Saturday, July 11, 2015

Baby, Baby, Baby, Oh!

I suppose it's about time I clued the internet world in on how the whole birth thing went. As best as I can remember it, at least. With help from the husband peanut gallery, of course.

The kid's 11 days old and it definitely feels like he's been with us at least a month already. I am already awful at letting him fuss a bit on his own, or even with Mark, before swooping in trying to fix everything, even though I know that's a bad habit to get into. I am overwhelmed with the kindness of our family, friends, and church peers. My microwave has never felt more useful and my fridge never so full. Nor my heart, for that matter. 

To start at the beginning of this tale, we have to go back to June 24th, the day after my due date. I went in for my weekly checkup at the OB-GYN and went through the process as normal. Checked in. Left my urine sample. Went back when the nurse called me and she took my vitals, asked how I was feeling, any contractions or bloody show. I told her about my constant Braxton Hicks but how they don't progress at all. Nothing to be excited about. When the doctor came in to check my dilation I was prepared for the same diagnosis as the last three weeks; "none whatsoever", or in his words, "extra not dilated". Naturally I hoped against all odds though. Much to my surprise when he pulled his hand back and said that not only was I not dilated, the baby hadn't even dropped at all. He wasn't able to feel the head nearby, let alone making its way into a labor position. He told me we would do an ultrasound that day to determine how big the baby was and if he was over ten pounds we would be scheduling a c-section for the next day.
Now, if you had asked me all throughout my pregnancy, "What's your birth plan?" you would have gotten a casual shrug and the answer, "A healthy baby. That's my plan." I was certainly not heartbroken by the inevitability of a cesarean. I was, however, thrown into a bit of shock to have things suddenly moving so quickly. For weeks I was told, "no dilation, no dilation" and now all of a sudden my baby could be here tomorrow?? I was every bit as confused about how I felt as I was excited to meet the little munch-nugget I had been incubating for so many months. I went out into the waiting room and immediately texted Mark the news. He happened to be working from home that day and asked if he needed to come to the office. Despite my calm protests that it wasn't necessary, he finished his current task and sped down the four or so miles to our doctor's office to be with me and talk it all out.
In the ultrasound, the tech estimated that baby was ten pounds and four ounces, nineteen or so inches long, and padded with a generous amount of fat. We called the doc and confirmed that he was indeed over the predetermined weight and decided to book our c-section! We giddily flipped through the prints of the ultrasound photos and tried to imagine what it would be like to finally hold him in our arms the very next day. It all became so real and so soon. On our way out the doors we hastily texted grandparents and close friends the news of our scheduled stork delivery and went back home to really prep the house.

Considering we knew that upon the arrival of morning we would no longer be simply husband and wife but also father and mother to a needy ball of flesh, we quickly scoured the showtimes of new movies to go see as one last date night free of babysitters or fussy little ones. "Inside Out" happened to be showing at the perfect time and in watching it, we proceeded to psych ourselves out even further with all the parent-child feels the movie induced. Coincidentally appropriate, you might say.
We tried our best to sleep that night. I made sure to shower early in the wee hours of morning, considering we were appointed to be at the hospital at 0530 for admitting and paperwork. The drive over was a mix of leisurely and electrifying. We parked and strolled in, got checked into our room and immediately the nurses began hooking me up with all kinds of wires and tubes and wraps. I quite miss those leg massagers, although the sweats and itchiness of them I don't quite miss. Overall though, it was nearly pleasant. The IV insertion does not enjoy the privilege of being considered "pleasant". I was lucky and it didn't bother me once it was in. I forgot about it with time.
Before I even knew it, we were left alone to wait in our room until they came to wheel us back to the operating room, which ended up being only a little over thirty minutes of waiting.

0730 Again, I was surprised with the speed of events. When the nurses came back in, there was no hesitation about it, they had my bed rolling out in less than a minute and we were on our way. Everything felt great and we were getting smiles and congratulations as we weaved down the hallways.
But then Mark and I were separated for a few minutes as they took me in to the OR room to prep. My immediate observations being that the room was freezing, there was a load more people than I expected as well as a myriad of strange machines, and I couldn't even begin to know where to look or what to think. I straightaway missed being able to glance over and see Mark's calm, smiling face. But everyone was kind and amiable, helping me feel as comfortable as possible. They tucked my hair into a net and I breathed deeply under the warm blanket the nurse spread over me as she told me to lean onto her when they were sticking me with the spinal tap. I felt like a lab rat as they helped me lie back, rolled up my hospital gown, spread my legs and sanitized my body under the bulbous glare of the OR overhead lights. That only lasted a minute though before they returned my body to a more natural supine position. The constriction in my chest continued to tighten and my anxiety worsen as the bustling preparations continued and more people popped into view to tell me one more thing that was going to happen and Mark still had not been let into the room. I desperately wanted my husband and I had a quick moment of marveling how women did it when they were whisked into emergency c-sections they didn't want. I was fine with the idea and still freaking out.
Finally I heard someone say, "alright daddy, you can come in now...over here" and at long last Mark's eyeballs came into view. I say eyeballs because of course he was wearing a cap as well as a face mask but it was enough. My hand twitched involuntarily to search for his and he immediately grabbed mine and squeezed. The anesthesiologist performed a quick test to see how far I was numb and seemed pleased with the results. It terrifies me that the only way of determining if the anesthesia is working is whether I can tell if an alcohol swab feels "cold" or not.
I heard my doctor's voice and knew I'd be under the knife sooner than I could imagine. He peeked over the dividing curtain and asked, "are we ready for this?" I smiled as pleasantly as I could and replied, "as ready as I can be!"
The general hubbub of the OR room was distracting enough to be marginally comforting but I still tensed up as the doc said the words, "making the incision now". I was not prepared for the literal gut wrenching and sickening nausea that swept over me as they, presumably, began working the baby out of my body. There was, of course, no pain whatsoever, but I hadn't thought about how forceful they would need to be and steeled myself against the anxiety over feeling my body rock back and forth. Mark must have noticed my discomfort because he leaned in closer and his hand floundered for a place to touch me and comfort me better. I assured him I wasn't in any pain and as his fingers brushed up against my face I nodded vehemently and said, "right there, that's perfect." I leaned my cheek into his warm hand and tried not to cry. I was getting the easiest experience out of this and felt guilty for being so affected. I am overcome with emotion thinking back on this moment and just want to take a moment to say that Mark was everything to me in that room. I looked to him the entire time and he never once failed to respond to me kindly and assure me that I was doing great, complimenting me and helping me make it through.
0749 Suddenly, the anesthesiologist patted Mark's arm and told him quickly to get up and look over the curtain as I heard our baby's first shuddering cries and the gasps of a few nurses, "oh my! What a chunker!" I think I remember they held him out for me to see, I said hello to him and tried to let him hear my voice, then they led Mark over to the warmer where they cleaned him up and took his stats and vitals. Our firstborn was 10 pounds 10 ounces and 23 inches long. And the nurses claimed his hair had some red to it! I was just shocked he even had hair, Mark and I were both bald as babies. To my chagrin, I was being rocked violently once again as they closed me up and I no longer had Mark there but I kept both eyes on that precious baby and avoided looking into all the reflective surfaces attempting to scar me with an image of what was happening over the curtain. Mark took a video of the birth and I still haven't watched it. Not my cup of tea.

They handed him over to Mark, who stepped back over to where I was, sat down and held him close to my face so I could see him up close. We cooed at him and told him we loved him, as new parents are wont to do, and then Mark was led out to go to recovery as I was being stitched up. They asked if I was comfortable with Ander being given a bottle of formula because of his being at risk of a plummet in blood sugar due to his sizeable weight and the fact that I couldn't immediately breastfeed him. I just wanted my baby to be healthy so I naturally said yes. Luckily, my doctor was so quick with his sutures, we made it to recovery just behind Mark and Ander with the lactation consultant not far behind and on quite the warpath against the nurses trying to give him formula so quick. We began immediate breastfeeding, to which Ander took a speedy liking, and I sat awkwardly with my boobs hanging out and a babe not even a half hour old between the tense catfight that ensued between Team Breast and Team Formula. Fortunately, Ander met hospital regulation within the hour and we avoided having to send him to the NICU and endure an IV.
My mom arrived mere minutes after we had been in recovery and impressed the lactation consultant with her wise tips on breastfeeding. Mark's brother was soon thereafter, however he was invited to wait in our room till we were out of recovery. I'm glad for those quiet minutes of bonding with my baby skin-to-skin with just my husband and my mother by my side. After the whirlwind of a delivery and the trauma to my body and mind, it would have been chaotic to have so many visitors all at once so soon after everything.
I'm so proud of my big, strong boy and so incredibly grateful for how well everything went. Baby is healthy, mama is healthy, and daddy is rocketing past all my expectations, regardless of how high they already were. He's the greatest husband I could ever have hoped for and the greatest father I could have ever dreamed.
Now if only I could sleep for ten hours.

(Grandpa sleeping while holding babe....)