As soon as my OB said “c-section,” the room burst into a flurry of excitement. Surgery nurses came in and started prepping us. The incision area on my body was shaved, I got a hair net, I had to take out all of my earrings, and and I had to drink seltzer water to neutralize my stomach acid so I wouldn’t throw up during surgery. I was given another dose of epidural and my nurse placed a catheter. I said goodbye to my husband and family, and was wheeled down the hall.
As my husband waited outside of the OR room, I was transferred to the surgery bed. My abdomen was prepped and the blue sheet was placed just under my chin. Warm blankets were placed over my arms that were strapped to the edge of the bed. I was shaking so hard from nerves that the anesthesiologist gave me medication to calm me down.
Around 11:50pm, my husband was brought in and seated by my head. He held my hand as my doctor started the surgery. Every time she would cauterize a cut, my stomach muscles would involuntarily jump. At 12:07am, my son was worked out of the birth canal (with an audible pop!) and my doctor asked my husband to look over the curtain. At 12:09am, my son K was born and we heard his first cries.
K was given to the pediatrician, who did an initial look-over. My doctor had left the umbilical cord long so that my husband could cut it, which he did at this time. K was then brought over to me for a few seconds on his way to the nursery. I was sewn up, given more pain medication, and another dose of medicine to stop my shaking.
In the nursery, K had his heel pricked to check his blood sugars which came back at a 43 (units of measure unknown). The pediatrician called down to the OR to see if I had been transferred to the recovery room so I could breastfeed, but I was still in surgery. After 5 minutes, they checked his sugars again and they had dropped to 33. We were later told that around 30, babies can have seizures from low blood sugar, which is why K was given formula to bring his levels up.
I was eventually moved back to my original delivery room and was able to hold K for about 30 minutes, during which we attempted to breastfeed. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of this. I’m not sure if it’s due to the medication, or the shock my body went through, but I have no recollection of those moments.
K was brought back to the nursery to get bathed and warmed up. I was moved to the mother and baby room, where we would stay for the next few days. My OB later told me that K’s head measured at 14.5 inches and was too big to fit through my pelvis. He also had broad shoulders, so even if his head had made it through the birth canal, there was a good chance they would have had to break his collar bone to fit his shoulders through.
At around 3:00 in the morning, K was brought into the room after getting his Vitamin K shot and eye ointment. We were told that his blood sugar level was not as high as the pediatrician wanted, but it was high enough for him to room with us.
At 6:00am, a nurse came to do another check via prick to his heel. Unfortunately, his level had dropped again, so he was taken to the nursery to get a sugar water IV placed to bring his levels up.
The nurses had a hard time placing the IV, so K had bruises in both hands, both feet, and both arms. As much as I wish I was there to comfort him, I’m glad they did it in the nursery. I don’t know if I would have been able to handle his cries from them poking him over and over again.
We were told that to keep his blood sugar up, we would have to feed him 2 ounces of formula every three hours, as well as try to nurse him and feed him any colostrum/milk I was able to pump. Feeding every three hours during the day wasn’t difficult, but the nighttime feedings were tough. K would want to sleep through at least one of the feedings, so we’d have to unswaddle him, tickle his feet, rub his back with cold hands…do whatever we could to keep him awake long enough to at least drink the formula. Pair this with lack of sleep and high emotions, and nighttime was a very difficult time for me.
For the first two days we were in the hospital, I wasn’t getting anything when I pumped. On the third day, however, I was getting a milliliter or two of colostrum that we’d suck into a syringe and feed K. I can’t explain how ecstatic I was when I started getting colostrum. It felt like my body was finally starting to do something right, something that would feed my baby and keep his blood sugar levels in check.
When K first got his IV, it was set to 16 (units unknown). We were told that every time his sugar level came back at 60 or higher, the IV would be bumped down two points, and once it was at zero, we would be able to take him off the IV to see if his body could regulate itself. Once he was able to go 24 hours without an IV, we could go home.
A nurse would come by every six hours to check his blood sugars with a prick to the heel. Some of the nurses were wonderful at pricking and squeezing his tiny heel quickly to get the blood, then allowing me to nurse him, but some nurses had a lot of trouble getting a drop of blood, which caused them to prick him again and make him wail. Eventually we learned that if his heel was warmed up with a washcloth for a few minutes, his blood would flow easier. By the time we left the hospital, both heels were purple from being pricked so often.
Eventually, K’s body began figuring things out, and we slowly started turning down the number on his IV machine. We did have a small bump in the road when his IV line became clogged, so they had to take him back to the nursery and place it in his other foot. Saturday morning, we finally turned it down to zero and he was unhooked from the IV machine. We were finally free to move around the room without having to worry about crimping the IV line when we’d swaddle him, or pulling it out when we’d pass him to visitors.
On Sunday, we were given the okay to go home, all three of us. We were instructed to continue feeding him formula, breastfeeding, and giving him any pumped milk every three hours until his follow-up appointment at one week old. At that appointment, we were told to stop the formula and only breastfeed.
While my labor and delivery was not at all what I had envisioned, I am forever grateful for the result. Things may have started off on a bumpy road, but I now have a strong, vibrant, funny 18-month-old constantly keeping me on my toes.