"Knowing that we were going to have a repeat c-section, we scheduled everything in advance. We booked the surgery for 9:00am on December 8th, 2011. I got a full eight hours of blissful sleep the night before, and woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on the morning of our big day. I had time to shower, curl my hair, and put on makeup. We took a leisurely drive to the hospital, and everything went as planned. Friends were anxiously huddled in the waiting room, ready to toast Everett's arrival with bottles of sparkling cider and red Solo cups in hand. Everett was born at 9:30am, and Mommy and baby were happy and healthy." Short. Sweet. Predictable. Of course, we all know that babies sometimes have a mind of their own...
Here's how the story *actually* goes:
On Friday, December 2nd, I was working from home. I had just finished my last work task for the day when my best friend, Ingrid, called me. She said she had a funny feeling that I was going to have the baby early, and wanted to work out the logistics for taking care of Ethan in case I went into labor. "Don't you worry about that," I told her. "I feel fine, and the c-section is only a week away. There's no way I'm going into labor before then."
What happened next? I went into labor, of course. Not an hour after telling Ingrid that I wouldn't. Cause that's what happens when you make such a bold statement. The universe knocks you down a few pegs and shows you who's boss.
I wasn't quite ready to accept that my contractions were the real thing. I'd been having some pretty intense Braxton Hicks action off and on throughout the last few months of the pregnancy, and I was in total denial that these contractions were different. You see, I'm a planner. And I had a really good plan cooked up for welcoming this baby into the world. Unexpected labor and a trip to the hospital did not fit into those plans. I sheepishly called Ingrid, and began a slightly panicked conversation by saying, "Soooooo, remember how, like forty five minutes ago, I swore up and down that I wouldn't be going into labor?" She offered to come over right away, but still being in denial, I told her I'd call her in a hour after I'd had a chance to lie down. I made another few panicked phone calls, including one to Ryan, who happened to be enjoying himself at a "Last Hurrah Happy Hour" thrown by his work buddies. In the city. Ninety minutes away with rush hour traffic.
Resting didn't help. A shower didn't help. Crying certainly didn't help. And so, finally, I relented and faced reality: this baby was not going to wait. He was ready, and didn't care that I wasn't. I called Ingrid and told her to come on over. Thankfully, she had decided to ignore me when I told her to wait for my call, and was already on her way. Ryan had begun making his way home as well.
By the time we were headed to the hospital, things had already started to get real. I'd heard that labor can progress more quickly with your second baby, but I didn't expect it to progress this quickly. Four hours into my labor with Ethan, I wasn't totally sure that I was actually in labor. Four hours in this time around, I was in tears. Thankfully, since we had already decided to take the doc's advice to have a repeat c-section, I knew I wouldn't have long to wait. Eight hours into labor, I was being wheeled into the operating room.
Unlike the emergency c-section with Ethan where I had to be put under general anesthesia, I was able to get a spinal instead. I was so excited to witness the birth of my child, but was also very nervous about the whole process. There's a bit of blissful ignorance when you're unconscious for a major surgery. I was prepared for the recovery, but had no idea what to expect out of the actual being-cut-open-and-having-a-baby-yanked-out-of-you thing. Luckily, the c-section went really well, and Everett was born at 2:46am on December 3rd, 2011.
Everett was healthy, but not breathing well enough on his own. He had some fluid in his lungs and wasn't getting enough oxygen, so he had to stay in the NICU for four days. I wasn't able to nurse him for the first two days due to his breathing apparatus. We did get a lot of skin to skin bonding time, and (the one perk to having a baby in the NICU instead of in your room with you) I was able to get some rest between pumping and snuggling time.
Slowly but surely, Everett's condition improved, and they moved him from the CPAP to the nasal cannula, took out the tube going down his throat into his stomach, and weaned him off of the IV fluids. When I was able to begin nursing he took to it like a champ, and hasn't looked back since. I was initially a little worried about the loss of bonding time, but he quickly reassured me that we were thick as thieves, even if we couldn't be hospital roomies. He'd instantly calm down when in my arms, falling asleep to the sound of me softly singing what would become his favorite songs. I can't really put it into words, but when I held him, it was like we'd known each other forever. It was hard to walk back to my room and leave him in the NICU, but deep down I felt like he knew that I'd be back. He usually just slept in between my visits - the nurses would call me when he woke up so that I could be with him. That made me feel a lot better during the long, slow walk back to my room. I left him with enough love and comfort to make his dreams sweet, and was by his side almost as soon as he woke from his peaceful slumber.
Ethan and Ryan spent a lot of time in the hospital with me, and I relished those little moments when we were together as a family of four. Ethan wore his big brother scrubs from Mima and Poppa when he came to the hospital to meet his future best buddy, which resulted in a lot of ooooohing and aaaaahing from the doctors and nurses.
He stared with wonder into Everett's eyes, gently touching his baby brother's fingers and toes through the "portholes" in Everett's isolette.
Unbeknownst to me, my dad had been scheming with Ryan since August, and had a secret visit planned that turned out to be perfectly timed. He arrived on the evening of December 6th, and surprised me in the hospital. I was floored, and turned into a heap of tears. See for yourself:
We were released on December 7th, the day before I was supposed to be entering the hospital all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and curly-haired and pretty-faced. It worked out nicely, though, our impatient boy's unanticipated arrival. Ryan's parents flew in the next day, and were able to get more QBST (quality baby snuggling time) at home than they would have if Everett was still in the hospital.
It just goes to show - you can plan and plan, and be certain that you know the "right" way for everything to work out, and still end up being so totally wrong. Babies arrive at the perfect time, whether you want them to or not. Looking back, it was silly of me to want to wait for his scheduled arrival. On Everett's schedule, I ended up with five bonus days with my tiny boy.
Perfect timing, little man. Thank you for that.