Okay, I'm gonna crank out the rest of this birth story while my beautiful daughter sleeps.
When last we met, I had just decided to have a C-section.
My midwife appointment was at 2:30 pm on Thursday, June 14th. By the time I'd done the ultrasound and been evaluated by my midwife and assessed our situation and made a decision, it was after four and my C-section was scheduled for 7:30 pm.
I still had to drive an hour home, gather my stuff, and (thanks to the time of day) drive almost another hour back to the hospital.
As I was rushing out of my midwife's office, a giant ball of stress and fear and disappointment, she said the most important words anyone has ever said to me:
"Try to put everything else aside, and start focusing on how exciting it is that you're about to meet your daughter."
With those words, everything shifted. Not completely. But enough that I was able to go into the experience of my daughter's birth without focusing on what it wasn't. Instead, thanks to my midwife, I was able to focus on what it was.
I'd been emailing WP and calling my parents with updates, but it was finally time to call my friend, Lesley, who was on call to come to my house and keep me company when I was in labor. New plan! Lesley hopped in her car and was at my house before I was, ready to drive me to the hospital. We loaded up my stuff, and drove straight into rush hour traffic.
It was after six by the time we got to the hospital, where we were met by my midwife, my birth doula, and WP.
I got settled in the triage room, put on my lovely hospital gown, and everything was going along smoothly (although my blood pressure was a little high-- no surprise) until the anestheliologist came in. When my midwife had called to schedule the C-section she was told that it had to have been six hours since I last ate. Which it was.
But the anestheliologist was insistent that it had to be eight hours. Which it wasn't.
So the C-section was pushed to 9:30 pm.
At first I was annoyed, but it actually turned out to be a good thing. The whole afternoon had been such a stressful rush into the unexpected, that it was nice to have those extra couple hours. I hung out in the tiny Labor and Delivery triage room with WP and Lesley and my doula, Laura, and my midwife, Debbie, and we chatted and laughed and listened to my birthing mix and admired my slideshow of relaxing images and time flew and I was able to process, at least a little, that this was really happening.
I was about to meet my daughter.
Finally, a little after nine, I walked down the the operating room. My midwife, Debbie was allowed to come in, and my doula, Laura, came in as my birth partner. So I had two people there holding my hand and stroking my hair and helping me stay calm as I climbed on the table and leaned over to get the epidural.
The only hard moment-- and it was really hard-- was when I was flat on the table before the surgery began. The hustle of people, the bright lights, the utter exposure, was overwhelming and awful and brought me to tears.
"This just got so... medical," I said to Debbie, finally losing it for a moment.
But the moment passed, and very quickly Debbie (who was taking pictures with my iPhone) was giving me the play by play as the doctors went to work.
And then, suddenly, Violet was in the room. I heard her cry, and I remember asking if she was alright, but by this point the epidural was making me extremely woozy. I think the anesthesiologist overdid it, because I never felt the pressure and pulling they said I would feel, and I couldn't feel my hands. So of course I started to obsess about how if I couldn't feel my hands I wouldn't be able to hold my baby.
While I obsessed about my hands, the nurses were exclaiming about how huge Violet was. I could hear them guessing her weight and then not believing it when she was only (only!) nine pounds, nine ounces.
And then, soon, Violet was all wrapped up and Laura was holding her next to my head so I could see her and talk to her while I was getting stitched up.
Of course, Violet was beautiful. Her face was purple and puffy and perfect.
The next hour is an epidural-induced blur, and that's probably the worst part of my birth experience. I was so out of it that I can't remember every moment. I was too drugged to feel the overwhelming rush of emotions I was expecting to feel when Violet came into the world. I was just trying to keep my eyes open, to at least be present if I couldn't be all there.
But before long I was in the recovery room, where my hands were finally working well enough to hold Violet. My post-partum doula arrived as the nurses and doctors were trying to figure out how someone with blood pressure as low as mine was could still be alert-ish and functioning.
I didn't feel like I was functioning particularly well, but my blood pressure was so low that they kept bringing in different blood pressure cuffs and (according to WP and Lesley, because I don't remember this part) specialists were consulted and residents were swarming and NO ONE WOULD GIVE ME ICE CHIPS.
At that point, the only thing I cared about-- other than holding Violet-- was ICE CHIPS.
I wanted them. And until my blood pressure came up, the doctors wouldn't let me have any.
But eventually my blood pressure recovered enough that Laura was allowed to scoop ice chips into my mouth, so I held Violet and sucked on ice until we were finally able to be wheeled to a room.
My post-partum doula, Julie, had arrived by this point and was already helping me get breastfeeding off to a good start. Which is pretty much what the next twenty-four hours were about.
Which, fortunately, Violet took to like (what else?) a champion.
Everything was blissful and wonderful in a sleepless kind of way until twenty-four hours later. When, in the middle of the night, I let the nurses take Violet to the nursery for her assessment (I'd been keeping her exclusively in the room until this point) so that I could get just a few minutes of sleep.
And then everything went to hell.
But that's Part Three of the story...