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Stephanie's Birth Story

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I was a week past my due date and feeling really uncomfortable. The novelty of pregnancy had certainly run its course! So when sharp contractions woke me at 6 a.m., I was thrilled but a little nervous.

Since my contractions were only 10 minutes apart, my husband Darren decided to head into the office to finish up some work before the big event. I decided to do laundry -- anything to take my mind off the pain.

By 2 p.m., my contractions were seven minutes apart. I knew it was important to eat something to keep my strength up, so I asked Darren to come home and bring me lunch. After he arrived and we ate, we called the doctor to find out when we should go to the hospital. He said we should leave as soon as possible. Since I still had a load of laundry to dry, I asked him if it would be okay to wait until the clothes were finished. He told me to get my priorities straight. Oops!

We headed out of our apartment door at 4:30 p.m. -- the exact time that taxis in New York City change shifts. As more and more off-duty cabs sped past us, I began to wonder if I was going to have the baby right on the sidewalk. Finally, Darren flagged one down and told the driver that I was in labor. Just like in the movies!

At the hospital, a doctor who thought I was too cheery to be in active labor examined me. He was surprised to see that I was slightly effaced and admitted me.

While I had originally planned to have a drug-free delivery, the pain was so great that I immediately asked for an epidural. Unfortunately, the maternity ward was so crowded that I had to wait in line. First no taxis and now no drugs! I was definitely starting to lose it. Just when I thought I wouldn't be able to last another minute in agony, my doctor bumped me up to the front of the line for an epidural since I was further along than most of the other women. And to speed things up, he broke my water and gave me Pitocin.

Unfortunately, the epidural didn't work. The pain came back. I kept calling the anesthesiologist for more painkiller, but it wasn't helping. It turned out that the epidural needle had slipped out! To make matters worse, the baby's heart rate had started to drop. I was given oxygen and told to lie on my left side to keep it flowing.

Finally at 11 p.m., I was instructed to start pushing. I was so excited that I had made it to the home stretch. Little did I know the ordeal that was ahead of me.

Although I pushed and pushed, nothing but the top of the baby's head came into view. My doctor couldn't understand why I wasn't progressing. Finally, they figured out that the baby's arm was stuck, preventing him from continuing down the birth canal. Plus, the fetal monitor showed that the heart rate was dropping fast. Although Darren tried to reassure me, I could tell he and everyone else were starting to panic.

"Get someone in here, now!" my doctor shouted to one of the nurses. Suddenly, another doctor leapt up on the bed with me to perform Fundal pressure. When I pushed, she used all of her body weight to push down on my belly too. Although the epidural had worn off again, I was too nervous to ask for more. I just wanted the baby to be okay.

Moments later, I got my wish when our little boy, Maxwell, made his long-awaited appearance. And not a scratch on him!

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