I felt like a mom from the very first moment I saw a plus on the pregnancy test; I became one in the OR, and I was forever changed. This blog is going to start with the stories of my births, the first one Oliver’s, last summer, and the second one Margot’s, only seven weeks ago.
Though my two births could not be more different, the first one a planned C-section and the second one a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section), they both had something uniting them: the love and support I felt from my husband, Scott. I look forward to reading his own version of these stories if he ever feels like writing about them, but all I can say is that I had the best partner one could wish for in both the OR and the birthing room. This first post will cover only Oliver’s birth, since I realize that otherwise it would be way too long.
Oliver’s birth was planned, due to some physical issues I had to deal with the last 2 months of my pregnancy, so we knew the exact time and place. All we had to do was show up at the hospital that early Monday morning with our bags and all of our inexperience as parents and change into a gown. I was going to get spinal anesthesia and Scott was going to be sitting next to me in the OR.
When the nurse came to tell us that it was time to get started, I started walking down the hospital hall, carrying the IV pole along, Scott on my right side and the nurse holding my hospital gown closed in the back. I felt goofy, walking to the OR with a pair of disposable socks on my feet. It was not an emergency indeed, but I at least expected them to roll me down in a wheel chair.
Nope. Walk, lady, walk.
I saw the door, I saw the bench next to it. We did not even need to start talking. Our doctor had explained to us that until the spinal was placed and effectively working, Scott would need to wait outside the door and if, God forbid, I needed general anesthesia, he would not be allowed in it at all. I cannot even remember what it was that Scott told me. Words could not come out of my mouth and little did I know that the doors had already closed behind me and Scott was on the other side. All I could think about was: “Oh God, I didn’t even tell him that I love him.”
There I was, in a tiny brown room that did not remotely look like what I was accustomed to seeing in the many hospital TV shows (made in Hollywood) I had watched. I was expecting to see a green and spacious room. This one looked more like a janitor’s closet, not the place where they were going to cut me open and get my baby boy out. Oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do. The same nurse that held my gown closed on my way there was now holding my hand as the anesthesiologist placed the spinal in. I was so scared it was going to be painful. I almost did not feel it. During my many prenatal visits I had expressed my concern to my doctor that because of a horseback riding accident in 2009, where I broke my back (a whole post will need to be dedicated to this accident which is the very reason I am now married to Scott), I would require general anesthesia. I looked up the drape that was blocking me from seeing the surgery area and I saw my doctor showing off some gigantic metal pliers while reassuring me that I had absolutely no feeling in my legs and my abdomen since she had just pinched me very hard with them. I did not trust it, so I asked her to do it again and while everyone was laughing, Scott came into the room and sat next to me. As soon as I saw him I knew that everything was going to be fine and I was ready for the next big step.
And so the surgery began. I had envisioned Scott sitting next to me for the whole time, but very unexpectedly he asked if he could watch the surgery. Reluctant at first, I told him that if he really wanted to and promised not to pass out, it was fine with me. While the anesthesiologist kept me calm with tales of his honeymoon in Rome, my doctor announced that I would soon feel a lot of pressure, as if an elephant had just sat on my abdomen, since the nurse needed to push the baby down for her to get him out. While the image of the elephant made me giggle, I immediately felt as if an entire building had collapsed on me, and seconds later I heard my baby boy crying. He was instantly joined by Scott, who overjoyed kept screaming “I’m your Daddy!! I’m your Daddy!!” as he left my side and moved towards our baby. We had spoken several times about how I wanted him to comfort our son, since I knew I was not going to be able to while lying on the table. The doctor lifted him a few seconds over the drape for me to briefly have a peek at him, and immediately a nurse took him away to be weighed and wrapped in warm blankets. I had asked about being able to nurse him while in the OR, but I was denied my request, per hospital policy. The nurse brought him to me for a quick kiss, and, after a couple of first family pics, Scott and Oliver left the OR to go to the nursery while the doctor finished putting me back together (months later I made the mistake to read my detailed surgery report—not cool. Unless you work for CSI).
My legs still numb, they moved me into a bed and rolled me to the recovery room. I was there on my own for over an hour, looking at pictures and videos of our boy that Scott had taken and sent to me from his phone, wishing I could have been there too. Finally they both made it to the room and I got to hold my boy for real for the very first time. I knew the one hour breastfeeding window had gone by already, but nonetheless, I was hopeful.
Soon frustration replaced my hope, and little did I know that our breastfeeding relationship was going to be a very challenging one, though not impossible. Still unable to move my legs, I closed my eyes while holding my baby close to my face.
I had just become a mom.