Josie's Birth Story

I was looking through old posts and I realized this was sitting, unfinished and unpublished, in my drafts folder. Whoops! Better late than never, I guess.

Having a scheduled due date is surreal. Whether it's a c-section or (I would imagine) an induction, it's rather odd to be able to put your birth as a line item on your calendar.

Our surgery was booked for 11:30 but we were instructed to arrive 2 hours early. We woke up, I had time to do my hair and make-up, and we headed to the hospital with Luke in tow. Strangely, I had a nice calm drive to the hospital with both my babies, so I've never experienced the frenzy of running to the car amid contractions. (As you may recall, my water had broken with Luke but contractions wouldn't start for another 8 hours.)

After I was checked in and settled in my room, the nurse started my IV fluids and snuck me some ice chips. Bless her - I wasn't allowed to eat or drink after midnight so I was insanely thirsty. She also made sure to shave part of my bikini area to prep for surgery. This will be relevant later.

I wanted Luke to stay with me and Steven as long as possible. Right before we headed to the OR my mom took him to get some lunch and keep him occupied until we were allowed visitors.

one last photo as a family of three
At 11:30, after a parade of doctors and nurses had stopped by to walk me through the procedure, they wheeled me to the OR to start prepping me. Steven suited up in his hazmat scrub suit but then he had to wait outside the OR during prep. I wasn't happy about having to get my spinal block without him there for comfort, but the nurses helped me feel at ease. The numbness started to set in almost immediately then the doctors and nurses got to work sterilizing me, giving me oxygen and hanging the all-important drape. At one point I heard the surgeon lightly scold my nurse for being stingy with the bikini shave. I wasn't sure why this was relevant since I'd read the incision is at least an inch above a woman's pubic hair. Again, this will be relevant later.

Eventually Steven was allowed in and he was given a seat by my head. He had no interest in watching the action, not that I blamed him. Being mostly numb from the ribs down was odd because I could feel the sensation of movement, but couldn't tell exactly who or what was touching me. I have told friends it felt like someone was digging in their purse to find their keys. I had been chatting with the nurse anesthetist for a few minutes, then I asked when the surgery would start. The surgeon peeked over the drape and said she had started several minutes ago. I guess I didn't have to worry about feeling any pain!

Finally I felt a big pull and the baby was out! The doctor called out "it' a girl!" and I said "it's Josie." She cried instantly, and had the tiniest little cry. The nurse quickly bundled her in a cap and blanket then brought her to me. It was, of course, love at first sight.

For the second half of the pregnancy I had been told to expect a big baby. She had been measuring big, so big that the midwife predicted she would be 8 pounds at our 38 week c-section, but would probably get up to 9 pounds if we went full turn. When they told me her length and weight - only 6 pounds, 11 ounces! - I asked the doctor "Where's the rest of her? I was promised a big baby!"

The next few minutes were a blur - Josie was getting cleaned and crying, I was getting stitched up, and Steven was running back and forth taking pictures and showing them to me.

TMI moment: Around 34 weeks I had developed a cyst... down there. I had no idea, because it didn't hurt or itch, and I didn't even know about it until I had it pointed out during an exam. As the OB was finishing up my stitches she also spotted it. (Fun fact: even though all the action is centered around your belly, you still have to be naked and spread eagle for a c-section.) She said it would likely go away on its own after the pregnancy hormones had subsided, but if it didn't I could have it lanced at my 6 week check-up. Then I asked, incredulously "Is there any reason we can't go ahead and lance it now?" She laughed and said, "Oh yeah, might as well since you're already numb!" Well duh.

The last step was to wrap a big rubber bandage across my midsection to keep everything in place, then I was re-gowned and wheeled back to our recovery room. The best way to describe this bandage is like a big tennis grip. Stretchy on one side, very sticky on the other. After 24 hours I was ready to have the bandage removed. The nurse braced my skin, got a grip and RIIIIIIIIIP. In addition to removing the bandage, she also gave me a complimentary bikini wax. I told you the bikini shave would come up again. I've never had a professional bikini wax, but after that I'm pretty sure I don't want one.

She was born on Wednesday and we went home on Saturday. Since it's taken me so long to write this story, I will now drop the narrative and switch to bullet points since I can't remember what order these happened in.

- During my pre-op review I was told abdominal surgery can cause air to be trapped in the body which can cause some mild discomfort. Mild discomfort, my ass. The first time I sat up it felt like my shoulders were going to explode, I had no idea what was going on or how to fix it and I nearly had a panic attack. (I don't do well when I feel out of control.) My nurse, who looked 14, had no idea what was happening and had to get another nurse who had experienced a c-section for herself. The only cure is to lie down on a bed or couch and rock back and forth to work the air bubbles out. I have never felt more like a beached whale, moaning and wallowing on my side.

- As part of my post-op care I was offered Percocet (for incision pain) and Motrin (for general cramps and uterus pain). If you find yourself having a c-section, don't be a hero. TAKE THE PAIN MEDS. The Percocet kept me lucid but allowed me to get up and move around quickly. I truly believe the sooner you get active the sooner you start to feel like your old self again.

- Whether your baby comes out the sunroof or the front door, at first you are going to have trouble peeing on your own. The anesthesia got me out of whack and it was like my body forgot how to pee for a day or two. I had my surgical catheter for about 12 hours, but I still couldn't pee on my own for a while. Again, don't be a hero. If you feel like your bladder is about to explode ASK FOR A CATHETER. I let my pride talk me out of getting one, but once I got it I felt so much better. You guys, the nurse had to use a second pee bucket. Steven had been right there with me for this whole episode, so seeing that much of my urine go by in a bucket made him both horrified and oddly proud.

- Speaking of catheters, if you have to get one placed when you're not numb below the waist, make sure to ask for a labor nurse and not a recovery nurse. My lovely 14 year old nurse had never placed a catheter before (apparently they're not nearly as common on the recovery side of the hall) but since I was at a learning hospital she still got to try. Badly. Several times. Let's just say it felt like she was stabbing me with a milkshake straw. She finally gave up and got a labor nurse, who was much more skilled.

- Since Josie was born at 38 weeks she still had some very fine hair (called lanugo) on her back and shoulders. My first reaction was to panic that she would have a hairy back like her father. Fortunately it fell out within a few days and she is not, in fact, part werewolf.

- It doesn't matter how many babies I have (though I hope it's only these 2) it will never NOT feel weird to come home from the hospital with more people than you left with.

For more over-sharing, you can read Luke's birth story here.

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