The Part Where There's A Baby
Within five minutes of saying, "Okay, I guess we should do the c-section today," I was on a wheelie bed going down to surgery.
I honestly knew nothing about what all was involved in c-sections, and I was really glad. Because if I had known all the things that could go wrong, they would all have begun flashing before my eyes. Instead, I was blissfully ignorant.
And speaking of blissful: my Pitocin drip had been shut off and I was on my way to get a spinal ("spinal" is somehow different from "epidural" but I don't know why/how). Soon I would be pain-free! And then I'd have a child! Things were looking UP!
I was in such good, weird, loopy, tired-but-wired spirits that I -- yes -- took my phone with me.
We got to the hallway just outside the operating room, where one of my doctors was waiting for us. She told Ish he had to wait there "a few minutes" while I got situated on the table. They gave him his scrubs-jumper and told him to put them on. She said she'd come get him when we were ready.
I was wheeled into the OR and then everything became bright, organized chaos. Immediately they apologized for it being so cold. I said I didn't care because I had been hot and sweaty and uncomfortable for the last 24 hours (but also, truth be told, for the last 9 months) and it was a welcomed change. Besides, who could think of temperature at a time like that?
There seemed to be tons of people in the room and they were all smiles (from what I could tell by their eyes since they were all in masks). The smiling made me feel more comfortable, and reminded me that this is a procedure they do every day. Everyone introduced themselves and told me why they were there but I don't remember a single name. All I know is that I kept making jokes. Not, as you might suspect, to cut the tension. I was telling jokes because I was ecstatic. I was going to have a baby! Now! FINALLY!
(Because there's always an except.)
Except there was one more hurdle, and it turned out to be the worst hurdle of the entire labor. Getting the spinal sucked. Sucked. Suck-suckity-suck-suck-sucked.
Of course, I didn't know it was going to suck. It started out seeming pretty normal. They asked me to sit on the verrrrrry edge of the very cold table. This is not so awesome in a hospital gown, but I figured it wouldn't take too long. The nurse from upstairs was still with me, holding my hand. They asked me to tuck my chin against my chest and lean forward as much as I could, to extend and stretch and bend my spine as much as possible.
Apparently, bending and stretching one's back spreads out the spine, making it easier for the anesthesiologist to do her thing.
And while I'm not in any way afraid of needles, I chose not to look at the one she'd be using.
They said that I would first feel a slight-but-sharp prick from the needle, then it would pinch (as the drug awesomeness was first released into my numb-making places), then it would feel all better.
But here's the catch: You're not supposed to move. Because if you move, or flinch, or jump, the needle could end up who-knows-where and, in the very worst case, paralyze you. (Which basically never happens, but still: having a giant needle inserted into your spine is reason enough to stop moving.)
But but but. It's hard enough to stay still when you're in an awkward position on a cold table and stretching your spine while having a needle jab at you. It's another thing entirely to have to stay still under those conditions WHILE YOU'RE STILL HAVING CONTRACTIONS.
And, because I am not skinny, it's harder for the anesthesiologist to get in the right spot.
It took forever. The longest forever, ever. I was sitting on the table, cold, immobile, contracting, being pricked in the back, being THIS CLOSE to having my baby...and not being able to. I'd feel the pain of the jab, and I'd wait to feel something, and I wouldn't, and no one would say anything to me, and the clock was ticking, and where was my husband? and holy crap, here comes another contraction...don't move!...did it work? No?
Eight tries. It took eight tries and calling in a specialist in order to get the job done. (A doctor ran out to let Ish know what was taking so long. The poor guy was just standing in the hallway, wondering what on earth was going on.)
Finally, I rather suddenly felt like I had wet myself from the inside. There was a rush of what seemed like warm liquid trickling down the inside of my legs.
And then the chaos resumed. Everything was whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!
I was lying down. Whoosh! They were prepping things. A big curtain went up so I couldn't see myself below my waist. Whoosh!
Can I feel my legs? Yes! Can I move them? Whoa! No! Weird! Whoosh!
And then they said all they had to do was test to see that I was numb, then they would start, and I would feel some pulling but no pain, and that it would only take 5 minutes (Whoosh!) before the baby was out. (It would take 20-30 minutes to put everything back together.)
I made some stupid joke about if they could do lipo while they were down there.
And then Ish was with me. Whoosh! And with almost no sense of "pulling" at all, the next thing I knew, they were asking if Ish wanted to stand up so he could see the baby coming out. Whoo--
Actually, no. Not "whoosh." This time there was a pause. He paused. He blanched. He wasn't sure. Ish has no tolerance whatsoever for gore, especially not of the medical kind. He was afraid that he would stand up, see something super-gross, look horrified, and then scare the crap out of me. But after a few beats, he decided he did want to see.
And he stood. My eyes were fixated on his face. And the very moment he stood, he said, "HEY! You guys weren't lying! There's actually a baby in there!" He was completely stunned.
Moments later, I heard her crying. Then I saw them carry her over to a station behind my head to clean and weigh her, while Ish looked on. The doctor proclaimed 5:57 p.m. Then they finally brought her over to me to show me.
And I cried. Not a lot, just an "I'm so overwhelmed I don't know what to do" cry.
My first thought as I saw her was was "Whoa" and my second thought was, "She's perfect, and exactly what I hoped for, " and my third thought was, "Huh?"
I was completely taken by surprise that she didn't look familiar. I thought I would recognize her.
They said that Ish should go upstairs with the baby while they performed the standard tests, and I would meet him up there as soon as we were finished. Which, 20 or 30 minutes later(?) seemed like three seconds. Whoosh!
And then I was in the room, and everything slowed down. I was tired, foggy, drugged, euphoric, giddy, terrified, and without any sense of reality. Nurses were buzzing in and out, the TV was on, hospital visitors were roaming the hallway. The staff had to move me from the wheelie bed to my regular bed, which had changed to be less frilly and more utilitarian.
But soon I was in my bed, and I don't know what happened in any sort of order after that. Once my husband handed my daughter to me, that's all there was.