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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Birth Story

Scene: August 27th 2015, interior, day
Woman sits in doctors waiting room, pregnant, three tests lined up for her. 

I really just did not want to go to the doctor's office that day. But at the same time I was curious about what had happened the night before. I practiced in my head the whole drive there "Hey doc, I think my mucas plug fell out".  I was seeing one of the dude doctors too, not my favorite doc (the only woman doc in the office was my favorite, her schedule fills up super fast because she's so popular). I had three, yes THREE, tests lined up for this appointment. One was a sonogram, one was a non-stress test, and the other was a weight and size scan to gauge the size of this baby boy. The sonogram and the scan were first. The staff requested that I go in with a full bladder. Don't they realize I'm nine fucking months pregnant? Are they fucking serious???  At this stage in my pregnancy, the f-word was used A LOT in my inner monologues. Sometimes a lot in the outer monologues too. 

The sonogram was actually kinda fun, I was able to see him again.... Sorta. His head was facing downwards and his face was smooshed up against my uterus, so his sonogram picture came out interesting looking. His face was so big and poofy... He looked like one of those swollen bodies you see on CSI. Well, I guess he has spent the last nine months in liquid, so it makes sense that he looks like that. But they were able to give me an approximate weight for this bowling ball I was hefting around. He was eight pounds, four ounces. Holy crap, that's a big kid. And each day he's in there he gets bigger!?!?! They measured the amnioc fluid and took a few other measurements and the scan was done. 

Afterwards, it was time to talk to the doc.  I got dressed and waited in the little room. But the doctor came in with another doctor. Uh-oh is this the tag team for delivering bad news? We we introduced, her first name was Rebecca. Dr. Rebecca and Dr. Man both agreed that the sonogram did not yield good results.  He basically told me if the sonogram were a test, I failed. The baby is no longer rigid and tight, his limbs look limp. There's no amniotic fluid left, somehow, somewhere, my water broke and I didn't notice. So THAT'S what that was last night! I told the doc what happened the night before and he said, "Okay, this baby is coming out today, and I don't even want to put you on hormones to push him out because it would cause distress to the fetus. We'll have to do a C-section tonight around 6" Dr. Rebecca stood next to him nodding while looking over my file. "Yes, I agree"  Dr. Man continued... "You're going to leave here and go right to the hospital, tell them that I sent you, they'll be expecting you. They'll get you all set up and you'll have your baby tonight."

Tonight? Did he really just say that? After weeks of trying to entice the baby to come out, I was finally going to be able to hold him in my arms. I almost couldn't believe it.  Nah I'm not having a baby, I'll just be pregnant forever thank you very much. If I have this baby EVERYTHING is going to be different.  Yes, it took me nine months to properly realize that. I mean I knew, yeah, my life is gonna change, I'm gonna have a little baby, blah blah blah. But I don't think I really REALLY realized it until I heard the words "you're having this baby tonight".  The doc gave  me a slip of paper to hand the receptionist at the end if the appointment, standard procedure at their office. The paper usually has instructions for the next appointment. My face was either pale white or bright red, I don't know I couldn't see it, but I can tell it was some kind if extreme. I mean... I was just told I'm having a baby. Today. I'm having a baby today. Whew. The receptionist looked at the paper and was SO excited for me. I don't know what it said on it, but I think it said something like "Go to Hospital to have baby. Right now leave. Go directly to hospital. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200" 

I couldn't even drink water. 

From the car I made the necessary phone calls to all my family members. I was really just repeating the words from the doctors, I don't think I really believed it. It just felt like going to the hospital was another thing I had to do, like going to the grocery store. Nothing was going to change because of it, I was still going to be pregnant. Honestly I was terrified of a c-section. Not so much of the surgery itself (which is pretty fucking scary when you read about it), but the recovery scared me more than anything. Six weeks of lifting nothing heavier than your baby, few weeks of not driving, I read that your first bowel movement afterwards is awful. And did you know that this major surgery is a major surgery in which you are AWAKE!?!?  I wasn't scared that I'd feel anything, but the thought of being awake scared me. If something went wrong, I'd hear the alarms going off, I'd hear the doctors rushing in to stop the code blue (or whatever) from happening. You're strapped down to a table so you couldn't move if you wanted to, which I guess is a good thing. But like... What if there's a fire!? Not that I could get up and walk out with my organs hanging out, but these are the crazy thoughts that go through my head. I know more women who have had a section than have had natural births, and they're all fine. But they're not me. The doctors perform this surgery tons of times all over the world, but not on me. I was terrified, and it didn't even sink in yet, I was still thinking I could have a natural birth. Somehow. Anything is possible, I guess. 

This was not how this was supposed to happen. I was supposed to be driven to the hospital by my husband in the middle of the night or early morning, I was supposed to tell him to drive slower while holding back my painful grunts from the contractions. I was supposed to FEEL my baby coming. Not be TOLD it was so. This was not at all how I pictured it. 

I parked my car myself, walked into the hospital, asked where the maternity ward was and pointed to my giant belly. The hospital receptionist was surprised, "Oh, congrats? Here's your visitor badge I guess" hmm, so this happens often I see. When I got to the maternity ward the nurses were chatting at the nurses station, I walked up to them and said, "Hi, I'm here to have a baby?"  They threw up their arms in excitement, took my bag and took me to a room. I had to explain everything to them that happened, because contrary to what my doctor said they weren't expecting  me. To be fair, I drove right there from the docs office, it was barely ten minutes away so they may not have gotten the orders yet. 

Holy crap does it take forever to be fully checked in to a hospital. It must've taken three hours of them asking me questions, me filling out forms and giving them my insurance card, answering my own phone calls from family members, getting text messages from my friends... it was a busy few hours. They gave me a wonderfully attractive hospital gown to wear. I asked if I could wear my glasses during the surgery. I hate being blind for hair cuts, much less for belly cuts. My husband was driving up from Manhattan to be there with me, and my sister and mother-in-law were on their way too, so I didn't have to be alone.

After the check in was done they had to set me up to a machine to monitor the baby's heartbeat.  Oh and if I moved they had to set it up again. Getting comfortable at 9 (really 10) months pregnant is nearly impossible.  I was most comfortable sitting at a perfect 90° angle and the bed didn't bend that high. So I dealt with it the best I could and watched the printer  that drew his heartbeat go crazy when he moved or kicked. It was cool, but annoying at the same time. The machine confirmed, no contractions. This isn't how this was supposed to go. 

I didn't do a lot of research when it came to c-sections. I should have. There were a lot of things that I just did not expect. For example, when you go in for a C-section, they have to shave you. That's right, shave you, down there. I had to literally hold my baby belly up while a complete stranger got up close and personal with a very intimate part of my body. I guess it's better than shitting on the table while you push if you have a vaginal delivery. Another thing I did not expect or read up on was the way the epidural worked. I thought it was a shot (duh) way in the bottom of your spine, near your butt, and I thought it worked right away. I was terrified of this because of the horror stories (luckily outdated stories) of a person who moved a teeny bit and ended up paralyzed from the waist down. 

When the anesthesiologist came in to meet with me I was crazy nervous. I didn't want to look at the tools on his tray, I didn't want to see anything he wanted to show me. Couldn't they just knock me out entirely? Do I really have to be awake for this? I was worried my lower back tattoo was going to block what he needed to see, I was worried I was going to sneeze or something and end up paralyzed. He told me to arch my back like an angry cat and stay completely still for two minutes. The nurse gave me a stool to help stabilize my legs while i was in position.  I was so nervous about the "stay completely still for two minutes" part. Two whole minutes? Do they know how long that is? Can I breathe?  Is my breathing making me move too much? What if my nose itches? 

I'm not too proud to admit that I whimpered, yes whimpered, the whole time. The nurse held my legs and stroked my head, "You're doing great, not much longer" she assured me. When he was finally done, I looked at his tray. Oh my god the blood. There was so much blood on his tray. Holy fuck I'm glad I didn't look before. He told me my tattoo was fine, said it wasn't in the way. In fact, the needle was put in more of the middle of my back, like an inch below where my bra strap would be. He was gathering his things to leave when I stopped him,  "Wait! I can still move my legs! Somethings wrong, it wasn't strong enough!" 

But no that's not how it works, Becca. The anesthesiologist assured me that I would be numb by the time my surgery started. "Ohhhkayyy..... if you say so". I guess that's why they wanted me at the hospital so long before the surgery itself. 

I was in complete denial that I was having this baby that night. Even after my husband got to the hospital and put on his "dad scrubs" to be in the operating room with me... after getting prepared by all the nurses for what was ahead.... after meeting with the doctors when they were in their surgical scrubs.... it still didn't feel like it was happening. There was still a chance in my mind that I could have a vaginal delivery. I could still dilate before 6 pm. I could still have the delivery I wanted. 

When they transferred me to a portable cot to wheel me into the operating room, I honestly couldn't move my legs. Well, there's one relief. As I was getting wheeled in, I stared at the lights pass by straight up overhead, and I started to sob. There's no denying this anymore, this was really happening. The nurse asked me if I was okay and I was crying so much I don't think she understood my answer. But she said "I know, I get it." And held my hand. 

When Dan was allowed in, I didn't look at anyone else. I stared at him the entire time, and tried talking to him about whatever entered my mind because I did not want to think about the crazyness going on below. There was one moment of brief silence and I heard one of the doctors say something like "Okay. Hand me the bladder"  MY BLADDER?!? What the hell... Keep talking to me Dan. About anything. Tell me the alphabet for fucks sake. Just say words. 

I had mentioned to my husband that my head kind of hurt, but I didn't think too much of it.  I mean what's a little headache when your abdomen is sliced open? Almost right after that everything felt kind of.... awesome. Awesome and far away. I felt light, but not necessarily in a good way. For a moment I thought I was dying. My vision blurred, I couldn't focus on anything. I stared off at the ceiling and forgot where I was. It wasn't scary at the time, but when I told my husband about it later I was freaked out. He assured me that everything was fine, he remembered that part, it was when the anesthesiologist added morphine to my system. Probably because he heard me say my head hurt, or maybe the timing was a coincidence. I'm not sure. But it wasn't because I was almost dead, thankfully. 

When they took the baby out, I felt an immediate difference. Holy cow, I can breathe again! Wow is that what a deep breath feels like? Its been so long! IN ahhhhh and OUT aaaaaahhhhhh. Once I heard Leo cry I felt even more relief. It's over. He's out. He's crying, he's okay. His cry sounded different from other babies. More hollow and throaty, I can't really explain it, but it was a unique cry to my baby. I saw him briefly wrapped up so little and tight, all I saw was his smooshy face. The same smooshy face I had seen in the sonogram hours before. Then Leo and my husband went to the nursery while I got stitched up.  Maybe because all the excitement was over, maybe because there was nobody to talk to, maybe because of the extra drugs I got... but I took a snooze while they stitched me up. And I think I slept with a smile on my face. 

Everyone was excited to meet the newest member of our family, of course. That night I gave my husband permission to go home to sleep in our own bed rather than spend the night with me in the hospital. The nurses convinced me to let Leo sleep in the nursery and they'd bring him to me for feeding if necessary. What a great decision. I slept like crap anyway, I could only imagine the lack of sleep with a brand new baby to worry about feet away from me. At one point in the night, during one of my few moments of sleep, I heard that throaty hollow cry all the way from the nursery and it woke me up. I was just about to buzz the nurses to see if Leo needed me when one of them wheeled him into my room for his feeding. I felt so proud that I recognized his cry my first night as a mom. 

I'm a mom. 

And I already felt like I was doing something right.