It turned out that I was in early labor.
As I left I called Ryan to tell him the news, then I came home to finish packing our bag and attempt to rest. I also contacted our doula, whom we had just officially hired the day before, to let her know that I was already in early labor. The afternoon passed quickly. We went for a slow walk around the block. Kristy, the doula, arrived in the later-evening. We all took another slow walk around the block. It was mostly a quiet evening. At some point we turned on Finding Nemo for background noise and to help pass the time. After having contractions at 4-minutes-apart for nearly an hour we left to go to the hospital. We woke up Brooke to say we'd see her after school (today was to be her first day of school!), and we left. After a quick prayer to calm our nerves and that everything would go well, we arrived.
"Uh, I feel feet. That's not a head."
"When I touched it, one of them moved. I'll go get the doctor to double check."
At this point we (me, Ryan, and Kristy) all looked at each other in shock. Apparently this baby was breech and we all knew what that meant...
The doctor came in and confirmed.
"Yes, she is footling breech. We are going to have to do a C-Section. We are calling everyone in now and we'll probably get things started in about 40 minutes."
Somehow we (my doctors) missed that my baby was breech. It wasn't terribly surprising, because she had been breech for all of her ultrasounds, but I had been told that she'd flipped after a physical exam within the last two months. Though it's possible that she flipped and then flipped again before labor, we all suspect that she never actually flipped and a mistake had been made. I did know that the baby was posterior/OP (facing my belly, instead of my back as is preferred). So, this little baby was sitting upward, facing outward.
Meanwhile, I'm still having strong contractions every 3-4 minutes. At this point I was in active labor.
I should point out that the doctor on call was one whom I had not met before. He was excellent. (My regular doctors are great, too.) He was confident, comforting, and soft-spoken which helped me feel better. Up to this point I had always considered a Plan E (allowing that plans a-d didn't work) of a c-section. I assumed it would be some emergency - something wrong with me, or something dramatic going on with the baby. In reality, she was just fine, even quite comfortable. The problem was that my labor had started and she was not going to be able to be delivered safely without surgery.
I was not upset, or even scared. OK, maybe a little frightened - suddenly I was going to have major surgery! After they had Ryan suited up in her surgery gear, they wheeled me to the OR. I got teary at some point and a sweet nurse leaned in to assure me that there were many people there who were professionals and were going to take excellent care of me and my baby. I smiled, continued crying, thanked her and explained that I was okay, confident in the doctors and nurses even, I was just overwhelmed. Ryan was instructed to remain in the hallway until they had administered my spinal anesthesia (in my spine!), when they would retrieve him. Everyone was very alert (which I appreciated at nearly 3:00 AM) and kind. After what felt like ages, a nurse finally brought Ryan in and he sat on a stool next to my head. It felt like only a minute later when suddenly someone announced, "3:08!" At this, I turned my head to Ryan and asked, "Is the baby out?" To which he replied, "Apparently." They called him over to watch as they did all of their initial checks. After cleaning her up and swaddling her up, the doctor brought her to my head so I could see. I was in shock, but kept kissing her cheeks and feeling surprise at the warmth and softness of her skin. She was real! It had worked!
Aren't those silly thoughts?
Almost four weeks have passed, and after a 6-night stay in the hospital due to the baby losing too much weight too quickly and becoming jaundiced, we are home and finally feeling comfortable. Sure, our sleep banks are not as full as they were before. Yes, we have questions and concerns. Of course we don't love to hear crying or having to change messy diapers.
But friends, oh my goodness.
We certainly haven't been upset with any of these things. Today I came across a group of cards from the attendees at the baby shower my friends threw for me a few weeks before baby came. These cards were filled with advice, comfort, and supporting messages. They were intended for me to open one or two here and there when feeling discouraged or needed something positive to read. Naturally, I opened all of them at once and my heart was filled with gratitude for all of the funny, loving, and supportive notes addressed to me.
My day-to-day life has been so simple these past few weeks. It is much quieter. There are more eyebrows raised, smiles seen, and laughs had. One of these notes mentioned that "...the baby won't remember that the house was a mess. It is okay to sit and watch the baby all day." Another mentioned "all I have is love and attention for my little baby, and I hope that you can enjoy that, too," in regard to having a third child that was still a newborn - and not being as uptight and worried as she had been with her first two. At that moment, my baby girl was asleep in my arms. Her face warm and stuck to my skin, her lips slightly open, one hand curled by her face, and her other arm flailed to the side.
This was one of those moments. My heart swelled and I was filled with love. This little baby was my daughter. She is the reason that I'm a mother now. She is part me, and part Ryan, whom I love so dearly. I love this child, and I can't wait to share so many of my days with her.
How blessed am I? Mightily so.
Naomi Alice Braithwaite
14 August 2013
7 lbs. 8.7 oz., 19" long