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Bump on a Blog: Birth Sounds

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Not sure how to illustrate this story. So here's a gratuitous baby photo of me, with my grandmother and mum.
  • Not sure how to illustrate this story. So here's a gratuitous baby photo of me, with my grandmother and mum.
I'd never heard a scream like that. 

I was standing in the hallway of the Fletcher Allen labor-and-delivery floor with nurse manager Mary Clairmont, who was giving me a tour of the facilities. We had just poked our heads into the kitchenette — which, I was delighted to learn, includes a freezer stocked with popsicles — when we heard the scream peal out from the room next door. I froze.

Over the last two weeks, I've visited six hospital birth centers — in Middlebury, Burlington, St. Albans, Randolph, Berlin and Morrisville. I'm working on a survey of hospitals in the Kids VT circulation area for our May maternity issue. I wanted to see what makes each place unique. 



But the Fletcher Allen tour was more personal. I plan to give birth there, and this was the first I'd seen of the place. I tried to imagine myself waddling in next month, checking into the storied Room 4 and climbing into the big birthing tub. I imagined my husband walking the hallways with me (18 times around makes a mile) and stopping to slow dance (just like our doulas taught us) in the labor lounge, which has some of the best views of Lake Champlain in Burlington. 
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It was all very pleasant — and surprisingly quiet for a hospital that delivers about 50 babies a week.

And then we got to the kitchenette. The door to the adjacent room was cracked open. But we would have heard this screaming regardless. It was blood-curdling, finger-curling, hair-raising. Here was a woman in total agony. She screamed again.

I was surprised how much it upset me. I'm under no illusions that childbirth will be easy. I intend to try for an unmedicated birth. I want to feel everything, no matter how painful. But it's one thing to imagine physical pain; it's quite another to listen to a woman working through it. 

Clairmont, who has worked on the hospital's labor-and-delivery floor for more than 20 years, must have noticed my body tense. She asked if I was OK, and when I assured her I'd be fine, she nodded knowingly toward the screams. "Someone's about to have a baby," she whispered. 

We stood there in the hall for about five more minutes. Clairmont tried to distract me, pointing out perks of the kitchenette. And then we heard something new, a baby crying. 

There's just no other way to say this: It sounded like a miracle. 

Megan James is the managing editor of Kids VT. She'll be blogging about her pregnancy until the baby arrives — hopefully in early May.  

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.