On the morning of January 19, 2012, we got up nice and early to get ready to head to the hospital for my 7:30am c-section (we had to check in at 5:30am). After kissing Nikaia goodbye and handing her off to my sister, we left the house at 4:30am to head to the hospital which is about 40 minutes away.
Once we got there I got stripped down to nothing and put on the most ridiculous hospital gown I have ever seen, much different from the one I had just a year before, and plopped my pregnant butt into bed. After getting hooked up to the monitor, which Kalista HATED, and answering eleventy billion questions, they finally tried to get my IV in. First attempt was a huge fail, and hurt really bad, which is saying a lot because usually I am not bothered by IVs at all. Second attempt wasn’t much better, but at least it didn’t make me feel like I was being stabbed in the hand with a steak knife. After another failed attempt they brought their super poker in and after a thorough inspection with some weird Star Trek-esque device that I can only assume sees through skin and locates veins, she decided the best place for the IV was my left hand. Another poke and some digging around later and I was finally properly hooked up and we were almost ready to go.
At about 7:15am they took me and Adam down the hall towards the operation theater, left him outside the doors to dress up in a giant blue clown suit, and wheeled me into the hallway right in front of my own operating room. I got up, walked in and sat down on the operating table while nurses untied my gown, put socks on my feet, and handed me a pillow to lean over so they could put in my spinal. I was calm at this point, having just done it a year before, but still very anxious to get this part of the experience over with so I could lay down and enjoy the feeling of not having a needle in my back. The anesthesiologist for my first c-section was a pro and got it right the very first time, despite my scoliosis. This time I was not so lucky. I should have seen the hunt for a good vein during my IV stick as a sign of things to come.
First time she stuck the needle in I felt it pretty strongly. Very uncomfortable and it took my breath away. She moved it around trying to find the right spot to inject the spinal, and couldn’t quite get it right. So, she took it out and tried again, this time hitting a nerve and causing a sharp pain to travel all the way from my lower back down to my right toes. My leg jumped all by itself when she hit it. I felt her move it around some more, and then finally give up. The third attempt produced the same reaction as the second one… sharp pain down my right leg, leg jumping on it’s own, this time more than once. At that point I was ready to cry from the pain, which is something that I just don’t do. I am too tough for tears!
I found my inner peace, breathed through it, and tried to calm myself. I knew it wouldn’t last forever, so I just tried to tell myself “not much longer, not much longer”. At that point the big anesthesiologist god came in and told the woman wielding the needle to vacate my lower lumbar region, then he took his turn at torturing me from behind. He was kind enough to inject some more numbing agent before he tried again, which was much appreciated, and then he inserted that needle back there again. I could feel the blood dripping down my lower back, and my OB and two nurses were standing over me trying to talk me through it, but at that point I had my breathing down and was in a state of calm denial. When he was finally finished I was so deep in my self induced trance of ignorance that they had to ask me if I was conscious. They laid me back on the table and I felt the spinal beginning to kick in. After all that work, I was terrified that it wouldn’t make everything numb so I kept wiggling my toes non-stop to try and determine if was working properly or if I was going to be one of those women who only feels it on one side and has to go through even more poking and prodding than I already had.
Adam was finally allowed in the OR with me, and came to sit down next to me. I was still intently focusing on my toe wiggling when I noticed him sitting there and I gave him a big half spinal drunk smile, glad to see him. My doctor asked me to try and wiggle my toes, so I told him I was and he said “She is numb, let’s test it out”. I could feel my toes wiggling so I was a little confused at first, and then I realized that it was all in my imagination. I immediately felt calmer and turned my focus to watching what was happening in the reflection on the lights above me and the mirror on the ceiling behind me. I watched them use clamps to pinch and twist my skin all along my lower abdomen, and then after they were satisfied that I was completely numb, the surgery began.
I won’t go into too many gorey details about the actual surgery. I will say that watching someone cut into your body, watching then break your water, and watching them pull a baby out of your body is surreal and incredible. The amount of blood is baffling, the amount of pulling is disconcerting, and how quickly they can get from the first incision to pulling another human out of your body is absolutely incredible. After my spinal experience, and the fact that I had a sum total of 2 hours of sleep over the previous 48 hours, I found it hard to keep my eyes open during parts of the procedure. I did, however, pay very close attention to everything they were saying and was able to at least stay awake enough to open my eyes when I heard them get to the pivotal points of the surgery… When they first cut into me, when they broke my water, when they got through my uterus and first saw baby…
There was a point when they started pulling her out that I had a good scare, and that woke me right up. When they reached in to actually pull her out of my uterus, I heard my doctor say, “we may have to get the vacuum to get this baby out”. My heart dropped. They would have to vacuum out my baby during a C-SECTION? Does that even happen? WHY is that necessary? My heart started to beat faster, I could hear the beeps on the monitor speed up as well as feeling it trying to pound out of my chest, and I felt an instant rush of adrenaline. After what felt like 5 minutes, but was probably closer to 30 seconds, I heard him say, “Oh look at that, another breech baby! We need to increase the incision because this baby is coming out butt first!” A little more cutting, a little more pulling, and my beautiful baby was born, butt first, after being breech just like Nikaia!
As you know, Adam and I decided not to find out the sex before the birth. After Nikaia, I knew what to expect with a c-section. I knew that we would know exactly what day we would be having a baby, I knew what to expect as far as the operation itself, I knew what to expect with the recovery… As grateful as I am for c-sections after Nikaia decided to get herself stuck in a ballerina position in my belly, it’s not the most exciting experience once you have been through it before. It’s very planned, sterile, and quiet. I wanted some excitement since I wasn’t going to get to experience going into labor, or my water breaking, or pushing… What better way to make your completely planned c-section exciting than adding a gender reveal?! All of the nurses were so excited to find out the sex of our baby. It was pretty obvious that most people don’t wait anymore to find out, so they took our team green status and let it get them all hyped up for the big reveal right along with us. When my doctor pulled my amazing daughter out and announced “It’s a girl!” I could hear everyone in the operating room laugh and cheer. It was amazing!
As for my reaction… The only way I can describe it is that it was so much more incredible than I ever thought it would be. I laughed and cried at the same time. It felt like I knew all along, I just didn’t KNOW that I knew. It felt so right, and so amazing, and I will never find out the sex of any future babies I have after my experience with Kalista’s birth. I don’t regret finding out with Nikaia. I did get to bond with her in a way I didn’t with Kalista because I could imagine her as a she, I called her by name, and I got to shop for tons of adorable girl things before she got here. The experience with Kalista was amazing in it’s own way, though. I bonded with Nikaia as my daughter before she got here, but I looked at Kalista with this profound sense of wonder and amazement when she was put into my arms and I was seeing her for the first time not just as Kalista, but as my baby GIRL. I can’t rave enough about how amazing the experience was for me.
After I was all stitched up, I was taken to recovery and Kalista was brought right to me. We started breast feeding right away, she was nice and alert after her eventful birth, and Adam and I were on cloud nine. It only took about 45 minutes after delivery to get me and Kalista into our own room. All of Kalista’s grandparents along her great uncle and great grandma Alice all came in to meet her. My cousin brought Nikaia down later that afternoon and she got to meet her new little sister. She was enthralled with her new little sister then, and she is still enthralled with her now, over three weeks later.
My recovery was harder than my first c-section at first, but I also felt better a lot quicker than I did the first time. By the time the end of day 2 rolled around the most annoying thing was that stupid IV in my left hand. It was constantly being kinked up and making alarms go off. Mentally, the biggest difference was that after I had Nikaia, even while I was hunched over walking down the hall for the first time after surgery, I KNEW I wanted another baby. This time, I felt like I could wait for a while before I did this again… if I ever decided to do it again. Maybe this time I will wait a little longer to get pregnant again. 😛