I never intended for this story to have three parts. I intended to sit down and write it all out in one sitting. I intended to have in one place June's birth story in all its glory.
But then it took so much longer than I thought it would to write. I wanted to remember all the details. Life with a newborn is busy, and time to write is sandwiched in between feedings and burpings and rocking to sleep. When I did have a good chunk to sit and write down June's birth story it took way more time and energy than I realized, and instead of writing it all, I wrote only the events leading up to her birth. I called it part 1. When I sat down to finish her birth story, I wrote only about the iv debacle and the decision to have a c section. So I called it part 2 and promised to finish another day.
I am hoping today to make good on my promise to myself to FINISH June's birth story. If there has to be a part 4 to this series, I might just drive myself insane. So here we are, the conclusion of June's birth story.
As soon as the doctor declared that my stubborn breech baby wouldn't turn, and that a C section was in order, there was no time to think, no time to breathe. I was wheeled down to the operating room immediately. In the hallway I saw Greg's mom, his brother, and his brother's wife. I remember feeling so much support, but strangely enough feeling like an idiot because I was being pushed around in a bed. Vanity is a strong thing, I suppose.
This was the hardest part because I was without Greg. They had told Greg to stay behind, get his scrubs on, and they would call for him when they were ready. In the operating room, the anesthesiologist poured cold gel up my stomach. "Can you feel it here? Can you feel it here? How about here?" I knew he was gauging the strength of my epidural and if I'd had half a brain I would have shouted "I can feel it all over! Up the dosage, sir!" But instead I hesitated a little bit, said no, I couldn't feel it even when I could feel it a little bit. I don't know why I did that. Not every action has a logical reason, I suppose.
This part is all kind of hazy to me. (I suppose this is punishment for waiting two months to finish the birth story. Had I written it a week after her birth I would've remembered every detail.) I know a bunch of people had to move me from the hospital bed to the operating table. They were doing this whole complicated procedure like "One, two, three, lift and roll!" It made me feel like a real whale until somebody said, "Yah, we probably didn't need to do all that. She isn't too heavy." Thank you, whatever random person in the operating room said that.
I remember feeling naked but not knowing if I was naked. Was I? Was my whole lower half just totally exposed for the whole world to see? Maybe I will never know and maybe it's better that way.
They threw up a sheet, I couldn't see a thing, and in a matter of minutes, the doctor was ready. Greg was nowhere to be found. The doctor yelled out, "Her husband?! Where's the husband? Somebody go grab the husband!" and in a few seconds Greg was by my side. (Or, more accurately by my head...) They about dang near forgot poor Greg in the waiting room.
I was mostly numb, but not one hundred percent, so I could feel when the surgery started. I looked up at Greg who was looking over the sheet at my stomach. As I felt the scalpel on my skin, I saw Greg's eyes grow wide and scared. Greg looked away quickly and exclaimed he couldn't watch it anymore. I moaned. (I hate the word moan, but I can't think of a better word. I wasn't screaming, but I was definitely making noise. I could feel some pain. It hurt. It was wildly uncomfortable. My body made sounds in response.) There was pulling and stretching- that I could definitely identify. I wanted so badly to see what was going on, but knew that if I saw even a drop of blood I would make myself sick.
It was over before I had realized it begun.
"She's out!" Greg said.
"Can you see her?" I asked through moans. I didn't know what they were doing, but I still felt pain.
The anesthesiologist came over to me and messed with my mask. "Bonnie, I'm going to fix your oxygen okay..."
The next thing I knew I was waking up. I had been so uncomfortable that the anesthesiologist had taken it upon himself to knock me out completely. I've never been so grateful to anyone in my whole life. Forty five minutes of stitches, and the blessed saint knocked me out for all of it.
Greg was still at my side, but the baby was nowhere to be found. Greg told me that she had been taken to the NICU because of a few problems breathing when she first came out, but that she was going to be just fine. I wanted to see my baby, yes, but mostly I felt so grateful that I was healthy, that she was healthy, and that the whole thing was over.
I was still coming to, so a lot of it is blurry for me. Somehow I must have gotten from the operating room back to the delivery room, but I'm not sure how. I just remember being in the delivery room with my mom. Greg had gone to the NICU to see the baby. He came back with his mom and brother and sister to show me pictures and that was when I first saw my June bug- on Greg's phone. Her legs were totally sticking out (byproduct of being a breech baby) and she was bald as an eagle. I remember saying something like "Well, I guess the mystery is solved of whether you can think your own baby is ugly- you can!" Greg was shocked and my in laws laughed. I blame the drugs.
^^A few of the first pictures I saw of June.
Everybody was in and out of the NICU to see the baby except me. I didn't feel jealous even though I was anxious to see my baby. Mostly I was just so grateful that she was healthy.
I have no idea how much time passed before Greg wheeled little June bug right on into the room. An hour? I know I met her about two hours after she was delivered, I just don't know exactly how the succession of time went. She was swaddled up tight and had on a cute little hat and looked exactly like a newborn baby should look like.
On this post I explained a little bit my feelings when I met June. I still feel that I didn't do it justice, and the truth is it is almost impossible to describe the feelings that wash over you when you meet your own baby. I was so overjoyed to see her, so delighted that she was here safe, so absolutely taken away with her beauty and health and perfection. I remember holding her and thinking, "Oh my gosh. She's so beautiful. She's so beautiful." I started to cry the minute I held her. It felt like I was reconnecting with a long lost friend. Like I had always known her. It seemed more of a reunion than a meeting. I felt so connected to all of my family in that moment- to my husband by my side, to my mom who was right there in the room with me, to my dad who died five years ago, to Greg's family, to my siblings spread all over the state. It was a powerful testament to the strength of families. It was like this little baby was bringing all the families together.
The spirit was so strong and there was so much love in that room. How can you look at a brand new perfect little baby and not feel that insane spirit? I have joked around that I can't wait to have another baby, but in all seriousness it is because of that moment right there. The moment when you meet your baby has to be one of the most sweet and sublime moments in our existence. I'd do it over and over and over if I could.
^^ Our "reunion"
Our families wanted to know what we were naming her. I looked at Greg.
"June?" I asked, wondering if he had changed his mind since last night.
"June?" He asked- was I still on board?
"June." We decided.
"Hi June..." I tried the name out on my sleeping swaddled bundle. It fit.
Our doctor came in the next day to see how I was recovering and how June was holding up. When I saw him I was overwhelmed with gratitude for him and his specific set of skills that had allowed us to get June here safely. Getting June out of my body took him an entirety of six minutes. What would we have done without doctors who know what they're doing- who can safely cut open my body, pull a baby out from it, and stitch me back up?
I won't lie- a part of me mourned that I couldn't have June vaginally. That was what I wanted and what I thought was best. There is a part of me that is still sad that I didn't experience so many of the parts of having a baby- I didn't go into labor, my water didn't break, I never felt a contraction. It's almost like I have been left out of part of the universal experience of being a mother. I remember one night walking laps around the hospital with Greg and little June and feeling like I had missed so much of the experience of giving birth.
There have even been some well meaning, but perhaps slightly hurtful comments made by people who love and care for me about June's C section. When I have told people that I had a C section a few have seemed disappointed or acted as if it were in someway a lesser choice. A few people have said things along the lines of, "I hope you get to experience a vaginal birth because it is such an amazing experience." Initially I was hurt by that and definitely a little jealous- jealous that I had missed out on that "amazing birthing experience."
BUT. When I came to my senses, I realized how blessed I am to have June here safely, no matter her mode of entrance into this world. Her birth was a profoundly spiritual and connecting experience for me and for my entire family and it would have been whether she came vaginally, via C section, or courtesy of a bright yellow school bus. Afterall, the important thing is that she arrived, not how she arrived.
I felt so much love and so much protection from those who were there to share the experience with me on June's birth day. I felt overwhelming love for June, a total bond with my husband, and absolute gratitude and admiration for the doctors who got her here safely. It is a day I want to relive in my head over and over and an experience I hope I get to repeat.
Our lives, as they say, will never be the same.