a bit in shock from it all. I was also totally in love with the little person laying on me, and even more completely in love with my husband who didn’t miss a beat and kept his word that we would, in fact, make it to the hospital. Even if it was only a few steps inside! My god, I truly don’t think I’ve ever been more enamoured with that man.”
After five gorgeous daughters, Jes and Travis welcomed a bouncing baby boy, who was in a hurry to meet his adoring family.
“He was 6 lbs 7 oz, 20 inches long. Our son. Our last baby. Our only boy. Our smallest and quickest delivery. It’s still surreal.
It was my craziest birth, but also, the most perfect. It was not at all what I had planned, but it ended without any intervention, with a healthy baby, and amazing support people by our sides. It was beautiful and I’ll forever love every memory of it.”
What a heart-pounding birth, we’re in absolute awe! If you’re in the mood for another unexpected birth story, read about how hypnobirthing helped an Australian mum give birth in her car.