No. I didn't want another c-section, originally. In fact, I SO didn't want another c-section after Ezra's birth that for awhile I seriously ranked that as a reason why I was done having children: No more c-sections. In particular, no more scheduled c-sections.
My emergency c-section with Noah was what it was. It was necessary, no doubt about it. I am not built for delivering 10-pound babies. Especially 10-pound posterior babies with the cord wrapped around their necks. But at least I was able to give it the old college try, you know? I labored, I pushed, I hit the wall and we got him out in under 10 minutes. Bam. Done. My recovery time was nothing -- the opposite of what "they" say an emergency section is like.
My scheduled c-section with Ezra was...well, it kind of sucked, in retrospect. The lead-up time to the surgery meant I had plenty of hours to work myself up into a good, lather-y panic about the MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY I was about to undergo. And when it turned out that NONE of my previous complications repeated themselves and Ezra popped out as a 7 pound, 7 ounce little peanut, I was immediately consumed with regret over my decision to not try for a VBAC. A stupid, silly regret, probably -- I mean, Ezra and I were both fine and healthy, we bonded and breastfeeding worked out and that's what really matters blah blah first-world problemcakes -- but I still couldn't ever really shake the pang of guilt over how unnecessary his week-early, crazy-medical removal had been in the end.
These feelings weren't particularly helped by the fact that something went wrong with my anesthesia. I didn't feel pain during the surgery, but I felt just about everything else. Tons of pressure and tugging and movement and the unnerving sensation of my insides being ripped open. Again: Not painful, but I was still completely aware of what was happening on the other side of the drape and it freaked me the fuck out. I didn't remember it being like that before, and chalked it up to a difference between emergency vs. scheduled, even though that didn't really make much sense either. My chest and arms were covered in some kind of inflatable...I don't know exactly. Inflatable sleeves that I THINK were supposed to regulate my body temperature but mostly just made me feel unbearably claustrophobic and made it difficult for Jason to comfort me and then made it almost impossible for me to touch Ezra once he was out and brought over to me.
And then there's what happened when the spinal got turned off. "I've given you a shot of morphine," the anesthesiologist said. "That should keep you comfortable for a few hours."
By the time I was wheeled to the recovery room and asked to rate my pain on a scale of one to 10, I was unbelievably aware that I'd just been sawed in half and was practically howling. "Eight! EIGHT!!" The nurse scowled and thought I had the pain scale backwards.
"No, eight is like, close to the worst pain you've ever felt," she explained.
Needless to say, that was not an experience I was anxious to repeat. But despite all the message board anecdotes and actual reputable medical links that I know you could dig up for me -- trust me, I've read them all -- I generally hit nothing but resistance when I brought up the idea of a VBA2C. I wasn't willing to move to a home birth or even a birthing center -- hell, if I encountered problems I wanted that whole "get the baby out in 10 minutes flat" option ready and available right down the hall -- and as irrational as it probably sounds, I still wanted to stick with my doctor. I've known him for over a decade now, and while we disagreed on this, I admit that I still felt more comfortable with him than with the idea of picking a stranger from the insurance directory and switching past the midway point of my pregnancy. So...that's the decision I made. Not the right decision for everybody, but it was the right one for me, and (SPOILER ALERT!) I have absolutely zero regrets about it this time.
Anyway, he and I did compromise in the end. We'd schedule a section for June 1, but if I went into labor on my own before then, I would not immediately head to surgery unless there was some other mitagating circumstance or complication. Since I thought -- secretly -- that my doctor was basing the June 1st date off an incorrect due date, I was -- secretly -- confident that I would go into labor before then and get the birth I "wanted."
I didn't. Go into labor, that is. I'll get to that second part in a bit.
On the Saturday before the scheduled surgery date, the bottoms of my feet started itching. Like, ITCHING. I thought maybe the mosquito bite I'd gotten on my ankle had spread or something, and my other foot was just joining with phantom-sympathy itching. Then the itching spread to my hands, which were suddenly and noticeably red and splotchy. I scratched and scratched and scratched before some tiny nugget of filed-away information I'd read in a pregnancy book once upon a time came back to me and prompted me to turn to Google.
Ah, yes. Between the itching and the nausea and some mysterious pains in my upper abdomen, something fishy was definitely going down. I believe the technical term for it is gallbladder goes kablooey.
And just like that, any and all "disappointment" over the prospect of another scheduled c-section disappeared. Poof. It was time to get the baby out. And how convenient! You're right here on the schedule. 7:30 am. Please to be here by 5:30 am. Come hungry.
Anyway, I'm including alllllll that somewhat irrelevant build-up because...well, you should know just how low my expectations were for this birth "experience." I think I probably used a lot of finger-quotes whenever I talked about it.
I set the alarm for 4 am on Wednesday, only to jolt awake at 3:15, all HOLY SHIT WE OVERSLEPT WE'RE LATE OH WAIT WE'RE NOT FUCK.
We got up, showered, checked the bags and packing list one last time, kissed our sleeping boys and headed out in the darkness. I suggested to Jason that he at least eat something, but he refused.
We arrived at the hospital and sat in the waiting area for bit, and it occurred to me that I was...wow, I was actually really calm this time. No nerves, no fears, no nagging belief that 17 emergencies were going to happen simultaneously and bump our birth back until June 3, or something. And sure enough, we were called back right on time...and taken to the same damn bed that I have spent time in prior to every single one of my children's births.
I labored for hours in this bed with Noah, waiting for a birthing suite to open up, and I was prepped and monitored there prior to Ezra's birth. And here I was again.
I don't know why, but it made me inexplicably happy. Nice and circular. Compleat.
I got one fleeting glimpse of a woman being wheeled into the next bed space with her newborn between her legs and it struck me, almost for the first time, that I was going to get a baby in like, an hour. A baby! Just like that! This unbelievably obvious realization made me clap my hands in excitement, which is when I noticed Jason had gone pale as a sheet and looked like he was about to pass out.
The nurse and I ordered him to go find some juice and crackers right that second, because DUDE. You are about to see things you cannot ever unsee. For the third time. And clearly, you are not desensitived enough.
My doctor arrived, the physician's assistant arrived. We were a go. Jason came back, looking much better, but admitted that yeah, he was really terribly nervous, and always was, but never admitted it because he knew I was really terribly nervous too.
"You're the stronger one this time," he said. "I can tell you aren't nervous at all. But...yeah." He held my hand and trailed off as I patted his arm and assured him that everything was going to be just fine. I got this, dude.
The anesthesiologist arrived. I was pretty sure he was there for Noah's birth. I hoped I was right, since that was the one that DIDN'T hurt like all of goddamn hell. He and I had a little come-to-Jesus talk about my experience last time and how the morphine shots hadn't worked and I'd spent the first two days in pain. "Hmmm," he said. "I won't let that happen this time. I promise."
I walked into the OR and received the spinal. My doctor held my hand and my shoulders, and then...well, everything became incredibly pleasant. Unlike last time, where the spinal kind plunged me into a nerve-wrackingly opressive paralysis and claustrophobia -- like I couldn't feel my chest enough to tell if I was still breathing -- this was...slow. Mild. No inflatable sleeves or arm restraints, just a nice, reassuring numbness in all the parts where I was supposed to be numb.
The nurses complimented my barely-visible scar and I chatted with them about those silicone scar treatment things and expressed my EXTREME APPROVAL over the fact that Lady Gaga was playing over the speakers.
Was it natural and Earth Mother-y and hear-me-roar-with-womanly-empowerment-ish? No. But I was okay with it. Though probably, I was just too damn excited to notice.
Jason came in and I was told I'd probably feel from pressure and tugging and such. I didn't. In fact, I didn't feel a single thing until the assistant pushed on my chest and...wait, isn't that what they do when the baby is like, about to come out? Didn't we just start the surgery two minutes ago? We can't possibly already be at that part yet...
I heard it. Jason heard it. It was gurgly, like it was coming from underwater. Was that really...?
Still gurgly, but undeniably a cry.
"It's a boy!" my doctor announced, and the screaming started in crazy, crazy earnest. (APGAR scores of 9 and 9, probably thanks all that feisty screaming.)
I started crying, of course -- I'm not sure I'll ever experience anything more amazing than That Moment, Those Moments, when I've first heard my babies crying, and this time was no different.
Except it was different, because it was this time. Not last time, not the time before. Not Noah or Ezra, but Ike. Isaac. I may not really be able to talk about his birth overall without constantly comparing it to the last time, the first time, this and that and this were different/similar/etc. But That Moment was uniquely his, the exact second my heart grew to include an unfathomable amount of love for the little person squawling in fury halfway across the room, an essential piece of my life puzzle whom I'd hadn't even laid my eyes on yet.
The anesthesiologist kept his promise. I felt no pain this time, at least not until they took my IV out the next day and switched me to old-skool-swallowing-type medications. The first thing I did when I got to my room -- a giant room, apparently usually reserved for "VIPs," whatever the hell THAT means in the suburban Maryland area, but given to me simply by luck of the recovery-room draw -- was to reapply my lipstick and brush my hair. I entertained visitors hours later, and remained all zen-like as my room filled up with grandparents and in-laws and my two SUDDENLY BEYOND GINORMOUS children. I felt great. The itching in my hands and feet vanished within a few hours and my blood tests came back completely normal.
In the end, it was the easiest, most stress-free birth experience and recovery I've had yet. I'm currently feeling criminally good, like I haven't been pregnant or given birth in years instead of...oh, what? Six days? Not at all what I was expecting, but I suppose...well, hi, welcome to motherhood for the third time. Glad you could join us all here in Obviousville.
Not that the immediate post-birth days were full of lipstick and jello and roses, because Ike decided to keep things interesting, and by that I mean terrifying. But that's a story for tomorrow, I think.
(DUN DUN DUUUN. YA LIKE WHAT I DID THERE?)
(SPOILER ALERT: WHATEVER, EVERYTHING WAS FINE IN THE END.)