(Continuation of The Birth, Part 1)
So there I was, doing nothing.
Eric was trying to stay upbeat and positive for my sake, but every once in a while I’d glimpse over and see this:
My cervix continued to be poked and prodded but, like my 4-year-old nephew at the seder table, remained completely disinterested.
Then the doctor had a theory– perhaps my water broke not because I was about to go into labor, but because there was some kind of threat to the baby, such as a virus or infection. So she took my temperature, but it was perfectly normal. “Phew,” I thought, “a fever right now would be bad.”
But you know what’d be worse? Having a thermometer stuck up your butthole. Which is exactly what they had to do in order to get a more accurate reading. Luckily for all involved (besides, I suppose, Eric), at this point in pregnancy I had zero percent shame left, and so had virtually no reaction when they rolled me over (a team effort) and prodded me in my 3rd-trimester-inflated tush.
“Yup! Fever!” determined the nurse excitedly, I guess because that finally offered an explanation for the nothingness that was occurring, but given that I was crouched there with my ass blowing in the breeze, I resented his merriment.
So it turns out I had some kind of minor infection, which triggered my amniotic sac to say “We gotta get this baby out!” and burst, but in its hysteria forgot to relay the message to the rest of my body, including the second body living inside my body, who remained so high up I swear to god I could feel her in my throat. Nora had no interest in coming out, and I can’t say I blame her because as far as she knew, the outside world consisted only of sitting on toilets, vomiting, and the Kardashians.
But now we were on a clock. The longer you sit around with your water broken, the greater the risk of infection for the baby. It was already determined that I had a fever, and although they gave me antibiotics to protect Nora, it still made things slightly more urgent– and as everyone knows, a ticking time bomb is exactly what an anxious person who has been instructed to stay as calm as possible needs.
The doctor presented us with a choice:
“We can do a c-section now, or we can give it some more time and see if anything starts happening. If we do give more time, it seems unlikely that anything will happen without the (induction drug) Pitocin, which we have to stop giving you because it’s lowering the baby’s heart rate. But it’s your choice.”
“Ok, well. Let us talk it over,” Eric said, as my catheter bag filled with nervous-pee.
She left the room and we discussed the pros and cons, deciding that it probably couldn’t hurt to wait a few hours. Perhaps we’d get lucky and things would suddenly kick into gear, and I could avoid a c-section. Plus it would give my mom, already on her flight to NYC, more time to get to the hospital and be there for the birth.
So when the doctor came back we told her, “We’ve decided to wait a few hours and see if anything happens.”
Doctor: “Ok, but nothing is going to happen. Your body is not in labor at all, and is showing no signs of starting. There’s really no point in waiting.”
Us: “Well, we just figured something MIGHT happen on its own…”
Doctor: “It won’t.”
Us: “So you’d recommend not waiting?”
Doctor: “There’s no reason to wait. Waiting will just increase risk.”
Us: “Oh. So when you said we had a choice…”
What the actual fuck?
Thanks for letting us spend half an hour in this hospital room discussing a choice that was not a choice, and having us select an option that was not an option. Cool use of tax dollars!
I was then told I was getting a c-section.
They were going to have a 5-minute team huddle, then come wheel me into surgery, and the baby would be out in 15 minutes.
So 9 hours of morphed into in a matter of 4 seconds and I gotta say, it was a little jarring.
In what seemed like no time, a medical team of six wheeled me into the operating room and whisked Eric away to outfit him in his surgery gear (side note: nothing made Eric happier than when they gave him a hairnet– “See, they think I have hair!” Then moments later he saw that the literally hairless anesthesiologist was also wearing one. Apparently it’s just protocol. They would’ve put Britney Spears circa 2007 in a hairnet.)
So Eric entered the OR expecting, naturally, that there’d be a sheet blocking the scary parts. Instead, he walked smack into my naked body on a metal slab, spread eagle and covered in orange goo. The doctor was literally already cutting into me when Eric opened the door. His demeanor remained calm but his eyes said “I’m am screaming on the inside.”
Fortunately for him, even though a nightmare of epic proportions was taking place below the curtain, above the curtain was nothing short of glam-squad allure:
The nurse asked if I’d like any music playing.
Me: “Ummm…I guess Adele would be soothing?”
So he whipped out his iPhone and Spotify-ed that shit, as any professional would do mid-surgery. But then he continued to look at his phone for another 2-3 minutes, on what I can only assume was Tinder. Which of course is completely fine but if you’re going to be online dating during my c-section at least have the decency to let me see who you’re swiping right on. I mean have some fucking respect.
As Adele played, I closed my eyes and tried to take in the hugeness of this moment, but found the only thing I could think about was my post-surgery snack. I silently prayed that Eric had already picked up one of my favorites, and it’d be waiting for me in post-op. Most people pray for their life before undergoing surgery– or, if nothing else, their child’s life.
I prayed for a muffin.
After a few minutes of tugging and digging through organs, the team began compressions right below my ribcage. Nora was already in the correct position (head-down) so the standard method is to then compress from the top, by her feet, which would force her head to emerge from the bikini-line incision and her body would eventually be entirely force-squeezed out of me. You know, like a sausage.
But damn was this one uncooperative little chorizo. Right before her head was about to emerge, Nora decided “Nope- fuck this noise!” and TURNED AROUND.
Like her mom on a
Monday work day day, she caught a glimpse of the outside world and decided
She managed to somehow contort her body 45 degrees so that she was now laying across my stomach in transverse position (aka horizontal instead of vertical, aka nowhere near an exit hole). Not sure where this little bozo thought she was going. Clearly someone forgot to read the fine print of her 9-month lease agreement, but eviction day was upon us and, if resistant, tenant would be removed by force.
The team continued compressing from my ribcage, but with her new positioning, instead of moving down, Nora just swished from side to side. The compressions became more forceful and I could hear and see my body flopping around like a beached jellyfish. I have to trust there was a method to the madness, but eventually the medical strategy simply devolved into this:
She would not come out.
I heard the doctor call for an attending, and then for a vacuum. I looked up pleadingly at Eric. He lovingly stroked my hair and, in the most reassuring of tones, whispered, “I have no fucking idea what’s happening.”
I then turned to the anesthesiologist, and he assured me that everything was just fine. You know, like a liar.
A few more minutes of flopping, a couple rounds of suction, and a few buckets of sweat pouring from Eric’s pointless hairnet later, Nora emerged to the song “When We Were Young.” And it was beautiful.
The song, not Nora.
Nora looked like this:
Which some people might argue is beautiful, because everything about pregnancy, birth and motherhood is beautiful, and to those people I say GET OFF MY BLOG.
Thankfully, they cleaned her up before handing her to me, because, for christ’s sake, I’d been through enough.
And then, she was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I simply could not believe she was mine.
“By the way,” said the doctor, “the second I took her out of you, she shit all over me.”
Ok yup she’s mine.