Fiona’s birth story

Fiona is 6 weeks old.  6 WEEKS!!!!  Time is flying much much faster than anticipated.  In this short lapse of time, she has become much more alert, is following objects with her eyes, learned to hold up her head, outgrew newborn clothes, and even started to smile at her dad’s funny faces.  She’s growing and changing so quickly that I decided today is a good day to put her birth story down in writing, before the details start to escape me… like the fact that the winter of 2015 was terrible and Boston broke its all-time record for snowfall, but the day she was born was sunny and beautiful.

So here it goes:

Jeffrey’s and my family can be quite different about some things.  For example, his likes showing up extra early for flights, while mine has been known to go through airport security only after our last name has been voiced over the intercom…  So it became a running joke to try to guess which side of the family Fiona’s entrance into the world would resemble most.  Well, our little girl—quite intelligently—decided not to take sides.  On my very due date, my water broke.

I always hoped it would happen that way… my water breaking first as a surefire sign that I would be having a baby that day (as opposed to wondering whether I was feeling real contractions or not and trying to decide when to go into the hospital).  But with my obstetrician quoting that only about 10% of women’s waters break prior to going into labor, my hopes were low.  Well, I was part of the “lucky” few.

I woke up that morning wondering if it had broken.  Yup.  It can be… ummm, a “confusing” experience.  So Jeffrey promptly googled “water breaking” and started reading various women’s hilarious anecdotes aloud to me.  Suffice it to say that one good laugh later, it broke.  And I was VERY glad I was at home in pajamas instead of at the hospital examining a patient.

After notifying the OB and confirming that we would indeed be having a baby within the next 24 hours, we called our parents.  As expected, the grandmas-to-be freaked, and thus ensued the frantic search for last minute flight changes from Texas to Boston so they could all get in as soon as possible to meet THE FIRST GRANDCHILD.

I was in no pain.  As a matter of fact, life proceeded that day much as it otherwise would have.  Jeffrey and I came down for breakfast and we enjoyed our morning coffee together.  I finished working on a few patient notes.  Then came shower, hair, makeup, putting on my pearls (it’s what my mom and I always wear on special occasions, and for good luck), a few selfies in front of the staircase, etc. etc. etc.  When by 3 pm it was clear I was not in labor, I called a phone consult to my dad.  Should I wait around all day and night for it, or go in to be induced? Papi suggested going in early so when the pain started, I’d be in the near vicinity of an anesthesiologist.  And because that was clearly the most brilliant possible advice, two hours later we “laborlessly” headed to the hospital.  But first we ate some cake.  I was craving cake.

last belly picture of my pregnancy, 40 weeks exactly!

last belly picture of my pregnancy, 40 weeks exactly!

Many people asked me during my pregnancy what my “birth plan” was.  Birth plan?  What on earth is a birth plan? My only plans going into this were to let the obstetricians be obstetricians, and not pretend like I knew more about birthing babies than they did.  I also decided that I had absolutely nothing against (early) epidurals, and that having our baby in a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit was a must.  With work, I didn’t really have time for much other planning.  We did not take birthing classes, and I have no idea what a breathing exercise is.

checked in!

checked in!

We arrived at the hospital around 6 pm, and by 7 pm we were checked in and ready for the night.  We looked more like we were going on vacation rather than the labor and delivery ward, but honestly, that is kind of how it felt. My outfit was promptly replaced by the classic blue hospital gown, and monitors strapped around my belly.  Fiona’s heart rate? Perfect.  Contractions?  Mmmm, negative.  Maybe a few pathetic ones of the Braxton Hicks variety.  Dilation? 2 cm.

How. Exciting.

excited to get the show on the road...

a little too excited to get the show on the road…?

Impatient, at 9 pm I asked them to please Pitocin-me the heck up. By 10 pm I told Jeffrey, “Hmm, my back is starting to feel uncomfortable.” And by 11 pm it was pretty clear that I had been successfully induced because HOLY CRAP, WHY DID IT FEEL LIKE MY SPINE WAS BEING RIPPED APART FROM THE INSIDE OUT EVERY 3 MINUTES?!  Between 11 pm and midnight, I progressed to feeling like my pelvis was being ripped apart.  And when it got to the point that I was pretty sure my tailbone was about to snap off, I asked that they kindly call the anesthesiologist ASAP, and remind him to please bring his opiates.  I didn’t purposely wait that long before asking for my epidural, but things moved along so fast I hardly had any time to think.

It turns out that little Fiona decided at the last minute to turn face up (towards my abdomen) instead of face down like she’d been for the last few months.  Therefore, with every contraction, her back pressed against mine, resulting in the dreaded “back labor” that I experienced (and which I didn’t know was a thing).  Between contractions I was fine—enjoying the 2015 Academy Awards even.  Because seriously, wasn’t Lady Gaga’s tribute to The Sound of Music the most amazing thing you’d seen in a long time?!  But then again, every 2-3 minutes… let’s not talk about it anymore.

learning that my trouble-maker was facing up.  thanks, Fiona.

learning that my trouble-maker was facing up. thanks, Fiona.

The anesthesiologist came almost immediately, and 5 minutes later, my lower half was total, painless, beautiful dead weight.  (Especially my right leg.  That thing stayed awkwardly dead long after the rest of me regained sensation and mobility.)

People often hold off on getting an epidural “until the very end,” so they can continue to walk around the room, use the restroom as they please, etc.  But seriously, why on earth would one be walking around the room when they’re in labor??  I’ll tell you what.  There is nothing more amazing than not feeling pain with your contractions, being told that your induction was so successful that you are now 5 cm dilated, and then taking a refreshing 4-hour nap while your body runs on autopilot.

Over the course of the night, the pain slowly started to come back.  The anesthesiologist came back in to increase my dose and, shortly afterwards, the OB came in to recheck me.  And you know why the pain was coming back?  Because by around 5 or 6 am, I was 10 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and 3+ station.  It was go-time.  Fiona was practically here!

So I asked for a mirror and fixed my hair.  Because PICTURES!

I pushed for less than an hour.  30 minutes?  45 minutes maybe?  I don’t know.  It went by fast and Jeffrey and I were very excited and GOD I LOVE EPIDURALS.

At 7:46 am, a vigorous, screaming, healthy little girl with an awesome sideways cone-head was placed in my arms, where she almost immediately stopped crying and opened her eyes.   7 lbs 7 oz and 19.5 inches long.  She was pink, strong, and came out knowing how to eat.



first family picture

first family picture

I don’t think I could have have hoped for a better labor and delivery.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, and she definitely wreaked a fair amount of havoc in the process.  However, at that moment, Jeffrey and I were able to truly be in the moment and enjoy (almost) every second of our daughter being born.

The grandparents arrived from Texas some time later.  And while it would have been wonderful to have the four of them right there in the waiting room, it was so special to get to spend time together just the three of us.  Amazingly, while while Jeffrey and I were busy getting to know her, she acted like she’d known us all along.




36 hours old and back home!


Welcome to the world and into our lives, Fiona!  You are already the best thing ever!

If you enjoyed this, leave a comment and let me know!  Subscribe for email post notifications or RSS feed on the right-hand sidebar, and follow me @DoctorOnTheSide on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. 
Also, check out our pregnancy announcement here.
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Mi Casita: Changing gears… because it’s FALL!

Happy October, everybody!  I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season 3 days ago.  And just as abruptly as Starbucks introduces its pumpkinie goodness every year, so too did the weather change from warm and sunny to crisp and cool.  I’ve ditched the flats and cardigans for boots and my orange peacoat.  Likewise, with a few simple tweaks, I changed gears inside our home to bring the fall spirit inside.

Before, our dining room was bright, colorful, and cheery.

Before: bright, colorful, cheery

BEFORE: bright, colorful, cheery dining room

Continue reading

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The best thing about turning 30…

I turned 30 over two months ago.  I never dreaded saying bye to my 20’s.  Don’t get me wrong.  They were GREAT.  But mainly because they got me to where I am today, which is every bit awesome and I wouldn’t change any aspect of my immediate life at the moment.  So when my 29th year came to a close, I welcomed my third decade with all the excitement that watching your career take shape brings. Continue reading

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High Five!

Happy weekend to you all!  Today I decided it’s time I bring the High Five series back.  It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s a great excuse to pull out my camera toys, and it’s the best way to make myself think of the little things that make me happy.  Here are my top five favorite things at the moment. Continue reading

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DIY: Rope vases

It rained all weekend, which can only mean one thing: IT’S NOT COLD ENOUGH TO SNOW!!!  IT’S SPRINGTIIIIIIIIIIIIIME!  (Silver lining, everybody… Silver lining.  Even if it did sleet today.)

Because I have been ready to welcome spring for a while now, I DIY’ed a project to help me bring springtime into our home.   Continue reading

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Happy Match Day!!!

It’s been three years since I last wrote about Match Day.  THREE YEARS!!!!!  Today is The Day.  Today, all across the country, 4th year medical students come together AT THE SAME EXACT TIME to open up the envelopes containing their fates for the next several years of their lives.  Today they learn where they will begin their terrifying (but mostly epic) journey as residents and, therefore, as real doctors. Today is the culmination of 24+ years of interminable study, blood, sweat, and tears. Continue reading

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My giant lesson from 2013

We originally meant to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays with my parents and brothers in Boston, but an unexpected family situation led to a drastic last-minute change in plans: My parents cancelled 4 two-way tickets to Boston, and Jeffrey and I flew to my hometown in Mexico.  The flight home was less than ideal.  Continue reading

Categories: Family, Holiday | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

Insta-album: Cozy winter grays


Today marks the start of my 5th week in the pedi intensive care unit (and the start of a week of nights, to top it off).  I’m exhausted and ready to see my family for the holidays.  I woke up dreading tonight’s shift.  One of our patients is having open heart surgery today, and let’s be real here: no resident wants to be on at night when that happens. Continue reading

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Bookshelf: The Kite Runner


“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.  I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the valley near the frozen creek.  That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it.  Because the past claws its way out.  Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”

-Khaled Hosseini, “The Kite Runner”

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that clinches me with the first line, and I can’t put down until the last.  Continue reading

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DotS gets a facelift

Over the past few days, DoctorOnTheSide (DotS) has been getting a much needed facelift (the blog, not the blogger!).  If you logged on and found things to be looking a bit unusual yesterday, that’s because I am in no way code or computer savvy, and more times than I intended, I majorly screwed things up.  At one point, DotS had a giant picture of a camel in the header up top.  I am not joking. Continue reading

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