I felt a strange sense of relief when I knew the c-section was happening in the morning. I was sad that Activist Genius wouldn’t be there, but I knew the sooner we delivered the sooner we would all be at home, just our little family to bond and snuggle and kiss baby cheeks.
An interesting fact I left out in the previous post… We could see the monitoring strips of all the other patients in labor and delivery on the screen in our room. I didn’t realize that’s what was on the screen at first, but someone pointed it out to me later. So, we are in labor and delivery and there are at least 6 other folks on the screen. I was the only one with contractions for the majority of the time, and even when other folks started having them, mine were the most frequent and the most intense. I could only wonder what they were all doing there. I certainly wasn’t supposed to be having a baby yet and wasn’t in active labor. They checked me twice and I was only 1 cm and 50% effaced both times. Weird right?
Anwways, I hardly slept at all that night. Between the awful labor and delivery bed (not designed for sleeping), the contractions, the hospital gown, fear of bleeding, and the nervousness/excitement, I tossed and turned all night. Dr. awesome speculum came in at about 7:00 am to get me ready for the surgery, which was supposed to happen at 8:30. A couple different anesthesiologists came to talk to me about the spinal and answer my questions. One of my biggest fears was that the spinal wouldn’t work and I’d be able to feel the surgery. They kind of calmed my fears but I didn’t fully believe it was all ok until the surgery started and I didn’t feel it.
The nurse had Wifey clean my belly off and give me a shave. There is so much romance and intimacy involved in pregnancy and birth 😉 I certainly couldn’t have done it myself and I’m glad Wifey did it instead of the nurse. Wifey realized that what she actually did was just smeared the goo they use for the ultrasound/monitoring all over me so we had to re-wash my belly.
We realized, in our rush back to the hospital, that we didn’t bring our camera. Yay for the smart phone era. I had recently dropped my phone for the 100th time and broke it for good and my replacement was just not getting the job done. Wifey had hers though and it was charged up and ready to go. Wifey called my parents, who called my sisters. My mom was way too excited to meet the baby to be worried about me at all. My dad had been, and still was, a silent nervous wreak and was terrified.
Then, they came to get me and wheeled me off to the operating room. It was smaller than I imagined and kind of disorganized and old looking. I saw all the instruments laid out and quickly decided it would be better for my mental state if I didn’t look at them. It was cold, but not as cold as I had expected. The nurse started getting things ready for the Dr.’s. The anesthesiologists were getting their equipment ready and then they got me ready for the spinal. They gave me some warm blankets, which were quite nice. They put some numbing stuff in my back and then had me bend over for the spinal. We were at a teaching hospital, one of the best int he country, but it was a little unnerving to hear the attending explain to the resident what to do, especially given my fear mentioned above. It didn’t hurt at all and I quickly felt my body go numb starting with my feet and continuing upwards. It felt so weird. I can’t even describe it.
Wifey was waiting back in the labor and delivery room. Apparently Dr. K had been told that the surgery was at 9:30 and there was a lot of chaos trying to find her and get her ready. They also couldn’t find a mirror and were running around trying to sort that out. They only had a tiny hand-held mirror and Dr. K was saying something like “is this really the only mirror we have, we need to come up with a better set up than this”.
Back in the O.R. they started testing to see if the spinal worked. They poked me with a needle in my chest (which I could obviously feel), my stomach, my side (which I could also feel) cue panic. They lowered my head to get the medicine moving more quickly and then checked again a couple of minutes later and I couldn’t feel it. I was still not convinced though. I was also terrified of puking my guts out during and after the surgery, because that’s what happened to my sister for both of her c-sections, and I let the anesthesiologist know about this fear as well. He told me to let him know if I started to feel the least bit queasy. At this point I was feeling nervous, but not scared, it was all happening so fast and felt surreal.
The Dr.’s started showing up and then someone mentioned they still needed to go get Wifey, thank goodness. They covered me with a giant plastic sticker and I’m not sure what was really going on but Dr. C was jostling my body around and it felt like I was on some kind of roller coaster. Wifey finally came in and sat down by my head. Dr. K was up by my head as well with the tiny little mirror. They played around with the mirror for a bit to try to figure out the best angle so that I could watch the baby come out. This might seem weird/gross/silly, but being I wanted to birth my baby and since I couldn’t do that I wanted to be as active as a participant as I could. I didn’t just want them to whisk him around a curtain and tell me he was mine, I wanted to watch him enter the outside world. The mirror wasn’t working too well, but eventually it seemed like it might work out. I tried not worry and/or be too disappointed about it. Initially I asked if they could just lower the drape but that was a no go. Maybe in a few years that will be an option for women.
They let me know they were just waiting for the pediatric team to get there and then they would get started. A couple (maybe 3) people came in and went over by the baby cage/crib and surgery began. I was finally convinced the spinal worked because I couldn’t feel anything. I started feeling a bit sick though and told the anesthesiologist. He gave me something in my I.V. and then I felt fine. Normally I would want to know what they were giving me and in my ideal world I would have, but oh well.
There was more roller coaster rocking. Seriously, I felt like I was being wrestled with and just wasn’t wrestling back. I guess he was pretty jammed in there. I heard them say something about how my muscles were strong. They started trying to get his head out and kept saying how big he was. He was only 36 weeks and 6 days, so they were expecting a smaller baby perhaps. They said they had to make the incision bigger to get him out. It felt like it was taking forever, but it was probably really only a couple of minutes. Dr. C was practically on top of me trying to get his head out. Finally, they got his head and out got the mirror ready for me to see. Wifey was trying to take pictures and then a nurse offered to take them from her side. They are pretty awesome I have to say and I’m glad to have them to accompany my memory which is a little fuzzy from the meds. The mirror didn’t give me the best vie,w but I did get to partially watch my son come out of my belly. It was crazy, amazing, exciting, bizarre and beautiful. They brought him around for us to see for a second and then took him over to the pediatric team. They told Wifey she could go over with him and she did after I told her I was okay. They only looked at him for a minute or maybe two at the most and brought him over for skin to skin. They put him on my chest and I couldn’t believe how tiny he was and bald! I was sure he would have been born with a full head of dark hair like I had. He was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen and looked just like his ultrasound photos.
He didn’t try to breastfeed but he loved just lying on my chest. They finished the surgery and then wheeled us back to our labor and delivery room. We tried to get breastfeeding started, but he was too tired and unfortunately I was kind of out of it as well. It was also a pretty big fear/worry of mine that since he was early and came by c-section, breastfeeding would be hard if not impossible. They kept taking his temperature and said he was too cold and wanted to take him to the nursery. Wifey protested, but eventually we let them take him and of course she stayed with him the whole time. They were gone for about an hour and I drifted in and out of sleep during that time. The spinal started wearing off very slowly and the nurse kept assaulting/checking my uterus. It was the worst pain I think I’ve ever experienced. Every 15 minutes she pushed/massaged my uterus with what felt like was all of her strength. Yes, where I had just been cut open. OUCH! That went on for hours and I almost cried every time.
Finally Wifey and the babe came back and operation breastfeeding started again. He latched on pretty good, but was still so sleepy. We both wish we would have better advocated for him to stay with me, skin to skin would have warmed him up faster anyways. They really just wanted to weigh him and try to vaccinate him and give him eye goop. Then, Wifey called folks and let them know baby and I were safe and we’d call back later when we were ready for visitors. Originally, I didn’t want people to come visit at the hospital, but then I felt bad and decided it was okay.
It was finally time to move over to the postpartum wing. This was also one of the most painful experiences. I had morphine hooked up at this point and used it as often as I could. They gave me ice chips and then juice and crackers a while later. When those stayed down I was upgraded to the oral pain meds, which worked a lot better. We spent the rest of the day resting and snuggling and breastfeeding.
Getting the cathater out was pretty comical. As I menioned in the previous post, I had the best nurses because of my sister. That night (I don’t remember the time, but it seems like it was around 9:00 pm) they came and took out the cathater, which didn’t hurt at all. They helped me walk to the bathroom and instructed me to urinate. I sat there and tried and tried. I said maybe I had strage fright, so the nurse and HCA left for a minute. They came back and nothing, so they left again for a couple more minutes. They came back and still nothing so they started giving me tips, which didin’t work. The nurse grabbed the peri bottle and said she’d squirt while I tried, still nothing. They left again with the nicely worded hreat that if I didn’t urinate she’d have to re-cath me, this time without a spinal. Yikes! After a few minutes and lots of peri squirting…SUCCESS! I’ve never felt so proud.
Apparently the nurses were all impressed with me and my strength. I was the talk of the nurses station, with adjectives like “rockstar” being tossed around. I certainly didn’t feel like a rockstar, but I guess I was moving better than most folks after a c-section. It didn’t feel too bad.
I wanted a “natural” birth, the kind women’s bodies have been designed to have for thousands of years. I wanted to be at home with my wife and our amazing midwife; a group of strong women bringing new life into the world together. I didn’t view pregnancy and birth as anything medical, but I ended up with the most medicalized birth possible. It’s not what I wanted, and I am still grieving the loss of the birth I imagined I would have. For the few couple weeks after he was born I cried every time I thought about the birth and everything that led up to it. I still have a hard time talking about it, but it is our birth story. One that I hope to be able to share with out son one day from a place of strength and peace.
His first moments and breaths on the outside (and yes the nurse’s finger is in all the pictures)