I know, I know. I didn’t have some exciting VBAC home birth or anything. It was a scheduled C section. But it’s my blog and I can birth story if I want to. I’m such a sucker for a good birth story (the longer, the better), so I won’t deny myself the joy of writing this all down. So without further ado, I give you
I usually have to schedule my C sections several months in advance since most babies are due from August through October apparently and my first two were born in September and October. My OB says that the Holidays must be a romantic time for a lot of people. With Rhea, I totally forgot to schedule my C until last minute. I expected that meant I would have a 12:30 pm or later C section time (which sucks because you can’t eat for at least 8 hours before; therefore, ravenous Sylvia on the operating table is no bueno), but May must be a lazy month for deliveries because I was able to get the very first slot at 7:30 am.
You have to arrive at the hospital two hours before your scheduled C section time to get your IV in and have at least on hour’s worth of fluids in you. That put our arrival time at 5:30 am and our wake up time at 4:30 am, so we dropped the girls off at my mom and dad’s house the night before. My mom could tell I was ridiculously nervous, so we all watched “Galaxy Quest” together before Scott and I left to catch a few hours’ sleep. I love that movie, but it didn’t really help assuage my anxiety. I only had about two hours of sleep that night, and yet 4:30 am came quickly. We got dressed, gathered our belongings in the dark, and drove to the hospital in my mom’s car since we left the van with mom and dad and Scott’s battery had just died in his car (of course). I remember thinking on the way there that even after three babies, it is still strange to think that there was a person in there under that bump this whole time. I can’t help but marvel at the time when you see the face behind the bump.
When we arrived at the hospital, it was still dark. We made our way to the maternity ward, and when we told the lady at the front desk we were here for a scheduled C, she greeted me by name. Since I had never met her before, I assumed that we were the only C for our time slot. She buzzed us into the ward, and we made our way through the heavy door, clutching our bags and belongings. The ward was eerily silent. I had never seen it that empty. There were no laboring women pacing the halls, no nurses bustling around, and no husbands wandering about. We were escorted to an empty triage area that was separated by curtains. A nurse handed me my hospital gown and socks, gave me a bag for the clothes I was wearing, and I gulped as I realized it was game time.
When I was properly dressed and sitting on the gurney, I was swarmed by nurses trying to put monitors on me and placing my IV. I remarked to them that I had never seen the maternity ward so quiet and empty. They all simultaneously told me in alarm not to say things like that. I had no idea nurses were so superstitious. As far as I know, my casual remark did not lead to a record breaking day of deliveries for that hospital.
A nurse arrived and was surprised that my IV was already in. Apparently there was so little to do in the maternity ward that morning, a bunch of nurses started attending to me of their own accord and the nurse who was actually assigned to me had come too late to put in my IV and check me in. She seemed a little vexed about it. And I soon discovered why. We had told the staff when we checked in that we would be donating our cord blood and placenta, and the nurse assigned to me knew that and knew that she would have to draw some blood from me while placing my IV to facilitate those donations. The nurse who actually placed my IV failed to draw any blood. So my assigned nurse peevishly tried to draw blood from my other arm and was not having any luck. After several failed pricks, she finally gave up and informed me they could just send in my blood from my blood draw scheduled for the next day. I relaxed my death grip on my poor husband’s arm and wholeheartedly agreed with her decision. I had a huge bruise from wrist to elbow for weeks after that.
The nurses were fussing over my baby monitor, which kept losing the baby’s heartbeat, and my blood pressure, which was pretty high. They kept asking me if I had had high blood pressure the whole pregnancy, which was a resounding no. My blood pressure had been perfect the whole time. Then, they asked me if I was nervous, which was a resounding yes. I don’t think I have ever been more anxious in my life. And that includes sitting for the Bar. I kept asking Scott to give me one of his heavenly back rubs to alleviate my anxiety, but he must have been really nervous too because the best I could get out of him was a halfhearted, one-handed couple of squeezes on my shoulder. My OB finally came in to check on me like a breath of fresh air. I confessed to her how nervous I was, and she laughed and said, “It’s your fourth! I was hoping you would be telling me what to do!” My husband and I giggled like a pair of antsy hyenas. My OB seemed peppy and ready to go, which was encouraging. It was barely 7 am. She must be a morning person. She said, “see you in the operating room!” and vanished.
The nurse arrived bearing a warm blanket to wrap around my shoulders (“it’s cold in the OR!”) and a shower cap to put over my hair. I said goodbye to Scott and gave him a quick kiss. I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. We walked past all of the curtained partitions in triage. In the last partition, there was a nurse patiently explaining to a crowd of people that only the patient and one guest were allowed in the pre op area. It only seemed to be causing more confusion among them. I padded past them in my shower cap and socks with a nurse holding a blanket around my shoulders, feeling like dead man walking. It makes perfect sense now why my daughters are so maudlin. We walked down the hall and into the OR.
I sat down on the operating table as the anesthesiologist introduced himself. The room was cold, the lights were bright, and there were a lot of people in there chatting lightheartedly and bustling about. It is strange to think that what is one of the most momentous events in my life is just another day at the office for them. My nervous silence juxtaposed with their cheery chatter was jarring to me. Then, I noticed they were asking me something “for the record.” “What are you here for?” someone asked me repeatedly. I was having flashbacks of our baptisms and wedding when the priest expected a certain answer to his ritual query. “To get an epidural?” I finally said, unsure as to whether that was the correct answer. They thanked me and resumed their bustling, so it seemed that that answer would suffice. The anesthesiologist had me sit on the side of the operating table and hunch over a pillow while he placed my epidural and spinal block. Honestly, drawing blood is way more painful than epidural placement to me. It is just a little strange to feel some metallic thing twinging in my back briefly, and I had a little pain in one side before they laid me down.
I felt the numbness trickling in my legs as my OB arrived. She greeted me as they put the curtain up blocking my view of my abdomen. The anesthesiologist was telling me all about his teenage daughter. I made some pitiful attempts to keep up my end of the conversation. I started feeling a slight bit nauseated, so I let the anesthesiologist know immediately. I didn’t want a repeat of the embarrassing episode where I vomited all over the anesthesiologist during Wren’s delivery. He thanked me for letting him know, adjusted God knows what, and I started feeling better immediately. My OB kept asking where another OB in the practice was, and kept receiving assurances that she was on her way. I tried not to be disconcerted by that, and sheepishly inquired after my husband. In answer to my question, he was ushered in and sat down by my side wearing his mask and full operating room regalia. I started feeling nauseated again and let the anesthesiologist know. “Yes, I figured you were,” he said, “your blood pressure dropped again!” He seemed intrigued by the connection between my nausea and blood pressure. I was just glad he could provide the relief. He took some sort of device behind the curtain and asked me to let him know when I could feel the cold air. I did so, he seemed pleased, and gave my OB the go ahead. She inquired after the other OB again and was again assured that she was en route. I asked Scott to hold my hand as the C section began.
“We’re about to have another baby!” Scott whispered to me excitedly. I was unable to find my voice, so I merely nodded. I waited to hear that cry, the cry of a baby angrily leaving her warm comfy environment. The other OB finally arrived and peeked over the curtain to tell me hello before she went to work assisting my OB. Scott chatted animatedly with the anesthesiologist about his teenage daughter, giving me a welcome break from pretending to converse. I tried not to think about the fact that they were cutting me open. “Here she comes!” my OB finally announced. I felt a lot of pulling and pushing in my lower half, and then a sudden emptying sensation in my torso. And at last, I heard that marvelous cry. “She’s cute!” my OB remarked (she always says that, I’m suspecting to all of her patients) and held her aloft over the curtain. Scott abruptly let go of my hand and strained to see her. “She’s beautiful!” he exclaimed and gave me a kiss. I waited patiently for them to wipe her off, weigh and measure her, and swaddle her up so that they could bring her to us. They placed her in Scott’s arms and I finally got to see her sweet face. She was perfect. I could feel the anxiety completely melt away. The anesthesiologist insisted on taking our first picture with our newest addition.
Scott handed her back to the nurse, who placed her in her rolling bassinet to take her off for her first bath as my OB asked me what her name was. I told her, “Rhea.” Scott followed his littlest baby girl out. He never leaves our babies’ sides on the day they are born. It usually takes a long while for me to be put back together and stitched back up, and I could use the rest, so I asked the anesthesiologist to knock me out while they worked. He said, “Ok” and added the meds to my IV. As I felt myself floating away, I heard him say, “I’m not sure if this medicine is safe for nursing mothers, so you might need to pump and dump for a while.”
And then I lost consciousness.