Birth Story

From 0 to Baby in 2 hrs and 50 mins

9:15 AM, Friday, 02/01/02 Kate visits with Dr. Jeff Delson, our GP, for an acupuncture session. Kate's not officially due until February 6, but because her blood pressure has been creeping up, the midwives want her to deliver the baby sooner rather than later. Maybe needles will do the trick.

10:15-2:15 Home from Jeff's. Kate rests on the sofa, has lunch, naps. She's feeling fine, but nothing's happening. Yet.

2:30-3:00 Kate and Eric have a phone call with Sandy Woods, the midwife on duty. She's just received Kate's latest labs, which show no change for the better or worse. Sandy tells Kate to drink 4 oz of Castor Oil first thing Saturday morning. That should get things moving! If not, we'll have to think about more interventionist methods on Monday.

3:00-3:30 Kate and Eric—especially Kate—grimace at the thought of Castor Oil, but also worry that it won't work. If it doesn't, Kate will most likely not be able to deliver in the Birthing Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt but one floor up, in the more medical maternity ward. Eric talks to Kate's belly and tells Maud it's ok to come out now.

4:10 Eric's sitting in the kitchen, puttering away on the computer, when he hears a loud "Ouch!" from the living room. Kate, resting on the sofa, says she has a sharp pain in her belly. She also thinks her water may have broken.

4:15 The pain subsides, then returns in a few minutes. For the next 20 minutes, Kate and Eric monitor her contractions: they range from 30 to 70 seconds at intervals of four to six minutes. They're also very intense.

4:35 We call Jenna Hutchens, our labor doula, and bring her up to speed: When Eric tells her that a couple of contractions have brought Kate to her knees, she says, "Excellent!" She suggests Kate get in the shower to relieve some of the pain, and for us to call her back in 20 minutes.

4:45 Kate's labor is clearly progressing. The contractions are increasingly strong, and it's all too obvious that Kate's water did break. Eric calls Jenna: "Has it been 20 minutes yet?" Jenna says she's heading over, and tells us to call the midwife, Sandy.

4:55 Kate and Eric talk to Sandy. Well, Kate talks to Sandy between contractions. Eric mostly just stands there. Sandy's quick with her verdict: Come on in. Having undressed for her shower, Kate now dresses for the trip to the hospital. She sits on the bed to put on her socks & shoes. When she stands up, she realizes she is pushing.

5:15 Jenna arrives, and scowls at the number of bags sitting by the elevator. Eric quickly explains why each of the six is crucial: food, water, clothing for Kate, Eric, and the baby, cameras, etc. Jenna tells Eric to go get the car while she checks in with Kate.

Kate tells Jenna she's feeling like pushing and doesn't want to have a home birth. We're not that crunchy! Jenna asks: "Do you feel something hard in there? Can you feel the baby's head coming down?" She has Kate lie down on the living room floor and do a self-exam. No head. Yet.

5:25 Eric returns with the car, retrieved from the garage two blocks away. Kate, Jenna, Eric and most of the bags load up. Four supersized bottles of Poland Springs are left behind. Jenna takes one look at the infant car-seat base in the backseat, which Eric spent, um, a long time installing (with the aid and consultation of noted car-seat authority Elise Pittman), and makes it disappear in one second. She and Kate climb in and kneel on the back seat, facing backwards.

5:30 It's rush hour on Friday night, and raining. We're sitting at a red light at the intersection of Washington & Christopher. The hospital is 60 blocks away. "How crazy should I drive?" Eric asks Jenna. "We need to get there now," she says. Eric promptly makes a right turn from the left lane onto Christopher—just as the light turns green. OK, that's a little too exciting, and the last really crazy maneuver.

As we head uptown, Kate makes clear her desire to have the baby in the Birthing Center, not the car. Every time Kate feels the urge to push, Jenna holds up a finger in front of Kate ands tells her, "Blow out the candle. Blow out the candle." (It's apparently very hard to push and blow at the same time; you can try this at home.) Kate blows out a lot of candles. Jenna also calls the midwife on her cellphone to make sure she has someone waiting for us at the hospital's front door.

5:35 Pretty quickly we're at 37th and 10th—just over halfway—but then we hit rush hour Lincoln Tunnel traffic. Stuck behind a bus that's not moving, Eric is considering whether to drive on the sidewalk when Jenna spies a police car across the avenue. She hops out and runs over and acquires an escort.

5:40 We're quickly led the rest of the way by the blaring sirens and flashing lights of a New Jersey Transit Police car. We pull up at the hospital to find Sandy waiting with a wheelchair. Her goal achieved, Kate virtually sprints from the car to the wheelchair, and we head up to the Birthing Center. Jenna takes the car to a garage.

5:45-6:45 The next hour goes by quickly. We set up in Room 1 in the Birthing Center. The nurse takes Kate's blood pressure and checks the baby's heart rate. Everything looks good. Looking somewhat sherpa-like, Jenna arrives bearing most of our bags. Kate labors on her left side for awhile, then gets on her knees and rests on a large birthing ball. It's clear that all the plans we had made for a lengthy labor are going by the boards: no time to labor in the room's Jacuzzi, no need for the music, snacks or changes of clothes we've brought.

Of course, it's mostly Eric who's thinking about opportunities lost. Kate is concentrating on the work at hand—a natural birth—and doing a superb job. She stays present & listens to the reassuring guidance of Sandy and Jenna. But mostly, she just focuses on letting her body do what it knows how to do. As Greg Norman (one of Kate's role models when she golfs) once said, in a slightly different context: "Trust yourself, trust your swing." Kate does so, beautifully.

6:50 Just how fast things are progressing is made all too clear when the midwife rolls in a table bearing lots of instruments and a large mirror on wheels. Eric, who's standing by Kate's head, realizes the mirror is for him. "Can you see now?" asks Sandy as she positions the mirror. "Yes," Eric says weakly. "One more push," Sandy tells Kate.

7:00 Head, shoulders, feet: et voila, Maud comes roaring into the world. Lots of giddiness, joyous noises, and other wild exclamations of happiness. We named her Maud after Kate's maternal grandmother, Maud Alma Smith. Ivy we just sort of picked out of nowhere.