I get wheeled down the hall and keep thinking of this as a scene in “A Baby Story”. But those women look and act SOO different!! I think about the people I pass and wonder if they know where I am going. Do they know I am going to get a c-section? Do they realize what has been going on in my life for the past day and a half? Well, we are coming close to the end. Or rather, the beginning.
I get wheeled through those electric doors that Shauli and I had passed so many times on our walks. I guess now I know where they lead to. I am wheeled into an operating room with very bright lights. And it seems so cold. Cold, sterile, and impersonal. There is a table in the middle and I wonder how the heck I am going to get onto it. There is all kinds of equipment in the room and I see a place to put the baby. Finally, this baby bed I know my child will end up in. The third one I have seen since the beginning of my labor. I keep thinking to myself, is this really happening to me? Am I really going through this? Yep, I am really in the operating room. So, this is what one looks like. There are a number of people in the room and a couple of them help me onto the table. My nurse Bev is there so that’s a familiar face. I ask her if she will be there during the surgery and she says yes. That makes me feel better even though she stays in the background most of the time. The young resident that I met earlier and the even younger medical student come in. Then there are a few other women who look like miscellaneous nurses. They seem nice enough. Dr. Schoenberger comes in and so does the anesthesiologist. He asks me how I am feeling and I am quite honest when I say that I am terrified. He jokes with me a bit to lighten the mood and tells me that he likes me because I am a patient that he can joke around with and I am fine with it. I don’t freak out. Everyone is so casual and it’s nice that they aren’t rushing to cut me open. We’re just talking for a little bit. I remind everyone that I do NOT want a play by play of what is going on with the surgery. I want to know when they can see the baby, and when they deliver the baby and if it’s a boy or girl. That’s it! I ask how long they think it will take from start to finish and Dr. Schoenberger says about 1 hour. Now it’s 2:30 and they should be done by 3:30. That seems longer than I had expected but I will get through it. It’s not awful. Even though I know it will feel like ages.
Then it’s time for the spinal. A nurse comes to my right side and the anesthesiologist is behind me. Everyone else is bustling around setting things up. I am sitting up and the nurse tells me to lean forward. So I do and they clean my back off. The doc tells me that I will feel a pinch and I shouldn’t move. I feel a sting and since I can’t move, I try to relive the tension by saying “ooh, ooh, ooh” and breathing the pain out. I’m terrified at this point and keep thinking of all the things that could go wrong. Please don’t let me be paralyzed. All of a sudden I feel a shock go down my right leg into my foot. What a weird feeling and I let out a gasp and say ouch. The anesthesiologist asks what’s wrong and I tell him that I felt a shock in my foot. He says, “what?” So I repeat it and I guess he can’t hear me because he tells everyone in the room to “Be Quiet! Everyone be quiet for a second.” His tone of voice scares me and he says “Ma’am, WHAT did you say??” I tell him what I felt and he asks which foot and if I still feel it. I say my right one and no, it’s gone. He doesn’t say anything else but quickly goes behind me again. I still have feeling in my legs so it must not have worked. The doctor says he is going to try again so I will feel another pinch. The nurse helps me lean forward and really crunches me up. They say that is the right position and I feel that sting again. He must have gotten it that time and quickly lay me down. I feel the numbness traveling down my legs and it is such an awkward feeling. Then they quickly crank the bed so that my head is lower than my feet. Everyone is rushing around and making me very nervous. The anesthesiologist then takes an alcohol pad and swipes it on my arm. He asks if I can feel the cold from it and I say yes. Then he tells me to let him know when I can feel it on my body. He starts towards my stomach and I feel the swipe like a little tingle but not the temperature. He moves up and up and asks if I can feel it yet. He sounds like there is a problem so that’s pretty scary. I still don’t feel the cold though. Finally, I think I feel it when he is almost at the top of my chest and he asks again if I can feel it yet. I tell him I think so and they quickly crank my head back up. I just keep thinking to myself that I hope I am not paralyzed and how scary this anesthesiologist is. Finally, I suppose he is satisfied with the spinal because he steps back.
Then it’s time for the resident to prep me. She comes in and explains what she is going to do before she does it so that is nice. She washes off my stomach and puts iodine all over it. The nurse who helped with the spinal stays next to me during all this. I suppose she is my “c-section nurse” although she doesn’t introduce herself. They stick something on my shoulders and put up the sheet that will shield me from the surgery. I guess that is also the boundary between what is sterile and what is not. The nurse gives me oxygen through a nasal canula. I lie there with my arms out like a scarecrow and I’m shaking a little. I feel cold and hot at the same time and I ask the nurse for a wet washcloth for my forehead. She brings it to me and that feels good. I had been using one all through the labor to cool me off and I think it must be a comfort thing for me too. I remember ever since I was young and not feeling well my Mom would always put a cold washcloth on my head and wipe my neck with it and I still do it to this day. And that’s it for the prep. Time to start the surgery.
I hear but can’t see Dr. Schoenberger begin. He starts giving instructions or explaining what he is doing and I start freaking out. I don’t want to hear when and where they are making the incision. I know that I am losing it and I think to myself that when Shauli gets here, I will ask him to talk to me about ANYTHING so I can get my mind off what is going on and so I won’t be able to hear them talking. I will ask him to tell me a story or even talk about sports or maybe sing a song. Then I realize that I have to figure something out until Shauli gets here because I can hear them. I feel the numbness going higher and higher and it’s harder to feel myself breathe. That was one of my biggest fears. I had even mentioned it to Dr. Schoenberger beforehand and told him that I am scared of that. He says that it happens occasionally but don’t worry, I will definitely be breathing and a way to test that is if I can talk, then I can breathe. He also said that if I do stop breathing, it’s not a big deal, they will just stick a tube down my throat and breathe for me. LOVELY! So I feel my lungs getting numb and so I start breathing loudly. Meaning, I breathe in and when I breathe out I say, “hoooooo”, breathe in, “hooooo”. It must have been pretty loud because the doc says jokingly to “cut out that loud breathing, what are you doing over there?” He asks if I am still breathing and I say, “Let’s check. Well, if I can talk then I can breathe so I guess so.” Then I ask him if my breathing noises are disturbing him because I can be quiet. He laughs and says that he’s fine. The sensations I am feeling are the weirdest I have ever felt. I keep thinking to myself that this is one of the strangest and most intense experiences ever in my life.
Well, after a moment or two, the breathing noises aren’t loud enough to cover up what they are saying and Shauli still isn’t in the room so I decide to sing to myself. The song/prayer “Mizmor L’Dovid” pops into my head because Shlomi told me that is one of the Tehillim that are good to say when you are pregnant. He told me to say it often because it will help with an easy birth. Plus, I know and like the song it goes to. I start singing real quietly to myself. “Mizmor L’David, Adoshem ro-ee loh echzar, binot deshe yarbitzayni al may menucha yenahalayni”. I think of my words going up, like a prayer, to Hashem. And with every word, I sing a little louder. I start listening to myself and concentrating on each word and each sound. I don’t hold back but just keep my voice steady and can almost see each word coming from my mouth and rising to heaven. As I am singing, Shauli comes in. Thank G-d he is here. I have never been so happy and relieved to see someone. I am overwhelmed with love and feel like he is an angel coming to rescue me. He sits down and I tell him that I need him to help me sing so I don’t hear them talking. He sings Mizmor L’Dovid with me and then we finish the song. So I look at him and ask what to sing next. He tells me what about the song he walked down to at our wedding, that was a beautiful song. Somehow, even though my head is so foggy, I am able to think of the song and the tune. Mi Von Siach. We sing that together and then Esa Enai. Afterwards, I sing V’leeyerushalayim and close my eyes. I think of the city and the country that I love so much and my longing to be there. Longing to be there like I long for this baby.
I am SO thirsty. Since they made me stop drinking and stop with the ice chips, it feels like torture. I tell Shauli that the idea of really having a baby at the end of this process is really foreign to me. I can’t really believe that our baby will finally be here. I need something tangible to look forward to. So I tell him that aside from looking forward to the baby at the end of this process, I really look forward to a drink. I hope I am not too bad of a person for saying that.
All of a sudden, I feel like I am going to sneeze. Now for some reason, even though logically I know that the incision is very low, I have this image of me lying flat on the operating table and sliced open from top to bottom. I can feel them poking and prodding all over my body so that backs up my mental image. I know it can’t be true but that’s how it feels. So if I sneeze, I am worried that I will really mess up their operating because my organs will jump. And they might cut something that they didn’t mean to cut! So I am freaking out. I ask Shauli to tell the nurse that I am going to sneeze and what should I do? So he says, “My wife says she is going to sneeze.” She looks at me and says “ok, sneeze.” And I say “really, it’s ok?” And she says “yes, go ahead and sneeze.” I try to let it come but the sensation passes. That’s fine. I’d rather not sneeze.
My body is shaking all over and I feel really incredibly sore. I’m so uncomfortable and want this to be over. I want to ask what time it is so I know how much longer until 3:30 but I also know that I won’t be satisfied with the answer. Shauli keeps taking a peek over the curtain but every time I ask what he saw, he tells me that he can’t see anything because there are people in the way. I tell him that we need to start singing again because I am scared. We try to think of a kid’s song because I feel we should sing to the baby. Shauli says the only song that keeps coming to mind is “Little Neshomele” (Little Soul). I say that’s a good one and we start singing together. “Come with me, little neshomele, let me take you by the hand, there’s a little child waiting to be born today, you’re to be his heart, his soul. Come with me, little neshomel’e….” As we sing, I think of the baby inside of me. I don’t know why it wasn’t coming out before, I don’t know why it’s head never engaged. But I do know that it is healthy and maybe it is just scared. I don’t know if it’s neshama is inside yet. Maybe it’s just hovering above. So I am singing to the neshama of my unborn child. “Don’t be scared,” I want to say, “We’re here. We want to take care of you and love you. Please come meet us.” I am gazing at Shauli as we are singing and I know that this is probably the most intense experience in our lives so far. I know it certainly is the most intense since we have been married. And I know this will change us forever. I feel a bond with him stronger than ever before. I know without him, I couldn’t do this. I need him. I see tears forming in his eyes and I know that he is listening to me sing to our baby. His voice breaks and he can’t sing anymore. I go on singing for a little bit, knowing he is listening to me, knowing he is praying for me and for our baby.
I just want everything to be ok. I’m so scared, and so tired. I want this to be over. Why is it taking so long? I feel out of it and drugged. I know that I am talking less and less and I tell Shauli that I feel drugged and I don’t know why. Then numbness is spreading and I can’t feel my lips anymore. That makes it hard to talk. But it scares me too. I ask Shauli to tell the anesthesiologist that I can’t feel my lips. Is it ok? I can see him out of the corner of my eye. He is behind me and seems to be just leaning against the wall, hands behind his back. Hanging out. I don’t really like him. Shauli asks him and he says that it’s fine. We don’t need to be worried. My neck is hurting and my arms and my shoulder is in a lot of pain. I just want a massage. I want to be done with all of this. When are they going to get the baby? I think I hear a baby cry and I ask Shauli if I did. He looks over the sheet and someone else in the room says, is it time? Is the baby coming? Everyone is getting excited and starts moving closer and looking. The doctor says, “Hold on everyone. It’s not time for the baby yet. It will be a few more minutes.” I guess I imagined the cry.
Finally, it’s time. The doctor gets the head out. He says they have the head. Shauli is watching. They tell me that I am going to feel some pressure and I do. It’s not a comfortable feeling. I feel pressure and tugging around my stomach area. Then they pull out the rest of the body and I hear those incredible, amazing words…..”It’s a boy.”
I knew it! I am SO happy. I look at Shauli and know that he is overjoyed. He has a son. A first born son. I hear my baby crying and it is the sweetest sound in the world. Can we see him yet? Not yet. Bev comes over and says “Congratulations. He’s beautiful. He has all his parts! Everything is there and he is healthy.” I look at Shauli and say, “A boy. Just what we wanted.” Shauli asks if he can go over to the baby but they say they will bring him to us.
Finally, they bring him over all wrapped up in a blanket and with a little hat on. His eyes look so funny. They are all black and moist. He is SOOO small. And the most beautiful sight in the world. I tell Shauli, I never imagined I could love something so much, it’s amazing. Shauli gets to hold him and I reach over and stroke his face. “Hi baby,” I tell him. I am in awe. This is our baby, our son. WOW. They tell me that he is 7 lbs. 2oz and 19 ½ inches long. They take him away and tell Shauli to come with them because they are going out to the recovery room and going to show him to the grandparents. So off they go. The two loves of my life. My husband and my son.
The doctor is finishing up and I hear him saying things to the resident. This goes here and that goes there. I keep thinking to myself how unhappy I am that a resident is doing this. Why do I have to be the guinea pig? But I am sure everything will go well. Dr. Schoenberger is here after all and he isn’t going to let them mess up. I hear him say, here’s an ovary. What are they doing looking at my ovaries? I hope they are checking to make sure everything in there is ok. And I hope they make sure to put it back in the right spots!!!
I finally ask the question that has been on my mind for months. The baby is ok? He doesn’t have Down Syndrome? The nurse reassures me and tells me he is healthy and perfect. Dr. Schoenberger says, “Wow, you are such a nervous mother. Relax” I tell him that it’s his fault that I am this way. After all, they are the ones who told me about the spot on the heart, the ecogenic focus which might indicate a Downs baby and the polycystic kidneys so of course I am nervous – they freaked me out!! He says, oh yes, he forgot and apologizes.
I am shaking really violently now and the nurse offers to put a blanket on me. I accept and she puts a really nice warm blanket on me. It feels good and helps the shivers somewhat. I’m exhausted too. Well, after a few more minutes I am all closed up and ready to head to recovery. They lift me up and back onto the bed and off we go. Off to my new life with my beautiful baby boy and my incredible, amazing, supportive, strong husband. A family.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JONAH Z.
I LOVE YOU TO PIECES AND WOULD GO THROUGH EVERY BIT OF IT AGAIN FOR YOU!!!!!!