I awoke the morning of February 22nd fully aware and prepared (well...as much as possible) for what the day was to bring. And I did prepare: I had the luxury being able to shower, do my hair and makeup, and finish packing for our hospital stay. It was calm, and besides the packing, more or less like any other morning. From the get-go, this was nothing like two years and two days before, when I spent the night in labor, ended with a c-section, and all after over 24 hours with no sleep. I was rested, ready, and, heck, even clean.
I can't stress enough how calm it all was. I had time to play with Caden and Brooklyn before we left for the hospital at 9:30. We played choo-choos and puzzles, cuddled, and snapped one last photo of us as a family of four before it was time to go. Which Caden and Brooklyn took completely in stride. When I told them that "Mommy and daddy are going to go bye-bye now to go have the baby. We'll see you later!" Brooklyn calmly turned to me, waved, and said, "Bye-bye mommy." (If she only knew...)
Tyson and I drove to the hospital and it was somewhat surreal...yet so ordinary. Driving there in the car felt like any of a million other times we've driven in the car together...and yet - come on - we're going to the hospital to meet out baby! The two just didn't seem to go together.
My family (mom, dad, brother) was already in the waiting area when we arrived, and we chatted for a bit before I checked in. I really can't emphasize how ordinary this all felt. Like it should have felt big and emotional and monumental -today is the day!- but it just didn't. Not yet. And certainly not like the urgency of arriving at the hospital for Caden and Brooklyn's birth.
After signing some paperwork, Tyson came back with me as I was prepped; gowned, given an IV, blood drawn, baby monitored, etc. All this took only about an hour, which meant we had to wait another hour before they were actually ready for my scheduled OR time of noon. Which, to be completely honest, was plain old boring. I didn't have anything to do and so...we waited. My family all came back to say hi one more time, but I basically sat in a tiny room with no windows, hooked up to an IV, in an extremely flattering hospital gown. Just waiting. Again, Caden and Brooklyn's birth was anything but boring.
Then things started happening - really happening. The anticipation began to build. At exactly five minutes to noon, doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, all began entering my room to introduce themselves and let me know what their role would be during the delivery. No sooner did people start coming into my room than they stopped, and it was time. I kissed Tyson good-bye for the moment and walked (Yes walked. It seemed somewhat anticlimactic.) into the OR.
This is where things got really real. I knew that Tyson would be joining me again soon, and everyone on my team was truly wonderful, but there's something about being in a cold OR, up on the table, quite literally bare-assed naked to the world as my epidural was administered, without anyone I knew...it's lonely. I can't say I was scared exactly (it helped having gone through this once before), but anytime I felt anxious I kept thinking, rushing forward, to the moment that Tyson would walk through those doors to join me. I received the epidural, and was splayed with arms wide open across the table as the activity continued. It is sort of nerve-wracking, and yet calming, to observe the activity going on around you, all to bring your baby into the world. Last time, and even more now, I was struck by how formal and disciplined and organized it all was...everyone has their job and their spot to stand and their task to perform at just the right time. The drape was hung...they announced my name and the procedure and some other formalities...my team was getting ready to start...I had a sudden and momentary panic that Tyson wouldn't make it in time (hadn't they left to get him ages ago?), when he walked through the door. I felt calm again.
Calm and nauseous. The nausea hit almost immediately as they, well, cut me open. There's this weird sort of disconnect as you hear a scissors and other instruments going to work, and know full well what is happening...and yet not be able to feel a thing besides some general pulling and tugging.
It was only minutes, but it felt like ages as I lay there waiting for baby's arrival. Finally I knew -this is it! - as there was one last, long, huge tug, and baby was free. "It's a boy!" Tyson announced to me, and despite the mask I knew he had the same wide, crinkle-eyed grin just like when Caden and Brooklyn were born, and baby was no longer an "it" but a he. HE was here, our little Nolan, at 12:25 pm. (Fun fact, the hospital plays a little lullaby stanza whenever a baby is born, so at 12:25 my family heard the lullaby in the lobby and knew that "their" baby had made its appearance.) They held him up over the sheet, pink and wet and wrinkled and crying, so that I could see him - him! - for the very first time. His nose, that cute little scrunched-up prominent nose, and a swath of dark hair make up my very first memory of him.
Tyson, all gowned up, rushed over to the warming table where they cleaned, warmed (that OR was COLD), weighed (6 pounds 14 ounces), measured (20.5 inches long), and swaddled him before placing him in Tyson's arms. (Also: Apgar scores of 8 and 9. #mommybrag.) I didn't take my eyes off of him, even though my neck was cramping as I strained to see Nolan off to my left. My anesthesiologist tried to get me to turn my head to relieve some of the cramping, but I could only last a few seconds before straining to see him again.
At last, though I'm sure it was only minutes, the nurse asked if I wanted to do some skin-to-skin with him. Um...do people actually refuse this?!? They laid him across my chest where he fit and snuggled right in. I know I keep comparing this time to how it was last time, but I didn't get to do this with Caden and Brooklyn, who were immediately rushed to the NICU due to an infection. Nolan and I cuddled while they finished putting me back together, and then we rode up the elevator, to our recovery room, which is also where we spent the rest of our hospital stay.
I got over an hour of Nolan and me time. I didn't know that giving birth could be like this. Last time I was so lonely in recovery...Tyson went to see our babies in the NICU (which I wanted him to do, but didn't mean that I felt any less alone), while I recovered in a room by myself just off the OR. But now...I got to cuddle Nolan to my heart's content, as Tyson was in and out to announce the news to our families. I can't get over how peaceful, how relaxing this time was, despite the lack of feeling in my legs, having fluids pumped into me, tubes and wires snaking their way around my bed, and a nurse hovering nearby to check my vitals every 15 minutes. I didn't get time to just be and appreciate Caden and Brooklyn. I got Nolan all to myself from the start, and I truly did feel more attached to him because of it. I certainly loved Caden and Brooklyn and felt strongly protective of them, but looking back now, after this experience, I didn't quite have a bond with them right away like I felt with Nolan. He was just so fiercely MINE.