Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

My Baby Story

In addition to pizza and ice cream, my other guilty pleasure in the final weeks of my pregnancy was watching that cheesy show “A Baby Story” on TLC. I try not to watch too much daytime TV — a little “Today Show” here, an occasional viewing of “The View” and every once in awhile “The Nate Berkus Show” (RIP, “Oprah”!). But in those final weeks of pregnancy, when it was an ordeal just to tie my shoes, TV — especially the really guilty kind that exists at 1 PM — became a welcome comfort. So, I watched “A Baby Story,” telling myself it was like homework — I was picking up some tips and preparing for my labor. Mostly, though, I watched for the sweet emotional release I got every time I saw another exhausted new mom hold her baby for the first time.

And then it was my turn. Not for the TV show, of course, but to finally give birth. I say “finally,” but in reality, it was still two weeks before my due date. Any woman who’s ever been 38 weeks pregnant, though, knows you may as well be 48 weeks pregnant by then anyway, so what’s the difference? I guess the main difference is you maybe aren’t as on guard to go into labor at any second as you might be another week or two down the line. And so, when my water broke at 2:20 on the afternoon of October 8th, 16 days before my due date, I was sort of in denial about what was happening. Part of that is because it didn’t happen the way it does in the movies — or even the way it does on “A Baby Story” where it seems every other woman is induced or just starts having crazy contractions without any other precursor to the big event.

Drew and I had just gotten home from the Brooklyn Flea. It was a hot day and the two-plus mile walk had exhausted me. I lay down on the bed for a short nap, but before I could fall asleep, I felt a sort of “pop” in my nether regions and got up to check things out in the bathroom. I took a whiz and after I did my business, there was a slow trickle of something down my leg. Not sure if I was peeing myself or what, I cleaned up and crawled back into bed where I said slowly to Drew: “Something might be happening…”

Eight hours and about ten phone calls to my doctor later, nothing else had happened, save for soaking, like, five huge maxi pads.

“Shouldn’t I be feeling something?” I kept asking my doctor. And she kept assuring me contractions would likely begin within 12 hours.

“You’re welcome to come to the hospital now and wait it out here. Or, you can stay home where you’ll be more comfortable and come in once your contractions are a few minutes apart.

I opted to stay home.

At 10:45, I felt a small cramp.
At 11:00, I felt a bigger cramp.
At 11:15, we called our neighbor friend to drive us to the hospital just to be on the safe side.
At 11:30, we were on our way and my contractions were suddenly coming every two minutes.
At 12:00, we arrived at the hospital and spent the next few minutes filling out a few forms while I huffed and puffed and moaned and sighed.
At 12:30 I was changed into a hospital gown and lying in a bed screaming for someone to put me out of my misery.


Somehow, the caps lock key doesn’t seem enough here. Maybe if I bold everything:


No, even that doesn’t begin to convey the agony I was feeling.


But the nurses didn’t believe I could possibly be ready for an epidural. I’d only just arrived at the hospital! It hadn’t even been two hours since my first contraction. And by the time I finally convinced someone I was in enough pain to warrant some medication, it was too late.

“I think his head’s coming out!” I shouted to the anaesthesiologist who was taking her sweet time asking me a shitload of questions before administering the epidural.

“What?!” she asked, still waiting for me to give her my home phone number and the name of the street I lived on when I was three.

“I think his head’s coming out!” I repeated between agonizing contractions.

Suddenly, my doctor was in front of me, pushing my knees apart.

“She’s 10 centimenters and a 100%!” she yelled to one of the nurses. “It’s time for you to push!” she said to me.

Wait. Hold on, back the fuck up. This is not how it goes down on “A Baby Story.” Where are the ice chips? And the hours of hanging out? WHERE’S MY FREAKIN’ EPIDURAL???

“Oh, it’s too late for that!” my doctor exclaimed. “It’s time to push.”

And this is when my mind shut off and my body took over, and this is why — if the nine months before hadn’t already convinced me — I believe so strongly in the power of biology. Because if I could truly remember what those next 15 minutes felt like, I’m sure I’d never consider getting pregnant again. What I do remember about those next 15 minutes is feeling completely out of control and panic-stricken. I remember wanting to squeeze whatever I could grab — the bed railing, Drew’s hand, the nurse’s hand. And whenever someone let go of me for even a second, I felt that much more panicky. I remember thinking I was going to die. Or that I simply wanted to die. And I remember screaming louder than I’ve ever screamed before, hitting high notes, low notes and everything in between. I growled, I roared, I moaned and I yelled.

And then my doctor told me something that changed the course of the night. She said, “The next time a contraction comes and you feel like screaming, don’t. Hold your breath instead and push. Push as hard as you can.”

Finally! Something I could control — a direction I could follow. A second later, another powerful contraction shook me. And instead of screaming like a banshee, I took a deep breath, grabbed hold of Drew’s hand and pushed with all my might. I pushed and pushed and pushed. And at 2:06 am, I pushed one last time and became a mom, just like that. A second later, Jackson was placed on my chest and the world finally stopped spinning. It took a moment for it all to come back into focus, but when it did, there he was — this beautiful baby I’d been waiting for for so long.

Drew snapped a photo of that moment when it all came back into focus, and it’s posted up on Babble as part of “That Very First Photo” project (thanks to Monica for including me). It’s definitely the most graphic photo I’ve ever shared of myself publicly, but if a picture is worth 1000 words, then it probably does a better job telling the story than I ever could.

55 comments… add one
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    jess November 4, 2011, 11:27 am

    This is so beautiful and raw, all at the same time. Congratulations on the baby and not having an epidural!

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    • Leah November 6, 2011, 1:55 am

      Why would you congratulate someone for not having an epidural?

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      • j November 6, 2011, 5:37 pm

        Because it’s a hell of a feat to push a watermelon out of your body with zero pain medications, I would say congratulations are in order! I don’t think she meant “good for you, not using those harmful chemicals!”

  • Beckaleigh November 4, 2011, 11:27 am

    Wendy, your story and picture brought back wonderful memories of the first time I held my children. Thank you for making me tear up at work! hahaha.

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  • Sue Jones November 4, 2011, 11:39 am

    Made me teary…

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    • Hannanas November 5, 2011, 7:17 am

      Me too! Thanks for sharing, Wendy!

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  • Sue Jones November 4, 2011, 11:40 am

    Check your dear wendy facebook page, Wendy. Fun with pumpkins!

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    BriarRose November 4, 2011, 11:47 am

    I remember wanting my epidural and a nurse telling me the anaesthesiologist was tending to a gunshot victim. I screamed, “I don’t care!!!!” Still cracks me up. Amazing how biology erases so much of the birth from your mind. I was at your pain level (where you want to die-or rather, truly believe you are about to die), throwing up, contracting without breaks (the nurses couldn’t understand why my contractions wouldn’t subside), in back labor and so on, from 8pm Thursday until 3:25pm Friday when my daughter was finally born. I know all that to be true, because I wrote it down (and her father remembers it vividly). I however, don’t really remember. Pretty incredible, if you ask me.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Wendy. And that’s a wonderful picture.

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      Wendy November 4, 2011, 11:54 am

      Oh, yeah, I had the vomitting, too. And the contractions one right after the other with no break. Oy vey.

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        BriarRose November 4, 2011, 2:33 pm

        I wish I had known to expect vomiting. I had no idea. That’s really the only tip I give first time moms-to-be. Never anything to scare them (save those labor horror stories for afterward!), just, “Hey, you might barf”.

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        JK November 4, 2011, 3:03 pm

        I never vomited, probably because my stomach was empty (my labour with my 1st started at 7am, with the 2nd I was feeling off all day, so I hadn´t eaten anything since lunch, labour started at 6pm). Thank goodness, vomiting has to be the worst thing that can happen to me!

      • Anna November 4, 2011, 3:00 pm

        Thanks, that successfully quelled my desire to have children for at least a few more years!! 😉 From the perspective of someone who’s never experienced pregnancy or childbirth, it sounds like the most horrible year ever. I’ve been told it’s worth it though…

  • bethany November 4, 2011, 11:50 am

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Wendy! The look on your face in the picture says it all, I think!

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    JK November 4, 2011, 11:56 am

    It´s so true how you erase completely the moment of labour. My 1st was great, my 2nd was a bit tougher (her head kept getting stuck on my pubic bone, so the dr was doing a LOVELY maneuver).

    So true about the denial as well, both times in the car on our way to the hosptal I was telling my husband that I though it was just a false alarm (I didn´t break water either time, but esp with the 1st had really strong contractions).
    And both my girls were born at 39 w 3 days, and with a labour of 4 hs 35 mins (from 1st contraction to birth)

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  • amber November 4, 2011, 12:02 pm

    thanks for sharing your story Wendy! i know women do it all the time, but i’m still in awe every time i hear a birth story. one of my friends had her baby this past july and she got an epidural but unfortunately she labored so long that it wore off and by the time she asked for more drugs it was too late and she delivered without drugs too and they had to use a vacuum. i told her it’s good guilt trip material for when he’s older 😉

    and i have also been known when home sick to watch tlc all day, including a baby story. it’s good no thinking tv to stare at!

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  • Allison November 4, 2011, 12:06 pm

    Awww, that’s cute. But don’t worry I did all the waiting around before birth for you, all 3 of my kids took about 6 hours. The picture on your face describes exactly how you feel after childbirth “thank God its over!”. 🙂

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  • MissDre November 4, 2011, 12:07 pm

    I’m tearing up at work! Eeek!

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  • Kim November 4, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m at 38 weeks on sunday and hoping she stays put for another week. I think it’s somewhat unusual, but I’ve actually been feeling a lot better the past week or two (she’s started to dropped which now allows me to eat and breathe like a normal human being – but she’s not dropped far enough to make me have to pee every 10 seconds). So, I’m in a bit less of a rush to evict her – plus I’m still terrified of the whole birth process. I do like hearing about other people’s stories, but I’m not sure if it helps me be more calm or more terrified.

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      Skyblossom November 4, 2011, 1:05 pm

      Before I was married a friend was telling me about the birth of her son and I commented about how horrible it sounded and wondered how she got through it. She replied that it was painful but not so bad she wouldn’t have another baby. I liked that. Yes, it’s tough but when you look around at how many women have two or more babies you realize that most feel the same way. Knowing exactly what it’s like it’s not so bad that you wouldn’t have another baby if you wanted another baby.

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      • Kim November 4, 2011, 3:46 pm

        I think it’s mostly the fear of the unknown and the compilation of horror stories on the internet that is my problem. In the act, I think it can’t be as bad as I’m imagining it, and will be worth it. But my imagination is running amok.

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      Wendy November 4, 2011, 12:46 pm

      Good luck, Kim! My advice is to just listen to your body and try not to fight it. And everyone’s labor is totally different. You’ll have your own unique story and whatever is going to happen will happen whether you’re ready or not and whether it’s what you planned for or not. Try to relax as much as you can and remember that it’s a natural process that your body is built to handle. And at the end… you have the best prize ever.

      One more thing: if you’re giving birth at a hospital, stock up on everything they give you: pads, disposable underwear, ice packs (especially if you have an episiotomy). Just keep asking for more and tuck them away in your bag to bring home with you. You’ll be glad to have that stuff.

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  • Rachelgrace53 November 4, 2011, 12:18 pm

    I loved reading this, Wendy, but I swear the more I read/hear about/see other people’s labor, the more I think about all of the kids that need to be adopted… People always say, when telling their birth story (months/years later) that “it’s SO worth it” and “oh, it’s only one day.” Yeahhhhhh I don’t buy it. I do believe it will take a miracle to get me to give birth.

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    • Brenda C. November 4, 2011, 2:43 pm

      I’m terrified by the thought of child birth although I know deep in my heart that I could be a great mother. It’s such an internal conflict for me because I have these maternal needs that I would love to fulfill yet I know I can’t put myself through the process of having a child. I’m starting to worry a bit now that I’m approaching 30 (in a few more months sadly) and the clock is ticking louder and louder. It doesn’t really bother me at the moment but I’m worried I’ll wake up at 40 and desperately want a child of my own and find it difficult, if not impossible, to do so.

      I’ve also read about what happens during a C-sections and freaked out. I have a big fear of needles and hospitals in general and I’m not sure I could overcome all those things to have a child of my own. I would love to adopt but it seems like a difficult and expensive process and I’m not in that place yet financially. I have yet to have a boyfriend who would be willing to adopt – they always tell me that when we settle down, we could adopt after we have at least one child together. They’ve all been very adamant about it which has been a deal breaker in the past.

      I know motherhood is supposed to be this natural beautiful thing but so far just the thought of it has been confusing and heartbreaking. =(

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      • PFG-SCR November 4, 2011, 3:02 pm

        Honestly, no one is a bigger baby about medical stuff than I am, and I have three kids (all planned). Labor and childbirth aren’t “fun”, but the reward of having a child at the end makes it completely worth it.

        Adoption is wonderful, but if you want a biological child, don’t let the fear of childbirth prevent you from doing that.

      • Flake November 4, 2011, 3:05 pm

        The thing is, the more you think about getting pregnant and having kids, etc., the more wound up you get. Or, at least, that’s how I felt. But in reality, (almost) nothing is as scary as we imagine it to be. I had a C-section. It was the last thing I wanted. My BF had a major abdominal surgery before, and after the horror stories he told me, I decided that in no way in hell I would go through that. But then, after 44 hours of contractions (I did get an epidural for the last 10 🙂 ) my doctor told me that I probably should have a C-section. It was not an emergency yet, but the baby’s heart rate wasn’t as stable as they wanted it to be, and he seemed to be getting more and more stressed with every contraction. Anywho, c-section it was. And you know what, it turned out extremely well. I had a partial block, so I was conscious through the whole procedure. They handed me the baby 1 minute after he was born. 30 minutes later, I was breastfeeding him. So no, that wasn’t my birth plan (those thing are absolutely useless in my opinion). But I ended up with a healthy baby, and within a week I was about 80% percent recovered.
        My point is, you are going to hear horror stories about everything. People get into car accidents every day. That doesn’t really stop me from driving.

        P. S. Sorry for getting carried away for a bit….

    • Britannia November 4, 2011, 3:11 pm

      Honestly, I’m kinda happy that I’m unable to bear children after reading stories like this. They’re beautiful stories, yes, and Wendy’s brought a tear to my eye, but still… it just sounds awful. I look forward to adopting!

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  • ReginaRey November 4, 2011, 11:20 am

    Wendy – Your story is so much like my mom’s! Everyone assures you that you’ll have plenty of time and you need not hurry, but for some women that’s just not how it happens!

    With me, my mom woke up to her water breaking around 2:00 a.m. The doctor had told her to take her time, so she got in the shower. My grandma (who she was staying with) said by the time they got in the car, she was running red ligths because she realized my mom was much farther along than even my mom realized. Less than 2 hours after she woke up, I was born at 3:56 a.m.

    With my brother, she wasn’t staying with my grandma yet (the hospital was right around the corner from my grandma’s house) because she still had 6 weeks to go. She woke up at 6:00 a.m. having contractions, and got in the car with me (who was almost 2 at the time) and the family dog and drove 45 minutes to the hospital…while having contractions! I don’t know how she didn’t kill us all. At 8:00 a.m., my brother was born.

    Needless to say, when I’m pregnant I’m going to warn my doctor’s about my mom’s speed births, because if that’s at ALL genetic, you best believe I want to be ready for it!

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      Wendy November 4, 2011, 11:26 am

      It IS genetic. All the women in my family have fast births. I don’t know why I thought I’d be any different. Now I know if there’s a next time to go to the hospital at the first sign of any labor, even if contractions are still hours away. I don’t ever want to go through labor again without pain medication.

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      • ReginaRey November 4, 2011, 11:30 am

        Well then I’m definitely warning my doctor! I hope I can make them take me seriously…I feel that they often roll their eyes at women who are convinced their baby is coming quickly, which your story doesn’t exactly disprove!

      • MissDre November 4, 2011, 12:14 pm

        From the time my mom’s water broke, til she started having contractions, til I popped out… was a grand total of 45 minutes!

      • ReginaRey November 4, 2011, 1:55 pm

        Holy crap!! I wonder what the world record is…your mom could be close!

      • Leah November 6, 2011, 1:54 am

        There’s probably a lot of women who think their baby will come out fast but then it takes forever, and nurses are just used to that.

      • PFG-SCR November 4, 2011, 1:36 pm

        My mom had three extremely fast and easy births, and while I hoped I’d have the same, none of my three were that way.

    • MsMisery November 4, 2011, 1:10 pm

      My mother says she was in labor with me for less than an hour (I was also almost a month early, and her 1st/only baby). Guess I was just READY.

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    • ReginaRey November 4, 2011, 2:06 pm

      Oh, and I think one of the funniest parts about my mom giving birth so quickly was that my dad missed BOTH of our births. Thankfully, she had my grandma there to help get her through it. I know at least for my birth, my dad burst into the room panting and asking if he’d missed it. My grandma just responded by handing him his new daughter!

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    Elizabeth November 4, 2011, 12:35 pm

    Just read it and got all teary-eyed.

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  • Steelbird November 4, 2011, 12:42 pm

    Wendy, that was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing that. Although now I’m sitting here at working crying and feeling a little silly. People are going to think that the nucleation and growth of ferroelectric domains is a particularly sad subject because that’s the paper I had in front of me to read before I decided to read this instead.

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  • LTC039 November 4, 2011, 12:52 pm

    I, too, got teary eyed… I’m still terrified of giving birth, but I know it’s all worth it. The picture says it all.

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  • silver_dragon_girl November 4, 2011, 12:53 pm

    This was a fantastic article, Wendy. Your baby is adorable, and you and Drew obviously love him so much. It’s heartwarming 🙂

    But, you know, aside from all that…that was some pretty damn good birth control up there 😉

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    • 6napkinburger November 4, 2011, 1:38 pm

      Gotta agree on every level. The great article, the clear love, and the very specific reminder to go doublecheck my pills.

      I don’t know if any of you guys watch “Up all night”, but I liked when they were flashing back to Christina Applegate’s character’s “birth story” and she gets a male doctor instead of her female doctor (who is delivering triplets or something) and she’s like, um, no, because its about to get REAL up in here. And he looks confused. And she’s like, no, can’t have a guy, because it’s going to get really REAL up in here. And he’s like still not getting it. And her husband, Will Arnett, is like “Poop. We’re talking about Poop.”

      Wendy’s mention in the comments about the episiotomy and the fluids definitely reminded me of all the unspoken yucky truths about giving birth. You gotta really want that baby.

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        Wendy November 4, 2011, 1:55 pm

        I just want to go on record that I didn’t poop. At least, not that I’m aware of.

      • Kim November 4, 2011, 2:30 pm

        I made an agreement with my husband and my doula that if I poop (or not) I am to be directly told that I did not. That way I can live happily in denial for the rest of my life.

      • Eljay November 7, 2011, 12:33 pm

        Haaaa! I remember saying that EXACT thing – in mixed company a few weeks after my daughter was born – “Well at least I didn’t poop!” And my husband, in a low matter-of-fact voice said “uh, yes you did babe.” I was mortified!

  • Robin November 4, 2011, 12:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing! After 4 kids, I am so happy for you and Drew. Every birth story is different and unique. Something must happen to make us forget all of the OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M DOING THIS! part of it to make us want to have those little miracles again and again. 🙂

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  • Rosie November 4, 2011, 1:12 pm

    Ohh thank you for letting us in on your story! There’s clearly so much love in your family 🙂

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  • oppositeofzen November 4, 2011, 1:26 pm

    I’m so happy for you and Drew! Your story sounds a little like my mom’s as well. She was about to have her third and drove herself to the hospital (Dad was with her but he was next to her moaning because he had the flu, which he still hasn’t lived down). She got to the room and requested her drugs because she felt the baby coming. the nurse just patted her on the hand and said she was a long ways off and left the room. My mom had my dad page the doctor and said “This baby is coming now!”. According to family lore, the doctor ran in, put his arms out and was gowned and caught my brother in less than a minute. The nurse who told my mom she wasn’t ready yet walked in later and Momma looked at her and said “I told you I was having this baby.”

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    • 6napkinburger November 4, 2011, 2:10 pm

      My parents have a similar story. My mom had like 6 hours with my sister, 3 hours with me. And she is a very smart woman who very “in touch” with her body, and she’s been in the hospital for like 20 mins.

      And she’s tells my dad the baby is coming, and the doctor comes in and is taking his time, and she is trying to tell him the baby is coming, that she’s having this baby, and the doctor, all cocky and douchey, is like, ma’am, everyone here is having a baby, and my dad (the most non-confrontational man in the world) gets up in his face and is like: No, she is having the baby NOW… the doctor looks “under the hood”, is like, oh my g-d, they put gloves on him and 10 mins later, my mom is holding my brother.

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  • Addie Pray November 4, 2011, 1:38 pm

    It was fun reading your baby story, Wendy. Now I wish I knew my own. I’m the baby of 5 kids; meaning, by the time I came along, my parents stopped paying attention to these details! All I know is my mom went into labor during Thanksgiving dinner, and I was born the next morning. And since I was just one baby, apparently I was a breeze. (My older siblings are two sets of twins.)

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  • PFG-SCR November 4, 2011, 1:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Wendy! While none of my labors/deliveries went like yours, I love hearing every mother’s unique story. 🙂

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  • Slamy November 4, 2011, 1:17 pm

    Oh my gosh. This made me feel so emotional. Teary eyes at work. I could probably have a full-on cry session if I let myself.

    Thanks for sharing, Wendy.

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    mandalee November 4, 2011, 2:29 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Wendy! It was so beautiful. My husband is convinced I’m going through baby fever lately because he always catches me tearing up reading about babies here or on other blogs. lol But I’m not, I love kids but I want to wait 5 years, but who doesn’t love a baby story? I mean really?

    I’m actually kind of relieved to hear you had a fast and furious labor. My mom was in labor with me for 22 hours before she finally caved and got a C-section. Same with my brother, except that labor lasted even longer. Then one of my friends was in labor for a day and a half, and I was officially stressed just hearing the details, like come on, pop that kid out already. lol I was convinced labor was like a weekend long event after all these horror stories.

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  • Foots November 4, 2011, 2:57 pm

    Aww, nice story. Thanks for posting.

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  • GatorGirl November 4, 2011, 3:03 pm

    Aw Wendy I love this!! Jackson’s birth story is amazing! Thank you for sharing such intimate details of your family with us!

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    Amybelle November 4, 2011, 3:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, I love hearing people’s birth stories. With my first, not only was it so much more painful than I thought it would be (truly the worst pain I’ve ever felt, i had the nonstop contractions too), but so much scarier than I had imagined; your body does sort of “take over”, and that loss of control does make it seem like you’re going to die. The second time, I had twins; I was lucky enough to get an epidural early on, had pretty much no pain, and easily pushed out two. Great advice about loading up on supplies at the hospital too, never thought I would be so happy to have an ice pack pad!

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  • kali November 4, 2011, 7:26 pm

    You look exhausted but beautiful. Thanks for sharing this touching story. I have tears in my eyes.

    Your birth story sounds a lot like mine, but 30-some years later, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Enjoy your handsome little guy!

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