October 5, 1996
…..for many weeks before the birth
Jay fears that Meriam will yell at him and call him an asshole during the delivery….like in the movies.
2:20 PM – Thursday Oct 3, 1996
Meriam tells a co-worker that she thinks she is going to have the baby soon.
Meriam has her regularly scheduled doctor’s visit to check on the status of her pregnancy. Her due date is still twelve days away; Oct. 15th. The doctor performs an internal and informs Meriam that the baby may be breach. The doctor wants Meriam to make sure she informs the attending physician if she goes into labor so that they can do an ultrasound to find out if the baby is indeed breach. If the baby is breach the delivery may have to be done cesarean.
Meriam tells Jay the news. Jay is concerned but ignorant.
Jay goes out with his friend Tim Murphy to dinner. Meriam watches Must-See-TV.
2:50 AM – Friday Oct 4, 1996
Contraction numero-uno! A mild contraction lasting about 20-30 seconds. Meriam wakes up. Goes back to sleep.
Contraction numero-dos! Another mild contraction. Meriam wakes up. Is this it?
The third contraction this hour. Meriam wakes Jay. Jay is concerned but ignorant. This is the beginning of a 23 hour ordeal. From now until the baby is delivered Meriam does not miss a contraction. In the next hour or so the contractions go from 3 an hour to 12 an hour (or one every five minutes). The contractions start becoming more pronounced. Jay groggily asks what date it is. Is today the fourth? Was yesterday the fourth? Oh my God. Please let today be the fourth.
Contractions have been coming at regular five minute intervals for about an hour. Jay feels that we should call the Doctor just to be safe. Wants to err on the side of conservatism because of the potential for breach birth. We call the Doctor.
Doctor calls back, asks a bunch of questions. We tell him that we think the baby is breach and ask if we can come into the hospital to get the ultrasound. He says we should come in.
We arrive at the hospital and are asked to wait in the pre-admittance room. We wait about five minutes and a nurse comes in and straps Meriam to a fetal monitor. The monitor shows that the baby’s heart beat is strong and steady at about 170 beats per minute. The sound of the heart is something that we will become very accustomed to. Its a good sound.
We wait about ten more minutes and Doctor Bruce Laminica comes in. He is the doctor on call. He does the ultrasound and discovers that the baby’s head is in exactly the right position – down. Jay looks over the doctor’s shoulder and see what he thinks is a penis (later to be proven wrong – the nurse thinks it was probably the umbilical cord). Jay thinks he’s having a son. He doesn’t tell Meriam so as not to ruin the surprise. The doctor does an internal and pronounces Meriam 1.5 cm dilated (the ultimate goal is 10 cm). He tells us not to worry about the breach birth but that we should go home and call back when the contractions become much stronger and more frequent. Meriam and Jay are both disappointed, at least Jay is. He had been thinking on the way up to the hospital “This ain’t so bad”. Little did he realize that Meriam was only just beginning.
They arrive back home from the hospital. Meriam walks the newly painted and wallpapered hallways for the next seven and half hours.
Jay calls Richard, letting him know that Meriam has probably gone into labor. Richard tells Jay to take the day off.
Jay calls his mom letting her know what’s happening. He tells his mom that he wants more than anything for the baby (Jay thinks baby boy) to be born today. It would be a living memorial to his brother Jimmy who was killed in a car accident ten years and four days ago. The fourth of October is Jimmy’s birthday. His mother cried. The baby boy’s name would have been Alexander James. Jay thought it would be fitting.
Meriam has been contracting (and watching TV – Regis and Cathy Lee) for six or seven hours. She can’t lay down. The one time she tried she threw up on Jay’s pillow and Jay’s side of the bed. Jay cleaned it up without even complaining. The most poignant demonstration of his love in seven years since he didn’t get upset with her when she got his car stolen. Meriam calls the doctor hoping he will tell her to come to the hospital. The nurse asks if Meriam can walk while she’s having a contraction. Meriam says yes. Nurse says “Your probably not ready yet, but you can come in if you want”. We go to the hospital.
After waiting in the pre-admittance room again with the heart monitor on (still pumping!) Doctor Zamora comes in. Doctor Zamora is rough-edged. Probably about 45 years old. He has a joking manner but his jokes are harsh. If you ask a stupid question he gives a smart-aleck answer. I felt (and I think Meriam agreed) that he was hard to take at first, but over the next twelve hours we found him to be a nice caring person. He was very supportive to Meriam in the moment of truth when the baby was coming out. Ultimatly, that was all that mattered.
Doctor Zamora did his first of many internals that day. He pronounces Meriam 1.5 cm dilated. Dissapointment! At least that’s what Jay felt. He had been thinking on the way up to the hospital “This ain’t so bad”. We packed our bags and took the ten minute trip back home for the second time this glorious day. The doctor told us to come back around 5:30 PM.
Meriam has been contracting all day. She is about at the end of her rope. We decide to go back to the hospital. Jay has to finish putting together the bassinet before they leave.
3 cm. The doctor tells us to either go back home or walk the halls of the Danbury hospital for an hour and then come back. We decide to walk the halls, having walked the halls at home enough for one day. We find a quiet unused area of the hospital with a small waiting room with a TV. Jay watches baseball as Meriam paces, contracts and lets the baby drop down into place. Emily waits patiently, her heart beating strongly.
7:30 – 8:30 PM
We return to the labour and delivery area of the hospital. We are escorted into a large birthing room. Meriam is put into bed. Her contractions have become very strong. They are about three to four minutes apart lasting almost a minute. Our nurse’s name is Mary Ellen. She is very kind. Probably about thirty years old. She helps Meriam into bed and gets an IV started. She says that the IV has to be administered before they can give Meriam any pain medicine. Doctor Zamora (or as I have started calling him Doctor Internal) comes in and announces 4 cm and the baby is at a -2 station. This means that the baby’s head has not moved all the way down into it’s proper position. The doctor expresses a little bit of concern for the position of the baby, saying that about 20% of baby’s who are in a similar position need to be taken cesarean.
The doctor says that he will administer an epidoral when Meriam is 5 cm dilated. The nurse says that by the time the IV is completed Meriam should be ready. Jay tries to help Meriam through her contractions as best he can (which involves repeatedly saying “It will be OK. It’s almost over” and holding her arm). Meriam is screaming. Meriam is pleading for it to end. The nurse is very kind.
Emily is expressing herself wonderfully with the help of the fetal monitor. Her heartbeat is staying pretty steady through the contractions which the nurse tells us is a sign that she has not really moved into the birth canal yet. But everything is going fine.
Meriam is at the absolute peak of her pain. Doctor Internal announce 6 cm. It’s time to administer the pain medication. Meriam audibly smiles. The doctor has Meriam role over on her side and sticks a catheter into her spine. He then runs a tube up over her shoulder. At the end of this tube is a place for him to insert the medicine. Meriam’s contractions are frequent, long and powerful. She is very tired. Crying for relief. The doctor administers the epidoral and within minutes Meriam has stopped feeling the contraction except for a slight pressure. She is very pleased.
I am concerned that the epidoral will slow the labor and that we will miss 12:00. Meriam’s pain disappears. Looking at the monitor it appears that the strength and frequency of the contractions have subsided, but the nurse says otherwise. Meriam is able to rest a little bit. She does not like the feeling that the epidoral is giving her as far as her legs are concerned. She can’t feel her legs. She has a slight fear that she won’t be able to move them again, but at least the pain is gone. Meriam lays quietly for the first time in 17 hours. Jay read a book.
Meriam asks for and receives another dose of medicine. 7 cm.
Mary Ellen (the nurse) ends her shift. She is replaced with another nurse called Marie.
Meriam asks for and receives another dose of medicine. 8 cm on one side, 7 on the other? Is that what I heard the doctor say? It didn’t make much sense to me but then I’ve never really looked all that closely.
I can tell that Emily is going to be cute just from her heart beat. It’s got a cute rhythm.
Marie, the new nurse, is just as kind and helpful as the previous nurse. She tells us that once we start pushing we might be pushing for two or three hours.
12:00 PM – Saturday Oct 5, 1996
Chance for a memorial passes. Not a problem. Wish it could have happened but doesn’t matter.
Doctor Internal announces that Meriam is at 10 cm. It’s time to push. Meriam asks for and is denied another dose of medicine. She is starting to feel the contractions again. Jay is beside Meriam’s bed, holding her arm and the back of her neck. The nurse instructs Meriam to pull her legs apart at the knees to open her vagina as wide as possible and push down into her rectum.
The doctor comes in for the first few pushes and instructs Meriam on how to do it correctly. Meriam pushes. It smells funny. The nurse says “Push, push, push, push, push, push, push.” The first five or six pushes (about three or four minutes apart) are probably not all that effective. Meriam has to learn how to push. She is a quick study.
Meriam is really getting the hang of pushing. She says it is very painful but it’s infinitely better than a contraction without pushing. I can see that something is happening because the baby’s heart beat goes down almost to nothing when Meriam is pushing. I can also start to see that the area just above Meriam’s pubic hair is starting to rise up. Before this time this area was flat. Her stomach was puffed out about fifteen inches in front of her but this area was flat. I could see that something was changing.
In the only incident of Meriam expressing anger at Jay she says “Do you mind you asshole! I’m busting my butt and your falling asleep.” This after Jay yawns in her face during a particularly strong contraction.
The nurse says that Meriam is doing very well. She is now at about a +2 station which means the baby has moved very well down the birth canal. I can see that the area above Meriam’s public hair is starting to rise up. Meriam is really pushing hard. She is getting four and sometimes five pushes for each contraction. The nurse says this is really great. The nurse shows me the top of Emily’s head. I cried.
Doctor Zamora says “I think we can have this baby out in two or three more pushes”. A couple of other nurses and Doctor Zamora’s assistant come into the room. A large machine is rolled out of a closet. Doctor Zamora starts to put on his surgical scrubs and surgical gloves. He doesn’t quite finish.
Meriam is getting a contraction. The baby’s heart stops. The top of the baby’s head starts coming out. The nurse is trying to help the doctor get his gown and gloves on. The top of the baby’s head is sticking out of Meriam by two or three inches. It’s the size and shape of a child’s toy football. It’s all red and blue.
The doctor pulls on the baby’s head and then says “The head is born”. I’m blubber “Oh my God”. Meriam is screaming “Get it out! Get it out!”. The doctor twists the baby’s head to see it’s face and uses a syringe to clean out it’s nose and mouth. This baby is not breathing. Its quiet except for Meriam screaming, but there doesn’t seem to be any life in the baby. The doctor reaches in and pushes the baby’s shoulders together.
Plop! Out pops the whole baby. Her skin is an ugly worm-like white. They clamp off the cord. The assistant hands me a scissors to cut the cord. It takes a few second to register and then I say “No. No.”. The assistant cuts the cord. Meriam is crying. The baby is starting to change color to red. Nurse says “It’s a girl”. I thought it was a boy. More than OK. I wanted a girl anyway.
The rest of that night….
A lot of sewing and blood and afterbirth and measurements and baths and diapers and very little sleep. We are moved over into our room about 5:30 AM. Meriam is doing fine. The baby is doing fine. The cot I get to sleep on is not.
The next two days….
The following people came to visit (in order of appearance): Richard, Laura, Jack, Sarah, Mary, Karl, Peter, Megan, Iraj (Bubba), Lucik, Grammy and Grandpa. Meriam is doing very good. Not feeling a lot of pain. Tired. Thinner. Baby is doing very well. Everything is checking out fine.
Every single person who has seen her says “She’s very cute”. Meriam and I determine that even discounting for the fact that we are her parents it’s true. One nurse sees her and does not remark on her cuteness. Jay attributes this failure to some personal family problem in the nurse’s life. Hospital food is really bad. We order out pizza. Baby doesn’t like pizza. Eats colostrum instead. Seems satisfied. Jay prays that she stays that way forever.