I love reading birth stories.
Whenever my friends have babies I look forward to hearing all about it. Some people think it’s weird – too many details, too personal, TMI, etc. etc. But to me, the more details the better!
And without fail, I cry during every single story. I feel like I’ve been able to be apart of one of the most special, sacred days when I read about each miracle.
They became even more special to me after I learned I would never be able to have a “normal” birth story myself.
This birth was, amazingly, a scheduled c-section.
A week and a half ago Dr. Chow came into my room one morning and informed me we had a date.
My c-section had been scheduled. It was to be the following Monday (Feb. 24).
Dr. Chow was going out of town all last week to a seminar, and he told me he would be back Monday for my c-section, and to not cheat on him by going into labor too soon. He told me about the power of my mind, and firmly believed that I could stay pregnant until he got back if I wanted to.
Well, we did it! Despite no water and many contractions, Calvin was still inside of me on Monday morning when Dr. Chow came back.
The day started at little before 6 am when the night nurse came in for one more set of vitals before she went home. I got up, took a long hot shower, and started getting ready for my date.
A little after 7 am Dr. Chow came in. Nate told him I was in the bathroom getting ready for my date.
I came out and Dr. Chow gave me a big hug and told me we were still on for 10 am.
Only a few more hours of this:
I had Nate take a few more pictures of me pregnant.
Then he sneaked into my hospital bed and we snuggled and talked about our feelings and how our lives were about to change.
Nate started getting really anxious and kept pacing around the room.
I started getting really, really nervous.
The day nurses kept coming in and getting us ready.
I got an IV, took some meds, got really hungry, got really sick, almost threw up from nerves, stomach pains, and the gross meds.
10:00 came and we started my fluids. Nate got dressed for the surgery:
A little after 10 my nurse Tamara came in with the anesthesiologist Rachel to take me back.
Nate had to go to the waiting room until they were ready for him.
I walked into the large OR and sat on the operating table.
I think I was more nervous for the spinal than anything else so far. At least I knew with the fetal surgery I would be asleep, and with my epidural I had versed before it, so I didn’t feel a thing.
Rachel did a good job distracting me and pretty soon I couldn’t feel my legs. Tamara threw a foley in and I looked down and was surprised to see my knees up. I really couldn’t feel them at all!
As soon as the spinal went in, Tamara’s phone alarmed.
Now, for the past 2 weeks that we were inpatient, we were quite literally the ONLY patients on the floor probably 50% of the time.
Last night another girl was admitted and they had started her induction.
Her water broke minutes before my spinal.
And just as we were SUPPOSED to begin my c-section she started pushing.
I started to get a little nervous because the spinal is only good for 2 hours, and the c-section takes about an hour.
Luckily her labor didn’t last long, and within half an hour the Dr.s came to the OR.
I kept asking, “when does Nate get to come back?” and everyone kept saying “soon”.
I still don’t understand why he couldn’t be there the whole time.
The Dr.s started getting set up and I was draped.
FINALLY Nate came in – I think they had already started cutting by the time he arrived.
Nate was there for maybe 2 minutes (barely long enough to snap a picture of me) before they told him to stand up and look over the drape because HERE COMES THE BABY!
Nate looked super nervous as he stood up and started narrating to me in a very shaky voice what was happening.
“I see his head”
“Here he is! He’s beautiful!”
I didn’t really know what to think or how to feel.
All I knew was my stomach felt super weird as they pushed and pulled.
And then I heard a little tiny cry and a few seconds later a woman came over with a baby.
My whole pregnancy I would joke with Nate, “what would you do if our baby came out black?”
We joked about it a bunch.
Well, the first thing I thought when I saw that baby was, “oh crap, he looks black!”
I know, not very motherly or poetic.
He had curly black hair and dark skin.
(Later I realized he was actually blue-ish, not black.)
I also thought he looked big.
Those were the only things I had time to think.
I didn’t even have time to think “why isn’t that baby making any noises?” before the woman said “OK, we are going to take him to the other room and just do some NRP”.
She probably didn’t realize that I knew what NRP meant – neonatal resuscitation, or basically baby CPR.
Nate went with her, and that was the last I heard about the baby for about an hour.
Dr. Chow and Dr. Behrent were far more concerned with my insides than with my baby.
They pulled out my uterus and checked the scar from the fetal surgery. They said it looked really good, and I felt proud. They told me they were cutting off the omentum that they had sewn to my uterus to help it heal. They had Tamara go grab Nate’s phone so they could take a picture of my uterus to show Nate and me later. I’ll spare you that picture, it’s pretty graphic :-). But they were excited.
Then they told me I was going to feel some pressure. Rachel (the anesthesiologist) told me it would feel like a toddler jumping on my chest. It got really uncomfortable and Rachel started talking to me about her life. It was a welcome distraction.
Then they told me they were stitching me up. My mind was pretty fuzzy and I couldn’t really think. I didn’t know what was going on with Nate and the baby, I was cold and uncomfortable, there was too much pulling and pushing, there was too much going on.
Finally they were done, and Dr. Chow put the derma bond on my scar, like I had requested.
(I was convinced the derma bond was the secret ingredient to my great looking fetal surgery scar!)
Tamara brought a gurney over and her and Rachel helped get me from the operating table to the gurney.
Someone came in and said something about the NICU, and someone else said something about Nate passing out and needing juice. Then they were gone.
As I wheeled down the hall back to my room I saw Nate walking toward me.
I panicked, because the plan was for him to stay with Calvin in the NICU. I asked him what he was doing, and why he wasn’t in the NICU. He told me he’d been there for 45 minutes, and he’d come back quick to update me and show me pictures.
(If you look closely at his right foot you can see that it’s pressed up against his shin. This, along with the Dr. needing to suction fluid out of Calvin’s lungs, his pulse ox reading in the 40s, and not having eaten in a long time caused Nate to ALMOST pass out. He went and sat down and the nurses made him drink some juice and wouldn’t let him follow Calvin to the NICU until he was looking a little less green.)
4 lbs 6 ounces – I thought that was pretty big!
First picture as a dad.
He said Calvin was restrained.
I was horrified, imagining my tiny baby in restraints!
Nate was pretty proud. They even had to restrain his LEGS!
That was probably the best news of the day.
(They restrained his legs with a diaper.)
After 2 hours I was finally allowed to wheel over to the NICU in my gurney to see my baby.
When we got there we had to wait for another 30 minutes in the hallway while they attempted to place his foley.
They wheeled me right up and I had my first good look at my baby.
I was relieved to see that he had turned pink, and no longer looked black.
He had cpap, a feeding tube, a temperature probe, EKG leads and a pulse ox, an IV in his right hand with a board, and a central line and art line going into his umbilical vein and artery. He was blowing bubbles around the tube, and it looked like he didn’t like it at all.
First family picture.
His eyes were open and I thought he looked sad and tired.
The nurse asked if I wanted to hold him. I was surprised that they would let me, but quickly said yes.
I’ve read that the first few minutes after a baby is born are the most important for bonding. I was pretty bummed and thought we would miss that bonding time.
The first few hours after my baby was born were weird. I didn’t really feel that instant love that everyone talks about. I didn’t feel like a mother, either. All I knew was the little person inside of me was now outside of me. And he was gone and I couldn’t see him or hear him.
And I didn’t know what to think or how to feel.
But then I got to hold him, and he opened his eyes, and looked right at me.
For several minutes, we just stared at each other.
And my heart broke for all that he had already had to go through, and all that was ahead.
Seeing the mask on his face and all the tubes and drains, it hurt.
I wanted him to be inside still, in his warm, quiet, comfortable, safe home.
I wanted him to be able to avoid this harsh reality a little longer.
But I loved seeing his eyes, and watching him look at me.
I hoped he knew I was sorry.
I hoped he felt loved. And safe.
My mind was fuzzy and I started to get whoozy.
I was only allowed to stay with him for 2 hours before I had to go back to my room.
Nate came with me and we stayed for a few hours until the night shift nurses came and we were allowed to go back to the NICU.
When we got back, Calvin was already off cpap! Not only that, he was on ROOM AIR.
We were so proud of our little guy!
Nate got to hold him for the first time.
We spent a few hours alone with our little man.
We were tired and happy.
We watched him wiggle his toes, we watched him breath on his own, and so many simple things that others take for granted were miracles for us.
We stayed as long as my nurses let us and then wheeled back to our room.
It was the first time I cried leaving my baby.
I stayed on my gurney and Nate climbed into my hospital bed, and we pushed them close to each other.
After months of worrying – of hospital stays, surgery, bed rest, contractions, bad news, good news, no news… after all that came with this pregnancy, it was over.
Our baby was here, and he was perfect to us.
We talked about our little miracle until we passed out with exhaustion.