NowBlowPoMe: The Mental Aftermath Hurt Far Worse.

You should read this in order. Previous Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7

Enough people have written me email or have left comments about my birth story to warrant some clarification.

For starters, I want everyone to know that when I think about my experience giving birth to Emory, I don’t think about it as a negative one. For me to see it as negative, something would have had to go wrong with Emory. And he was happy! His heartbeat never took a turn. He was totally fine throughout the entire ordeal.

I also want to talk about why I was induced. I have always had a steady blood pressure. My doctors have always described my blood pressure as perfect. So, whenever things drastically changed so much at week 40 my doctor was rightly concerned. Not only was I off the charts where blood pressure was concerned, but I was seeing little white fireflies in my peripheral every time I stood up. My doctor (who I trust with my life and my baby’s) decided it was time to take action. She gave me four days go “get things going”. If I came in after those four days and still had problems with my blood pressure, we should talk about scheduling an induction. Guess what? Four days later, things were worse.

I would not have scheduled an induction had there not been a medical reason for it. I was miserable toward the end, sure, but my discomfort wasn’t reason enough to induce. Because of my deteriorating health, Emory was at risk as well.

I also need to mention that I never really had a birth plan. A couple of people asked me why I never came up with one. I put a lot of faith in my doctors throughout my entire pregnancy and looked to them to decide what I should do. I felt both my baby and me were in excellent hands the entire time. While the actual labor may not have come off as smoothly as I may have liked, Emory was in very capable hands. I really believe that. Even when he was admitted into the NICU I felt he was safe and looked after. I will say this much: if we ever do have another baby, I won’t think twice about going back to that hospital. I would like to see that evil desk clerk fired first, but otherwise, I have no complaints.

More than a few people have hinted both passively and aggressively that I would have had a better time with a “natural” childbirth. That very well might be true. We’ll never know. But I get annoyed with how loosely the term “natural” is thrown around. In order for anyone to correctly use a word, we need a common definition. When does something become unnatural? Is human action, presence, or influence the source of the distinction? Medicine? And if it’s medicine at what point do you draw the line between “natural” medicine and all other? My point is that your definition of “natural” probably varies from another’s. Is anesthesia natural? How about using acupuncture as an anesthesia? Ice is pretty natural, right? How about being submerged in ice before a medical procedure? The truth is, the word “natural” is an empty rhetorical trick used to mask a lack of clarity or spin a simpler and more concrete distinction in favor of one side over another.

I think what people mean to say when using the word “natural” is without the use of pain management drugs or an epidural. In such a case, it would be more productive to use a term such as “birth without pain management drugs.”

I did not choose to go about childbirth without the epidural. I was frightened. I hadn’t ever done anything like it before. I hadn’t been around women who had. I know of two people who nearly lost a baby because the baby swallowed meconium during labor. And still one more person very close to me lost a baby this way. I couldn’t imagine going through nine months of pregnancy, growing attached to a baby only to see it die. The idea still terrifies me. Also, there are no known downsides to the use of modern pain management drugs aside from stepping on the toes of ideologues.

One person asked me if I felt that having doula would have made things different. I don’t know. I asked my mother to be there for my labor and delivery because she went through all three childbirths differently. My older brother was born by use of an epidural. My mother was induced for me and she was then given both narcotics and an epidural. (Which is the most preferred state when dealing with me.) And my younger brother was born without the use of any drugs or anesthesia at all. I felt (and still feel) that she was a perfect person to have around. I also wanted to share it with her. Had I been able to have more than two people in the delivery room I may have entertained the idea of hiring a doula. But it never came to that. I knew from the beginning that I wanted both my mother and my husband in the room with me.

Looking back, however, it would have been nice to have a person I’m not close to around to tell me that what I was going through and how I was feeling was perfectly normal especially after the baby was born. I really beat myself up for weeks following Emory’s birth. If doulas can be hired for that purpose, I suppose it may have been helpful. But I always thought that the doula’s role is to keep a woman from agreeing to something during childbirth that she may not have agreed to under more rational circumstances. Since I didn’t have a birth plan and I’m known for changing my mind and wholeheartedly believing in said change, a doula sounded like she could become more annoying than helpful. I’m stubborn and rather pigheaded when I need to be. I probably would have pissed off a doula and fired her midway through my labor. (Granted, this is all based on what I have heard a doula is hired for. I could very well be proven wrong about a doula’s role in all of this.)

If it’s NOT a doula’s role to make a woman feel as normal and comfortable as humanly possible after giving birth, there is a huge market for a person like this. I really could have used NOT a lactation consultant, NOT a birthing coach, NOT a midwife, I could have used a sane someone who’s been there before. I would have benefited from someone telling me that it’s OK if I can’t get the hang of breastfeeding. It’s OK if I am afraid to hold the baby right away. It’s OK that I feel like I dismantled any previous version of my life and that one day I would learn to how live the new one. I wanted someone to grab a hold of my head, shake it clean and let me know that everything I was going through was entirely normal and the sadness would one day subside. Instead, that role was filled by several hundred voices from the Internet.

If we do have another baby, I will likely go about things differently. I would like to avoid being induced unless it’s absolutely necessary. If my blood pressure raises again as it did with this pregnancy, I might asked to be watched closely by a doctor to make sure we’re both ok instead of being induced. If it doesn’t work out that way, I might ask that they NOT give me the epidural until I am further dilated. (The reason they didn’t give me enough Pitocin the first time was because they had no way of judging how intense my contractions were.) If that can’t be done, I might ask for the internal monitor from the get go so they can judge how much more Pitocin to administer.

And yes, for all those out there with a boner for a childbirth without the use of narcotics or an epidural, I might give that a try as well. Now that I know what happens, now that I’m no longer terrified to give birth, I might give it a shot. Who knows. I don’t want to make an absolute plan. If there is one thing I learned from all of this is that all of it is entirely unpredictable. I planned on so many things before I actually had the baby and when I returned home with him, I was barely able to accomplish one of them. And the seeming failures made me feel even more depressed. I really beat myself up over my failures and spent little time rejoicing in having a baby.

If you take anything away from this post and the 7 chapters I wrote over the last couple of weeks it’s the following statement:

The mental aftermath hurt far worse than the days I spent in the hospital.

And I went through that both drug and epidural free.

NowBlowPoMe: The Birth of Emory. (Chapter 7)

Previous Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6

It was 2:30 AM and I was exhausted. My body shook uncontrollably. My mother had warned me about it earlier. I was ready for it to happen, but I wasn’t ready for it to happen before I gave birth. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get the shaking to stop.

“Breathe, Michele. Practice what we learned during Lamaze class. Do your hee hoos.” TobyJoe began to breathe. I thought about my favorite yoga instructor Kyra and everything she taught me about relaxation. I followed his lead. After about a minute of hee hoo-ing, my body stopped shaking. But as soon as I thought about it, it would start up all over again. From that point forward, I decided to go about things as mindlessly as possible.

While I concentrated on my breathing, the doctors and nurses filed into the room. It was like something out of broadway play. They were so well rehearsed, so organized, the finest ballet dancers haven’t ever been so in sync. Some wheeled in equipment, others brought in clean towels. Each person had a specific role in this organized production. Not one person ran into another, they just reacted, or acted. Before I knew it, a mess of people were all around me. Dr. Kauffman, my 7-months pregnant doctor, sat down at the foot of my bed. My husband stood at my right knee, my mother up near my head. The doctor who talked me into staying 27 hours earlier stood by my left knee. Still others milled about the room waiting for their cue. Someone had opened up the adjoining room – the room where Emory would be cleaned and warmed. They were ready. But was I?

Earlier, I had been told that it would take me three hours to push. I prepared myself for that. I asked the nurse if I could have a Pedialyte ice pop for strength. I wondered if the ice would feel good against my heartburn as well. Toward the very end, the heartburn became unbearable. And the pain made me nauseous. I looked at the clock. It was after 3. The baby would be with us by dawn. I hoped.

I saw a bolt of lightning from outside. “Was that lightning? Is it storming?”

“It’s really bad out there. There’s thunder, lightning. It’s torrential.” Someone assured me.

It was a perfect backdrop, the greatest of encores, for that particular performance.

Everyone took their position. The doctor instructed all the newcomers (my husband and my mother) what their roles were. The woman at my left knee told me what I had to do and when I had to do it.

The last 45 minutes I spent pregnant exist in my memory in pieces. I don’t recollect things in any definitive order. I know that it took me a few times before I understood how to push. At first I was afraid to push too hard because it felt like I had to take a massive crap. (Which is exactly what’s supposed to happen.) Between contractions, I grabbed an ice pop or the oxygen mask. But nothing became more glorious than sucking on that damned ice pop. It was my reward for every other push. The oxygen was a have-to. I ate two popsicles before getting Emory out. They were the best things I had ever eaten.

If the birth of Emory had consisted of only the last couple of hours I would have had the greatest birth story tell. I had an epidural, sure. But the right hand side of my body felt everything. I mentioned before that this became a blessing in disguise. It ensured that I work harder because it hurt. And since I had feeling, I also knew when each contraction was coming before the machine beeped letting the doctors know.

I had worked myself up over labor. And it didn’t end up being that hard for me. It didn’t hurt as much as I would have thought. (Although, I am sure had I been totally epidural free, it would have hurt a whole lot more.) I had prepared myself for something terrifically difficult and painful. And it simply wasn’t. When it came time to push, I had something to focus on, something real. I was no longer a spectator of my own labor; I became an active participant in the production.

It took me 45 minutes to get Emory out. I think we counted 9 pushes. That included the amount of time it took to get the hang of it. For me, the pushing part of labor wasn’t difficult at all; it was the induction, the wait, the failure to get things going, the hunger, the heartburn, the wait again, all of that proved very trying and difficult.

On push 8 in room eight, the doctor asked me if I wanted to look at Emory, whose head was almost completely outside of my body. I said no. But then my mind turned on again and it sent me a message, “Do this. How often do you get to see a human head poking out of your vagina?” So I did. I looked down. And that’s the first time I saw Emory.

He looked just like you’d imagine, which is to say freakishly weird and alien. He looked unreal. His head was a little beat up. But he was alive and well and it was only a matter of time before I was to hold him.

Push 9 was the last push. I felt him come swooshing out along with a lot of other stuff I won’t talk about. They held him up. I looked at the umbilical cord, which was shockingly beautiful. It looked like blown glass – a piece of perfectly purplish spiral-blown glass.

“Do you want to cut the cord?” Dr Kauffman asked Toby.

“Sure.”

Emory was freed from me by the man who helped me create him. He was wrapped in a blanket and then immediately placed on my belly. There wasn’t a tear in sight or a sound in range. He just looked up at me with those great big dark eyes.

“You are perfect. You are perfect. Hello, little person! You are perfect! It’s so nice to meet you! Hello!”

And then he was gone again.

The room looked like something out of an episode of CSI. It was that messy, like, over the top messy, staged even. Blood was everywhere. It was a mess. Earlier, one of the nurses made Toby lay on some sheets. She had joked about what she had seen on the floor of that very room. We laughed at the time. But, wow! Was she ever right. It looked like someone had died a gruesome death. There were clots, red towels, red gauze. The characters that had filed in so perfectly earlier were now covered head to toe in blood. Until that moment, I had no idea how much birth could resemble death. Replace tears with smiles and gasps of shock with gasps of joy and you have birth.

As they stitched me up, I fell back into my pillow and I looked toward the window again. I let out a sigh. The city was being beaten by thunder and struck by lightning. A tornado touched down in Brooklyn for the first time in a century. The subway tunnels flooded. Millions of people were rudely awaken by that storm.

And in a room on the 4th floor of a hospital along the East River, my son Emory was making his first appearance on a stage called life.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I will continue this story every day until it’s finished. Each chapter will live in a section titled The Birth of Emory.

NowBlowPoMe: The Birth of Emory. (Chapter 6)

Previous Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5

“You’re about 2 and a half centimeters dilated.” She told me.

I thought I heard her incorrectly.

“What?” I asked. TobyJoe walked over to me. He looked concerned.

“You’re 2 and half centimeters.” She repeated.

I started to cry. “But..” My voice trailed off. She knew what I wanted to say. She knew what I was thinking.

She explained that once they gave me the epidural they had no absolute way of gaging the pain and administering the correct dose of Pitocin. I was devastated. And I was pissed off. The last 11 hours were an absolute waste. I was still very upset with my body for not doing what it was supposed to do. I was angry that I had to be induced at all. I was mad that high blood pressure put me there in the first place. I wanted to meet my son. I really wanted to meet my son. I was heartbroken, seriously heartbroken. I was also worried that he was without amnionic fluid for so long.

I continued to cry.

“Here’s what we’re going to do.” She began. “We’re going to insert an internal contraction monitor to get a better idea of how intense your contractions are. And then we’ll know exactly how much more Pitocin you’ll need.”

I asked the million dollar question. “How much longer will I be like this?”

Looking back, I understand why she wouldn’t give me a time. She watched my mood deteriorate several times. She answered me as a doctor. “Well, the night nurse will be a lot more aggressive with the Pitocin. We’ll get things moving. And that will be easier with the internal contraction monitor.”

And that’s when round two began.

By the the time Tuesday came to an end, I had one tube going into my arm, another into my back, still another emptying out my bladder and another inserted into my uterus next to the baby. I felt like something out of a science fiction movie.

At 2 AM, I entered real labor and the pain became a lot more intense. The button controlling the pain medicine was getting quite a workout especially since my right side wasn’t really numb at all. At 2:30 AM, my body went into shock and began to shake uncontrollably. I felt as though I had to poop. My teeth were chattering. I was falling apart fast. That’s when my husband woke up and my mother left the room to get a nurse.

It was finally time.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I will continue this story every day until it’s finished. Each chapter will live in a section titled The Birth of Emory.

NowBlowPoMe: The Birth of Emory. (Chapter 5)

Previous Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4

Tuesday, August 7th was one of the longest days of my life. I was given the epidural at around 11 AM. Prior to that, I was allowed one last shower. I remember thinking, “This is the last shower I’m going to take while pregnant.” It’s also a good thing I showered, because by the time I was done having Emory, I smelled horrible. My left underarm smelled as though I carried a tea bag full of sliced shallots in its moist crevice. It was as awful as the previous sentence.

While I showered my mother and husband went downstairs to get some breakfast. I was starving, but wasn’t allowed to eat. (Although, I did sneak a solitary grape, which was more torturous than pleasurable.) By the end of my labor, I would have gone about 43 hours without food. I realize that’s not too big a deal but an empty stomach proved much worse for my heartburn, which peaked on Tuesday evening and by the time it came time to push, I was begging for Pepcid.

I spent Tuesday getting pumped full of Pitocin. Or so I thought. The day nurse and I quickly became friends. I asked her questions about other labors, about working there, about birth. We talked about where she was from, where she lived, and about her family. Every now and again she would ask me a question the importance of which I underestimated.

“On a scale between 1 and 10, 10 being the most painful, how would you rate your pain?”

I would answer unsure each and every time. “A five? I dunno. A six maybe?”

Had I know the significance of that question I would have been a lot more conservative with my answers.

Truth be told, it was really hard to assess pain with the epidural. I could feel pain but I had no idea how intense it was. Worse than that, I had no idea how intense it would become. How is it really possible to rate pain when you have no clue how painful level 10 will be? I failed at this. Looking back, I should have answered with much lower numbers.

At roughly 3 PM the doctor returned to break my water. By that point I had been on the Pitocin for about 4 hours. My cervix was to be readying itself for childbirth. When she broke my water, I could feel the warm liquid fall around my butt and thighs, but I didn’t feel any pain. The feeling of water oozing out of my crotch every time I laughed or coughed or moved, felt gross. All I could do was lie there and let it fall into the pads below me, which were changed several times in the first hour and a half. At that point, the nurse decided there wouldn’t be much more all at once, an assumption that was far from true. I kept oozing and oozing.

I waited a while before complaining, but I couldn’t take it anymore. “I really feel wet down there. I really think more just came out. Can you check?”

She would change the pads, which were covered in amnionic fluid, and replace them with fresh ones. Fifteen minutes would pass and I’d feel another burst of liquid. I’d wait, and when I could take it no more, say something once again. After several times of this happening, she finally conceded. “You do seem to have a copious amount of amnionic fluid.” Maybe that’s why I was so large toward the end of my pregnancy. We thought Emory was going to be a big baby, but in all actuality, I think he just had a larger jacuzzi.

The doctor came to check on me a few times just to make sure I was doing OK and wasn’t in too much pain. The head anesthesiologist, a small Indian woman who wore a large button with the word “PAIN” on it with a red X through it, came in to see me several times as well. At one point she lectured me on not using the button to trigger my Fentanyl drip.

“You have a needle in your back,” she said. “You might as well use it for the pain.”

Truth be told, I didn’t feel all that much pain, which was a fact that would later come back to haunt me.

Finally, at around 9 PM, the doctor came in to give me a cervical exam. The exam itself was a lot less painful because of the epidural. But the same epidural that brought me both a state of well-being and a fairly pain free vaginal exam, would be the very thing to blame for what happened next.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I will continue this story every day until it’s finished. Each chapter will live in a section titled The Birth of Emory.

NowBlowPoMe: The Birth of Emory. (Chapter 4)

Previous Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3

We woke up the next morning early. If you’d call it waking up at all. Our sleep was interrupted dozens of times but I hadn’t really slept in weeks. If it wasn’t the heartburn, it was the pain on the upper right side of my abdomen. If it wasn’t that, it was having to pee every half an hour. Something always got in the way of my sleep. Lately, it had been the consistent period-like cramps that kept me awake.

At around 10 AM a doctor came in to give me a cervical exam. I was supposed to have had 12 hours of Cervidil. Normally, the Pitocin is given first thing in the morning. But since I had been admitted so late, my time was pushed back. Instead of waiting until noon, the doctor decided to come in a little early.

“This is going to be a little uncomfortable.” She said.

Now, I know I haven’t gotten to the end of this story yet but I simply must interject. In hindsight, this was by far the most intense physical pain I endured. She not only gave me an exam to find out if I had dilated any more since my previous exam, but this time she tried to “get things going” using a couple of fingers. It hurt. I let out a loud groan and tried to pull away. Nothing, not even labor, hurt quite like that exam. I suddenly had a LOT of respect for all those who go through a vaginal birth without using any drugs whatsoever.

It was at that very moment, I decided to have an epidural.

“You’re 2 centimeters dilated.” She said, tearing her gloves off.

“Only two?” I asked.

“But your cervix is 75% effaced. It’s ready.”

I had trouble hiding my heartache. I wanted a miracle to have taken place. I wanted to be much more dilated especially after all of those contractions I endured the night before.

“Even after that half hour long contraction? I’m still only 2 centimeters?” I said through tears.

“Don’t worry! The Pitocin will do the rest.” She reassured me. And then she said, “Welcome to labor.”

The nurse had already started the Pitocin through my IV drip. I had no idea how Pitocin worked. Was it like a gunshot? Would it immediately force my cervix to open? I got a little worried that I hadn’t yet had the epidural. What if my cervix started to open really fast and it hurt as much or worse than what she had done with her fingers?

“Are you going to be having an epidural today?” The doctor asked me as if it were the daily special at a fancy restaurant.

“Yes.” I told her.

She called anesthesia and left the room. The nurse continued to administer the Pitocin.

The nurse asked me, “On a scale 1 – 10, 10 being the most painful, how would you classify your pain level right now?”

“Ummm, well, I don’t know what 10 is yet, you know? It’s relative, right? If 10 ends up being really bad, then I’d say this is a two? If it’s not that bad, a 5?”

The nurse laughed. “I’ll write down a 3.”

A half hour passed and two men walked into the room. They introduced themselves to me as anesthesiologists and congratulated me.

“We understand you’ll be having an epidural today?”

“Yes.” I assured them.

They looked over the monitor.

“Michele, did you just feel that?”

“Feel what?” I asked.

“Well, you just had a pretty intense contraction and you didn’t even flinch.”

(Now, back up a minute. I don’t want people to think I’m some kind of tough guy. I’m not. But, I do need to say that I really didn’t find contractions all that painful and to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t even sure what they were until I was admitted into the hospital. I thought contractions were the painful spasms you had down around your cervix. I found that pain almost unbearable. which is why I cried out whenever the doctor gave me a cervical exam. Contractions, I could have handled without an epidural. Dilating to 10 centimeters? No way. Some woman want to have a natural childbirth. And I respect them for that. But I’m not one of those women. I hope that all those who went through childbirth “naturally” will respect my choices as well.)

“I didn’t notice.” I told them.

They left the room to grab the necessary items. The nurse asked, “Are you OK?”

“I’m nervous.” I admitted. “I may have tattoos but I actually hate needles.”

She laughed. “Well, you got the Asian guy. He’s good. The Asians are always good.”

I cracked up. I felt reassured, like, Asians are really good at what they do! I’ll do just fine! And at that moment in time, regardless of how racist the thought was, I didn’t care. You could have told me he was an Aquarius and I may have asked him to leave. We Aquarians are way too flakey to insert needles into someone’s spine.

The doctors returned. It was time.

I moved into an upright seated position and dangled my feet over the side of the bed. I was told to hunch over and arch my back.

“Like cat pose?” I asked.

The skinny doctor laughed. “Yes, just like cat pose.”

“Grab a hold of Nurse Stephanie’s hands and squeeze. You’re going to feel a couple of pinches. That’s the numbing agent. Try not to move too much. If it hurts, squeeze.”

The needles in my back felt exactly as you might imagine. Eventually, the numbness took over and then it was time for the actual epidural.

I wish I could capture the way it feels to have a needle inserted into your back to someone who hasn’t ever had it done. But it’s downright impossible. The only thing I could think to say when TobyJoe asked me how it felt was, “It feels like someone has a metal rod and is inserting it directly into your soul.”

It made my teeth itch, my ears ring. It felt like nothing I have ever known. What made matters even more intense was it took three tries for the Asian guy to get it into the epidural space. I had to tell them where the “cold” feeling was. And it was cold! At the time, I thought they were pumping cold fluid into my spine and up into my head. Turns out, it was only my nerves.

“Right or left?” The skinny guy would ask.

“Right.” I’d answer, unsure of myself.

Finally, after three tries of inserting needles into and out of my spine they got it into a position they seemed happy with even though, later, during some pretty intense contractions, I’d realize that while my right side was entirely numb, my left had nearly all its feeling. This ended being a blessing in disguise, however.

They were finished. The nurse looked at me and said, “You’re about to experience an intense feeling of well-being.”

And that’s when the Fentanyl was administered. I was as high as a kite.

My mother and husband returned.

“HI!” I yelled out. “I feel WOOOOooooondeeerfulllll” I said, slurring my words. “The nurse gave me something.”

She laughed. “I gave her a Fentanyl drip. She’s going to feel wonderful for a while.”

Now, all we had to do was wait. The rest was up to the Pitocin.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I will continue this story every day until it’s finished. Each chapter will live in a section titled The Birth of Emory.

NowBlowPoMe: The Birth of Emory. (Chapter 3)

Previous Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2

My mother stood to get a closer look at the monitor. She, too, noticed I was having a contraction, a really long contraction. We both wondered silently if it was a normal response to Cervidil.

Time passed. My eyes began to water. I wasn’t crying from the pain necessarily, I was crying because I was both worn out and really scared. Plus, I still had the residual emotional and physical damage left over from the breakdown I had earlier.

Eventually, a nurse rushed in followed by a doctor. They both muttered something to one another. The nurse put her hand on my belly and looked at the monitor. I asked her what was wrong.

“Sometimes the Cervidil can trigger an intense and constant contraction. It doesn’t happen often.”

“What happens then?” I asked. My mind raced with assumptions.

“If it doesn’t go away, we may have to removed the Cervidil.”

For whatever reason, I immediately thought cesarean. Here was my thought process: Already admitted into the hospital. Already hooked up to an IV. My body was already having issues with being 41 weeks pregnant. If induction failed to work, they would most likely schedule a cesarean. I said nothing about my assumption.

They waited there for a while with their hands on my abdomen, which kept a perfectly painful, solid arc. The doctor was concerned about the baby but he was doing just fine. His heart rate did not rise nor fall. Mine was all over the place. The nurse pressed some buttons and repositioned the fetal monitor. We waited.

I really, really wanted Murray. Tears filled my eyes. I told my mother I hoped Murray was OK. There were some more tears.

A half an hour went by maybe more and the intense contraction subsided. After a few more blood pressure readings and a watchful eye, the nurse left us alone again. It was time to try and get some rest. We were exhausted.

I did my best to sleep that night but it was hard since nurses and doctors kept coming in to check on the the baby and my progress. Each time the door opened it let in all the hallway noises and light filled our room. I was also extremely uncomfortable. The upper right hand side of my body hurt from whatever the baby had been doing to it. (The pain in my upper abdomen started at around week 36 and grew more and more intense as I grew larger. I am still entirely numb in that area. I am told I will eventually get the feeling back but I’m not holding my breath.) I had an IV in and I just couldn’t get warm. My hair was stringy and greasy, and I was so very hungry. My last meal had been at 2 PM the previous day (Monday).

It was roughly 2 AM. I was no longer in constant pain and I was hours away from meeting my son.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I will continue this story every day until it’s finished. Each chapter will live in a section titled The Birth of Emory.

NowBlowPoMe: The Birth of Emory. (Chapter 2)

(Read Chapter 1 here.)

The room we were given had a most spectacular view. Unfortunately, I would spend most of my time there paralyzed from the waist down and therefore bedridden. But my mother and TobyJoe were able to look out over the East River. We had a view of the 59th Street Bridge, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, Brooklyn and boats moving to and from someplace different. I thought about the cars moving along the 59th Street Bridge and I wondered if any of them knew we existed, knew what was happening. Probably not. I promised myself that the next time I was on the 59th Street Bridge, I would make sure to think about an unknown woman giving birth from that very room.

TobyJoe made himself as comfortable as possible in a chair by the window and insisted my mother take the chair that folds down into a bed. After watching the two of them take part in the kindest of arguments, my mother finally gave in.

A nurse came in and hooked me up to a device similar to the one shown below. (Image taken from the Philips Medical Systems Web site.)

(Usually, the pregnant person wrapped up in it looks a lot less perky, however. Also, add about 40 pounds to that chick.)

At New York Presbyterian, every patient is represented by a frame on a monitor in every room so the nurses can keep track of everyone’s progress (both mother and baby) no matter where they are. We, too, were able to watch the graphically depicted contractions for every other woman giving birth that night, which made for some interesting conversation during the wee hours of the night. For example, much later, whenever room 9 began screaming bloody murder, I was able to watch her contractions fly off the chart and imagine things to come.

A doctor came in just after midnight to administer the Cervidil. The process hurt a little bit. It felt like a bad period cramp. At that point I found out that I was still only 2 centimeters dilated. The Cervidil should help things along. The cream is inserted up into the cervix. Its only job is to thin out the cervix (effacement) and ready it for the Pitocin later. It’s supposed to be a painless process, which is why they hit you with a sweet dose of AmbienCR right after insertion. I had been told by several women that the first night of induction brought with it one of the best night’s rest they’d ever had.

(Foreshadow: I turned out not to be one of those women.)

It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes Cervidil triggers labor, something I was kind of hoping for as it would cut down on the time I’d spend in a hospital bed. Another rarer and more painful side-effect, is that it can trigger an intense and constant contraction but not actually induce labor. I didn’t know about that until later.

Once given the Cervidil, I could not use the bathroom for two hours. Since Cervidil is a cream, if a woman were to stand up too soon, it could drain out. At least that was my understanding. So, if I did have to use the bathroom before two hours were up, I would have to do so using a bedpan, and that didn’t sound all that appealing. (All fear of peeing into a metal container fell by the wayside later on. That was nothing compared to what I would learn to overlook later.)

I must have been hormonally challenged because I spent the next hour thinking about Murray at home by himself. I begged my mother and TobyJoe to go home and get a good night’s rest. And I really meant it; I really wanted them both to get a decent night’s rest, especially since TobyJoe was about the spend the next two nights on a cold, hard floor. But I also wanted someone there with Murray. I know now that this was entirely irrational, absurd even. But he became my focal point. Perhaps thinking about him kept my mind off what I was about to endure.

Truth be told, I still have no idea why I care so deeply for that cat. Perhaps it’s because he was my buddy throughout my entire pregnancy. Or maybe it’s because he spent most of his youth growing along with my belly.

Even after my persistent badgering, it was decided that sending my mother out driving through the city by herself in the middle of the night was a dumb idea. TobyJoe made a nest on the floor. My mother made herself as comfortable as possible on the chair next to my bed.

And of course an hour after the doctor gave me the Cervidil I had to pee. Normally holding my urine in for two hours wouldn’t be a problem for me, but the IV was pumping me so full of fluid, it all made a beeline right to my bladder. There was no way I could wait another hour. If I had to use a bedpan, then so be it.

I paged the nurse.

“I realize we’re not supposed to use the bathroom, but I really have to go.”

The nurse spoke with the doctor and the two of them decided that I could get up to use the bathroom early.

They unhooked the fetal monitor, my monitor, and my IV bag, and I hobbled to the bathroom.

And I peed. Forever.

When I returned to my bed, the nurse hooked me back up to the plethora of gadgets, and I waited for the Ambien to do its thing. To this day, I am not sure why it happened. I blame myself for having to pee, of course. But fifteen minutes later, I started to have a constant and very painful contraction. The frame that represented my room on the monitor – room number 8 – was maxed out entirely. It looked as if our room alone was being hit by an earthquake. I looked over the monitor while clutching my upper abdomen. All the other women looked so peaceful!

I turned to my mother. “If this is what they consider painless, I’m screwed when it finally comes to giving birth.”

Meanwhile, my fuzzy focal point was across a bridge, over a river, through a city and up three flights of stair.

It became abundantly clear: I was going to need a lot more AmbienCR to get me through the night.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I will continue this story every day until it’s finished. Each chapter will live in a section titled The Birth of Emory.

NowBlowPoMe: The Birth of Emory. (Chapter 1)

Emory was born at 4:05 AM on August 8, 2007. It was a Wednesday. He entered this world at the very same moment Brooklyn was being hit by a tornado and a storm was flooding the subway. I could see the lightning from my hospital bed. We could hear the thunder overtop the sounds of the delivery floor. Twenty-eight hours prior that very moment, I had been induced.

I arrived at the hospital on Monday at 5:30 PM and waited five and a half hours to be admitted. In that time, I had my first ever panic attack, which took place in the hallway right outside the Labor and Delivery Unit at NY Presbyterian. As people joyously walked through the halls holding balloons that read “IT’S A BOY!”, I was hyperventilating. I successfully “lost it” because I had spent five and half hours dealing with the most insincere person I have ever come in contact with. I wish I could capture in words just how horrible she made me feel. I wish I could capture the intensity of emotion I felt just before my breakdown. But it’s impossible. Even now, months after the fact, tears come to my eyes just thinking about her.

Imagine this: I am 41 weeks pregnant, going through contractions. I was told earlier that day they weren’t the right kind of contractions, they weren’t the kind to “get things going”. Instead, I had a blood pressure reading through the roof, which is why I was scheduled for induction. My doctors were worried about the baby. The floor was packed with scheduled cesareans and other inductions. On top of all that, there were the spontaneous laborers coming in. It was busy and insane and the nighttime desk clerk was related to Satan.

My mother and TobyJoe did their best to keep me calm. Earlier, we had a big laugh about a farting dog named Walter. You see, one of the names we toyed with was Walter until we found out about the popular children’s book “Walter the Farting Dog.” When my mother told us about Walter the Farting Dog, we both snorted with laughter. But all laughter came to an end at around 10:00 PM when I really started to fall apart physically. My blood pressure sky-rocketed. My contractions intensified. My head was pounding so much so, you could trace the veins in my forehead, they cast shadows they were working so hard. I was tired. I all of my life I hadn’t ever felt so tired. I wanted to go home. I wanted that woman to help me. I wanted to go home.

At around 10:30 PM, I approached her and suggested I go home and return when they are less busy. I was greeted with a lecture, a nasty, passive-aggressive lecture.

I calmly added, “I can’t take this anymore.” And left through the double doors that led to the hallway.

When I entered the hallway, I had a meltdown, an honest to God, no exaggeration, full-fledged meltdown. My entire body shook. My head filled with blood. I began to cry so hard I was making those uncontrollable sobbing sounds, the ones where tiny inhales penetrate one larger one. I could not catch my dying breath. I wasn’t going to have the baby. I was going to go home and see my cat. For some reason, I really, really wanted to see Murray. I was done with being pregnant, waiting. I would just stay pregnant for the rest of my life if that’s what I had to do to avoid that woman, that awful, no good, evil woman.

What I didn’t know was that after I left the room, TobyJoe had some words with her. He said, “When I get back, if you do not have a room for us, if you have not yet done your job, we are leaving. I don’t want to hear another word from you unless it’s positive. Do you understand me?”

Eventually, I regained my composure. TobyJoe was able to calm me down and we walked back into the birthing and labor unit to get my mother, collect our things, and leave. At that point, I was intercepted by an actual doctor, (the same doctor who would later hold my left leg). She talked me into staying. She apologized profusely for having not admitted me sooner. She said they actually thought I had already been admitted and induced. The woman behind the counter had accidentally crossed me off her list. I had been lost in the shuffle of paperwork.

I agreed to stay.

It was just after midnight when they finally inserted the Cervidil into my cervix.

We were going to have a baby.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I will continue this story every day until it’s finished. Each chapter will live in a section titled The Birth of Emory.