……As the nurse stood there shaving the top of my lady jungle I was scared about what was to come. It was a laugh or cry moment. I normally revert back to humor when nervous so joked and asked her “are we going steady now?”. The nurse could see what I was doing and cracked a few jokes in retort to mine to lighten the mood. She helped me get in the gown and my hands began to tremble.
As we opened the door to the room I had been prepped in there was another nurse waiting for us in scrubs. He had a wheelchair and asked me to hop in. They put my stuff in a bag and we immediately headed to theater. We went down halls with no windows and so many lights. I remember one flickering, distracting me if only for a second of my impending fate.
I kept thinking this is not the birth I had planned. I had planned a water birth minimal drugs as I didn’t want the baby affected. With my partner and Doula there to support me. A Peaceful environment with my relaxing play list I had put together. I had only packed my baby bag days before hand still sitting in the unfinished nursery not realizing it would be needed so soon. I realized we hadn’t even contacted my Doula in the rush of everything happening so quickly. On the grand scheme of things and how fast everything had gone that was the least of my problems. In a perfect world it would have went according to plan. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and it’s always throwing curve balls our way. All we can do is ride the wave and hope it all turns out ok.
Entering the surgical theater I wanted to run I wanted to pretend none of this was happening. It was all too real. I felt sick and I wanted to throw up. I smiled politely at the staff but inside I was freaking out. I thought to myself this shouldn’t be happening this was a nightmare. I had to concentrate on my breathing to try ground myself as I didn’t want to make anything worse for my baby, even if I was freaking out and scared for her. I asked the staff what happens now? They said they didn’t have time for an epidural that scared me even more, and I thought to myself how bad is this? Is my baby going to survive? is she already dead?they already lost her heartbeat once. If they don’t have time for an epidural this situation must be really bad. I asked if I could be knocked out as it was all too real, but they said it would be too dangerous as anything I have passes to her. They said they would do a straight spinal block. No numbing just a big needle straight in my back. If I thought I was freaking out before I was really freaking out now. The nurse could see I was obviously scared and started chatting to me to take my mind off it while they prepped the drugs for the spinal block. I wondered if it would hurt and the doctor told me not to worry as “he makes a great cocktail”.
They leaned me over a cushion while I held my partners hand. I felt the coolness of the liquid they used on the area tingling cold on my skin before inserting the needle. The cold of the liquid gave me goosebumps. It was the most unique pain I have ever felt when they put the needle in. Too scared to move but in pain I let out a small noise and squeezed my partners hand while tears rolled down my cheeks. After it was done they lay me back on the bed and got me in what I called my Jesus pose my arms were out and I could see them moving my legs but I could not feel them. It was bizarre to see part of my body moving but not feel it. Then the screen went up. The nurse next to me held one hand while my partner held the other. I thought to myself laugh or cry so we reverted back to humor quoting silly lines from tv shows like the mighty boosh, trying to distract myself from the fact my body was being cut open behind a screen.
I felt some tugging that brought me back to reality. I asked the nurse if that was normal and she said yes and made sure I wasn’t in any discomfort. Then came some immense pressure, I felt winded. When I caught my breath I yelled out what are you doing? I will never forget the face that popped up from behind the screen. He looked at me and in a calm voice explained they were pushing the baby out. Confused I said don’t you just pull it out? I seen his eyebrow raise and he said no we dont just pull it out. His head still looking at me went back down behind the screen. It was a rightio as you were moment. I felt more pushing but kept telling myself what they were doing was getting my daughter out. I had to grit and bear it and wait. Then I suddenly felt lighter and a tiny angry little squeal was heard. She was alive my baby was ALIVE. It was the most beautiful little noise I ever heard. Relief washed over me. I watched as they immediately moved her to check her over. I could see she was absolutely tiny. I had never seen such a small baby before. One minute she had been in me the next she was out naked and screaming. She was tiny perfection. They checked her over thoroughly and said they would be moving her immediately to the neonatal nursery and asked if her father wanted to go with her. He chose to stay with me as I still had to be stitched up.
Getting stitched up felt like forever. The stitches took longer than the surgery as they had to do 3 layers of stitches. The uterus, the muscle wall and then the skin. I was growing impatient but the nurse kept talking to us to distract us talking us through what was going on behind the curtain. By the end of it I was wondering with all the stitching if surgeon’s maybe moonlight as seamstress’s. When they finished the hundreds of stitches I was wheeled into recovery. I kept asking if I could go see my baby? was she ok? what was happening? They just kept distracting me with questions then every now and then asking if I could feel anything yet. Then to my surprise they pulled out a zooper dooper (icey pole) and they were testing my legs to see what I could feel it. I couldn’t yet but I sure wanted to eat the zooper dooper ( I ended up eating 3) As the spinal block faded I started to shake violently and had a bit of a rash. I was kept in recovery until the block wore off and I stopped shaking.
I was not sure how much time had passed by but all I wanted was my baby. Part of me was missing and in another part of the hospital. I longed to be with her, with every fiber of my being. When they wheeled me to my room on the gurney I asked the nurse what can I do to be able to see my baby? I was told until I could get in the wheelchair I could not go up to the neonatal and see her. I was willing to do whatever it took. They wanted me to rest for a bit but all I wanted was my baby girl so they got me some strong painkillers and warned me it may be very uncomfortable to get in the chair as I had just had major surgery. I didn’t care, I took the medication and waited anxiously for it to kick in. I was so close to being able to get up and see her. Then my world went fluffy….. whatever the painkiller I had been given was , I was now floating on clouds. My daughters father looked at me and asked if I was ok? I was wonderful no pain not a care in the world. The nurse walked in and had a half smile on her face ” I see the medications working how you feeling” So I told her I was flufffyy. She laughed a little “you ready to go in this wheelchair and meet your baby?” to which I responded “BABIES all the BABIES” the nurse and my daughters father both burst into laughter at that. I got off the bed and onto the wheel chair with a bit of help. Even in the haze of the fluffyness I felt excited and scared I was finally going to see my baby.
Down the corridor and through the double set of locked doors we entered the neonatal nursery. There were incubators and plastic tilted bassinets. A small room filled with tiny babies and that sterile hospital smell. All I wanted was my baby. They wheeled me over to her incubator. The incubator had little windows I could open and put my hand through. I burst into tears as I held my daughters perfect little hand for the first time “hello Abigail I have been waiting to meet you”. Seeing her for the first time up close she was so tiny. Her skin looked thin and I could see little veins and the pulse on the soft spot of her head. The nurse told us she weighed only 1.72kgs (3.79lbs) I wanted to hold her and to my surprise and delight the nurse got my baby out and put her in my arms for the first time and helped me hold her. It was everything I imagined and more nothing ever prepares you for the moment, the euphoria, the overwhelming love that hits you. There aren’t words that truly cover the feeling you have when you hold the life which you grew and created for the first time bundled in your arms. Everything else melts away and its you and this little soul. In that moment I pledged myself to my daughter. To do everything I could so she grew up happy and healthy. Where she goes I go.
In that neonatal nursery we started the longest 3 weeks of our lives. We entered the NICU bubble………………