The staff wheeled me into a delivery room in the maternity ward. It was decorated like a bedroom, complete with pretty wallpaper, curtains and a comfy rocking chair. The hospital had started decorating their rooms like this to put the mothers at ease. As if you could somehow forget you were in a hospital. I certainly couldn't.
Once the bed stopped, I called Jete on his cell phone. (I had finally memorized the number after our first frightening visit.) I told him that they were going to deliver the baby. He needed to get here right away. I didn't know how he would find me, but someone should be able to direct him. Hurry.
More people swarmed into the room. A nurse unceremoniusly shaved me. A woman drew blood from one arm while a man put an IV into the other. An oxygen mask was strapped around my face. "Breathe deeply. And relax." Yeah. RIGHT.
A nurse started handing me consent forms to sign. To absolve them of any potential deaths. Mine or the baby's. At the same time, an anesthesiologist started throwing questions at me. Did I have any drug allergies, false teeth, previous bad reactions. My head was swimming. Um. No? It was getting hard to breathe under the mask. I was starting to sweat inside it. It felt like I was being smothered.
"Can I take this off please? I'm not having trouble breathing. I don't need oxygen."
"It's not for you. It's for the baby."
I was starting to hyperventilate. Dr. F arrived, his usual slow, easy self. He seemed so calm. Maybe everything was really okay. He greeted me, then looked over the paperwork the original doctor handed him. They spoke in hushed tones at the other end of the room while someone else poked me for more labs. Dr. F came back to the foot of my bed.
"How are you feeling?"
How was I feeling? Shocked. Confused. Terrified. And perfectly fine. I wasn't sick. I didn't feel sick at all. Shouldn't I feel sick?
"We are going to do a cesarean section rather than inducing you and waiting to see how you progress. It is better for the baby to get him out quicker. Are you ready?" He patted my foot and smiled like he was my grandfather. It put me more at ease.
Finally, Jete arrived. Finally.
A nurse gave him a set of scrubs to put on. He went into the room's bathroom to change. When he came out, he looked so funny I smiled a little under the mask. He smiled back at me. There was no turning back now.
Dr. F told someone that we didn't have time to wait for the bloodwork to come back. They hadn't had time to determine my blood type, and counts, or whatever other tests they need to do for an epidural or a spinal. They were going to use general anesthesia to put me to sleep. It was quicker. Every minute matterd.
I suddenly realized, this wasn't just any delivery. This was an emergency c-section. I was even more frightened. I'd never had any surgery, not on my tonsils, not even to get a tooth pulled. Someone told Jete he could go in the room with me. Somehow, that made me feel better.
They started to wheel me down the hall to the operating room. They sent Jete into another room to wait. They slid me onto the operating table as people bustled around me. They put a blood pressure cuff on my arm and a monitor clipped to my finger. Someone strapped my arms down. Out to the sides like I was going to hug someone. I felt trapped.
The anesthesiologist appeared above my head. He tried to be very soothing as he explained the procedure. He would put a mask over my face, and I would fall asleep. Then they would put a tube in my throat to help me breathe. I wouldn't feel anything. They would monitor me very carefully the entire time. He took an initial blood pressure and mentioned it seemed a little high. Yes, I said. I had been having high blood pressure. It was okay.
He put the mask over my face and instructed me to count backwards out loud. Everything got foggy.
I woke up in the recovery room. My parents were standing at the foot of my bed. I was confused. What time was it? What happened? Was the baby born? I couldn't really speak well. I felt very, very tired.
My mother looked concerned. I sensed something was wrong.
"How did you get here?"
"Jete called us. We came right down."
"Where is he?"
"He went to see the baby. He's coming back soon."
"How is the baby? Is it really a boy?"
"Yes. He is doing okay. They took him to the NICU. He's a little small." She didn't say anything else. Small?
Jete came back into the room.
"How is the baby? Did you see him?"
"Yes. He's very cute."
"How big is he?"
"He was 3 pounds, 14 ounces. 17 inches long."
"3 pounds?" Dr. F had said he was at least 6 pounds. That was only a week ago. How could he have lost so much weight?
"Did you tell them his name?"
"Yes. Ethan. I told them his name is Ethan."
A nurse came in and said I would have to be in recovery for another hour. Then I would be moved to a regular room. Once I was stable and settled, up and walking, then maybe I could go see the baby. Maybe tonight. Tonight seemed like a long way off.
I still couldn't process everything. Somehow, I almost couldn't believe I was ever really pregnant. I never showed. I was always questioning his movement. I couldn't remember giving birth. I had never even seen the baby. How did I know any of this was real? Shouldn't this feel more real?
NEXT: PART 6 - AFTERMATH