(Read Max’s birth story here.)
Juliette Lynne came into this world on February 7, 2018 at 9:52am (7 pounds, 11 ounces, 19 3/4 inches long) to tunes from a pregnancy playlist my doctor was kind enough to find for me and save to her Pandora the morning of my c-section. I think Juliette might have come out to a Justin Timberlake song which is fitting considering I had his face plastered on all 4 walls of my bedroom in the late 90s.
It’s crazy to think back to the day of her delivery, to everything that happened, to the whirlwind (and also creeping of time) that is preparing for a major surgery.
Because I delivered Max via c-section, and because I am not a candidate for a VBAC, we knew from the very beginning that Juliette would be born via c-section as well, which was very okay with me. You see, I thrive on plans. Scary plans, anxiety-provoking plans, exciting plans – I’ll take them all if it means I have a semblance of a process.
The night before, my husband and I were up until 1am just talking. Because that’s what happens when there’s this really big important thing happening in mere hours and you want to focus but also not focus on it. I also dreamt all night about food, which is a really cruel thing for my subconscious to do considering the last food I was allowed to consume was before midnight. I woke up so hungry.
It was very surreal walking into the hospital at 7am, two hours prior to my scheduled c-section. Through the doors, up to labor and delivery, the lab draw and start of the IV, talking to the nurse anesthetist about the spinal, even getting a final ultrasound performed by my doctor so she could see where everything was situated – through it all, it didn’t seem real enough. I could not fathom that I was there to have this baby I’d been carrying for so many grueling months (being pregnant while caring for a very active Max boy is no easy feat.)
It felt strange to not be laboring, to not have those excruciating stabs and pulls in my back that radiated to my stomach, to not have my breath taken away every two minutes. This was so different. I was nervous, sure, but I felt calm. I felt like a more proactive participant in the process. I didn’t have to wait for all of those typical labor things to happen. I thought I would be disappointed because of that, because I think the laboring process is a beautiful and exciting and magical thing, but I wasn’t disappointed at all. I experienced it once and felt completely at ease with how my daughter would be born and the circumstances I’d find myself in.
It felt really real when the anethesia team came in with a midwife from the women’s group I saw for my pregnancy. Sue would be assisting my doctor during the entire delivery and would be a comfort to me as well. Since an operating room is a sterile environment, my husband wouldn’t be allowed in until the anesthesia team completed the spinal and performed their tests to make sure I was ready for surgery. It was somewhat of an out of body experience to actually walk from the triage bed, around the corner, and into the operating room. The OR is such a bright room that’s void of any personality. It’s cold and not at all comforting. Last time, since I was actively laboring, I had other things to pay attention to and the room was the least of it. This time I walked right in and was immediately terrified at what I was about to go through.
Sue, the midwife, was the only familiar face. In fact, I had only met the doctor performing my surgery the day before (up until then, I had only seen the midwives in the practice.) To have Sue there, encouraging me through the spinal, calming my nerves at the thought of delivery, was a complete game changer. It’s because of her that I felt confident. She’s the reason I didn’t feel so alone in the minutes before Mike could join me in the room. Sue is someone that so completely changed the atmosphere in that room for me that I will be eternally grateful to her.
So there I was on the table, Mike walks in, surgery begins, and I feel great. It goes by fast, there’s laughter and the whole team is having light-hearted conversation among themselves and with me. I’m focused on making sure we get a picture of Juliette as she makes her exit. One of the neat things this hospital does is give moms the option of a clear drape, which I selected. There’s the traditional drape that’s not see through and that’s up during the c-section until the baby is about to come out. At that point they drop the traditional drape and leave a see through drape behind. I couldn’t see any part of my body, but I was able to see Juliette as she was lifted and brought forward so I could see her better before she was handed to the pediatric team to make sure everything was good.
I just remember saying, “She’s beautiful!” And thinking that she looked just like her detailed ultrasounds showed. We did skin to skin almost immediately, Mike alternated between checking on her and checking on me, and I was able to be with the baby for almost the entire time they were finishing the surgery up. After I was done, I literally was wheeled across the hall where Mike and baby were waiting. An hour or so in recovery and we were moved to what would be our permanent room for the next two days.
With Max we were in the hospital for four days (I actually requested an additional day because the pain was that intolerable, I was afraid I couldn’t do it at home). With Juliette, I was released the afternoon of day two. Recovery and pain management were so much easier this time around and I was excited to be able to continue my recovery from the comfort of my own home. My husband is a very skilled NICU nurse with additional general medical knowledge that made me feel very well taken care of away from the hospital.
Now here we are, living our best life, with wonderful children and a happy marriage and I can’t help but think: Whatever I did to deserve this, I’m glad I did.