Zachary was my second child and his birth was a very fast one. As his birth neared, I limited myself to work-at-home. I was not going to take any chance of going into labor on some commuter train. I was on a conference call with approximately ten other people on August 12, 1997. The call lasted from 8:00 to 9:40 am. During the call, I experienced a very slight amount of back pain, but nothing worse than sitting in a bad position would do to anyone. When the call ended, I got up to go to the bathroom across the hall. As soon as I got up, I felt a little bit of “leakage” and wondered if my water bag had burst or if I was simply losing control of my bodily functions. With my first child, the water bag had been “broken” by the doctor and so I never really knew what it felt like to have it break naturally. I had heard the stories of women having a lot of water flow embarrassingly down their legs but what I felt was no more than a couple of tablespoons of liquid and hence, I really did not think my water bag had burst. I would later learn that it had, but that Zachary’s head held back all of the fluid. As I took my first few steps toward the bathroom, I felt intense contractions. Fred had stayed home that day. I called for him and we both agreed I should go to the hospital.
Given the intensity of my contractions, we left the house by 10:30 a.m. and were in the emergency room by 10:50 a.m. I had never seen Fred drive like such a maniac. The hospital was a good fifteen minutes away and I was sure he thought I was going to have the baby in the car. When we got to the hospital, he left our car right in front of the emergency entrance. He wanted to go back and move it but I insisted he would miss the birth of his child if he went to move the car. We lived in the suburbs of Chicago and there were about ten women in labor in that hospital on that morning. A large white board in the hallway informed doctors of the “stages” the various women were in. On the board was the patients’ last names, room numbers, stages, etc. The woman farthest along in her labor was at the top of the list. When I was admitted, my name was placed at the bottom of the board. Within a few minutes, I had jumped to second place, then to first and the nurse was frantically calling for a doctor who was, it seemed to me, nowhere to be found.
With my first child, I had been much better at dealing with the pain. This time, I felt like a “pain wimp”. I had wanted drugs to ease my discomfort. Unfortunately, I was already fully dilated and ready to push, and therefore, could not be given any medication. The doctor finally arrived. A few minutes into my pushing, the nurse came up to me and said, “Honey, you’re going to have to push harder now”. Her tone did not relay any sense of urgency, but Fred would later tell me he was getting a little worried that the baby was not coming out as quickly as he perceived the doctor would have liked. Zachary had very large shoulders and it was very difficult for me to give birth to him. He was finally born at 11:11 a.m., a beautiful 9-pound boy. I was stunned. I was so sure this one was going to be a girl, too. I think I had even convinced Fred of that also…after all, a woman can often “sense” these things, right? Fred and I looked at each other in disbelief, almost confusion, when we saw it was a boy, but, we were very happy at the surprise…it just took us a minute or two to get over the fact that this baby was not another girl. With our daughter, Anika, the first question I asked after she was born was “when do I eat?” with Zachary, I was so tired, it was, “when can I get some sleep?”
Soon, I was in my room. The nurse came in and asked if they could give Zachary some formula of some kind since he was a little low on sugar, at least that was what I thought she had said. Anyway, I did not recall much of what happened for the next two hours, I was out cold. I awoke to the tapping on my arm by a nurse who said to me: “You’re going to have to take your son now, he’s been screaming for two hours straight and we can not take it anymore”.
I gladly took my new baby. My room was dark. I kissed him a few times. He fell asleep within what seemed to be less than two minutes. I kept Zachary with me almost the entire time until my release from the hospital. He cried a little, but, for the most part, he was a perfect baby. Had there been signs of Zachary’s problem since day one? I wondered?