Carina Rossner: Birth amid Chaos


On Sept. 11 we were 10 months pregnant (official due date had been the 10th) with our second child and trying to convince each other of our choices for his name.

Our neighbor knocked frantically at our door in her pajamas to let us know that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. She knew that we did not have a TV and didn't listen to the news in front of our toddler and wanted to make sure that we knew what was happening. We then tried to watch on the Internet and make sense of what was going on. My brother worked on Wall Street, so we desperately tried to call him to make sure he was OK, then called my family in D.C.

My mother was supposed to fly out on Wednesday to take care of our daughter while I had the baby. Of course, she couldn't get here as there were no planes flying that week. She actually got the first flight that left the D.C. area, but it was not until Friday morning. She was terrified to fly and almost didn't come, more than half-convinced that terrorists would be taking over more planes.

In the meanwhile, I had been eager to have the baby and was worrying a bunch. He wasn't moving much, and I was getting paranoid. When I talked to the O.B., however, he told me to keep my legs crossed because Lucile Packard was in chaos -- they had had a bomb scare, and he had had to deliver babies in the parking lot. By Friday, however, I was going to see the O.B. no matter what. I went in to my appointment in his office, and he again tried to convince me to wait until Monday because of all the chaos at the hospital.

I asked what the possible downside of waiting might be, and he impatiently told me that I would only have trouble if I was low on amniotic fluid.

"How would we know if I was?" I asked.

"We would have to do an ultrasound," he replied, ready to move on to the next crisis.

"Then shouldn't we do an ultrasound?" I insisted. Mainly to shut me up, he wheeled the machine into the room and got to work. Minutes later, he rushed from the room and said he was calling for the next available O.R., didn't have time to explain, and for me to get to the hospital ASAP. Turns out I was almost completely out of amniotic fluid, which is why I hadn't been feeling much motion, and had I waited even just a couple of hours more, my son would have died.

My son was born that morning and blew a hole in his lung with his first breath (pneumothorax) probably because he had been so low on the amniotic fluid he used to practice breathing. It healed in a couple of days, and he came home with me the next week.

Thank goodness that I was so insistent. With all of the chaos around Sept. 11, it would have been easy to hunker down and wait. We are all glad that I didn't! Life prevailed.

Carina Rossner

Webster Street

Palo Alto

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