March 2, 2016
For the last year and a half I’ve been trying to get around to sending Dr. Stephen Girolami, at Providence St. Vincent Hospital, a thank you note for delivering our baby. He met Andrea when she was in full labor. Not the typical birth scenario. We had intended to “demedicalize” the birth and were on track to have Cozy born in a cozy bathtub at Alma Birth Center with a mid-wife. I had even practiced catching the baby.
But sometimes life has other plans. Cozy was already late so she definitely was planning a grand entrance. Our team at Alma and the Medical staff, including Dr. Girolami, at St. Vincent’s were all amazing and we will forever remember how they were there on our big day. So, here’s how it went down:
Wed. 8/13/14 – Day 1
Pre-labor starts, and we freak out thinking this is it and I cancel my last Prison Culture class at Portland State. We go to brunch at Milo’s, thinking it’s the last day we will be childless. We watch The Business of Being Born in Spanish, so Andrea’s mom and sister, who are here from Mexico, understand why we chose to have Cozy in a birth center. Our doula, Cassandra, comes by as contractions get stronger. No sleep this night.
Thurs. 8/14/14 – Day 2
One week past the due date. Contractions get stronger and I practice my new ukulele. Cassandra and Bree, our nurse midwife, come over and help Andrea work through the pain. I do an interview live on KGW about the Ferguson riots, hoping I don’t miss the birth. No sleep.
Fri. 8/15/14 – Day 3
Bree, our nurse-midwife, comes over to help. Andrea takes some walks around the neighborhood, howling like a wolf. We keep thinking baby is coming. No sleep.
Sat. 8/16/14 – Day 4
We check in to Alma at 3:30 pm. We get there a few minutes early and Andrea howling outside the locked gate attracts the attention of cyclists on SE Ankeny. Her sister heads back to Mexico because classes are about to start. Once inside Alma, Andrea gets in the water and Laura, our midwife checks her cervix dilation. Around 10:30 pm her water finally breaks. No sleep. (Maybe a minute for me.)
Sun. 8/17/14 – Day 5
Around 5 am Andrea sends me to get her mother to help comfort her. I see a coyote in Irvington on the way. Cozy’s spirit animal. A coyote brought her mother to America so the circle is complete.
Heavy labor continues. Andrea’s cervix reaches 10 cms, time for birth. But the cervix closes back to 8 cm, revealing a problem and the mid-wives consult on what is best for the baby. Around 2 pm, Laura says we would be best helped in a hospital with an epidural and Pitocin to get the baby out.
Andrea, her mother, and Laura climb in our Prius and I drive us all to St. Vincent’s hospital, which is not in Beaverton. Andrea says she is going to jump out of the car on the Sunset Highway. Alerted to her arrival beforehand, the hospital security guard puts Andrea in a wheelchair and sprints with her to the maternity ward. We all run after, as if in a movie. Laura consults with the nurses and Andrea gets an epidural helping with the pain.
It turns out that Cozy’s head is at a weird angle and she can’t make the tricky passage through the pelvis. A C-section becomes a very real possibility. Dr. Girolami arrives, and with great calm and confidence believes he can help get the baby out.
There in Room 324, with several nurses, Andrea’s mom, Bree, the ICU nurses, and I, Andrea begins her heroic push. Bree is holding her left foot and I am holding her right as Dr. Girolami says he can see the top of her head. Cassandra and Laura arrive, and Laura begins photographing the birth (annoying the doctor, who is focused mightily on getting Cozy out). “Let’s focus on the birth!” I say.
After an incredible hour or so, at 9:25 pm, Cozette Valentina is born and placed on mom’s chest. She’s 8 lbs. and 6 oz. and 21 inches. I cut the cord and think she looks like my dad. I quickly take a picture of mother and child so our friends on Instagram and Facebook can know that all is well. The nurses hand over the placenta to the midwives for encapsulation. We are moved to Room 447 in the post-partum wing. After 3 nights of no sleep, I fall asleep with my beautiful daughter on my chest.
Mon. 8/18/14 – Day 6
We are ready to go home, but the pediatrician, Dr. Jan, wants us to stay 48 hours and run tests. Bree helps us to advocate for what’s best for Cozy and we agree to stay for an extra day. Andrea gets lots of help with nursing and I change an awful lot of poopy diapers. I take Andrea’s mom home and bring back a burrito from Don Pancho’s. We play lots of Beatles in our room for Cozy, who we can’t stop staring at. I try to watch Under the Dome but Cozy keeps crying.
Tues. 8/19/14 – Day 7
I wake up early and grade a giant stack of PSU papers. Grades are due later in the day. Against the official advice of the doctor, but with the support of our midwife team (and the tacit support of all the female nurses), we are discharged at noon. Cozy is wrapped in the blanket my mother brought me home in 50 years ago. Andrea rides in the back with Cozy, but wants to make a pitstop at Starbucks for a caramel frappuccino.
We get home, neighbors have put up “Welcome home, Cozy” signs on the house and in chalk on the sidewalk. Andrea’s mom (and now Cozy’s abuela) opens the door and we start a new chapter.