I had no idea how much time holding a new baby required! This child does not like to be put down. Currently Sabine is in my lap all swaddled and sleeping. I have no idea how long this will last!
*note: I started this THREE days ago! evidently I grossly under estimated the amount of work it takes to care for a newborn 🙂
First: thank you for all the congratulations. It feels so surreal to be here, in my really messy house, full of baby things, stinking like milk, with filthy hair. I am having a hard time believing that five days ago I was pregnant and being wheeled back for surgery. I’m sad that pregnancy already feels like a distant memory and I find myself thinking of ways that maybe we could do it again. I know we won’t, though, and I know that as the postpartum hormones begin to filter out of my system I’ll be able to remember more and find closure and acceptance. Until then I’m so glad that I kept some notes here.
I am sure you all have a zillion questions to ask and I have a zillion posts brewing in my brain, but right now it is hard, hard, hard to find time to bang them out. Instead, I’ll start with a little update of where we are now and then move into part 1 of my birth story.
Sabine was born Monday morning at 6:26 a.m. via cesarean section and by Wednesday we were able to go home. I was healing well, my bleeding was minimal and her tests were all perfect so that afternoon the Professor and I loaded a baby into the backseat of our car. She was wide-eyed with wonder and I fought back tears the entire way. “Holy shit,” I kept thinking. “Is this my baby? Did we take this from someone else?”
Since getting home we have weathered sleepless nights, the massive hormone crash that accompanies milk coming in (did anyone else have this? Shit, I was not prepared and it was ROUGH), more dirty diapers than I can count, sore nipples, milk stained everything, sad cats and jealous cats and cats who are clearly in denial that this little creature is here to stay, tears and laughter, pain medication side effects and hemorrhoids and more. It’s been… intense to say the least! But completely and utterly awesome.
BIRTH STORY PART I
Sunday, June 30
Sunday I woke up and thought I was having some major poo discomfort. Coffee was drank and poo happened but the discomfort increased and was soon joined by waves of period-like cramps. I considered timing the contractions to see if this was the real-deal but decided against it and opted to instead complete my to-do list and enjoy thinking that this was early labor. I was, after all, going in for a c-section at 7:30 the next morning. Surely nothing would progress that quickly.
I spent the day cleaning the house, making trail mix and a big pot of red beans and rice and running errands. I put the last few things into my hospital bag and considered taking a final belly photo but decided to instead wait until Monday morning. I knew I’d be up early and would need things to occupy my time.
By evening the contractions were stronger, more painful and definitely the real deal. I called Dr. Shannon and asked if I should go in early. She said I could, but the earlier I went in the less likely I would have the experience I’d planned. Instead I should time them for an hour or two and see how urgent things were. I timed to the best of my ability. Having known since 34 weeks that a c-section was a real possibility, I did not prepare for active labor. I did not know the signs, how to time or the best Apps out there. After an hour or so I determined that they were coming every five to ten minutes and sometimes 20 minutes would pass between them. Dr. Shannon said it sounded like the real deal, but was early and that I should stay home and get as much rest as I could.
Monday, July 1
To any lady who can sleep soundly through contractions, my hat is off to you. My pain was not bad, but they were uncomfortable enough that a simple position change just was not cutting it. I tossed and turned all night, getting up regularly to pee and stare at my belly one last time. At 3:00 a.m. I peed and then crawled back in bed just to realize I was still peeing… while in the bed. Back to the bathroom I went with pee running down my leg. Looked like pee to me, smelled like pee, might have been a little more slippery than pee but what the hell do I know… I don’t examine the viscosity of my pee regularly! So I went back to bed. A few minutes later another contraction hit and with it came more of the “pee.”
I ran to the bathroom to try to clean myself up, which was sort of futile because as soon as I mopped one trickle up, another one started. I woke the Professor up saying my water had broken and I was going to grab a quick shower and thought we should head in a little early. The look he gave me was one for the books – filled with fear and happiness and shock.
Downstairs I said good morning to the cats and headed to the bathroom for what I had planned to be a long, meditative shower complete with shaving, deep conditioning treatment and lots of reflection on the last 10 months. Instead I looked down at the white bathroom rug and realized a green pool of water was collecting beneath my feet.
I have a very dear friend whose first-born was a c-section baby and came out covered in meconium. This little boy spent the first week of his life in the NICU with tubes in his chest. She did not get to hold him for days, failed at breastfeeding due to the separation and stress and still has PTSD over the situation. This is the only meconium experience I had known about so when I saw green water I immediately panicked. My shower took less than 2 minutes – just enough time to hose myself down, clean the fluid from my body and slap on a pair of granny panties and a huge pad. No makeup, no hair styling, no mediation, no final photo of my beautiful 40 week belly. We drove to the hospital in silence and I cried and cried and cried thinking that my selfishness over wanting a beautiful birth experience was now jeopardizing my baby’s health and well-being.
The folks at Labor and Delivery were all super nice and no one panicked when I said the water was green. They brought me back, hooked me up and we heard Chicken’s heartbeat thumping away. I was only a centimeter dilated At some point during all of this I called my doula and Dr. Shannon and they arrived. I also mentioned to the nurse about our struggle through infertility and how long we had fought for that day. A few minutes later the charge nurse came in and I explained to her that Dr. Z was supposed to do my c-section at 7:30 that morning and that we had spent a lot of time and effort planning a family centered experience.
Both nurses smiled and the first said that as she listened to all we had been through she had been thinking I was a perfect candidate for immediate skin-to-skin and that she and the charge nurse were the two at UK who were really crusading for this change. They vowed to do everything in their power to make my birth as perfect as possible, assuming baby was healthy, and told me that Dr. Z was already there and they would hunt him down and find a way to have him do the surgery.
Everything else went so quickly. I handed out copies of my Family-Centered Birth Plan and the nurses raved over it and asked if they could keep it for use in training others. The anesthesiologist came in to review my medical history and discuss what she would be doing – a spinal epidural – and prepare me for the procedure. I did not expect the epidural to scare the hell out of me the way it did. I spent weeks preparing for the cesarean surgery but spent no time looking into epidural. I figured I’d had 70 big needles in my butt daily, a huge aspiration needle shooting through my vagina wall, the OBGYN equivalent of a ShopVac used to suck out the remains of my first pregnancy, surely a little epidural would not be a big deal?
Wrong. I could not stop shaking and crying as she prepared me for it; shit going into my vagina seemed to pale in comparison to shit going into my spinal column. The anxiety over the epidural spilled into the operating room and left me unsure of my choice to watch the surgery so I opted out. The Professor sat by my head and held my hand as the doctors discussed the logistics of getting baby from womb to chest as soon as possible. From what I understand, I am one of the very first people to do this at UK so the change in procedure was very foreign to them. Then they started poking me to determine if I was numb and suddenly we were off. And I was a crying shaking mess.
Y’all, no You Tube video can prepare you for this. None. I was scared, I was creeped out by the epidural, I was overwhelmed that within moments my baby would be out, I was sad that I had missed my 40 week photo and my zen morning, and most of all, I was TERRIFIED that my baby would be sick due to the meconium. I’m a big sobby mess writing this, actually. It was intense and not the experience I had prepared for.
At one point I asked Dr. Z if he was about to start and he laughed saying he was already in and working on opening my uterus. “Really? Does my Ute look good, Dr?” I asked. Everyone laughed and I felt a little better – all hope is not lost if I can still make light of what was hands down the most overwhelming situation of my life.
“I have a foot out… and now a leg… and now you will feel lots of pressure…. baby is out!” he said. And then I heard nothing. I knew that it took c-section babies a little while to cry, but my baby? I expected my baby to wail immediately and give me a little reassurance. THen there were lots of suction sounds and I must have looked horrified because the anesthesiologist put her hand on my shoulder and assured me that this was perfectly normal and that they just needed to clear the airways of fluid. My baby, she said, was beautiful.
And then crying. This tiny little lamb of a cry, each of which ended with little cooing sounds sort of like a dove. My baby was carried to my side of the drape where she was shown to us and the Professor got to announce “It’s a little girl! We have a little girl!” The doctor took her to another table to very quickly clean off the poo while I stared at the Professor in shock and said, “What? A girl? Are you sure????”
I have to give the entire surgical team at UK huge kudos. My baby was wiped off, deemed healthy and put on my chest within a minute of showing the gender. She was so perfect and pink and tiny, tiny, tiny. I held her and cried while she cried and, honestly, I’m not sure what the Professor did because at that moment all that mattered in the whole wide world was that my baby was here. Every single reader reminded me of this as I came to terms with the changes in my birth plan and to each I muttered to myself, “Sure, easy for you to say.” But they were right.
Even though I did not watch the surgery, even though I did not get my zen moments and beautiful belly photos, even though things were a little scary with the poo water, all that mattered was that she was here and pink and perfect.
Writing this has been good for me. I realize now that my birth experience was really shockingly perfect. I had a compassionate team who worked so hard to meet my requests, my baby is healthy and was on my chest within minutes and I actually got to labor for a full day and have my water break meaning no matter what I choose, July 1 would have been Sabine’s birthday. The hormones and squeezes Sabine got from the little bit of labor helped her come out pink, strong and yelling. The only thing missing was my calm, and sometimes that just happens. Nothing can prepare you for your first birth, natural or cesarean section, and you never truly know how you will react. All considered, I’m proud of my body, I’m proud of my baby and I’m immensely proud of my progressive and kind surgical team.
Part II will hopefully come tomorrow or Wednesday. For the next few weeks Scrambled Eggs might not post as frequently as before, but I promise that as Sabine adjusts to life outside the womb, and this Mama learns how to sleep during the day (my tragic flaw), posting will return to it’s regular five day a week schedule.