Alrighty then...where did we leave off?
Oh yes...let's have a C-section because my daughter is in fetal distress due to the fact that my body is apparently failing at labor and delivery and the pitocin is absolutely not doing my daughter any favors.
This was honestly the most surreal part of the whole process. While I had joked about preferring surgery to what the natural process would be, I had never honestly considered it. I always assumed I was one of those strong, healthy as a horse kind of women who would just push on through it (literally). At this point, I think things stopped being real and I entered a la-la land that I didn't wake up from for a day or so...things get really fuzzy in here and time just squashes everything together.
I remember being totally scared out of my mind because I had never ever had a surgery of any kind before. And I knew I was going to be conscious which was doubly terrifying - what if I felt it or what would it feel like? Thankfully, my doctor (not the best with the bedside manner, but still - the doctor I had seen for the past nine months) showed up and I felt a lot of relief. She assured me it would all be ok and that I wouldn't feel pain. My parents came in to say good luck and what really scared me was seeing tears in my dad's eyes. I know he was scared for the baby (and me), but that's when it all kinda sunk in for me. I watched Brian put on scrubs and let them turn up the pump on my epidural as high as the thing went. And we were off.
It was FREEZING. My memories of that room are very surreal - it was a cold (ANTARCTIC) white room with lots of lights. It was just me and all the doctor/nurse/helper people for a while and I was supposed to help scoot myself on the table even though I couldn't feel half of my body. That was interesting. Then they put on my cap and put up the sheet and finally (it felt like hours later) asked Brian to come in. They told me they'd test to make sure I was numb before cutting...and I waited, chatting with Brian to try to calm down. I finally asked him when they were going to start and he said they were up to their elbows...hmmm...guess that epidural did work well. I assumed they would check with me, but I suppose the lack of screaming was a good indication I was ok. At one point, Brian asked me if I'd like a picture of my insides and I told him it was ok if he stopped watching at that point.
It never hurt, but it was really weird and uncomfortable - especially when they reached in to pry her out. It was like someone was trying to grab my spine and pull it out through my belly button (best I can do on that one). The pressure was really intense. It was dead silent for a moment, and then I heard her screech like a little pterodactyl and I started to cry. The raised her up above the sheet so I could take a quick look and then they whisked her over to the incubator to do all their cleaning and testing. Brian was between me and her, so I never saw any of this - he just kept turning his head to tell me she had two hands, two feet, ten fingers, ten toes...etc. I was too tired to tell him to move his big head so I could see for myself. And then, she and he were gone and I was on my own again.
This part took forever. They had to clean and sew everything up. I was exhausted - it had now been at least 26 hours since I started my labor journey and I hadn't really slept and I hadn't eaten in about 30 hours and I was really really thirsty (deciding immediately after they tell you surgery is necessary that you should have had a drink in the past hour or so is not the best time to figure it out). All I wanted to do was close my eyes and rest, but that's a big no-no in the operating room. They kept making me open my eyes and stay alert. Thankfully, they gave me a nice warm blanket (on my arms and chest), but when the conversation is about weekend plans that don't concern you and you're exhausted, you don't want to stay awake.
Finally, we got to recovery, which was much nicer. Dark, quiet, and much more comfortable. It was really hard to get into the bed because the lower half of my body was absolutely dead. I couldn't help with anything. Two very nice nurses were helping me clean up (one of whom, I found out, was a former student of mine...not the time to run into those people...), and I could finally rest. Then Brian and Katie came in and I finally got to hold her and see her. Her eyes were all gooey with those drops they put in, but I just remember being so awed by the fact that she looked up immediately when she heard my voice - she knew me. They asked me if I wanted to feed her, but I was so tired and drugged I was sure I'd drop her, so Brian did it. She drank 2 milliliters. It was nice to have about an hour to just sit there and stare at her before the rush of family.
My family didn't get to see her until I was out of recovery. One of the things Brian did really right was to let them know I was out of surgery and that we were ok, but he neglected to mention she was in the nursery, so no one saw her before I did. That was really nice. She got to meet everyone and we slowly eased into figuring out what to do with this kid. I was on a liquid diet until Sunday evening (it was late Saturday afternoon at this point), so I was starving, but I made it. I didn't get to shower until Monday and that was WAY better. But Katie had some problems. Thankfully, her lungs were ok - at 36 weeks that was a big concern. She had some light jaundice, but nothing too serious. She didn't however, have full control over how to suck or how to eat. Our best feeding in three days was 5 milliliters. She was eating so little that we were scared.
They took her away from me Monday afternoon to start running some tests for infections/developmental issues/etc. and I have never been so scared in my whole life. I just lay there crying. Thankfully, this was the time Angie showed up to distract me, so that helped a lot. My dad happened to be back in town for a conference and he showed up to see Katie but we couldn't see her because she was going through tests. I have never felt so helpless in my life. I just paced up and down the hallway (clinging to the railing - major abdominal surgery doesn't allow for a lot of nervous pacing) and waited.
We never did find out what exactly was wrong, but the feeding issues continued for quite a while. Gaining weight has never been Katie's specialty (but she's pretty darn good at eating now), and she wore her newborn clothing for the first three months of her life - only barely easing into 0-3mo clothing at 4 months old. She stayed pretty scrawny (no baby fat on this one), but healthy. Thankfully, she has grown and developed normally and we haven't had any other problems, but that was a scary time. That's just one of the reasons we hope to make it all the way to 38 weeks with Jellybean. That, and I would really like a little less drama this time - no earthquakes...long labors...surprise surgeries....
We'll see. They decide, not us, but now you know how we met our adorable daughter and what a process is was. Of course, I've left out all kinds of amusing little anecdotes and stories along the way, but I'm sure there's a time to tell them as well.