Mia is four weeks old today, so I decided I had better finally get around to posting her birth story. It's long and there's not much drama, so I threw in some pictures just to keep it interesting.
Amelia's birth was nothing like I expected. I expected to go past my due date, to have a natural childbirth, to do my best to cowboy up and skip the epidural. Instead, I had a scheduled, heavily-medicated cesarean nine days before my due date. It took me a while to come to terms with the drastic difference between my expectations and my reality, but in the end I found that it doesn't matter a bit. Mia is beautiful and healthy and we both came through surgery very well, nothing else is relevant.
I was scheduled for surgery at 9 AM on July 22. We had to show up by 7:30 and we live 15 minutes from the hospital. Clearly, I had to get up at 5 AM. I managed about 4 hours of sleep the night before, which was a lot better than I expected. The benefit of a scheduled c-section was that I got to shower, do my hair, even shave my legs before going to the hospital. I was in a state of low-grade panic the entire time. We took a last belly picture and a last picture of ourselves as non-parents, and I think I look terrified. I was.
When we got to the hospital, we were shuffled into a triage room where I got to change into my very sexy hospital gown and equally sexy green socks with rubber treads on the bottom. The socks did not match the gown, which I found offensive. I was hooked up to monitors and for the next hour Mia's heartbeat was our soundtrack. The nurse ran an IV and I didn't even cry (my A number one irrational fear is of IVs) and drew about a gallon of blood. Half the blood was for the hospital, which the nurse threw away when she realized I had come in the day before and had blood drawn. The other half was for the cord blood storage company, which we discovered had sent us a collection kit but no paperwork and no way to label the random vials of blood we were about to air courier to them.
Once I was drained of all that pesky blood, I started getting saline through my IV and the nurse came back with her electric razor to, um, clear a path for the surgeon. She also treated us to a discussion of the grooming habits of her other patients and I am now fully up to date on the most popular pubic hair fashions in the Northern Virginia area. I don't know how I survived so long without the information.
Setting the theme for the rest of our hospital stay, people were in and out of the room at random. Several nurses, my surgeon, someone who made me sign all the same paperwork I had signed the day before, the asshole anesthesiologist , and my in-laws. I wish I knew which helpful nurse told my in-laws where I was and to come on back so I could smack her soundly across the jaw. I wasn't exactly in the mood for company.
Anyway, the in-laws finally picked up on my "get the hell out of here" vibe, Chris donned his sexy blue scrubs, I made my last unassisted trip to the bathroom for the next few days carrying my IV bag along with me, I put on my very stylish hat and at almost exactly 9:00 sauntered casually down the hall to the OR. I'm pretty sure that was when I started crying.
The OR was freezing. There was a very nice nurse there who introduced herself to me and gave me tissues, the asshole anesthesiologist, and a couple other random people who were seemingly just hanging out. Chris was made to wait in the hallway, which at first I thought was good because he wouldn't be there to watch the random humiliations to which I was about to be subjected, but then I realized that there was a spot of clear glass in the door where he (or anyone else for that matter) could watch the show.
The first step was getting a spinal. The asshole anesthesiologist numbed my back and then spent at least 10 minutes poking, prodding and pushing without telling me what he was doing. He finally stopped, to my huge relief, only to announce that he couldn't get the spinal in and was going to do an epidural instead. Lather, rinse, repeat. I was definitely crying at this point, scared out of my mind that someone was about to cut me open.
The epidural was finally installed and taped to my back with at least three rolls of tape and I was laid out on the table. Next step, the catheter, item number 1 on the list of things I am requiring Chris to forget he ever witnessed. They put up the drape and from that point on I have very little idea what was going on and nobody bothered to tell me. For all I know, they drew a checkerboard on my stomach and played a few games. The most surreal moment was when they did what they called a "time out" and asked me to state my name and why I was there. They were not amused when I ordered a double latte.
Finally, Chris was allowed to come in, the surgeon came in and started poking me. Can you feel this? No. This? No. This? Ouch! So, not quite numb, more epidural please. The medication feels cold going in, did you know that? Anyway, the surgeon pokes me again, I can still feel it, more drugs. Again. Again. Finally, I am numb up to my armpits and actually paralyzed from the waist down, and still feeling pain at that one spot where the surgeon is going to make the incision. They finally gave me a local.
I expected to feel pressure, but no pain. I guess I was too drugged for that. The only way I knew the surgery had started was when I heard the surgeon report the time of the incision. It was amazingly soon after that that the surgeon started giving us updates. "It's a girl." "The cord is wrapped three times around her neck and once around her body." "She's peeing." And then 9:52 and Mia screamed. There is nothing that compares to that sound.
Mia was moved off to the warming table to be checked by the pediatrician. I could see her amazing head of black hair and her legs folded up almost to her chest and her eyes open and slowly blinking. I don't know how many times I asked if she was ok. I asked the pediatrician, I asked the surgeon, I asked Chris. She was perfect. I kept asking anyway, just to be sure.
The surgeon asked her name and became the first person to hear it, Amelia Morgan. Chris went to take pictures, and then brought her back over to see me. I was still strapped to the table and could barely move my arms thanks to the epidural, but I could move my hand enough to feel her hair peeking out under the back of her hat.
I thought going in that the part after the delivery would be strange - knowing that various organs were being shoved back into my body and stitched back together. It didn't even occur to me to think about it at the time. The world shrank to the very small space around me, Chris and Mia and nothing else even registered.
Eventually, Chris went with a nurse to show Mia to the waiting grandparents and take her to the nursery to be checked out. I got all my bits back where they belong and was rolled off into recovery. After a couple of hours I made another excursion to my room and the bed I would not leave for more than 24 hours, where Chris and I were greeted by four ecstatic looking grandparents who had spent the last couple of hours cooing at Mia through the nursery window.
Finally, at about 1:00, I got to hold my daughter and immediately forgot everything other than the shape of her nose, the curve of her cheek, the sound of her cry.
Most pictures by Chris - I was a little busy.