After 24 days of doctors and nurses, a few scares, and lots of planning the day had finally come. The fetal specialists came in one last time to let Jason and I know that I would be taken down to labor and delivery that night to get ready for the induction process. I didn’t realize how afraid I was of actually going through labor until that day. I had been so focused on getting everything ready, see I was taken to the hospital the day after our baby shower and had zero time to unpack and well, nest. So I’d spent most of those 3 or so weeks trying to get everything ready, thank goodness for my family that so willingly lent a hand to get a very nervous father-to-be and a hospital-ridden pregnant woman ready for baby.
So there we were, in what would be our delivery room. I remember looking around the room at so many machines and not knowing what to say or think or even ask. I just listened to the nurses as they prepped me and nodded in agreement. They would put in an IV and start the medicine to get the process going. Jason laid out on the so-called “sleeper” chair and dimmed the lights so we could both try to get some sleep. The next day was going to be a long one.
The doctor came in to check in on me in the early am, not much progression but it was still early. Sadly that theme continued throughout the whole day. See I was having contractions, I had the sharp pains and the readings on the monitor agreed, the contractions were there. But I just wasn’t dilating fast enough. Twenty-three hours of medicine and pain and I was only dilated 1.5 cm. At this point, I had been given an epidural, mainly so I could tolerate the pain as they increased the meds, and keeping my pain levels tolerable was important since I’d been in the hospital for severe preeclampsia. So I asked the doctor what our options were.
He said we could keep going and start the whole process over and see where we were in another 24 hours, but he thought we may have to end up with a C-section anyway because my pelvis seemed too narrow. Yes, that’s what he said. I asked him when he’d made that observation, and tried to remain calm as he said he’d noticed it when he checked me that morning. It was about 7 pm at that point.
So we were having a C-section after all. While I knew this was always a possibility, it was not something I had given much thought to or even considered. I had been set on having a natural childbirth and thought that making sure I ate right, didn’t gain unnecessary weight, and stayed active during my pregnancy would ensure that I would have a natural birth – one without complications. But at this point, a cesarean was the smart choice. While my BP and sugar levels had been in under control since the preeclampsia first kicked in, there was no guarantee that this would remain the case and with preeclampsia, things tend to go from great to dangerous at the drop of a hat.
The doctor said he’d let the nurses know and prepare the room, and that while it was unplanned, we should be getting started in the next few hours. Okay, so at least I would have some time to get comfortable with the idea of being cut open and having the baby’s first experience be of her walls coming down as she’s pulled from her safe little home. Great.
Not even 15 minutes later a few nurses walked in and said they were ready to roll me down to the operating room. It was a slow night they said, given that it was Valentine’s Day and not many people schedule their C-sections on that night. Lucky for us huh?
Since we thought we had some time, Jason had gone down to the cafeteria to grab a drink and almost missed his window. He walked in as they were rolling me out and traded his drink for some scrubs. They told him to take his time, they were going to go ahead and get me ready and would have him brought in before they started.
I was terrified. I tried to keep it together as we moved through the halls. I just kept telling myself this was the safest option for my baby and it was better to have it done calmly now than as an emergency C-section later. I tried to touch my belly, but with the epidural and IV, I could barely feel anything. I didn’t even feel pregnant anymore, just heavy. I think not being able to feel that pregnancy warmth and the baby moving around inside me just added to my panic.
Sure enough, as they started to move me from the bed to the operating table I started trembling, crying and throwing up. I was trembling so hard that I actually thought I was having a seizure. I just couldn’t take it. I was completely overcome with fear. The nurses were very understanding as I sobbed and apologized for my breakdown and the mess I made. They helped reassure me that I was in good hands and that being afraid was natural. I don’t know if I believed them, but I calmed down a bit. I felt a lot better once Jason came in the room. He was covered in scrubs and a mask, but I held his hand and looked into his hazel eyes.
I must have dozed off, though not for long, because I opened my eyes and Jason had his forehead and against my hand. I guess he was praying, I wasn’t the only one afraid in that room. I looked up at the bright light and couldn’t take my eyes off of what I was seeing. My entire abdomen was reflected in the silver borders and bright glass. I watched as the doctor reached his hands in and pulled her out. She didn’t make a sound. He laid her on top of me, bloody and quiet. I was so surreal to see her there but not feel her on my skin.
A few seconds later she started crying and they carried her away to clean her up. They called Jason over to cut the umbilical cord and brought her over to me. They placed my baby girl on my chest, which I was grateful to actually feel, but I was in such shock I couldn’t say a word. From the look on her face, she was feeling the same kind of shock I was.
They said they had to take her again, while I was closed up, but that I would see her in a little while. Jason went with her and I laid there, looking up at my nurse as the doctor closed me up with such force that he literally rocked the table. A little pressure, that’s what they said I should feel. Let me tell you, I’ve felt less pressure removing a tooth at the dentist and those guys don’t go easy.
A little while later, I was rolled into a dim area for a short recovery where I finally got to hold her in my arms. I remember being rolled in, feeling kind of outside of myself, and then I saw them. Jason was standing by the doors, holding our little baby oh so gently. I can’t put into words the love that I felt at that moment. I felt full.