Friday, February 28, 2014

Scenes from a C-Section

"Please, just make it happy" I hear myself say, "Not scary, not like last time." I didn't want to be deciding to have a second C-Section. My doctor was pro VBAC, much safer and healthier for everyone she said. But once again, I am not dialating and baby is not dropping, and he is measuring large. It doesn't look good. We decide a repeat section is the safest course given my history and the current circumstances. My doctor is clearly disappointed for me. I cry a little.

It is 5am the morning of Baby Brother's birth. I am in the kitchen eating a hamburger, a big glass of milk, and a bowl of ice cream. This will be my last meal until sometime tomorrow. I enjoy every bite. At the hospital the Hubster takes my picture one last time before I start to get prepped. This is me, at "maximum prego." I am so excited. I can't wait to see my baby.

The operating room looks like the underside of a space ship. "So you want me to tell you everything that is happening? You want me to announce each layer we are cutting through?" This is the deal we made, if I can't see or feel my son's birth, I at least want to hear about it. But the layers? "No, just say things like, 'We're at the uterus, won't be long now' and 'I can see the head!' Stuff like that." My doctor giggles. This will be a happy c-section.

I think there is a med student doing my spinal. It is not going as smoothly as last time. I am not really ok with this, but I don't want to move or say something startling, so I say nothing. I think about my brother and his training to be a doctor. I think about how grateful I am that people allowed him to learn. I try to be patient. I am truly annoyed.

The spinal is finally done. The nurse tells me to move quickly. I want to shoot daggers from my eyeballs. I am much too large to move quickly. They could have planned this better.

Turns out there was no rush. The spinal didn't take. We wait a long time for the numbness to reach an acceptable level. My doctor is in no rush. "We can wait for numbness," she assures me, "We will wait." Eventually they let my Mom come in. We giggle. It's baby time.

The spinal really didn't take. I can't feel any pain and I can't move, but I can feel the scissors move up and down. It's interesting in a grossly nauseating sort of way. I don't recommend it.

"We can see the baby!"

"He's out!"

A nurse runs my baby around the barrier before they whisk him off to be cleaned and weighed. He is purple and bloody and perfect. "Oh" I say, "My baby! Hello Henry." Then he is gone again.

The pediatrician brings him to my Mother. "He's perfect," he tells us with a smile, "Your son is beautiful and healthy. He's perfect." In the back of my mind I wonder if he has CSID, but there is my baby, looking at me, touching me. It doesn't matter. He is perfect.

Closing takes forever. It is uncomfortable. I am really really nauseated and scared to move much in case I wiggle while the doctor works. She assures me everyone throws up. It's ok. It's normal. She takes her time. I can hear her commenting on correcting the previous doctor's work. He was too fast. She is making everything right. I want it to be over with, but I am glad she is my doctor. "He was never coming out. You should see your cervix!" she tells me with a giggle, "You made the right decision." It feels good to make the right decision. I dry heave again, then look at my Mom holding my beautiful boy.

Big brother thinks baby brother is "the best thing I ever saw." It is love at first sight. He composes songs to sing to his little brother. He hates to go home. I can hear him crying all the way to the elevator.

The hospital stay is stressful. I hate hospitals. They are noisy. I don't sleep. Baby doesn't eat. One of the pain medicines they give me makes my skin itch. I can't stop scratching. A nurse screws up my medicine and my belly fills with painful gas. Somehow we are discharged anyway.

At home baby nurses every hour on the hour for two days. The pediatrician clips his tongue tie. Nursing gets better. Slowly he gains weight. We have decided with our pediatrician that we can't risk formula because of his brother's CSID diagnosis. They are supportive, but concerned about his weight. I do nothing but pump and nurse and sleep for a week. Trying to make up for the hospital and the delayed onset of my milk. I don't eat much, toast and rice and broth. C-Sections are a bitch.

The baby won't sleep anywhere but ON me. Specifically me. We spend almost all our time, awake and asleep, touching. I love the feel of him. The softness of his impossibly blond hair, the warmth of his sweet milky breath, the weight of him on my chest. I don't have any of the doubts I had last time. I don't feel 'touched out' like the last time. My second baby is easier, because I am feeling easier. But I am tired. So tired.

Big Brother is crying. He is on the changing table kicking his father. The Hubster is getting angry. Days of tantrums will do that. I climb out of bed and tag him out. I lay my head next to my son. "What is wrong sweetheart?" Between sobs he says "I am worried, I am so worried." "About what?" I ask. "About you. You are sick. Your tummy hurts. You don't get better. Why won't you get better?" It is an accusation. My heart breaks for my sensitive boy. C-Sections are hard on everyone. I tell my husband and my Mom that they need to let him in to see me more. I don't care if I am sleeping, if he needs me, then he needs me. I tell my son, "If you miss me, you tell Daddy or Gigi 'I need my Mommy' they will bring you to me. I am ok. I am just tired. My boo-boo is getting better. I will be ok. I am still Mommy." I am not so bad off that I can't cuddle. We need to honor his sensitive spirit. He needs to know I am still Mom.

We do craft time for the first time since I came home. Mom brings us safety scissors and glue sticks and printable toys to cut out. Baby brother snuggles with his Gigi while Big Brother and I cut and glue and talk about things he likes to talk about. Construction sites. Trucks. Roads. He works really hard cutting all the scraps into tiny pieces. He is learning to use his scissors. He is so proud. We build the port-a-potty. He seems better.

Big Brother can't sleep. He wants to sleep with me. He lays in my bed, somehow touching me and baby and his Gigi. His Daddy is already asleep in the attic, resting so he can be awake at work. There will be time for him to be sleep deprived later. Big Brother lovingly strokes cheeks, holds hands. This feels right. This feels like I found myself self alive inside of a poem. Except he still won't sleep, and I am so tired. He needs me. He needs baby brother. It is all too much for his little heart. He just can't sleep. But he is happy.

I loose 20lbs in two weeks. My bra size jumps to a ridiculous height. My tummy is nearly flat once the gas is gone. This pregnancy I was all baby. Mom can't believe how good I look, how much better I am moving around. Somehow I look mostly normal, just a little soft in the middle, and a lot top heavy. "Like Kate Middleton!" I joke, and Mom and I laugh. My skin stops itching and breaking out. My husband whispers to me when we are alone. Somehow he thinks I look sexy in my industrial bras, giant underwear, loose fitting shirts and yoga pants. I am lucky, and I am starting to feel normal. I can't wait to be alone with him.

I cry because this is likely our last baby. I can't see myself facing down another c-section. Recovery is just so hard. I can't see myself trying for a third baby knowing we run the risk of CSIDs. I want to know know that Baby Brother doesn't have it, but we won't know for months or years, testing is just not reliable. Sometimes I have thoughts that come unbidden. Thoughts about baby being hurt. What if I get distracted while he is on the changing table and he rolls off? What if he chokes on spit up and stops breathing? What if he won't gain weight? What if... I am nervous to hold him. I am more nervous when someone else holds him. I feel like crying. I know this is normal. I know this is the baby blues, but it is still weird.

Tonight we lay in bed, my boys and I. The Hubster holds baby while I read a thick book about ocean creatures to Big Brother. This feels right. This feels complete. My body aches, my head is tired, my heart is full.




  1. Jen, it is so good to have those "this is right," "this is perfect" moments. I wish you many, many of them.

    1. Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy. You have a beautiful family. Again, congrats.