The night before we dropped Nora off at my parents' house. I missed having her home, but I knew that since we would have to leave the house at 5am, it would be better for her to sleep there so she could stay more on her normal schedule. That night it took me quite a while to fall asleep, Adam and I talked and he helped to calm my nerves, and I eventually fell asleep. Not that sleep lasted for long. I woke up at 3am (as all pregnant women wake up in the middle of the night), and never went back to sleep.
Adam's alarm went off at 4am, and we laid in bed for another 15 minutes cuddling and talking about the big day ahead of us. We were both excited to meet our first son, but I was not ready; I was nervous about everything leading up to his birth. But, alas, it was time to start putting our plan into action. Adam had said that I should shower first, and he could go downstairs and eat breakfast, so that he wasn't eating in front of me. So off we went getting ready for Nathaniel's debut.
We left the house around 5:15am, and entered the hospital through the emergency room doors. The security guard greeted us, and I told him I had a scheduled c-section, so he directed us towards the elevators to the second floor. It was a much different ride up to the second floor than when I was in labor with Eleanor. I wasn't grasping the rail, because of contractions, and there was no nurse escorting us. Just Adam & I. When we went into the labor and delivery unit's entrance, there were several nurses at the station waiting, one of them was Jill, the charge nurse I had talked to on the phone earlier in the week. It put me at ease a little to see her there to greet us.
They let us through the door and Jill greeted us on the other side and brought us to our room with a little bassinet for Nathaniel, a hospital bed for me, and an uncomfortable couch for Adam. It was the end room, with two windows, where it was quieter. She said she was trying to save it for us, and was able to. She handed me my hospital gown, and asked me to put it on.
Shortly after I got dressed up in my lovely gown, Julie, one of Woodwinds' volunteer doulas, came in and introduced herself. We chatted a little, to get to know each other, and I gave her a copy of my birth plan. She said that she wasn't sure that Adam would be allowed into the OR when the spinal was done, but that she would be allowed in. I explained to her that I had already talked to Dr. Dubink, and he had okay-ed it.
I was hooked up to the monitors for about a half hour, hooked up to an IV & given saline, shaved, and visited by several nurses, Dr. Dubink, Dr. Mahan. Just about every one of them asked if I was ready. And to each one of them, I would respond, "I'm ready for that," pointing to the bassinet, "but not for everything leading up to it." It was the total truth. I was excited to meet Nathaniel, to hold him, to nurse him, to love him, but I was not ready to be "sliced & diced," as I kept putting it. I still wanted a VBAC, I wanted to be able to deliver my baby with my own body, not with drapes, scalpels, and someone pushing down on my stomach.
I'm not someone who really likes to be at the center of everyone's attention, so most of the time with one or two people in the room asking me a couple questions and leaving wasn't a big deal. It was like having a conversation with a couple people. That, I can handle. But, at one point, there were two nurses, both figiting with different things that were hooked up to me, then add in Dr. Dubink and Dr. Mahan both trying to ask me questions or tell me something, plus Adam and Julie both watching me and everything that people were doing to me. I don't remember not breathing when they were all in there, but I remember all of a sudden being able to breath when all the medical people left. (I'm certain my next birth plan will have something in it about only having one or two medical staff in the room at a time, whether it's a VBAC or another c-section.)
If I remember correctly, it was Jill that came in and told Adam and Julie to "suit up" as it was almost time to go to the OR. Adam had a lovely jump suit, but Julie ended up in scrubs just like the medical staff. She also gave me a hair net that looked only slightly nicer than your cafeteria lunch ladies'.
Once we were in the OR, they had me slide onto the "chopping block." Dr. Dubink asked me how I would like to be positioned when he did the spinal. I decided I would try it sitting up, since it would be easier for him to get it in there well, and since Adam was there this time to support me. I was trying to situate myself so that my legs were hanging off the edge of the table, because that's how it went at Abbott with Danielle. But, Dr. Dubink wanted me sitting on the table so all I would have to do was lay back once the spinal was placed. This made much more sense to me. So I leaned forward as far as I could, Adam put his hand down on the table so that I could wrap my arms around his and hold on tight. Dr. Dubink did a much better job than the anesthesiologist at Abbott. When he numbed my back, I didn't arch my back, I just gripped Adam's arm tighter. I didn't even cry! Dr. Dubink got the spinal in, without any problems! We were off to a decent start.
They got me laid back on the table, and started getting everything set for the surgery. They put the sticky drape on my belly, and hung it in front of my face, put on the blood pressure cuff, placed the catheter, and checked to make sure I was numb everywhere they would be slicing. While they pulled up a desk chair for Adam to sit on, and he handed the camera over to Julie to photograph the whole event. When they started pulling him out, Julie went on the other side of the drape to take pictures for us (I won't expose you to the gore, but I am glad I have pictures to see our son being born since I wasn't able to see anything but a blue drape, and Adam's hand holding mine.)
Dr. Mahan told us when she was starting to pull him out. I could feel the tugging and pushing on my upper ribs, where the spinal hadn't blocked feeling. During all the tugging, pushing, and pulling, all of a sudden my right shoulder starting hurting, like there was a really big knot or something. I kept trying to roll my shoulder to work the knot out, but when you have limited movement, it's difficult to work out. I stopped looking to my left at Adam, closed my eyes and faced the ceiling where there was a ceiling tile that was an autumn pictures of trees all covered in red leaves. It seemed to help my shoulder just slightly. (I found out later that apparently "air bubbles" can get inside your body when you have surgery and move around to different parts of your body. They had me take Gas-X to ease the pain afterwards, and it actually helped, but it took a couple weeks for it to go away completely.)
We were told his head was out, and I was waiting and waiting to hear him cry. I opened my eyes back up to face that autumn ceiling tile. I kept thinking that Danielle had cried so much sooner, and that something was wrong. The few moments that it took for me to hear his tiny little cry seemed like forever. When I finally did hear him, I started crying. For me, I guess, c-section births are more emotional than vaginal births. (Adam told me later that he was actually starting to breathe though his nose before his mouth was even out, and the docs were impressed! He just wasn't the crying type, I guess!)
He was right there where he should be, on his Momma's chest. After holding him for a couple minutes, I was able to get him to latch on and start nursing right in the OR, while they were sewing up the large hole where they had just pulled my son out.
Once Dr. Mahan had stitched me back together, I continued nursing Nathaniel, while they took down the drape and peeled the sticky part off my deflated tummy. I had to hand him back to Adam though while they moved me back to my bed, but as soon as I was there, Adam placed him back on my chest. We got me covered back up, so I wasn't exposed in the hallway, and took the short treck back to our original room.
Back in our room, I held him a while longer, then Jill came in to take his measurements. We all took a guess as to what he weighted, and I was right on: 6 pounds, 8 ounces. He was 19 3/4 inches long, and his head was 13 1/2 inches. Then Adam had a chance to hold him skin-to-skin.
His birth, even though I was completely disappointed that I had to have another c-section, and that my "Danni scar" would no longer just be for Danni, was pretty much exactly what we had planned. While Nora's birth was healing in knowing that my body could do what it was designed to do, I think Nate's birth was healing for me, also, to have a c-section birth go so well after the experience I had at Abbott with Danielle. I still can't believe the only time I cried was the joyous moment I heard him cry for the first time.
Footnote: I think c-section births in the U.S. are starting to go more this way. Jill had taken some notes about how it all went. For example, the heart monitors that they place on my chest could have been placed differently to make holding him and nursing him right away a little easier since they were poking him in the head. I hope that more moms-to-be out there educate & advocate for themselves to have the best birth experience they possibly can, even if they end up needing to have major surgery in order to deliver their baby. I think I posted a link to The Natural Caesarean video in Nate's birth plan, but I want to post it again, because it really is how a c-section birth should be. It might not be that all parts for all people (like I didn't want the drape dropped at all!), but it's a great starting point. I hope anyone out there reading this, knowing that they are going into a c-section, can have as great of an experience as I had. Just remember that advocating for yourself is your best bet for everything going as you hope!