I didn’t think my birth story would be this long considering I had a pretty standard cesarean. Well, here it is!
I didn’t wake up every morning wondering if today would be the day I’d have my baby nor did I go through hours of trying labor. I went to bed one night knowing the next day that I’d get to meet the little person in my belly. I was surprised by how well I slept that night. Usually, I’m a nervous wreck before any big event. Just ask my family how difficult I was in the week preceding my wedding. I just felt relaxed and ready.
That morning, Conor and I got up early to take care of a few last minute things around the house. It was eerie how normal we were acting. Simone came over because I planned on having her hang out with me before the surgery and take some photos. This made things feel even more normal. I thought getting to the hospital would get me amped up but I felt more relaxed when we arrived. As soon as I checked in, they whisked me away to hook me up to a bunch of monitors and start my IV. The fact that I was about to have surgery should have sunk in, right? Nope! I just kept chatting with my midwife and Conor and even started to get sleepy. Multiple surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists came in and out to talk to me about the surgery. I just got sleepier and sleepier with each one. People were chatting around me but I kept looking at the clock and wondering if I had time for a nap before the surgery.
When it was time to go the operating room, they didn’t wheel me in like I had imagined but let me walk in. It was strange but it made me feel confident and in control of the situation. I sat on the operating table and they started hooking me up to various machines. The one moment of panic finally came when they injected the numbing anesthetic before they put the spinal block in. It hurt! I must have broken the nurses hand while they injected it. The spinal itself was actually pretty cool. I felt the pressure of the needle and then my legs got very warm and numb. I stared up at the lights while the nurses and doctors chatted and finished prepping me for surgery. They asked if I minded that they were talking but I urged them to continue. I liked that they were carrying on as if it was a normal work day for them. It put me at ease. They also asked if I brought any CD’s but I didn’t because we couldn’t find the Van Morrison album I wanted to listen to. I told the anesthesiologist to pick a CD and he chose Jimmy Buffet. For some reason, it was totally appropriate.
When Conor came into the operating room, I cried a little. Being strapped down to an operating table is not a normal occurrence for me so it was great to see him at that moment. We started making small talk and chatted while the surgeons were doing their job behind the curtain. We totally tuned them out and started talking about how funny it was that Jimmy Buffet was playing. I remember someone saying that I might feel some tugging but Conor and I were pretty much in our own world. However, our conversation was interrupted by a loud cry. I was quickly brought back to reality and that relaxing haze I had been in all morning disappeared. It was Charlotte! Hearing her cry brought tears to my eyes. Her cry sounded so familiar to me. I knew she was my baby before I even saw her.
They wrapped her up and brought her over to me. I couldn’t touch her just yet but I could talk to her and kiss her fat little cheeks. I just kept saying, “Hi Charlotte” over and over again. They handed her to Conor and I was finally able to really look at her and touch her. I kept stroking her cheek and tried to take her all in. I was trying to determine if she looked more like me or Conor but really, she looked most like Mother Teresa. They bundled her in a way that made it look like she was wearing a habit and her face was super wrinkly. When it was time to finish the operation, they had Conor leave the operating room and put Charlotte under the warmer. This was probably the worst part of having a cesarean, not being able to hold her and keep her with me during this part of the operation. It probably only took about 10 minutes but it felt like an eternity. I was still numb from the spinal but I started to notice that they were messing around with my insides and the thought alone was freaking me out. I was thrilled when they finally dropped the curtain and handed my baby to me. I’ll never forget holding her for the first time.
I love that even though I had a c-section, I was able to get skin to skin contact immediately after the surgery. She wasn’t able to latch on and begin breastfeeding at that moment but she was sure trying. I couldn’t believe how strong she was. The nurse was pretty determined to get her latched on but at this point, I hadn’t eaten for 17 hours and all I could think about was feeding myself! I happily enjoyed a turkey sandwich while my newborn daughter napped on my chest.