So I've been putting off telling the Tale of t'Otherest's Birth because it's not terribly dramatic, just a long succession of annoying things that didn't go quite right.
I knew from the beginning that I was heading for another c-section, but when you give up all hope of ever having another baby, you pretty much don't care how they arrive to you when a great miracle happens. And while I fear and loathe the c-section (for I dislike needles, and there are MANY needles involved, and I really dislike having my skin cut open as well, and that's sort of an integral part of the process too...), I just accepted that it was the way in which we get to have her, and we were so over the moon that we get to have her that we wrote off everything else as inconsequential.
So back in January, my doctor scheduled the c-section and thus began The Dread. I think scheduled c-sections are probably easier than emergency c-sections, but that doesn't make them easier psychologically. I knew everything, EVERYTHING that was coming and I had nothing to do for 8 weeks but DREAD it.
Luckily, those 8 weeks were REALLY busy, chock full of dog-sitting and editing work and school with the kids and massive amounts of cleaning and baking in preparation for being out of commission for a while.
The weekend finally arrived and I carefully packed up my two big kids to spend the week with their Nana, and then carefully packed up my own stuff. My kids went home from church with my sister and Chris and I headed to the hospital for pre-op, then back to pack up our dog, then up to my sister's house for a birthday dinner to fete my nephew who turned 18 this year. It was a really, really good meal and the perfect way to spend the anxious evening before major surgery. We talked and laughed and ate and huddled close to each other. I was so, so grateful to have my family all around me.
Chris and I packed up and headed home to our quiet, childless, dogless house. We got ready for bed, and I wandered the rooms, straightening and making up beds and putting away laundry and just fidgeting in general, until I could put off bed no longer. I didn't expect to sleep at all, but after the busy-ness of the past couple of weeks I sank reluctantly into sleep.
I got up and got ready for the day and Chris and I headed to the hospital. We were the first case of the day, so we had to be there early. The night nurse spent a tremendous amount of time finding a good vein for the first of many, many needles, but she did such a great job, I didn't even bruise much from that one. A long succession of doctors and residents and nurses and nursing students came in and chat with me about the procedures, which does NOTHING to alleviate the nervousness.
Finally, the took me back into the OR for the anesthesia. And here's where things went weird. Normally, for c-sections they choose a spinal block, occasionally they'll do a spinal with an epidural combined. My doctor wanted the combination for my section because he was anticipating an excess of scar tissue that he was going to have to clean up, and he thought he might need more time. So the resident started trying to place the epidural first. He poked and poked and poked and I could feel something trickle down my back, which I thought was maybe just some of the medicine, but which turned out to be blood. Yeah, they pricked a vein and I was bleeding pretty profusely (being a redhead, we're prone to that...). After 40 minutes the resident (poor guy, he was really nice too) finally gave up and the attending physician took over. They had also stopped talking to me and were just whispering amongst themselves. Thank Heavens for the nurses, they talked to me about literature and books the entire time so that even hearing the whispers wasn't as upsetting as it was later on when I told Chris about it. Even the attending couldn't get the epidural placed, so she ended up placing the spinal, so that we could just get on with it. It took them an HOUR. Poor Chris was a nervous wreck by the time they let him come back. And the reason I know that is that he held my hand the entire time and talked to me. That's right. Christopher actually focused on ME in an operating room.
My doctor did a great job with the section. He asked me before hand what my expectations were and I said, "Well, I really just want to survive the day. And I really want my baby girl to survive the day. Otherwise, I have no real expectations." He chuckled and said, "Setting the bar nice and low there, I think we can do that." So he worked and worked, and I heard this faint gurgling cry, which was troubling and I looked at Chris and said, "Is she ok? She's not crying very loudly..." Chris went to check her out and said, she was just fine. The nurses gave her good scores and then asked me if I wanted to hold her.
Wait, what?! They've never let me hold one of my babies during the section before! So, um...YES PLEASE.
They wrapped her up and brought her over to me and laid her on my chest and I cried and cried and cried. I had worried over her and prayed over her for so long, and here she was, in my arms, breathing and fine. It was such a relief that the whole room full of people faded into the background and it was just me and her and Chris and by miracle after miracle we were all ok.
My doctor got me all reassembled and they took t'Otherest and handed her off to Chris so that they could get me back into the recovery room, then I got to have her back. She and I cuddled and nursed while the nurse took the opportunity to teach her student about breastfeeding, which was fun. Chris and I were all on our own for this part, for the first time. Usually, I ask my sister to be there--she's sort of my good luck charm--but I felt that at the ripe old age of 39 it might be time to let go and have a little faith. We took pictures and sent text messages and made phone calls and otherwise just mooned over our tiny little daughter.
This recovery has been positively arduous. More intensely painful than I remember. But Chris stayed with me the entire time and that was really nice. We got home after 4 days in the hospital and the recovery just got harder. We have entirely too many stairs in our house. I've been trying to take it easy, but I am really NOT good at taking it easy. After 4 or 5 days I began to despair that I was permanently broken and would never feel good again. But after 10 days I started to feel better. At least now there's some hope that I might eventually feel like myself again.
My other Girl continues to be wonderful (well, both of my Girls are wonderful). She's happy as long as she's being held, and being an unexpected gift, she is held almost ALL of the time. The Girl is absolutely in love with her, which is heartbreakingly sweet. The Boy likes her well enough, but is less enchanted with her than my Girl. Juggling the three of them is hard (she says, as the Girl comes dancing into the room singing the Star Wars theme song), but it was hard to juggle the two big kids with the longing for one more. At least now, she's here and we're all together.