When last I posted I was partway through recounting the long and rather worrying entrance my son made into the world, in particular I was about to get a bit of preoperative "ladyscaping" done by a perfect stranger.
The doctor has informed me that the caesarean section will take place in about half an hour so I quickly give the Silver Fox a ring. It's 4:36am and he sounds very sleepy though he wakes up once he's told that he has to get back to the hospital ASAP.
It's on like Donkey Kong, as the saying goes.
I also give my sister a ring to let her know what's going on. Unfortunately only one support person is allowed in the operating theatre and the SF has quite reasonably bagsiesed this spot. So she's changed flights and taken leave from work... so that she can wait in a corridor. That's kind of sucky.
It ends up being closer to any hour before we go into theatre and in the meantime someone brings the SF a set of surgical scrubs to put on. He gets into them and... is transformed. It's entirely inappropriate to make this observation but he basically looks like this:
This would be incredibly hot if it weren't for the fact that I'm about to be rendered numb from the waist down before someone gets a bit slicey in my pubic area. Always with the comic timing eh, life?
I'm wheeled through doors and things and the SF and I briefly go our separate ways. I'm taken into the operating room. My midwife is there and I'm introduced to the anaesthetist. I distract myself from what's about to happen by looking around at all the equipment. It's a much bigger room than I had imagined it would be and there's a lot of very expensive looking stuff in it the purpose of which I can only wonder at.
I'm given a pillow to hug and am asked to lean forward so that I can be given a spinal block. This involves someone jabbing me in the spine but seeing as how I've already had two injections in the bum, a foley catheter put in and removed, an IV line inserted that took no less than three attempts, and a pubic buzzcut, a needle in the spine doesn't seem that much more of an imposition. It hurts but only briefly and not as much as you might imagine.
I'm repositioned on a table and can already feel, or rather not feel my feet.
Wow, this stuff is amazing. Before I know it my lower half is a complete nonentity. I have a small panic when I realise that I can feel wetness on my stomach from the iodine or whatever it is that they use to sterilise surgical areas, being swabbed on me.
I can feel that. Should I be able to feel that? I look worriedly towards the anaesthetist.
Yes, I'll be able to feel things but I shouldn't be able to feel any pain. Oh good. That's my least favourite feeling thing.
Then a voice at my left ear tells me that he's there. Well that's weird. Or at least it would be weird if it was a surgical nurse saying it, but actually it's the SF. He's been sitting at my side but I haven't noticed him because I'm laid flat and can only make out a lot of surgical green coloured movement in my peripheral vision. It also makes the fact that this person is holding my hand less awkward. In my defence he has acquired a hairnet thing since I last saw him and in a related note this has considerably dampened the George Clooney effect.
Having abdominal surgery while you're still awake is a very strange experience. Later on when I'm in Recovery one of the surgeons says she's heard it described as being "like someone doing the washing up in your stomach". Strangely this is a pretty bang-on description. You're aware of quite a bit of...rummaging? But there's no real sensation. You just have a sense of things moving around down there. Meanwhile the top of me is behind a blue surgical drape and I can't see anything.
My midwife has my digital camera and I'm vaguely aware that she's taking pictures for us.
Then the moment comes* and the SF, who is sitting so he can see the small human who is being held up beyond the big blue drape, says "do you want to know what it is?"
At the time this seemed like the most ridiculous question I've ever been asked. I mean, dur. I say yes and he tells me it's a boy.
I am genuinely confused by this new piece of information. Really? I hadn't realised just how convinced I'd been that I was going to have a girl until they drop the drape further so that I can see a lot of blood and hello-how-dya-do TESTICLES.
This is my overriding first impression of my son - testicles. Awhhh, how beautiful. It's not quite the soft focus, bathed-in-maternal-love moment I had been expecting, to be honest.
And then he's taken off to a station to my right where neonatal nurses can assess him. The SF disappears from my side to watch over our son and I'm told I can hold a bit of the surgical drape back so that I can kind of, sort of see what's going on but not really. The SF gives me this excited look so things must be okay over there but I can also see a little oxygen mask being applied.
I don't know what they're doing over there but it seems to take quite a long time. My arm gets tired holding the drape back as I strain to see something that isn't the back of a nurse or doctor.
After about 10 or 15 minutes they wheel an incubator up to where I am and I get a better look at my baby. He doesn't look like how I imagined he would. If I stretch my arm out I can just get my hand into the portholes of his incubator and I'm able to touch his little hand for about 3 seconds before they take him away up to the neonatal intensive care unit. The SF goes with him. I have a little cry.
Out in the corridor my sister gets a two second glimpse of her nephew as he is wheeled past. This is the closest she'll get to him until she visits again at Christmas because at the time the NICU is closed to non-parental visitors.
And then there's the unglamorous business of closing me back up again which seems to take quite a while. After the doctors have done their part the midwife and another nurse (or midwife - I forget) spend some time "tidying up". They tell me they will be giving me a suppository for pain relief.
I'm aware of the bottom half of me being turned and have to assume that at that very moment someone is sticking something up my bum however I can neither feel nor see it happening so I decide that, on balance, I am fine with this.
The one that isn't my midwife comes up to me and I recognise her as a friend of my cousin.
I know you, don't I? You're M's friend, aren't you? She answers in the affirmative. So not only have I had a painkiller shoved up my arse it's been put there by someone I once went out on the piss with. Lovely.
I get wheeled off to Recovery and... oh to be honest, I don't really remember this very well. I do know that Awkwardly-Recognised Nurse attempts to "milk" me. This is to get some colostrum to take to the baby up in NICU. It's really nutrient-rich and a good thing for babies to have, especially the really little ones. She doesn't get any, probably as a consequence of my almost complete lack of labour. The hormones that would have flooded my body as part of the birthing process haven't had an opportunity to get going so I don't have any milk. It's all quite mortifying.
I also remember my sister being allowed in eventually and the SF coming back down from NICU. It's all a bit of a blur. After a couple of hours I'm wheeled up to NICU and get to meet my son properly for the first time. He's in an incubator and has all sorts of leads and tubes coming out of him. He looks like a skinny marionette baby. I don't remember a lot about meeting him. It's sad, but I really don't. I remember a small, warm, pink creature being put on my chest but I couldn't really see him very well and I had a lot of painkillers in my system and hadn't slept for quite a while.
Surgery takes a lot out of a girl. Sometimes a whole other person.
Despite his small size (2.29 kg or 5lb) he's doing okay and his chest x-ray looks good. They take me upstairs to my room and I have a sleep.
Here's a picture of us the day after he was born, once I was a bit more awake. At this stage the nickname of Squishy seems less appropriate (he's all skin and bone, after all) and his father gives him the moniker of Little Shrimpy Pants instead.
He was weighed yesterday and at 6 and a half months is now a healthy 7.1kg.
So that's how my son was born. Of course we weren't able to take him home from the hospital for quite a while but that's a story for another day.
*6:17am to be exact