Monday, August 26, 2013
Charlie: A Birth Story
So I lied. While I was pregnant I really didn't want to share a birth story- I felt like it was too personal in a way, an overshare- something I should keep closer to home, more for the baby book and not for everyone else. But it just feels weird not to share my experience of how Charlie came into the world, especially after sharing Henry's. I tried to jump right into a "first week at home" post, but I kept feeling like something was missing in the chronology. And it was. So yes, I lied. And here is our sweet Charlie's story.
The second time doing anything is always a little easier in a way, or at least when you're talking about a c-section. The first time for me, with Henry, was an emergency surgery, something that was so far from any plan I had in my head, anything we'd even considered, that a lot of my experience was scary, at least in the beginning. But the thing about childbirth, no matter how you do it, is that you get this amazing prize at the end, and it makes anything you go through to get there insignificant. But this time, the second time around, there was no emergency. There were no two days of natural labor. There were no vitals dropping and being hurriedly wheeled in the operating room and getting a spinal between contractions. There was no crying, no shaking, no being terrified that something really, really bad was happening. There was none of that.
This time, Hank and I woke up in the morning, drove to the hospital, and had our baby. We knew what day. We even knew what time. And as unnatural as that would have sounded to us before, it felt perfectly right to us this time around.
The night before I wasn't sure how I would sleep, knowing that in less than 12 hours I'd be holding our little boy in my arms. And like most women almost 40 weeks pregnant I didn't sleep much, waking up every few hours to go to the bathroom. I did manage to get some rest though, and when my alarm went off at 5am I got out of bed quickly, full of excitement and nerves and noticing the tiniest touch of adrenaline that was starting to creep into my system.
My parents and sister had spent the night, so they stayed with Henry as Hank and I made our way to the hospital. We arrived at 6:45am as directed, two hours before my 8:45am surgery. We checked in and were pretty quickly brought back to my room, where our nurse came in and had me sign some papers, then inserted my IV and started fluids. And speaking of the IV, with Henry it took 6 different nurses a total of one hour to get the IV in my hand but this time we were one and done...THANK GOD. I absolutely hate getting my blood drawn or IVs put in (the placement at the thin skin of the hand totally creeps me out) and inevitably someone will always say "but you have so many tattoos!" Let me set the record straight here, people- they are totally different things; different pains, different needles, different everything. So I was pleasantly surprised it took the nurse one second to get it over with. Thank goodness.
I had three things I was totally freaked out about going into the c-section, outside of the surgery itself- getting the IV in my hand, having the catheter put in, and the spinal. So as soon as the IV was in I felt a huge relief that one of the three was checked off the list. I also made sure to ask to have the catheter put in after the spinal so I wouldn't feel it, so I mentally checked that one off too, even though it hadn't been done yet.
The two hours went by so, so quickly and before we knew it Hank was in his scrubs and they were wheeling me down to the operating room. They have the husband wait outside while they do the spinal, so Hank sat outside in a chair while the anesthesiologist did his thing. You should know that I was terrified of this part. Even thinking about it days before the operation I would get queasy, and I told the anesthesiologist this and he assured me it would feel like a bee sting, at worst. When I had gotten the spinal for Henry (I never got an epidural) I had already been in labor and in so much pain, that I don't remember what it even felt like. But this time going in completely fresh and coherent was a whole new ball game. I was part nervous, part terrified. The shots they did first actually hurt worse than the spinal, and when he was done I was SO surprised that it didn't hurt at all.
Hank came back in at this point and I made the huge mistake (seriously, never do this), of looking over at all of the tools on the table. Holy shit. At this same time the spinal was starting to do it's thing, and I started to lose feeling in my feet and then my legs. Telling your lower half to move, and then not being able to move isn't a pleasant feeling, and because you're numb to your chest it feels like it's hard to breathe. The best way I can describe the sensation is that it's almost like drowning in yourself. But if you just don't think about it, it's no big deal...just don't do what I did and check out all of the horribly scary-looking surgical tools and then focus on the fact that your chest feels like it has a huge weight on top of it. Mistake. But I got it together and started to relax, did some deep breathing and before Hank and I knew it they were operating on the other side of the sheet.
Time seemed to go slow here, and for awhile I just closed my eyes. During a c-section you can't feel a thing, except for a lot of pressure. I knew we were getting close to Charlie making his entrance as the pressure starting getting a little more forceful, and suddenly I felt them tugging and pulling...and then, in an instant, heard that sweet, sweet sound of our baby's first cry. Truly, there is no better sound in the world. Hank and I just looked at each other, tears in our eyes, and within a moment they had him on the other side of the curtain to show him to me. It was beautiful.
They then brought him over to the table to check him out and do all of the weighing and measuring, then back over to me so I could love on him for a minute before he and Hank went back to the recovery room to wait for me to finish getting sewn up. Right after having Henry I had been shaking insanely hard to the point of my arms being out of my own control, but this time I didn't have that shakiness at all, thank goodness. So my doctor quickly finished up, then they wheeled me back to the room where Charlie was placed right on my bare chest and started to nurse. Like Henry he took right to it, and right there...that was bliss.
Charles Stephen was born at 9:13 that Friday morning, and we spent the rest of the day in the happiest cloud of smiles and laughter and some tears too, especially when my family brought Henry in to meet Charlie for the first time. We'd been talking to him the entire pregnancy about being a big brother and what that meant, but still- you never know how an almost-three-year old will react. When he walked in though, the proud smile on his face killed me. He was so incredibly excited. Henry came right up to the bed and said "Hello, Charlie! I'm your big brother Henry." In that moment my heart might have stopped from happiness; it was really one of the sweetest moments of my life.
To be perfectly honest, it's still a bit weird to me to have had my babies this way. I'm someone who doesn't even take headache medicine or drink caffeine, so the idea of having a plethora of strange drugs pumped through my body, a spinal block in my back, and an IV drip going for a full day makes me incredibly uncomfortable. But when all of my plans shifted so rapidly when I had Henry, and then I realized the best option for baby number two would be the same route, I accepted the fact that sometimes, we do what we have to do. I've never felt like this way of birthing is lesser-than, or that I missed out on anything. I've always felt a strong sense of pride that I was able to safely have my first baby, and now my second, whatever way it had to happen. So when I type all of this out, and it's missing so much of what I thought I would have included had you asked me years back to describe my ideal birth, it just reminds me that childbirth, like much of life, is unpredictable. And really, that it's best to focus on that happy ending, no matter which way it comes.
Happy birthday, Charlie boy. We love you!