Sunday, April 30, 2006: At 11:00 PM, DH and I went to Baker's Square for our "last meal." Since I had been given explicit orders not to eat or drink anything after midnight, we wanted to grab a late, late dinner. I'd been on "no dairy" since Saturday, and was to limit all carbonated beverages. I ordered one of my usual favorites, and we spent the evening chatting and just being excited. Tomorrow was the day; it was going to change our lives forever. After dinner, we drove around a bit just talking and being together. On Saturday, I went to the hospital for some pre-op blood work, and was given a bracelet with explicit instructions to "keep it dry and legible at all costs," so I'm sure we were joking around about that. (For the record, I did manage to keep it dry *and* legible. If the coding was smeared when I checked in, my section could be delayed for up to 24 hours for the blood work to be processed once again. Thanks but no thanks! I wanted my baby as soon as possible!) When we finally arrived home on Sunday night (technically Monday morning, I guess), we laid in bed, just talking and spending time together. Neither of us was really all that tired; the anticipation was overwhelming. I did manage to sleep, though, and only drank water once--on accident--around 3 AM. I was so accustomed to getting up to use the bathroom one hundred times a night and then drinking some water--it was just force of nature. Thankfully, it didn't impact the scheduling of the c-section.
Monday, May 1, 2006: The Big Day! We woke up around 7:00 AM, and spent part of the morning in disbelief that the day was *finally* here. DH had breakfast, I checked and rechecked our bags. We left around 11:40 AM. We were supposed to arrive at the hospital around 12:30 to check in, but my nerves were really getting the best of me, so DH took me for a short drive. I remember feeling such a mix of emotions. I was anxious and apprehensive about the surgery, I desperately wanted to meet my son after all this time and I was plagued by so many questions--is he healthy? Will he know my voice? Will it be as magical as everyone says? What will my recovery be like? I'd be grinning ear to ear one moment, and in tears the next. It was a roller coaster, but having DH by my side made it so much easier. From the get go, he's been my rock, and even now...nothing has changed. If anything, we're closer than ever, and our relationship is that much stronger for it. But I digress...
We drove to the hospital and arrived around 12:15 PM. We parked in the visitor lot by the main entrance as directed, and went to the front desk. I was nervous, but excited. We sat down in the foyer and waited for someone to come and show us up to the maternity unit for check in on the floor. I remember trying to make nervous small talk with the orderly (who wasn't very friendly). One of the nurses showed us to our room, 226, and told us that our "day nurse" would be in within five minutes or so. I changed into the hospital gown and within minutes, our (first of many) nurse was in to set up the monitors and start and IV. I can't remember her name, since she wound up being with us only briefly until shift change, but she started the monitors and checked out my arm (thankfully not my hand!) for an IV spot. Not confident that she'd get it on the first try, she decided to call the IV tech to have her start a line. Our nurse left the room and we waited for the IV tech.
At this point, I was feeling really apprehensive about the surgery itself. I hated being so torn--I waited nine months--not to mention my whole life for this moment, and the joy of it was being hindered by my fear of the surgery. I'd been riding this emotional roller coaster for some time now and almost EVERYTHING I read seemed to suggest that C-sections (as a whole) were ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE. Now, I'm not an idiot and I know that all birth experiences, all surgeries--hell, everything--is unique per individual. But it's like anything else: people are more inclined to share the negative experiences than the positive ones. And is it ever true! The Internet is terrible in that respect; there were C-section horror stories everywhere. Finally, I posted on the boards at BabyCenter.com and found the women there to be fantastically supportive. I'd launch into all the grief I received about scheduling my medically recommended C-section, but that's a story for another time and place. I digress...
The IV tech came in and she was really sweet. She did a great job of finding a vein and starting the IV. From that point on, it was blood pressure, fetal monitoring, and IV fluids. However, my section wound up being delayed by an hour since the OB scheduled to assist my Dr. had an emergency elsewhere. Another hour? Gah!
I received SO much fluid--a bag and a half, I think--pre-op. I also took out my earrings and my tongue ring, and had to drink a shot full of something that looked like tar and tasted pretty bad (but not unbearable). Long story short, it was to keep me from getting nauseated during the surgery itself (typically from the spinal). I can't remember what it's called, though. I met the anesthesiologist, who was a bit of a stiff but a nice guy. He told me to take out my tongue ring (of course!), took my vitals, and explained that he'd explain every step of the procedure, what I'd feel, and he'd be seated near my head, etc. With that, he took off and my OB popped in for some last minute reassurance (I love that man SO much, let me tell you!). My nurse returned, and a "quick trim" later, and we were waiting, waiting, waiting.
Finally, at about a quarter to four, we were told we could head down to the OR. The nurse asked me if I wanted a wheelchair, and I told her I'd rather walk. This is when my nerves were actually settling down and it hit me--I was about to meet my SON! MY son! DH was dressed in scrubs from head to toe, looking...ummm...a bit nervous. After a few twists and turns in the hospital maze, we wound up in the OR. It was smaller, and much colder than I thought it would be. DH was told to wait outside while I met everyone who was going to be assisting with the birth. There were going to be nine people total in the room the size of my kitchen, in addition to me, DH, and soon to be Aidan. Everyone was very nice and supportive. My nurse, after covering me in about 30 heated blankets, bless her heart (I was freezing!), told me DH had to wait outside until the spinal was through and they just started the surgery. Then she told me it was time for the spinal. Okay, I admit it--I was DREADING that moment. Everything I read was "blah-blah-blah, the spinal is excruciating" and so on. I sat up and leaned toward my nurse who held me steady. The anesthesiologist cleaned my back and told me I'd feel a bit of a sting with the locals. The first injection was nothing--no more than a quick stick. The second one, I felt a bit more since it was SO close to my spine. After that, I didn't feel anymore of the locals. I remember bracing myself for the pressure, and waiting to hear what came next. Before I could ask when he was going to start, my nurse told me to lie down quickly. It was over and I didn't even realize it! No extreme pressure and absolutely NO pain! It was awesome. I started feeling a little warm, and they began the "pinch" test. Slowly but surely, I couldn't feel anything from my breastbone down! The sheet was pulled up so I couldn't see (and DH wouldn't be able to either) and they put my cath in (didn't feel a thing then, either). I remember feeling a tiny bit loopy, and my nurse asked me who I was and why I was in surgery. I answered correctly, of course. My blood pressure cuff was on, the IV in check, and my belly was being cleaned. My OB (have I mentioned how awesome he is?), dressed to the nines for the surgery, came up to my head to see if I was okay and how I was feeling. I was so excited! Still a little nervous, but so excited! The doctor assisting my OB came in again (he introduced himself a bit earlier), and they got started. As soon as that happened, DH was shown in and sat in a chair right by my head. He couldn't see anything, and having him there made it so much better. I'm not going to lie, for some reason, the spinal made me a little loopy--DH tells me my eyes kept rolling back in my head at random times (but let me interject--it did not impact my memory of my son's birth). I felt pressure, but no pain whatsoever. I'll admit, it did feel like there was an elephant sitting on my ribs (as to expected--I was warned that's how it would feel), but it wasn't bad and not really uncomfortable. It only took about ten minutes of surgery, before the anesthesiologist told me that my baby was being born! My OB, who knew I knew it was a boy anyway, said, "It's a boy!" and I held my breath, waiting for that first cry. I started to ask, "Is he okay?" and suddenly, in the middle of my question, I heard it: his first cry.
I immediately burst into tears (and so did DH) as I heard Aidan's first cry. I can still hear it perfectly in my mind. It was the most beautiful sound I've EVER heard. My OB walked the baby around the curtain so I could see him and there he was, as perfect as perfect could be! I literally bawled my eyes out for the remainder of the time Aidan was in the room. The only picture allowed in the OR was of his weight on the scale, and I remember asking DH if he had ten fingers and ten toes (which, for the record, he does). I have never been so happy! Shortly thereafter, they started the pitocin drip (which again, I'd heard was painful and I felt nothing), and the antibiotics (although I'm not sure if they were at the same time or not). After kissing my baby and more tears, Aidan and DH went to the nursery and I was put back together. I don't remember much of what I said during that time, but I know I babbled endlessly to the anesthesiologist about nothing and everything. I couldn't WAIT to see my baby again! My OB finished stitching me up, and came up to where I could see him. He told me everything looked good, and that he even checked my ovaries, which looked great (or so he said). (This made me especially happy, given my history of ovarian cysts.) He congratulated me, and told me that Aidan was his first baby delivered in May 2006. He also told me that the section was definitely necessary. The cord was wrapped around Aidan's neck several times, and there wouldn't have been enough length to deliver his head and slip the cord off--it would have been an emergency section. Also, Aidan was "sunny side up" which meant that it would have been back labor. But that wouldn't have been the worst part. My OB also mentioned that Aidan probably would've broken his shoulder had I delivered him vaginally, given the position of his arm. Suffice to say, I am SO glad we went with the section! I thanked him profusely, and the nurses finished cleaning me up. A side note: my OB did an awesome job with the section. I have a horizontal, bikini scar and it's so tiny, I only had 16 staples put in. Not bad for a nine pound, three ounce baby!
They moved me, via sheet, over to a my actual hospital bed at that point, and I remember the nurses telling me "not to help" them move me, which I found to be hysterical. I mean, what...am I going to grab the sheet with my teeth? I can't feel anything below my breastbone! In any event, I was wheeled back into my room (with my nurse, who had to stay with me for the first hour post-op), and DH came in. Shortly after, they brought Aidan in, and I was finally able to hold him. More tears...a LOT more. I couldn't believe I was finally "meeting" my baby! Words can't describe the love I felt at that first moment I touched him. Nothing could have prepared me for it. I told DH I wanted to bottle that feeling, because it could heal the deepest of all wounds instantaneously--it was *that* amazing. We made our phone calls and bonded as a family. More tears. Pictures. I took another dose of something for the pain since my spinal was slowly wearing off and I didn't want to remember any pain, just the beauty of the moment. Our parents came up to the hospital during visiting hours (when the baby was in the nursery--hospital policy), but after me and DH, my mom was the first one to hold Aidan (I think she was there a bit before visiting hours so she was able to "meet" him). I could have had the baby in the nursery that evening, but I opted for him to stay with us. (A note: in order to keep the baby in room for any amount of time the first day, someone must be present at all times--either DH or a nurse--that first day due to the spinal.)
It was such a surreal day. Each day I look at my son and I'm filled with so much love and gratitude for his presence. DH was so incredible before, during, and after the section. I'm so lucky to have the two most amazing "men" in my life. What would I do without them? I love them both so much.
As far as my recovery went, it was pretty smooth. I was definitely feeling it, but it wasn't anything terrible. I took the pain meds, and asked for more before they wore off. They weren't strong enough to detract from the actual experience, but they were able to take the edge off the pain substantially. Within 13 hours of my section, I was standing and walking slowly, a few steps across the room. I wanted to get up on my feet as soon as possible to aid in my recovery. I won't lie; the first time up was not pretty. There was a LOT of blood, and it didn't feel great. But it wasn't terrible. It wasn't even painful, just uncomfortable. (A note: I took my first shower less than 24 hours post-op, too.) I did a lot of walking over the next few days. The wound checks were a little uncomfortable, but not too bad either. I think the vitals annoyed me more than anything, although I understand their importance. I was on a liquid diet for the first night (and ice chips and water right after the surgery for an hour or so), but by the second day, I was up to semi-solids and some solid foods. All in all, I did pretty well in the hospital and realized my pain tolerance is a lot better than I thought it was. I wasn't up for entertaining, if you will, so we kept visiting hours short, and used the time to bond as a family. It was wonderful and I don't regret the decision AT ALL. I was supposed to be released on Friday, May 5, but I felt so good that I was released on Thursday morning per my request and my doctor's okay. I even opted to walk to the car. Aidan was declared perfectly healthy, and was released when I was. He had a touch of jaundice but the pediatrician ran a test or two before we left and all was fine.
My perfect little man was born Monday, May 1, 2006 at 4:10 PM. He measured in at 22 inches, and weighed in at a respectable 9 pounds, 3 ounces. Our first car ride home was nerve wracking, but uneventful. And to date, May 1, 2006 was the most amazing day of my life...followed closely by December 31, 2005--the day I married my love.
Recovery at home was fine. Yes, there was some pain, but that's to be expected when you have a major abdominal surgery. All in all, though, I was a LOT more mobile than I thought I'd be. Stairs were fine. Showers were a bit slower, but not taxing. I was able to lift baby just fine, and I was able to pick up the car seat carrier (with the baby inside it) within two weeks or so. My staples were removed a week post-op, and I went for a wound check the week after that. A tiny, tiny, tiny part of my belly is still numb, which is not a bad feeling, just a strange one. For some women, it takes up to a year to get the feeling back, if it ever comes back. I'm not too worried, though. I've healed beautifully overall. When I went for my six week visit I received a clean bill of health, and now--almost a year later, still as good as ever!
Anyway, that's the story--and trust me, it's the shorter version! Overall, whether it's a c-section or vaginal, I can't imagine a more amazing experience than giving birth. Just meeting this tiny life, the light that's been blossoming inside me for forty weeks--it's just the most incredible feeling. I was told time and time again, there's no love like that between a mother and her child, and it couldn't be more right on.
Whew! That was a little longer than expected! ;-) If you actually read all that, you definitely get a cookie or something.