When we first learned that little Miss Sarah Margaret would be joining our family, I had my doubts.
Ok, I had lot of doubts.
I said a lot of prayers of "I sure hope YOU know what you're doing God."
As the boring, uneventful weeks of pregnancy passed by I began to feel more and more comfortable hoping for a boring, uneventful birth and recovery period too.
I started to dream about a normal recovery period. One where you hold a baby when he or she is born. Where you nurse early and often, as much as you want.
See, I don't talk about it much but my history has stolen those early moments from me all to often. The last time I delivered a baby who went straight to my chest was Kenna. Ten years ago.
Oh yeah, and she was already dead.
So not exactly normal.
I've silently grieved as other women share their beautiful birth stories, even beautiful c-section stories. While other women share how they didn't feel "whole" when they gave birth without an epidural, I sign up for major surgery. I mostly accepted family- centered birth wasn't to be for me. At least (some of) my babies were alive and healthy, I guess if it took a little longer for them to get to me I could accept that.
Except I wanted more for Sarah.
A couple of weeks ago I dared to tell my OB how much I wanted to hold her in the OR. I don't know what took me so long to say the words aloud, other than misplaced superstition that admitting I wanted it would somehow jinx all the smooth sailing.
When I checked in for surgery, I took a deep breath and shared my hope to have Sarah with me in recovery with the nurses, the anesthesiologist, and frankly anyone who would listen. I told them about Kenna, about Siena, about Tomas, and about Kylee (a charge nurse would't let Tim come into the OR with me which is an entirely other story never told here).
And then I tried really hard to let it be out of my hands.
A c-section is nothing if not the ultimate surrender in being vulnerable to what other people can and will make happen for you.
Due to some surprise scarring (not surprise in that I had it, but surprise in where it was) it took quite awhile (and a larger incision and assistance from both vacuum and forceps) to get Sarah out and by the time she was born she was pretty stunned. She had quite a bit of fluid in her lungs and wasn't clearing it out. Despite two tries to wean her off oxygen, she couldn't do it on her own. The pediatrician said she was going to need to bring her upstairs for better monitoring.
I didn't want to cry, but I couldn't help it. Through tears, I began silently pleading with God to help me accept the loss pf my dream.
And then something unexpected happened. (I didn't see this part at the time, Tim told me later.) The anesthesiologist (who had heard our story) stood up, walked across the room and spoke privately to the pediatrician (who hadn't). The pediatrician gave it one more chance and all of a sudden Sarah was just fine. The ped. told me later that she finally gave a good cough and cleared out all the fluid and that was all she needed. They tried again to wean the oxygen and sure enough her stats were just fine.
The anesthesiologist came back, started undoing snaps and organizing warm blankets and before I knew it there Sarah was.
Right where she belonged all along.
She started rooting so fast I didn't even know what to do! I'd never seen a baby actually do that after a c-section. Not being super coordinated, she held my finger while they closed me back up. I held her while they moved me to the hospital bed for recovery.
Someone took pictures at one point, but I didn't even know that until I saw them on my phone later.
She latched on in recovery and didn't let go for an entire hour.
She stayed in my arms as I transferred from recovery and back up to the birth center.
Ironically, my OB actually apologized his end took so long and that I couldn't hold her sooner. I feel like I couldn't have asked for better and he wishes he could have given it to me.
Ten years ago when someone put Kenna on my chest?
That was the day we met him.
He's taken incredible care of us over the years. He has seen me at my worst more than I care to think about. Makes me a little teary actually.
I admit now that my fear of sharing my desire for Sarah's birth was entirely unfounded. Truth be told, if I hadn't shared, it wouldn't have happened. I guess some people call that advocating for yourself?
Whatever it is, I'm not very good at it. Truthfully, it didn't make me any friends in the nursing staff who (apparently, I was told later) didn't think it was appropriate for us to have had the experience we did.
I hope, however that those young nurses will someday understand that they were a part of something much bigger than themselves. Much bigger than their protocols that would have had Sarah (and I) with a different type of monitoring and recovery period. They unfortunately, yet understandably, may think what I used to think... that I signed up for the separation piece when I signed up for the surgery.
And now I know better.