By MIA FREEDMAN
Every woman has a birth story – even if she’s never had a baby. Every woman can tell you about a birth that was dramatic, comical, tragic or in some way unusual. And even if the birth wasn’t yours, you’ll still have that story in your arsenal of anecdotes because women like to share and vent and debrief. Birth stories tend to be long and generally end the same way; with a health baby (please god).
I’ve given birth 3 times and when it’s happening, it really does feel like the most incredibly intense, life-changing, extraordinary event. It feels like there should be a public holiday, a commemorative stamp and tickertape parade, all thrown in your honour.
Oh and there is no short answer to the question: “how was your birth?”. Once a woman gets going, you should get comfortable. Because her version of ‘dramatic’ might not seem so dramatic when there’s not a human trying to get out of YOUR body.
But this story actually is pretty amazing. The Australian woman Sally Bertouch who gave birth in New York during Hurricane Sandy has set the bar pretty high for dramatic birth stories.
It goes something like this:
When she went into labour at 2am on Monday, she and her husband James had already moved into a hotel 10 blocks from the hospital because their Tribeca loft was too far away.
After 12 hours (count them, 12), of labour at the hotel, the couple decided to go to the hospital. “At that point, there was horizontal rain,” said Sally’s husband James. “If we left it another hour, the East River would have been flooded and we would have needed a boat.”
So they got to the hospital and breathed a sigh of relief, right? Wrong.
After six more hours labouring at the hospital, the lights started flickering before the building plunged into complete darkness.
The storm had flooded the hospital’s basement and its generator had failed.
Doctors put glow sticks around their necks and borrowed Mr Bertouch’s mobile phone, using its light to guide them while giving Sally an epidural.
“It was pretty scary, crazy, apocalyptic weather outside but I felt confident because the doctors and nurses were so confident and in control,” Mr Bertouch said.
“They did an amazing job.”
But more drama was still to come.
At 1am, midway through the labour, the storm became too dangerous and all 300 patients had to be evacuated.
Because Sally was paralysed from the waist down from the epidural and the lifts were not working, she had to be carried on a stretcher down eight flights of stairs in the pitch black by two firemen and her anaesthetist.
“It was just surreal,” Mr Bertouch said. “There were flashlights and mining helmets and hundreds of police and people from the fire department.”
A waiting ambulance rushed them uptown to Mt Sinai Hospital, where Sophie Deborah Bertouch was born at 10.27am local time.
“We’re all safe now and couldn’t be happier,” Mr Bertouch said.
I have so many favourite parts of that story it’s hard to pick just one but if I had to, it would be the glow-sticks. Next time I’m giving birth and I’m bitching about how long the epidural is taking to work, I’m going to think about being carried down eight flights of stairs by some firemen by the light of my glow-stick necklace.
Come on, we know you want to share….what was YOUR birth story – or if you don’t have one yet, have any of your friends had stories worth recounting?