A lot of people apparently write down their birth story. There isn’t much for me to write about since baby arrived 8 minutes after I arrived at the labor and delivery floor of Brigham and Women’s. In a nutshell, maybe I waited too long at home to labor? My water broke at 10pm, just in time for me to go to sleep, of course. I wasn’t sure it was my water, and neither was the doctor when I called her, but she said if I start having contractions lasting 5 minutes apart and I can’t talk through them then come to the hospital. Eventually I was feeling contractions as I lay in bed trying to get some sleep, but that wasn’t happening. 8 minutes apart, then 10? I was confused but suddenly at around 2-something I felt one at 6 minutes really strong so I told Brendan it was time to go. I called my friend, Monica, who was on call to sleep at my house. As I started to move around and get some things together they were coming more frequently. Every 4 minutes now. Monica arrives at 3am. We leave and I feel every bump in the road. We get to admitting at around 3:20. I need to fill out paperwork, great. Now they are every 3 minutes. I think the woman in admitting sensed my discomfort because she gave Brendan the rest of the papers to fill out later and put me in a wheelchair and brought me up to the labor and delivery floor. It was 3:30am. They took me into a room to hook me up to some monitors and had Brendan wait in the waiting room. I felt like I was getting to the point where I couldn’t think straight. The first thing I asked the nurse was if I can get the epidural and she said yes as long as I could sit still for it. Then she asked me to get undressed but the pain at that moment was so bad that I froze. I managed to put the jonny or whatever it’s called on but couldn’t even get onto the gurney because of the pain. Somehow I did and she tried to put a fetal heart monitor on me and at that point I started screaming in pain. I couldn’t believe myself and the sound that was coming out of my mouth, but I couldn’t help it. Looking back, I find this whole experience hilarious and crazy but at the time I was terrified. I told the nurse I wanted to push but she said not to as I’m screaming in pain and she’s yelling ‘we need a room’. She decides to forget about the monitor and next she’s quickly rolling my gurney down the hall as I’m gripping the bars on the side screaming in pain and pushing. At that moment I thought I was going to deliver this baby in the hall. I thought about the other expectant moms, quietly laboring comfortably with their epidurals and that I was probably scaring every one of them. They get me a room and I somehow manage to switch to the bed where I see my OB and was so relieved that she was staffed that night. I ask her if I could get the epidural and she checks me and then looks at me and shakes her head no. She said all I needed was a few pushes and it would be over. At some point Brendan made his way into the room. My body felt like it was dry heaving and wanted to push every organ out of it. A few more minutes later after screaming things like “baby come out”, “is she out?”, and “this is ridiculous” (in reference to the pain, not the 7 doctors and nurses present), she was out. Just like that. 3:38 am, 6lbs, 14oz, 18 inches. She looked exactly how I pictured she would because she looked exactly like her sisters, odd skin and all. It’s a wonderful moment when you first hold your newborn. They’re warm and delicate and I’m always a little scared of breaking them somehow.
I had imagined a slower, more controlled birth and expected Brendan to snap a bunch of pictures and maybe take some video, but it didn’t happen that way and it took a few minutes for us to realize that he needed to get the camera out. Here’s the very first picture.
And a few more…
Here she’s hanging out under some heat to increase her temperature. At this point I remember a senior nurse standing over her teaching a student nurse and pointing out all of the physical characteristics that the baby was displaying related to Down syndrome. For those first 15 minutes of life I felt a little bad for her and her Down syndrome, I guess because the birth was the final test. It confirmed all of the other prenatal tests – the amnio, the cell free DNA test. After those first 15 minutes it hasn’t bothered me since, maybe it’s because in those first couple of days in the hospital no one (nurses, doctors) made a big deal of it. They certainly addressed it, but those first days were full of congratulations and not sadness.