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Birth story

I figured it out.

When my husband and I kept hearing the song, “Don’t Bring Me Down” by ELO, we joked that we should name the baby Bruce. In retrospect, I think the message we were supposed to glean was “Don’t bring me down, Bruise.”

We got home from the hospital last Friday. As we settled in, I reacquainted myself with the bedroom where I spent nearly a month. The bed was clean and made as if no one ever lived, seethed, or crumbed the sheets with snickerdoodles. I had more resting to do, but this time with my buddy clutched to my chest and no Netflix streaming endless mediocre movies. I’d watch him.

Before I laid down, I considered my body in the bathroom mirror. It was startling.

My belly is one massive bruise, dark at my incision, lightening as it spreads away. My back is bruised from the spinal. My arm is bruised where a vein blew. I don’t remember looking or feeling like this after my last two c-sections. When I mentioned to my husband how my belly looked like it tried to steal Mike Tyson’s tiger, he asked what I expected it to look like, considering…

Considering Theodore’s birth story.

I knew the last possible day for me to stay pregnant was August 23rd. That date was fixed in my mind as days and weeks were lost to bedrest. I doubted we’d make it that far. But we did.

We arrived at the hospital’s Center for Women and Infants at the agreed upon time and was taken straight to a surgical prep room. I was having uncomfortable contractions every 3-4 minutes. I watched them rise and fall on the monitor and enjoyed the feeling that if my surgery hadn’t been scheduled for that day, I would be delivering that day. In other words, that day was The Day. I drew a lot of comfort from that alignment of the surgical and the natural.

The nurse inexplicably tried to put an IV in my left upper forearm. This is a terrible place to put an IV if you are going to breastfeed because it was exactly where the baby’s head rests when they are in a cradle hold. When my vein blew, I was annoyed until I realized it saved me from having it moved later. She moved it to a more sensible location.

I scribbled on papers, consenting to all sorts of things. I rode in a wheelchair to Operating Room 1, the same room where Archie was born 19 months ago.

Everything was familiar. I was relaxed and focused on the big moment when we’d hear our baby’s first cry.

I knew the moment was close when the doctor said she saw the baby and he was definitely a boy. Our breech boy was backing his way into the world.

Then it got quiet. Really quiet. I could hear the doctor grunting and the nurses at the warmer whispering. He should have been out and crying by that point. Tremendous pressure was applied to my belly by many sets of hands. Finally, someone called out the time.


But there was no crying.

I had to ask if he was out. He was, and he was okay, they assured us. My husband craned to see from his station on the stool next to my head. I asked him to go take pictures.

I realize I am not a good judge of time in a tense situation. It was too long before I heard his squeak, then his grunt, then a little cry.

They said he had a tough delivery and that he was a little shocked, but he’d be fine. His lungs weren’t unfurling like they were supposed to, but that could be due to the c-section.

Later, I learned, his head was stuck. Really, really, really stuck. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, tightly. The placenta was at the top of my uterus, so there was a tug of war between my body and the doctor’s hands. The doctor had to rotate his body with his head still inside. His neck had a ring around it from the cord. To get him to breathe, they had to force air into him with the bag.


He needed oxygen, he was burbling tons of fluid, and he wasn’t perky, so they took him to the special care nursery where Archie was admitted. I wouldn’t nurse him for another six hours.

And then, the attention was turned to me. I was having complications of my own. It would be almost two hours until I was patched back together.

There was extensive scarring and adhesions binding my uterus and bladder together in several locations. They had to cut those away. During the process of freeing my bladder, it was cut and began to bleed. A lot. A bleeding, lacerated bladder was never on my radar, but hey. I signed the papers.

They had to fill it with blue dye after they stitched it closed to check for leaks, from what I understand.

About then, my spinal wore off.

I could move my feet and knees. I could feel two sets of hands tugging in opposite directions as they put my uterus, which had been completely OUT, back into my belly. I felt it, expressed my extreme dismay, and the anesthesiologist said he’d take care of it. Goodbye, Gretchen. I took a nap of sorts. I could hear things. I couldn’t open my eyes. I felt no pain after that point because they injected my open area with local anesthetics, apparently.

But we weren’t through!

When the surgical assistants were counting the instruments used during the delivery, they came up with one MORE than they counted before the surgery started. There was some debate over procedure when the count was off. Finally, the doctor, I believe, ordered that an x-ray be taken of my belly to make sure there were no instruments left behind even though there were more than originally accounted for per hospital policy. We had to wait around for a rolling x-ray machine to be brought in and positioned over me. No, I was not trying to smuggle a scalpel out via my handy dandy uterus.

In the meantime, my husband was with Theodore and was anxiously awaiting my arrival via rolling bed. He asked for my whereabouts. A nurse called the recovery room, assuming I would be there. But I wasn’t. There was much worry. He was taken back to the OR, where the doctor came out at one point to give him an update on why it was taking so bloody (ha! see what I did there?) long for them to get done.

Many hours later, the three of us were reunited. He was bathed, dressed, and ready to chow down. It was good. Theodore’s breathing was even and a little juicy, but okay. He latched on after 3 or 4 tries. It was the football hold that did the trick. It always does.

Theodore’s birthday was a doozy of a day. He’s a good, growing, healthy baby boy and I could not be more blessed.

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