I have to say, it feels really amazing to be writing a birth story that starts like this: Everything went exactly as planned.
I know! Total opposite from our experience with Ben. It was really, I don’t know, redemptive?…in that way.
So this is the story of how we welcomed Colette Nasreen into the world.
All along I believed that my c-section was scheduled for 12pm on December 6th. That’s what I was told by the surgical scheduler when I scheduled the surgery when I was around 12 weeks pregnant. Much to our surprise, at our last appointment the doctor told me that I was actually scheduled for 8am and had to be to the hospital by 6am. Yikes!
The good news was that this meant we were less likely to be bumped because we were the first surgery of the day. Plus then I didn’t have to hang out all morning in anticipation, though I was a little bummed that I didn’t get to see Ben before I left that morning.
December 6th we got up and drove to the hospital. My Mom came down from Maine and stayed with us to watch Ben. He was jazzed to hang out with Mimi.
Nav dropped me off out front and went to park (city life, parking isn’t really close and I didn’t want to be late). I walked up to registration and got checked in. Naturally thanks to one way streets, Nav drove around in circles a bit so by the time he came in to meet up with me, I was already in prep area and in a hospital gown.
I should also note, Nav had a sinus infection the week she was born and he’d had an allergic reaction to something he’d taken to treat it so his face was swollen and guys – he couldn’t smile. Could not smile the day his daughter was born. It was sort of sad but also kind of funny? His upper lip was really big and he kind of looked like a who down in whoville (lol). You can see it a little in the above photo but he humored me and let me take a selfie anyway. Good man.
Anyway, I got my IV put in and I stand by this – getting the IV put in hurts more than a spinal block. In fact, it might be the most painful part of the whole thing. I’m not kidding.
I squeezed Nav’s hand while the nurse inserted the IV and hung a bag of fluids. Then she said two things. 1. “Dad, did you eat yet? You’ve got time. You should go grab something in the cafeteria because you don’t want to go into the OR with an empty stomach.” and 2. “Do you have a pet at home? Make sure you bring the receiving blanket home to him so he knows her smell before she gets there.” And that’s when I knew I really liked her.
So Nav went to grab some food and I hung out for a bit and watched Everybody Loves Raymond reruns and did a little phone scrolling.
Nav came back and soon each team came in. First my nurse who would be with me until handoff to recovery. Then anesthesiology came in – three awesome ladies – a doctor, a nurse anesthetist, and a nurse anesthetist resident (in training? Idk if they are called residents or not). Everyone carefully explained their role and answered any questions that I had. Plus every single person asked me for my full name, date of birth, and if I had any allergies. I think I repeated those details 12 times that morning.
Soon my doctor came in and said we were going to get started shortly. I mentioned that I wanted to do skin to skin right away and the nurse brought in a tube top for me to put on underneath my hospital gown.
A little after 8am they had me walk to the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit i.e. the recovery area) and we left our stuff there. Nav got all dressed in a white jumpsuit, cap, and mask. We said goodbye (temporarily) and I walked to the OR. I got a little teary saying goodbye because it’s intimidating to not have your support system with you and I could tell Nav wished he could come with me. Partners aren’t allowed to be with you during the spinal block and surgical set up.
It’s more than a little weird to walk dead sober and super nervous into an operating room and climb up on the table yourself. It’s just not how they show it on TV I guess. Everyone who heads in to the OR on Grey’s Anatomy just had something traumatic happen so they’re already out. The nurse pulled up a step stool and I climbed up on to the operating table.
The awesome anesthesiology team starts making the spinal block – legit mixing the cocktail of drugs to put in my back. I saw them add some fentanyl and because it’s a teaching hospital, the one nurse anesthetist was explaining it to the student the whole time. I sat on the operating table facing my nurse and they chose a spot in my back that they “liked”. They literally tapped on my lower back and inspected it and I heard her say “I like right here.”
They gave me a few shots to numb the area. These didn’t hurt really – just a pinch like a regular shot. The IV hurt worse. Then they gave me a heads up that they were going to go ahead with the spinal.
I sat really still and asked my nurse to tell me anything about her life – what book she was reading or TV show she was watching. I do not want a play by play of what’s happening. She told me she was watching Schitt’s Creek and that it was super funny (something I’ve heard many times – I should give it a watch). I felt a weird sort of burning but not painful and then my legs started tingling.
The nurses helped me lay down and they started additional preparation. More people came in the room and they hung the drape so I couldn’t see my lower body. I have no idea how long this process took but it seemed like a while.
I got super nauseous all the sudden and told them I was going to vomit. The nurse brought a bin over for me to yack in (I could only turn my head) but then they asked for my consent to give me something for the nausea. I said yes because I didn’t want to meet my baby girl while barfing. Luckily the meds kicked in quickly and I didn’t barf. Win.
I started to feel a little better but told them that I could still feel my legs. I remember with my first c-section they went completely numb really quickly and it freaked me out a little that I could still feel them. They kept tingling. They assured me that they wouldn’t start until I was numb and then told me “Don’t worry, we pinch you with some tweezers and see if you feel it before we start. If you don’t flinch, we know you’re numb.” Reassuring?
While this all was going on, I was in and out of conversation with the nurses and doctors. I was especially jazzed that every single person in the operating room was a woman. Not that I’d care if I guy was in there but how cool is it that my daughter was born into a room entirely made up of successful, badass women (plus her Dad)? A team of all ladies brought our little lady into the world. I love it.
Anyway, we were all talking about what we bought on Black Friday and our favorite Sephora products. One nurse told me she’d bought the Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lipstick and it was just as good as everyone says. Thinking back, it’s so funny to me that we were talking about such normal stuff, like a bunch of friends, as they prepared to bring a human into the world. I guess it’s a regular day for them!
Soon they brought Nav in and my doctor said we were almost ready. They started the surgery and it’s such a weird feeling. You can kind of feel that something is happening but nothing hurts. Within a few minutes (maybe? I have no idea how long) I heard my doctor say, “okay, are you ready to meet your daughter? You’re going to feel some pressure.” They pushed on the top of my bump and I felt a pressure change and then I heard her cry.
Then suddenly, the nurses drop the blue drape and I see that there is a clear drape behind it so that I can see her as the hold her up, Lion King style.
I’ll tell you – I did not request that and I was a bit taken back by it. Like, I’m glad I saw her so quickly but also was extremely surprised to see a tiny human who was still attached to my insides. I kind of thought the clear drape situation was a special request and I hadn’t said anything about it because I thought it might freak me out.
The doctor told Nav to take a picture (I think he was caught off guard too) and he took some photos through the plastic. The doctor said “You can take some over the drape if you want.” I didn’t realize this was happening or register what it meant but guys, WOW those are incredibly graphic photos. In the cloud! Forever! My cut open body! Thank goodness your eyes focus on the brand new, seconds old baby and not the ACTUAL SURGERY going on underneath her. I guess it’s cool to have those photos? But also WOW.
Colette was immediately full on screaming and bright pink. Very good signs, apparently. Girlfriend came out ready to take on the world.
I should also note that as they cut the cord and took her over to the warmer, the first thing I said was “I can’t believe that just came out of my body. How does that even happen?” Very maternal lol.
They took her over to a warmer to the left of me. I could see her from the table so I kept looking left to see what they were doing. Nav went over to take pictures of her, at my request. Baby girl scored a 9 and a 9 on her APGAR scores and I was so happy and proud. I swear after the baby is out, you don’t even notice what’s going on with the lower half of your body, aside from some occasional pulling or pressure.
I started to feel a pinching or pain in the middle of my upper back. At first I thought it was cause I was straining my neck so far left to see her but then it started to feel like it was near my heart. I told the anesthesiologist about it (she was right by my head the whole time) and she said that can sometimes happen. It’s apparently air bubble related maybe? I can’t remember. She wasn’t worried but she said she could give me something.
I had specifically requested that I not be given anything that would make me woozy or forgetful. They gave me something during my surgery with Ben and I swear, I don’t remember a full two hours after he was born. It just made my brain a complete fog. I didn’t want to forget my first moments with my daughter so I asked that I not get anything like that.
So when I started having this pain they said they could give me a very small dose of something so that hopefully it wouldn’t make me woozy. The pain sort of scared me because it kind of felt like a pinching in my heart so I said yes. I should note too that I was basically shaking the whole time because that’s just a side effect of the spinal, probably combined with the adrenaline from having a major surgery while wide awake plus having a baby.
Whatever they gave me made the pain go away and soon they brought Colette over and tucked her carefully into my tube top for some skin-to-skin. She stayed there for the rest of the surgery.
Even though she was on top of me, from a fully flat position I couldn’t really see her. Nav took a few pictures of us and one of the nurses snapped a family photo (above). I was so happy to see that she had a full head of hair and what I could tell, she looked just like Ben (she totally does).
Once they were done they carefully moved me from the operating table over to the bed from the PACU. They wheeled me into recovery.
My Mom had been with Ben until around 8 and then our friend Christina came over to watch him while my Mom joined us at the hospital. Nav went to get her in the waiting room and she got to come be in recovery with us.
I was in recovery for about an hour and a half, with a nurse checking me every fifteen minutes. I had pressure cuffs on each leg and a blood pressure cuff stayed on my arm. They check your blood pressure every 15 minutes, look at your ankles, and check your bleeding. Colette stayed on my chest the whole time until they moved me to my hospital room.
So everything went exactly as planned! How often can you say that for a birth story? Or even in life?!
It was really wonderful to have a calm birth experience where I could really take everything in. Nothing about it felt like a whirlwind. I got to do all the things I wanted to – skin-to-skin, keep her in our hospital room with us the whole time, and sleep right next to her on her first night of life – all things I missed out on with Ben.
We stayed in the hospital until Monday when we were discharged home on a very rainy day.
We’re so happy with how everything went and that our Coco girl arrived safely. I’m so grateful for the team of doctors and nurses who made the experience so positive for us. Now we’re just home and settling in as a family and enjoying lots of newborn snuggles (and toddler tackles because that’s life with a toddler).