Cheese fries and ice cream did this. There was a baby in there somewhere too, I think.



I looked like this. Actually, to own the truth, it got worse, but I lost that photo somewhere. Really; I liked to carry it around and show it to newly pregnant women as something of a morality tale: don’t think you can just eat whatever you want there, mommy. This could happen to you!!

I’m actually only at about 37 weeks in this picture. I had, by this time gained 50 lbs, dislocated my pelvis, and developed a set of stretch marks that gave a New York City subway system map a run for its money for terror inducing complexity. I had also been in active but non-productive labor for about 2 weeks. What this basically means is that I was having contractions on a regular basis, but they weren’t accomplishing anything apart from keeping me awake on tenterhooks thinking it might actually be about time to be done being pregnant.  By this point I remember quite vividly looking at my husband and saying plaintively

“I just want to put the baby down for a little while…”

Finally, on the morning of June 28th I fell into a labor pattern that justified a trip to the hospital. They took their sweet time about getting to me (dismissed as a hysterical first-time mother) but acknowledged that the contractions were both regular and frequent enough to consider legitimate. However, my water still hadn’t broken and I wasn’t making progress; the contractions were not causing my cervix to dilate as it should. My obstetrician, Dr DeCastro came out to check on me, and acknowledged my state of extreme misery with great sympathy.

Dr DeCastro was not only my doctor, he also delivered three of my sister’s children. I had met him under those circumstances and liked him a great deal. He was warm and considerate and charming, and best of all, he looked like the guy who played The Greatest American Hero.

Tell me this does not look like a man ready to catch your offspring


He knew that I could not move without significant discomfort, due to the dislocated pelvis I had been coping with since my sixth month. Since then (a bowling related injury that was my first -and worst- but by no means only) walking, standing, and sleeping had all become difficult and extremely painful. People told me my waddle was adorable, but really,  it was unavoidable. That coupled with my size and the length of time I had already been in labor prompted him to check on the baby and see if she was ready enough to warrant inducing me even before I was technically due.

Once we agreed that the baby was in fact cooked enough to come out, he said I could come back first thing in the morning to begin the induction. I will own the fact that I literally cried that he wasn’t going to start the process right then and there, but since she was my first he worried I would need a considerable amount of time to labor and wanted an early start after a good night’s rest.


I was averaging about 3 hours of sleep a night in the week leading up to delivery. This was both because there was simply no position which the human body can achieve that did not leave me tremendously uncomfortable, but also because dammit, I was READY TO HAVE THIS BABY RIGHT FUCKING NOW and was thus too wound up to sleep anyway.

We went home that night and I did not sleep a wink. I puttered around packing and repacking the bag, looking at her room and making sure we had everything we needed, strapping the car seat into the new car and generally counting the seconds until it was time to go to the hospital. Right before we left, I kissed Bob on the cheek and apologized for making him spend his birthday in the hospital…

We arrived at 8:00 am as instructed and immediately discovered that Bob had failed to grab the hospital bag. While he went home to fetch it, they put me in a gown, strapped me to an IV, and unceremoniously broke my water. The nurse told me I could use the bathroom one last time before I would be confined to bed and as I walked back from my last trip to the potty, the first post-water-breaking contraction hit.


Up till this point, the contractions had been persistent and vaguely bothersome, but in no way were they painful. That changed in a hurry, let me tell you. I stood with my hands gripping the edge of the bed and turned to the nurse and said

“Wow. That one was different.”

She chuckled a little and helped me climb into the bed. I asked if it really made sense to give me the pitocin after all; if maybe just breaking my water would be enough to kick my labor into gear. She told me that no, once the water was broken, they wanted to ensure that I delivered within 12 hours to minimize the risk of infection, and since it was my first baby, and with my small stature, they didn’t want to take any chances it would go on longer than that.

At the point they began to administer the pitocin, I was dilated to 3.5 cm.

Very soon after this, I began to experience pain like I did not know was possible. One of the two nurses keeping track of me came in shortly after this transition, and I asked her to check my progress to see if I might have come far enough along to have an epidural, since I was in considerable pain. She eyed me contemptuously and asked how much progress I think I could have made in 20 minutes.

“I’m not really sure. I’d check myself, but I CAN’T REACH.

She sniffed and left the room to go check on her other patient. Meanwhile the nicer nurse came in and I repeated my request. She was much more diplomatic and said that I probably had a long way to go yet, and might need to tough it out a while longer before they could call the anesthesiologist. As she was delivering this news I began to have another contraction. Trained by my choir director never to scream in case I might damage my vocal cords, I instead picked a high note and simply sang on pitch at the top of my voice.  She paused and raised her eyebrows. Then she said,

“Wow. That was pretty intense, huh? Let me go ahead and check you…” Her eyes got really wide for a moment, “Well, you’re at 7.5, so I think we can get you something for the pain now.”

In between then and when she got back with the medication, I had another contraction resulting in another top-of-the-lungs exhortation. Shortly after she had administered the shot, another nurse came to the door and asked when they were getting the anesthesiologist up here.

“She is scaring the other mothers!”

By the time they’d drugged me up to the point where I could no longer feel anything south of my chin, I was fully dilated and ready to push. They effectively had to tell me WHEN to push because I was too numb to be able to sense for myself. The dislocated pelvis came in handy at this point though, since I only had to work through about 4 rounds of 5 pushes each before, as Bob winningly put it, the baby “escaped the cave of doom.”












It remains the best day of my life, and the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, and though it was Bob’s birthday, I feel like I got the greatest gift ever.