We were in pretty regular contact with Samantha during the last couple of weeks leading up to the delivery. Every time we called, she gave a report on how she was feeling and what the doctor had said about when he thought they could schedule the c-section. Everything was all set up for November 12th, a Monday, but she was to see the doctor on the previous Friday for some tests to see if she was ready. She wasn't technically due until about a week later.
We talked to Samantha on Sunday as we were driving to the hotel in the town where she would give birth and told her we'd meet her in L&D around 8:30 the next morning. She was scheduled for surgery at 10:00 a.m.
We stayed at one of the worst hotels on the planet that night. It was pretty bad. The rooms were adequately clean, but the walls seemed to be paper thin, and this hotel allowed pets. So we spent most of the night hearing doors slam in the hall and listening to the incessant barking of some annoying little dog down the hall. We had enough on our minds to keep us from falling asleep right away, and these added noises didn't help. Needless to say, we didn't get a lot of sleep.
In the short amount of time I actually did sleep, though, I remember dreaming about the events of the next day. I don't remember much about the dreams, but I do remember one vividly...I remember dreaming that the nurses bringing a baby out to us who had ivory skin, dark eyes and a head full of jet black hair.
We checked out in the morning and headed over to the hospital, stopping for a breakfast sandwich on the way. I was ravenous and sat wondering if I should be eating knowing that I would witness a surgery (from behind a curtain, but still).
We met Samantha in the room where she was basically just waiting for her turn in surgery. She looked great...she had even taken the time that morning to do her make-up, which is something I hadn't bothered to do. She made us feel quite at ease, making small talk and digging out ultrasound photos for us to keep. We took a few pictures together for the baby book. The nurses came in and gave me some scrubs. There was only one person allowed in the delivery room, so my husband would wait it out in the room.
At around 9:45 a.m., the nurse came in to get Samantha for surgery. She came back for me about five minutes later, after they had positioned the curtain and prepped Samantha for surgery. They sat me on a stool by her head. I sat in front of a team of people, whom I guess were probably anesthesiologists or something. They just stood back and didn't say anything.
Everything went pretty quickly from there. From my perspective, I don't remember hearing any surgery sounds or smelling any surgery smells. I just remember watching Samantha as she bravely went through this painful surgery. Yeah, she was anesthetized, but she could feel them pulling and was having trouble breathing from time to time because she felt like they were pushing all of her organs around. Silent tears ran down her face as I stroked her hair and kept asking if she was OK or if she needed anything from this team of silent people behind us.
After a few long minutes, a little cry sounded out in the room (9:59 a.m.). Just one teensy little cry. I knew the baby was out, and then all of a sudden she was placed off to my left in a little isolette with a bunch of nurses toweling her down and rubbing her. I know this sounds a little weird, but it reminded me of what my Dad would do to newborn calves from time to time...he would hold their mouths open and rub them hard on their sides until they started breathing and moving around.
I sat there watching all of this, which Samantha couldn't see from her vantage point, and she asked "Is she OK? Why isn't she crying?". Which was answered with another little yelp from the isolette. The nurses were holding a little tube of oxygen near the baby's mouth, and one of the nurses explained that the baby was just having a little trouble breathing. She said it was common in c-section babies to be a little slow getting all of the fluid out of their lungs (thus all the rubbing). She also invited me to get up and take some pictures of the baby in the isolette. This was her getting oxygen from the tube.
And pretty soon, she was breathing well enough to start crying in spurts. I think she was not too pleased to be naked in this very cold operating room.
She was weighed and measured, and then the nurses took her off to the special care nursery, where she would receive oxygen for awhile until she was breathing better. Before they took her off, they held her out for me and Samantha to give her a kiss.
They sent me out of the room to find my husband and wheeled Samantha out to a recovery room. I burst through those doors with such a feeling of exhilaration...I can't even describe it. I found my husband and just kept saying, "She's so beautiful, she's so perfect." After I finally calmed down, we found a nurse who told us we could see the baby in about an hour, and she gave us a room where we could wait. Soon, we were taken to the special care nursery, where my husband first laid eyes on our tiny Olivia. He fell in love immediately.
More about our hospital experience in the next installment. For now, I'll leave you with a photo of the baby I saw in my dream the night before. I couldn't believe how accurate that dream was...