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Jayden’s birth story (told by mama Fallon)

31 Oct

Today I’m linking to another student’s great birth story. My favorite quote: I once read a quote that said “childbirth is the one shot you get at assisting God in a miracle” and I couldn’t agree more.

Jayden’s Birth Story (One Year Later)


Baby Emma Sue’s Birth Story (as told by mama Melissa)

20 Sep


Today I have another student story for your reading pleasure!

I was due with my little one on July 29. At my 40 week check up, my OB informed me that – sigh – I was only about 2cm dilated and not effaced. She wanted to chat options and I asked her to do a membrane sweep. She doesn’t ‘love’ membrane sweeps because they can cause infection (her words) but she did a gentle one and also stretched out my cervix. That was Wednesday.

(It should be noted, I was very over being pregnant after the two-weeks of an intense heat wave. I was miserable, unable to move and just ready to meet my baby.) 

My OB and I decided we would schedule an induction for the following Wednesday, week 41. She would be out of town for week 42 if baby hadn’t arrived by then, so she would be there to deliver the baby. Also, she agreed to keep it low intervention as much as possible, to still allow me to have a natural birth.

On Wednesday night I noticed some baby movements and more frequent contractions, but nothing to cause alarm. My discharge was still the same. My best friend Cody was in town and came to visit, and we ate spicy Thai Food and relaxed. I had no idea what was to come in 24 hours.

Thursday morning I woke up bright and early and noticed that my mucus plug was starting to come out – hoorah! I woke up my husband in excitement and since it was finally a cool morning, we walked the length of Astoria Park


Photo credit:

– I don’t remember what I was feeling physically, but mentally I knew I was coming to the finish line. I let my doula, Annie, know about the changes and her and my husband agreed they would both go to work that day and if I needed them, I would reach out.

Thursday afternoon I had a massage with my friend Anthony from The Giving Tree and by this time was having more contractions and much more discharge. (Annie said it was fine to get a massage at this point). I let him know I was starting to labor (I’ll never forget his face, he looked so shocked!), and asked he hit all major induction pressure points.

He did.

By Thursday night, during Hillary’s speech at the DNC, my contractions officially began. They were intense, frequent and the real deal. I had them all during the night, starting at every 12 minutes around 1am at one point, around 3am, they were 4 minutes apart, lasting about a minute. When I was active, they were frequent – but when I rested, they were tame – so would be about 9 minutes apart. I labored all during the night and had Brian sleep, so he would be ready for what was to come.

I stayed in bed and found that going on all fours or puppy pose was the best way to breathe through the contractions. After each contraction, I would have to go to the bathroom where liquid would just come out of me – I didn’t have to push or anything, it just naturally came out. I wasn’t sure if my water had broken or what – especially since i wasn’t sure what “water breaking” felt like.

Around 5am my contractions were much more intense so we called Annie, she advised us to relax since although intense, they were not frequent enough at this point and not consistent. She eventually came over around 9am and helped me through some more contractions, but we sent her home an hour or so later since the consistency wasn’t there. Again, she told me to relax and when I did, contractions were happening every 10-11 minutes.

We left a message late morning for my OB giving her an update, mainly wanting to let her know that when I was active, contractions were happening frequently, and when I was resting, they were every 10 minutes. Again, we also weren’t sure if my water broke since I still had a leak of fluid after each one.

Around 2pm or so, we heard from my OB who called just as my contractions were moving from every 6 minutes to every 5. I had just had a tough one that left me in tears and spoke to her as a new one was coming. She told us to get to the hospital immediately because she could hear the intensity in my voice.

We let Annie know and made it to Mt. Sinai West about an hour later. The car ride wasn’t as awful as I was expecting it to be. Because of my yoga background, I was able to go inward with the pain and Annie was able to time contractions based on my breathing.

We arrived at Mt. Sinai at 2:30 and had to wait in triage until 4:30 just for vitals. Everything was feeling a bit more intense, and I was more anxious at this point. At 6:30p I was finally taken in for a monitor read + cervical check. I was about 3cm dilated and the OB on call on the Triage floor wanted to send me home, but noticed my fluid was low, likely because of all the leaking. She called into the OB on call for my doctor, who wanted to admit me – hooray! There were talks about a possible induction, but by this point everything was getting pretty intense and I was just relieved that my pregnancy was at the finish line. This was the only time I slept – I probably slept about 20-30 minutes with the HR monitor on me.

Unfortunately, we came at a pretty busy night and had to wait in triage until 11p, which is when we were assigned a bed in L+D (Labor and Delivery). This was the worst of it – I was laboring up and down the hallway, in too much pain to eat and just wanted a bed. I was very self conscious to be laboring the way I was in the waiting room since there were other families there, so walking was the route we took. When we finally got into L+D, I felt like it was finally real.

I was super impressed with the L+D rooms at the hospital as well – each bathroom had a decent sized shower and small jacuzzi tub. The room was large, a comfy recliner for Brian and a chair for Annie. We had the option to dim the lights and I just felt very much at home. It wasn’t hospital-esque as I was imagining. We met our nurse who was a bit intense, but I can’t complain too much about her.

11:45 came around and I met one of the OB’s on call – I was 4-4.5 dilated, 90% effaced and [baby was at] -2 station. This was an improvement since I was in triage, but I knew I still had a ways to go. The OB offered to stretch out my cervix and I happily obliged.

There was a concern with the baby’s tracings, so I was stuck on a heart rate monitor the whole time, which wasn’t my preference. Also, because my fluid was low, I was also on an IV. This also was not what I wanted, and to make it worse, I had to lay on my side to get a better read of the HR for the little babe. I tried to not let this get me down, despite the fact that I desperately wanted to walk around and take advantage of the jacuzzi, but I knew this was best for the baby. (I had taken a bath at home when I was having contractions and it felt so nice, so I was bummed to miss another option at a bath).

Around 1am my water broke! What an intense feeling – I felt a pop in my body and started freaking out, not knowing what it was, until I felt the rush of fluid coming out of me. Annie called our nurse and she came in, and I also met the OB who would deliver my baby, Dr. Jason Kanos – he was amazing and I instantly knew that despite I was hooked up to these machines, I would have the labor I wanted to have. He had a dry sense of humor and was straight to the point, which is something I took for in a doctor. At this time, I was about 6cm dilated, 100% effaced & -1 station. Hooray – some improvement!

He asked about pain management and I told him I only wanted an epidural if it was medically recommended (ie: if I was getting tired) or if I needed it. He offered me narcotics and nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which is new not just to NYC, but the US. Annie and I were so excited to have this option, so we took it!

As soon as he left and the nurses were setting up the Nitrous (it took them over 30 minutes to set this up since they had never used it before…) I threw up. This made Annie super excited, but this was the LAST thing I wanted/needed! Fun fact: Annie rinsed out my basin and put some peppermint essential oil in it, so when I threw up again, it was a much calmer experience – even the nurse took note of this tip!

After I threw up, I felt the baby dropping and knew I entered into transition – this was about 2:20am. The nitrous was finally ready and I must say, it didn’t do much for transition contractions! You have to hold the mask to your face, breathe it in as you’re getting a contraction and then breathe it out. It just felt like another hassle and thing I had to do, while trying to handle the intense contractions as well. I only felt “buzzed” once and that was early on in transition. Looking back at it now, it felt like it was just a distraction more so than pain management.

I also began to feel lots of intense pressure around this time as well – it felt like I had to poop and I had an urge to poop, but everyone was telling me not to push and that I didn’t have to poop, which was getting frustrating. I demanded a cervical check at this point, because I was convinced I was going to poop out this baby. At 2:50am I was about 6-7cm dilated and still in this -1 station! Dang!

I had 40 minutes of intense transition contractions – lots of yelling and trying to get on my back since being on my side really intensified it. I was still using nitrous at this point, but again, it was a pain and having someone hold the mask over my face was annoying. I just wanted to yell and push and remember saying “I don’t even know what noises I’m making or where they are coming from!”

I still had to poop and the nurse finally took me off all the machines around 330a to let me go to the bathroom to “poop”. Of course, nothing happened, but Annie told me to stay there for as long as I needed, since it helped quiet me down. Once I got into bed, I was allowed to lay on my back – finally. This was around 3:30am.

Once I got back into bed, I wanted to push and my body felt like it was just pushing itself. We didn’t have a nurse in the room and Annie urged me to not push (since we didn’t know how dilated I was) and I was beginning to lose hope. The contractions were so intense, I was on zero pain management and started to say “I can’t do this anymore” “I can’t!” which Annie + Brian knew were two things I didn’t want to be saying. Everything seemed to happen really fast this hour, but also felt like it took forever. A new nurse came in (mine was on break which is why I had gone an hour with no nurse) and by 4:30am Dr. Kanos arrived and said “You want to push? Let’s push!” He did a check and said everything was fine and scrubbed up.

I began pushing at 4:40am – Brian said it was about 4 pushes and at 5am Emma Sue was born! 8lb 4oz.

Since we didn’t know the gender, Dr. Kanos let Brian announce the gender, and he also cut the cord. I had a small second degree tear, so did need stitches, which hurt. (Don’t believe the books when they tell you that having a baby on your chest will distract you from stitches!). I also bruised my tailbone, which we realized the following day, which was a concern of my OB (who thought I would actually break it), because of how the baby was positioned in my body.

…& that’s it! 30 hours of laboring, very much worth it and seriously makes me feel like I can do ANYTHING in life!


Baby Ryan’s birth story (told by mama Kat)

13 Sep

Today I’m posting another birth class student’s happy birth story. Enjoy!


We have some happy news to report – Ryan was born last Sunday, August 28th, at 4:01pm. He weighed in at 6 lbs 14 oz and was 21.75″ long! I started feeling “Braxton Hicks contractions” at 9am Saturday, remarked to myself about their consistent timing (8-1-1) and went about my day shopping for nursing clothes and going to prenatal yoga.

After yoga my contractions started becoming painful and were happening more frequently but still I was convinced this was “false labor”. I set up multiple stations (shower, yoga mat in bedroom, bed) for managing the painful contractions. Tom was away at a bachelor party in Southampton and I deliberated whether to call him back home but after another hour realized regardless of what “this” was I was not going through an overnight of it without Tom.

When he arrived home four hours later he timed my contractions at 3-1-1, got the midwives on the phone, had them listen to one of my contractions and was promptly told to come in; he called the doula and let her know that we were passed the laboring at home phase and going to the hospital and she agreed to meet us there.

After 15 hours of laboring at home we arrived at the hospital; I was informed that while I was 80% effaced I was only 2 cm dilated and baby was in -3 position; only because of my currently high blood pressure was I admitted. It was another grueling 16 hours before baby was born and there were a series of fortunate events leading to us having the best possible team (highly experienced midwife happened to be on-call, L&D (ie Labor & Delivery) nurse was doula trained and studying to become a midwife, my mom was allowed in despite the two-person support limit).

In the end I was successful in having the natural birth I envisioned despite baby’s posterior position and extended time with baby’s head pressing significantly on my pelvis in the -3/-2 position. He came out looking like an Incan god (MAJOR cone head) and was treated “under the lights” for 42 hours due to jaundice caused by blood differences (I’m O+). We learned A LOT from the nurses in the nursery so were ultimately happy to have lost the privilege of “rooming in” that we had initially desired.

In the maternity suite there were a series of UNfortunate events that led to mass miscommunication between caregivers (pediatricians, nurses, midwives, doctors, etc.) and stress about when and if we would be discharged together. On Tuesday night we were both sent home, despite Ryan not getting the circumcision planned, with plans for follow-up blood work with our pediatrician for jaundice monitoring. We are exhausted but not overwhelmed and are happy that we had the opportunity to “study up” to advocate for ourselves and Ryan throughout our natural hospital birth.


Adelynn’s Birth Story

23 Aug
My due date was July 4, and I went in for a check up July 6 after not being dilated at all week prior. Doctor said I was 1cm on July 6. The morning of 7/7 comes and my hubby (Dan) goes to work like normal. I feel crampy around 8am but think it’s just normal and has happened before. I shower and start to feel cramping in my thighs. I darken the living room and put on a movie as we talked about in class. I can’t concentrate on the movie at all!
I text with my doula, Anne, and she says eat a nice breakfast and start to use the TENS machine. I hook up the TENS and text my hub around 10ish to come home because I still don’t feel right. I have more intense burning in my thighs and am not coping as well just breathing. I text Anne that I can’t focus anymore and am not able to text anyone. I am not able to eat breakfast.  I throw up all the coconut water I had been forcing myself to drink that morning.
Dan takes the train home from work gets stuck in train traffic. By the time he is home around 10:45, I need counter pressure on my thighs for relief. I have bloody show and there’s just so much blood; way more than I expected. He tries to make me eat cereal I can barely get it down. The TENS machine provides some relief. He tries to time contractions but can’t keep up with caring for me and the app. It feels better to sit on the toilet and I start to want to bear down.
Anne comes and it’s a relief! I can barely talk to her. It doesn’t feel good to side lie or hang over the ball or couch. I end up giving myself a hemorrhoid from bearing down for relief. No positions we try feel good; all I want to do is sit on the toilet and bear down with each contraction. They keep telling me to stop pushing!
My water breaks—like actually what you see in the movies: A pop and a large gush all over the bedroom floor! Dan is freaked, but Anne is calm and reassuring. Dan later admits he thought the baby would be out with it on the floor, LOL! Dan calls our Doctor to tell them and my contractions are 3 minutes apart and lower back counter pressure doesn’t feel good. I keep telling them I’m bearing down! They say come in to the hospital now, like I knew they would. Dan makes me a protein drink like he takes at the gym since I hadn’t been able to get anything in me since the morning.
I wanna push! Anne suggest we call Uber since I was pushing and not listening to them. Trying to pant through was tough!! Gripping their arms felt good! I left marks on Dan’s arm from gripping so hard. I say I want to go to the hospital! I knew that it would be okay to push there and that’s what was bringing me relief.
Uber comes around 1pm. Dan forewarns him I’m in labor but water already broke. I’m going through so many pants and pads already between bleeding and leaking fluid. Car ride seems to take a while; I try not to look at traffic. I’m able to eat a little bit of a Cliff bar (thanks Anne!). I can talk in between contractions; they don’t last too long, but I don’t think anyone is really convinced I’m as far along now and progressing so quickly. I had wanted to stay home for as long as possible and knew once my water broke I was on a “clock” but I didn’t care; I wanted to push and knew I could do that at the hospital. Driver keeps beeping his horn; Anne is calm and tells him to stop!
I bear down in the car and throw up a little more from trying not to. I make eye contact with Dan and breathe with him. He has me panting and trying not to bear down. When we get to the hospital I’m moaning loudly—being loud and vocal felt good ! I’m hunched over the security desk and they get me a wheel chair. I can hardly see at this point; everything is a blur. I’m wheeled in right away and doc says, “You’re 10 cm dilated and ready to go!!” I say, “I can push!??” Doc says, “Yes!” Phew, it feels so good! It’s about 2pm and there is no time for the antibiotics for my GBS strep. Doctor mentions an epidural (how it’s always an option), but I just kept asking to push. I try to move myself so I’m higher up but doctor explains the angle is best lying more down. I’m given a hep lock but remember still advocating for my birth plan despite being so far along.
I go through what seems like 5 rounds of pushing. I didn’t mind being coached or told what to do. It wasn’t bad until she started crowning. The doctor asked if I wanted to see or feel; I say no, but he encourages me to feel her head. It’s soft and mushy. I know where and how to bear down but am not giving it my all because, well, crowning sucks!!
Note about photos: This particular hospital’s protocol was for partner and doula to wear a mask for the pushing stage. This is not standard in most hospital settings in NYC at the time of posting.

I have energy and feel so elated his was the exact birth I wanted! I’m on a fetal monitor but all is well. I scream a little about how much it hurts, but she’s out! She comes out crying and we have immediate skin-to-skin and breastfeeding. More painful is the after birth stuff. Doc says I’m bleeding a lot and trying to get the placenta and everything out is not fun. They hook me up to oxytocin (aka pitocin) and I remember just questioning everything being so informed from class. (Lisa’s note: read more on active management of this 3rd stage of labor, which is standard in NYC hospitals)

Doc says I didn’t tear! Dan gets to cut the cord and do skin-to-skin as well. She gets her Vitamin K shot and I wipe off her antibiotic eye cream (Erythromycin) after it’s administered (Lisa’s note: In NY State, these two newborn protocols are required, not optional—see info here). There is no room ready for us upstairs, so just us—the new family of 3—get some intimate quality alone time together to just take it all in. Dan is in awe and so proud, and I feel like a superstar champion! It was everything I could’ve asked for! There was no time for any interventions and it was just picture perfect!

Note: This is posted, as always, with permission from new mom Alyssa, with minimal edits.

Ned’s Birth Story

3 Jul

Another birth story for you today, this one told from a dad’s perspective and with my students’ permission. This one is VERY new, hot off the birth presses!

Our first sign that something was up was a little “bloody show” on Sunday night. About an hour later, a little more came out (we were at a Tony viewing party). An hour after that, D felt like we needed to go home as she was leaking more. At this point we were unsure if it was just mucus or if it was some of the bag of waters.

We Uber’d home and about 15 minutes after arriving home (thank goodness not in the Uber!) her water broke, an obvious “gush”. Fortunately she had put a pad in (since she was leaking) and we were able to clearly see that the fluid was yellow/green, obviously a warning sign. Still no contractions at this point.

We called our doctor and she asked us to come to the hospital to be checked. We arrived about 1:30am and after being examined (2 cm dilated estimated at that time) they admitted us and started a pitocin drip.

Thanks to our Birth Matters class we felt pretty informed about everything going on and understood the concerns with meconium (which is also why we were glad to go right to the hospital rather than trying to start laboring at home).

Contractions started in the next couple of hours and by 10:30am they were strong enough that D asked for her epidural (which was part of the plan all along).

We had a couple of hours of respite with contractions around 5 min apart on average but the epidural helping the pain a lot. By 1:30pm we were 5 cm dilated and 90% effaced. The next couple of hours were pretty difficult as D was feeling a lot of pressure and pain even after a “top off” on the epidural. At 4pm we were just about to explore some additional pain management when our attending doctor examined D again and determined she was fully dilated and it was time to push. D had had the urge to push with her last contraction. I don’t think we ever consistently had contractions closer than 4-5 min apart.

Pushing was about an hour (?) though of course it felt like forever. Our doctor did an amazing job and apart from the drugs there were no interventions, and the baby had a vaginal birth. D had no tearing, which was a delightful and welcome surprise! She was a real trooper during the birth, especially considering she hadn’t slept at all the previous night. She really kicked into another gear during the pushing, when it didn’t seem like she had another gear left!

Baby Ned
Born June 13, 2016 at 5:27pm (38 weeks)
6 pounds 6 ounces




Rosemary’s Birth Story

26 Jun

Today I have for you another one of my students’ birth stories, for your reading pleasure — mostly unedited.

New mama Lizz writes:

I had acupuncture Wednesday afternoon, which my practitioner said would be “more aggressive” as we approached my date. Later that night, dropped a bit of my mucus plug but didn’t think too much of it since it can still be weeks. Having crazy Braxton Hicks though! Around 1:30 AM my back started aching in conjunction and I suspected labor was starting but wasn’t totally sure. Around 2:30 AM told John to start timing and we were already 3 mins apart. They were intense but I could talk through. Called my doula and had her head over. John was packing the last few hospital bag items (I had left a detailed checklist!) as things progressed to be pretty intense and around 2 mins apart. We wanted to avoid rush hour traffic so left right at 6:30 AM for NYU and got there without much delay (though I had to asks the chatty uber driver to stop talking – which I somehow managed to do nicely!).

lizz triageGot to NYU and they were full in triage and labor and delivery so they put is in a TINY consult room which it turns out is where I labored for the duration! (Unexpected to say the least – photo attached after they’d cleaned it up again)

I was 5cm upon arrival, and went back and forth to the shared triage bathroom to labor on the toilet (absolutely the best spot other than the birth ball!) but since it was shared had to leave anytime someone needed to use it. Yes, really. I was making A LOT of noise at that point too, so I am sure I was freaking everyone out but I wasn’t too concerned at the time 🙂

We had requested a nurse who was experienced with natural birth and got the amazing Gina, who worked with John and our doula (Abby) to setup the room to fit all 5 of us (me, John, Abby, Gina, and Dr. Min – who was much more present than I expected!) plus to give me some privacy and variation in position. We kept the lights off almost entirely, intermittent monitoring which wasn’t restrictive since the room was so small anyway. I had been GBS positive, but my water didn’t break until after 6cm so it wasn’t much of a factor (PROM was a big concern of mine going in). I clung to both John and Abby every wave, so there was literally no time or space to use a lot of the props, snacks or distractions we brought. I was able to stay with my breath only because of CONSTANT reminders from Abby and helpful physical presence and loving encouragement from both her and John. Trying not to fight the contractions was SO HARD. Especially since changing positions made everything SO MUCH more intense!!! Don’t think I realized that would happen. I had no sense of time and just took each contraction at a time. I felt that things were moving and that the pain had a purpose, though it was really effing painful.

After Gina had turned the chair in the room into as much of a bed as it could possibly be so I could lay and save some energy I just couldn’t hold back what John described as primal animal noises.

I heard Gina make a call that I was 9cm and very transitional and asking for status on L&D room. They were also prepping an OR for me to push in just in case since I couldn’t do it there (Dr. Min later told me that they literally couldn’t have done any type of intervention in the tiny room so it was actually a safe zone for some of my concerns ironically – and we all agreed later the intimacy was actually kind of special). I was definitely bearing down at that point which was around 2:00 PM, and they were thankfully able to wheel me in place on the makeshift chair bed to the L&D room which was SO BRIGHT with sunlight.

I couldn’t believe how big the room was but also kept my eyes closed almost entirely. They told us that the baby had passed meconium in utero so the pediatrician would have to take her upon arrival. I asked that they keep her in the room which they agreed to do unless there was a major issue.

When I hit 10cm the contractions were still intense but much different so it felt like time slowed down a bit. I asked what was going on. Abby told me that they suspected the baby was posterior and Dr. Min was checking on another patient while we tried a few things. What she did, which I believe was called “shaking the apples” or something was get me chest down on the bed, butt up in the air and then she literally shook my hips with her rebozo. It was the most insane and uncomfortable experience and I yelled the entire time. She was able to back the baby out from her -1 station, turn her somehow, and then when I sat straight up afterwards she went down to -2 and I was able to start pushing.

I tried pushing in a number of positions but was just so tired I did wind up on my side and back mostly. Dr. Min said I was also making the most progress that way and I just had to believe it and that this would be over soon!

I wanted to ask how long I’d been pushing because it felt like forever but I decided I didn’t want to know! Was trying to keep myself in it mentally because my body was just so tired.

It was still just the 5 of us in the room, and they were guiding me where to push. I was able to rest my legs on the bed bar between contractions because putting them down was impossible.

Though I told them I didn’t want to be coached or hold my breath, I could just hear in their voices that it was making the most progress of the options I had tried. John and Abby were holding my legs and head and I was pushing with all my might, just hoping to hear that we were crowning. I could hear excitement build in the room and when they told me to reach down and feel the top of her head I did. I didn’t have my glasses on so couldn’t see in the mirror and just needed to keep focused. Eventually, I felt the BURN, and Dr. Min helping to stretch and hold strategically. More people started coming into the room, and I know this was it. I was just so tired! Every push I was just thinking Rosie Rosie Rosie, and of my mom (Marianna) and Grandma Rose who she’s named after. John started giving me updates since he knew I couldn’t see. Her head was out! What he didn’t tell me (and I’m glad he didn’t) was that her hand was also coming out and the cord was around her neck.

More pushes and finally felt THE ONE and she was OUT!


They had to cut the cord right away because of her neck and to suction for meconium immediately. I saw a blurry blob off to the side and heard her cry, while I basically let go a string of expletives and just couldn’t believe it was over and that she was here and that all of his had happened! I wanted to see her but was actually ok to have a beat to process this all.

lizz and family.jpgThe delivery of placenta was definitely  uncomfortable but better once over. I was lucky to have 1 small first degree tear with a few stitches.

When they finally handed Rosemary to me, John and I just bawled. And couldn’t really talk. The room got very quiet as all the people left and we just settled in. Abby fed me applesauce.

My sister was in the waiting room so she came in to be with us too, and then left to get us FOOD! Ha. So then it was just us with Abby and Gina and we started to recount the details of the day, which was just amazing.

It was really the most incredible experience of our lives…

[Our Birth Matters classes] prepared us for so much of this, and enhanced our confidence going in. [The role of the birth educator] is so important. Thank you!

lizz family photo

Birdie’s birth story

19 Jun

From time to time, I will share my client’s birth stories, with their permission and unedited (unless they request certain edits such as changing names). Here is the first, entirely unedited.

Birdie’s Birth Story, as told by mama Emilie – Friday, May 20, 2016


I woke up at 7:15 AM this morning to a tightening in my belly. It wasn’t painful in any way—just a sensation that I hadn’t felt before. After a second tightening, I wondered if these were contractions. But as they didn’t hurt, I decided they must be the mythic Braxton-Hicks ones. I had wondered before how I would be able to tell the difference between a false alarm and the real thing, but everything I’d read and had been told by friends was that when the real ones happen, you know it. Just to be safe, though, Josh and I decided to work from home for the morning until we knew more. After an hour, the tightening had subsided entirely, so we headed into Manhattan.

Once at work, the tightening continued, and I started tracking the hits on an app. Though they didn’t subside again, they also didn’t follow any sort of pattern in terms of duration, frequency, or intensity. Dr. Moritz had told me that real contractions might vary in length, but I would notice a pattern of increasing frequency and intensity—neither of which was happening. So I attended a meeting and then my “surprise” pizza party baby shower before heading to the doctor’s for my weekly appointment at 2:30 PM. On the walk from the subway to the doctor’s office, a tightening struck that was strong enough to cause me to stop walking for a moment and think that maybe I should call these things what they were—contractions.

When I was taken by the nurse at 3:00 PM, I told her what I’d been feeling, and she didn’t seem too concerned but asked if I wanted Dr. Moritz to examine me. I said yes, so after a regular appointment with fetal monitoring and whatnot, Dr. Moritz chatted with us and then seemed ready to let us go until next week. Josh mentioned again what I’d been feeling, and the doctor shrugged it off but got what he needed for the examination. After praising me for having “the pelvis of a goddess” (?) and saying that based on that I should be able to pull off my hope of delivering without drugs, Dr. Moritz suddenly had very wide eyes. “Uh, what were you planning on doing after this appointment?” I replied, “Just going back to work.” Dr. Moritz: “Yeah, you’re not going to be doing that. Did you see the look of surprise on my face? You’re five centimeters dilated. I’m not sure you’re human—only an alien could have made it this far along and just be sitting here chatting with me and not in any pain. You’re having this baby either today or tomorrow.”

Josh and I were stunned. Dr. Moritz suggested we walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes or so and see how I was feeling, hopefully causing my water to break in the process. He said that if my water broke we might want to head over to the hospital, or we could come back to the office for him to check me again. Otherwise, we would want to head home until the contractions picked up steam. I was concerned about depending upon the contractions, as they had been so inconsistent thus far—how would I know when the time was right?

Josh and I went for the walk, and the pain was definitely apparent now, and I would often have to stop walking when a “big one” hit. We got back to the office around 4:30 PM, and Dr. Moritz examined me again. Though my water still hadn’t broken, he said I was between 7 and 8 centimeters dilated and that he was moving up the timeline—I was having the baby tonight. If we went to the hospital then, they’d force my water to break, so again Dr. Moritz suggested we walk so that it could happen naturally. But if we headed home to Astoria, we’d just have to turn around and come right back—but we could try to go home if we wanted. Dr. Moritz said that if we went home, as soon as I felt the urge to “take a big shit,” we needed to leave right away. I asked, “But given how quickly things are happening, would we have enough time for a 40 minute car ride from Astoria back here?” Dr. Moritz: “If you were a normal woman, yes. But with you, I’m not so sure.”

Josh and I decided we wouldn’t be going home, so we walked over to New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan and hung around the patio area outside for a while. Josh took a conference call for work and then suggested we hit up a Duane Reade for some toiletries, since our “go bag” was at home. We walked a block and I asked Josh how far away the store was; he said another four blocks. I said that I wasn’t going to make it that far, and I pointed out an independent drugstore across the street. We got a few necessities and then walked back outside. A big contraction hit, and I wrapped my arms around Josh and buried my head in his shoulder. Then, whoosh, my water broke at 6:00 PM.

We rushed back to the hospital and got directions to Labor & Delivery. When we got to the sixth floor, we got directions again. Finally, we thought we were in the right place. It was 6:10 PM. Josh: “We’re looking for Labor & Delivery?” The woman behind the desk just stared at us. Josh again: “Labor & Delivery?” The woman: “Yes.” Me: “I would like to deliver my baby, please.” She seemed surprised by this request and also bored by it—she started handing us forms to fill out. Josh was attempting to convey urgency, letting them know that my water just broke, but who cares when there are forms at hand! I was signing things with a signature that I’m sure wouldn’t have held up in a court of law—it looked nothing like my handwriting. Then the woman handed us a bizarre form about designating someone to take care of me. Josh: “What does that even mean?” The woman: “You know, someone who will help take care of you … or walk your dog.” Me: “That’s what my husband is for.” The woman: “Well, you could designate him if you want.” Me: “Why would I need to designate him? He’s my husband. His job is to take care of me.” The woman: “Well, you still need to fill out the form, either designating your husband or rejecting coverage.” I tried to comply, but when a contraction hit, I dropped to a squat, clutching the edge of the desk. Josh started filling out the form for me, but the woman informed him he had written in a box that he wasn’t allowed to write in, and she pulled out a clean form for him to start again. Josh: “Okay, then we decline. DECLINED.” The woman: “Well, she still needs to sign the form saying she rejects it.” FINE. One last illegible signature it was! The woman said she’d get us into Triage and that we should take a seat. I looked around; there were no seats. Me: “Where exactly?” The woman: “In the waiting room.”

We walked back to the waiting room, but after sitting for mere moments, me squirming in pain and clutching the arms of the chair, I turned to Josh: “You need to go make them understand that I am having this baby now. Explain to them how dilated I am. Make them understand.” Josh headed back through the doors—apparently “8 centimeters dilated an hour and a half ago” were the magic words. Now they were ready to skip Triage and take me right away.

First they sent us to a bathroom for me to change into a gown and socks. Josh was shoving my clothes in a bag, and when I took off my underpants I told him just to throw them away. He hesitated. He later told me it was because we had nothing with us, and he was worried about getting rid of my only underwear. I just wanted them gone, and when you’re dealing with a crazy person, it’s best just to indulge her, so Josh did. I was then worried about making a mess of the bathroom with the blood coming out of me all over the floor, and I started making an effort to clean it up. Josh was trying to get me to stop, but I was very focused on it, so he said he’d clean it up and started doing so (again, crazy person). They then knocked on the door to make sure everything was okay, and we stopped cleaning and followed them into a birthing room.

They had me get in bed and asked me about my birth intentions. I’d spoken to the head nurse the previous week, but of course that didn’t matter at all. I explained that I didn’t want any drugs, and I didn’t want an IV. They said I’d have to have an IV. I said that they could put the pic line in, but I didn’t want them hooking it up to anything unless medically necessary. They then hooked me up to the fetal monitor. My wish had been for intermittent fetal monitoring, but I knew enough that it wasn’t going to be long, so who cared? They reminded me that even though I was on a bed, I had the option of moving around the room if I wanted. I thought they were nuts; there was no way I was going to have time to walk around!

Midwife Anne then arrived to introduce herself and let me know that Dr. Jew was on his way, but as I was progressing so quickly, if he didn’t make it in time, she would deliver my baby for me. Anne then examined me and said I was nine-and-a-half centimeters dilated and we wouldn’t be waiting for Dr. Jew. She said that if I felt the urge to push I should. I said, “I feel the urge to shit, not push.” She said, “That’s the same thing. It’s time to start pushing.”

Anne reminded me how to breathe, and I said, “Yes, I know. I just can’t seem to remember how to do it right now.” She sweetly said, “That’s why we’re here to help remind you.” Anne explained to me how to push, and even though I understood exactly what she was saying, I couldn’t seem to get it quite right. I focused on some little box thing on the wall (maybe a thermostat?) and tried to breathe in through my nose for four counts and out through my mouth for six. Josh was by my side the whole time, but I couldn’t look at him because I was focused on the box thing. Josh told me afterwards that he loved how I was myself the whole time, recalling a moment when I glanced up at him and rolled my eyes at something. The television was also on, though it was muted, and I thought how strange that it was on at all. With each contraction, I would push and push with Anne’s guidance. She reminded me not to push with my face, which I recalled being a tip from Lisa at our birthing class—yet I kept pushing with my face!

I saw Anne and the nurse share a “look” at one point, which scared me. The nurse told me that when I pushed, the baby’s heart rate slowed, so they were going to give me oxygen to help. No problem—they placed an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. Anne asked me if I wanted to feel the baby’s head—I think as incentive to get me to push correctly—but I said, “No, thank you.” Josh was brave enough to look, though, watching our daughter make her entry into the world.

Finally, I was able to push in the way I understood Anne was telling me to do, and at 7:15 PM, after 25 minutes of pushing, I felt our baby girl slide out of me—65 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, 75 minutes after my water broke, and exactly twelve hours after labor started that morning (though I only knew it was labor for the last four hours of it!).

I don’t remember if Birdie cried, but I felt so peaceful and content as they placed her on my chest for skin-to-skin time. She was beautiful and perfect, and I was so happy to see the person who I’d been carrying around for nine months. Everything felt just as it should be. I could feel the umbilical cord pulled from inside me up my body, which was an odd sensation. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, Josh told me that the cord was around the baby’s neck. He didn’t see Anne loop it off her, but she did of course. Anne commented that the cord was especially long, and I recalled asking about the length of umbilical cords in our birthing class. Why were they so long, if that length meant they often got caught around babies’ necks? But as I was lying there holding my baby, I thought maybe this was why. I’m tall, but most of my length is in my torso, so perhaps my body produces a longer umbilical cord to make this moment possible of having my baby with me.

They asked if I was okay receiving Pitocin to help with the bleeding. Now that Birdie was safely out of me, I was fine with it. After the cord stopped pulsing, Anne instructed Josh that it was time to cut it, which he did so with help from the nurse. Meanwhile Anne was focused on me delivering the placenta, which happened rather quickly, and though I felt it happen, it wasn’t painful. Anne showed me the placenta—it was bigger than I thought it would be, and I asked Anne if she would examine it to make sure all of it had come out. She said that it looked great and that it had come out cleanly.

Anne then examined me for tearing, and I needed just a few stitches. She put numbing gel (?) on me, but I still felt all three stitches go in. Somehow, the pain didn’t matter—perhaps because my amazing daughter was right there with me.

I asked about her Apgar, and she got a 9/9, which thrilled me. I then asked about her weight and length, and they said they’d have to take her away from me to tell me those things. The nurse carried her to an area that I could still see, and Josh went with Birdie, staying by her side. She was 7 pounds, 9 ounces and 20 inches long. After they cleaned her up a little bit, Josh got to snuggle with her, watching her watching him. After a little while longer, they said they had to take her to the nursery to clean her up for real and have the pediatrician look at her. I asked if Josh could go with her, please, and they said yes.

I missed Josh and Birdie while they were gone. There was a shift change, so a new nurse checked on me periodically and let me know when I should make my way to the bathroom to pee, which burned, but a urinary tract infection is much worse, so it wasn’t that bad. Twister was now on the muted TV, and I thought about how the first time I had jury duty, this was the movie that they had on in the waiting room. Why was it always Twister? The new nurse told me I should try to sleep. I wasn’t sleepy, though—just very, very happy. After some more time had passed—I don’t know how long—I was helped into a wheelchair and taken to a shared room. Wonderfully enough, I didn’t have to share the room that first night, so we had deluxe accommodations! Eventually, Birdie was wheeled back into the room in a plastic baby box atop a wooden cart and placed by the side of my bed. I was so happy to see her and Josh again.

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