Monday, August 21, 2006


Mother & Child (top) "Baby Doe" at 5 minutes (middle)
Father & Child (bottom)

Saturday, 9 am.
Melissa wakes up & her mucus plug has come loose. (For the uninitiated, the mucus plug is a piece of mucus that "plugs" the uterus). We've been told this does not indicate that labor will start soon. In fact, it can be a couple weeks, which makes sense, since the baby is not due for 15 days.

Saturday, Noon.
As Melissa's parents are pulling into the driveway of our weekend cottage in Connecticut, her water breaks. It is not a gush, like in the movies, but a nonetheless noticable spurt of liquid. We call our midwife practice, & the on-call midwife, Amanda, suggests we head back to the city. Melissa's parents turn around & head back to Rhode Island.

Saturday, 10 pm (more or less)
Are these contractions? They sometimes last a few seconds, sometimes half a minute or so. Amanda has said to ignore the "4-1-1 Rule" (wait until contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting a full minute each, and have been happening an hour). There is a chance we might not get a room at the Birthing Center at the hospital unless we jump at it, so we are told to call when the contractions are regular.

Sunday, 1 am.
The contractuions become a little more regular. I am asleep, but Melissa is up. I wake up around 3:30 to the sound of her groaning. The contractions are still somewhat irregular--from 30 seconds to a minute--but they are fierce & regular enough. We call Amanda. She says to head to the hospital. We've parked across the street from the apartment, so we head right off, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. At 4 in the morning, there is not much traffic. but in the West Village there are lots of people headed home from the recently closed clubs. Melissa, in the midst of contractions, is grunting & groaning in the passenger seat. Because it's warm out, her window is down. At a traffic light, she gets a particularly nasty contraction & starts writhing & moaning. I notice that a guy in a pickup truck 2 lanes away is staring. When the light turns green, he changes lanes to drive next to us.

Sunday, 4:40 am
We check into the Birthing Center. Amanda, who has driven in from Brooklyn herself, feels Melissa's cervix. It is dilated only 2 centimeters. Because her water broke about 17 hours ago, we're on a deadline to get to active labor. We try all the old tricks. The nurse gives Melissa an enema (at this point, I find an excuse to step out into the hall). Melissa walks up & down the stairs. Then there's my favorite: nipple stimulation (or "nip stim").

Sunday, 8 am
Amanda is replaced by Melanie, also from our midwife practice. Eventually, we will grow to love Melanie. However, she tells us around noon that Melissa's cervix remains at 2 measly centimeters. That means we head up to the regular labor ward, where Melissa will be given Pitosin (a drug that stimulates contractions) & an epidural (so she doesn't feel it). Melissa considers this a failure, & is bummed. But the anaesthesiologist, an absurdly young woman named Dr. Russell, is a genius, & the epidural works magnificently. By midafternoon, we both get some much needed shuteye, while Melissa's utuerus continues contracting.

Saturday, 10 pm
Melissa's cervix is now at 8 centimeters! Much rejoicing.

Monday, 12:30 am
Time to push. The epidural drugs are turned down so that Melissa can better feel the pressure that stimulates pushing. She pushes, and pushes, & pushes. After a couple hours, we catch sight of the baby's head, but she has not passed under the pelvic bone. More pushing. We see more head--dark hair included--but the baby seems to be stuck.

Monday, 4 am
Melanie, who has been working with us for 20 hours now, calls in an obstetrician, who is just as insanely young as the anaesthesiologist. She is also a gruff one, but helps Melissa push to the point where the baby seems ready to emerge. Still, the little rascal refuses to take the last big step. Melissa is exhausted. Each push is torture. The doctor decides to try one more thing: the "vacuum" option. It's not exactly what it sounds like. Basically, a mini plunger is attached to the the baby's head, & as the mom pushes like hell, the doctor pulls. If it doesn't work, we're told, there is only one option left: the dreaded C section. Forms are signed. We have been warned. Melissa is terrified. At the next contraction she pushes like a maniac. The doctor pulls on the head. Almost.One more try. Melissa pushes. Her face turns crimson. I can hardly watch. The room is now full of interns & nurses. There's blood.

Monday, 4:50 am
Miraculously, the baby's head emerges. The doctor turns her sideways & yanks the rest of her out. She wails. The nurses take her across the room for cleaning. After about 20 seconds, she is clean & pink & perfect.


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