Jamie's Birth Story

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Dear Griffin (from your doula).

At 4:31pm on Saturday, May 20th, 2017 you entered the world blessing your parents with a second son, your older brother Malcolm with a younger brother, your grandparents with a new darling grandson as well as your extended family and a vast community of family and friends.

In room #53 of Mount Sinai’s second floor Labor and Delivery Unit, your calm and proud father assisted the doctor in receiving you while your mother, beautiful and rooted in her signature blend of heroic strength and angelic grace, delivered you in under five minutes of pushing.

You were born at 39 weeks gestation, 3 days before your mom’s 30th birthday, on a Saturday and coincidentally while the doctor who delivered your brother (and your mom’s favorite at the practice!) was on call and already at the hospital.

It was a beautiful day to be a part of!

This is the story of your birth...

It was an unusually warm day on Friday, May 19th. Typical NYC late May spring temperatures are about 72 degrees but it was a near record-breaking high of 90 degrees that day and the city was almost spastically energetic. (People don’t know how to act in the city when it gets too hot.) Your mother, already uncomfortable for some time, woke up ready to find any way possible to turn you from your posterior “sunny side up” position and drop you down to engage for birth. She had been walking around 1cm dilated for a while and knew it was time to get you and her ready for your big day!

She spent the later hours of that morning actively trying to make room for you to turn. She did squats, lunges, cat-cow poses on all fours, more squats, more lunges, more cat-cow poses, etc. All the while making it as fun as possible with two-year old Malcolm climbing on her back half the time. They turn it into a little dance party too with Malcolm singing “turn baby” to you. The heat of the day wears on with your ever-calm mom trying to keep active and moving.

That night, she is finally able to get some rest for the night around 11:30pm. Just over two hours later at 1:40am on Saturday, May 20th, she wakes up and is unable to settle back to sleep. She sits down to watch something with your dad who hasn’t turned in for the night yet. Around 3:22am, the mucous plug releases.

Able to finally settle down for a period, she gets a little bit of rest until a partial break of her waters around 6:00am. Today is definitely the day you will make your debut. From there, her contractions begin gradually progress in intensity while still spread out in frequency. It’s a different pain than she felt with Malcolm’s birth. She’s feeling the contractions almost completely in her back.The doctor tells her that she will be at the hospital doing circumcisions and your mom can labor at home until about 5pm unless her contractions pick up before then.

Your mom stays calm, playing with Malcolm who has woken up for the day and lets your dad get some more sleep so someone is rested for the day ahead. She calls Yaya who plans to get on the road at 10:30am for the five-hour drive to the city. Different than the day before, the energy of the day is calm, the sky is overcast and it is a more seasonal 60 degrees with some spotty light showers that clear later.

Notified about two hours before of your forthcoming arrival, I arrive at 9:35am at your house honored to serve as first-time doula aka support person for your parents. Your mother looks radiant in early labor. We climb your building stairs between the lobby and the 8th floor Penthouse level, listening to Beyoncé and doing asymmetrical lunges. I place a brunch order from Brother’s Bakery. Your mother’s food goes barely touched when it arrives as the contractions are increasing in frequency and intensity. She starts saying she’s feeling nauseous. She is now in active labor.

Around 11:15AM, your dad returns with Malcolm from a morning walk that included outside playtime, watching some softball in Central Park and a visit to the local bookstore. He calls your Grandmother who quickly readies herself to get in an uber.

Malcolm is so gentle and kind, nurturing your mom, giving her hugs, kisses and making sure she has water. Your Grandmother is at your house in record-breaking time by 12:00pm to watch Malcolm, who is now in pajamas and prepped for his afternoon nap, while we head to the hospital. He’s upset that he doesn’t get to press the elevator button when we go. Bruno Mars is playing in the uber so we jam and roll down the windows a bit for some fresh air for the quick ride over.

We arrive to the hospital around 12:20pm and check in on the second floor. As your mother had feared, it is a busy Saturday at the hospital and there are NO ROOMS available!!! SHE LABORS IN THE HOSPITAL HALLWAY FOR AN HOUR. Contractions increasing in intensity and length as she rocks through them and tries to catch moments of rest and quiet in between. The hospital staff barely makes eye contact as they pass by over and over again – feeling bad we assume and seeing her in pain. Finally, they come up with an intermediate solution to give her a screening room so she can be more comfortable and the doctor can finally examine her. By then it is 1:30pm. The doctor is impressed that your mom is already 5-6cm dilated and draws up the paperwork for the epidural.

The timing aligns so that the anesthesiologists are ready almost as soon as birthing room #53 is finally clean and ready. Your parents command the vibe, keeping calm and in control through bickering doctors and slight confusion. After they’ve gone, your mom tries to catch some rest laying quietly side prone on her left with her right leg propped up making room for you to turn more. She snacks on a few small handfuls of almonds for fuel.

Your dad blesses the room with his playlist including Khalid’s album and the appropriately worded WizKid song “Come Closer”. The room is serenely lit.

At 4:19pm the doctor declares it “Push time” after checking your mom. She is fully dilated now at 10cm and your head is in position! Your parents remember the 28 minutes of push time she had with Malcolm. We all know she will best it! It is around 4:26pm once the doctor and nurses are finally in place. Your dad stands next to the doctor assisting in receiving you while a nurse supports your mom’s right leg and I support the left.

AT 4:31pm, FIVE PUSHES LATER, YOU ARE BORN. Your precious face pointing toward your mom’s right hip and your hand close to your face. The doctor gently guides your hand away for a gentler delivery and believes your elbow could have been resting against your mom’s sacrum causing her some of that pain with you in utero. Your parents share a supremely tender moment welcoming you to the world. Their love for you and each other grows exponentially in the moment filling the room. You are placed on your mom’s chest for some immediate skin-to-skin contact and then your dad’s too.

Once the blood stops pulsing through your beautiful almost-textbook like umbilical cord, your dad cuts it and minutes later, your mother pushes your placenta out like a superhero. It splashes in the bucket. We all laugh. (Minutes later it will be put on ice and sent off later that night for encapsulation). The hospital staff immediately declares your mom “the champ of the day!”

You, Griffin, are beautiful at birth and 7lb1oz (almost half a pound more than Malcolm). Snuggling with your mom during your first breastfeed, you poop passing black tar-like meconium all over both of you. It’s a lot. We all laugh again.

You are cleaned up and swaddled. Around 7:30pm, your Grandmother and Yaya arrive at the hospital meeting us at recovery room #826, a lovely private room in the corner that your parents moved into shortly before and will stay in for the night. The celebratory meal is from Joy Burger Bar. Your mom enjoys chicken fingers, French fries and an Oreo milkshake which the restaurant had originally forgotten to deliver along with your dad’s garlic mayo. Ever a New Yorker, your dad talks the restaurant into a free second shake for the inconvenience. They return quickly.

Griffin, it was a magical and joyful day! Thank you to your parents for allowing me to be a part.

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