Every birthday, I tell myself I am past it. I won’t reflect on it. Leave it in the past. But I lie to myself. I will never be over it, and I can’t help but reflect on it. It is an endless nightmare that I can’t help but relive. No one understands it either. Why does it still bother me and why do I still cry over it? My son is a perfect example of health. There is no reason for this to haunt me.
I want to tell you our NICU story, but I need to break it up into sections. It’s a long one.
I’ll start with my Cesarean story. The day my everything came into my life.
It was a perfectly normal day. I worked in recovery at the time, and I had spent my day in scrubs working in the PACU. I was 37 weeks pregnant, and felt fantastic. No one told me the third trimester would be the easiest! I had a good working relationship with my OB GYN, and the last week they tried to get a 3-D ultrasound except he kept his face covered. She told me we could do another one this week at my regular check up just to see if we could get a peek. My appointment was at 2:30. I was leaving work early, and literally walking down the sidewalk to my check up. My husband met me there. We were both so eager to see this little face that kept trying to hide from us. He was an active baby. Dance parties in my belly at 9 pm on the dot.
We go in for the ultrasound first. The ultrasound tech was very chatty, and then she became very quiet. After a few moments of silence, she quietly said “I’m going to go get the doctor, I’ll be right back.” This was alarm number one. This was supposed to be a fun sneak peek where I get a printout of his super cute 3-D face and be done. The doctor came, and I knew her well. Heck, I worked alongside her in surgery on a weekly basis. She said “I don’t want you to be alarmed, but you have no fluid left.” Then I got asked several questions. Did I notice he was more still today? No, not really – he parties all night and sleeps all day. Did I notice any leakage – had I felt like I peed on myself? No, I would have noticed that. Did I have a sandpaper feeling in my stomach at all? Huh, I don’t think so, but then I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t really answer any of that for them.
That’s when she told me I was going to be walking back up that sidewalk to the hospital where they would be waiting for me on the 2nd floor. I would be having this baby today.
I wasn’t too scared at first. I mean, he was alive. There was a solid heartbeat. I was just going to have him early today. Even the C-section wasn’t scary to me, as I knew he had been breech and I was anticipating one in case he never turned. So, honestly, I felt oddly calm. Excited even – meeting the little guy today! I was 37 weeks and he was big enough to welcome in the world.
Once I got there, I started to feel a little more stressed. A nurse I know well met me at the door, expecting me. She’s an experienced no-nonsense nurse. She was practically undressing me while I tried to call my mom to tell her the baby was coming. She was doing everything at once it felt – IV, monitors, things were going so fast.
Had I eaten today? If you work surgery or recovery, you know the important “nothing after midnight” mantra. No, no, I hadn’t eaten yet. I was on track until one of my co-workers, a nurse anethesist, ratted me out and said “She had red velvet cake at lunch.” Crap. Yes I did. I forgot about it. It was someone’s birthday and I took a small slice. I had forgotten in the chaos and excitement. So, we were on hold. On hold for several hours.
it finally happened. The c-section was a go! This part is sort of a blur. I remember a few distinct things. I remember I could feel her poking me forever, and I thought they would never get me numb. She would say “Can you feel this?” and I’d reply “yes…”. Then they would re-dose my spinal. At one point, I remember I got very nauseated and thought I would pass out. My friend happened to be my nurse anethesist, and I told her I thought I was going to pass out. She said “Don’t worry I can fix that”, and after some medicine, she did. The funniest memory I have is that I could watch the C-section in a reflection from an overhead surgical light after they go to all that trouble with the drape.
Then, he arrived. I remember her holding him up and he was such a big baby! He didn’t cry right away, but it didn’t take long – and when he did it was a solid, loud cry. I remember thinking he had some good healthy lungs….
And then, they took me to recovery while they took him to the nursery. In recovery, the never brought him to me. I planned to breast feed. I knew this was not right. They would want me to hold him and try to feed him. What was going on? Why were they not bringing me my baby?
Part II will be next week….