2.5 Hours to Get a Baby

Tuesdays are one of the days that we went to Women's Care to do Non-Stress Tests (NST) and ultrasounds. Week 36, baby passed both tests barely. Week 37 we also just scraped by. Week 38, we dismally failed the ultrasound tests. Even though Dr Y is our primary OB/GYN, it was her day off so we had Dr H instead. Dr H told us to head to the hospital immediately. Of course, we went home and packed a few extra things first. ;) We're great listeners that way.

I asked Eric if he wanted to drive me to the hospital. He replied that he didn't care so long as I was comfortable driving us there. I have a better sense of direction and I like driving, so I drove us.

We arrive at check-in at the hospital and are shown upstairs to the Labor and Delivery ward around 2pm. The nurses settle us into the room and explain that the doctor on call will come to speak with us shortly. Dr H comes in and has a talk with us, explaining that since our baby is diagnosed with Intra Uterine Growth Reduction (IUGR) we're at a crossroads and have two options. Option A is to have a C-section right off the bat and not bother with the labor part of childbirth. I could tell that this is what he wanted us to do, but he wasn't pushy about it at all. Option B is to take a Stress Test and see how the baby handles the labor contractions. A Stress Test is when they give the mother small doses of Pitocin (the synthetic version of oxytocin) to induce minor contractions while they monitor the baby's heartbeat to see the reaction to the simulation of labor. Option B Part 1 was if the baby reacted well to the Stress Test then we could induce labor and I would try to deliver vaginally. Option B Part 2 was if the baby reacted poorly, then we would have a C-section regardless. I told Dr H that I would like to have the Stress Test because despite the IUGR diagnosis we wanted a natural birth if possible.

Dr H respected my wishes and by 3pm we'd found out that baby didn't handle it well and we'd be having a C-section. I'd eaten breakfast at 8am that morning, so we had to wait eight hours until 4pm to go into surgery. Dr H hurried to set it up right around 4pm. Most of the hospital staff who needed to be present for the operation had lots of evening appointments that day.

After the nurses had gotten me naked, shaved my pubic hair, and set up all the medical things necessary, we walked to the operating room within Labor and Delivery and Eric waited outside while I went in. There was a surprising number of people there, over ten but under twenty-five. The anesthesiologist came in and prepared me. I had the weird sensation of saying, "It feels off-center. Can you aim a little more to the left?" I was surprised at how fast-acting the medicine was. As soon as she removed the needle from my spine, they laid me down flat and uncovered me from the blue curtain-draping down.

Eric hadn't been admitted into the room yet and I was with strangers, some of them male, who had medical instruments and full access to my numbed body. I found this stressful. In an effort to distract myself, I asked them why they were counting the operating instruments. Answer: so they don't leave any inside my body. They count before, during, and after the surgery. I viewed this as a good precaution on their part, one I appreciated. Eric still wasn't in the room. Then I asked why the blue curtain-drape was necessary; "Is there a lot of blood that sprays?" Answer: occasionally there will be blood spray. This seemed highly unlikely to me, even in my drugged state, as the part they were supposed to cut is away from the curtain and it seems like the stomach would ooze blood with a gut wound instead of spraying it. But I'm not medically trained, what do I know. Then they inserted the urinary catheter. Anesthesia is weird. You can feel everything that happens, there's just no tickling or pain or anything. There is only pressure.

Eric still wasn't in the room. My drugged brain had run out of things to distract itself with and my low-level anxiety about this new and different situation ratcheted up into high gear. I wanted Eric with me now. I don't like displaying strong emotions to strangers, so instead of screaming or crying or even asking someone to go get him, I went silent, counted to myself, and waited for him to show up. I also hyper-focused on what they were doing to my body. I felt when they drew the guideline to follow with the scalpel. I felt when they made the first cut and how it dragged along my skin. I felt when they inserted the clamps that pull my sinew and organs apart so they can reach the uterus. I worried that my anesthesia wasn't strong enough, but I didn't say anything to increase the dose. I was getting very nauseous however and I said as much. I was on the verge of tears. Eric still hadn't been allowed in the room and our baby was going to be born any minute.

All of a sudden I hear Eric's voice in the hallway outside and I'm so relieved. So, so relieved. Eric comes and holds my shoulder and I can barely see his face since the blue curtain-drape is always hovering. Someone of my choosing, who I trust, is finally in the room with me and I'm able to calm down. It's not a moment too soon. Suddenly the assistant doctor is shouting, "It's a BOY!" and there's loud baby cries filling the air. My first thought is I missed the moment of listening for baby's first breath. My second thought is, "Wait, it's a boy?! Eric, it's a boy?!" Eric dutifully peeks over to where they've taken our child and confirms it's a boy.

Eric is ushered over to the medical side table and directed to cut the umbilical cord. Dr H tells me that it was a good thing we went with a C-section as the umbilical cord was right next to the baby's face. This would have caused difficulty in the labor process and caused distress to baby. Then Dr H says they'll take my placenta to the lab to see if they can determine a cause for baby's IUGR, though he doesn't really expect any meaningful results. I hear the staff members say the baby weighs 5 lbs .02 oz, which is just enough to stay out of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Eric comes back to my side and the nurses place a tiny baby on my chest. Eric has to hold him in place since my arms are strung out to my sides and I'm mighty drugged up. It takes them a little while longer to stitch and close me up, then I'm moved via inflatable raft off the operating table and onto a portable bed.

We arrived at the hospital around 2pm and had a tiny human to take care of by 4:39pm. Insane.