Thursday, December 16, 8:15 p.m.: Two weeks ago, at this very hour, I was lying in a surgery recovery room, wondering how long it would be until the nurses would pronounce me fit enough to be wheeled upstairs to see my newborn son.
Joel wasn't due to join us until December 23, and my c-section was scheduled for December 15, but on December 2, I noticed some strange things happening as I got ready for work: I had a lot of mucus, I couldn't empty my bladder, and as the morning went on, the baby wasn't moving around. That day was the first of a 7-day sub assignment for me, so I was pretty embarrassed when I had to call the office and ask if someone could cover my mid-morning class while I went to see my OB (not that the ladies in the office minded).
The doctor listened to my symptoms and checked my cervix. He said I was dilated to 1cm, but that labor may not be imminent and I should just relax. (I suspect that was his way of keeping me from freaking out, since he knows my slightly obsessive personality.) I went back to work.
At 2:00, I finished my last class and went home. As I sat in my recliner watching Sophie play, I started writing down my contraction times. After 2 hours of 3-5 minute intervals and two anxious calls to the doctor's office, I called a friend, Brittany, at 5:00 to come stay with Sophie so Greg and I could go to the hospital and see what was up. The nurses started taking samples and asking questions and whatnot, and I think I still expected to be sent home, even though the contractions were painful enough now that I had to breathe through them.
But it was not to be! Around 6:30, a nurse checked my cervix, pronounced it at 4cm with bulging waters and baby at -2, and then she went out to consult the doctor. Within 5 minutes, the surgical team swarmed my room, asking questions, starting IVs, and filling out forms. The anesthesiologist, Jamie, seemed a little bored as he went through his interview; I assumed he wasn't thrilled about being on call that night. We were still undecided about circumcision, so I told Greg that I needed him to make the decision. The nurses handed him an operating-room suit to cover his clothes and they took our picture in our pre-surgery get-ups. Then they wheeled me downstairs.
The operating room seemed crowded with junk, but I'm sure it all had a purpose. A sweet nurse named Laura held me up as Jamie placed the needle for the spinal, which was almost the worst part of the ordeal. Then they laid me down flat and strapped my arms down (an equally horrible part), and put up the screen so that I could see nothing, but I could hear instruments being prepped and monitors beeping and buzzing. The doctor tracked the progress of the anesthesia, Greg came and stood beside my head, and in what seemed like no time at all, all I could hear was a chorus of voices telling me I would feel lots of pressure and pulling. It was disturbing because I hadn't expected a cesarean to be quite so violent, but in no time at all, I heard little Joel crying.
Greg left to go to him and snapped several pictures on his phone to show me. My first comment was that he looked just like Sophie. I cried as I listened to him crying across the room, and the surgical team was quiet as they sewed me up. Greg left the OR to follow the baby to the nursery upstairs, but not before the nurse brought Joel to me and let me kiss his little cheek. He was so soft and beautiful, I thought I might burst with love.
But then I began to feel strange (possibly from the adrenaline), like my heart was beating in my teeth and my chest was being crushed. Jamie periodically patted my head and told me to breathe deeply, but pretty soon I was starting to panic. I couldn't move my arms and I felt like my heart might explode. Jamie told me it was all normal, but I asked him to keep talking to me so I could focus on something else. He was really sweet; he told me about his kids, about the time he lived in Arkansas, and about I'm not sure what else, but he kept me from freaking out until I was all patched up and off to recovery.
Recovery seemed to take an eternity. Two nurses hovered around me for an hour and a half, checking my incision, my bleeding, my pulse and blood pressure, over and over and over again. I was shaking uncontrollably from the anesthesia, so they gave me Demoral (twice) to stop it, and they pushed on my tummy to make sure I was contracting appropriately. All I wanted was to go upstairs to see my baby.
Finally, around 9:30, I was wheeled into my room and Greg placed little Joel in my arms. Brittany and Sam were there with Sophie, and she had already held her baby brother. Our little family was finally together.