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Epic Archie—Birth Story, Part 3

Nobody can romanticize a lone woman, waddling across a 1970s-era hospital lobby on her way to Labor & Delivery. I had no bags, no husband, no contractions, no aura of impending birth. Wheelchairs weren’t offered, questions weren’t asked.

Fuss? Wasn’t.

That was okay. It was just the two of us, baby and I, on our way to finally meet under arranged circumstances. I took the elevator to the second floor.

The Center for Women and Infants (this name cracks me up) was quiet. I don’t know what I expect out of place named The Center for Women and Infants. More noise, maybe? I checked in at the desk and was shown to room #8. After draping myself in a bewitching pale green gown dotted with amoebas hucking boomerangs, I climbed into bed. The monitors were strapped on my belly where they’d beep and boop and track Mr. Baby’s well-being until it was time to head to the OR.

I kept in touch with my husband and his preparation progress at home. Once again, I hadn’t packed a bag for myself or the baby, so I had to dictate a small list of essentials and instructions for our family members who immediately offered their help. Thank God for all of them and their ability to drop everything to help. The doctor and the anesthesiologist paid visits, and I was given a target time of 3:00pm.

Relaxation was nearly impossible in the contorted position the nurse placed me. She had a blanket rolled and jammed under my right hip so the baby would be happier. That was fine, until I decided I needed the distraction of the TV—which was located behind my head. I craned around to watch Pretty in Pink on AMC and wondered, for the first time, why Blaine and Andie didn’t just go to a movie on their fateful first date? Really, kids. Your worlds were too different to navigate, but everyone is an equal in a dark movie theater. Fake pearls or not.

My husband arrived and things began to move quickly. He was given a blue jumpsuit, hat, and mask. I took one last bathroom break, appreciating the ability to take myself. I knew I wasn’t entirely ready when I became wistful and teary over being self-ambulatory and hoseless, if you know what I mean.

Deep breaths. Wheelchair waiting outside my bathroom door. It was about 3:30pm.

I was taken to OR #1 and positioned on the high, narrow table for my spinal. It was my first spinal, and it was the step in the whole pre-birth process I was most nervous about. If you are anticipating a spinal block in your future, don’t fear! It was much easier and less painful than getting an epidural. The worst was the numbing shot and the fact the OR’s music system was playing Billy Idol’s White Wedding. So, if you get your spinal to more conducive music, like Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly, you will be in good shape.

My lower body was completely numb within minutes. I was laid back. Oxygen was placed via canula. My arms were strapped down, making doing an impromptu Hand Jive impossible. More monitors were placed on my chest. A nurse checked for the baby’s heartbeat, which was easily found. A drape was unfolded, raised, and pinned into place below my chin—the National Flag of the OR. My husband was brought to my side and given a seat.

The anesthesiologist asked if I could feel that or that or that. Nope and nada and snort! Numbness was confirmed. We made small talk about music playing (an 80s music satellite channel) and how I had just watched Pretty in Pink. A theme was developing, we noted. Around that time, I smelled something burning and realized it was me. Blush. Really, there is no good time to be the one responsible for an earthy smell in a closed room. I apologized, which made people laugh.

Soon, I felt a tremendous kneading pressure on my chest and abdomen. It’s an alarming sensation which is almost indescribable. It wasn’t painful at all, but it went against what a reasonable person would instinctively allow. I knew it was one of the doctors pushing our baby’s body toward the incision. It takes audacious force to mimic the force of transition-type contractions.

“Here he comes!” the doctor announced.

And he cried and cried and so did I. Oh my God! He was here and safe and alive after my crazy pregnancy. From a spotting episode at 5 weeks to the drama of fluid and bad NSTs, he was here! The special care nursery staff showed him to me quickly. He was covered from head to toe in vernix, evidence of his early arrival. But he was given 9 and 9 on his Apgars, which made the anesthesiologist protest that he deserved 10s with the way he wailed.

“Nobody gets a 10,” someone said, “even a lawyer’s kid.”


After a few minutes, he began to grunt and show signs he needed a little more monitoring. They took him to the transitional nursery. My husband went along. I was put back together.

I was utterly happy as I was rolled into recovery, where I’d stay for an hour munching on ice chips and gazing at photos my husband brought from the nursery where our son was being warmed. I was anxious to hold him and feed him, so the recovery nurse called the nursery to tell them we were coming. She rolled my bed down the hall, through security doors, and by his bedside.

There, I held him for the first time and kissed his face.

“What is his name?” a nurse asked.

We told him we weren’t sure. To be honest, I was having stage fright regarding his name and needed time to sort through my apprehension.

It would be 24 hours until he was named, when he was doing so terribly so suddenly and I thought I’d have to say goodbye…

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