Here it is!

[This is long.]
I was sleeping, and then ---

The nurses were standing around me. "Are you ready to go?" I lifted my bleary eyes to the clock: 12:25. Oh shit, it's time!

They took the fetal/contraction monitors off me and helped me out of the bed. One of the nurses draped a warm blanket over my shoulders. I thought it was strange that I had to walk to the delivery (operating?) room, but there I was, shuffling down the hall with one of the nurses at my side, pushing my IV stand. The delivery room seemed to be right around the corner from the room I'd been staying in.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle and then we were in the room - everything was super white, very bright. It smelled like nothing. They helped me up onto the table, which was very narrow. For the epidural, I had to sit with my legs hanging off the side of the table, they said.

"Lean forward as far as you can and drop your shoulders." One of the nurses stood in front of me to help keep me stable and I leaned forward until my head was resting against her chest. The anesthesiologist was behind me, rubbing her knuckles against my spine. "There's going to be a pinch, then pressure. Let me know if you feel any kind of electrical sensation." This worried me.

The "pinch" was much more than a pinch, of course. It reminded me, actually, of the time I briefly shocked myself on a switch in the basement - not so much the shock itself, but the angry hot feeling in my wrist that came right after the shock. It seemed she was pouring lava into my spinal cord. One of the nurses came over and offered me her hand to squeeze; I think I might have been crying. It took an eternity.

Finally she was done - the lava sensation went away and the nurses helped me lift my legs up onto the table. Already I was losing them. I laid back and they showed me where to rest my arms: outstretched to my sides, as if I were a scarecrow. I'd read online that some women had their arms strapped down during their c-sections, but mine were (thankfully) free.

Everything now seemed orchestrated, choreographed, like a complex dance sequence. I gazed upward and people moved in and out of my field of vision, very quickly, efficiently. Hands pulled on me, tugged at me, arranged me, hooked me up. They repeatedly checked to see if the epidural was still working. It all happened very fast.

Above me were two (possibly three?) giant circular lights, like spaceships. Until they put up the partition, I was able to look up at the reflection of my lower half in the lights. So strange, to be sending the signal to my knees: bend! but to see and feel -- nothing.

Then, the partition. They hung a blue curtain, even with my chest, blocking my view of my lower half and also of the lights above me. I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to see the carnage and magic of the c-section.

At some point Theseus came in and they sat him in a chair above/behind my left shoulder. "Hey." He seemed breathless. He put his hand on my left arm and rubbed it nervously.

I started to feel very weak, the same fading feeling like during the nonstress test a few weeks before. Someone asked me if I was alright and I told them I couldn't breathe - I could feel that I was breathing in air, but it felt like I wasn't getting any oxygen from the breath. One of the anesthesiologists asked me to do the "birthday cake test": he placed his palm 3 or 4 inches away from my mouth and told me to blow (like blowing out the candles). He said my breath was strong, but just in case, someone put an oxygen tube in my nose.

Then there was a lag in the action - they must have been beginning the procedure at this time, but no one gave any verbal clues, like "Ok, we're beginning the procedure." The staff continued chatting behind the partition. I continued waiting.

A few minutes passed, and then there it was, the verbal clue I'd been listening for: "Shall we?"

Strong pressure on my upper abdomen, squishing the bottom of my ribcage. Not exactly painful, but not comfortable either. Repeated rolls of pressure. I blinked at the ceiling, breathing through my mouth.

The pressure stopped suddenly -- then, the sound of the baby: a gasp, then crying. Oh my God, that's really our baby!

"Look, do you see that? A double." Wait, a double what?? My first, split-second thought was: a double birth? There's two? Someone outside of my field of vision explained that the umbilical cord had been wrapped around Austin's neck, not once, but twice.

The surgeons told Theseus he could stand up and take a photo if he wanted [he did take two photos while I was still open on the table, but they are too gory to post, I think? I personally think they are facinating - look at my insides! - but I didn't want to spring the photos on you without warning. If you want me to post them, let me know and I will!].

He sat back down next to me. A moment later, one of the surgeons came to my left side and held up the baby for me to see. It was surreal - he looked grey and cold -- and huge! I was crying, and the surgeon took him away.

Another minute or two passed and they were calling Theseus: "Dad? ...Dad??" He didn't respond. I turned my face to him. "Theseus, they're calling you." He stood up and was gone. I laid there alone for a few minutes, breathing deeply and listening to the baby cry across the room. I could hear the nurses commenting on how strong his lungs were and how he had such long toes. Theseus and one of the nurses came back with him, now wrapped in a blanket and wearing a little hat. He looked exhausted. I smiled at him, though I was a little sad that our journey together was over (or, at least, drastically changed). His little face was perfect.

I'd entered the delivery room around 12:45 pm. Austin was born at 1:08 pm. He was 7 lbs, 3 oz and was 21 inches long.

The next couple hours are a bit of a blur. I vaguely remember the nurses lifting me onto a rolling bed, then pushing me to the recovery room. Sitting up made me feel very sick, so they let me remain on my back. Theseus told me later that my pulse dropped into the 40s, causing the anesthesiologist to run in to check on me, but I was ok. I kind of remember Theseus walking around the room with the baby - bizarrely, there was a baseball game on the television in the room, a preseason game, the Red Sox!

The overwhelming feeling I had, throughout the whole thing, was relief: relief that he was healthy, relief that the c-section wasn't scary or horrible, relief that we were finally ending the pregnancy chapter of our lives and beginning the parenthood chapter.

It was the most difficult 9 months of my life, but it was worth it. :)

- Antiope

3/31/2011 09:25:50 am

Well even if no one else wants to see your gory insides, I know I'm a freak that way. Personally I think you should have the choice if you want to watch your own c-section,, just like they give vaginal births the choice to watch if they choose. Did they ever explain why you felt like you were getting no oxygen?

Spawn had his cord wrapped twice around his neck as well...what do they do in there, calesthenics?? It had started choking him on his journey into the world, thats why they thought he was stillborn...but thank the Gods, he let out a yell & hasnt shut up since. :) I'm glad that Austin (and you & Tree) didn't have to go through any of that.

3/31/2011 09:30:41 am

What a wonderful story! So glad that everything went smoothly for you.

I also have photos of the carnage of delivery. (which I will not post because mine include my "downstairs")

Austin and Rhea weighed the same at birth! She's almost double that now. :-(

I really am so happy that you got everything you wanted out of your birth experience.

Did they have the sticky paper on the floor at the enterance to the OR? I toured ours and it was fascinating in it's sterility.

3/31/2011 10:53:18 pm

that was awesome... . . . what else can i say really. that's about the whole story down to the little details and it all went so SO fast, for everything that happened
i'm glad too that you wrote it all down. i hope that i, we, never forget the little details in the future

i miss you guys
give little man a smooch for me

4/1/2011 12:22:08 pm

@Angel - I'll email them to you - what address is best? FB it to me. :) And they said I felt like I wasn't getting any oxygen because my diaphragm was being affected by the epidural (normal), and the lack of sensation was making it seem like my breathing was affected when really it wasn't.

@Meg - No sticky paper that I noticed? I walked in there in socks and nothing was sticky. And I'm anxious to see if Austin has gained any weight; he goes to the pediatrician next Friday. But overall I don't want him to get any bigger! I like that he's so little. :)

@Theseus - I'd like it if you wrote down the whole experience from your point of view! Do it. Smush. <3


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