Sonja, my lovely baby girl, has made me a momma for six (SIX!) months now. We’ve both grown and changed in so many ways, and we’re getting to the point where I just can’t hardly remember the day she was born. Sonja’s actual birth was very matter of fact, as I ended up having a planned C-section, but the days and weeks leading up to our day we’re quite suspenseful…
I decided very soon after finding out that I was pregnant that I wanted to try and have an unmedicated birth. Wes and I discussed, interviewed the two birth centers in town, and settled on a lovely midwife named Taylor. Our pre-natal care for the first several months was particularly uneventful, except for the time we thought we heard TWO heartbeats! This particular appointment was without Wes and on the same day as Back to School Night, so I actually ended up spilling the beans to several people, including some of my student’s parents (whom I had just met!) before making my way home to talk to Wes. I texted him before I left with the message “Go buy yourself some beer, and make sure you’re sitting down when I get home.” I thought I was going to burst through the door with the news, but telling my husband it might be twins was a million times harder than telling him I was pregnant to begin with!
Spoiler alert: There was only ever one bebe in there. And this was only the first instance in which I had to start letting go of all the little things I could not control.
Several weeks later, at our second ultrasound, we learned that baby was…large…and that perhaps our due date had been greatly misjudged. We scheduled a third ultrasound to monitor growth. At our third, we had our big scare–it appeared that the ventricles inside her brain were too large for her gestational age. Our physician assured us the discrepancies were mere millimeters, and that our real problem was that baby was breech as all get out.
The remainder of my third trimester was spent waffling between massive anxiety about her health and moments of pure hilarity as Wes and I tried every strategy for turning her–most of which involved me lying upside down on an ironing board propped up against the couch. My midwife determined that the bulge at the bottom of my uterus was still a butt, and not a head. She and I and discussed my health, the baby’s health, and the likelihood that baby would turn on her own with less and less room to wiggle. We decided to transfer my care to an OB/GYN and scheduled a version for December 14th. This was the first time we got to meet Dr. Bolger, the person that would actually deliver Sonja, and while pre-term delivery is a possibility with a version, we would not meet our baby that day. After fifteen minutes of attempting to turn the baby, I decided that Sonja knew best, and she remained Frank breech, with her butt aimed at my birth canal and her feet up by her head. Fifteen minutes doesn’t sound like much when you compare it to hours upon hours of labor, but it was an eternity when you have three grown women exerting force in several directions on your uterus while trying to turn a seven pound baby upside down. I had to rely on every single breathing and pain management technique I’d learned in our natural birthing class (Wes said he thought I was going to squeeze his hand off), and Dr. Bolger said she’d never seen someone handle the pain so well. I was proud of that, even as I relented and scheduled a C-section for December 28th.
The next two weeks were the longest, most uncomfortable days of my pregnancy. I was on one hand relieved that no matter what, I’d no longer be pregnant past 38 weeks, and on the other, desperate for labor to start even though it meant an emergency C-section.
On Wednesday, December 28th, Wes and I woke up very early and spent the morning trying to distract ourselves as much as possible. We were expected to be at the Labor and Delivery unit at 9:00, for an appointment at 10:00. I waddled around the house, wiping the counters that were already clean, sweeping the floor that had no dust, reorganizing things in the already organized nursery…the minutes ticked. By. SO. S-L-O-W-L-Y. I think I even cleaned out the fridge (again) to pass the time. Finally, my mom arrived and the three of us drove across the street to the hospital. Wes carried the duffel bag and my pumping bag, while I toted in the Jansport backpack I’d so carefully packed weeks before with baby’s stuff. It felt so strange to be walking into the hospital so calmly, knowing in a mere hour or two I’d be a mom. I remember thinking “Can anyone tell I’m about to have a baby? I WANT TO SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!” (I’m certain it was obvious, as a super preggo lady and her husband toted in THREE BAGS OF STUFF).
I packed several magazines to read (Glamour, Real Simple, and Women’s Health), fully expecting to wait around for hours before my surgery, but the Labor and Delivery unit was rather on schedule, and I was prepped for surgery within an hour of arriving. Dr. Bolger paid me a visit to discuss the procedure which went something like this: “So basically you’ll just be totally naked with a bunch of people doing tons of different things, but don’t worry, they’re so focused on getting baby here they won’t even notice you’re in the nude.” Ha! It made me laugh. We had to wait a bit for the anesthesiologist to “finish his sandwich” and then before I knew it, Wes left to scrub in and I was wheeled into a surgical theater for my spinal. The anesthesiologist gave me a brief overview of what the procedure would “feel” like–most notably, some intense pressure as they pushed on my stomach to “pop’” the baby out. The procedure began, and my blood pressure dropped a few times but was quickly corrected. All I can remember is feeling super tense in my upper body, with my arms in a T shape, as I waited a mere fifteen minutes for Sonja to be delivered. I must have really been tensing up in my shoulders, which ached for days after sitting in that position and holding all the nervous energy in my body.
Wes sat by my head the whole time, and we didn’t really talk much. I just had to focus on breathing, because if I wasn’t, my nerves started to get the best of me. One thing that I’ll never forget is something a friend of mine, Amy, said to me after my surgery–how BRAVE it is to have major surgery like that and be completely awake! And she’s so right. I imagine it’s as scary as delivering vaginally.
Finally, I heard Dr. Bolger call my name and tell me Sonja was on her way out. Next thing I heard–”Oh! She’s pooping!” This is how I know she’s mine. 🙂
It felt like a long time before I heard her cry, but it was just enough time for me to ask Wes “Can you see her? Is she okay?” Hearing her cry for the first time is an experience that is indescribable. It made me cry instantly, the first of many tears that fall as the only means of escape for the oppressive happiness that takes over your whole being.
Stitching up all those belly layers took ages, and I just had to wait while Wes held her after they took all their baby measurements. My arms were just too shaky to hold her. Finally, she was tucked up under a blanket, right next to my boob, and that little mammal of mine snuggled in tight.