One year ago today, Daddy and I woke up and went to the neonatologist’s office at Cedars-Sinai. We had an appointment to make sure you had grown enough. You were measuring small for your gestational age, and because of that, my doctor had started monitoring me frequently and I was ordered to stop exercising, eat more and be a couch potato!
Our appointment at the neonatologist was at 8 am. I was told not to eat that morning, just in case I’d need to have a cesarean section that day. But, at our appointment, there was good news – you had gained 350 grams, above and beyond our target of 300. I told Daddy that we’d go get breakfast after the appointment and then go home and get back in bed.
After the ultrasound, I was put on the non-stress test machine to check your heartbeat and movement. The doctor kept me on the machine for a while and told me that she didn’t like my results. Your heart rate was going down every time I had a contraction and you weren’t having big “accels.” She told us to come into her office and she called my OB and told us that she thought we should go to the hospital to get monitored for a few hours.
We drove over to St. John’s hospital in Santa Monica and Daddy dropped me off at the entrance. I checked into Labor and Delivery on the second floor. Everything was calm and quiet. Daddy came back upstairs and I was hooked up to the same machine that I had been on at Cedars. At about 12:30 pm, after being on the machine for approximately one hour, a nurse with a British accent came in and said that my OB had looked at my tracing and wanted to do the c-section that day, at 2:30 pm.
Daddy and I looked at each other. We were going to meet you today! I was a little bit scared and mostly excited. Daddy called our doula, Molly and your grandparents. The sweet labor and delivery nurse came in and talked to me and prepped me. I told her about my birth preferences since I hadn’t had a chance to print them out and bring them with me.
The scariest part of the whole day was when I was wheeled into the OR by myself to get my spinal block. I kept tensing up and it was a little difficult for the anesthesiologist to administer the injection. I squeezed the nurse’s hands and closed my eyes tightly.
Daddy and Molly were allowed in and the doctors and nurses filed in and everyone started singing happy birthday! I was in my own private ‘nam thinking things like “the anesthesia is not going to work”; “I can’t do this”; “I need to get out of here”; “I can’t get cut open.” Of course, part of me knew that this was totally irrational, and I was doing my best to stay calm and talk to the parts of me that were freaking out. I also kept reminding myself that I was going to meet you very soon!
I definitely could not feel my legs, they were like dead pieces of meat. I also did not feel the incision. I had discussed having a “gentle cesarean” with my OB and they did a lot of what I asked for, including my arms being unrestrained. When I heard the doctor say “she’s out!”, I wanted to see you so bad and forgot that I was supposed to leave my arms at my sides. I pushed the blue screen down with one hand so I could see you! You looked purple and were covered with a layer of blood and gook, but your eyes were wide and open and I was amazed at how beautiful and cute you were. Daddy started laughing and then crying because he couldn’t believe how cute you were right out of the gate (or uterus).
Your cord was super short, so they could not delay the cord clamping. Your cord length also explained why you were breech. Your cord was way too short to turn head down.
After what seemed like a long five minutes (Daddy thinks it was even shorter), you were handed to me and placed on my chest, partially skin to skin. I stared at your face and Daddy held you on my chest as the doctors stitched me up. We got wheeled to the recovery room for a little while where we debriefed the birth with the nurses, and you and I practiced nursing.
You were tiny and pink and beautiful from the beginning. You are soft and cuddly and funny and spirited and have the craziest rolling “r” cry. You are curious and smiley and you love music and dancing. I have had the best year of my life with you and I’m so grateful to be your mommy. Thank you for picking us, Ellie Bird. Happy first birthday!