I was scheduled to give birth to my daughter via a repeat C-Section at 9:30 am on Monday September 25, 2017. It was such a weird feeling to have a birth scheduled for a specific day and time.
I was so sure that the baby was going to come early and I anxiously paid attention to every new pain, twinge, or odd feeling I had during my last weeks of pregnancy.
My first child, a son, Wyatt, was also a scheduled C-section, but he came early – on his own terms. My water broke in the middle of the night and I gave birth to him, still via cesarean, early the following morning. It was impossible to not compare this second pregnancy and impending labor to my first.
During the last three weeks of my pregnancy I slept on a waterproof crib mattress pad, covered our couch with a blanket, and sat on a towel while driving my car. I was 99% my water would break at some inopportune moment. The days were painfully long as I uncomfortably waited. My back hurt, my hips hurt, and I was so tired.
But baby girl was content on staying inside.
The night before the big day I was full of equal parts excitement and anxiety. I had the normal fears of bringing a new life into the world: Would she be healthy? Would I be okay? But I also couldn’t wait to meet my baby girl. Ryan and I went to bed early and tired to a get a restful sleep.
My alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and it felt like Christmas morning! I hopped in the shower and washed with the special Hippacleanse soap and got dressed in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I did my hair and applied light make-up (a perk of a scheduled birth!)
Ryan’s parents drove into town early to stay with Wyatt. As we gave them instructions on nap and lunch schedules, it felt like we were merely heading out of town for a long weekend or a date night, not going to the hospital to have a new baby!
I hugged Wyatt extra hard and said goodbye. “You’ll always be my baby” I whispered. He blew me kisses and smiled, totally oblivious to the fact that his entire world was about to be changed forever. Ryan snapped one final “bump photo” of me before we headed out the door.
We were quiet as we made the twenty-minute drive to the hospital. I was most worried about whether or not the baby was healthy, getting the spinal tap, and the surgery recovery, but I kept trying to picture holding and looking into my daughter’s eyes. “Everything is going to be fine!” Ryan kept repeating.
We arrived at the hospital and checked in and were told to wait in the outpatient surgery waiting area. Sitting there, with Fox News playing on the TV, it felt like we were waiting to go in just to get a cyst removed or some other simple procedure, not to have a baby! I felt no urgency from the staff. We waited to be called back. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life! We finally got checked in and I got called back to a small pre-op room, Ryan wasn’t allowed to go with me yet.
Back in the pre op room the nurse went over my medications, took my vitals, and had me put my things in a locker after I changed into a hospital gown. Ryan was allowed to come back at this point. Another nurse came in and went over the surgery and the recovery. She was followed by the anesthesiologist who went over the spinal tap.
The spinal was what I was most worried about, and even having the doctor describe the procedure made me cringe. He went over all of the risks, like a 1% chance that the spinal wouldn’t work and they’d have to use general anesthesia, or that there would be permanent nerve damage. Everything had gone 100% fine with my cesarean with Wyatt, so I kept reminding myself today would go fine. These doctors perform cesareans thousands of times.
He left and Ryan and I anxiously waited and watched the clock. Only about 20 minutes before the surgery! I decided to make a last trip to the bathroom and when I came back I was told that an emergency C-section just came in and my procedure had to be pushed back for another hour. Of course I completely understood, but what a disappointment!
A nurse came in and put in my IV and then I went to another area and got scrubbed down and shaved. (I guess I didn’t do a good enough job at home!) I was given a disgusting “shot” of meds that were supposed to balance out the acid in my stomach. Ryan got scrubbed up. We were all prepped, now we just had to wait!
My parents came back and visited for a bit to pass the time. We all anxiously talked about what we thought the baby was going to look like, how big she was going to be, and how I was feeling. They left and then Ryan and I were left alone to impatiently twiddle our thumbs. Shortly after, a few nurses rushed in exclaiming it was go time! Everything started to move really fast after that.
We were quickly hustled out of the room and started walking down long halls to the OR. Outside the door to the operating room, Ryan and I had to temporarily say our goodbyes. He wasn’t allowed in the room while they prepped me and did the spinal block.
The blindingly bright OR was full of busy energy with nurses and doctors running all around. The scent of sanitizer filling the air. They checked my identity and immediately got me in position to do the spinal – the one thing I was least looking forward to!
The nurses instructed me to sit on the very edge of the cold table and hunch my back over my big belly as much as I could. It was so uncomfortable and I felt like I was going to fall down. The one kind nurse in the room held my hand, I felt the prick of the numbing needle go in and forced myself to take a few big breaths.
The anesthesiologist told me he was going to be inserting the needle now and I would feel some pressure. I felt the needle go in and held my breath. I reminded myself it would all be over in a few minutes and I would soon be holding my baby.
Then I felt the same pressure prick again.
“What’s going on?” I nervously asked.
“Just trying to find the right spot in your spine to enter.” He calmly replied.
I felt four more distinct pricks in my spinal area. My whole body was so tense. “Did you find it yet?” I asked, not even sure what “it” was.
A few seconds lately he confidently responded, “Yes! All set not.” Phew!
I lied back down on the table feeling calm and ready to go. The nurses started putting the draping up around me and scrubbing my belly down some more. I started to feel my feet get tingling and numb. My OBGYN came over to check everything out and said I was looking good, “You’re going to be holding your baby in a matter of moments! We’re going to take good care of you.” She said warmly.
Meanwhile a nurse was aggressively wiping down my lower extremities, so much so that I called out, “Ouch!”
“You can feel that?” Her surprised reply.
“What does it feel like?”
“Like you are wiping me with a lot of pressure.”
They proceeded to pinch my thighs and stomach, asking me if I was feeling anything. Every pinch and prod felt like I wasn’t numb at all. The anesthesiologist recommended I be placed on a ninety-degree angle, with my head towards the floor, hoping that gravity would make the numbing medication surge through my body faster.
About 4 minutes later the doctor pinched my stomach again. I felt no change in numbness and started to panic. What was going on?
“You know; you will feel SOME pressure. Is that what you feel?”
“No, it feels like I have no numbness at all!”
What if they didn’t believe me that I wasn’t numb – that they thought I was exaggerating. I started to cry.
“Don’t worry, we’re not barbarians, we won’t cut you open when you can still feel pain. We’ll wait a couple more minutes.”
I tried to breath and stop crying. A couple more minutes passed, although it felt like an eternity, and they tested my stomach numbness again. I felt no change.
The anesthesiologist sat next to me and calmly delivered the news, “I’m sorry, but the Spinal Block was not successful.”
Now I was panicking. Keep in mind, I was still basically upside down on the table.
“What does that mean?”
“We are going to have to put you under general anesthesia.”
I burst into tears. That would mean I would be completely unconscious for the birth of my daughter. I couldn’t let this happen.
“But my feet are mostly numb!” I urged. “Can’t we wait a little bit longer, or do the spinal block again?”
“No, I’m sorry, we have to move forward now.”
I was so taken by surprise. It was explained in my pre-surgery consult that the Spinal Block only fails one percent of the time! I never thought I would be that one percent!
They told me that Ryan would not be allowed in the room during the surgery.
I was heartbroken.
Neither Ryan or I would be present for the birth of our daughter.
I asked if Ryan could at least come in and talk to me before I was put under. He had been out in the hallway this whole time, completely oblivious to everything that was going on.
The nice nurse went out to get Ryan and meanwhile I couldn’t stop sobbing. The doctors were all being nice about the situation but I was so upset and angry. Ryan came in, very confused. He told me that everything was going to be okay, but he couldn’t hold my hand or kiss me, due to the sterile environment. Seconds later he was escorted out of the room. I later learned he wasn’t really briefed on the whole situation and thought that he would be brought back into the OR once I was put under so he could be there for the birth. There was such bad communication!
Everything felt so urgent all of a sudden. It was all bright lights, beeping machines, and the nurses and doctors talking in what sounded like a secret code to one another.
They put a mask over my face and counted one, two, three and then I was out.
The next thing I remember is waking up in another room, surrounded by nurses. The first words I uttered were, “Is she okay?”
I was still very upset and crying, I still couldn’t believe I fell under the one percent where the spinal failed.
I’ve had to piece together bits of information given to me to know what happened. Ryan was there in the room holding Hadley. I wasn’t awake enough to be trusted to hold her just yet, unfortunately. He told me that he had been patiently waiting out in the hall, expecting them to come get him, when he heard a baby crying and thought, “Well, I guess that’s my daughter!” (below are photos a nice nurse took for us after the birth, while I was unconscious and Ryan was not in the room)
It took five minutes for a doctor to come out to deliver the good news and tell Ryan everything was okay. Hadley scored an 8 and 9 on her Apgar screening. She was healthy, pink, and had a set of lungs on her. Five more minutes passed and then Hadley was brought out to Ryan and they were escorted to the recovery room. I’m so thankful that Ryan was able to hold and comfort Hadley during this time while I was still unconscious.
I didn’t get to hold my daughter for another thirty minutes. After waking up in the recovery room it took a couple of minutes until I was alert enough to hold her. I had tears streaming down my face when Ryan handed Hadley to me. She was so tiny and so beautiful and screaming her head off. I pushed away my feelings of sadness and took in her tiny face, her sweet smell, and he little noises. She was perfect.
We started breastfeeding right away and she had no problem latching. I felt fortunate that even if I didn’t get to hold her and do skin to skin immediately upon birth, she still knew what to do and we could bond right away.
I had to stay in recovery a bit longer because I had lost a lot of blood during the C-Section – so much that I was prepped and ready for a blood transfusion before my bleeding subsided enough to not warrant one. I was very dizzy and out of it. One of my contacts fell out during surgery too, so my vision was a little limited.
The whole birth experience felt out of focus and I still couldn’t believe this was how I met my daughter, having her simply handed to me, with no memory of her leaving my body. I’m still struggling with anger, guilt, and sadness. It breaks my heart that neither her father or mother were with her when she was born.
I know how fortunate I am. My love for Hadley was instant – for all my worry about how I would love another baby as much as I love Wyatt. It was like she was always part of our family. I love her so much, our family is complete.