Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Birth of H

Just before her due date, Sandy hit. We were fine, our building was fine... we had a near catastrophe when our docs insisted I go into Manhattan for my 39 week checkup on the morning of the storm. If I had been 1 more cm dilated, they would've admitted me to the hospital and of course, my hospital was the one where all the patients were evacuated in the middle of the storm. As it was, we barely made it back to Brooklyn before they shut down the bridges and tunnels. Whew.

H's due date was election day. If anyone asked me, I'd say that I just wanted to vote, I didn't care about when she got here. My contractions started shortly after I got home from my walk to the polling place. Election results came in, Obama won, we celebrated, and then I went to bed, figuring I should get rest before labor really kicked up. I woke the next morning and the contractions had pretty much died down. I had light contractions irregularly all morning, light and irregular enough that I wasn't timing them at all.

At about 2:15pm, I went to the bathroom, sat on the toilet and my water broke! I had been paranoid that my water would break while at work or on the subway, so I was relieved that my body was neat and tidy. It felt like a balloon popped and water gushed and gushed. My contractions immediately kicked up to bad period pain level. Everything you read says that your water breaking doesn't necessarily mean delivery is happening asap, so Zazie was taking her time, but I was pacing and I wanted to leave our apartment now now NOW! Before we left to go to the hospital, the pain started getting really, really bad... bad enough that I had to get down on my hands and knees on the floor. My mom kept the girls busy back in their room while we got stuff ready, but El (of course) found me on the floor and said "What are you doing, Mama?"

Did I mention that we had a snowstorm that day? And that our hospital still wasn't open because of hurricane damage, so all deliveries were taking place at another hospital 70 blocks north, which meant that travel time would be 50 minutes on a good weather day? Yeah.

Our friend E graciously agreed to drive us to the hospital in our car. We started off and I was in the front passenger seat, but about two blocks into our drive, the pain got so intense that I couldn't sit in the seat any longer, so I moved to the middle of our minivan to kneel on the floor and lean over one of the girls' car seats. I listened to my labor playlist for about 10-15 minutes until I realized I just couldn't concentrate anymore. I was hot and sweating and I wanted to fart so badly, but I didn't want to just let go in front of our poor friend, who was white-knuckled, driving a car he'd never driven before in snow and traffic. My knees started to hurt from the seat hardware on the floor, so Zazie and I switched places so I could kneel on the third floor bucket seat. Zazie reminded me to tell her when contractions started, but at that point they were so intense and coming so quickly that I couldn't tell where they started or ended.

I leaned over the back seat and put my head on the cool window and I just kept moaning, "Oh my g-d... oh sh-t... oh my god... what the f-ck? what the f-ck." Tears were streaming down my face. We were, of course, stuck in traffic going up the FDR and I can only imagine what the people in the cars behind us were thinking when they saw my face! Zazie updated me on each exit we passed so I knew where we were.

By the time we got off the FDR, I asked Z to tell our friend E to please hurry up because I thought that I might have the baby in the car. I was already having the urge to push and I knew that once you feel the urge, it isn't long before the baby's born. Zazie offered to check to see if she could see her head. E was horrified and started driving faster. I declined her offer. At that point, though I hadn't planned on an epidural, I decided that if this was only the beginning, and labor were going to get more intense than the crazy intense pain I was already feeling, that I would definitely ask for an epidural.

Mercifully, once off the FDR, we quickly got to the hospital. I jumped out practically before the car stopped and walked as quickly as I could to the front door. The guard took one look at my face and said, "Labor and delivery?" and took us in the express elevator. We got there and they sat us in a row of chairs to fill out paperwork, but I realized that there was no way in hell I could fill out any paperwork. I immediately got on my knees on the floor and leaned on my elbows on the chair to try to breathe and concentrate on not making too much commotion in my pain. I was in that position for a couple of minutes, but I quickly gave up and got down on the floor on my hands and knees right there in the middle of the hallway. I told Zazie that she'd better tell a doctor that I was going to have the baby right there, and at that point, I was surrounded by medical staff who got me into a room VERY quickly. :)

Once in the room, I whipped off my clothes in the corner and got on the bed. They tried to get me to lay down, but I'm pretty sure I ignored them and kneeled backwards on the bed until they insisted on a cervix check. Holy crap, a cervix check hurts in the middle of a contraction! I told them when I got into the room that I wanted an epidural. Once they did the check, they told me it was too late to have an epidural... I was already at 9 1/2 cm! I was upset that I couldn't lessen my pain, but also pleased that the pain wasn't going to continue for much longer. It took a bit for my doctor to get there (she told me she'd taken a cab across Central Park and when they called and told her my status, she contemplated getting out of the cab and running through the snow!) but when it was time to push, I was lying on my side with my foot on her shoulder.

Pushing. Whoa. I wasn't told to push. I felt the urge to push and I informed the staff that I was GOING to push. The l&d nurse (who was a godsend!) kept reminding me to breath and focus and she very calmly counted with each push. A couple pushes in and I was making a really loud guttural sound, kind of like a roar/moan and it really helped. While I pushed, I gripped the rail of the bed. Apparently, I was also pushing my forehead into the rail- I realized the next day that my forehead was bruised! Lovely! The doctors told me to reach down and feel H's head, and honestly, I don't know whether it helped in the way they thought it would. I was really puzzled at what I was feeling, forgetting in that moment that they'd just told me I was feeling her head. I just kept pushing, trying to give it my all so that labor would just be over.

I don't know how many pushes it took, but our sweet baby H was born at 5:12pm weighing 8 lbs. 15 oz., just about 3 hours after my water broke and 45 minutes after we got to the hospital. She is delicious.


  1. Oh my gosh! That birth story is epic! I remember hearing about all that was going on with the hospitals during the hurricane and wondering about all the women who would be giving birth. Your story would make the best movie- I couldn't read it fast enough!
    And that baby of yours! She is ADORABLE! Congratulations Mamas!

  2. Yippee! Congratulations! And what a story. 8 lbs. 15 oz.!!! Holy smokes - thassabigbaby. Way to go, woman!