Eleanor’s birth story
The night before Elli was born, J, Lilly, and I enjoyed our last dinner as a family of three (I had the same pesto pasta that I ate the night before Lilly’s birth), had our last photo taken as a family of three, and shared our last family hug as a family of three before Nana took Lilly home to get some sleep. I finished Elli’s quilt top, and then Jason and I talked and cuddled and watched tv and tried to relax (easier said than done for yours truly). Just before midnight, I ate a sandwich and some cookies (thanks to my sweet Aunt for thinking of us and sending cookies!) — my last meal before meeting our baby.
My sleep wasn’t very good that night — nerves, probably, or perhaps more pregnancy insomnia or just plain excitement. I managed to get a few hours in before doctors and nurses started appearing to take my vitals and discuss procedures with me. Jason ran out to get breakfast (that he was kind enough to eat before returning to my room) and I hopped in the shower. We packed up most of the things in the hospital room that I had inhabited for nearly 3 weeks (I got a new hospital room once Elli was born) and Jason made several trips to the car (insert cheesy we should have rented a u-haul joke here). Then we sat for two hours in nervous anticipation, making final predictions on baby’s sex and weight and texting friends and relatives.
At 11, a nurse came in to start an i.v. By 11:15, our OB had wheeled in an ultrasound machine for one last glimpse of baby + placenta. Placenta was still blocking baby’s exit but low enough that it wouldn’t need to be cut through during surgery, baby was positioned breech, but at a slight angle, and would be low enough to allow for the most common type of incision through the uterus (which would also allow me the possibility of a VBAC, should we decide to have more kids… jury is still out on that one). So, the ultrasound showed the best possible news (no cut through placenta meant less risk of excessive blood loss for yours truly, baby’s position allowed for relatively easy removal).
At 11:30, we were visited by two labor and delivery nurses and an anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist asked a few questions and then left. The nurses gave Jason disposable scrubs, got me gowned up, had me drink an awful lemon-tasting acid reducer, and then walked both of us down to the OR. (This was the furthest I’d walked in almost 3 weeks!) They kept the mood light, and helped ease my nerves, and I was incredibly grateful for that. By the time we’d reached the OR, my nervousness had primarily turned to excitement. Just a few more minutes and I’d get to meet the tiny babe inhabiting my abdomen for the past 8 months!
I smooched Jason (temporary) goodbye, and was walked to the operating table. The nurses got me set up, and the nurse anesthetist numbed my back and then gave me a spinal. I didn’t feel either of the injections, but did feel immediate numbing of my left side. The nurses laid me down quickly, inserted a catheter, and then everyone began prepping my abdomen for surgery and setting up a sterile field. My OB and the nurses in the room (at this point there were a good 12 people hanging out in there) talked and joked with me, keeping things light and relaxed until it was time to poke my belly to make sure that it was numb.
I felt all of the pokes. My belly was decidedly NOT numb.
The anesthetist didn’t seem to believe me, and continued to poke me for quite a few minutes to make sure my sensitivity to pain wasn’t changing. And then he dropped the head of the bed below the rest of my body in an attempt to get the spinal to spread upwards. None of it worked, though.
So they sat me back up and gave me a second spinal. It was incredibly awkward, given that my numb legs were strapped to a table . I think 4 people had to hold me up in the right position. And another person had to step into the hall to tell Jason why this prep was taking so long!
The second spinal worked, and after the sterile field was re-established, Jason was at my side, taking funny pictures of me, rubbing my head and shoulders, and saying funny things to keep me relaxed. Before I knew it, I heard the OB say, “I can’t find the other foot” and then two seconds later, the nurse anesthetist told Jason to stand up, and our sweet baby was born. (I had asked for the drape to be dropped so I could see, too, but the nurse anesthetist refused and I didn’t push it because, truly, I wasn’t sure how much of that I wanted to see!) They asked Jason to announce the baby’s sex, and it took a minute because there were so many hands in the way, but then he looked at me and said, “It’s a girl!”
They showed her to me quickly, and then Jason and two nurses from the NICU stood over her at the warmer taking her APGAR scores. She must have scored well (they didn’t announce the numbers) because after a few moments, they wrapped her up and Jason brought her over to me. She was so tiny, weighing in at 5 lbs 8.9 oz, with a length of 19.75″. They laid her on my chest, and I held her (with the help of a nurse), looked at her, and talked to her. It took a while to really grasp that this amazing little miracle had come out of my belly — that we were hers, and that she was ours. In those few moments on my chest, she seemed both completely familiar and totally new. I was so overjoyed to have a new daughter! We agreed that she could most certainly be our little Eleanor, and she stretched out one of her hands and rested it on my chin.
I held her there awkwardly for as long as I could, but I began to feel slightly dizzy and winded (perhaps due to the double spinal?). Jason and a nurse took baby Elli to the recovery room while the OB, et al finished sewing me up, and the nurse anesthetist gave me oxygen. I felt a bit of pulling and tugging during the procedure, but not much – I found that the most annoying part was simply having to lay still on my back for so long — I wanted to move! I wanted to join my husband and new baby, to hold her and cuddle her and bond with her.
I did ask the OB to see the placenta once the surgery was over, and she held it up so that I could give it the stink eye. (Although, I was pleased that it did it’s job despite it’s location). The OB showed me that not only was the placenta in the wrong location, blocking baby’s exit, but the umbilical cord was abnormally attached to the end of the placenta that was covering the cervix, which may have been another problem for a vaginal delivery even if the placenta had moved out of the way. What a miracle our little Elli is, and how lucky are we to have her despite these complications! It still blows my mind that in another time or place, we would have lost the sweet babe sleeping on my chest as I type (and heck, I might not even be here to type).
After the procedure was done, I was wheeled back to the recovery room, where Jason and a recovery nurse were monitoring Elli. There was some concern that her blood glucose was extremely low, so J and Elli left me once again to head to the NICU for observation. I have to admit that I was a little jealous of all of the cuddle time daddy was getting with little Elli… Looks like we have two daddy’s girls with all of the bonding daddy and Elli got to do in those first few moments after birth! Luckily, my mom was waiting to be called back into the recovery room so that I wouldn’t have to sit there alone, and she helped me call and text my siblings, dad, and grandparents.
In recovery, I experienced the most pain of the entire procedure — the nurses pushed down – HARD – on my uterus to make sure that it was contracting (and they did that repeatedly!). Meanwhile, the spinal was wearing off and they hadn’t given me a morphine pump yet. Ow ow ow ow ow. I would seriously take the pain of unmedicated childbirth over that any day. Ow ow ow ow ow.
Jason and Elli were able to join me back in recovery a bit later. Jason was so proud to tell me how strong our tiny Eleanor was — the NICU nurse had quickly given Elli an ounce of formula, she guzzled it down like a champ, and her glucose levels shot up to way above normal. So she was never really admitted to the NICU and she was able to be near my bedside for the rest of our hospital stay! There was much rejoicing about that — what a strong baby to be 4 weeks early and successfully breathing AND eating! Best. possible. outcome!
My legs were still numb when they wheeled us up to our mama-baby room. It took about 6 hours for me to regain complete feeling in them (thank you, double spinal). So I hung out in bed and cuddled and nursed sweet baby Elli, happy that the c-section was over and that recovery and our life as a family of four was beginning.
My mom left to pick up Lilly from daycare, feed her dinner, and bring her to the hospital to meet her baby sister. Lilly was shy at first, as she usually is with new things, but quickly warmed up and asked to hold her baby sister. There was much cuddling and celebrating our sweet and strong little Elli! We are all so very smitten with her, and amazed at her strength despite her tiny size. She is the perfect addition to our little family, and now that she’s here, I just couldn’t imagine us without her. She truly is worth every minute stuck in a hospital room, the months of worry about a c-section followed by the surgery & recovery. Love you so much, my tiny tiny miracle baby! After all that we have already been through I am just rejoicing that you are here, that you are healthy! I can’t wait to see who you are and what you become!