It’s been 3 weeks now and I haven’t even begun to write about G’s birth. That’s at the top of my list of things to write about… just the story, and then I think I’ll write more about how I feel now in retrospect about having two cesareans under my belt (so to speak). I still kind of struggle with how to think about it – the existential side of things – because while I signed the requisite release form I didn’t necessarily feel like I had a choice, and somehow that actually feels better to me than if I felt like I had chosen to give birth that way. I guess I’m seeking absolution.
One of the biggest differences between the two births was having a point of reference with which to compare this one. But perhaps I’ll try to hold off on comparisons and just tell the story.
To me the most comical element of the whole event was that T. decided he wanted it to be a Family event. Not just our unit of 3-becoming-4, but the whole fam damily – grandparents and all. So at just past 8 a.m. on July 7, we convoyed in three vehicles to the brand-spanking-new hospital across town. Even our faithful babysitter/nanny came along. They all accompanied me to the emergency room where I registered, and then we all took the elevators together up to the third floor “Family Birthplace.” We took last-minute belly shots in the waiting area and said a prayer together before T. and I went in.
We had lingered so long in the waiting area that the nurse was wondering where we were. She had a British accent. She ushered us into a small room, I think the same room where I had had an NST just two days before, and had me change into the hospital gown and lie on the bed. Then she went through my medical history, inserted the IV (it took 3 tries, and I had a nasty bruise on my left arm for two weeks afterward), and shaved my lady bits. She asked if I wanted her to put the catheter in too, but I said I’d wait until after I got the anesthetic.
The anesthesiologist came in with a male nurse to introduce themselves, and they chatted with me for a bit. They gave T. a set of scrubs (he looked extremely attractive in them!) and then wheeled me down the hall to the OR.
At that point T. had to wait outside in the hallway; apparently he spent the time pacing and texting, and it was a much longer wait than anticipated. Inside the OR, I had time to look around and chat with the male nurse while we waited for something or other that the anesthesiologist needed, which wasn’t in the cupboard. The nurse asked me about myself and what I do, and when I said I’m working towards a PhD in Anthropology, he started talking about evolution and God and natural selection and pressed me about what I think, which topic was waaaaay down on my list of things I felt like talking about at that precise moment. I know he was just trying to distract me and make conversation but I found it quite annoying, really. He redeemed himself, however, when the meds and everything arrived and it was time for the spinal. I shudder just remembering it – absolutely hate that part of the process. I asked the nurse if I could hold his hand and he said yes, so I had a hand to squeeze since T. was still out in the hall.
Then they laid me down, put up the blue curtain, and continued making small talk while my OB and the rest of the crew got situated. I was catheterized, and felt it – ugh – but soon enough the numbness took hold and then they let T. come in.
The cesarean seemed to take a long time. At one point I heard the doctor say “I see a lot of dark hair,” and then they seemed to be having a bit of difficulty getting him out. The female nurse working opposite the doctor started pushing vigorously against my rib cage – this was extremely uncomfortable, and I stopped chatting with T. while she did – the whole bed (table?) was shaking, the curtain shook, and I learned later that they had used forceps to pull baby G.’s head out – I’d never heard of such a thing, with a cesarean – he had a purple bruise on his ear for 3 or 4 days afterward – and at one point I felt a shot of pain dart from my rib cage to my left shoulder. (I went to see my chiropractor as soon as possible after the operation.)
Then he was out! I heard someone say that it took eight minutes from when they first saw his head to when he came out, and that this was not an unusually long time. The doctor lifted him above the curtain and I saw him for the first time, red and and purple and white from the vernix, wriggling and alive. I thought to myself, “he looks like a G–, not an O–” (we were STILL debating his name). They moved him away to clean him off and weigh him, and I heard him crying and crying, a mewling little wail, and unbidden the tears started to streak down my face and into my ears even as a grin spread across my face.
Then they brought him over so I could touch him and look at him, and then off to the nursery to be cleaned up. And I will say more about that later because in hindsight I would have had them delay that – but done is done. Anyway, T. went off to supervise (:-)) and I just lay there while they sewed me up. It seemed to take a long time. I listened to them chatting about the World Cup and 4th of July celebrations and iPhones until they were done. Then they moved me onto my hospital bed and wheeled me to our room. As we went down the hall, I saw my whole family standing by the windows of the nursery watching G. and I waved to them.
The room was nice enough except for the fine view of a brick wall – “they need to paint a mural on that wall,” I said. T. came in then and we waited together for G. The family all went home for naps with plans to come back later with V. to meet her brother in person. We ended up waiting THREE HOURS to see him – that damn bath; he needed warming afterwards – until finally he was placed in my arms, snug and swaddled and sleeping.
He is an utter sweetheart. He’s a champion nurser with a great latch and strong suck and is putting on weight at a tremendous rate (proof of paternity, my husband says – as if he needed it!). He’s mellow and adorable with a dimple in his right cheek and an elfin smile. His hair is the softest down.
My deflated belly is shrinking even as my bosom abounds. My energy level and ability to do things are increasing, which feels really good, even though sleep is scarce and my toddler’s angst is breaking my heart. But every few days I’m able to do more and more with her, even though I can’t lift her yet. My parents have left now after 2 months with us here – I miss them sooooo much – and my husband is working very hard under a deadline, unfortunately. Our sitter/nanny has been staying with us since my parents left to help with the night-time parenting. We have just over 2 months to get ready to move to Albania. My plate, like my heart, is full.