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My dream birth plan involved a scenario similar to a posh spa experience. I would be lying in repose in a Jacuzzi tub at my birth center, sighing through contractions as Enya played in the background. My midwife and husband would coach me through the final phases of labor, and my son would be born in the warm tub. A Caesarean section was never supposed to be part of the plan.
I know, I know — birth plans are a sham, or merely a rough outline of how we'd like things to go, but I can't imagine my experience being any further than the out-of-hospital birth I had prepared for. So when my midwife told me that I needed to begin working on getting my breech baby turned, as my bicornuate uterus would likely not have the space as he continued to grow, I panicked a little. (OK, a lot.)
My husband was, and is, a trooper, and he was supportive of all of the nonsensical tricks I tried to get this baby turned. I distinctly remember the first night, the two of us sitting side-by-side on the sofa with a bag of frozen peas and a flashlight. We continued our shadow puppet nonsense until our baby became so agitated (but not so agitated that he turned) that I began having hormone-fueled visions of our baby wrapping his umbilical cord around his neck.
And then there were the inversions. At that point, I had never practiced yoga, so I was immensely grateful for curtains (and TUMS) as I hefted my swollen belly upside down, in hopes that — I don't know — maybe I'd confuse my baby into turning. The only thing inversions managed to do was to kick up my pregnancy heartburn to hellfire proportions. After a go with a rebozo and weeks of chiropractic work, I drew the line and decided to forego the last stand: moxibustion. I was done. I was absolutely defeated.
When I returned to my midwife, admitting defeat, I cried. And when I say that I cried, I pregnant-woman-ugly-cried, hormones be damned. I gave my midwife the go-ahead to schedule an appointment with the hospital.
As the clocked ticked down to my scheduled C-section, my anxiety climbed. I was stressed out, scared and constantly crying (I'd never had major surgery before).
We rolled into the hospital the morning of my surgery, and I was a complete terror, snapping out at anyone who tried to talk to me. I checked in and found myself shaking as I changed into my hospital garb. If I was doubtful about my upcoming surgical procedure, those doubts doubled when the nurse collapsed my vein at the first attempt to insert my IV, spraying blood all over and testing both my and my husband's fortitude.
My anxiety quelled when my midwife arrived, talking me through what would happen. I shot a glance over my shoulder at my husband, as I walked to the OR to prep for surgery. As I sat on the edge of the gurney, hooked to monitors, I watched my blood pressure and heart rate rise as the anesthesiologist readied his equipment.
It all happened in a blur, and for that I am incredibly thankful. It went a little something like this:
Anesthesiologist: "You're going to feel a few pricks and a cooling sensation. Now you're going to feel a lot of pressure. "
Anesthesiologist and nurses: "OK, now swing your legs over, quickly, QUICKLY!"
We were off! My overzealous surgeon began the incision, when my midwife called out, "Can someone get Lauren's husband?"
The anesthesiologist was already camped out behind my head in the cramped, puke-green tiled room, relegating my late-arriving husband to a stool at my side.
My husband saw everything, and I mean everything. When I tell you that my husband knows my body intimately, I don't just mean it in the sensual exploring-my-body kind of sense; I mean it in the all-encompassing inside-and-out way. If there was any doubt about what my husband was seeing, his nervous chatter and Monty Python reference were proof. Sadly, the anesthesiologist was the only person who caught the reference; they did, indeed, have "the machine that goes ping." My husband would later remark that he was incredibly impressed that my midwife was "so elbows-deep hands-on" with my surgery.
My son arrived with a muted cry that was sweet for a minute or two, until he found his lungs; boy, that kid could cry! We were wheeled back to my recovery room, where I snuggled and nursed my son for the first time. My husband, again a complete champ, took care of the biohazard bag arrangements with the OR nurse. (Oh, wait, I didn't tell you that we were taking my placenta home with us, did I?)
When I arrived home from the hospital and finally got to check out my post-baby body, I was surprised to find a series of stretch marks that weren't there at the end of my pregnancy. Thanks to my husband's intimate vantage point, he was able to deduce that when they winched my belly skin open and up to make room for baby, the stretching created the new marks.
Despite seeing every part of my C-section surgery, and despite cooking and encapsulating my placenta, my husband maintains that the worst part of it all was when my vein sprayed blood everywhere in pre-op.
I would say that the experience had little to no effect on either one of us, but the truth is that we have a total of three photographs from my hospital stay because my husband was incredibly nervous. I'd have to say that is our only regret, but our son and I made it out with our health, so that's a win.