There is something to be said for "scheduled birthdays." For one, the guesswork is all but obsolete, perfect for a Type-A planner like myself. Second, you get to do silly things prior to having your baby like get a matching manicure and pedicure and don perfect makeup and hair, if that's your kind of thing.
Much like his brothers' births which you can read about here and here, we knew what we were getting into. We had time to prepare our home and our hearts for the much anticipated arrival of the newest M brother. That being said, my third (and final) c-section went nothing like the others. The weirdest part of it all? I had a feeling this one would be different.
Unlike my other sections which were scheduled for the morning hours, this time we weren't scheduled for surgery until 2pm on that Monday. Everyone seemed to be concerned with how I would handle not eating since midnight beforehand but that was the furthest thought from my mind. I was actually looking forward to a slow, leisurely morning spent packing last minute things in our go-bag and sneaking in a few extra hugs and kisses from the Big Brothers before I would be leaving them for a short hospital "stay-cation."
At 10:30am, my husband and I kissed the boys goodbye and piled into the car and drove off, for the third time in four years, to the hospital. The same hospital that our other two boys were born at. We listened to the radio, held hands the entire way there and talked about how we couldn't believe we were doing this for a third time.
It was surreal for sure. The weather was beautiful. The sun was out and all I could think about was how it was the perfect day to have a baby.
We checked into the hospital as directed and we didn't waste a minute being taken back to the pre-op room where the ball to Collins' birth quickly started rolling. My nurses were wonderful. We laughed as my IV was placed, fluids and antibiotics hung and we shared stories about our kids. I met the surgeon who would be performing the surgery and immediately I fell in love with her. She was loud, had an epic sense of humor and Strawberry Margarita was on her nails.
I wasn't the least bit nervous but I knew the nerves wouldn't set in until I walked back to the OR.
Before I knew it, it was time to do just that. As the doors opened to OR 1, the same OR where the boys were both born, I felt the familiar rush of cold air as the nurse reminded me not to touch anything on a blue drape. I laughed nervously. Everyone in the OR knew I was a nurse and so we joked a little bit more about that and I could tell the surgical nurse could sense my mounting anxiety as she tried to change the subject nearly fifteen times. I can't remember a single thing we talked about in the OR but I can remember that Michael Jackson was playing in the background.
So, how did I know this section was going to be different? I don't. I just knew. I had this feeling for weeks that something would be different. That it would all start with the epidural and boy, was I right.
As the anesthesiologist pressed up and down my spine searching for the perfect spot, I swear I could feel that she was placing the needle higher up along my spine than my previous sections. Whether or not this was the truth, it certainly explains what happened soon after.
As I laid back on the table, I waited for the warm and fuzzies to kick in. The warm feeling that denotes numbness as it creeps its way up my body. First my legs. Then my belly. Finally to that point just below my sternum.
But it didn't stop there this time. It kept creeping. It crept past my sternum and into my chest. It felt like I couldn't breathe there was so much pressure on my chest. I knew I could breathe but try reassuring yourself that when it feels like the weight of the world is literally on top of your lungs.
Then my fingers started going numb. Crap, I thought to myself. This isn't cool and why does it feel like an eternity before they let my husband into the OR to sit with me? (Perhaps because he was busy taking selfies. Side note: Paging Doctor McHotty. Yum.)
Finally, he was at my side and he could tell I wasn't feeling so hot. I had my closed tight and kept reminding myself to breathe. Deep breaths in and out. In and out. And for the love of God why is that damn drape so close to my face? Every time it skirted against my nose I swear I felt like I was going to lose my mind.
As the surgeons began their first incision I battled nerves, nausea, dizziness and yes, that annoying feeling like I couldn't breathe. I felt this way for much of the surgery but through it all kept reminding myself that it would soon be worth every anxiety-ridden, breathless moment.
We placed bets on how much we thought the baby would weigh. I guessed 9lbs. 2oz. and the doctors laughed. They didn't think he would be that big and they estimated his weight to be between 8 and 8.5lbs. I laughed.
What do they know, right?
And then that minute came. Before he was even pulled from my belly, I heard him. That precious, life-affirming, gurgling cry. I started sobbing uncontrollably. Everyone was yelling congratulations and that he was a "big one!" but all I could hear were his cries. His sweet, beautiful cries.
As I opened my eyes and looked up to the ceiling I saw him. He was perfect. He was whisked away for vitals scoring a perfect 9/9 on the Apgar scale. He was having a bit of difficulty clearing the fluid in his lungs so he was put on forced oxygen or CPAP for a few minutes, something that often happens with C-section babies. He weighed 9lbs. even.
The surgeon joked about holding my ovary in her hands as she gave me the run through of each of my organs before she "closed up." I gagged a little at the thought of my ovary in the palm of her hand. Everything looked great, she said.
Later when she would come to visit me in recovery I would find out that the bottom third of my uterus was stretched so thin that she could have easily torn it open with her hands. Because of the way my babies laid themselves in there, because of how big they've been, they've stretched my uterus to the point where it is no longer safe for me to carry a baby to full term, the biggest risk being uterine rupture.
We knew we were done having babies after Collins but to be told that we were done was unsettling for the moment. I'm just so grateful for a surgeon who took the time to notice that sort of thing and furthermore, sit down and explain it to me. Her exact words were, "I can't recommend that you have any more babies. It's just not a good idea."
I watched the nurses hand our brand new son over to my husband. To see his eyes light up. To see him settle that tiny baby into his big, strong arms. It bought tears to my eyes all over again. It is a moment that I will forever remember with each of our babies.
As my husband took his seat by my side, he placed Collins next to my head. I kissed his face from forehead to chin, lingering on his tiny button nose. He was perfect. I silently prayed to God, thanking him for this blessing. For blessing us not once, not twice, but three times. I kissed my husband and he said, "we did it again. You did it. Great job, Mama."
The following hours were a blur. The nursery nurses came to my bedside in recovery to do his newborn assessment. There wasn't a moment that he wasn't by my side. We nursed, we snuggled. I inhaled every inch of him. We started sending The Text Message to our friends and family, notifying them of his arrival. We took pictures, we soaked in every inch of him.
As we settled into our new room on the Mother/Baby unit, I was overwhelmed once again. I couldn't believe he was here. As I glanced over to him, sleeping snugly in his bassinet, I couldn't believe that just two hours he was tucked so safely in my belly.
What a miracle, our Collins Mason.
The following days in the hospital were some of the best and sweetest days I could have asked for. As I recovered, I spent quiet, quality time with my newest son. I memorized every inch of him. Every rise and fall of his chest as he slept on mine. I knew the minute we went home it wouldn't ever be this quiet. This uninterrupted. This was our special time together. So special, in fact, that I even opted for the "Bonus Day" and stayed an extra day before heading home, something I will write about another day.
But that's it. The story of the birth of the third M Brother. He is here and I can say with absolute faith and certainty that our family is complete. He was always the missing piece and it feels so good that he's here. We feel whole. It's really incredible, to think about it. This complete-ness.
Happy Birthday Collins Mason. We love you more than carrots.