I had always only seen the positive in having a scheduled delivery, mainly because my Type-A personality doesn’t do well with unplanned surprises. I like to be prepared and on top of things. So to know exactly when I needed childcare for my toddler and time off from work for the hubby? It only seemed like it could be a win-win situation.
But here’s the thing about knowing the exact day and time… You suddenly can count down the days. The hours. The minutes. And the day before, you know that you’re going to either be in labor or in surgery the following day. And that, my friends, gives a mom just a bit too much time to think.
Last Wednesday, the day before my scheduled C-section, I kept trying to remind myself that the C-section wasn’t just any ol’ surgery. It was the way that I would delivery my baby girl. And it’s not like I hadn’t already been through one (even if my last hadn’t been planned). But still, having that hang over my head and just knowing that – despite how common it is – it’s major surgery? I was definitely starting to feel the nerves!
My surgery was scheduled for 7:30am on Thursday, May 4th; and we had to be at the hospital two hours early for the prep / lab work. So my mom arrived at our house for 5am (to watch our then-sleeping toddler), and Nate and I made the drive to the hospital.
The weather was beautiful… Crisp and cool with a gorgeous pink and orange sunrise. It was pretty surreal that we’d be able to meet our Kaitlyn in just a few hours!
When we arrived at the Labor and Delivery Floor in the hospital, we were led to the surgery, recovery room. The nurse had me wipe down with an antiseptic wipe before donning a lovely hospital gown. I had blood drawn and then was hooked up to IV fluids for about an hour. I kept asking Nate for the time, and the moment of surgery just kept inching closer.
I honestly could feel myself getting more and more nervous about the c-section. I’d gone through it before, so I knew what to expect. And somehow that was making things much harder this time around. (It was completely different than my experience with Brady. I had felt so mentally prepared and confident for his delivery. Knowing the date ahead of time – and being so exhausted and sick throughout the pregnancy – really had played mind games with me. Also, to be honest, just being a mom already put a new feeling of pressure on me. I kept thinking, “Nothing can go wrong… Brady needs his mamma. Nothing can go wrong, because he really needs me.” It’s not a fun place to be mentally, especially when you’re just minutes away from surgery).
Finally it was time. I was unhooked from the IV and helped out of bed, so that I could walk to the surgery room. Nate, meanwhile, stayed behind to put on scrubs. (He loved that part just a bit too much…). 😉
One of the things I’d been worried about was whether or not I’d feel the long needle of the spinal going into my back. (For my last C-section, I’d just had over 9 hours of labor contractions, so I was already in enough pain that I hadn’t felt a thing from the shot). I was helped onto the metal table and was instructed to curl forward over my belly, so that they could numb my back with some tiny shots. Those just pinched a tad, so I honestly didn’t feel the anesthesia go in at all. I was really relieved!
But the rest of the C-section wasn’t quite so calming…
With C-sections, the anesthesia hits quickly and numbs you from the upper chest down. With that numbness comes the sensation of not being able to breathe. It happened during my C-section with Brady, but I had been warned about it so I was able to focus on the fact that I could breathe (even though the feeling wasn’t there). This time around, the sense of not being able to breathe was much more intense. I kept trying to take deep breaths to assure myself that I was getting oxygen, but breathing was getting much more difficult (...in my mind. In reality, I was breathing just fine).
And since I was just getting over a chest cold, I could suddenly feel my lungs and throat get thick with phlegm. But I couldn’t cough. Try as I might, the numbness in my chest had made it impossible for me to cough, so I felt like I was starting to drown.
I also had an intense sensation of exhaustion and realized that I almost couldn’t keep my eyes open. I felt this intense sleepiness beckoning me to go to sleep; but I also had this sudden fear that if I fell asleep, I wouldn’t wake up. I can’t explain it very well in words except to say that it was terrifying. So I kept wiggling my fingers or stretching my arms, willing myself to realize that I was alive and that the doctors on the other side of the curtain were still talking in calm voices.
When Nate was allowed to enter the operating room, I was shaking really bad; and I can only imagine how much fear was racing behind my wide-open eyes. He sat down on a stool next to me and instantly started to rub my hand, saying, “How are you doing, Babe? You’re doing SO good! I love you so much!!”
Honestly, I calmed down a ton once he was in there with me, as I had known I would. Feeling his warm hand covering mine… Focusing on the stroke of his thumb on my arm… Listening to his calm voice. My racing heart definitely slowed down, and I was able to calm myself mentally.
The surgery itself is honestly very quick (although in the moment, it can feel like a lifetime). There’s absolutely no pain, but there is some pretty intesnse tugging going on. And because Kaitlyn was so far up, a doctor literally had to lean into my chest to help push her down. I could see his shadow on the other side of the curtain, and the pressure of his body on mine just made it that much harder to breathe.
And THEN… Then I heard the doctor say, “There she is. Oh, she’s beautiful!” And I heard the sweetest, high-pitched cry call out. And suddenly there were tears running down my face, and I was struggling to hold back sobs of pure joy and love and happiness.
The nurses quickly weighed her, cleaned her up a bit, and did the measurements. (I really wish they had waited to do all that until I had been able to hold her, like they did with Brady. Waiting to feel her on my chest and to really see her seemed like an eternity)! But soon, she was placed – crying – on my chest; and I was able to look into the precious face of my baby girl.
THAT is when it all becomes worth it. It’s instant. The whirlwind of emotions that include the fiercest of loves and the deepest of joys. Suddenly nothing else matters. Suddenly you forget the uncomfortable moments during pregnancy. You let go of the body image fears. You’d go through that C-section all over again, from start to finish.
It’s ALL worth it.
A nurse was assigned to watch over me for two hours after the surgery just to make sure that there weren’t any complications. I was hooked up to monitors and also had to wear ‘boots’ on my legs that continuously compressed and released. (Those are to help ward off blood clots in your legs). I’d wear those until the following morning, as I wasn’t allowed to take them off until I was able to walk a bit. During that time, I was allowed to nurse Kaitlyn, and she latched / fed like a champion!
Bit by bit, the feeling returned to my toes. And man, did feeling return everywhere else too. I’ve never been SO itchy in my life! Apparently that can be a side effect of the anesthesia , and I literally spent the rest of the day scratching at my face, chest, arms, and legs. (But I was relieved that I hadn’t thrown up – as I usually do after having anesthesia- so I didn’t complain about the itching for a moment)!
I was honestly so happy that I kind of just laughed at how much I was scratching at myself. To have the C-section behind me and my baby in my arms filled me with such happiness that I was possibility giddy!
After several hours, we were wheeled to our room where we’d spend the next few days, and I have to say that we really lucked out this time. The room was really large AND there was an actual bed for Nate to sleep on (instead of the pull-out cot that he tried to sleep on last time). For the remainder of the day, I rested in bed and snuggled my baby girl.
There is nothing more priceless or precious than that.
And NOW, our little family is complete… and our hearts are FULL!