Today my son is an entire month old. When I was still pregnant my mom-friends would often tell me to cherish every moment because once they’re here, they grow so fast. Of course they were telling me this when I was nine months pregnant in the middle of a record-setting hot summer and all I wanted was to not be pregnant anymore.
I didn’t take the time to consider how right they were: time flies when you become a parent. So in the essence of slowing down and remembering, I thought I’d share the story of the most incredible day of my life thus far.
At our 20 week anatomy scan the doctor revealed that our baby was big. Actually, as early as our eight week scan we were told that he was measuring about two weeks ahead. Because of that – and other minor issues they uncovered – we were sent to have monthly ultrasounds with a maternal fetal specialist. In a typical pregnancy (at least in my doctor’s office), you only get two ultrasounds – one in the beginning and one halfway through. By the end of my pregnancy we had six.
Baby was always healthy at every ultrasound. But at every ultrasound they told us that he was measuring big. We started with commentary like, “Looks like you’re going to have a big healthy baby!” Then the commentary turned to, “Um, I would maybe not buy newborn sized clothes anymore.” And by the end of the pregnancy at 36 weeks (when he was measuring 40 weeks and 6 days!) the commentary became, “So, let’s talk about your delivery plan…”
To be honest, I was terrified to deliver vaginally. I was terrified that my body wouldn’t know what to do and that I would rip open or bleed out. I watch entirely too many doctor shows and have never seen a normal delivery. Even when I would talk to my doctor or husband and be reassured that my body would know what to do biologically, my anxiety would always get the best of me and would whisper, “Yeah but what if…”
So when the discussion turned to potentially risking the baby’s health by delivering vaginally, I made the firm decision that I would have a c-section. The doctors told me to take my time and make the decision together, even saying that they would let me try to deliver vaginally if I happened to go into labor on my own. But I had already made up my mind. I was not going to do anything that could potentially put my child (or me!) at risk.
So on September 9th, 2019 (at 39 weeks and two days) we drove to the hospital to have a baby. We walked (waddled!) up to the Labor and Delivery floor hand-in-hand. I remember standing at the double doors at the start of the hall and taking a deep breath, knowing that the next time I walked through those doors I would be a mom.
Everything was running smoothly until they got to the epidural. This was the part I was the most anxious about – both because of the pain for me and the fact that my husband does NOT do well with needles. Thankfully they positioned me so that he never even saw the needle but was still able to support me and distract me during the process.
About half an hour after the medicine in the epidural had been running, they checked to see how much feeling I had. My left side felt absolutely nothing, but my right side could still feel a good bit. The epidural only took on one side. This resulted in having to tilt my whole body to one side and give me another dose, hoping that gravity would assist. Another 30 minutes later we were good to go.
The next thing I knew my nurse was raising my bed railings and rolling me down the hall. Everything began moving extremely fast. Johnathan was already suited up in his scrubs, including a hair net for his beard. He had to stay in the room until I got situated in the OR, then he would meet me there. I wasn’t prepared for that. I assumed he would be there the whole time. My heart started racing. I was laying on my back staring at the ceiling as I was rolled down the hallway.
Again, I couldn’t see anything except the ceiling so I only knew we had reached the OR by how bright the lights got over my head. After several minutes of prepping me, they started to move me from the bed and onto the operating table. I was numb (and immobile) from the chest down so I was very curious how this was going to happen. Apparently there was an inflatable mattress of sorts lying underneath me that they would inflate and use to glide me onto the operating table.
However, they still had me rolled to one side from the issue with the epidural. When they started inflating the “mattress” – I started rolling off the table. Because I was now on my side and falling rapidly, I could see one nurse’s face as his eyes widened and he sprinted from the other side of the room to catch me. Eventually they were able to get me flat and onto the table, and thankfully I didn’t hit the ground.
There was several minutes of prep time once I was on the table – setting up the curtain that would block my view of my cut-open stomach, sterilizing me, etc. The doctors and nurses had their “roll call” and then it was time to start. The anesthesiologist sat just over my left shoulder and told me to let him know as soon as I felt any pain so he could give me something for it. My doctor peeked over the curtain to me and asked, “Are you ready to be a mama?” That’s when the tears started welling up. A few seconds later, they made the incision.
“Incision time: 12:52,” said the assisting doctor. I panicked. They’ve already cut me? But Johnathan isn’t here! I can’t have this baby alone. I started crying and shouted, “Wait! Where is my husband??” When they told me that he would have to wait in the Labor and Delivery room before coming to meet me, they didn’t tell me that it would be after they cut me open.
As much as I didn’t want to do this alone, I was also concerned for Johnathan if & when he did come into the OR. The only thing between me and the door in which he would enter, would be my now cut-open stomach. I know how well he handles blood (re: not well) and began to fear that he would pass out as soon as he came through the door.
Within seconds, Johnathan appeared by my side – looking a little pale, I might add. He grabbed my hand and I asked, “Did you….did you see everything?” He laughed and shook his head, “No. They said walk to the stool so I looked at the floor until I saw the stool.”
I squeezed his hand and smiled. The tears were falling now, from both of our eyes. Then without warning, I felt it. I had been told I would feel “pressure but not pain” because of the epidural. But I was not prepared to actually feel them pull the baby out of me. I heard the doctor say, “Here we go…” and then felt him leave my body. (You could also hear it, but I’ll spare you the descriptive details of that sound.)
“Happy Birthday little man!” my doctor said. And then I lost it. I cried, hard. I hadn’t even seen him yet but suddenly I had this overwhelming feeling of love, fear, hope, anxiety all at once. A few seconds later, I heard the cry. I say cry but it was a definite wail – a scream. But it was still somehow weirdly comforting to me.
The next few minutes were a blur. The nurse called for Johnathan to come assist her with the baby. He squeezed my hand and left me there with the anesthesiologist. I could hear the doctors in the corner of the room but couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying. Something something measure….something something check his lungs….something something temperature.
Then I heard someone in the distance counting, “7…8…9…10” They must be counting his fingers and toes. A few seconds went by and then I heard, “27…28…29…30…” My eyes widened and I shouted over the curtain to the doctor, “Um, excuse me? How many fingers and toes does my baby have exactly?” Turns out they were counting the number of utensils used in the surgery before closing me up. I blame the drugs on that mistake.
Soon Johnathan appeared back at my side with baby in tow. My arms were locked down beside me so I couldn’t hold him, but I was able to rest my face against his as Johnathan held him near me. I started crying all over again. The moment only lasted seconds before Johnathan and baby were whisked away to recovery.
An hour later, I was finally closed up and being wheeled back to my room. As they wheeled me into the room headfirst, the only thing I could hear was Dave Matthews Band blaring through the bluetooth speaker. Johnathan and Logan were busy having a jam-session while they waited on me; some real father-son bonding.
After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally able to hold my baby. I knew going into the c-section that I wouldn’t be able to immediately hold and cuddle my child but I wasn’t prepared for the longing I would feel the entire time I waited. I’ve never physically ached with anticipation before until then. Johnathan placed him in my arms and he looked up at me as wide-eyed as ever. I did it – I brought a life into the world.
Johnathan and I cannot say thank you enough to our friends and family who have made the time this past month to visit, bring food, fold our laundry, or even just send a text checkin in on us. Logan is so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a village of people who already love him so fiercely.
I have a few more thoughts to share in upcoming posts including what I packed in my hospital bag (and why I didn’t end up using any of it) and things no one tells you about postpartum life. I’m an open book so if there’s other questions you have or things you want me to share, drop a comment below and let me know.