On Friday August 20th, we went to the doctor’s for my 40th week appointment. The visit consisted of a physical check up (not dilated or effaced at all) and monitoring (strong heartbeat but absolutely no contractions). I recorded the sound of her heartbeat on the monitor and hope to save this sound forever. I listen to it every now and then and it makes me smile. My very sweet doctor assured me that even though I was not progressing at all things could change at any minute and not to get worked up about it. We set an appointment for 4 days later for an ultrasound to make sure fluid levels were OK and to talk about options. I was told that 10 days would be the maximum amount of time they would let me go before inducing so this baby would be here before the end of August no matter what. Although I was completely aware of the doctor’s warnings that most first time mother’s go past their due dates, many tears were still shed as we left the doctors office. I distinctly remember the thought I had in my head as the clock ticked to August 21st. I was told that the 20th was the day and the thought that it could still happen at any moment was not comforting to me at all. I spent that last weekend generally being cranky with lots of napping and walking mixed in. Although I could still feel her moving constantly, I still hadn’t felt a single contraction.
Four days later on Tuesday when there was still no baby and it was time to head to the doctor’s again, I was convinced that she would never come out. I sent Larry off to work because I figured there was no reason for him to waste his time there as I was surely going to be just as cranky when we were sent home. I putzed around for the morning and made myself lunch (soup and grilled cheese – no idea why I wanted this in the middle of the summer) before going to my 1:00 doctor’s appointment. “You’re still here?” the receptionist greeted me. I can’t remember but I’m sure I did not smile back. First up was the ultrasound and I watched quietly as the tech did all of her measurements. She kept saying things like “looks good” and “great” so I figured I would be settling in for another 6 days since things still looked ok. She was finishing up so I asked if she could tell how big the baby was. I will never forget her next words – “Umm actually this is saying she’s 10 pounds. You can go wait in the waiting room for the Doctor and uh yeah good luck with that.” I’m pretty sure there were tears rolling down my face before she even finished talking.
Of course I was not going to sit in the waiting room and wait patiently so I went out into the stairwell to call Larry. I was in full blown crying mode at this point and probably scared the hell out of him when he answered his work phone. I told him that we were expecting a toddler and that I would need him to leave work because I was freaking out. I told him I would update him after I saw the doctor and pulled myself together enough to wait for my name to be called to be taken to the back room. As luck would have it, the doctor I was meeting with was my least favorite I had seen (my office has 5 doctors and you are required to see all of them throughout your pregnancy because whoever is on call when you go into labor will be your doctor). He walked in and greeted me with “so she’s a little big”. He explained that he didn’t think that she was really 10 pounds and due to ultrasound discrepancies she was probably somewhere between 8.5-9.5 but I was definitely not about to welcome a 7 pounder into the world. When he said that he recommended a c-section I was instantly relieved. He said that he was concerned that because I hadn’t progressed at all and that because she was big that if they induced me she might get stuck and we would have to move to a c-section anyway. I told him I agreed as I had no desire to try to push a toddler sized infant and go through labor only to end up in surgery anyway. I spent the next hour hooked back up to the monitor listening to her heartbeat again… everything was still great and I was apparently having very small intermittent contractions. The Dr. told me he had the nurses on the phone with the hospital trying to schedule me for surgery and that they would get me in probably Wednesday or Thursday. They kept getting put on hold so they took my cell phone number and told me they would call me.
I walked out of the office and was still pretty freaked out so I went to my happy place – HomeGoods. I just needed to walk around and not think about it for awhile. As I was pulling out of the parking lot around 3, the doctor’s office called me and asked when I had eaten last. I said 12 and they said “OK good. Don’t eat anything else. They can take you at 6 tonight and you have to be at the hospital at 5. Congratulations!”. So after all of those weeks of waiting, we were having a baby in 3 hours. I made the necessary phone calls (Larry to leave work, family and friends to let them know) and I went home to take a shower. I figured this was the last shower I would have in peace and quiet for a long time. My bags had already been packed so as soon as Larry came home from work we were pretty much ready to go (after I had to talk him out of wearing a transformers shirt because really that is just not the outfit that our daughter needed to see him in for the first time – like hey mom who is this jerk in the cartoon shirt?). I think at this point it really had not set in yet.
We got to the hospital and I got all set up in the fancy gown and poked with the IV and all of that fun stuff. The nurses in the OR were so sweet and made me feel more relaxed. We learned a new word “macrosomic” which is the medical term for a large baby and the reason for my c-section. The nurses assured me that I would not be having the biggest baby ever and that they had delivered an 11 pound boy last week which made me feel better. Larry got to suit up in this super hot white zip up which I of course wanted to take a picture of. The nurses told me that they would do it for me later but that never happened so they lost a point in my book. The doctors were wearing equally appealing zip up coveralls and were wearing glasses with little plastic shields. When I commented that they were pretty intense, one mentioned that I should not look at the glasses during the surgery unless I wanted to get a glimpse so I made a mental note of that.
The last shot of the big belly
They made Larry wait in the prep room while I got wheeled into the OR. I remember a few things about it – it was much smaller than what I thought it would be (you know strictly based on my previous experience of watching ER and Grey’s Anatomy”, there were way too many tools and gadgets prepped and laid out (I diverted my eyes quickly to block this out) and it was cold. I got the spinal tap which I was nervous about because of my fear of needles but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be although I clearly didn’t look at it. Watching them all get ready for the surgery was really bizarre. After I couldn’t feel my legs and they were down in my lower region I figured that I had better get used to not feeling modest as they were about to get really personal and familiar with my body and my baby. There was a large crowd in the room at that point – the doctor from my office (oddly enough the one doctor I hadn’t met yet but I ended up loving), the attending doctor from the hospital and a med student doctor and I think 2 or 3 nurses plus the anesthesiologist. I think they all knew each other well because they were laughing and joking about if they could beat previous speed records for c-sections they had done together. At this time, my doctor also put his ipod into the speakers and we all started listing to Pandora Radio. It felt very Nip/Tuck (because apparently my TV watching history really did prepare me for having a c-section) but I guess listening to music beats silence.
They let Larry come in at this point and got ready to start the surgery and said they would have her out within 20 minutes. I don’t remember why but I had to have my arms strapped down which I did not like but at least I got to hold Larry’s hand which was probably the most comforting thing in the world at that point. We had already discussed that Larry would be keeping up near my head and not seeing anything below the sheet that was propped up to block our view and clearly he did not put up a fight about it. From there the whole experience was so surreal. I could feel pressure and them tugging around but couldn’t really tell much else. I don’t remember us doing much talking while we waited to hear her come out and after what felt like a lot sooner than 20 minutes they said they were about to take her out. When the lifted her up and out for us to see her, she wasn’t screaming her head off but she was definitely squirming and letting out little cries. I thought she sounded like a bird and it was the sweetest sound I had ever heard in my life. They cut the umbilical cord and let Larry go over to the scale to take pictures of her as she was getting cleaned off and measured.
8 lbs 14 oz of pure cuteness
When he came back over to me I wanted to know how big she was and if she had red hair. He told me that she was the most beautiful baby and the perfect size and had light hair and a few minutes later I got to meet her for myself. Because my arms were held down they placed her on my chest and I got to kiss her sweet little pink head and fell in love with her. They had her swaddled up and Larry got to feed her a bottle (apparently this is normal for bigger babies because they need to keep up their blood sugar) and I will never in my life forget the loving look on larry’s face as he held our first born child as he cradled her in his arm and fed her. As much as I loved him before, I loved him so much more after this.
Not ready to be uncurled and in the world
The rest of the surgery was tortuous for me. Besides the fact that I couldn’t hold Emma yet, I was uncomfortable being strapped onto the table. I kept feeling pressure on my chest and I was nervous that something was wrong so I said it outloud that it was bothering me and I was told that it was OK. Larry later told me that it was because they had my parts up and out of my body – gross. The putting me together process took much longer than the first half and it felt like forever when we were done but I think it was only slightly more than an hour that we were actually in there. When I was all put back together and cleaned up I finally got to hold Emma as they wheeled me back into the post op room. I wasn’t allowed to be transferred to my actual room until I could wiggle my toes so we some quality time as our little family of three together. The nurses were in and out checking on us but for the most part we were just left by ourselves. It was kinda weird to think that they were just leaving us there with this little baby – I kind of felt like they were going to come tell us what to do next with her but we were on our own. So we spent this next time (I lost track of time by this point – I think we were back there for almost 2 hours) just loving on each other. Emma slept the entire time while we held her and fell more in love with her.
And that is the story of how August 24th 2010 was one of the best days of our lives!