From the time I started high school, I dreaded the day I would have to dissect a frog in biology class. It seemed disrespectful and, quite frankly, positively disgusting, to slice open and pick around the innards of a frog. Twenty years later, I never dreamed I would feel a certain kinship with that frog. But lo and behold…
How I happened to find myself strapped to an operating table came as quite the unpleasant surprise. I had my first child naturally and assumed I would have my second the same way. But at my 38-week appointment, my doctor ordered an ultrasound as she suspected the baby was growing quite large. Quite large indeed – he was estimated at 9 pounds 10 ounces, give or take a pound. Given my rough delivery with my first son that almost resulted in a C-section (and he was just 8 pounds 4 ounces), along with the possible complications of delivering a large baby vaginally, such as temporary or permanent nerve damage to the baby’s shoulders, we needed to consider all delivery options, i.e. the C-section. My husband and I agonized over the decision – the idea of a C-section was horrifying to me for a number of reasons: I wanted to go into labor on my own this time (I was overdue two weeks and induced with my first); I wanted to be able to hold my baby the minute he was born and not have my arms strapped to a table; I didn’t want a rougher and longer recovery; heck, I didn’t want to go through major surgery! I wanted the birth to be about having a baby and not about having surgery.
But this enormous list of cons was wiped out with just one pro – no risk (or I should say, minimal risk) to the baby. Because how could we live with ourselves if the baby was born with permanent shoulder damage or suffered stress during the delivery? For us, the answer was simple – we knew that we couldn’t.
That didn’t mean I walked effortlessly into the operating room. We made the decision on a Friday and the following Monday was scheduled for my son’s birthday. I was a nervous wreck all weekend – thinking about how I would be sliced open, awake, and fully aware of all that was happening. No matter how many people pointed out that my son would be born on Monday, all I could think of was that I was having surgery. It was next to impossible for me to rationally think about the two as cause and effect, a means to a (very wonderful) end.
Monday came and off we went to the hospital – not the exhilarating drive of finally being in labor that I so wanted to experience – but an agonizing ride during which my fear of the unknown overtook me.
The seemingly incessant waiting before the surgery was stressful enough to send me out of the hospital to catch a bus home – in my very flattering, reveal-all gown. The waiting soon felt like a picnic though once I was wheeled into the operating room. Cold. Sterile. Scary. The room showcased all of the intimidating instruments, saucer-like lights, and gadgets that you see on TV shows. I certainly didn’t expect it to look like a spa – but seeing the OR up close slapped me into the reality of the situation.
The anesthesiologist started to do his thing and I saw my doctor washing up and putting on her gloves and mask. There was no turning back now – this was going down in just a few moments. I felt tingling in my legs as my doc moved toward the table and talked to me a bit. I remember frantically calling out that I could still feel my legs – and asking them to make sure that they wouldn’t cut until I didn’t feel a thing. They obliged (probably chuckling to themselves).
My doc called out the incision time – 9:58 – and just four minutes later at 10:02, my little boy joined us. I was amazed at the physical and emotional rush I felt as they pulled him out – it wasn’t the same as that final, exhausting push that brought me my first son – but it was a rush just the same, so unexpected and absolutely gratifying.
There were gasps and laughter from everyone in the OR at the sight of my son – he was indeed large! He weighed a whopping 10 pounds 7 ounces and was 21 ½ inches long. The operating room suddenly took on a different vibe – it was now a nursery and everyone was fawning over my son. After a quick wipe-down and swaddle, a nurse immediately brought him over to me. My arms were freed and I was able to hold him myself. The nurses took countless pictures of me and my husband with him – the photo session seemed to go on for almost a half hour – while my doc was putting me back together. I have more photos of my second son’s first minutes than I do of my first son’s. I never would have expected that.
Overall, there was much that I didn’t expect. Like the extent to which the doctors and nurses turned an intimidating operating room into a festive birthday party, the good care that they gave me for the next four days I spent recovering in the hospital, the overwhelming rush I felt in seeing my boy for the first time, and most surprisingly, the realization that the way he got here, in the end, didn’t make a damn bit of difference.
Last 5 posts by MoltoMom
- On the cusp of 3… - October 13th, 2008
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- Judging the Caffeine - November 13th, 2008
- The Birth of a Three Year Old - November 21st, 2008