We arrived before 6 o'clock in the morningplanned C-sections are done early in the day, partially for the comfort of the mother, who isn't allowed to eat or drink after midnight the night before.
I was so excited to be done with my pregnancy and eager to meet my baby that I drove myself to the hospital, with my husband in the passenger seat.
This time I wasn't scared. The thought of having my abdomen opened up and my unborn baby lifted from me didn't frighten me at all. I felt her kicking that morning, and I knew this fetus, who was misdiagnosed as a miscarriage at six weeks, whom we might have lost when I leaked fluid at 18 weeks, who successfully sailed through my orthopedic surgeries, and who dutifully fattened us both up throughout my third trimester, was finally ready to look me in the eyes.
Without the groaning and tears that characterized the last time I gave birth at this hospital (an emergency C-section after a womb infection endangered my daughter's life, as well as mine), I checked in clearheaded, but hungry.
The check-in process went along with only one hitch: Unfortunately, the nurse who started my IV wasn't familiar with the tenolysis procedure I'd undergone earlier this year. She attempted to insert the needle directly over the healing tendons in my wrist, and it took me several minutes to stop crying from the excruciating pain.
After a few more tries, we finally had an IV drip ready to go in my left hand, and I strolled directly into the operating room. I could hear my OB having a pre-surgical powwow with the medical team. "We are gathered here this morning," he said, sounding ministerial, "to perform a cesarean section on Erica Kain, a 37-year-old woman and mother of two." He continued to calmly dole out instructions to the team while I filled out paperwork.
Rolling the IV drip behind us, the nurse escorted me into the operating room, where a bright light shone directly in the center of the operating table. Babbling excitedly, I hoisted myself up onto the table, and lay down with my large belly under the crosshairs.
The anesthesiologist asked me to lie on my side so he could administer my spinal block. "Arch your back like a cat," he instructed, and I squeezed my OB's hand while the anesthesiologist injected a painful numbing solution around the site. I didn't feel the longer needle he inserted with the spinal block medication itself.
That spinal block medication felt wonderful! Compared to my emergency C-section's "cranked up" epidural, which made me shake and chatter so hard that a filling cracked right out of my teeth, it was a numbing fantasy come true.
My right thigh started to feel warm, just like I was rolling into a hot tub. Then I started to feel that warmth through my left side as well. By the time I was rolled onto my back again, I had only the vaguest sensations in my abdomen and legs.
Members of the surgical team introduced themselves to me as they assembled a curtain across my chest, so I could be spared the gorier aspects of the procedure. Having been outfitted in scrubs and a mask, my husband assumed the position next to my head, only peeking over the curtain occasionally.
The nurses shaved me and painted adhesive on either side of my lower belly to help position the spreader that would hold my incision open. A second doctor assisted my OB, whose eyes I could see over his mask, until he changed his focus to my belly and said, "OK, it's 8:30. We've begun."
A nurse repeated "8:30 start" and I realized that things were underway; my doctor was reopening the incision that had brought my second daughter into the world. My body was surrendered to the surgical process as a Frank Sinatra album played softly in the background.
Stay tuned for my next entry, Part 2: Another voice enters the room.