Shannon rushed an IV bolus of fluids and my labwork to get my epidural quickly. One of the nurses’ first questions is always “Do you want an epidural?” I had replied that I would appreciate it. I was so ticklish getting the epidural. I couldn’t stop giggling, which made Shannon laugh too. She commented that my pain tolerance was amazing. She joked about her boyfriend, an ER nurse, getting pale when he once overheard a woman scream in labor pain.
After the epidural took effect and the initial monitoring was over, I was about 7-8 centimeters dilated. She switched out the lights, told me to recline my bed and get some rest. Jason stretched out on the chair/bed. I rested for what seemed like an hour. Shannon came in the room to tell me she had called Jenny Allen, the nurse-midwife on call for Dr. LaRose, who wasn’t able to perform deliveries due to rotator cuff surgery.
Soon Jenny showed up, introduced herself, checked me and told me it was time to push. Jason woke up. I had Nurse Allen and Shannon rescue my good running socks off my feet. I apologized for my non-pedicured feet. Nurse Allen broke my water, and I didn’t even realize it. She mentioned I would have to push a little, and then she would need to suction the baby because of the meconium. I couldn’t understand how she knew the baby had pooped already, and that’s when she told me she had broken my water, which by the way was green. This situation made me nervous, but there was nothing I could do about it. Shannon got the suctioning device ready, and I gave one good push. Nurse Allen commented I was a really good at pushing, and had me stop while she suctioned Quinn. Then I finished pushing, except I remember the baby just slipped out. She held Quinn up very briefly for us to see her, and then all of her attention was on the baby. She let Jason cut the cord quickly, and then she started suctioning Quinn with the blue snot sucker.
Quinn didn’t cry. She looked like she was gasping for breath, like someone emerging from a pool, and her arms were flailing. Panic rushed through my heart. Instead of the relief of a newborn cry, suddenly Quinn was on the cart, surrounded by eight to ten people. More and more people poured in by the minute. Shannon stood by my side, patting me, rubbing my shoulder as if to reassure me. That made me even more nervous, because I knew she knew more than I did. Nurse Allen reported, “Mom and Dad, Baby’s got some sort of a syndrome. I don’t know what it is.” She went on to describe clubbed feet and twisted hands, low-set ears. We heard the code team calculating how much epinephrine to give her, based on her weight. She was given two doses before her heart sped up enough to be satisfactory. An hour passed in that room, with a hushed, fervent frenzy in the corner around Quinn. The Life Flight team of guys came in, and I pictured her being flown out immediately, but they were just there to manage the code. I remember, before the code even started, wondering if she was going to die right there in front of our eyes. She was born at 3:02 am on September 9, 2010. We found out later she was 5 pounds, 7 ounces, our smallest baby yet, even at 41 weeks.
Shannon took over, asking me if I needed anything, after Quinn was finally taken to the nursery. I remember asking her if SHE was OK. I knew if I felt the horror and trauma of the event, she certainly did. She looked me straight in the eyes with her own bright, swollen and red-rimmed blue ones, and said, “My job is you. I’m here to take care of you.” I didn’t feel like I wanted or needed anything. I certainly wasn’t hungry, but she brought me graham crackers.
I had seen them bagging Quinn and doing two-fingered chest compressions on her little body. I had wanted to be in the middle of it, watching my baby, but knew I needed to stay back for her wellbeing.
Dr. LaRose was called in, even though it was still the middle of the night, so I could see a familiar face. He gave me a hug, and stuck around until it was all over.