Once we said, “o.k.” everything was set into motion. Mom, MW, and DH all stayed with me. I had to put the hospital gown on after all. Then I was shaved. DH joked about getting a Brazilian – but this was a half-Brazilian with a cheap disposable razor. I was dehydrated from all the crying, but they couldn’t let me have anything. The anesthesiologist came in, and I begged him to let DH be with me for the epidural. I said I just didn’t want to be alone for it – the nurse tried to reassure me, “I’ll be with you.” That’s not what I meant. He offered to give me local anesthetic or whatever so that I could avoid the epidural, but I refused to allow medication to get to my baby. I realized I had no choice in the matter, and they weren’t going to understand.
The nurse who was doing all of this was the nurse who had been dealing with me since we arrived. I had refused to cooperate with anything she had asked of me. I had been a thorny patient. And, still, she thought her presence would somehow comfort me.
The nurse took me to the O.R. in a wheelchair. They had “thoughtfully” covered my legs with a big blanket so I wouldn’t be cold. But their thoughtfulness was misplaced. I was in tears, and all anyone could or would say was, “You’ll have a baby soon!” As if all I was concerned about was it being “over.” I guess most women that they see in that situation were ready for it to be over. But it was just beginning for me – I was in shock. I was quickly realizing what I was losing. And, all the fear that had led me to this place was now scaring me, so I was not confident that things were going to turn out all right.
The ride took an unbelievably long time. I felt like they were pushing me slowly – not sure why. There was someone in the hallway – who also made some inane comment about my baby being born soon. Then we arrived at the O.R. It was bright. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so everything was blurry, too. It seemed loud. It was very cold. I saw the machine (incubator?) where they would put the baby after they took her, and it made me cry to realize that it wouldn’t be my breast that she would first touch. My hands wouldn’t be the first to hold her. My heart was breaking already.
They made me climb onto the table and sit hugging the nurse, that awful nurse. I was shivering, and they kept telling me to relax and stop crying. They kept telling me that my baby would be here soon – again, not understanding why I was crying. That knowledge was not going to make me relax.
The epidural was as awful as I expected. My back was completely exposed to the cold. My legs were hanging off the table, also cold. So, of course, I was shivering. I think they had a blood pressure cuff on, and they threatened me with medication if I didn’t calm down. The first needle was to numb my back. It was just a prick, but it was not painless. Then came the scary part. I could only remember the pain of the spinal tap from before, so I was trembling with fear. Again, the threats. He said not to worry, all I’d feel was pressure. Yeah, right. And, of course, I had to remain absolutely still for this part. Now comes the intense pressure – which I translate into pain. I’m crying. I reluctantly hug the nurse even more. This was not the person I wanted to be hugging. The anesthesiologist was saying relax and breathe. “Almost done.” Yeah, right. I’ll take childbirth over this any day.
Finally, they were done. I could lie down. I could feel the medicine in my body immediately. It was the strangest feeling. It felt very wrong. My legs got heavy. I could feel it in my belly. It was like sandbags were being laid onto my body, which got heavier and heavier. I could feel them strapping my ankles to the table. They laid a blanket on my legs. I swear it only went as high as my knees or mid thigh. It really bothered me that I felt naked. My arms were stretched out with i.v. fluids, blood pressure cuff and whatever else they attached to me. My gown was lifted up to below my breasts and left there. I was sure I was naked. I tried to lift my head to see. The anesthesiologist asked me what was wrong. I told him that I felt naked. He said nothing.
All around me, the nurses or technicians were preparing for surgery. They were documenting scalpels and time and supplies. They were chatting and gossiping. They would come over to me and look at me and tell me again that I should be happy because my baby was going to be here so soon. All I could do was stare at the lights and cry. The anesthesiologist asked, “Couldn’t you just prep and drape her now?” They said, “We will.” But they didn’t. Of course, I don’t know how long I was in there, but it felt like forever.
I thought about my nakedness, and I wondered why it bothered me so much. I could birth naked, even in front of strangers. But here, it made me feel like a lab experiment or something from an alien movie. I couldn’t get the image of rape out of my mind. I was worried about my baby. There was no feeling in my belly, and no external monitor to reassure me that the baby was still there. I’d been on a monitor ever since we got to the hospital, and suddenly now, I was disconnected from my baby.
The nurse came over finally and started prepping my belly. I couldn’t feel it. I asked her why they didn’t put me back on the monitor. She said there was no need because they’d be doing the surgery very soon. She walked away. I was still naked. Someone asked about the henna on my belly. I tried to be happy talking about it, but I couldn’t be. I was still naked. Still crying. Still alone. Completely disconnected from my baby.
Then things blurred together. The doctor came in. More voices. I saw them finally put a drape over my belly. A sheet came up over my chest. But I don’t know what happened first. I asked if he was doing the “good kind” of incision. He made some kind of a joke – or was it the anesthesiologist? I clarified, “What if I wanted to have another baby?” I think they said it would be ok, that they don’t do the “other” kind of incision anymore. DH was there now. I could see him and MW. He was worried. I told him I wanted HIM to tell me if it was a girl or boy.
MW told me that now there would be pressure and tugging. She was right. It did not feel good. This is not how a baby should be born. They pushed on the top of my uterus. I tried really hard to think about something else, anything else. And suddenly, she was out. DH said, “It’s a girl!” I think he said it more than once. I couldn’t believe it. Then I could see his eyes looking across the room to where they must have taken her. There were no cries. I could hear nurses mumbling. Finally, she cried – and now she wouldn’t stop. They were suctioning her. Such pain to hear the cries. I wanted to have her on my breast so badly. MW said she looked good – her vitals were good. Someone said, “It’s a girl.” Like DH’s announcement had no merit. They wrapped her, and DH brought her to me. I couldn’t touch her. She looked like an angel, so beautiful, so peaceful now. The bright lights made her close her eyes.
Then they took her away. DH went with her, but still, they took my baby away. Now I was crying for yet another reason. I don’t remember anything else in the O.R.
I guess they took me back to the Labor & Delivery room then. Things were really foggy then. After about an hour, DH and a nurse brought the baby to me! He had refused to let them bathe her, but they had put goop in her eyes. I brought her immediately to my breast. It took a little coercion and help from MW, but she nursed!
Suddenly, we’re in a supply closet. Yes, I said a supply closet. It was really a “Recovery Room.” But it was a tiny semi-private room with one chair.