Unexpected Gift, Lesson 3: Great Expectations

I woke up bright and early on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, so I could shower and blow my hair out and put on makeup, because I knew it would be a very long time before I had the energy or desire to do any of those things again. I also knew there would probably be pictures, and I had the ridiculous notion that after being cut wide open I would care how I looked in pictures. 

We got to the hospital and everything was going smoothly, until it wasn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong, there was no big emergency or anything, but I started to sense something was up when the nurses came in my room and said, “We’re going to put in your catheter and go!”

I was under the impression it was going to be at least another hour, and I was also, much more importantly, under the impression that the catheter would be put in after they numbed the…area.

I started to panic and said, “Wait, I thought y’all did that after I got my epidural?”

They quickly told me no, the doctor was ready now, and it’s time. I later was told my blood pressure was getting high and we had run out of time. I won’t go into detail about getting a catheter put in when you can feel every part of it, but suffice it to say, it was not pleasant and I was crying and pissed when we got into the surgical room.

The Labor of Delivery

Let me stop here and say, if you’re lucky enough to have a very good friend who is a nurse, and you’re also lucky enough to have her working in Labor and Delivery when you have your child, then you are very blessed, indeed.

My friend Hollie is, and was, and I may have just lost my shit completely if she hadn’t been the person I locked eyes with first in that room.

They needed me to sit up, with the catheter in, so they could give me my epidural. I was very much not in favor of moving at all, and I believe I told them so.

She put her hands on my shoulders and said, “You can do this. You have to do this. It’s gonna be fine.” So I stared at her and tried not to feel the pain as the needle went into my spine.

And y’all, I didn’t feel it at all. I focused on my friend’s face at one of the scariest and most vulnerable moments of my life, and she got me through it.

My Green Husband

What happened next is kind of a blur.

I remember some things that my husband doesn’t, he remembers some things that I don’t, and even Hollie’s version of events was slightly different than both of ours. My anesthesiologist kept warning me I might feel something, but I never felt a thing.

My husband had turned a shade of green I hadn’t seen before and later told me witnessing your wife get cut open was “traumatic,” and my doctor was being kind of snappy, which was very odd for him.

From what I gathered later, my son did not want to come out the easy way. Not that there’s ANYTHING easy about a cesarean section, and yes, I will die on that hill.

But they actually had to use forceps to get him out and I was already cut wide open. And then… nothing. They had him out, and I listened for his little wail and heard nothing.

I looked to the side and saw that they had him on a table under a light and I just screamed, “HOLLIE!?!”

She immediately answered back something along the lines of “Just give us a second,” although I have no idea what she actually said.

I saw them using knuckles on his chest and suddenly, he let go of a sound that I would get to know well over the next several months. I both love and hate that sound to this day. He screamed his head off in pure fury.

I’ve never been so grateful to hear such a terrible sound in my life.

Which Blood to Follow?

They handed him to my husband and he brought him to me, only so I could see his face and touch him quickly, and then they told us he needed to immediately be put on oxygen.

My husband suddenly looked like Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice. Does he stay with his cut-open wife, staring at the large bucket of blood they had suctioned out of her, or go with his new son?

“Go!” I said, knowing it would be the first time my husband had ever walked away from me involuntarily, and it was extremely hard for him to do. But he and the nurses left.

I believe at this point I was given a lot of pain medicine, and I don’t remember much until later.

My poor husband was fighting mad because after they put our son on oxygen they wouldn’t let him back in the room where I was. But eventually we all ended up in the same room with members of our families, holding our little miracle.

I was high as a kite, y’all. Figuratively and literally.

I wish I could say something like, “As I looked at my son, I saw the face of God.”

But quite honestly, I looked at my son and wondered aloud, “Should I be holding him while this drugged out on pain meds?”

High on All of It

I wasn’t even sure I could hold my own head up, much less his.

All of a sudden, all my expectations about those first few hours with him were changed. I didn’t care what pajamas I was wearing or if they were cute. I didn’t care who was in the room and saw my boobs. All I cared about was we were both alive and he was healthy.

Granted, I was in a lot of pain and I felt like I’d been hit by a MACK truck. I was the most exhausted I’d ever been in my life. I thought that with his arrival would come this “natural instinct” for parenting, but there was no rush of knowledge or skills.

The overriding thought in my brain was “Don’t drop him.”

To this day, I often look at my husband when it comes to my son and say, “Did we miss a handout? Or lose some instructions? How does this work?” As it turns out, they don’t tell you any of that in “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.”

FRIENDS & HALLUCINATIONS

The next couple of days had moments of pure joy and pure hilarity. My poor friend Hollie had to help me go to the bathroom, and let me just say, that is FRIENDSHIP, y’all.

The pain medicine I was on made me hallucinate, so that when my best friend Christy came to visit, I got a little upset and kept asking her and my husband the question, “Why are y’all here?”

After much confusion, my husband finally asked, “Where are you?” to which I calmly and confidently answered, “Downton Abbey.”

I vaguely remember thinking they were dressed inappropriately and were going to get me kicked out, and I was not having it.

There were many beautiful moments too… One day as I slept, my husband played Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” for our new son, and later they had their first of many father/son viewings of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on the hospital tv.

Here Comes the Terror

Then the day came to take him home, and as we packed up our room and signed our forms, I felt a moment of pure terror.

There wouldn’t be any doctors coming in to check on us. We couldn’t call the nursery if he was crying, and we didn’t know why.

There would be no nurses to show us for the 100th time how to do a swaddle or help me out of the bed. They were actually sending this tiny, fragile human home with two people who knew nothing about children.

What on earth were they thinking? How could we possibly not screw this up?

As it turns out, it was both easier and harder than we thought.


Move to The Unexpected Gift, Lesson 4: Dying to Be a Good Mom