In case you missed it:
After being delayed twice, our “cowboy surgeon” decided we had been patient long enough. She arranged for us to be prepped and ready in a second OR while she was in the first OR finishing up a previous emergency C section. At this point she was getting used to my sense of humor, because she looked only slightly put out when I commented “Oh good, then you’ll have had some recent experience with the procedure before starting ours.” Yeah, she’s done thousands of these.
Now it was time to walk down to the OR (yes, I got to walk. It was the last walking I’d do for a while so I didn’t mind). This was also the only time that Josh and I had to be apart; he wasn’t allowed to be in the OR while I was getting the spinal/epidural combo anesthetic. But our nurse, Emily, took good care of me, distracting me by asking me lots of questions about prenatal yoga and acupuncture while they stuck me with the needle (which, incidentally, didn’t hurt at all, and would have been a completely stress-free procedure if I weren’t so worried about them missing the right spot somehow). Once the anesthetic started working (and boy was that a weird feeling), they laid me down on the table and Josh was allowed to come in. One of our midwives, Candace, was also there, and it was great to have her to help with baby wrangling and just generally be a good calming presence and advocate in the room.
As promised, they left my arms unrestrained and kept me updated on everything that they did. They put up the drape so I couldn’t see them cutting into my belly (which was really just fine with me, I didn’t want to see that) and got started. The whole surgery felt very strange. The epidural/spinal meant that I couldn’t feel any PAIN, but I could still feel what was happening. Tugging, pressure, poking and prodding… Thank heavens for Josh. He was right there, talking to me the whole time, using the relaxation strategies we had practiced (for what we thought would be labor and delivery) to keep me calm and present. He did an amazing job in there.
And then, all of a sudden, they were pulling Emmett out of my belly! Not surprisingly, he came out butt-first. He started making some crying noises pretty quickly after he came out. I sent Josh over to go check him out and report back. A few minutes later he came back and showed me a photo of a messy purple jumble of a baby on our camera. Hooray! I sent him back to be with the baby while they suctioned some extra fluids out of his mouth and nose and weighed him. 7 pounds 3 ounces–completely average and a perfect weight for a newborn. Emmett got the all-clear healthwise from the docs, so it was time for him to meet his mama.
They brought him over to me, pulled down my gown a bit, and placed him directly on my chest, skin-to-skin. Josh helped hold him in place since it was a little awkward to keep him on my chest and in front of the surgical drape (plus, every few minutes I had to extend my right arm straight out so they could get a read on my blood pressure). The funny thing was that I couldn’t get a really good look at Emmett while he was on my chest. But I could FEEL him, he was squirming all over, he had a big head of hair and he was pretty much perfect. And we hung out like that for the WHOLE rest of the operation: 20-30 minutes! Best. Half hour. Ever.
Someone asked if the baby had a name yet. In the last weeks of the pregnancy Josh and I had decided on 2 names: a leading finalist name, and an emergency backup in case the baby didn’t at all look like an Emmett. I glanced over at Josh and we both knew that this little guy was Emmett Douglas. Emmett was my grandfather’s middle name (he passed away in late June of 2012–just a week or two before Emmett was conceived, actually) and Douglas was Josh’s dad’s name (he passed away in Spring 2011). So just like his genes, this kid has a little bit of awesome from each side of our family–and a couple of proud and happy guys keeping an eye on him, I’m sure.
Again, we were so lucky to have a medical team willing to work with us to get early skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, etc. In fact, when it was time to switch us to our postpartum room and hand us off to a new set of nurses, our sweet nurse Emily very sincerely thanked us for a new experience for her: she had never encountered a c-section birth plan, and was truly moved by getting to participate in this kind of a procedure. So sweet! I think that in the future some of these practices will become a little more commonplace (I already see these sorts of things being promoted in various places on the Interwebs). For now I was glad we were able to make what was a less-than-ideal situation work for us.
Once I was all sewn up, we handed Emmett off to Josh while I got transferred to a different bed, then got baby back on my chest to get wheeled back to our recovery room. Our midwife Candace helped me get started with breastfeeding almost immediately, which went well and was a really moving moment for me. Ironically, for most of the pregnancy I had assumed that we’d have a vaginal delivery, but I was a little anxious about my ability to breastfeed. I wound up with a c-section but a successful start to breastfeeding instead! I was super lucky to not get nauseous or “the shakes” during/after the surgery; apparently most women do. Instead Emmett and Josh and I just got to spend the next couple hours getting comfortable with each other and our new little family of three.