"Morbid" was the only word I could use to express to my husband how I felt. The night before, I'd made him promise that if he had to choose between the baby and me, he would choose her.
We both figured it was hormones talking.
After all, I was scheduled for surgery in the morning and I really didn't want it. Nor did I feel I needed one because I'd had acupuncture and Baby Girl felt back in position.
Once settled in my snazzy delivery room with a tube in my hand and a few paper bracelets, I was asked if nursing students could witness the doctor try to turn the baby. Why not? So, I may have been the only person in the room who wasn't surprised when the ultrasound showed Baby Girl head down and ready to meet the world. The nursing students looked disappointed, but one returned later and asked a lot of questions about acupuncture.
No c-section! Hurray!
8:00 am. Induction began.
8:30 am. Pitocin dripped.
Contractions were subtle. Until they weren't.
Garrett and my mother used acupressure points to help ease the pain until they convinced me I was cranky enough to get an epidural--a mere 6 hours after labor began. With Max, I labored 15 hours before consenting to an epidural. Then I went to sleep, woke up and had a baby six hours later. I requested the same easy labor of Dr. Donnelly and the nursing staff. Nurse Candice smiled and said she'd do what she could.
Although contractions were stronger this second time around, my body didn't move too quickly. The epidural was at 2:15 pm and my temperament was the only obvious change. When Garrett and my mom returned, I was smiling and eating a cherry popsicle with no pain whatsoever. At 3:45 pm, things were progressing a little, but we figured my sweet doctor would miss the delivery and a different shift of nurses would be on duty by the time Alexandra made an appearance. Considering Max's long delivery, I made a final comment on Facebook at 4:01 pm and rolled over to take a nap.
But then I remembered my nurse's parting words: If you feel any pressure, give me a call.
Good thing I didn't go to sleep.
4:13 pm Alexandra Celeste was born!
Thanks to the epidural I was in absolutely no pain. I mean, seriously, folks, my body responds to those drugs like a dream. I was alert and joking with them all as they hustled to prepare and after they moved Baby Girl across the room.
Alexandra had brown hair and looked dainty and delicate. She was purple. They assured me she was fine. The nurses were euphoric and a distinct atmosphere of happiness and awe filled the air. "Did you know she came in to have a c-section?" "...acupuncture..." "...it happened so fast..." "...the baby looks like her..."
But they still hadn't returned my baby to me. The doctor calmly explained something about having difficulty with my placenta and that sometimes they attach to the uterus and cause some extra bleeding....
I watched my baby. I watched Garrett watch our baby.
Chills crept across my body.
A nurse assured me. "It feels that way when you lose blood. You're okay."
The room felt like a freezer.
I tried watching the baby, but a couple of nurses and the doctor were in my way. Every once in a while they moved so I could see a glimpse of her. She looked less purple. Why hadn't they given her to me?
My mom looked concerned as she approached. "Are you cold?"
"I thought so. But they told me I'm not." It must be the body's way of dealing with chidlbirth occuring so quickly.
Trying to control my shivers, I clenched my jaw. I wasn't going to let anyone categorize me as melodramatic. Women had babies every day. No big deal.
Why hadn't they given her to me yet? I thought of our son with his blond curls. Due to a complication with Max, I didn't get him for six hours. Hadn't I made myself clear that I wanted her as soon as possible? Hadn't they all agreed? How could we ever explain to him if something happened to his baby sister?
I tried to control the shaking, but it was unnecessary. Nurses on each side of the bed attempted to hold me down. Someone who wore cool glasses with circles all over them placed more tubes in my arm and told me what she was injecting. Someone was having trouble getting blood pressure but kept trying and trying. I assumed it was Alexandra's and hoped they'd figure it out soon.
Eventually, I met my husband's eyes. He held Alexandra. No nurses were near her. Why? I had to look away because that's when my prayer changed from "Please keep her safe" to "Please keep me safe."
On my left, my mother fiercely fought tears. Beyond the doctor and nurses, Garrett stared down at our daughter, but I couldn't see her.
The atmosphere in the room had changed. It was no longer euphoric. It was efficient.
So much more crowded than before.
And cold. Very, very cold.
I mumbled something to the doctor about being grateful she had small hands because as she worked, it appeared she was rummaging around in me for her keys.
Although I'd tried speaking earlier to let everyone know I was okay, any desire to seem less dramatic faded as I realized I was in danger. "...hemorrhage kit..." "What's her type?" "...blood transfusion..." "...25-35% blood loss..." Complete sentences and coherent thoughts left me.
Blankets surrounded me. Garrett lowered Alexandra to me. I kissed her cheek and her little nose. Each time he brought her near me, I shook a little less, warmed a little more. Eventually, they placed her on the blankets beside me and I touched her.
And so, so worth it.