Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The Matron loves birth stories. Loves the kinship that the herculean effort inspires. It's strange how giving birth is both so highly personal and significant, yet universal. Even cats do it. And rats.

Please don't tell her that cockroaches share their birth stories. Far too much detail for this delicate psyche.

When she was pregnant with her first, the Matron - then a Youngish Miss -- decided that she should finish her dissertation and be all singularly up to date and professional before the young man arrived in the world. Instead, she watched cooking shows on PBS and read People magazine all day long.

She accomplished nothing but gestation.

This haphazard attitude extended to the actual birth of said baby (remember this is He Who Cannot Be Named).

John: "Do you want an epidural? Pain medications lower than that? Water birth?"

Youngish Miss: "Whatever. . . as long as this thing comes out."

At around 10 pm on July 15th, 1995, the Matron was subject to a strange sensation--which turned out to be the beginning of labor. This is not a comfortable way to spend the night. Because she had a regularly scheduled O.B. appointment the next day at 5 p.m. and she knows how slowly these things can go, she just settled in and waited.

The next day was an endurance test of sort--still, she managed to go out for a huge breakfast at her favorite joint and see a movie.

Here is the Matron at her O.B. GYN appointment--at 5 pm. Remember, alarm bells went off a good 14 hours earlier.

Midwife: "Mary, your water broke -- probably long ago. You need to check into the hospital right now."

Youngish Miss: "Is this why I'm vomiting and doubled over in between movies and meals?"

Midwife: "Do you know who the president is? What year it is?"

Youngish Miss: "Uh, not sure I know what you mean by "president."

Hospitalization immediately ensued.

It is now July 16th, at 8 pm. Labor is well under way and even the Queen of Repression and Denial understands what's going on. She notes that this has been going on for 22 hours.

And continues.

Finally, after a long sleepless night filled with Nina Simone (thank you, John for thinking of music), the baby is jumping ship. It's time for the big push. . . which last about 10 minutes.

Stryker's head is in the world!

But just his head.

Without getting overly graphic, let's just say that shoulder dysplasia was involved. The baby's shoulder was stuck under the delicate pelvic bone and could not be lodged --- even with 33 hours of labor under her belt (but she's not counting), the Matron had energy -- energy of a mama -- but could not dislodge this child.

Whose little face was turning blue.

She wishes she remembers more, but John tells her that suddenly the hospital lit up. Blue lights, emergency codes, a c-section table immediately wheeled into the room. Big announcements blaring: Code Bad! Code VERY Bad!

Nurse One: "We're doing an emergency c-section. The doctor's on his way but I'm going to start the incision. We have about 90 seconds. Are we all clear on this?"

John: "All clear! Don't let them die!"

Nurse Two: "I have an alternate idea -- stand back."

The c-section team roared in. The doctor ran in and yelled: "there's no time to scrub" and grabbed his tools.

The nurse-- of heft --held up a hand and said "give me three seconds" and jumped on the hospital bed and straddled the Matron, facing her feet and the dying blue baby. She jumped a foot in the air and --using her balled fists-- came down with the full force of desperation and hope for life -- right above the baby, slamming into the top of the uterus with all her force.

Stryker shot right out.

Every single person in the room started crying. Every, single, person. The doctor took off his glasses and collapsed into the sink.

Except the then Youngish Miss who was sort of dazed by the amount of pain one person can experience.

Youngish Miss, later: "John? Did I make a noise when she belly-slammed me? It seemed like I screamed. It hurt an awful lot."

John: "The entire hospital staff called 911. Nobody missed that noise. But it's okay."

From time to time, the Matron thinks about that blue baby and this nurse. Actually, she wants to lay down by her feet and send her children to college. And arrange that heaven thing.

Thank you.


*m* said...

Okay, I've heard a lot of birth stories, but this one takes the cake.

You've got to marvel at the confidence and chutzpah of a nurse who would tell a doctor to hold off a c-section so she could give you a leaping shot to the gut.

I'm not sure that "nostalgia" is the word I'd be using to describe a walk down this particular memory lane. Wow!

bethany said...

that is a most fabulous birth story, and i agree with m, not sure nostalgia covers it? wow for the nurse, wonder if that would happen now?

Anonymous said...

I always thought my birth story was pretty good -- an hour of pushing and waking up in the middle of the eventual C-section -- but yours is un-toppable. I yield to you unquestionably.

I'm just glad that nurse didn't manage to kill both of you ;-)

Daisy said...


My only unique part to the birth story is this: I was working in the hospital day care, and my two labor nurses were moms of kids in my room at the day care. We had a great time because I already knew them. The night shifter dropped off her kids in the morning (on her way home to sleep) and told my coworkers to stay near the phone!

Suburban Correspondent said...

My second had a stuck shoulder, also. The nurse-midwife pressed on the pelvic bone to pop her out. The baby's clavicle was broken (normal for that situation), but it healed quickly. Another approach commonly used is to flip the mother (I know!) onto all fours - often that causes the baby to drop just enough to dislodge the shoulder. It appalls me that the hospital staff didn't seem to know about these methods.

Sorry - I sound strident. I'm so glad that nurse decided to take drastic measures!

MJ said...

Even your birth story surpasses mine!

Anonymous said...

I am rendered speechless. (And it takes a lot to keep me from sharing birth stories!)

Deb said...

All I can say is, "Wow!"

trash said...

Hahahahaha... sorry... can't type much... laughing too hard.

Jen on the Edge said...

Damn ... well, just ... damn. That is the damnedest thing I've ever heard.

Minnesota Matron said...

I've heard from a couple of other people that if I had just stood up or flipped over, the baby would've come out. It still sort of amazes me that simplicity and nature aren't the first route for a hospital!

carol said...

Nurses! They make the world go 'round!

~annie said...

Somehow the thought of a c-section at that point sounds even more horrifying. I mean, would they have had to push him back up or what? I probably need to brush up on my anatomy...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Nurses are the underappreciated heroes of the medical world. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

I can honestly say that is the first time I've heard of a birth mother being punched during labor. Wow!


Xtreme English said...

best birthing story of all time!!! wotta nurse!! we should take up a collection for her. god love her....