The details about what happened get a bit hazy for a while. From the moment we decided that the C-section was the safest option, things started moving really quickly. Several over-eager surgical residents paraded through my room to introduce themselves. One of them asked if they could announce whether the baby was a boy or a girl. I pointed out that my husband had earned that privilege, even if the baby was being delivered by C-section. In fact, to me it seemed that would be the lone part of my birth experience that would go according to “plan.”
I remember being given instructions about how things would work. I was rolled down the hallway and all I could imagine was the hallways in Grey’s Anatomy—Meredith and Cristina and Bailey, running down the hallway with a gurney telling everyone to get out of the way. I remember passing by people and not wanting anyone to look at me. I was covered, but I felt raw and exposed, and I didn’t want to be seen.
At some point, hubs went off with a nurse to get dressed in scrubs while the nurses moved me to the operating room. I was transferred to a table, the drape was set up, the anesthesiologist introduced herself to me.
I remember feeling very cold. I remember gasping because the epidural made me feel like I couldn’t breathe, even though my lungs worked fine. I remember my doctor telling me that I would feel some pressure and some tugging—but once we started, the baby would be out in less than 5 minutes. It would take another 20 to put me back together.
The clearest moment from this entire experience, the one that I will never, ever forget, is the sound of my husband’s voice when doctor held up our child and told him to make the announcement. He said “It’s a boy… he’s so beautiful.” I will remember that moment—his exact words, his inflection…the way he choked up in the middle of his sentence… the sheer, raw emotion in his voice—I will remember that moment forever. It is, possibly, the only moment of the actual delivery that I can cling to with any positive sentiment. But it may just be powerful enough to drown out the rest.
I remember craning my neck to look over at the table where another set of doctors were working on cleaning up my son. I remember the doctors and nurses asking if we had a name picked out. I remember that my son was brought over for me to see for the briefest of moments before he went down to NICU—and my husband with him.
I remember the feeling of sheer desolation. Of not having anyone with me for hours as I was moved from the operating room back to Labor & Delivery and then to the maternity ward. I remember laying on my back, staring at the ceiling, tears sliding past my temples and my ears and dripping down to the pillow. Sobbing for the experiences that I didn’t have—like laying the baby on me right after birth until he crawled up and nursed for the first time. Because my baby was in NICU and I didn’t know how he was. Because I didn’t know when I would be allowed to get up out of bed to see him and hold him and get to memorize every detail of his face.
I remember feeling so very alone in a room full of people.