July 23, 2013
Davey and I woke up at 4:30 am to Jack Johnson singing Banana Pancakes.
Today is the day!!
If I wasn’t 35 weeks pregnant and hooked to an IV, I would’ve jumped out of bed and moon walked across the faux wood floor.
We have waited a LONG time for this day and spending five weeks in the hospital seemed to stretch it out even more.
Davey walked over to the bed and hugged me. We held each other and cried. Tears of joy. Tears of relief.
Today we meet our daughter.
I enjoyed my last shower in Room 3561, a place that became our home for 36 days. The staff jokingly referred to it as the best decorated suite in the hospital.
Even though I was ready to see the great outdoors and our home sweet home, I would miss this place. This place, these people, and all of the memories that Davey and I shared.
Nurses, housekeeping, and the dietary staff popped in to give us their best as prep work began for the c-section. We were practically residents after such a long stay and the people who occupied these halls every day became our friends, anxious and eager to meet Hannah and celebrate her birth with us.
The phone rang. Hannah’s grandparents were beginning to arrive. All eight of them and my sister, Melanie, came to hang out with us in our suite before the procedure.
Our visitors were able to hold vigil in our pseudo-home in lieu of the waiting area, yet another perk of our antepartum room.
I whittled away the morning laughing and crying with my husband, sister, parents and friends in a place that became very special to us. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Unless there was a breakfast buffet up in here!
I walked around the room, catching my breath with each embrace as I said my goodbyes. Time to go. I glanced around the place that held so many wonderful memories for us. Crazy, I know, but I sure was going to miss it.
I choked back some tears as Davey and my attending nurse, Peggy placed their arms on my back and guided me down the hallway towards the OR.
My heart began to race.
Peggy opened the doors to the stark white, icy cold operating room. Noella was waiting inside, her usual humorous demeanor replaced with a tender, motherly smile and squeeze of the hand. We knew the date of our c-section for some time so we had the good fortune of choosing the nurses and doctor that would be part of one of the most amazing events of our life. Their presence helped calm my nerves.
I sat on the cold, steel table, anxious, my husband waiting outside. The anesthesiologist rubbed iodine on my back and carefully inserted the epidural. I held my breath. I laid back and the nurses tethered my arms. A numbing sensation began to crawl up my feet and into my shins. What a bizarre feeling, an unlikeable feeling, make it stop! I desperately wanted to push the rewind button.
Big cleansing breaths. Okay, there’s Davey. Big smile. Squeeze his hand. Squeeze the life out of his hand.
As the numbing sensation crept up my body, I felt a strong wave of nausea.
“Oh God, I’m gonna throw up,” I said frantically. That was one of my fears, that I would puke while restrained and I wouldn’t be able to turn my head fast enough. And then I would choke on it, that sour, acrid taste lingering in my mouth for far too long. I was quickly given some anti-nausea medicine and the feeling subsided.
Phew, dodged a bullet there.
The curtain went up. Show time.
The doctors discussed their weekends like they were sharing friendly banter around the water cooler. I stared at Davey. Everything will be okay if I just focus on Davey. And then the talking stopped. And my body began to jerk from side to side, a little more violently than before. I held my breath and waited, continuing to look at my husband. How much time had passed?
And then I heard it. The sweetest, most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.
Hannah’s welcoming cries. Bright. Strong. Beautiful.
And I knew in that moment that she was okay. I smiled at Davey. Our eyes filled with tears in this mutual understanding and our faces were brimming with joy and love and I couldn’t set eyes on my baby fast enough. They lowered her tiny pink body onto the table to my left and cleaned her off. Davey nearly sprinted the short distance to see her.
After measurements were taken, Noella handed him a swaddled preemie weighing in at five pounds, two ounces. He cried and he stared and he walked towards me as he held his daughter for the first time. So much love in that embrace. So much pride on his face. Oh Hannah, how we’ve longed to finally meet you, to hold you, to kiss those pretty little lips. She took my breath away.
Hi, baby girl. I’ve been waiting for you.
We savored a few moments together as a family before she was ushered away to the NICU. I couldn’t wait to see her again and I longed to hold her for the first time.
Peggy wheeled me into recovery and I relished the warmth of the blankets and the coolness of the ice chips so refreshing against my lips. My mom is here to, our smiles straight out of an Orbit commercial. We’re just beaming and gushing, our eyes glossy with tears and I’m so glad she’s here with me now.
In the meantime, Davey is introducing the family to Hannah and sending me photos. I’m sad I’m not able to witness their reactions to that first encounter. I picture the look on their faces, the softened complexions, big smiles, eyes gleaming with tears. I imagined it long before this day came.
The doc walks in and smiles. She’s wearing a set of pearls, her signature look. I just love that about her.
Davey and I became more and more enchanted with Dr. Mikula over the course of our pregnancy. She checked on me when she did her rounds at the hospital. And when she wasn’t there, someone from her practice stopped by. Every day. We became smitten with the entire group as we got to know them better.
She talked about the procedure. My placenta was anterior hence the urgent tugging towards the end as they worked hard to pull Hannah out. And there was blood, a lot of blood, much more than was typical. An emergency c-section ensued. It was impossible to determine at that moment if Hannah lost any blood. So Dr. Mikula took the umbilical cord and squeezed what was remaining back into Hannah, an impromptu transfusion if you will.
Luckily, the loss was all mine.
As she recounted the operation, the power went out. Blackness fell over us for a few long seconds. It was eery, the darkness and the silence that ensued. And then the lights flickered back on as the generator hummed to life.
Davey came bounding in and the sight of him flooded me with a wave of emotion. Here he is, the father of my child! How I longed to say that, how I longed to watch him be the amazing father I know he will be.
Hannah is recovering beautifully, he tells me, with minor complications. Her blood sugar is low. An IV pumps sugar water through her body to elevate those numbers. Her bilirubin count is just below the point that requires Ray-Bans and the tanning booth. She is double swaddled to keep that tiny body warm.
We can handle this, I tell myself. We can get through this.
Peggy wheels me down to the NICU. Does this gurney go any faster? I watch the fluorescent lights on the ceiling roll by. It’s a short ride and my impatience is rewarded with alarms signaling we’ve arrived within the walls of the NICU.
I approach Hannah’s incubator and I struggle to get a peek inside. A nurse unfastens the case and carefully lifts my daughter from the warm, rectangular vessel. She turns my daughter’s face towards me as she lowers her onto my chest, gently maneuvering her so the cords and IV remain in place. Words cannot describe this moment, the amount of happiness I feel right now. I try but I feel like they cheapen the enormity of it, the breadth and depth of the emotions I feel. Simply stated it’s bliss, sweet heavenly bliss.
I kiss her bandaged head, her face. I caress her tiny hands. I lay there with her until the last possible moment. She must stay here and get healthy and I must do the same, but in another room, apart from my daughter. Sigh.
To be continued.
Since I have so much more to write and many more photos to include while Hannah was in the NICU, I’m breaking this into two parts…coming soon!