Mama and Daddy got ready and we took your big sister to your Cheryl and Chuck-Chuck’s where she would stay the night before you were born and until Nana and Baba could arrive. And then we went out for a quiet dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. We had some appetizer that I can’t remember now and I had the Tequila Lime Chicken Fettuccine. You must have liked the food, because you kicked a lot and Mama had lots of Braxton Hicks contractions. Mama had so many that Daddy got out his pen and paper and logged each contraction and we laughed because wouldn’t that be funny if you decided to come out on your own after all!
But the contractions subsided and we went home to our empty, quiet house and made our final preparations for your arrival. We cleaned. I obsessed over my “things to do” and “what to pack” lists. We loaded our car and I might have tried cleaning my closet because that’s what Mama does when she’s anxious and trying to straighten up around the house.
I do not know what time we finally fell asleep the night before you were born, but I do know we were up at 4:00 am so we could be at the hospital by 5:30. I took a shower and tried to relax even though I was so nervous. Your Daddy ate breakfast and I fretted over whether or not I could go ahead and just take a couple sips of water even though I was told no food or drink after 11pm the night before. I was starving and parched and my twitter/blog friends told me to drink some water but I didn’t because I didn’t want to not follow directions. So I just complained about it for a while and that was good because it gave me something else to focus on.
We got to the hospital right on time and it seemed quiet enough, except apparently the maternity ward had been busy and we wouldn’t be getting a private room. And when we gave our name like we were checking into a hotel instead of a hospital, I remember seeing worry on the nurse’s face. The doctor’s office had failed to send in my paperwork or history – your Mama remained calm even though she wanted to freak out. Everything worked out though and a nurse led us to a small triage room so I could be prepped for surgery.
The room had a small sofa and a bed in it, with room for another bed if need be. There was a bathroom, but no television – which was fine because your Daddy and I were too anxious to watch anything. I got into my hospital gown and sat up in the bed while my blood pressure was checked and a nurse asked me questions. And then another nurse came in to start my IV, but she couldn’t find a vein so she tried again, and again, and then I calmly suggested someone else give it a go. You see your Mama has little veins that like to hide when the needles come out. Usually we counteract that by drinking tons of water and fattening them up, but I hadn’t had fluids in seven hours and my veins weren’t having it. So another nurse tried and then another. Mama cried a little and hyperventilated and might have almost fainted. The oxygen was brought out. And then we tried again… with another nurse. I asked for water and they declined and I was sure they were going to tell me you would not get to come out today and I might have cried some more. And then they brought in the “big guns” – our anesthesiologist. After almost an hour, four nurses and seven stabs, our lovely anesthesiologist got the IV in on his first try and I might have heard angels singing at that moment.
And then the nurse who would be taking care of us for the rest of the prep, the surgery, and after walked in and I almost cried again. Yes, Mama was very emotional and the adrenaline was high from all the needle poking, but it was more than that. The nurse who would be “holding my hand” for the rest of our journey was the same nurse I had asked to leave me alone after Zoe was born. She’d been condescending and rude before and when I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I’d requested a new nurse… and now here she was. I took a deep breath and braced myself for confrontation and rudeness, but it turns out her bedside manner had improved greatly and she didn’t seem to remember me at all – thank goodness.
So Dr. Y came in to say hello and the prep continued and we were all shiny and happy and YAY! A baby is coming out today! Daddy got changed into his scrubs and they wheeled me out as he followed close behind. I might have cried some more and your Daddy told me how much he loved me, and that everything was going to be ok and that soon we were going to get to see you, our son. So, off we went into the operating room for even more prep while he and Dr. Y stood in the hall waiting.
And they waited for a while. While the anesthesiologist was able to get the IV on his first try, the spinal block did not go as smoothly. I sat up on the gurney, holding the nurse’s hands, forehead on her chest trying to take deep breaths and relax while a needle was inserted into my spine. I could feel it grinding and tapping and pushing. Tears were in my eyes and I remember the doc telling me to relax. I turned my head to the right to take another deep breath and he and the nurse both quickly and firmly told me to keep absolutely still. He tried three times before he got it in and by that time I was so tired and frustrated I thought I would pass out just from that.
And then your Daddy came in and our nurse led him to me. . I remember whispering to him that I was “never doing this again.” He kissed me on my cheek or my forehead - I can’t remember – and then there was a hustle while the nurse tried to get him to sit down and then he FELL on the floor and knocked against some equipment. And your Mama completely forgot for an instant that she was about to be operated on because all she could think was “Great. Poor Daniel has passed out!” But Daddy was fine, just slightly embarrassed and worried he’d done something to the equipment – but he hadn’t. There was some discussion about how to best get a picture of you once you were out – our nurse was very concerned that your Daddy was ready with the camera.
And then there was a lot of waiting. I could feel what thought was my body falling asleep. I remember thinking, “What in the world is taking them so long!” And so I asked them, “Are you going to start soon?” And the anesthesiologist said, “Honey, we’re almost done!”
And they really were, because moments later they were telling me you were out and you were a boy – which we knew - and I was waiting to hear your cry - which took a minute because you had some fluid in your lungs – but when you did, it was loud and strong.
And I guess you peed on Dr. Y right away, which is kind of funny.
And then very quickly he held you up over the makeshift wall so we could get a look at you, but it was so sudden it was like you were jumping out at us and it was kind of shocking for Mama, Daddy and you too, I think… but your Daddy did get a picture just like the nurse told him to get - I'm just not going to post it here in consideration of the squeamish.
And then they cleaned you up a bit and swaddled you and brought you to me for a moment and I got to get a good look at you before you all left and they finished my surgery.
I fell in love instantly and thought to myself, it might take a while before I’m ready… but I would definitely do this all again.
And that is your birth story*, sweet Finnegan! It’s taken me 46 days to sit down and write it, but I’m pretty proud that I’m able to remember so much. Your sister’s birth is such a blur to me because of all the various pain medications, but I remember so much of your birth so vividly. I am grateful for that.
For months I was “sure” you would come early and on your own because I just “had this feeling.” What I realize now was it was more of a hope. I wanted to get to experience my water breaking and some real contractions so I could feel like I’d worked for you. I wanted to feel some of what a mother feels when she has a child naturally. I think I’d had it in my head that I was less of a woman or a mother because I’d had such an easy c-section and recuperation with your sister. It almost felt like I was cheating, taking the easy route. What I can tell you is, I worked for you. I had to be strong for you. Abdominal surgery is not the easy route.
But it was and continues to be worth it, my darling boy. I love you so very much. Welcome to the world and our family – it feels like you were meant to be with us.
* - The hours and days following went by in slow motion and warped speed. Maybe someday I'll write about those moments as well.