8 days ago, I was writing a letter to my postpartum self.
Today, I have a 7-day old little girl. Our pink buddha. Our fraggle. I can’t stop inhaling her. I can’t get enough of her little squeaks, her tiny toes. She sneezes and the roof lifts and she farts like a trucker. We are smitten.
So…my little pickle’s birth story…
When you think about a women giving birth, what comes to mind?
Pain? Stirrups? Expletives loudly directed at the daddy?
How about a polite conversation with the anesthetist about local cycling routes while the obstetrician moves your abdominal wall out of the way to access your baby?
My daughter’s birth included that conversation.
When my son was born two and a half years ago, I laboured for 24 hours before the doctor finally agreed that a c-section was required, and pronto. While I was relieved about this (I had no desire to experience the ‘ring of fire’), the situation was shrouded with a sense of urgency. Our boy needed to come out right away. His heart rate was falling; it was an emergency.
Because of this, there were no photos to capture his first moments in the world. (Unless you count the x-rays that were done immediately following my surgery to make sure the doctor hadn’t left any surgical instruments inside me in her haste to get our little man out.) Needless to say, my husband’s and my blood pressure was up in the clouds until we heard the wails of our sweet son – healthy and safe.
Fast forward to last Monday, and the only similarities between the c-sections I had concerned the surgical process itself. Everything else was different.
On our little girl’s birthday, I set my alarm for 3:10am so we would be set to leave the house by 3:45. I straightened my hair and filled in my eyebrows. (I realize that my eyebrows were the last part of my body that anyone at the hospital was concerned about. Let’s move on.) My husband hefted me into the front seat of the Jeep and we were off to the hospital. We joked along the way, and I barely noticed the bumps in the road this time.
At the hospital, we checked in at the maternity ward. It was just like checking into a hotel, except they handed me an open-backed gown instead of a key card. Then we were ushered into the recovery room where I was hooked up to an IV of fluids, and where I would remain for the next two hours – enough time to go through 2 bags of fluid and get good and puffy in the feet, ankles, and face. I was a
Just before I was taken to the operating room at 6:30am, a nurse brought a special outfit for my husband to wear. I think he rocked it.
And then I was being wheeled into the OR, where I was greeted by my obstetrician and the anesthetist, whose surname is a synonym for bum!!! This really struck my funny bone, I’m embarrassed to admit. Let’s blame the adrenalin for my lapse in maturity. He had me lean over a pillow while he administered my spinal tap, and within seconds I had no feeling in my feet. Nurses quickly helped me to lay down on the operating table before I lost all feeling in my lower body and fell off the table. That would have been embarrassing, especially in an open-back gown.
While the nurses set up the tent around my torso, I was taking in my surroundings and starting to feel slightly ill. Before I could tell anyone, the respiratory therapist asked me if I was feeling nauseous. I was impressed! Being me, I had to know how she knew, and thus began a conversation about blood pressure. I learned that low blood pressure is usually accompanied by feelings of nausea, and since I was attached to a machine that was monitoring my blood pressure, she put two and two together. Thankfully my blood pressure leveled out shortly thereafter, leaving me with nothing but excitement.
My OB informed me that she was going to begin.
My excitement increased.
When I’m excited, I chat. Even on the operating room table, apparently.
The anesthetist and I had a grand conversation about his role as a ‘magic doctor’ (what I call anyone who gives epidurals and spinal taps). I learned that, after many years of doing this, he finds the needle spot entirely by feel now – and that he likes to mess with husbands by closing his eyes when he is about to put the giant needle in the wife’s back. Pure evil! We also chatted at length about a cycling accident he had a few months back and how his recovery was going. I’m not a cyclist myself, but I was able to recommend some roads in my area that look like they would be lovely for cycling. He was very appreciative.
I have been fortunate to have a really great obstetrician – the same woman for both of my pregnancies and deliveries. I would love to hang out with her and I’m surprised I didn’t tell her as much while she was rooting around for my baby. I did ask her a lot of questions though…Do you cut in the same place as my last c-section? (Yes.) Was there much scar tissue built up? (None, Kelly, you must have had a really skilled surgeon. wink wink) What is your daughter’s name? (Katie.) Did I poop on the table? (No, c-section births don’t put the same pressure on the nether regions as vaginal births do.) What are the layers you have to go through? (I forget the answer now. There were at least four though.) I asked a lot of other things too, according to my husband. I’m sure he was worried about what might come out of my mouth. I can be socially awkward at the best of times, and with some powerful drugs coursing through my bloodstream, I don’t blame him for being worried.
Within 15 minutes of starting surgery, my doctor told my husband to get his camera ready! Both of us were caught off-guard – we hadn’t expected to be allowed to take pictures since we hadn’t been offered the same option with our son. There isn’t time for a photo op in an emergency, but with a scheduled c-section, Daddy had time to snap a bunch of in-the-moment shots that are pretty amazing.
My doctor informed us that Baby Girl would have been a c-section no matter what because the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her wee neck. Twice y’all.
And then we heard her. Screaming for all the world to hear; so angry to have been taken from her warm cocoon with the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Placed in her daddy’s arms as soon as all her vitals and measurements were taken, and then brought to her mama’s side for me to oogle her while they stitched me up.
All said and done, we were back in the recovery room within 45 minutes of leaving it.
My Inner Productivity Junkie rejoiced at the efficiency of it all!
My daughter’s birth was so civilized.
Everything since then? Not so much.
Welcome to the world, sweet pickle!