They tell you the chances of your water breaking in public are really very low. Mine broke in the grocery store last Monday, while I was shopping by myself. It wasn’t so dramatic like in the movies. In fact, I wasn’t even sure that’s what had happened, or if I was just experiencing some other fun perk of pregnancy. So what did I do? I had a cart full of groceries…should I just leave it there and run to the bathroom? Continue shopping? I did the best thing I could think of: pretend like nothing was happening, get the last few items on my list, and bolt home ASAP. (Toby still thinks it’s funny that my water breaks and my response is to finish shopping.)
I went home and we called the doctor to see whether he thought it was my water breaking and find out what we should do. They told us to come in right away. So we grabbed our things, me fairly half-heartedly because I wasn’t convinced my water had broken and thinking the hospital would just send us back home. We arrived, and in a flurry of half-coherent Thai I tried to explain again what happened. Things got kicked into high gear and I was admitted into a delivery room before I’d even seen the doctor. After a while, it dawned on me that somehow the nurses had gotten the impression that I had fallen, so I had to try to make it clear I hadn’t.
Then I did meet with the doctor and he confirmed my water had broken and said he wanted to induce labor because there was a very short window before there would be risk of infection. Thus began a very long night.
We induced at 5:30ish in the evening, and I was at 2 cm dilation. Fifteen hours later, after contractions that were about 2 minutes apart and increasingly intense, I was still at 2 cm dilation. I was experiencing all the symptoms of advancing labor, but the baby was not moving down at all. At this point, the doctor said I had two choices: I could go to a c-section right away, or I could try for a maximum of 5 more hours and if nothing happened, go to a c-section. I did not think I would suddenly go from 2 cm to 10 in 5 hours if I couldn’t budge a centimeter in 15. I opted for the cesarean right away.
It all happened very quickly from there. It was a bit terrifying when they gave me the epidural and suddenly everything from the waist down went totally numb. But the whole procedure went very fast, and suddenly there was the sound of Cy’s first cries. They cleaned him up in mere minutes, and brought him to me, where I covered his face in his first kisses. Then they took him away and knocked me out to finish the surgery.
After a couple of hours in recovery, they brought me to my room, where my little man was waiting for me.
Cy was born on Tuesday and we stayed in the hospital until Friday. Those days are already a bit of a blur for me (probably thanks to the pain meds), but from start to finish, I received round-the-clock amazing care, with my every wish or need met within minutes and regular checkups on me and Cy by a team of nurses, my doctor, Cy’s pediatrician, lactation specialists, and nursery attendants. When my doctor checked on me, he told us that it was really very good that we did the cesarean because it turns out the umbilical cord was tangled up in a big knot (from all Cy’s busy activity in the womb). If we had proceeded with a vaginal delivery, it would have cut off the flow of oxygen to the baby, so we’re really very relieved at how things went.
Since coming home, I’ve been in a trance of utter amazement and suffusion of love for this little critter, mixed with a sense of being overwhelmed at the task of being responsible for his care, and terror that something bad might happen to him. I tell myself I just need to get past the first couple of weeks, the first month, etc. but then I think maybe this is motherhood after all: love, amazement, hugeness, and terror, and it doesn’t go away so much as one just gets more used to it.
The weekend was rough with trying to care for him while I’m still recovering from the surgery. While I could walk the day after, changing positions in any way was quite painful. But I have an amazing husband who has been cheerfully and stalwartly juggling taking care of me and taking care of Cy, and amazing parents who have been helping with food and laundry and taking care of paperwork, so that mostly I could just focus on nursing Cy and helping myself heal. Truthfully, the hardest part was not the pain so much as being unable to help Toby, relying on him so much for even things like turning over in bed. Or when the pain gets in the way of me being able to lie on my side to nurse Cy (which is both of our favorite nursing positions).
But, all that is relatively short-lived. I’m feeling much better now, and I do heal a bit more every day.
So now my focus is on the little things: like how Cy’s eyes are this dark blue-grey color and I wonder if they’ll change and how, or the tints of ash-blonde and copper in his brown hair, or the way his little mouth moves and his forehead scrunches up when he nurses. Things like how sweet and soft he smells, or how enthralled he gets when you play a little music (we’re starting him on The Beatles and Dave Matthews Band), and how after trying to poo, he takes a big yawn like wow that was hard work. Things like his whimpers and his sighs.
The little things. They’re the things that matter.