I had my son three weeks early, at 37 weeks. When I went to my OB/GYN for one of my weekly visits, he told me he was going to go ahead and give me a c-section the next day. First I had to have amniocentesis (you know, where they stick a giant needle deep inside you; I think I temporarily left my body during that procedure) to make sure the baby's lungs were OK (they were). I had to go back to work that afternoon and say, "Uh, surprise--today's my last day for three months". I asked the doctor for an extra day to give my Mom time to fly from Colorado, which he agreed to. My parents had moved cross country from Connecticut to Colorado a few days before. The movers had only just arrived and my Mom had to try to search through boxes to try to find her clothes. All she could find were lighter-weight clothes which were not appropriate for December weather. I picked her up at the airport in the early evening and immediately dropped her off at a Kohls store near our house so she could go clothes shopping. When I picked her around 8 p.m. she said, "I couldn't find anything I liked. Will you take me to T.J. Maxx?" I had to tell her no. I was trying to get ready to give birth birth to my first child (and her first grandchild) and I was supposed to be at the hospital the next morning at 5 a.m. Driving her around to various stores so she could try on clothes was not a high priority for me. Hell, I hadn't even packed my own hospital suitcase yet. I had to tell her, "This isn't about you. This is about me now."
The next morning we arrived at the hospital while it was still dark. The c-section was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. I remember a lot of paperwork and waiting. I wasn't nervous though. I was just looking forward to finally meeting my son. As a side note, I should mention that we had been waiting eight years for this child. I lost five pregnancies starting in November 1999 before FINALLY having my son in December 2007. He was well worth the wait. Anyway, back to our story. I was taken to the operating room and prepped for my epidural, which seemed to consist of having a Brillo pad scrubbed all over my back and them being rubbed with down with Iodine. The first attempt to get the needle into my spine didn't work. On the second attempt, the anesthesiologist didn't seem to think he'd been successful but I said, "I just felt a jolt of electricity." Immediately everyone around me was like, "Move! Move now while you can! Get into position." As soon as I went numb from the waist down, my body decided to have a panic attack. It was if my brain said, "Something is very wrong here. You're probably dying. Better have a panic attack to warn you." I told my doctor, "I'm having a panic attack. Can you knock me out?". His answer: no. Any kind of drug given to me would be bad for the baby. I completely understood that reasoning but but it wasn't enough to make my brain stop with the panic attack. I remember very specifically thinking, "Well, I'm never doing this again". My doctor assured me that the panic attack was not unusual, which strangely didn't make me feel any better. The adrenaline coursing through my veins was in control at that point. The next thing I remember is the doctor telling my husband to look over the privacy curtain which blocked the view of my abdomen. The doctor said, "The head is out" and as my husband stood up to look, the first words out of his mouth were, "OH MY GOD!". These words were not said in a reverent tone as in, "Oh behold the miracle of life which is unfolding before me." It was more like, "My eyes! My eyes! I can never unsee the image of my son's head sticking out of my wife's stomach." Here's the actual birth moment:
I popular media has made us all think that a mother and her newborn look something like this immediately after birth: