Six weeks ago, Finn came into our lives and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. Life is now crazy, but his birth was pretty seamless. It happened earlier than expected so it was surprising, for sure, but easy. I don’t think I’ll soon forget the day he was born, but I think I’ll be happy having it detailed here for posterity. The whole experience felt calm and a bit quirky, which are precisely the vibes I was going for. Setting the tone for our lives, perhaps?
It was Tuesday, December 7th. Because he was still breech, measuring large (with a particularly “huge” head circumference, according to the ultrasound tech), and I have cervical stenosis, we already knew a c-section was inevitable. To avoid an emergency situation, I was prepared to deliver via c-section about a week early…I was not prepared to deliver earlier than that – much less 10 days earlier than that (18 days earlier than his 12/25 due date). I had not submitted my turnover report at work; I had not finished packing my bag; my parents were traveling for work. I was simply not ready to go into labor. It was just another day, where I was working from home, prepping for Xmas, and planning all the final activities I wanted to squeeze in before a baby changed our lifestyle.
At 12:15ish finished a work call and stood up to quickly prep and eat lunch. My next call was at 1:00 pm and I was presenting. I clicked “leave meeting” as I stood up and felt a rush of water. I had been told it’s not like the movies when your water breaks and for many women, it doesn’t break on its own at all. In my case, it was just like the movies. That said, I didn’t think it was my water breaking. Because I had heard it wasn’t like the movies I figured this had to be something else. Plus, I know water breaking occurs when labor is capital h Happening and I felt zero pain whatsoever. I figured it must be a false alarm or, maybe, something was wrong because why else would I be leaking without contractions if something wasn’t wrong?
I immediately called Albert and my OB. While I waited to hear from them, I called my Mom and said “My water mayyy or may not have broken.” Then I just sat on the toilet. Albert was in the middle of an important meeting and it took 40 min for the doc to get back to me. When I spoke to her, my OB agreed it was probably a false alarm, especially since I wasn’t due for another 18 days, but knew it needed to get checked out so she called ahead and let the hospital know I was on my way. At this point, Albert headed home and I started getting ready.
I took my time. I showered, did my hair, and put on makeup. I was gross and in workout clothes because I’d planned on taking a 3:30 pm Peloton class so I needed to clean up. Even if it was a false alarm, I couldn’t show up anywhere looking like that. Plus, if it wasn’t the real deal, we’d probably go out for dinner somewhere after and I wanted to look presentable. I packed as much of my bag as I could. Ironically, I had planned to finish packing that night because I had ordered a few extra items from Target. So convinced were we that this wasn’t happening, we considered not bringing the bag at all. We brought it just in case. PHEW. The Target items arrived as we were walking out the door so we grabbed them from the lobby on the way out and unboxed/added them to the bag in the Uber. We got into Uber at 2:10 and while Mount Sinai is not NYC’s fanciest hospital, it was so nice having it so close. By 2:36 I was there, had finished paperwork, was in a hospital gown in the triage section, had been hooked up to monitors, and they’d confirmed my water had broken and would be having the baby ASAP. My doctor wasn’t on call that day but thankfully I had met with all three doctors at the practice. Dr. Sternstein walked in, said “Are we ready? We knew it would be a c-section; it’s just a few weeks early – no big! Oh and don’t worry about coming to our appointment in two days.”
“ASAP” still meant we had to wait around because [unless it’s an emergency] you need to wait 9 hours after eating before undergoing anesthesia. There was a lot of talk about when I finished my breakfast and how my hot tea had been prepared. (Did honey count as a solid?!)
Once everyone was in agreement about the time, they wheeled me to the next stage and had Albert stow my stuff in a locker while he dressed in a disposable hazmat suit. Starting at around 4:30 pm, we sat in a recovery-ish area, prepped for surgery, and at about 6:00 pm they took me back.
I wasn’t super concerned about the surgery itself but was terrified of the spinal tap. This is when I was so happy with my doc. She was a super calming presence. I had been nervous because I’d seen her the fewest number of times of all the doctors in the practice. Turns out I didn’t need to be nervous. She was fabulous. Albert wasn’t allowed in while they gave me the anesthesia, but it was the one thing I actually wanted him there for. I asked several times if he could come in because I needed him to hold my hand for this part. They said no but Dr. Sternstein put her hands on my shoulders, hit play on the playlist I’d prepped for delivery (thankfully got that done two nights prior), and talked me through it.
For some reason, the anesthesia didn’t kick in. The spinal tap basically pumps lidocaine via a catheter or port (I think) and they test by wiping something cool and wet on your arm and then on your belly. If it still feels cool, you ain’t numb. They also pinched/touched me with something sharp. At one point I nearly screamed “I can feel that!” That was when they decided to also give me an epidural. Since some of the anesthesia had started to kick in, this injection was a breeze. I had to ask if it was done. The whole time they were trying to get me numb, Albert was waiting outside the OR. The whole c-section process typically takes 1-1.5 hrs, but it took about an hour just to get me anesthetized. Albert came in just before 7:00 pm for the first cut and the bambino was born at 7:26. NOTE: as they were prepping us for surgery, we asked how long it typically takes and when Dr. Sternstein told us, she said “but we can get the baby out in about a minute if we have to.” This was so close to the line in Father of the Bride Part II that I knew I was in good hands. Ava Max’s “Kings and Queens” was playing when he was born and Meghan Trainer/John Legend’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” was in the background and they cleaned him up and brought him to us.
I pretty much blacked out all the conversation with Albert during surgery. I just remember squeezing his hand often to make sure the anesthesia wasn’t creeping too high up. I also blacked out most of the post-surgery recovery room experience. We were there for about 4 hours and it felt interminable and quick all at the same time. They pumped so much anesthesia in me that it was taking a really long time to wear off and they wouldn’t let us go to the room until I could show some movement. They kept asking me to move my legs but I couldn’t, which is a very strange feeling. The anesthesia also caused me to be hypothermic so my body temp dropped and they wouldn’t let me leave til it came back up.
We got up to our room right around midnight and the rest was a blur. All of a sudden there were three of us. Life was immediately entirely different but it wasn’t fully sinking in. It still hasn’t fully sunk in, but what a day that was!