I’m trying to write out her whole birthstory, but it’s coming one paragraph at a time. I hope I don’t forget everything by the time I get it all down. Here’s the distilled version:
I don’t know when I’ve ever been so scared in my entire life.
Thursday 6 a.m.
Terry comes to the hospital, we have a few minutes to talk and pray together before the nurse comes in with razor and IV line to prepare my body. (Terry’s prayer: “Dear Jesus… HELP! Amen.”)
Our doula arrives, rubs lavender-scented lotion on my neck and shoulders, anoints my forehead with essential oils (“your third eye,” she says, but all I can think of is the Episcopal church I used to attend). We talk about what will happen to/with the baby after the birth, reviewing all the details once again.
There is a delay. Evidently maternity filled to bursting overnight, and an emergency c-section had to be done in “my” time slot. So we wait. Our doula, L., sings us a song about opening and surrender and life.
I am wheeled into a holding area, where the fear hits in an overwhelming wave and I cry. L. rubs my feet while T. rubs my back and when the nurse comes in I calm down and focus on breathing.
The anesthesiologist comes in and out and then signs my back with his initials before I am put in a bed and wheeled down the hall to the OR.
I see a smiling Doc (my favorite of the three) waiting by the door; he’s wearing a do-rag on his head with a tropical hawaiian print pattern – a welcome bit of whimsy.
A bit of a shuffle as everyone gets into position and T. finds a place near my head.
Time for the spinal – the worst part by far – mostly because of the fear.
The numbness sets in and I can breathe again. T. talks to me, strokes my shoulder, sings a little ditty about how we’re going to meet the Critter. Just as the Doc said, I can feel pulling and tugging and pressure but no pain. I focus on T’s face. He tells me I look pale. We just lock eyes and stay that way. I tell him how much I love him, over and over again. As my yoga instructor said, “love put this baby in, love can get this baby out.” As I reminded myself last night, “perfect love casts out fear.”
Then I feel a push and a pull and suddenly a lightness – I feel them lift her from my body, and I say “Oh!” We hear her cry and the Doc says “you have a little girl!” We look over and there she is – crying and wiggling in the Doc’s hands. T. says “Holy shit, it’s a baby!” I cry out “my baby, my baby,” crying (as I am now) and so happy. I stretch my fingers towards her, reaching.
They bring her to us and I rub her vernix-covered forehead with my fingertips, talking to her like L. told us to, until they take her to the nursery. T. goes with her and I lie back with a big smile on my face as the sew me shut.
They say she had a very short cord, that didn’t allow her to turn.
I notice that there is music playing – Simon and Garfunkel’s version of the classic Peruvian melody, El Condor Pasa.
Finally I’m wheeled back to the recovery room where I wait for T. to come with Valerie. I have to stay there until I can wiggle my toes. It’s the strangest sensation, the immobility. The nurse is warm and friendly.
They bring her to me and she is so beautiful I am overcome. It looks like she’s been washed, but she hasn’t – T. has been massaging the vernix into her skin, like I’d asked him to. She is pink and sweet and has the beautiful black hair I’d hoped for, and a tiny “mongolian spot” on her bum. The pink hat she’s wearing, though, isn’t the one I made, and I make them change it as soon as possible. I am able to hold her and talk to her briefly until it’s time for us all to go to our new room.
I spend the day holding her, naked, against my skin. We begin the journey of learning how to nurse, and her first pee ever soaks her dad’s shirt.