My induction began Wednesday night, during a major snowstorm. There was a lot of hype around the storm, actually; the mayor called a snow day for all New York City schools 24 hours in advance, and advised against driving in the weather (we were escorted to the hospital by some good friends who have an SUV). I'm sure that anyone heading into the hospital to have her first baby feels the drive to be somewhat epic; I know I did, and the snowstorm contributed to this. Our friends said that it was auspicious weather for a birth, and I imagined I'll one day tell my son, probably many times, about the big New York snowstorm on the night he was born.
Kaspar wasn't actually born until noon the next day, although we got things started almost immediately after arriving at the hospital. I wasn't dilated yet, so I was induced with Pitocin, and with a balloon in my cervix that popped out after I'd reached three centimeters. This can take anywhere from one to six hours. After one hour, I was there. I could see both my own contractions and those of another woman who was giving birth down the hall on the monitors beside the bed -- my nurse and doctor were also delivering her baby, and needed to watch her progress when tending to me. Our contractions were spaced about the same for a long while, but while hers had regular climbs, peaks, and descents, mine were notorious Pitocin contractions. They shot up, hit a plateau (where the monitor no longer registered them), and then shot down again. I had an epidural, so I didn't feel much besides some minor discomfort. The anesthesiologist had told me to press the little epidural button from time to time, as my dosage in the drip was a low one, but since I wasn't uncomfortable, I didn't really think to press it.
My labor was characterized by relative calm interrupted, a few times (until delivery, which was nuts and which I will get to shortly), by serious intensity of one kind of another. For example, after the epidural was put in, Aaron and I were left to chill and let the Pitocin and balloon start to do their thing. The nurse, Samantha, was tending to the charts, when she suddenly asked me to roll onto my side. This was a little tough, due to the IV tubing, belly belt and monitors, and the like, but I got there. Then she asked me to roll back onto my left side again. We repeated this twice more. Aaron had by this point jumped up -- the baby's heart rate had slowed, and he and the nurse both heard it happen -- and Samantha was on the walkie-talkie thing calling for Dr. Silverstein (my OB for the past nine months, and the doctor delivering my baby). He was there almost instantly, as were a number of other doctors. He rolled me onto my sides and told one of the other doctors to administer an epinephrine shot into the IV. My blood pressure had dropped as a result of the initial epidural administration. The epinephrine worked, though, and within seconds all of the other doctors disappeared as quickly as they'd come. Dr. Silverstein was completely calm, and gave Samantha some monitoring instructions, and said we could get back to relaxing.
We watched some TV, but our minds were obviously on what was happening, and what was ahead. I started to doze a bit, and Aaron did, too, in his fold out chair. Some time later, I felt a sharp, horrible pain in my abdomen. I started to moan "Owww" or something, and asked Aaron where the button for the nurse was. The pain subsided, but then got worse, and worse… and worse. By the time Samantha got there (which wasn't much time) I was crying into my pillow, really making a lot of noise, and writhing. My lagging on the epidural button had resulted in my getting behind on the painkillers, and I was getting a taste of those crazy contractions. I now knew what pain was. And this was just the beginning. This, too, didn't last long, however; Dr. Silverstein and Samantha called for "Dr. Feel Good" (the anesthesiologist), and I was given a "top off." Meanwhile, Dr. Silverstein checked my dilation; I was at six centimeters.
As soon as that kicked in, I was happy as could be, chatting it up with Aaron. He looked shaken, though -- kind of pale. He held my hand and reminded me to press the button on the epidural. I assured him I was fine, and asked him to try to sleep a bit more. He said he thought we were probably past that point (and he was right), but we sat back anyway and waited a bit.
I nodded off for a while. It was the middle of the night and we were tired. After some time, though, I felt nauseated. I also felt hot. I pressed the nurse's button. I threw up, and I started crying. I just felt super weird, and sort of out of it and miserable. Dr. Silverstein checked my dilation: eight centimeters. They told me that at this point, there's a huge hormone rush as the body prepares for delivery, and puking/crying/feeling sh*tty are all totally normal. I started to feel the contractions again, as well, and was given another top-off.
I soon felt pretty well again. We were well into Thursday morning at this point. The other woman in labor had given birth, and Dr. Silverstein was called away to attend to an emergency C-section. Samantha had been in the room a lot, updating the charts and checking on me. She told me that they were easing off of the Pitocin for a bit, as my labor was well on its way. She also gave us both a pep talk about pain, and staying focused, not giving into the pain when it came time to push. She said that the epidural wouldn't do anything for me below the abdomen -- I was going to feel this delivery, and it was going to hurt... but I could handle it. A nurse/midwife who I've gotten to know from Dr. Silverstein's OB practice also stopped by and gave us a similar pep talk. She told me to stay centered, and coached Aaron on how to help me do that. I felt ready, but I also felt afraid, having tasted the pain already and not knowing how bad it was going to get. Aaron and I waited some more. We talked a little about fear, and pain, and then I turned the TV on again, which we only half-watched.
I was starting to feel pressure, and some pain, below my abdomen, but nothing too intense. Some time passed, and around eleven, I turned to Aaron and said "I'm feeling something -- it kind of hurts, and it feels low." I called Samantha in, and I told her what I was feeling. The pain was rapidly increasing, too, and I started asking for another top-off (okay, I was begging for drugs), but Dr. Silverstein actually turned "Dr. Feel Good" away-- we were too far in, and drugs weren't going to be effective at this point. He checked my dilation: ten centimeters. It was time to push.
Within minutes, we were in full-on delivery mode. It was absolutely insane. The contractions were happening right on top of each other with perhaps ten or fifteen (though to be honest I just have no idea) seconds in between. During contractions, Dr. Silverstein and Samantha each held one of my feet/legs, and Dr. Silverstein worked on stretching everything (or whatever it is they do) to make room for the baby.
I was in agony, truly. I was crying, screaming, moaning, the whole bit. The movies really do not do childbirth justice, do they? Dr. Silverstein and Samantha were like two football coaches. With each contraction, I was told to inhale all the way, exhale all the way, then inhale all the way and push as hard as I could, not screaming, crying, or even exhaling -- just pushing. We did four pushes per contraction, with a break for a full inhale/exhale after two. I told Dr. Silverstein, "Please pull this baby out!" and he said "I can't-- you have to push him out!"
Dr. Silverstein had set up his iPod and speakers, and this insane scene unfolded to classic rock playing in the background. Aaron was responsible for holding my pillow up so that my head was to my chest with each push. After each push, I'd cry, gasp for air, and howl, but then another contraction would start and they'd all say "Here we go again!", and we repeated the process. It was madness, really, but at the same time, it was a focused madness, a focused storm in its (my) delirium. As the baby got closer, the pain increased. I felt like I understood then the kind of pain that's portrayed in war movies, with soldiers holding their guts in and screaming for their mothers. As excrutiating as the pain got, there was no going back, obviously, so I did focus in, and I gave it all I had.
Then, it happened. A horrible contraction began, we did the pushing thing, and Dr. Silverstein shouted, "There he is!" Aaron leaned over me and said, "
I was crying, but I heard the beginning notes of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" and I sputtered, "I like this song!"
Then the contraction began. There were four horrible pushes, I was cut open a bit to avoid tearing, and I felt Dr. Silverstein grab the baby's head, then felt that, the shoulders and body emerge.
Dr. Silverstein plopped the baby onto my chest, and I looked down at him. His eyes were open, and he was looking at me. He was heavy, and human! A baby! I was sort of shocked. Dr. Silverstein announced, "Born to Baba O'Riley!" Aaron and I were elated and exhausted, marveling at our boy. Aaron cut the cord, Dr. Silverstein and Samantha took care of the finishing touches (not fun, but fast, and at that point… not a problem).
And that, my friends, is how Kaspar Quincy Newman was born to Baba O'Riley last Thursday at 12:20 in the afternoon.
I am forever grateful, and profoundly amazed by, Dr. Silverstein and Samantha's incredible efforts, presence, performance and personalities. Here is Dr. Silverstein with Kaspar in the famous "Silverstein Swaddle":
Me, holding Kaspar, who's as cute as can be:
Aaron, admiring his son. We are in love with him already (and also very tired... more on that soon!):
Kissing over Kaspar:
Leaving the hospital with our baby boy! We were discharged on Saturday (I am so psyched to be home):
Thank you all for sharing in this adventure with us! I will see you on The Parenting Post soon. <3