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~Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Worst Day of My Life - Part 3

I woke up completely naked on a brightly lit operating room table with my hands stretched out to either side of me, cuffed to the table. Some describe it as the Christ pose, but to me it felt like the execution pose. I was violently shivering but I couldn't do anything about it because I was strapped down.

"How long was that operation?" I heard someone, perhaps a surgical technician, ask.

The answer was 45 minutes. That's what the doctor told me when they wheeled me to the OR. I rolled an eye to the clock on the wall. The math didn't add up.

"Two-and-a-half hours," someone else I couldn't see answered.

***

But before that emergency C-section, I sat there, horrified as the coughing doctor sewed up my tear in the hospital bed instead of the operating table. She kept applying pressure. "I can't stop the bleeding and the skin is falling off when I'm trying to sew it up." Then she ducked her head into her shoulder so she could cough again.

My mother, who has had severe bladder-related problems her entire adult life due to having children and then a bad sew-job, squeaked, "This isn't going to affect her long term, is it?"

"We'll see."

I turned to the anesthesiologist standing at my shoulder. She seemed like a nice lady. "Excuse me, usually when I go into surgery I get something for anxiety," I announced.

"You seem fine," she replied.

"I'm not," I said, realizing I sound like a drug seeker. I am the opposite of a drug seeker. I avoid all opioids because they make me vomit. But the drug they give you when they wheel you to the operating room? The one that makes you really happy and carefree? I wanted that. That is the only good thing about surgery.

"It'll affect the baby," she retorted.

"Then you'll give it to me as soon as the baby's out."

She rolled her eyes.

The whole day has been miserable. First the epidural leaked all over the computer, then the doctor on call thinly tried to veil the fact she had a cold. My big ass hips, the ones my pediatrician in high school called “great birthing hips,” were not big enough for my 6-something-pound baby's head. I ripped and I'm bleeding and I have a fever and there's still no effing baby.

It was 10:30 pm on New Year's Day. The only thing I could do to salvage this experience is to give my baby a cool birthday, like New Year's Day. There was less than two hours left.

Abraham changed into scrubs and I was re-prepped for surgery for the second time within the hour. At the corner in front of the double doors to surgery, I told my mom I loved her, you know, in case. She didn’t register why I said it.

It was explained to me that most of the time spent in surgery was putting me back together as opposed to getting the baby out. A baby can be removed in a matter of minutes with what’s lovingly called a “slash and grab.” Fortunately for me, this wasn’t a life-threatening emergency C, so I would get the smaller of the potential incision sites. But because baby was so close to being born vaginally, they actually had to push him back up the birth canal so they could reach him through my abdomen.

I started screaming. “I know I’m supposed to feel pressure,” I said for the second time that night, “but I am feeling burning. It BURNS!”

“Do I need to stop?” the doctor calmly asked the anesthesiologist.

The anesthesiologist took out a clear syringe and injected it in my vein. “Nope.”

Was that my anxiety drug I asked for? Whatever it was, it helped.

The doctor announced she had the baby. The moments between that announcement and hearing him cry were the longest moments of my life. I swear it took a beat longer than normal. It took long enough for Abraham to say, “I don’t hear him?”

And then we heard it: not a baby cry, but a little duck quack. That’s what it sounded like. The nurses cleaned him up and wrapped him up and brought him over to my head. I couldn’t hold him or touch him; I could only look at this person who I’ve spent the last 9 months wondering about.

“Hello. Hi.”

People describe these grand feelings of I never knew what love was until I laid eyes on you. Not me. I was stuck in my head still wondering about him. Would he love sports like his dad? Be too sensitive like his mom? Did he look like a certain name, because we still didn’t have one for him.

And then the nurse turned to take him away for his measurements and told Abraham to follow.

“I love you,” I said because I was worried I didn’t say enough.

Behind the plastic curtain, it was time for the doctor to put me back together. Feed my intestines my back into me.

“I can’t get her uterus to fit,” she called out, frustrated. “There’s too much bleeding. I need help.”

“Am I going to die?”

Those were the last words I said.

***

My mother sat in the waiting room with all the other families who ended up with stories similar to mine: unplanned C-section due to abnormal labor. She watched as families who came after her left before her. One after one until she was the only one left. It was the middle of the night. She knew something wasn’t right.

She called Abraham. “Where’s Sarah?” She asked.

Abraham, who had been taking selfies with Junior, flagged a nurse. One nurse called another nurse. When he heard the tone of the conversation, he became worried.

***

The clock on the wall said 1:50 am. It was no longer New Year’s Day. They wheeled me into the ICU. I felt beat up, like I had gotten in a car accident that had gotten in a train wreck. Abe met me there and looked extremely worried. Junior was in the nursery.

The ICU was a big open area with curtains that separated each patient. I heard a family a few curtains away sound worried.

They gave me drugs, the really strong kind. They gave me ice for my incision site. I felt awful. I was in such generalized pain that I couldn’t pinpoint it to any specific complaint.

A nurse came in. “It’s time to feed your baby,” she announced.

What? No.

“I can’t,” I said. “I’ll be a mom tomorrow, but I am going to rest tonight.”

“Your baby hasn’t eaten the entire time he’s been alive,” she stated thinly. (I swear to God she said this.)

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