Cold Day in July - PART 2 of our birth story 7-17-12
here comes the hard part...and the best part...
so the surgery team was pushing me down the hallway with darin still by my side, comforting me and letting me grip him when i had contractions. but then they had to wheel me into the surgery room by myself and take darin to get him all geared up and make him wait while they prepped me for surgery. the surgery room was the scariest place i'd ever been. i went from feeling no fear at all about my labor to being gripped with terror. it was very cold in there, all chrome and bright lights and creepy surgical outfits so that everyone looked like aliens. i should mention that i have never had a surgery or stayed in the hospital or even watched medical shows on tv. i had no frame of reference whatsoever and the place was just. so. cold. even the team seemed detached, doing things to my body that i wasn't really okay with with me stuck with needles and frightened and alone. one of the surgical techs was pretty rough around the edges and was trying to start an argument with the nice one and never acknowledging me or saying one word of encouragement to me.
there was one nice surgical nurse named vera i think. she had bright blue eyes and a slight foreign accent. i was having a massive contraction as the anesthesiologist prepped me for the spinal. vera said i could hold onto her and so i did but she was so bony thin that at first i pulled back, having been used to my soft cuddly family. but she was so kind and open armed right in front of me that i quickly fell forward against her again and hugged her body tightly. what a strange experience, a total stranger i was clinging to, and i felt like i was clinging for dear life. someone said, you'll probably only feel that (the contractions) about 2 or 3 more times, as if to give me relief. but no...it broke my heart.
meanwhile terry, the anesthesiologist, was asking me to round out my back like a cat so she could get the spinal in. she said the more i rounded it, the easier it would go in. i now confess, one of the reasons i knew i didn't want an epidural is that i am terrified of that needle in my spine. but i had no choice. i liked the cat image so i kept it in mind, picturing myself a brave, stalking, beautiful, strong cat, and i rounded out my back as far as i could. i think it worked well because next thing i knew they were laying me down and turning me and getting me in position. i kept asking, where is darin? they said they'd bring him in in just a moment. i was so anxious to see him again.
my very worried family waiting in the hall for us:
my legs and hips were starting to feel heavy, as if there were massive sandbags pressing them down. now they brought in darin and i was surprised to see him in full surgical gear with the mask and all. i just kept looking into his beautiful green eyes and he looked so strong and sure, no tears in his eyes, just a firm calm strength beaming at me and telling me everything would be okay. it was around this point that i told them, "i can feel some light pinching." they were getting ready to make the incision and i could feel too much. it was freaking me out. darin says i was very calm when i stated again, "i still feel pinching." so the anestheseologist gave me "something" and said "you're going to feel very weird for a few minutes." i was still clear headed and i asked, "weird in what way?" and she answered, "just very weird."
weird indeed. this was the worst part my friends.
the drug that she gave me knocked me waaayy out into another world, and not in a good way. i became so immediately disconnected from myself and my body that i had no idea what was going on, a feeling that shocked me and put me in a frenzy of dismay. the room and the experience appeared to be on shattered planes, disjointed and broken and far away, icy and black and menacing. i felt like i was on another planet looking down, but worse than that i thought i might be dead. i had the worst panicky sensation that i didn't know who i was or what my life was. i kept looking back and forth from darin's green eyes to the nurse vera's blue eyes on my left, frantically asking them, "is this normal?" they kept telling me it was normal, but i didn't even mean the surgery, i meant the terrifying feeling of not comprehending reality. i couldn't even understand who darin was, i just knew that i trusted him and his eyes reassured me. darin says i started making all kinds of crazy high pitched little noises, and that i was saying stuff like, "WHOA talk about WOOZY!" but mostly i was just demanding, "IS THIS NORMAL???" and "WHAT'S GOING ON??!!"
at one point i remember thinking about what i was going to say and stating loudly, "I FEEL LIKE I'M IN A STANLEY KUBRICK FILM." darin says he saw the doctors glance at each other and he thinks they were all trying not to laugh, i don't blame them! here your surgical patient is undergoing a crazy drug trip right in front of you! and we definitely laugh about that part of it now, but at the time it was way too freaky to be funny. (we later found out that the drug was Ketamine and that some people use it as a party drug, special K, ummmm no thanks. it seems to me you'd have to be a damn sick puppy to inflict that on yourself knowingly, but uh, that's beisde the point.)
luckily that crazy drug only lasts a few minutes. it basically lasted the time it took for them to open me up surgically and not allow me to feel it. i asked one last time, WHAT IS GOING ON? and the anesthesiologist, standing behind me at my head, answered, "YOU'RE DELIVERING A BABY, THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON!" and it snapped me back to reality! I was delivering a baby alright! The moment I'd waited for all my life! I could feel my body opening, and i could feel them pulling her out, and it was crazy and huge and emotional and not all that different from what i expected vaginally, and it was my baby and her entrance into the world through me, no matter what! all this hard work and fear and love and pain and blood and skin and passion and life force, from me to her, my baby, being delivered right now!
they held her up out of my body. darin had a better view than me and could even see my insides. her legs looked long and i noticed her pretty tiny face as they held her up. i was back to myself enough to experience that moment. first i wanted to know, "is she okay??!" because of the weird way they'd been acting about her position inside me. yes, she was fine, she was perfect they answered. i asked, "Is she a girl?" because i had a glimpse of her swollen labia and i thought it looked like boy parts. "Yes, she's definitely a girl!" they cheerfully responded from the other side of the blue curtain. we could hear her crying. i was still nervous and a bit frantic and i asked, "why is she crying?!" they said, "that's good that she's crying! she's healthy!" i called out, "LUCY! LUCINDA! mama's here! We're here!" thinking my voice might calm her because i'd talked to her so much in the womb. within moments they brought her around to us. she was bundled up and i was so surprised to see her face, she looked like me! somehow i never expected that. they placed her in darin's arms and he held her up to me and for just a brief instant her eyes opened and we got to look at each other. i wish so much that moment had been longer. but they were ready to sew me up and they needed to wheel darin and lucinda away for now.
my precious newborn, ready to suck from the moment she came out, that is addie's finger with the little sleeve on it, so glad darin and my family got to shower her with love while she waited for me...
still in the surgery room, i could feel a lot of crazy stuff going on down there now as they put my uterus back in (??!!!!) and sewed me up. the nurse was telling me, "You're going to feel a lot of pressure, a LOT of pressure..." and i was like "PRESSURE? this feels crazy!" i was shaking shaking shaking like a leaf. i wish i could remember better what went on during this time that i was left alone with the surgical team. i think they started pumping me with narcotics as soon as they got my baby safely out. later they told me i was "exhausted" and they needed to let me sleep. UGH. whatever they gave me, which definitely included demerol and morphine, it knocked me out for the next hour and a half which they call "recovery." i have no memory of even waking up, or the very foggiest of memories, like being blacked-out drunk. i was shaking so badly when i woke up; they piled blankets on me. it was like having the DTs. it makes me very sad that i ended up in such an unnaturally altered state during the most important experience of my life.
meanwhile, darin was wheeled out in his wheelchair (they must do that in case he passes out?) holding our perfect baby, to our family's tearful and grateful welcome. they had been so worried, not just about me and the surgery, but about lucy too since the doctor was acting so hushed and worried during the ultrasound. mikie has a video of everyone waiting anxiously outside the surgery room in the hallway, and their elated reaction when darin is finally pushed through those doors holding our baby. it is such a release of pure joy and emotion. the videos mikie took that night are so special to me and make me cry; so many emotions sweep through me when i remember all the details of that long night.
next darin went into the nursery and was with our newborn daughter getting some precious bonding time in. of all the nurses i had during my hospital stay, i am glad it was sweet Amy who got to attend to darin and lucy first. she helped darin gently clean the blood off our daughter and then hold her close for a nice long session of skin-to-skin to bring her temperature up. darin says they were both sweating so much he thought she peed on him. the nurse said, nope, that's just sweat! oh, i almost forgot to mention she scored an "8 or 9" on the apgar test and darin was very proud of that. i had warned him ahead of time most babies never get a ten so he was very pleased with her performance. darin was so smitten with her immediately, just in awe and wonder and pure pure love. and she loved him right back. this relationship continues strongly now, a couple weeks later, so beautiful and strong that i am almost glad that he got to share this vital time with her even before i did. not that it would have made any difference i'm sure, but it is one way i can look at it and see the positive, a perfect cocoon of daddy bonding time to start lucinda's life out so sweetly protected and cherished.
lucinda was born at 1:54 a.m. on July 17, 2012.
she weighed 6 lb 15 ounces and was 20.75 inches long. her head circumference was 13.5. she was longer and narrower than i expected, a dainty little lady with long fingers and toes and perfect fuzzy dark hair, soft all over with a tiny sloping button nose, rosebud lips and her daddy's eyes.
addie visiting with her in the nursery within her first hour of life:
now it was about 3:30 a.m.
mikie has a video of them finally wheeling me down the hall; i was talking to my family as they greeted me and slurring my words, "you guys, what a night. i'll tell you all about it later." i was swollen and puffy, matted haired and ragged and not entirely back to myself, but i knew i needed my baby.
back in my room they brought her to me, overflowing my heart...
reaching for my tiny daughter...
and immediately latching her onto my breast. she was a perfect eater, so ready and willing to learn to latch and nurse. i am so grateful that it went smoothly and felt so natural. she was in my arms, where she belonged. i forgot about the surgery, the incision, the drugs...just knowing that this little life belonged with us, plain and simple, to feed her and nurture and love her, our hearts all tangled now for the rest of time.
my real baby! on the outside now, my arms go tender just thinking about her. she knows us, and we know her. as surprising as it is to see your baby's face, it is also ancient knowledge somehow lodged inside you eternally, backwards and forwards through time...of course this is YOU, my child.
you've been part of me forever.
my family left around 4 a.m. and we were left alone with our baby. being in a hospital room did not matter, i felt bathed in a glow of love, darin and lucy and i, we were home. we gazed at her. the time passed like a dream.
darin says i never wanted to put her down or let him take her. but i needed to sleep so bad, he says finally in the late morning or around noon i let him hold her again and i slept for an hour or so.
soooo tired but sooo happy. this is where i've always wanted to be.
next day, addie and emily were back in the afternoon to help us out with anything we needed. they brought snacks from home and changes of clothes; emily made us a beuatiful mix cd, and they held the baby and fell in love.
lucy loves her aunt addie, from the very beginning:
they say it takes a village to raise a child, well here they are. lucy's family and friends for life, addie, joey, emily:
and of course, pops. he dotes on her. he can't get enough of her and can't stop smiling when he's with her.
they had taken out the catheter late tuesday night, and the IV came out weds morning. i was able to get up and around, hooray! i don't think i've ever spent a whole day in a bed before in all my life. especially with an uncomfortable pad and mesh underwear and a big swollen belly full of air they pumped in me, etc etc etc. i am not gonna lie, i think C sections suck. i am grateful that they save lives and i definitely see them as a viable possibility for childbirth now (never really thought about them much in a positive light at all before) but i know that a vaginal birth would have been so much better in every possible way, and especially when it comes to recovery. i have soooo much sympathy for women recovering from surgery now, and i also see it as an absolute last resort because of the trauma it brings by its very nature as a major abdominal surgery. my heart goes out to women who end up with birth experiences they never expected and i have a very tender desire to communicate and comfort all new mothers and birthing mothers.
but hey, by day two, i was super happy to be standing up! walking around a bit! peeing on my own and changing my own pad :)
day two of lucy's life and i am overjoyed to be her mama.
after showers, fresh and clean and happy.
lucinda was born on the last night of the old moon, a tiny sliver in a summer sky.
she was born on a day in july that turned unseasonably cold, windswept and cloudy. the skies turned cloudy and the night cooled so much that my family told me they needed sweaters and jackets when they left and all the cars in the hospital parking lot were fogged with a cold dampness.
for placerville in july that is a rare phenomenon indeed. early the next morning, a cool rain came and washed our dry town clean.
i think lucy cast a mysterious and delicate spell over our hometown and these hills, the silver sky and ephemeral night.
a remarkable occurrence indeed, the birth of miss lucy violet,
a time in my life that i will never forget and that already haunts me with a strangely unimaginable nostalgia despite my story's twists and turns.
thank you all for reading along. it has taken me two days to write this second half and in between, i am loving feeding and cuddling my newborn, the ultimate gift from the universe, whose face and dancing hands and bright eyes bring tears flowing over my cheeks at my luck and bounty. my own baby at my breast, sweet milk and honey, rose skin and love drunk. i will never cease feeling acutely grateful and eternally blessed.