Basically Baby: Birth Story
BASICALLY BABY: BIRTH STORY
What a time to be alive. It has been almost 3 months since I gave birth to Madison and the world is a completely different place. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, COVID-19 (corona virus) is in full force. The NYC death toll passed 1,000 today and I literally can’t believe this is real life. But, this post is not about current events, so I’m going to switch gears real quick. However, I’m feeling extra emotional for a few reasons. This global pandemic is definitely taking a toll on my sanity, and the realization that I’m entering my last full month of maternity leave isn’t helping either. As I write this, I’m looking at sweet Madison in her bouncer, so happy and healthy and I just wonder - how did the time pass so quickly?
I would be remiss, devastated, heartbroken (morning toast reference anyone?) if I did not complete the Basically Baby Birth Story blog post. I took a break from writing on the blog, because honestly, maternity leave was becoming so much fun. Madison was finally able to go out and about with me. We would go on walks, shop, brunch and lunch together. We would meet friends for wine and have dance parties in the middle of the day. All of that seems like such a distant memory. Every restaurant is closed, we haven’t seen friends or family in weeks - it’s all just too much. But, I’m so happy I lived those days of maternity leave to the fullest. As we enter my last month of maternity leave, which will be spent in quarantine, I figured there is no time like the present to go back into the archives and try to remember every detail of the Basically Baby Birth Story - so here we go.
OK - so trimester three blog post ended with Pete and I having my birthday dinner at Polo Bar (god, I can’t wait until quarantine is over and I can go back there - truly a premium dining experience) - this birth story begins the following day, 7am on Monday January 6.
Monday - January 6 - Time: 7am
I’m on maternity leave, yet there is no baby. I had such a great night with my husband celebrating my birthday, we got home after dinner and I face-timed my sister. I remember telling her how great I felt, and that I truly never thought I would go into labor naturally. I had my whole week planned out. Monday - eyelash appointment, Tuesday eyebrow appointment, Wednesday manicure and pedicure + a blowout, and then I would be induced Wednesday night and have Madison on Thursday January 9 (which I was super excited about because that is Kate Middleton’s birthday)
The funny thing about my life is, I always plan. The funny thing about this particular birth plan - was that it was blown to shreds.
I can’t express enough how much I love a good plan. I love planners, agendas, calendars - checking things off the list. I like to talk about how I’m so organized and repeat my plan one million times to anyone that will listen. It’s my thing. I think successful people are people who are prepared. People say that I’m lucky - it’s not true - I’m just overly prepared, for almost any situation.
I wasn’t prepared on Monday January 6. My alarm went off at 7am and I sprung out of bed so excited to shower, get my day started and head to my 9am eyelash appointment. My full week of self care and beauty was beginning and I couldn’t have been more excited.
I hopped out of the shower and sat down at my makeup counter, my favorite part of my morning routine. The Today show was on, Pete was leaving for the gym, it was going to be a great day. Somewhere in between applying my concealer and starting my bronzer, it hit me. This flood of weird stomach pain / the sensation that I was going to vomit. I don’t vomit (please reference trimester 2 blog post where I tried to not get sick on the plane back from Morocco) - I have a high tolerance for pain. I can talk myself out of any bad feeling by pacing a room and breathing deeply. But I couldn’t kick this feeling. I finished my makeup and forced myself to start blow drying my hair - but the pain was getting worse.
The sensation changed from feeling like I was going to throw up, to a deep cramp, so low down in my stomach, I found that after a few minutes, I could not even stand up straight. I barely finished my hair and went to go put on my go to “39 weeks pregnant outfit”, black leggings and a black top. I could barely get my leggings on. I couldn’t breathe, the sensation of cramping + pain + pressure was too much. I did not want to believe these were contractions. I remember looking at the clock on the bottom right hand side of the TV as the Today show was on and counting how many seconds there were in between each wave of pain. It was about 30 seconds. My knowledge from my labor and delivery classes told me this was in fact a contraction. My super vain self, who really needed her eyelashes done this morning, told me they were not.
It’s now about 8am, and Pete arrives back from the gym. He sees me pacing. He asks me too many times if I’m having contractions. I don’t know, I think so. I’m in so much pain I can’t speak. He starts timing them. He asks me to tell him when the pain starts and stops. I do it for a couple sessions then the pain gets so bad I can’t speak. I fall silent. He makes me call the doctor. I call, and explain my situation. Her response, “pack your bags and come into labor and delivery”. My response, “pack a bag, like pack a bag because I’m staying, pack a bag?” - “Yes” - was her answer.
It’s now 8:30am - my sister-in-law Joanna is arriving to our apartment straight off the red eye from LA. She finds me doubled over in my kitchen and Pete trying to remain calm. I look at her and for the first time, out loud, I say it, - I had to say it, but I did not want to believe it - I said “I think this is it”
Pete grabs the bag and we head downstairs to get in our uber. Such a sweet man driving this nice silver SUV. I can barely sit down on the seat. I’m kind of like holding myself up twisted off to the left side just clenching the head rest of the front seat passenger side. Pete is still counting the time in between the god damn contractions and I literally want to murder someone because the pain is so bad.
Let’s remember, it’s Monday - January 6 - the day that every human being is going back to work after our long holiday break. We need to take the FDR from downtown all the way uptown to get to Weill Cornell. It was the longest drive of my life. We get off the exit, try to make a quick right turn to continue uptown and we get stopped by a traffic cop. Our uber driver tried to cut off some traffic to allow us to make the turn faster and this NYPD officer was NOT having it. He is making us go straight and loop all the way around the block. Our poor uber driver is so nervous. Pete and I roll down the windows and scream “we’re in labor, please let us go” - this guy does not seem to care. As our uber driver speeds forward to get us around the next block, we almost get t-boned by an oncoming car. Honestly, death would have been easier at that point - the pain was so bad.
Somehow by the grace of god we arrive at the hospital and I’m literally hobbling at this point. Like it’s hard to walk and I hate everyone. We make it to the check in - Pete starts filling out the paperwork and asks me one simple question and I look at him with such fire in my eyes I thought I could blow the place up with just one look. “How dare you ask me anything right now” - I thought. A nurse passing by sees me pacing and breathing deeply (my tried and true defense mechanism for pain) and asks if I’m OK - I give her the same dagger eyes I just gave my husband. No one talk to me - this is sheer hell.
We get into triage - it’s about 9:30am at this point. The nurses check me and they ask if I want an epidural. Like why are they asking me that? One - I still don’t think this is real. I am still in utter disbelief that my plan of delivering on Kate Middleton’s birthday is being blown. But then when I respond - “well why, is this like really happening?” She informs me that I am indeed 5 cm dilated and this baby is coming TODAY. “OK - yes I want the god damn epidural and I want it NOW.”
We get ushered into our labor and delivery room - it’s so nice, so spacious, they are playing Bravo (Below Deck) on TV and we have river views. The nurses come in and start the process of preparing for the epidural. Pete is sent downstairs to the lobby where you request the white card. For those not familiar with delivering at Weill Cornell, this white card is the key to your husband’s success on delivery day. The white card ensures you are on the list for the private room after you deliver. Great - go ahead Pete - god’s speed - get the god damn white card and get it now.
I was in so much pain I did not even care about this next small hiccup and I think this is the only complaint I have about this whole process. I’ve never had surgery of any kind before. I’ve never had an IV or anything of the sort. So whenever I have to give blood it’s always in the middle of my arm. I have a great big vein right in the middle of my arm - it’s never a problem. For whatever reason the IV needed to go in my hand. I don’t have big veins in my hands. It took both hands and a lot of unsuccessful tries before they finally gave up and put the IV in my arm. I had two huge bruises and huge pieces of gauze on the tops of both hands due to this. Not ideal - but honestly the least of my worries at that point. I call this out because in every photo I have these huge bandages on my hands and it really bothers me (vain, I know - but at least I’m honest)
The epidural process starts right around 10am - that is so fast. I arrived at 9:30am and I’m about to feel pain free only 30 minutes later. Nurses do the Lord’s work. My nurse, Katie, was an actual angel. She held my hand while they put in the epidural - which did not hurt at all. While the process was happening. my water broke. Yep - right there, as I’m sitting on the bed. My water breaks. I look at sweet nurse Katie and let her know what I think just happened. She looks down at the floor, looks at me, and says “sure did- don’t move, the needle for the epidural is going in right now” - sweet Jesus - really??
But it happened and then I was off to la-la land. By 11am I was feeling zero pain. Pete was back with the holy white card and I was taking selfies and sending them to my friends and family letting them know that we were having a baby today. Life was good.
Monday January 6 - 11am to 2pm
Nothing really happened. I felt no pain. I was watching Bravo. Pete ate lunch. I kept taking selfies. The nurses and doctors kept coming in to check on me. It was all good. I kept clicking the button for more pain meds from the epidural (you can’t overdose, I think the sensation of being able to click a button just helped me mentally)
Monday January 6 - 2pm - 5pm
Here we go. My doctor comes into the room and lets me know that I am fully dilated and it’s time to start pushing. What? Already? It’s 2pm!
Pete looks at me and is like “if you push this baby out in an hour - that would be amazing” - of course it would be amazing, it would be the shortest process ever. I am amazing - I’m obviously going to do this so fast - I just know it. Don’t even question me Pete.
I did in fact - NOT give birth in an hour. Instead I pushed for 3 hours, unsuccessfully. Life has a funny way of breaking you back down when you are your most confident self.
OK a few things about pushing. One - having an epidural meant I felt no pain but I also did not feel the contractions, which are the natural urges to push. This makes it a little tricky because now I’m relying on the chart that is monitoring my contractions and nurse Katie to let me know when to push. The actual action of pushing was not painful at all. The only pain I felt was head pressure. The act went something like this for me. Nurse Katie holding my left leg, Pete holding my right leg - Katie counting for 10 second intervals and me trying to push while holding my breath for the 10 seconds you’re pushing. I remember pushing so hard my eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head which nurse Katie assured me was a normal sensation. But I did not want to pop a blood vessel in my eye so, I mean, I was careful.
It’s now 3:30pm and nurse Katie gives me a pep talk - she lets me know that we’re entering the second half and I need to give it my all. Like - what do you think I’ve been doing here? Only giving 50%? I try different positions I push as hard as I can and as we get closer to 5pm I look at nurse Katie, I look at Pete and I see what I can only describe as disappointment on both of their faces. I can tell I’m not progressing - things are not going well for me. I am failing and I know it.
My doctor comes in, assess the situation and briefs me. Madison is stuck under my pelvic bone, I have not made any more progress with the pushing. I have 2 options. One - they will bring in a new doctor and a new nurse who are not emotionally tied to me delivering naturally to asses the situation and determine if I can in fact deliver naturally. Two - I can agree to have a c-section and Madison will be here in 45 minutes.
FIRE UP THE C-SECTION: I’m done. I look at Pete - he seems slightly alarmed. We never discussed having a c-section. It was not part of our plan. But I think he also knew in his heart Madison was not coming naturally. So we quickly agreed and because Weill Cornell is literally the best hospital in the world - the SWAT team of professionals is in our room again and we are preparing for surgery. Everything happened so fast, so seamlessly, I just can’t say enough great things about this team of professionals.
All of a sudden we’re moving - being wheeled into surgery. Pete is getting suited up in scrubs. I ask how the pain meds will work. They inform me they will use the epidural I already have - just a stronger dose. This does not sit well with me. My biggest fear is the pain meds wearing off and being able to feel the surgery.
So what do I do when I’m scared? I lie until I feel like I’m certain things are right. The doctor has a cold compress that he places high on my shoulder. He asks if I can feel the cool compress. Yes - I can. He now moves the cool compress lower down onto my stomach area. Can I feel it? No - of course I cannot feel it. But I lie. I say I sure can feel that cold compress. Better up those meds! He’s not impressed with me.
Pete is now in the room and the doctor performs the same cool compress check only this time when he goes to place the compress on my stomach - he does not actually touch me. I lie again - and say I can feel it. And I get caught. OK OK - I admit it and explain my fear and he assures me I will be fine. OK - I’m ready - let’s meet this baby girl.
The nurses who stayed up by my head were sheer angels. I talked to them about makeup and eyelashes and Sephora. Literally there were so many doctors and professionals in that operating room and I think these young nurses were my favorite because their job was to distract me from the fact that I was being cut open and I really appreciated that.
When I tell you I had my eyes closed for 95% of this experience - it’s true. I did not see a single drop of blood or surgical tool or anything that would freak me out. I felt a little pressure, a little movement, and I heard my doctor say that we made the right call to have the c-section because there was no way Madison was coming out the other way - she was a big girl. And then just like that. I see her.
I shed a single tear. I did not fully break down and cry. I think I was still in shock that we did it. My first words were “oh my god is she 15 pounds?” - I mean she looked HUGE. She was perfect and pink and had a perfectly round head. And then the sweet young nurses give her to Pete and they tell us to pose for photos and I literally could not have loved these nurses any more. Angels. And there was my angel baby - in real life. I could not believe she was ours.
Good news - she was not 15 pounds. Madison was 8 pounds, 2 ounces. 20 inches long. A little angel baby.
And now it was off to recovery.
Recovery is weird. You’re in a separate room that is not your final private room yet. You are there for 2-3 hours while you get checked out by doctors before you can officially move into your own room.
I finally got to hold Madison in recovery. That was the weird thing about how the c-section went down. Pete got all the glory of being able to hold her first. But that moment in recovery - it was the best. That was the moment I truly felt like a mom.
Madison was born at 5:56pm. At about 9:45pm we finally move from recovery to our own room.
Another sweet nurse took our photo as I was being wheeled into our room.
OK so now it’s late. It’s almost 10pm. We are in our own room, a double room, not a private room, but we do not have a roommate - thank god. We can’t get the private room until the morning.
The nurse asks Pete for the white card so he can get us on the list to be transferred first thing Tuesday morning. Pete reaches into his pocket. he can’t find the white card. HE LOST THE WHITE CARD. Guys - I can’t even tell you - imagine my emotions, my feelings, I am UNWELL. He thinks he left it in the recovery room. So go back there right now and find it. He does. It was fine - we were all good. Like you had one job - don’t lose the white card. Sigh.
But the sad part was when you do not have a private room your partner cannot stay overnight with you. Pete needed to leave at midnight and could not return until 6am! What? My first night is going to alone with my brand new baby??
I freaked out for a second but honestly I did not sleep a wink that night. Madison went to the nursery to sleep because I could not walk yet and was brought to me every 3 hours to feed - so the time passed quickly and it was kind of nice to have time - just the 2 of us.
I snapped this photo from my room as the sun was rising on Tuesday January 7. I remember thinking - this is my first morning as a mom.
Pete arrives back at the hospital with an egg wrap - I am starving. And all is right in the world. From then on we move into the private room - yay! And recovery for me begins.
I breastfed all 3 nights in the hospital. It was painful and awful and I stopped as soon as I got home. But I was happy I did it for those 3 precious days.
We had lots of visitors and each day was better. We had champagne and deli sandwiches and I kept thinking how lucky we were to have such a happy and healthy baby.
Going home with your baby is the best, and also terrifying.
One distinct memory I had was being in the elevator on the way down to the lobby and this woman looking at me and Pete holding Madison in the car seat and she totally knew we just gave birth and she didn’t say anything she just kept staring at us and smiling so big and I just cried. I cried silent tears in the elevator. Like yes - this is my baby and I am in so much pain physically but my heart is so full and I am so scared but I am pretending I’m fine and please don’t ask her name or say congrats because I will literally have a breakdown if I try to speak right now.
It was so good to be home. I wanted to share 2 highly recommended resources for any NYC moms.
Our newborn specialist: Meredith Coronato - who was with us our first 2 nights at home. She is a literal Mary Poppins. I was so overwhelmed that I was literally taking bottles out of bags from my baby shower and giving them to her because I did not know what to do. She sterilized bottles, she taught me how to use a breast pump, she got us on a feeding and sleeping schedule. She taught us the best way to burp her, hold her, signs of when she is hungry or tired. She made me soup and no bake lactation bites. She taught me how to give Madison a sponge bath. She was like a wedding planner for a baby. She gave you all the tips and best practices and let you decide what was right for you. I think Madison is such a good sleeper and eater because she was on such a good schedule from literally day one. If you’re a mom-to-be living in NYC- hire her.
Our night nurse: Eliza Baker - the sweetest most professional woman. She stuck to our schedule. Madison loved her. She played baby Mozart in the mornings and gave us such good advice and overall baby knowledge.
Those early nights are not easy. I was up every 3 hours pumping. As hard as it is, you really don’t have much time to think about how hard it is. You just do it. It’s all that matters.
That first weekend home we were blessed with 65 degree weather and were able to go on our first family walk. I was so terrified to cross the street or hit a bump in the sidewalk. This was our new normal. Our new life.
What a wild, crazy, emotional and amazing experience. And the best part is - every day is a new adventure. And I can’t wait to watch Madison continue to grow and thrive and become her own little person with her own personality.
Basically Soho AND Basically Soho BABY!