Our Birth Story: Part 2 The Snuggery
Once she gained her bearings a bit Melissa agreed that c-section was the way to go. They prepped me with my own garb that I would be wearing (as seen at the top) so that I could sit next to her during the operation. I could barely speak at this point without choking up. Things were going very fast now. It wasn’t necessarily an urgent c-section, but it was semi-urgent. Once I dressed we left the comfort of the snuggery and walked together down the extremely bright, very white, and really plain hallway towards the operation prep room.
In an ideal situation, they scrub Melissa up to avoid infection, but one of the nurses said it was urgent so they decided to only scrub up her belly. In less than 15 minutes from when we were just talking about getting a c-section, Melissa was gone in the room for the spinal epidural and surgery prep. I would be allowed to join her eventually, but for now, I was all alone waiting just outside the door.
My mind was spinning…
I didn’t know what to do. I was praying. Praying for her strength. Praying for God to bless the doctors and to guide their hands. Also, praying for strength myself so that I could keep going. Melissa could tell that I wasn’t doing well. She asked me how I was doing and I said ok, but she said that my eyes were telling her something different. It wasn’t that I was necessarily scared, but it just seemed like a very emotional time. I was trying to keep my emotions in check but between everything that was going on and lack of sleep, it was becoming increasingly difficult.
At some point, one of the nurses came out and asked me if I had my mask. To which I managed to fumble out some words like “oh no, I left it back in the snuggery room.” She then left to find me a new one and I ended up getting a real mask like the doctors wear because they couldn’t find one of the civilian ones. A few minutes later I joined Melissa on a small stool next to her head.
She was doing really well. She said she couldn’t feel anything and the epidural made it feel like she was wearing a warm weighted blanket around her midsection. Supposedly they were going to drop down the sheet a little so that we could watch them remove the baby from her stomach, but something must have gone wrong because they never did that. Cesarean section surgery does not take very long to perform. So it was over before we really knew what happened.
We talked as much as we could but I was finding it very hard to talk without choking up. I just couldn’t sound calm and I knew that is what she needed. At one point Melissa asked me to sing. I am not much of a singer and how was I supposed to think of a song at that moment? Every word I said was an extreme effort to not cry. Since we were naming our son Christian the only song I could think of was the “I am a ‘C'” Sunday School song that we had talked about together recently. I tried to sing the song as best I could but I just couldn’t.
Christian is born!
We heard some cries! Not from me, but from our son! This is normally a good sign. We knew that as long as everything went well we would still be able to do delayed cord clamping (something Melissa was very passionate about) and skin to skin nearly immediately. After a few moments past and neither of these things happened or were discussed I got a little concerned. I looked to the right and there he was! I could see the feet and legs of our son Christian. It was hard to see him too through the multiple nurses, but I could tell that he had a good amount of hair and I shared that detail with Melissa.
It began to feel strange that we weren’t really shown our son yet. We found out that this was because he wasn’t breathing well. They started him on oxygen almost right away. I heard him crying earlier. I thought that meant he was breathing fine, but he had only really given out one or two cries. After some minutes they told us that they were going to have to take him to the special care unit. He needed to get x-rayed and hooked up to a CPAP machine.
They also told me that I could go with him if I wanted. I turned to Melissa and said I was fine staying with her for now. They explained that I would be free to go back and forth between her and Christian. Melissa looked at me and told me to go. She said that she was feeling fine and that Christian needed me more. So I got up, fought my way over some wires and machines and followed the train of nurses out of the operation room, past our snuggery room, and to the special care unit.
During our birthing class, we had visited the Special Care Unit of the snuggery. We of course never thought that we would actually have to go there. The good news is that they really didn’t have to do too much to him. They did set up the CPAP and they did do an x-ray, but he was breathing the same air as I was within an hour. They also hooked him up to a dextrose IV as well as some other monitors and things. He also had a tube in his stomach.
The poor little guy didn’t look very good but he was actually doing well. They had to cut a pacifier in order for him to use it for some comfort (Glens Falls Hospital does not normally give pacifiers), and I was told that I could help him hold it and touch him to provide comfort. The x-ray revealed he had a small pneumothorax in his right lung which was causing air to leak out of it. They believed that he might be able to heal himself on his own soon. They believed it was caused by meconium getting into his lungs and stomach confirming that he did have his first bowel movement in the placenta. Speaking of which, they also said that the placenta had calcified in some areas.
Back in the Snuggery
I stayed with Christian for some time in the special care unit. Eventually, I asked where Melissa was and they told me they moved her to a different room and that they had brought all our stuff there. I did not realize there are separate rooms for laboring and recovery. Really they look about the same except for the bathroom. Our new room was smaller but still fine. I found Melissa lying in the bed, shaking profusely. Apparently, an after effect of the epidural is shaking too! She wondered if that is how drug addicts felt going through withdrawal.
Otherwise, she was feeling surprisingly well all things considered. The shaking was causing her pain, but everything else seemed good. I stayed with her for a bit but they wanted her to recover more before going back to see her new baby. She sent me back and I stayed with Christian until he fell asleep. Three hours after the c-section Melissa was finally able to see her baby. After a bit of skin to skin, they even tried to breastfeed for the first time.
Feeding time proved to be a difficult endeavor. For something that is so natural, it really ended up being something very hard. Christian was born on a Monday, and we left on Thursday. During those 4 days, we met countless times with nurses and lactation consultants. Sometimes it would go better than others, but I could tell it was starting to stress Melissa and the baby out. This, in turn, caused me to get stressed and run low on patience when it was hard to feed him. It didn’t help that the nurses wanted to see him peeing and pooping more to prove he was healthy and getting enough food.
Furthermore, most people agree that in order to successfully breastfeed you need to keep a couple of things in mind. First, you have to give it at least two weeks. At first, it seemed that we might not even be able to make it two days. Second, you need to avoid pacifiers and bottles because it can cause confusion when eating. This meant that we could no longer use the pacifier to soothe him. It also meant the only way for Christian to eat was breastfeeding. At one point they wanted us to feed every hour to an hour and a half. This basically meant feeding nonstop and this was quite exhausting.
More days at the Snuggery
Monday night was difficult of course. Exhaustion and trying to figure out a new baby is not a good combo. At one point the nurses needed to take him back to the Special Care Unit and it gave us a small break. It ended up being about 3 hours and we got to sleep a little – kind of. Melissa’s epidural medication was starting to wear off and the pain from the surgery was starting to settle in. She was no longer shaking, but the pain was increasing.
She isn’t a fan of taking medications, but she agreed to take some Motrin, and at one point she did take one Percaset. If she kept up on taking the Motrin she was okay, but if she went too long between doses the pain increased and she could barely move without wincing. However, despite the pain, everything else in her physical recovery was going well. To the point that she was able to eat an entire foot long sub from Subway!
The next day we learned that Melissa’s mom was the baby whisperer. She visited us on Tuesday and was able to keep him calm and quiet for hours. This helped us to rest up a bit and I was able to go home and take care of Frodo and take a shower. It was nice to get out of the hospital but I knew that our journey there was not over.
Be sure to check out page 3!