Disclaimer: Some parts of Violet’s birth didn’t go as I’d planned. Since I hated nothing more than when people felt compelled to share their birth horror stories while I was pregnant, I want to warn any mamas-to-be that my experience wasn’t perfect. We are all great now and have a healthy and happy baby girl, but if you’d rather not hear some of the “what ifs” that can happen in birth don’t read further until after you’ve welcomed your little one.
Continued from Part 2 of Violet’s birth story…
The initial moments in the operating room were the worst. I was so tired that I wasn’t able to process everything the doctors and nurses were saying to me. Dave was getting his sterile gear on, so he wasn’t with me while they strapped my arms down, gave me the spinal block and put up the curtain to begin prepping me for surgery. He probably wasn’t gone for more than a few minutes, but I remember it feeling like forever.
Once he was there, it was only a couple minutes before surgery began. I was shivering uncontrollably from the spinal block and I remember worrying that I was probably shivering all over and that it would be impossible for them to operate! I also got really nauseous but I told the anesthesiologist and they quickly added a medication to my IV and it went away almost immediately.
The curtain was up and I could hear some work going on, but was drifting in and out of sleep (I asked if it was ok if I fell asleep and they assured me it was). The doctor asked me if I could feel something, and I couldn’t. Not a few seconds later and I smelled a burning smell. I asked Dave to put his hands in front of my face (throughout pushing, Dave had been putting lavender essential oil that we brought from home on his hands and holding them in front of my face to help me relax). Now I needed it to mask what I knew was the smell of my burning flesh. Luckily Dave didn’t know what was causing the smell until afterwards, or he might have needed some too!
I was really in and out at this point, but I remember the doctor saying “Ok, you’ll feel lots of pressure now.” I couldn’t feel pressure as much as I could feel intense pain my left shoulder. It terrified me, but the nurse said that was normal (something about a connection between your uterus and shoulder muscles). And then they told us she was out!
This should’ve been an amazing moment, but I was immediately concerned because I couldn’t hear crying and they didn’t bring her right to us. I asked Dave, “Can you see her? Why isn’t she crying?!” They took her to my left and I could hear all kinds of alarms going off. I could see the team of NICU and Mother/Baby nurses and doctors buzzing around, but I still hadn’t glimpsed my baby. After a couple minutes they must have held her up because Dave said he could see her, but he was sitting to my left and I couldn’t see her around him or the nurses that were around her. I kept asking if she was ok and no one answered me.
After a few minutes, the nurses invited Dave to go take a picture of her. I could tell they were holding her up for the picture, but I still couldn’t see her! I finally said “I haven’t seen her yet!” They held her up again and I finally got to see my baby girl.
My first reaction was relief that she was actually here and that she appeared healthy. It wasn’t until later that I learned her initial APGAR score was a 1 and that she had to be resuscitated immediately after birth. That part of her birth is still the most traumatic for me to remember, even though I didn’t know it was happening in the moment. But it doesn’t take long for those parental instincts to kick in, and it breaks my heart that her first moments in this world were so scary.
What I try to remember is that shortly after, she was in her daddy’s safe and loving arms. She was brought to me first, but I was so drugged up and exhausted that I didn’t even feel capable of holding her so I asked Dave to take her. Seeing their first few moments as dad and daughter is something I will cherish forever.