Birth Story / by Susie Lubell


When my due date on June 4th approached I decided to sign up for some acupuncture so we could get this party started. Dr. Lee took one look at my belly and says, "Baby head on side. No good." No kidding Doc. Let's poke him with needles until he gets engaged in my pelvis! What say you? And that's exactly what he did. My mom had come to town two days before so we were fine with coverage and I was starting to worry that this baby was getting too big. Sunday comes and goes. On Monday I decide this is the day. I go to see my midwife in the morning but since she is on call and catching a baby, I see another midwife. I am two centimeters dilated. Not bad. I ask her to strip my membranes which I'm not even really sure what that is but I know it stimulates dilation and is less "messy" than drinking castor oil.  Indeed she does a quick swipe and I grow to three centimeters almost immediately. At 2:30 I have my second appointment with Dr. Lee. He checks the pulse of my right middle finger and concludes, "Baby engaged. Let's make contractions." Let's do it Doc! More needles. I walk home after (how rad that my acupuncturist is two blocks from my house!) and spend the rest of the afternoon getting my stuff organized for the hospital and finishing up some orders.

At 4:30 a package arrives. It's the mezuzah that I ordered a week ago. When we had the house on the market we took down all of our mezuzahs to remove all religious affiliation. What were we thinking? How could we bring a new baby into the house without a mezuzah? So I ordered this one which arrived just in time and I hung it up on the correct side of the door so as not to offend any future carpet cleaners.

At about 5:30 I have a series of random contractions and sort of have the feeling it is showtime. I start making dinner for the kids and then walk over to the dry cleaners to pick up the tablecloth I had them make from this awesome piece of fabric I'd just bought. There is a mariachi band playing at the school across the street. Very festive. Today is definitely the day.

By 6:30 I am keeping track of contractions and texting my husband to get the hell home. I boil some water to make corn. Contraction. I download some paperwork. Contraction. Make the cous cous. Contraction. Hug my kids who are starting to wonder why mommy is leaning against the refrigerator ever five minutes and humming.

him: Is the baby on your vagina?
me: Pretty soon I think.

Mr. Rosen gets home and he gets everything in the car. We say goodbye to the kids and grandma. I am pumped! The hospital is seven minutes away and we arrive at 8:00 pm. My contractions are still pretty manageable but I am quite sure that things will move quickly. I come to learn later that Mr. Rosen is thinking he's in this for the next 10-15 hours and is unsure how he will manage the pain of his pinched nerve while trying to compress my hips during contractions. Brother.

I check in at reception and appear to be fairly calm for a woman in labor. Another midwife is somewhat doubtful based on my appearance that I will deliver any time soon. I remember doing this with my first baby and looking like a lunatic because I have been in labor already 24 hours and arrive at reception at 9 centimeters. This time around things are under control. Indeed, the nurse checks me and I am at 5 centimeters. They hook me to the fetal monitor and Mr. Rosen and I slow dance our way through about a half hour of contractions. My midwife arrives and ties a sheet around my belly to hopefully get the baby's shoulders in line with its head. By now the contractions are getting kind of hairy so I pad over to the shower and Mr. Rosen braces my hips during contractions while nurse Michelle counts them out for me and student nurse Manhung (yes, a lovely male Vietnamese nurse named Manhung, as in Man Hung), sprays my butt and back with warm water. At one point my midwife mistakenly calls him Hungman in her Mary Poppins accent and I'm pretty sure I giggled myself from 8 to 9 centimeters.

After about forty minutes I know it's time and I need to push. The contractions are relentless. Michelle checks me while in the tub with what feels like her whole fist and my water breaks so I hobble out of the tub and walk toward the bed. Meanwhile Manhung and the gang are trying to untie the wet bed sheet that I am wearing like a kimono. Do you have a visual? I come to learn that this is the first birth Manhung had ever attended. Awesome. He can't  wait to get home and tell his new wife so they can hurry up and get pregnant. I can't even get to the bed before I have to push like crazy. I climb onto my side and pull my knee up to my chin and push as hard as I can. The gang is cheering me on. Manhung is shouting that I can do it. Something feels not quite right and my telepathic midwife tells me to roll to the other side when I realize this is exactly how I delivered my daughter. Another push and out came his head. One more push and out came the rest of him including my intestines, uterus, bladder, 30 years worth of swallowed bubble gum, a marble, three dollars and fifty cents, a rubber duckie and a pit bull. All of it. Just pouring out of me. Including about a liter of blood (this part will prove to be kind of scary but mostly annoying later in the story). And then he was on me. This giant, slimy, hairy gorgeous thing that only one second before was on the inside. He's out and I'm high as a kite.

part II to follow.