Monday, June 12th ~ “Delivery”
I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to sleep the night before The Big Day! I got up around 9am, took my shower with the special soap again and we left by 9:30 to get to the hospital at 10am. I told Michael that I wanted to get a few “last pregnancy” pictures in front of the hospital sign and he was able to do that for me.
We checked into the front desk and I told them, “I’m here to have a C-section”, gave them my name and we were directed to the second floor for Labor and Delivery. We gave the people at that desk my name then sat in chairs and watched Family Feud on TV for 25 minutes.
A man sat down next to me and after one minute he asked me, “Are you waiting to see family too?”
I smiled at him, “I’m here to have a baby!”
He looked surprised as most people did. “Are you 9 months pregnant?”
“Almost. I’m 37 weeks. My baby is small. Only around 3 pounds.”
The mom of the pregnant girl sitting across from us smiled at me too. “You still look really small, even with a 3 pound baby.” Her daughter looked unhappy and I wondered if she was having a C-section too. I probably said thank you since I always take it as a compliment.
I felt bad but happy when we got called back before the other girl since they had been in the lobby already when we showed up. A black nurse named Andrea with short wavy hair and glasses walked us through a C-shaped area with many curtained rooms. Michael sat down and waited while I went with Andrea into the bathroom to get changed. It was a little awkward because I had to go to the bathroom while she stood in there with me, then removed my clothes and she helped wash me all over with soapy cloths before I put my purple gown on.
The nurse who seemed to be more in charge was named Shanna. She was also really nice and explained to Andrea and me a lot of what she was doing. I got my IV put in at 11am and then the anesthesiologist came in to introduce herself. Her name was Angie and she was wearing a bandana with dragonflies on it. She explained to me the difference between an epidural and a spinal block. I chose to get the epidural mostly because that’s what I always assumed would be used and what Doctor Feld said I’d be getting. Then I signed the consent form. She went to get all her “goodies” and another doctor came in. He was an old man with a German (?) accent, Doctor Smeck. He said he was going to be assisting Doctor Feld with the surgery. A chaplain lady came in at one point too and asked if she could pray for us.
My epidural got started at 11:30 and I was so happy that they let Michael stay with me because in the “what to expect” video I watched on YouTube (on this specific hospital’s channel) it said the husband wasn’t in the room during that time. But it also showed the epidural being done in the OR minutes before the surgery. Shanna had me turn on the bed so my legs were hanging off the right side. I spread them so my hips were in the proper spot and I was told to hunch over so my lower back was straight. Michael held my hand and I really appreciated Angie’s step by step talk of everything she was about to do, including things like, “This is just a cleaning swab. It’s going to be cold”. Or “I’m going to place my hand on your right side.” I was told by my friend Jonathan that his wife said the epidural felt like a bee sting, but I’ve never been stung by a bee so I didn’t really have a pain reference. I just said prayers that I wouldn’t sneeze! There were four or five different parts that hurt when I expected them to, but I just kept squeezing Michael’s hand tighter. Shanna reminded me to breathe, which was very important, and I started exhaling slowly through my mouth.
Luckily some of the side effects she said I was about to experience were not felt, like an electric shock when the medicine went into my spine. I didn’t feel that, which I was really happy about because she told me to try not to jump from it. I worried I wouldn’t be able to control it. I felt cold liquid going down my back, but she said that was going through the tube taped to my back, not inside my spine. I was so happy when it was over and waited for the side effects to kick in.
Within half an hour I was almost completely numb from under my chest to my toes. I started getting the shivers which she said was normal and my teeth chattered a lot when I talked to Michael so I just sat there with my mouth open. The epidural made me feel really good, relaxed and calm, and I asked who invented it, but Shanna just laughed. They asked if I felt sick since that is another common side effect, but I said it was only the same sick feeling I had an hour before just from being hungry because I hadn’t been allowed to eat since the night before.
As the epidural kicked in more I guess I lost feeling in the “hungry” part of my stomach because I couldn’t feel that sickness anymore, which was also really good. I also felt like I had to go to the bathroom again, but shortly after that Andrea put in my catheter. Epidurals are so wonderful because even though I could feel the touches, they didn’t hurt at all. I kept Michael updated on when I could still feel and wiggle my toes, but about five minutes before the surgery I couldn’t move them anymore. A few times Angie came back to pinch me on my stomach using her fingernails to see how far up I could feel, or more specifically where the pinches still hurt.
At 12:28pm they were ready for me and I got wheeled down the hallway into the operating room. That was the only time I didn’t get to be with Michael since he had to get his blue surgery gown, hair net, and mask put on. They put down the handles of the stretcher and told me they were going to lean me over to one side so they could lift me onto the operating table. I let out a “Whoa!” each time. One nurse was named Rachel and we smiled about spelling our names the same way. Another doctor with glasses leaned over and told me his name was Doctor Hardy. Angie stayed by my side most of the time and slowly moved my arms out on boards. I forgot to ask Michael to take a picture of me laying there. She hung up the blue dividing sheet near my neck so I wouldn’t be able to see any part of the surgery. Another guy came in, all covered up and all I could see were his glasses. I made eye contact while waiting for him to introduce himself next.
“Hey Shnooks,” he said in a cute voice. Yay! Michael was back. He sat down on my left side near my head. The sheet in front of me was long enough that he couldn’t easily peek around, but I don’t think he wanted to. All week I kept joking about packing Teddy Grams for him to eat in case he felt woozy during my surgery.
Doctor Feld came in and then Shanna called a “time out”, which was just them announcing times and who all was in the room with their position, stating what time the surgery was beginning. I didn’t even feel them cutting me. I felt them moving things around, like they were pushing on my stomach a lot, but I stayed pretty calm since none of it hurt. Again I have to say, epidurals are the best.
I really liked that Michael kept his hand on my head the whole time, stroking my hair over the blue hairnet I was wearing. Apparently it took about 10-15 minutes to get Emma out, but it only felt like a few minutes. Three times I heard Dr. Feld quietly make comments about how small my uterus is. "Have you ever seen a uterus that small?" Angie took a piece of the divider down to expose a clear piece of plastic. I heard someone say, “Time of birth at 12:51.” I didn’t notice the plastic opening until I heard Doctor Feld say my name. I lifted my head and saw him holding a baby with dark hair. Our baby. Baby Emma. I cried a little bit like I knew I would. Just like I did when Michael proposed and as I walked down the aisle for our wedding. Checking off another event that I am so much more than lucky to have in my life.
The crying only lasted a quick minute and then began again as worry took over because I wasn’t hearing Emma cry. “Why isn’t she crying?” I asked Michael quietly.
He kept stroking my hair. “It’s okay. She’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
That didn’t stop me from worrying and I chanted the same few prayers over and over in my head. Please let her start crying. Don’t let her die. Please let us keep her. A couple times I heard a small grumble, like a start of a cry, but it didn’t seem like enough. I had to assume she was fine though because they wiped her off and asked Michael if he wanted to see her. He got his phone out of his pocket and I was alone again for a brief period of time. He also had the cute record book that my mom gave us with a page in the back for her hand print and footprints.
He came back and showed me the picture of her. I started crying again and meekly asked him, “What’s wrong with her legs?” One was bowed up and the other one was facing backwards. She had such a sad, worried look on her face and tubes already taped to her tiny nose. I tried to remember that the fact that she was breathing was most important. She was alive.
Angie came over and reassured me that they had the best medical team and a handful of people that were going to take care of her. Soon after that they brought her to me all wrapped up and put her in my arms. I wish I had enjoyed that moment a little more, knowing now that I won’t get to hold her again for a while. I think I said something like, “Hey baby,” but think I was still crying a little bit. I moved a piece of the towel away from her mouth as she drooled. She had dark wet hair that looked a little bit curly on her forehead. I just wanted her to be okay and not have any issues. Someone used Michael’s phone to get a picture of us. A woman told me, “Give her a kiss”, and I did before they had to take her away.
I said more prayers, mostly being thankful that she was alive and I didn’t hear a bunch of alarms going off. There was a lot of movement felt in my stomach as they got me sewn up. It seemed like they worked quickly and again, I never even felt any touching as I was being sewn up. That area was completely numb. However, Michael said he saw a part of that while they were shoving their hands in my open incision to put everything back into place. He later told me that he almost threw up at that point.
I don’t remember what time they announced the surgery ending, but Doctor Feld left after saying that Emma did really well. It was 13:33 military time on the clock when they took the dividing sheet out and I got wheeled out. Michael was gone by then because he had gone to the NICU with Emma and all the nurses. I saw a tall clear bucket of blood by the foot of the table and instantly said, “Whoa! That’s a lot of blood.” Shanna told me that most of it was amniotic fluid and the placenta.
Back in the recovery area, Michael was already waiting for me and he was just wearing his regular clothes again, looking all handsome. Shanna said goodbye and the nurse who would be helping me for the next few hours was named Nadine. She brought me a cup of ice chips to “eat” which Michael slowly fed to me off of a plastic spoon. Other people came in throughout my time in that area to check my blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. One woman who was also pregnant was there to talk about post-partum depression.
Michael showed me the new picture he had been able to take while he was in the NICU. Emma’s legs looked a little better since they were both doing the same thing, rather than the one facing backwards, but I was still sad for her. I didn’t want her to be in pain and I wanted to hold her and see her again myself. He told me that while he was there he got super sweaty and almost passed out again. I asked him why since there wasn’t any blood, but he said he wasn’t sure why.
I was given a very important button that administered medicine through my epidural line when I needed it. The button would turn green every 20 minutes, then I was able to click it again. Each time I did I felt the quick surge of cold liquid go through the tube taped to my back. She said they wanted to make sure my pain didn’t get above a three or four. I ended up not pressing the button for an hour or two until my pain reached a four. That was a dumb mistake because I wasn’t told until later that it takes 15 minutes for the medicine to kick in. So I had to wait an hour for my pain that ended up getting to a six or seven get back down to a two.
An old lady came in and told us she was the lactation consultant. I remember her name being Nellie, but Michael kept referring to her (when she wasn’t there) as Gertrude. Ha! She brought in a hospital grade Ameda breast pump and showed us how to use it, as well as how to document the amount of colostrum produced and where to label everything. I was really surprised that I wasn’t already producing any milk or that my chest hadn’t gotten bigger yet. I had this silly cartoon idea that they would start getting bigger the minute the umbilical cord was cut. (And no, they did not ask Michael if he wanted to cut the cord. I’m sure he was fine with not doing it. Nobody asked if we wanted to eat the placenta either. Darn it!) That was one of the questions I wrote down for myself; how soon the milk production would happen. Something I figured I couldn’t Google or ask someone else since every body is different, but it was disappointing at the time.
I started feeling sweaty and asked Michael to take off my socks and extra blanket. I got sick a few times even though all I was eating was ice chips, so I basically just threw up water. Luckily they had blue bags I was able to use and I didn’t get sick on myself. The power went out at one point for about five seconds before the generator kicked on. It was a nice surprise to not hear anyone scream like girls always did when the power went off during school. A nurse said there was lightning outside. A young Hispanic guy came in when it was time to wheel me into a regular room. It wasn’t until they wheeled me out that I realized I had been back in that C-shaped area that we were originally brought into at 10:30am.
I was taken up to the 7th floor of the hospital and put in a room that looked almost identical to the one I stayed in last month, except this room only had one huge window instead of two. At first I thought there were two windows and one had the thick white curtain down, but it was just the wall. I had to “crab walk” from the gurney onto my hospital bed by using my legs and butt to slowly scoot myself over.
Shortly after that, around 4:30, Michael went to the NICU again to see Emma. He got a really cute picture of Emma with her eyes open and she had a breathing tube in her mouth now instead of in her nose. That is still my favorite picture of her because her eyes are open. She didn’t look sad in that one and her skin had turned pink rather than the purple it was at first.
I don’t really remember much about the rest of this day, so I assume that I slept a lot, or at least tried to. I was always stayed pretty awake even though I felt so tired. Michael brought me my phone around 6pm so I could update people, but it was hard to keep my eyes open. My pumping record shows that I pumped two more times that day. One of them being close to midnight, although I barely got any drops after 15 minutes. Then at 1am my night nurse (Rachael, not spelled the same way) helped me get out of bed to sit on the toilet and see how well I could walk around. I got sick a couple times just from moving after laying on a bed for 12 hours, plus all I had in my system was ice and medicine. I did well enough walking to make the little loop in the hallway right outside my door. Then Michael and I went to sleep, him using the Murphy bed that came out of the wall. We only slept for about 3 hours. I woke up feeling some pain since I hadn’t pressed my handy epidural button during most of that time and kept resetting my timer for 20 minutes while I tried to keep sleeping.