The hospital floor looked like a crime scene. The sheets and pillows were coated in red, brown, and pretty much every other color. Sarah's sneakers, which she never took off, were soaked all the way through in blood, and so were my socks. Somewhere, someone has a picture of me holding up my bloody socks, grinning as though I'd landed a 40-pound steelhead trout.

"How about getting in the bed now?" Kim asked Sarah.

The group helped get Sarah onto the pristine white bed, which wasn't pristine for long. It turns out that the last push, during the ring of fire, was a doozy, and Sarah ripped from one end to the other...

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Epilogue

The hospital floor looked like a crime scene. The sheets and pillows were coated in red, brown, and pretty much every other color. Sarah’s sneakers, which she never took off, were soaked all the way through in blood, and so were my socks. Somewhere, someone has a picture of me holding up my bloody socks, grinning as though I’d landed a 40-pound steelhead trout.

“How about getting in the bed now?” Kim asked Sarah.

The group helped get Sarah onto the pristine white bed, which wasn’t pristine for long. It turns out that the last push, during the ring of fire, was a doozy, and Sarah ripped from one end to the other…

The hospital floor looked like a crime scene. The sheets and pillows were coated in red, brown, and pretty much every other color. Sarah’s sneakers, which she never took off, were soaked all the way through in blood, and so were my socks. Somewhere, someone has a picture of me holding up my bloody socks, grinning as though I’d landed a 40-pound steelhead trout.

“How about getting in the bed now?” Kim asked Sarah.

The group helped get Sarah onto the pristine white bed, which wasn’t pristine for long. It turns out that the last push, during the ring of fire, was a doozy, and Sarah ripped from one end to the other. How she wasn’t screaming in agony, I still don’t understand.

I couldn’t decide whether I should be comforting my wife or tending to my child. Finally went with Sarah; everybody else was fussing over Hannah. More people were coming and going than before, with digital cameras and cell phones, gushing to people about this little redheaded girl who was born on the floor a minute ago. Ben brought in some Cuban cigars, not that anybody was allowed to smoke them.

As she lay in bed and I held her hand, we reminisced about the delivery as though it had happened years, not minutes ago. (Remember when you had that contraction in the alley? Yeah, that was awesome.)

What did the moment of delivery feel like? I asked, like a hack reporter.

“I felt this bizarre sensation something like a vacuum pop,” she said. “And then I don’t remember anything until you said, ‘Hey, it’s a girl!’ That snapped me out of my trance. Up until then, I just felt like I was taking the biggest shit of my life.” Fifteen minutes later, she stoically delivered the placenta, too, and the doc sifted through it to make sure that all the pieces of it had come out. It was a dark, mushy thing that looked a lot like those raw porterhouses the waiters at Morton’s love to show off before you order.

Sarah spent the next hour in the bed, with me at her side, while Dr. Harth, a resident, and a med student stitched her up. Sarah winced through the whole thing, but never cried, even though she said it hurt far worse than the labor. In fact, not to put to fine a point on it, but the things I saw and heard during that hour at her bedside were so shocking and grotesque that not even Sarah will allow me to write about them here. It’s the one thing she edited from this story.

* * *

 

Hannah was eight pounds, four ounces, and a robust 20½ inches long. Those numbers shocked us: Throughout the whole pregnancy, everyone at the U of C was worried that the fetus was measuring small. One of the doctors, just after Sarah had been admitted that morning, put a hand on her belly and said with absolute certainty, “She won’t be an ounce over six pounds.”

But there was my daughter, with her long fingers and toes, a funny-shaped head, and squinty yellow eyes just visible under puffy lids. She was healthy. She scored an 8 on her APGAR test minute after she was born, which measures a newborn’s appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration. Later, she scored a 9. Was that good? They told us it was.

The information that was spreading from Chicago to San Francisco to Seattle to Palm Beach was wrong, though. Hannah was not a redhead. Once they cleaned all the blood off, it wasn’t so red anymore.

As Sarah was being stitched up that morning and trying to keep it together, she turned to me and smiled in a way I had never seen. I mentally prepared myself for a sentimental moment.

“Now’s a good time for you to give me my baby bling-bling,” she said, and squeezed my hand. That’s about as sentimental as my wife gets.

I was ready. I went to my backpack and pulled out a box. Inside that box was a ring that I promptly put on her finger. I don’t know anything about rings, but it was beautiful. There was no denying it.

“I love it,” Sarah said. And for a moment, we seemed to block out everything—the phone conversations, the digital pictures being snapped, the high-pitched wailing from the bassinet, the team of doctors sticking sharp instruments into her crotch—and just stared at the ring on her finger. “I can’t wait for it to fit on Hannah’s finger.”

Then all the light and sound and commotion came rushing back all at once, and life started over.

 

Photography: Courtesy of Jeff Ruby

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6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Just a perfect ending - i will miss this blog

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Beautiful. :) The story and the pictures, both.

I know I've said it before, but thank you for sharing this with the Internets. This is probably the most unique blog I've read, and I'll miss checking every few days for updates.

Meg in Milwaukee

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

You just made me cry! Of course I am just over 39 weeks pregnant and vulnerable! Thank you so much for sharing this blog, I have kept up with it my whole pregnancy and I will miss it.

Best wishes to you and your family. Did you have anymore children after Hannah?

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I laughed:

"Up until then, I just felt like I was taking the biggest shit of my life."

And cried:

"Then all the light and sound and commotion came rushing back all at once, and life started over."

Great finale, Jeff.

SP

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Sarah here. Thanks to everyone who has shared in our story - it has been fun revisiting our experiences through this blog. I consider it the best love-letter that Jeff has ever written. To update you all: We have two fabulous children now - Hannah (age 3) and Max (age 1). Max had a wonderful and very similar birth - also naturally. He was also born on the floor - this time our OB was ready to kneel, and the nurse has stepped out of the room for 1 minute - and he popped out before she made it back. Too bad that Jeff hasn't kept any more journals - their first years, the second pregnancy - I guess we got too caught up in the joy of child-rearing, and life is moving so fast.

To all the women out there who are considering natural childbirth - you can do it! Educate yourself, surround yourself with people who believe in you and your choices, and believe in your body. And then share your story with others! It doesn't always work out the way you want it to - sometimes nature is complicated. But in the end - you have an amazing kid - and that is what counts.

Thanks for all your great comments,
Sarah

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I don't know what made me cry more, Jeff's final blog entry or Sarah's comments. I know that this story isn't new to me and yet it helped me through this second baby of my own. I guess knowing your ending helped me believe that I could do it too! Thanks for this intimate glimpse into your lives and for encouraging women out there who want to go against the grain and try things the old fashioned way.

tb

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I know I want to see some pictures of Hannah and the whole little family!

This blog has been fantastic.
Miranda

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

My wife is 31 weeks pregnant and we've been reading this blog for months. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I absolutely loved reading your blog and am sad to see it end. I haven't read a blog so religiously before. It was hilarious, touching and often times too much information, but that made it unique. I can't remember the last time I connected so well to a blog that has little relevance to my life (as a young single college grad with no intentions to have a baby anytime soon). I passed the link along to my aunt and uncle, who just gave birth to their second baby boy this week. I'd love to see this blog continue in some way!

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