We checked in and made our way to Labor and Delivery. After an outfit change, I got into a cozy bed where sweet nurses covered my legs with warm sheets and encouraged my focus towards our daughter’s birthday. Luke sat by my side, calming my anxiety about the surgery. Our doula arrived with a comforting smile. We discussed the upcoming events as the nurses began to swirl about to place my IV. Unfortunately, my veins presented a challenge that took the efforts of two nurses and one supervisor—resulting in three needles (for someone who is not a fan of needles). My insides were churning. Was this a foreshadowing of what I could expect? Fortunately, Luke and Jenny (our doula) were optimistic and drew my attention to the positive as preparations took place. I noticed that our pediatrician arrived, which brightened my mood. (He would get to see our baby on her birthday! We love our pediatrician.) I noticed hospital staff arrive and began to prepare for the cesarean. One of the many kind nurses informed me that the anesthesiologist would soon be in to discuss the cesarean. Before I knew it, a kind man came and sat on my bed to explain some of what would take place. His warmth and confidence were reassuring.
Shortly thereafter, it was time to go and I was to be moved. A small team wheeled me down hallways, past friendly hospital staff sending well wishes.
When it came time to part with Luke and Jenny, my eyes welled up and the fear and anxiety bubbled to the surface. Leaving Luke felt unbearable. He read my face and looked equally sad. He told me he loved me and added that he would see me very soon. I tried to breathe, and my tears seemed to dissolve. I entered the operating room and became immersed in my interactions with my anesthesiologist and supporting nurse. The anesthesiologist began to ask me questions, and they helped guide me through the process of receiving my spinal. He asked about how we chose to come to French Hospital. I told him that I learned through my lactation educator-counselor training about how French Hospital had the lowest cesarean rate in the area. The three of us laughed. When he was done, I happily informed him that it was not as bad as I thought it would be. He laughed and said that is what he aims for. They swiftly laid me down as my legs began to tingle. Many people had joined us in the room. I became amused remembering a former conversation Luke and I had with Jenny about modesty. She asked how I might feel about being somewhat exposed around others. I assured her I would likely want to be covered to feel secure. Here I was: legs splayed in an operating room with plenty of people swirling about. However, the current situation didn’t bother me. I quickly gathered that these people were doing their job and were entirely respectful. I caught snippets of conversation as some of the OR staff discussed my case. I heard them confirming our daughter’s breech position. Later, I learned that the chats may have stemmed from my being a first-time mom with a scheduled cesarean. (It’s not typical unless there is something such as a breech position present.) Our doctor arrived and thanked me for the truffles we brought him and the OR staff. (We had planned on treating the midwife and birth staff, so why not treat the doctor and OR team?)
As the OR staff began to swirl around, my legs felt completely numb. I could feel my chest rising and falling. I was not scared that I wasn’t breathing, as I was told I might be. The anesthesiologist asked that Luke and Jenny be brought into the room. I was glad to see Luke and Jenny arrive - and they came to my side after turning on some music nearby. I quickly understood that the procedure was imminent. The hospital staff scurried about and a large sheet had been elevated just below my bust. Staff chatted and began a synchronized dance as Luke sat beside me. “How are you?” Luke asked, “What does this feel like?” I paused and examined my feelings and bodily sensations. “I’m doing well,” I replied. “I just feel… tugging. It feels strange!” I felt pressure near one of my ribs that often caused me discomfort during pregnancy. (I realized later that this is where Norah’s head rubbed.) There was pulling and more pulling. I heard the doctor confirm her breech positioning yet again. “It’s a girl! She’s beautiful!” The doctor exclaimed.
We overheard heard a technical term for her cord being wrapped twice around her body. “You’re born, Sweetheart!” our doctor said. Jenny was snapping pictures and assured me she would show me as soon as she could. Norah needed to be “reminded” that she was born so she was placed in a little area and rubbed as her color improved and her cry filled the room. “Ooh, she’s mad! You tell ‘em, girl,” our doctor said.
I watched as Luke stood by our daughter’s side and Jenny showed me pictures of our sweet girl. Jenny and I discussed her Apgar and how it was high. She was placed on my chest, very close to my face.
“Hi!” I said. (What do you say to your new human?!) I touched her face and her hands as she stared at me, wide-eyed. I had no idea babies born via cesarean could be so present. I was elated that I felt so present, with hands helping to hold our little Norah in place on my bare chest. I soaked up everything: the buzz around us, her waved hair, the vernix on her face, and her large, deep eyes. Jenny asked a nurse nearby if we could feed her yet, but we were told that they were just finishing mending me; we learned we would be moved very soon, where I could breastfeed our little one for the first time. Luke, Jenny, and I stared at Norah and chatted as they finished up. She blinked and stared right back. As she cried, I placed a finger in her mouth to temporarily pacify her.
As we prepared to leave the room, I thanked the anesthesiologist and the nurse who were by my side through the process. They chatted with me and carefully transferred me to a mobile bed. I was so thankful for this team who extended such great care and exuded warmth towards me and my new little family. As I passed back through the same hall I entered, hospital staff wished me congratulations and complimented us on our beautiful girl. I beamed and tried to absorb the moment. We arrived in a recovery room where we were greeted by more friendly nurses. I breathed a sigh of relief as I held our baby in my arms. She was here at last!
The procedure that evoked such great anxiety was now over. The best part was that it was far from terrifying. The staff was pleasant and positive. The procedure itself was almost seamless and far from painful. (Everything was the exact opposite of what I expected.) We were supported as I fed Norah for the first time. She began to nurse right away, and I was surprised again at her responsiveness and powerful little presence. I felt overwhelmed and elated to be a mother.
The duration of our stay at the hospital was equally as awe-inspiring as the birth itself. We spent time with family, bonded with the nurses, and became acquainted with our fiery little Norah. Our time was drenched in sweetness—having Luke by my side, making progress after surgery, and catching naps with our little peanut in my arms. My birth was not what I first imagined it would be, and yet it happened exactly the way it needed to in order to keep our girl safe. We realized that the cord wrapped around Norah likely blocked our attempts to encourage her to turn. If we tried to have Norah vaginally, we would have likely experienced an emergency cesarean. I was overwhelmed by God’s grace and presence throughout Norah’s birth and the surrounding events. Sometimes we attempt to write our own stories, without the foreknowledge and clarity needed to do such things. I am continually flooded with gratitude that God was in control and knew exactly how our Norah Blythe needed to enter this world.