life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, November 8, 2013

birth story

Jen is still celebrating her "birth month" -- one day of partying on the anniversary of her birth wasn't sufficient, I guess.

The day she was born is a day I will treasure in my memory forever. Though I've wished her a "happy birthday" many times in this blog, I don't think I've ever told her birth story.

I guess now, while I'm still waxing nostalgic for my little girl, is a good time to tell that story.

Drew and I were living in a one bedroom apartment in Queens at the time. It was a neighborhood I knew well, because my grandmother and my Aunt Eileen and Aunt Bernice had been living in that neighborhood for decades. We had recently moved to Queens from our first apartment together, in Brooklyn -- me, Drew, our beagle Molly and a black cat I named Magical Mr. Mistofeles (hey, it was the 80's, after all, and Cats looked like it would run on Broadway forever) but who we usually called "Misty" ("there's the name that the family use daily").

I was working for a law firm at the time -- you should have seen me in court back then, in maternity clothes -- I remember a judge's law secretary, a woman who'd gone to law school with my mother, joking with me that "if the judge keeps you waiting much longer, you're going to give birth right here in this courtroom."

My due date was November 8, a Thursday, and I worked right up until the Friday before my due date.

The 6th was Election Day, and Drew, a teacher, was home because schools were closed. We spent the day getting things ready, packing my Lamaze bag and placing it in the trunk of our car, making sure we had a supply of diapers, onesies, etc. for our daughter (yes, we knew her gender before she was born.) I think we had steak for dinner that night, and then we settled down in the living room to watch a Madonna special on HBO. And that's when I started to feel contractions.   Two days before my due date.  I thought first babies always came late!

By 10:00 the doctor had instructed us to come to the hospital. We stopped at my grandmother's to drop off our house keys, so that Eileen could take care of the animals. And we asked Eileen to call my parents -- for some reason I was not able to reach them on the phone.

When we got to the hospital, the resident gave me an exam, and told me I had not progressed enough to be admitted. He suggested we walk around the hospital for a few hours to get things moving. So we walked...and walked...and walked...until I had memorized every painting on the walls of the lobby.
Back upstairs, the resident told me that I still had not progressed, and that I should probably go home, get some sleep and come back in the morning. That did not sit well with me. I was admitted to the hospital.

There were a lot of maternity patients that night, and there was no labor room available. The staff found me a bed in the recovery room. That meant Drew had to change into surgical scrubs. After I had the epidural and whatever other medications my obstetrician (Dr. S) gave me, I was able to sleep. Poor Drew, he had to make do with catnapping in the chair beside my bed.

Around 5:00 or so, a labor room opened up, and we were able to move out of the recovery room.
Drew always gets teased about what happened next. Around 6:00 Dr. S suggested that Drew go downstairs to the cafeteria and get a bite to eat. The cafeteria served cold foods at that hour, and didn't serve hot food until 6:30. Drew really wanted eggs, so he waited for the hot food. Consequently it was close to 7:00 by the time he returned to the labor room ...

....just as I was being moved to the delivery room. Yeah, Drew came thisclose to missing Jen's entrance into the world. Jen was born at 7:30 in the morning.   11/7.  A lucky combination. 

I felt absolutely terrific in the recovery room. Starved, in fact -- that corn muffin and coffee were the most delicious foods I'd ever eaten. And I couldn't imagine why all the other new moms were moaning and groaning -- until the adreneline high wore off, that is.

And did I mention we were part of a huge crowd that night? I was supposed to have a semi-private room, with just one other new mom, but the only bed they could find for me was in a room designed for four patients. I was there from Wednesday morning until Friday afternoon, and at one point we even had two portable beds in the room with us.

We hadn't gotten around to choosing a pediatrician, so Dr. S had the staff call Dr. G. I remember my first meeting with Dr. G, how I told him I had the most perfect baby in the world. Dr. G was our pediatrician until Jen was in college -- that's when he closed his practice.

And after two days, they sent us home. We got back to the apartment, and I looked at Drew, then looked at Jen, still in her car seat/carrier, and I started to cry. What had I gotten myself into?

Twenty three years later, I still want to cry when I look at my beautiful first born. She's given me aggravation and heartaches, but also much pleasure and pride. I cannot imagine what my life would have been without her.

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