Nothing like the birth of a child to bring one back to the blogosphere. What else are you going to do while rocking a baby to sleep at 1am?
This is Liana’s birth story.
- Most of the pictures are NOT duplicates from facebook, so this isn’t completely redundant.
- That said, it IS long. Feel free to just skim the pictures.
Dating back to a nasty bout of fibroids 10 years, ago, the plan had always been to deliver Liana via scheduled c-section at 39 weeks. Depending on who you talk to, 39 weeks was either October 22 (according to my doctor) or October 24 (according to me, the sonogram guy, and my ovulation calendar). To avoid sharing birthdays, my doctor let me nix October 22, but October 24 wasn’t an option because they don’t schedule c-sections on Saturdays. So, 12:00pm, October 23 it was.
I never felt any contractions nor dilated much, so it was totally reasonable for me to work until Wednesday, October 21 (especially considering that my scheduled delivery date was still a week early). I took my birthday off to fulfill my delivery tradition of getting one last haircut. And to eat ice cream.
Tales from Pre-Op
Having gone through this once before, I was much less nervous about the two hours preceding surgery. The pre-op summary is that you spend two hours hooked up to monitors, answering questions about your health history, meeting part of your surgical team, and getting your IV installed.
- IV woes: With Talia, getting my IV inserted was the worst part of my entire surgical experience, so for Liana, I came prepared with a doctor-endorsed request for a lidocaine numbing shot. The nurse pushed back a little, claiming that two shots are objectively worse than one. I prevailed, though…only to be faced with not one, not two, but THREE IV attempts (two on my left hand, one on my right). I got lidocaine shots for the first two tries, but they switched to their IV expert for the third attempt, and I guess the request got lost in the switch. So, the IV hurt yet again, and I cried. I can now confidently attest that the lidocaine shot IS worthwhile. Get it.
- Contractions: The monitors showed that I was having some contractions, but I really didn’t feel them. So, who knows how long I’d been having them out in the wild.
Another 5 star experience, thanks to the great Dr. Collins. Here’s how an (uneventful) c-section works, recorded for posterity:
- Enter OR: You get to actually walk into the operating room with your delivery nurse and meet a bunch of other OR people.
- One such person was named Sarah, making it difficult to know when anyone was talking to me (they usually weren’t).
- My delivery nurse was a little crazy. I don’t know what she did from a medical perspective, but she took a lot of pictures for us.
- Get numb: You get a spinal injection that numbs the lower half of your body. I think there’s a big needle involved.
- It’s funny that I dreaded the IV more than the spinal injection. The latter didn’t bother me too much for Talia, so because I didn’t let myself think about it (and, by all means, avoided seeing the needle), I was fine.
- I didn’t experience the “shakes” that people sometimes get. And, unlike last time, I retained enough strength to talk in my normal voice throughout the surgery.
- Get prepped: Medical people hang a drape between your chest and abdomen. You stretch your arms out straight to the side because there’s not really anywhere else to put them but also because that’s what they make you do. Someone pinches you in various places to see if you’re actually numb. You’re actually numb.
- Interestingly, during this time, the doctor people talked with each other (not me) about a “family friendly” drape that some people are starting to use for c-sections. It’s clear, so it lets you see the baby’s birth while maintaining the sterile field. These doctors were pretty skeptical about it, saying things like “I routinely do these things, and *I* wouldn’t be able to watch. I know what all the sounds mean, and I wouldn’t want to think about it.” After hearing that, I tried to avoid hearing any sounds from the surgery.
- At this point, the anesthesiologist became my best friend. I thought the delivery nurse was supposed to be my best friend, but she was running around taking pictures, so the anesthesiologist told me everything that was happening. It was kind of weird, though, because he was sitting behind my head, so I couldn’t see him. Thus, his voice had a sort of meditative, omnipresent quality to it.
- Rejoin partner: They let your partner join you once everything is set up.
- Enjoy surgery: Surgery begins.
- I didn’t feel much.
- The doctors talked about their weekend plans (going to the F1 races for the first time!). This is their day job, and they have day-job conversations just like you do. You just aren’t cutting people open while you have yours.
- I successfully avoided hearing most sounds.
- Meet baby: After maybe 15 minutes, they tell you to expect some intense pressure, and they pull the baby out!
- For me, the pressure wasn’t as intense as forewarned.
- Upon pulling her out, the doctor said that Liana was “feisty”.
- There were a lot of gooey pictures, but I’ll spare you those. Here are the less-gooey images.
- Dismiss baby and finish surgery: At some point, the baby goes to the nursery to get some shots and stuff. You get sewn up.
- During pre-op, my delivery nurse suggested that I skype with Jonathan during this time to see what was going on in the nursery. I stared at her blankly. She said “Come on guys, it’s 2015!” I held my blank-faced ground on this…as much as I was excited about seeing the baby, I didn’t really think that screaming baby sounds would make a calming soundtrack for the end of the surgery.
- I took a nap instead.
- Recover: Doctors move you to a recovery bed and wheel you off to the recovery room. Partner and baby meet you in recovery room where you get to try to feed the baby.
- Jonathan and Liana nearly beat us to the recovery room, so they had to stall while I got reattached to some monitors and leg cuffs and stuff.
- Liana had a very strong rooting reflex, so she latched on to nurse with barely any help from me or the nurse.
- She nursed for a long time. I fended off a nurse and bath time to avoid interrupting her…after Talia’s breastfeeding ordeal, I wanted to protect Liana’s experience as much as possible.
Meeting the Family
We made it out of recovery to our postpartum room by 3:30 that afternoon, so Liana got to meet several people the same day.
We camped out in room 225 from October 23-26. It’s all a bit of a blur. There were good nurses, crazy nurses, adequate hospital food, much appreciated snack deliveries, tearful nursing sessions, and an eventual peace with sending the baby to the nursery between feedings so that we could sleep. Jonathan took care of me and all non-nursing baby chores. Chay and Arturo took care of Talia and the cats.
We were discharged around 2pm on Monday, October 26, having spent 3 nights in the hospital. Unlike Talia, Liana maintained enough body weight to avoid an extra night’s stay, though the pediatrician told us to be on the lookout for jaundice.
Daily Life with Liana
Liana does the normal newborn things: eat, sleep, poop, and stare at walls. We settled into a manageable routine within the first day at home that yields some decent sleep at night, even if it comes in 2 hour intervals. Somehow, 2 hour intervals are infinitely better than the 1 hour intervals we had with Talia…Jonathan and I are actually happy people during the day!
Compared to our experience with Talia, Liana’s “birth story” was a breeze. Without all the breastfeeding interventions and associated woes, I can actually see why one might like a newborn. Unlike before, there’s time to stare at her and admire who she is and how far she will travel in the next days, months, and years. And to dress her in silly hats.
I imagine I’m also more pensive about the experience now because I don’t currently anticipate having another child, so this is my only chance to learn from what I know and then savor the result as much as possible. I know it’s silly to try to plan your life too much, but nonetheless, I feel like I’ve arrived where I’ve always been going. Happy birthday, Liana, and welcome to the family.