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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Batterson

Theatre Time

...this is part two of our little Judah's birth story, for part one, click here.

(this post contain a somewhat graphic photo of a c-section birth, be warned!)

So there I sat, my backside exposed to whomever decided to walk into the operating theatre, shivering from the cold + the adrenaline, and now also contracting every few minutes, while I waited for those fluids to get in my system.

Once they were finally in and they laid me down after getting the spinal, it hit me: I'm about to have a baby. I know, it should have hit me way sooner, but my mind was still playing catch up from my water breaking at the movies - it all just happened so fast!

The doctor came in, shared my birthing plan with the room (so glad I learned you can make requests for the birth - even with a c-section! (that's non-emergent)). She explained that I wanted to have the drape lowered when he was pulled out so I could have a better view, for my arms not to be strapped down, and that I wanted skin-to-skin immediately, even while they finished putting me back together. (And yes, I totally envision myself like the straw man in Wizard of Oz being put back together again after the crazy monkeys have torn out his insides - I mean, that's pretty much what a c-section is, right?)

Then I started feeling lightheaded like I was about to pass out or like an elephant was sitting on my head, so I slurred something slightly-coherent to the anesthesiologist, who'd informed me he had already given me something for it. Apparently my blood pressure had taken a dive. Whatever he gave me helped, but I did not like the feeling at all. That, combined with the uncontrollable shakes I was having from the spinal and the adrenaline were giving me flashbacks to the first time I went septic and lost Bean. It was a tough job not letting my mind spiral out of control as I was laying there waiting to see if the baby they pulled out would be okay or not. The anesthesiologist was amazing though, and talked me through everything that was happening and answered all my slurred questions whenever my blood pressure tanked, and was on top of the meds to keep me from passing out.

Soon enough (though it felt like ages), the doctor held up our sweet, chunky little boy.

He had the most adorable rolls, a head full of hair, and a sweet, gentle cry. And also a full bladder, apparently, because shortly after this photo was taken he let loose and (thanks to the aforementioned amazing anesthesiologist pulling the drape back up) I narrowly missed getting peed on the face.

He was quickly taken to the warming station, suctioned out a bit, cord snipped, then wrapped in a towel and brought over to me. We snuggled for a long time, until they were nearly finished putting me back together. Then they took him over to be weighed and measured (8 pounds 12 ounces and 20 inches long!) and get a diaper on him to prevent any more mishaps. Papa got to hold him for a bit while they put in the last few stitches, then we were off to recovery for more skin to skin time. We tried nursing, but he was far to tired from all the excitement, so we settled for a nap on Mama's chest instead.

Before too long we were in our room, with our sweet little boy resting peacefully next to us.

When the nurses came in to get us settled, we were met with another pleasant surprise. Our nurse for the shift that night would be the sister-in-law of a friend, whom we'd actually just been introduced to at church the previous Sunday! So sweet to have a familiar face for those first 12 hours! Our first night went pretty smoothly overall. J latched right away and fed for a little while. But was spitting up a lot of fluid, and therefore unable to nurse too much. It's typical for c-section babies to have extra fluid in them because it doesn't get squeezed out during birth the way it would when they travel through the birth canal - that on top of him being premature meant we just had to be mindful of gurgling and be sure to sit him up to help him get the fluid out. At one point he spit up so much it was a bit startling - but also relieving knowing he was getting it out! He would typically grunt a lot right before he spit up, so that was a good indicator for us too. Unfortunately, what we didn't know, was that the grunting was actually not normal. It was a sign that he was having to work too hard to breathe. The nurse saw that he was having trouble that night, but said sometimes it could work itself out. So she put a note on the chart for the next nurse to check it and they did the shift change.

The next morning our nurse had the most beautiful accent, and I asked where she was from. She said, "I like to make people guess, what do you think?" I said, "East Africa?" She turned around with wide eyes and said, "Wow! No one ever gets it right, have you been there before?" We shared about our time in Tanzania, and she shared about her life in Zimbabwe, and we laughed together about how most people thought she was Jamaican. She noticed Judah's breathing was a bit labored as well, and asked to take him to the NICU, just to have the doctor check him over, then she'd bring him back. Of course we consented, though we hated the thought of him being away from us! An hour went by and he still hadn't returned, but a new nurse came in and said we could go down to the nursery to talk to the doctor. My thoughts ping-ponged back and forth as Bill wheeled me to the NICU. "Why aren't they just bringing him back to us to talk? Maybe they're just overloaded and can't leave all the tiny babies that need help." I was trying to keep hope alive, but it was dangerously easy for me to rabbit-trail in the wrong direction.

When we got into the NICU it was eerily quiet. There weren't very many babies in there, and there were even a couple of nurses just sitting at the nurses station. We were shown how to scrub in (yes, very much like what you see on hospital shows), and told, "Judah's bed is over there, the one in the far corner." And that's when my heart plummeted to my feet. We weren't there to wheel him back to our room after a quick chat with the doctor. He'd been given a bed in the NICU.

.... to be continued.

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