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Cord Prolapse at Home: Apollo’s Birth

Warning: this birth story is a little bit more graphic than the ones I’ve posted before. This is out of necessity. I couldn’t post his story without certain graphic details. If this is going to make you squeamish, skip over this…

Experiencing a cord prolapse at home

Apollo’s Birth: Cord Prolapse at Home

What is a cord prolapse?

 From Cleaveland Clinic: In a prolapse, the umbilical cord drops (prolapses) through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby. The cord can then become trapped against the baby’s body during delivery. Umbilical cord prolapse occurs in approximately one in every 300 births.

Chuck and I knew exactly what to do in the case of a prolapsed cord because we had both read Peggy Vincent’s book, Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife where she describes two instances of cord prolapse.

Labor Begins

Friday night after we put the children to bed, Chuck and I sat down to watch a movie. As I sat idly rubbing my belly, I noticed the baby had once again turned transverse. I had a head bulging on one side and bottom bulging on the other. We looked at each other and sighed…

The movie ended and I headed to bed at 11:20. Sometime after midnight, I woke up to a strong contraction…I had a few more, very strong but infrequent contractions, 12-20 minutes apart. I was uncomfortable so I kept making trips back and forth to the bathroom. At one point I finished up in the bathroom and was about to stand up when my water broke with a pop and a gush. The water just poured out of and wouldn’t stop. I called Chuck (who had headed to bed only 10 minutes before) but he didn’t hear me. Once the flood slowed a bit I put a towel between my legs and waddled down the hall, gushing fluid the entire way. I flicked on our bedroom light and told Chuck my water broke. I headed back to the toilet where the fluid continued to pour out.

We were immediately on high alert. If you read my previous birth stories, you know my water has never broken before I was fully dilated and ready to push…and in every case except Hezekiah, the water broke as the baby was emerging. I was six days overdue, the latest I have ever gone during a pregnancy. Was I in for a long, slow labor? Or were we going to deliver this baby in the next ten minutes by ourselves???

Call the Midwife

Chuck got the phone and called the (back-up) midwife and asked her to come out to the house and check me. He turned and headed down the hall and I stood up from the toilet. I glanced down and saw a good 3 ½ inches of umbilical cord hanging out of me.

This was the single worst moment of my life. I knew cord prolapse at home = death of the baby…the only way this can be prevented is with an immediate c-section…and I was alone in my bathroom 15 minutes from the hospital.

Nightmare or not, I didn’t hesitate for one second. I grabbed the cord and stuffed it back where it belonged, then slid to lie down on the bathroom floor. I yelled down the hall to Chuck, “Chuck, the cord prolapsed, call 911 NOW”.

Waiting for the Ambulance

 As Chuck called 911, I crab-walked into the playroom, holding the cord in the whole time. I lay on the couch with a couple of pillows under me and soon realized I could not keep holding the cord in. Chuck needed to do it. Without a moment’s hesitation, up went his hand to keep the cord safe in my uterus. Soon I realized I couldn’t keep holding up my pelvic area so I slid down until my bottom was on the couch and my head on the floor. Chuck shoved another pillow under my backside.

It, of course, seemed to take forever for the ambulance to arrive. Once we heard them on the property, we realized we had no way to unlock the door. No one else in the house was awake…after a moment of deliberation, Chuck let go, dashed across the room to unlock the door, and ran back to me. Up went his hand again. His hand wouldn’t come out again until the Apollo was delivered.

Can You See the Head?

The paramedics were a bit shocked by the scene they fell upon…by this time I was hanging halfway off the couch- upside down, jammies around my ankles, and Chuck had his hand in my vagina, holding the cord in.

“Can you see the head?” they asked.

“NO! The baby’s not being born- the cord is prolapsed”.

It took several explanations to get them to understand the situation. It was immediately apparent they had no idea what a “cord prolapse” was. It was terrifying. All the while I was trying to stay relaxed…so I wouldn’t bring on more contractions. Once the paramedics arrived and Chuck could hang up the phone, he called a neighbor to stay with the kids. There we were- headed away in an ambulance in the middle of the night. Chuck had no wallet, no shoes (a paramedic grabbed a pair for him and our neighbor grabbed his cell phone). Off we went.

Nineteen Minutes from our House to the Operating Room

Once in the ambulance, Chuck called my mom to come out to the house with the kids and get everyone she knew to pray- the baby’s very life was on the line. The ride seemed to me to take forever (but by checking his cell phone record, we saw it took only 19 minutes to get from our road into the operating room). As soon as we arrived they wheeled us straight through the front doors of the childbirth center at the hospital and through the lobby. I can only imagine what the visitors thought as they saw me rushed in on a gurney, Chuck’s hand inside me, and the paramedics running full speed.

Code Purple

The OB was waiting for us and ushered us into a room with an ultrasound machine. After it warmed up he put it on my stomach and said, “There’s a heartbeat- we’re doing surgery. Code Purple!” They, of course, had the room all set up and ready to go for us.

In we went (I heard them yell, “Entering the room at 2:45!”) There was no time for an epidural. It took about five minutes to prep me and put me under a general anesthetic. As they were prepping me they noticed my jammies around my ankles and someone removed them. Meanwhile, Chuck was now kneeling on the operating room floor still holding the cord in place.

Despite coming c-section, Apollo still refused to come out. In fact, he came out breech and had his feet caught up under my ribs. Chuck was able to remove his hand just as they maneuvered Apollo out and had a great view of his male anatomy (we didn’t find out his gender during the pregnancy).

In the hospital with Apollo after my c-section.

They warned Chuck ahead of time that he needed to stay back as they worked on Apollo. His lungs and a tummy were full of fluid. He had to be transported to the special care nursery because his lungs were “wet” and “crackly”. Chuck spent the first hours with Apollo, holding his hand, rubbing him and talking to him.

No Regrets

Apollo survived a cord prolapse at home.

There is no doubt that Apollo surviving the prolapsed cord at home is a miracle. Thank God I knew what a cord prolapse was and thank God Chuck had the courage to do what he did. I only had one contraction after my water broke. Contractions would have moved Apollo down and possibly compressed the cord. It took only nineteen minutes to get from our house into the operating room.  The doctors and nurses were so impressed that we knew what to do and that Chuck held his cord in and allowing him to breathe. Thank God for the OB on call who whisked in and used his skills to deliver my son. 

I have no regrets. I don’t regret the c-section, not seeing him for his first few hours or anything else about the experience. I am only grateful to have my beautiful baby alive and healthy.

Our son is a miracle.



  1. Ruth

    Our God is an awesome God, and He is to be praised for all that came together for Apollo’s safe arrival. Way to go, Chuck, and way to stay relaxed through all of that, Renee…your presence of mind was amazing considering the circumstances.
    Thank you for sharing your miraculous story!

  2. Angela

    AMAZING! What a stressful situation Renee! On a lighter note, bout time you had a baby that looked just like your hubby!! :) Most of your kids look just like you!!

  3. Wendy Simmons

    I’m so sorry you had to have a c-section…they are not fun…but so worth it when your baby’s life is on the line! Your husband is amazing! Way to go Chuck!!!
    Thanks for sharing Apollo’s birth story. God is good!

  4. Callie

    TRULY AMAZING! Apollo is such a lucky little guy to have you ALL to look after him. As we will all love “watching” Apollo grow!! What an amazing, intuitive, resourceful family you are! CONGRATS!! Sending warm wishes to your family, may you have a quick/EASY recovery!
    Thank you for the update!!

  5. Kristy

    Praise God for sustaining Apollo through this ordeal and for giving you and you husband the strength and level headedness to cope with this situation. Congratulations on you beautiful baby.
    Kristy (Australia)

  6. Sarah

    Tears, chills, WOW!!! Praise God, and thankfully you knew what to do and Chuck DID it!! YEAH!!! Apollo is adorable- what a beautiful picture. I can’t even imagine the whirlwind of life you have had the past few days. Continued prayers for healing.

  7. Sarri

    First time commenter here- long time reader though. What a beautiful boy you have there. That is an incredible birth story- thank you for sharing it with us. I do have a correction though- you are also a hero for keeping a cool head and knowing what to do in such a scary situation. I have had 3 babies, but can honestly say I would have had no clue. Congratulations to you all!

  8. Christina

    A couple of years ago I found your blog I had no idea our lives would be so unique in the end, I am so thankfull that Baby is doing AMAZING.
    When I found your blog I had no idea I was pregnant with twins. I was thankfully in the OR already (no homebirth for the twins) I had delivered baby A and all was right, B was then engaged but little did we know she would pop back up 2 minutes before she was born the dual fused placent afully abrupted delivering what they thought was her sister’s unmilical cord and placenta (not seen in a twin birth usually they are delivered after both baby’s) it was then that Baby B’s cord prolapsed. I was thankfull I was already in the OR.
    I am thankfull your baby is fine! It is amazing how one that begins at home has such a different ending to one that happens in the OR, I wouldn’t change her for the world even with the long term complications that we live with every day, knowing that your family wont have to live with those makes my day!!

  9. Sally

    I can’t imagine how you felt seeing the cord – thank God you knew what to do! That must’ve been the longest night of you life.

  10. Tracy

    Wow, that is amazing! Congratulations on your precious new boy.
    Thank you for sharing the details…I can imagine that it might just save the life of another reader’s baby someday.
    Kudos to you for knowing what to do and to Chuck for being willing to do it.
    I pray that your recovery is quick and that you won’t be hurting too much.

  11. Nicole

    Wow, you’ve got a little miracle baby right there. I’m so glad both you and Apollo are alright =) Props for both you and your husband thinking so fast and doing what needed to be done!

  12. Amber

    What a miracle. Thank God everyone is ok. I am praying you have a good recovery. I love reading your blog and think your family is a real blessing!

  13. Melissa

    What a beautiful and miraculous story! I cried the entire time I read it. Thank you for sharing. All the best to you, Apollo, and your beautiful family!
    Melissa :)

  14. Jessi

    Wow, what an amazing story! I’m so glad that you kept such a clear head. Chuck is amazing for being willing to hold that cord in for so long. Sounds like Apollo might be stubborn growing up. Even when he had to be surgically removed he was trying to hang on!
    I’m sorry you were in such pain after coming out of anesthesia. I’m a big fan of pain medication being used before the person comes out of it. Saves everyone a lot of pain and stress.

  15. Joolz

    I am absolutely amazed by Apollo’s birth story and of Chuck’s courage and intuition to do what he did for you. What a beautiful outcome you have. Apollo is indeed a handsome little dude! Blessings to you all,

  16. EllaJac

    Wow.. how amazing and incredible. Thank you Jesus!
    I had it in my head that you’d have to go on all fours, with your backside up, head/chest down… I don’t know why; I need to look that up a bit more.
    SO GLAD it is such a happy ending!!!!

  17. Elizabeth

    What a blessing! I love hearing how beautifully the two of you worked together to take care of your newest child…thanks for sharing this amazing story!

  18. Stacy LaPointe

    Wow what a miracle story! So glad you knew what you where doing, I definetly learned something today. Love reading your blog. We have 6 kids, three from Liberia, and have followed your blog for awhile. And Apollo is SO CUTE! Take Care and hope for you to have a speedy recovery. Stacy L

  19. Davene

    This made me cry. I’m still crying, in fact. I am so very grateful for the way God orchestrated all the details so that the outcome could be so wonderful.
    I remember my dad–an old-fashioned country doctor–telling about a woman with a prolapsed cord, and the way he had to hold in the cord as she was rushed to the OR. Scary stuff.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It’s beautiful and inspiring and faith-building. To God be the glory!

  20. Susie

    What an incredible story. I am so glad that Chuck knew what to do, that you knew what to do – it’s all so incredible! Welcome to the world Apollo!

  21. Mamavee

    Tears and tears. What an amazing miracle.
    Is this what happens when you dub an unborn chld “Opus”? How else could he top the births of all his other siblings?!
    And on another note, for all the bad rap we natural and home birth advocates give c-sections, they certainly do save lives, and what a different story this would be if you weren’t able to have one is the speedy manner that you were able to. God is good!

  22. Delia Brands

    After reading your amazing birth story, I had chills from my scalp to my toes, then the tears started flowing! God certainly has a special plan for Apollo’s life, as he does for all our children. And he really does look like Chuck – blonde hair & all!

  23. Delia Brands

    After reading your story, I had the chills from my scalp to my toes, then the tears started flowing! God obivously has a special plan for Apollo’s life, as he does for all our children. He sure is a blondie!I think his mouth looks like Jubilee’s. Do you think he’ll have blue eyes?

  24. jilumasam

    What an absolutely amazing story!!! Glad to see that everything turned out well on the night. Praying for a good and speedy recovery for you both.

  25. Stacy

    Best birth story EVER.
    I was absolutely riveted. Amazing, all of it!
    GO Chuck!
    And way to go, Renee- having the knowledge of what needed to be done and the presence of mind to do it. I’m thoroughly impressed.
    Yay, GOD!
    And that’s one precious face at the top of this post. :)

  26. Delia Brands

    Oops – I posted twice earlier but now I’m thinking about how ironic it is that you waited sooo long for him – years for his conception, then long overdue days for his birth, then when “Opus” decided it was finally time time, he sure came quick… and with a bang!

  27. Sarah

    Wow. Tears are streaming. This is an incredible story. You and Chuck are totally amazing. So very thankful everything worked out the way it did and that you all are okay now. To God be the glory — great things He hath done!

  28. Lisa

    Rejoicing with you in Apollo’s health, Chuck’s amazingness, and your calm and collected thinking! May God get all the honor and glory for this precious ones life and testimony!
    What a beautiful little boy!!

  29. GiGi

    Wow- what an amazing story. My heart skipped a beat. I was going to write about how lucky you are, but then I realized luck had nothing to do with it. Thank God for Apollo and for Chuck.
    By the way, what would you have named him had he been a girl?

  30. Amanda

    That is insanely amazing – I made my husband come read this and he was in utter shock and awe too. Praise God for a healthy baby and for yours and Chuck’s quickness of mind and willingness to act fast!!!

  31. Amber Hanshaw

    Who can deny God’s existence and hand in our lives with a story like this? Amazing! So happy and thankful to hear about your little miracle!

  32. Lisa

    No doubt about it at all GOD was moving mightly in the birth of Apollo! What an amazing birth, your husband was amazing.

  33. Christine

    Thanks for sharing. You seemed so calm through it all. I am so glad everything turned out ok. It took me awhile to figure out the XIV part. It’s because he’s the 14 child right!? My last baby had his head over by my left side and was a scheduled c-section because we were afraid of cord prolapse. This makes me even more thankful for modern medicine! Apollo is so precious!

  34. Aunty Tara

    …..and you and Chuck are pretty amazing too! I know I would have freaked right out and not have been able to keep my cool. Awesome awesome story!!!

  35. Megan C

    Wow! What a story you have of Apollo and his miraculous birth. So very glad all turned out well and that you and Chuck knew what to do. Praise the Lord for his protection!!! May Apollo continue to be a miracle in your family. Enjoy your sweet little boy!!!

  36. Thomasin

    Wow. I’ve just read your story three times. Amazing! Thank goodness you knew what to do! Thank goodness your husband was able to do what needed to be done. Thank goodness we have midwives but access to the ER when we need it. I think this is a beautiful birth story, even if it was an unexpected one. Congrats, mom, dad & siblings–Apollo appeared with a bang and will not be overlooked. ;-) Also: it wasn’t until the second reading that I caught your entrance into the hospital; truly that WOULD have been quite something, to someone waiting in the lobby. Hah! Again, congrats on the baby boy, I’m so glad everyone is safe and back at home, and I hope (as one homebirth-planning-but-then-sectioned mama to another) you heal quickly and well. Much internet love to you all,

  37. Renee

    Actually, the midwife never came out. Chuck called, in part, to tell her not to come. We knew we needed to be transported by ambulance, and we knew I would require a c-section so there was no need for the midwife.
    Sent from my iPhone

  38. Emily G

    That is the craziest, most amazing birth story I have ever read. I cried, and I had to tell my husband all about it. Your husband is truly a hero, and God must have big plans for a baby whose life is such a miracle. Thank you so much for sharing this!
    Oh, and Apollo is just gorgeous. I love his cheeks in that photo.

  39. Ellen in Kalamazoo

    He is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing your story – goes to show that prayers said ahead of time for a safe delivery do work! Blessings to all!!!

  40. Linds

    Why on EARTH did Chuck argue with you when you told him to call 911? Did he think you were mistaken about the cord prolapse. I would give my husband H#LL if he tried to argue with me in labour. What would he have done if the midwife hadn’t answered? I’m so glad that you and your baby are OK. Take Care and God Bless

  41. Kimber

    Oh, Renee. What a beautiful, harrowing, wonderful birth story.
    Clearly you, Chuck & baby Apollo had angels on your shoulders that day. Praise God, for He IS mighty!

  42. Lindsay

    Praise God for His goodness! I am absolutely buzzing with adrenaline after reading your story. I can’t wait to visit with you in person. You and Chuck are both heroes!

  43. Jacey

    What an amazing story!!! I’m so glad that due to your knowledge, and Chucks fast thinking, everything turned out okay.

  44. Alias Mother

    As a fellow recipient of an emergency c-section, though in circumstances nowhere near as terrifying as yours, I emphasize completely. Your entire family is to be commended for your clear-headed thinking and actions. You both saved your baby’s life.
    Oh, and congratulations on your beautiful new boy.

  45. Jean

    Praise the Lord! Wow. Just wow. On another note, I have three children and had no idea what a prolapsed cord was. I don’t recall reading it in pregnancy books and my OB never brought it up. I really believe that our experiences in life are meant to help others. Someday, you or someone reading your blog will bring your story up to another person and a life will be saved. Enjoy your miracle baby. He is beautiful.

  46. Renee

    Well, you know, no one had time to think. He called to midwife to let her know the cord was prolapsed and that we were headed to the hospital. That way she didnt come out to the house (we would have been long gone by then). The call took less than 30 seconds. He had the phone in his hand already, and knew once we had 911 on the line, he wouldnt be able to call her. If she didnt answer, he would have just called 911. In my opinion, it was the right decision.

  47. Camee

    Reading with tears… how scary for you and Chuck, but what a gift to have the peace of mind and wisdom God gave you to do what you both did. Bravo to you both, and Hallelujah, Praise Jesus!!! SO happy for you ~ and welcome, little Apollo!

  48. Ingrid

    I am so happy to hear the good news! I cried all through the story — partly because of the precious miracle of life, partly because of the clear thinking and decisive action on the part of both you and your husband, and partly because I am so grateful for the level of medical attention regular people can access in the United States.

  49. Jamie

    I just read some of your blog for the first time today and what a miracle!!! Your family is beautiful and blessed. Congrats to both of you on an excellent delivery.

  50. Jodee

    Oh wow Renee! I’ve been following for awhile and I just read this post and started crying! Praise God that you and Apollo are both safe and that you have an amazing husband who truly is a hero!

  51. Lou

    Wow. I am so sorry you had to go through that fear. But so happy that it all turned out ok. And I’m pleased the children slept through that.

  52. Shannon

    I am late to reading your birth story because I have been on a very long vacation. At some point I did see that you had the baby and that he was already a month old. WOW! Thanks for sharing this amazing story. Congratulations on a beautiful baby and on having a husband that was not too afraid to do what was required of him in a crisis.

  53. renee

    omg,the exact same thing happend 2 me nov 28th 2010!i had read about a cord prolapse and by chance rememberd to get down on al 4s!i was alone with my 3 children,the ambulance came and i had 2 crawl down driveway while sum1 held cord,ther was no time for an epidural and the last words i heard was that they lost the heart beat..3hrs later i woke and my baby had been revived!he was two mnths early..mor info needs to be given to preg.women about this as my baby wuldve died if i hadnt come acros info myself!

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