One month ago today, our family was blessed with the arrival of our newest member, Baby Sis. She weighed 8 lbs, 9 oz and was officially pronounced “perfect” by the doctor (and unofficially “perfect” by us).
Baby Sis took her sweet time in deciding to arrive, four days past her due date. However, once she made up her mind, there was no stopping her. In fact, we weren’t sure we’d make it to the hospital in time.
I awoke on Friday, June 17th, with mixed emotions. G and I were headed to see my doctor for the second time that week. She wanted to do a routine checkup to monitor my progress towards labor, and to discuss induction if my body wasn’t kick-starting the process on its own. That morning, I was hopeful — but my hopes had been dampened somewhat by the disappointment of an uneventful checkup earlier in the week.
Our appointment was scheduled for 9:00am, at the hospital where my doctor was doing her rounds. After examining me, the doc confirmed that my body was no closer to pushing that baby out than it had been earlier in the week. I went home a very disappointed, very miserable, very pregnant mama.
G headed to his office and my mom, who was staying with us, watched N while I went to lay down. Besides feeling depressed, my body was more uncomfortable than ever. Adding to my normal run-of-the-mill pregnancy complaints was a nagging crampy feeling in my abdomen.
At 11:30am, I recognized my first contraction. In past weeks I’d had a couple of painful Braxton Hicks contractions, so I didn’t get too excited. But around 2:30pm the pains were coming regularly enough that Greg decided to come home from work and ask his mom to come over.
We headed back to the hospital. My doctor was headed home to Long Island for the weekend, so we saw a (male) resident instead. I explained that my contractions were coming every 15 minutes and had become pretty intense. He hooked me up to a monitor for about 30 minutes and recorded two contractions, but when he did the internal exam, he said I still wasn’t ready for labor. In fact, he said it could be another two days before I went into labor, so I should go home and get comfortable, unless I couldn’t handle the pain.
G and I were quite perturbed by his abrupt, dismissive attitude. We explained that I tested positive for Group B Strep and was supposed to receive a dose of antibiotics four hours before delivery, but the guy wouldn’t listen. He sent us home at 4:30pm.
(Side note: G and I overheard nurses in the hallway saying that the triage area was full and there were no available patient rooms. Conveniently, my departure opened up one room.)
As soon as I set foot outside the hospital, my contractions grew more intense and closer together. Of course, I was doubting myself — contractions don’t come with a little timer and bell that tell you exactly when they start and stop — abnd besides, this guy had just told me that it could be two more days before I delivered.
I should have trusted my gut and gone straight back into the maternity ward, but I didn’t. We got in the car and went home.
By the time I walked through my front door, the pain was so intense that I couldn’t talk to the two grandmas or explain what had just happened. I went straight upstairs so I wouldn’t be writhing in pain in front of N. Soon I was sitting on the toilet, frantically taking off my shorts (I couldn’t bear to have any clothing on my lower body at that point). G timed my hollering and shrieking until he figured that the contractions were about two minutes apart.
“We need to go now,” he shouted urgently through the bathroom door.
In one brief break between contractions, I imagined walking downstairs and driving to the hospital. Some very strong instinct was telling me that I might not be able to make it. There was a moment when a scene flashed before my eyes: the two grandmas delivering our baby in my living room, while N watched, frightened out of her wits.
“I can’t make it,” I gasped. “Call 911.”
G made the call, then ordered me to put on my pants and get ready. I walked out of the bathroom and my water broke. The EMT’s arrived a few minutes later.
The two EMT’s guided me downstairs and out to the ambulance. I was walking, but just barely, as I was doubled over in pain. Several of our neighbors had gathered in the street, and I could see great concern in their eyes. I figured they were worried something was wrong with the baby, so I mustered up the best smile I could and waved. (I would hear about that from everyone later!) My mom rode with me in the ambulance and G followed behind us in the car.
The EMT’s were great — they really talked me through that ride. They kept telling me not to push, even if I had the urge (which I did). They also helpfully suggested that my mom call G in the car behind us and tell him not to run red traffic lights.
When we arrived, they put me on a rolling bed and speedily wheeled me to the maternity ward. I feel sorry for those pregnant women I passed on the way, who must have freaked out when they heard my shrieking down the hall.
In the triage room I saw the same nurses that I met an hour and a half earlier. “I’m back!!” I gasped at no one in particular. “They sent me home!! Why did they send me home??” (I asked this question repeatedly over the next half-hour, but don’t recall ever getting a response. I also never saw the male resident again, but if he was in that triage room, he certainly heard me shrieking in pain.)
At that point I was 8 cm dilated. One nurse said I’d better come with her right away because “we don’t want to have this baby in the hallway.” They got me into the delivery room pretty quickly. In the brief pauses between contractions I kept asking the same two questions: “Can I get antibiotics for Group B Strep?” (the answer was yes) and “Can I get an epidural?” (the answer was “We’re working on it” — which means “No, but we’ll humor you for the moment, pregnant lady.”)
Soon the delivery room became a blur of a dozen faces, except for two. G had made it to my bedside and was smiling with encouragement, saying strong supportive things (which I don’t exactly remember but for which I will forever be grateful). The other beacon of light was the doctor who delivered me. I’d never met her before, but I am so glad she was in the room at that moment. She looked of Indian descent, and she had the most serene, Buddha-like expression on her face.
“What do I do?” I screamed in panic. The Buddha-like doctor instructed me to take a deep breath at the beginning of each contraction and then concentrate as hard as I could on pushing. I listened to her intently like a player listens to a coach, stopped shrieking, and focused all my energy on pushing that baby out.
At 6:27pm, our daughter was born.
The moments following a healthy baby’s birth are the happiest, most relieved moments in life. G cut the cord, the doctor put our baby on my chest and all was right with the world.
Every baby has his or her own unique birth story. I love hearing mothers and fathers talk about their child’s entry into the world; there are as many different and surprising circumstances as there are babies in the world. And of all the birth stories that I have heard, not one has gone entirely as planned, or has been devoid of the unexpected. The creation of life is a messy business, and the process of giving birth is one that humans haven’t figured out how to control (not completely, anyway).
So that’s our baby’s story. Welcome to the world, Baby Sis! We’re so glad you’ve joined our family.