My Birth Story: The Day My Heart Stopped

Cynthia Dermody
3

newborn baby girl
Photo from Jaclyn Roth

We're sharing birth stories! Here's one from Jaclyn Roth, who writes the Going Parental column at When Falls the Coliseum.

Babies love arriving late in my family. In addition to arriving late, they tend to be on the larger side of the spectrum. My father was 13 pounds when he was born in a Catholic hospital in Vienna after the war. The nurses/nuns were so stunned by his size that they literally walked around the hospital showing him off to people. "Everyone look at this 13-pound newborn." Nobody could believe it.

From the moment I became pregnant, I let my OB know that my sister had just recently given birth to a 9-pound, 10-ounce baby that was two weeks late. She was finally induced, and after two days of contractions and no dilation or softening of her cervix, they finally performed a c-section. I didn't want any part of this kind of delivery. And of course, I made mention of it at every appointment I had with her until I delivered.

I was six days late when my OB finally decided it was time to admit me to the hospital and induce my labor. I went into the hospital on a Saturday morning and didn't deliver until 1:20 a.m. Monday morning. My induction was routine. I was lucky and didn't have any problems other than the fact that I was progressing slowly -- very slowly ... but not so slow that a c-section was ever even mentioned.

I was given two rounds of Cervidil to aid in softening my cervix and help me efface more rapidly. It was not rapid. There was absolutely nothing rapid going on in that room. So we just sat back and waited for my body to do its job. And then we waited some more ... and some more. A lot of hospitals play music every time a baby is born. It's usually a really sweet instrumental melody. All the grandparents, family members, and friends in the waiting room get all excited thinking that it just might be their baby that was just born. All I can say is my poor parents!

At my hospital, they played "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," every time a baby was born. The first two or three times, it was sweet. But 36 hours later and about 12 times of hearing that song and I was done. DONE! If they played that effing song one more time, I was going to kill someone. Definitely not the anesthesiologist, but someone!

By Sunday afternoon, my water broke and I was officially in labor. The next 12 hours flew by. I experienced about two or three full-blown contractions before screaming for an epidural. My girlfriend (as in partner, wife, whatever) ran out into the hallway and screamed to the nurses that I needed the epidural STAT. I was lucky. My girlfriend is insanely loud and insistent and an anesthesiologist was actually on the floor. He had just administered an epidural to a woman a few doors down -- some b***h that came in an hour ago and was already five centimeters dilated and progressing insanely fast. I can't even count the number of women that were admitted after me and delivered before me. Two days of this s**t and I was literally ready to give myself a c-section. All I kept thinking was get this baby out of me. I cannot take another minute.

My epidural was painless -- at least that's how I remember it. I don't remember feeling a thing to be honest. I know some women have horror stories about them, but again I was lucky. I was out of pain. The TV was on in the background, but nothing could distract us from watching the monitors that registered my contractions as they went up and down and off the screen. This meant that despite the fact that I felt nothing, I was contracting rapidly and they were off the charts. All I can say is God bless the epidural.

Finally, around midnight the nurse came in, gave me my umpteenth internal exam, and said I was fully dilated and ready to push. I was in a labor and delivery room. I'm not sure if you're familiar with these rooms, but when you first arrive, it's just a big beautiful room with a bed, a chair, and the monitors they hook you up to where you, yes -- labor. But when you're fully dilated and ready to deliver, they hit the Defcon 1 button and the whole f*****g room transforms into what could easily be mistaken for an operating room. Lights and s**t start coming down from the ceiling, about 52 pieces of additional equipment are pulled out of the walls, like those hideaway beds people have in studio apartments. The bed you're on is a Transformer that splits in half and morphs into stirrups and pushing bars and all sorts of craziness. I have never seen anything like it. It was like a scene out of Star Trek. It was game on.

I pushed for an hour and 20 minutes ... and then at 1:21 a.m. on June 26, 2006, the sound of my daughter's cry pierced through the screaming encouragement from my OB, the nurses, my girlfriend -- all I could hear was this tiny cry. It was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. 

It's a girl.

"Twinkle, Twinkle" began to play on the loudspeaker and I just looked at my girlfriend and laughed.

With her umbilical cord still attached, they placed her on my chest and she stopped crying. I touched her tiny little fingers (even though they were still covered in that gross white stuff) and I just stared at her. Her eyes were wide open and she looked right at me. I had gone deaf. There was total commotion in the room but I heard absolutely nothing. The world stopped spinning and the memories of the past two days were erased from my mind. It was as though I had forgotten that at the end of what I was going through, I was going to be holding my baby.

I had been so focused on getting her out that I never stopped for one moment to think about the fact that in just a short time, I would actually be holding this beautiful little baby covered in placenta and all sorts of nastiness. My heart stopped. I was instantly and irrevocably in love ... with this beautiful 8-pound, 10-ounce baby girl.

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Do you have a birth story you want to share? PM me or send a message to thestir@cafemom.com with the words "Birth Story" in the subject line and I may feature you next. 

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