Twisting & Turning Eleven Years Ago – a birthday story

January 9, 2012

Eleven years ago today I was in St Vincent’s Hospital on West 12th Street. My daughter Phoebe was with my in-laws at the pediatrician being diagnosed with scarlet fever and refusing to take her pink, cherry-flavored antibiotic. Rob was with me and so was my dear friend Allison. I nearly made Allison pass out as I had her stay with me in avery hot and steamy shower as I danced and twirled naked.

Chloe was stuck. I always tell her that she would not let go of my ribs. Eleven days past her due date, threats of induction and a few rounds of acupuncture had me believing that she was nearly ready to come out when we arrived in Labor & Delivery with my giant red exercise ball around 5:30 in the morning. I was at 4 centimeters. I could not believe it.  So, later in the morning, after my water broke and labor was super strong, and I danced and twisted in the steam so much that Allison, who is so strong asked, I could see begging and sorrow in her eyes in the few seconds between my tailbone seizing, if she could leave for a moment. Yes, go, I am fine, she will be out soon.

Two hours in the steam I returned to see Maureen,  the midwife. I was excited to hear her say I was at 8 or 9 centimeters. This pain was so intense she had to be near. Reaching inside me between the tailbone crushing contractions she said, you are at 5. Five I yelped. No way! She is sunnyside up, Maureen informed us. I thought I would die right then and there.

I mounted the red ball and begged Rob and Allison to push on my tailbone with each contraction. Chloe twisted and turned slowly, forcefully. With each contraction amniotic fluid poured over the ball.

Maureen said in a very casual tone that her Caesarean rate is very low. I will not have a Caesarean!

But I could not go on. An epidural. I want an epidural. Rob and Allison reminded me that I really did not want one after the experience of Phoebe’s birth. I cannot go on – I need one.

The anesthesiologist came in, a young Indian man. Can you hear me? he asked. Can you sign this ? he asked. No and No, I answered. I can barely think. Just give me the epidural.

It will not take away back labor pain he informed me after I managed to scribble something looking like an L. Oh, hell, just kill me now.

I got the epidural and about an hour later I opened up and beautiful Chloe arrived. Peaceful, wise, so very present.

She still twists me around from time to time but she is so wise and so very present. Sometimes she is so mysterious I wonder where she comes from. Then when I look at her I often see myself.

It is my honor to be her mother.

Happy birthday dear Chloe.

Chloe in 5th grade


Me in 5th grade


2 Responses to “Twisting & Turning Eleven Years Ago – a birthday story”

  1. Leigh's Lion! Says:

    Leigh!Leigh!!! or should I say ChloeChloe!!! I TOTALLY remember that picture of you at Grandma & Grandpa’s!!! What an amazing story! I hope it isn’t too embarising for Chloe… I know what it’s like to be in 5th grade. Ok, be well, take care!

  2. Dad Says:


    Just kidding – still sweet.

    Love to all 5th graders – past and present.


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