Chicagoans is a first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford. This week’s Chicagoans are Annie Gomberg and Jason Rothstein, new parents.
Jason: So on a Thursday about a month before Annie’s due date, her doctor sent her to triage, where they hooked her up to all these machines and monitored her vitals. They monitored her for several hours and sent her home. That Saturday we got our car seat installed, thank God. Then on Monday, they again sent her to triage.
Annie: Around 5 PM, the doctor came in and said, “We’re going to induce you.” So I got admitted that evening. The next day, I had an epidural around two o’clock, and that was awesome. It’s like how your jaw feels at the dentist, but in your legs and your lower back and your butt and pelvis.
Jason: A resident comes in to examine Annie about four o’clock and finds that she’s only about 5.5 centimeters dilated. At this point, I say, “About 5:30, I’m going to go get a bite to eat.” Annie says, “That’s fine.” At 5:25, she gets this look on her face and she grabs my arm and says, “Something has changed.”
Annie: What had changed is, I felt the baby twist in my pelvis. I felt his head just sort of drop into place. There was something there, and what I wanted to do was get it out.
Jason: We get someone’s attention, and a few minutes later this woman walks in. It was one of those situations where you think, “I’m going to do whatever this person says, and things are going to be OK.” It was the nurse who was going to be helping us. The doctor followed. They have me hold one of Annie’s legs, and they say, “We’re gonna do a test push.”
Annie: “We?” “We” did a test push?
Jason: Annie did a test push. At this point, I’m thinking, “I’m sure someone is going to whisk me away to scrub up and put on a gown or some other responsible, sanitary thing.” But no. So I take it upon myself to wash my hands, ’cause I’m fastidious that way, and Annie pushes, and then Jascha was born, at 6:10.
Annie: Somehow I had the presence of mind to ask for a mirror, and it really is like watching any other mammal give birth. I got to hold Jascha, and I think I said, “I’m your mother.”
Jason: The pediatric team is prodding and poking him, and Annie is getting upset. We had been told the odds were about 50/50 that he would need special care, because he was premature. Annie says, “Go find out what’s happening.” I go over there and say, “How’s it going?” and they start reeling off this incredible level of detail. Finally I say, “No, no, I just want to know: Is he staying with us or going to intensive care?” They look at me like I’m an idiot, and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, he’s perfectly fine.”
Annie: That first night home, we slept in shifts. I remember thinking, “How are we gonna get through this?” But of course we are. Jascha is actually a very mellow, laid-back kid.
Jason: We have gotten some pushback on his name. Some of it was based on the notion that people won’t know how to pronounce it. I recognize that this will sound crazy, but I look at this baby, and I find it impossible to imagine a situation in which someone wouldn’t know who Jascha is. Everyone’s always going to know who Jascha is.