Michelle’s Birth Story

The due date for our baby was August 18. After the 36th week of pregnancy, we had doctor’s appointments every week. On August 11, we had an appointment with Dr. Cernadas at 3:15pm. She did a vaginal exam and told us that the cervix was still completely closed. The fetal heart rate seemed normal. However, Amber told her that she had been feeling less fetal movement recently. Because of that, we were sent to the ultrasound technician. We had no idea what the ultrasound images meant. We asked the technician but she was reticent and told us to wait for the doctor. Dr. Cernadas told us that the baby was doing fine but the amniotic fluid was low. Therefore, she asked us to go to the hospital immediately where labor would be induced.

We weren’t prepared for labor at the time. I had packed up most of the stuff for labor and delivery a week ago, but Amber seemed to think that the baby would either arrive on time on August 18 or late. Anyway, we came home to pick up our bags which included some reading material, toiletries, baby clothes, camera and laptop. Around 5pm, we left for Saint Peters University Hospital. The hospital is close by but this was rush hour, so it took us almost half an hour to get there.

Once at the hospital, Amber was admitted and we were put in LDR room 10. Amber was given an IV and fetal monitoring sensors were put on her belly to record her contractions and fetal heart rate.

We were told that Amber would be given an injeted medicine to soften up her cervix tonight. Labor induction would wait till tomorrow. It was extremely boring waiting for the medicine, so I started reading The Complete Robot.

The medicine Cervidil was injected to “ripen” the cervix around 9pm by Dr. Karanikolas (another doctor in the group practice we went to). He told us to sleep well as tomorrow was going to be a long day.

Since we hadn’t had the chance yet to inform our parents, we called them now that it was early morning in Pakistan. We told them that delivery could still be 48 hours away and not to worry if they didn’t hear from us in the meanwhile.

Amber was not allowed to eat or drink anything except ice chips. However, it was late and I was getting hungry. It turned out that the hospital cafeteria closed at 7pm. I didn’t want to go out to eat, so I ordered some food for delivery. After that, we went to sleep around 12:30am. Amber was having trouble sleeping, so she asked for some medicine to help her sleep. Even that didn’t help her nerves much.

We got up early around 7:30am on August 12. Amber was feeling nauseous and had menstrual cramps. She took a shower to feel better. Around 9:15am, Pitocin was introduced in her IV to induce labor.

Dr. Fisher was the doctor on duty at the hospital for the day. She is new to the group and we hadn’t seen her before. She seemed good and confident. However, she had no idea when labor would start and how fast it would be.

By this time, Amber was very stressed and was crying again. She had cried earlier as well when she had called her mom last night. I had heard about postpartum blues but these seem to be prepartum ones.

We started noticing contractions around 11am. Their duration was 30-40 seconds and they were 2-3 minutes apart. This was good news. The contractions were getting stronger over time.

The nurse reported the cervix dilated to 3cm and the baby’s station as -2 at 12:30pm. Amber asked for pain relief at the time and an epidural was ordered. The anesthesiologist Dr. Jenkins came to give the epidural at 1:30pm and immediately threw me out of the room. I returned triumphantly 20 minutes later.

Amber’s water was then broken by Dr. Fisher and an internal fetal monitor put on the baby’s head to record her heart rate. This was a much cleaner signal than the external monitor which had to be moved around periodically.

More than 30 minutes after the epidural was inserted, Amber was still feeling pain and the pain was getting a lot worse. The anesthesiologist was called again and he gave Amber a large dose through the catheter. When that did not work, he decided to redo the epidural. I could not see the procedure as I was again shown the door. This time the epidural worked and Amber felt much better. The epidural also affects blood pressure and Amber’s was down to 92/42 at one point. However, it stabilized around 4pm.

At 4:24pm, we were all very surprised to discover that Amber had progressed to a 9cm dilation and a +2 baby station in the last 3 hours. Wow! That meant delivery was close. However, Amber started feeling extreme pain and was given a large dose in her epidural.

At 5:15pm, the pushing phase of labor started. It was time to bring the baby out into the world. Amber’s pushing did not seem to work much beyond tiring her down. It took more than 1.5 hours of pushing to get the baby out.

Finally, at 6:57pm, Michelle was born. Dr. Fisher did an episiotomy to get the baby out as the baby’s heart rate had dropped below 100.

Immediately after Michelle’s birth, a number of medical staff rushed into the room. It turned out that Michelle’s Apgar score at 1 minute was 5 which is a little low (I think 8-10 is considered normal.) The medical staff dried her with a towel and held oxygen under her nose. This got her Apgar score at 5 minutes after birth to 9 (and hence normal).

While this was happening, the placenta came out and Dr. Fisher did the stitches for the episiotomy on Amber.

It took us some time to realize that our baby had been born. Michelle looked so beautiful and cute. As I held her, I was overcome with emotion. I had told Amber earlier not to be surprised if I cried at Michelle’s birth. Fortunately, I didn’t. I was also afraid of holding Michelle in my arms, but warmed to the task immediately.

Amber tried breastfeeding Michelle at the time but Michelle didn’t latch on. So the feeding was postponed to after moving to the postpartum room. Michelle was then taken to the new-born nursery for some measurements and tests etc. I went with her and noted down the measurements. Michelle was 6 lbs 9.2 oz (2.98 kg) which is at the 20th percentile (according to CDC). Her length was 20.5 in (52.07 cm) which lies at the 85.52 percentile. Her head circumference was 13.25 in (33.66 cm) which is at the 25.17 percentile.

The nursery kept Michelle to do some tests while I accompanied Amber to the postpartum room. St Peters has both private and semi-private rooms. We were lucky to get a private room, which meant I could stay with Amber and Michelle and sleep on the sofa-bed in the room.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. Asalaam Alaikum,
    Aww how cute. COngratulations on your baby, dont know when she was born though, ya i briefly read but heyyyyyyy i was scared i mat get traumatized! Anyway Michelle, aww how cute. And u didnt cry? Oh that’s cool i guess, i dont know if I will cry when i havea baby, hey i’m only 15! anway want to be Muslim blogger affiliates? I am going to post about news and stuff too…. anyway if so e-mail me (wrote my email in that info thingy). Well anyway holla

  2. Congratulations and best wishes to the newly born baby and Amber. It might be just me, being my dozy self but I remember the discussion about names you had and I didn’t realise you had fixed on one. The only questions I have are: what made you choose Michelle, just out of curiosity and will there be a nickname! In our family and most of our friends pretty much all of us have some vernacular diminutives that are commonly used, so I wonder what you might settle on 🙂

  3. KO: Thanks.

    Conrad: Thanks.

    When I had posted about the names, we had decided on a name. We were considered Pakistani as well as American ones. However, if a child is not named before being discharged from the hospital, it becomes a hassle to do all the paperwork yourself; otherwise the hospital files the paperwork for you. So we decided on “Michelle” at the start of the 9th month.

    what made you choose Michelle?

    I am not sure I can answer that. We just liked the name. In fact, we are not fond of the meaning (who is like God?), but “Michelle” sounds good and goes reasonably well with “Zakaria,” her last name. One of our conditions was that the name shouldn’t be in the top 20 for babies in recent years. “Michelle” is quite popular but its popularity peaked in the 1970s (and started in the mid-1960s due to the Beatles’ song of the same name, I think.) In 2003, it was ranked #62 for baby girls in the US.

    will there be a nickname?

    Nicknames are very common in South Asia. But Michelle won’t have a nickname since her name has only 2 syllables and is pronouncable by both Pakistanis and Americans (along with the French, British, etc.)

  4. Many Congrats to Zack and Amber

    On the birth of their baby girl Michelle. You can read her birth story here. A lot of Michelle’s story sounds like my Yazzy’s. I was induced also, and reading about Zack and Amber’s little bub brought back a flood…

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