I ask Regina what’s wrong. Something is wrong, or there wouldn’t be an oxygen mask, right? She tells me to stay calm, that they aren’t worried yet (YET?), but that the baby is having some distress. We’re all wide awake now, and there’s a new kind of crackle in the air. Shit is about to go down. The doctor comes in to check out the scene (as it were) and talk to me about what’s going on. The hard truth is this: for some reason, my body is not doing this on its own. The Pitocin is causing contractions, but every time I have one, the baby’s heart rate drops dramatically. As soon as they try taking me off it, the contractions stop and I don’t progress. Bear in mind, I am already two weeks past my due date. There isn’t a lot more time. Going in, I hadn’t wanted a c-section, and they know this. The doctor says there are a couple of things we can try if we monitor him really carefully, but at this point I don’t care anymore. I used to joke that my birth plan was “everyone makes it out alive.” So I look at C, look at my mom, and decide. Let’s DO this thing–cut me open and give me my baby.
For the past day and a half, I’ve been in a warm, quiet, mellow room, nurses floating in and out and machines whirring softly. As soon as the phrase “c-section” is out there, it’s a full-on Broadway musical, like they’ve all been waiting behind the door with canes and straw hats. Suddenly there are at least five (and what feels like 50) additional people in the room; lights are bright, people are talking over each other at me, and everything is moving really fast. There will be more medicine; I can only have one other person in the room with me. My mom goes out to call the family and tell them what’s happening, and C gets suited up. I am hoisted up onto a gurney (no small task, given the size of me at this point) and wheeled into an operating room. I remember thinking that it looks just like they look on tv, with the big bright lights and everything shiny and gray-blue.
The sheet goes up, the drugs go in, and I start shaking like a motherfucker (motherfuckers shake. Like, a lot). I am scared, I am drugged, I am unprepared, and I do NOT take it well. The doctor tells C that I am shaking too hard for them to cut, and I have to calm down somehow. Turns out I DO get to use that Lamaze breathing after all! C talks me through it, his head right next to mine, and we manage to turn it down enough for them to start. I’m told that I will “feel some tugging,” but what I feel is A HUMAN PERSON BEING PULLED OUT OF MY BODY. I am positive it isn’t as bad as natural delivery, but I bet it’s just as surreal. I learn later that they actually take your organs out, pile them on top of your body, take out the baby, and layer everything back in. Holy sci-fi.
After that it’s like the movies again. They hold him up, bloody and wet and curly-headed. He screams, they bring him right up to my face to kiss. I think I remember it; I hope I do. Then they ask C if he wants to stay with me while they sew me up or go with N, clean and swaddled and no doubt wondering what fresh hell this is. I imagine this was one of the harder decisions of C’s life, but at my urging, he goes with the baby through the double doors and into the arms of our waiting family.
This was the most terrifying half hour of my life, but it was just that. Half an hour. And in the end, thank my lucky stars, we all got out alive.