I never wanted a c-section with Nash. To me, the thought of surgery was scarier than actual labor. My doctor knew this and made sure there was no other option before she told me we needed to go that route. You can’t help but feel like you failed in some way when you can’t have the vaginal birth you planned. I felt better about needing one when I heard them announce that Nash was 11lbs 1oz. No one gives me a hard time about it. When people ask why I had a c-section and I tell them his weight, they just look at me, gasp, and say, “Thank God!” I was sad knowing I would have another c-section with our rainbow baby. At the same time, I didn’t want to try a vaginal delivery with the higher risks to me and the baby after previously having a c-section. Those are risks I’m not willing to take, being that I already lost one child.
Dr. Hardas delivered Nash; her and the girls at her office are simply amazing. When I was pregnant with Nash, I really built a friendship of sorts with them. We were always joking around as I walked in. They all knew how hard Todd and I struggled to become pregnant and were excited for us when it finally happened. Our doctor was always encouraging and optimistic. She always put me at ease. It was never a question of if I could have kids to her, but when and how it would happen. The day Nash arrived, all the doctors in the hospital were shocked that Dr. Hardas was even delivering him. They asked how we got her to do it. I was so confused, she was my OB, isnt that just how it works? Come to find out, she does limited deliveries now. For some reason, she wanted to deliver Nash. Todd always says with this cocky smile that it’s because she likes him so much. That’s my husband, always throwing in a joke about how he is adorable and loved by the masses. I was touched she felt connected to us and wanted to be there. She made it all so amazing. I made sure at my post delivery checkup to bring the girls in her office cupcakes and thank them all for being so incredible.
Who knew, less than a year later, that I would walk in that same door pregnant again, and after the loss of our miracle baby. I could read it all over their faces. I remember signing in and asking if I had time to go to the bathroom first. The lady looked at me and said, “You can do whatever it is that you want or need to do.” When Dr. Hardas confirmed that I was in fact pregnant, I panicked and asked, “You will deliver him, won’t you?” She got teary eyed and said, “It would be an honor to deliver all your babies.” As I went in for my checkups, they were all so kind, announcing as I walked in the door, “Favorite patient alert!” Not many people are lucky enough to have a connection like this with their doctor. I would consider myself and overly anxious person. I need the extra love to feel comfortable. So when I came in for my checkup two weeks before my c-section was scheduled, imagine my fear when my doctor said she was going on vacation! She kept apologizing, saying she didn’t know what she was thinking. Once she booked her vacation, the girls in her office said, “You do realize Michelle is due then.” She scheduled the c-section for the day she got back. She told me to tell him to stay put until she could be there. Just in case, she wanted me to meet her back up doctor. Let’s just say he wasn’t the same as Dr. Hardas and that I was thankful when he said he was going on vacation as well. This meant that unless the baby held off until the 13th, whoever happened to be at the hospital that day would deliver the baby.
Now, I know a lot of people don’t get their doctor for delivery. It’s scary though, to go in for a major surgery and meet your surgeon that day. Not to mention, our doctor knows our story. She is connected to it, to us, to Nash. I knew that she knew what that moment would be for us. It would be one for her as well. So I prayed our baby boy would hold out until the 13th. It was around 2:00am on the 11th when I started having some mild stomach pain. I wasn’t too concerned. I was induced with Nash and those contractions did not feel like what I was feeling at all. These were easy. I knew it couldn’t be labor. However, it concerned me enough to start googling “signs of labor.” I texted Becca to see if she was awake. Dumb question to ask Becca who had been sleeping with her phone by her head for the last month waiting for this call. I told her I thought I was having contractions but wasn’t sure. She started googling as well. I texted her every time a contraction started and ended. Before I knew it, they were 7 minutes part and we both joked that we were getting up to wash our hair.
When I got in the shower, my contractions went from tolerable to barely being able to stand. I then called the hospital. As I was explaining what was going on, I started to have a contraction. They said, “You need to come in!” Then they asked who my doctor was. I said, “She is on vacation and so is her backup.” Then fear started to grab a hold of me. This baby was coming and I was doctorless. I texted Becca. It was time to wake up Todd. It was crazy because as much pain as I was in, I was also giddy and smiling. I woke Todd saying, “I’m having contractions.” He said, “Okay, wake me when it’s go time.” Then he immediately started snoring. I yelled, “Todd it’s go time!” He got up slowly and asked if I was sure. He then said, “Okay, I’ll get in the shower and feed the dogs.” He was so calm and…SLOW! I texted Becca that I didn’t think he was taking me seriously. By the time he got out of the shower, I was ready to murder him. I told him that the contractions were five minutes apart and if we didn’t leave in the next ten minutes, HE was going to deliver the baby. He started scurrying around. I asked him if I should alert the masses, and he said, “I would wait until we know for sure this is it.” I just stared at him in disbelief.
As we drove to the hospital, I asked him a million times if we were almost there. He would laugh and say no. I said, “Jesus Christ! Lie to me for the love of God!” I kept looking at his speed. He was going 79. I yelled for him to go faster and he said, “This is the fastest speed you can go without getting pulled over.” I glared at him and said,”If you get pulled over we will get a police escort!” As we pulled in to the hospital, I started to get nervous. Who would deliver? I also kept smiling and joking between every contraction and Todd was doing the same. We were cracking the staff up. As I sat in the wheelchair waiting for someone to come get me, Todd started snapping pictures. He would then look and say, “That wasn’t a good one, let’s do another and this time smile.” The girls at the desk were rolling laughing. Finally someone came down to wheel me up to delivery. They put me in a room right away. Everyone was scurrying around talking among themselves about how many deliveries there were and how they were going to do them all. This panicked me. I told them my c-section was scheduled for Monday. They stared at me and asked frantically, “Why are you having a c section?” I explained and they all looked panicked.
A nurse came in, barely introduced herself and said, “The doctors are all too busy so I’ll be checking to see how far you are dilated.” Before I could answer, she was checking. I squeezed Todd’s hand; if he could have read my mind he would have known I was thinking this may be the first time she has ever checked someone. She looked at me and said firmly, “Well you are at five, you are having this baby tonight!” I heard everyone talking in the hall. One nurse said, “We are not going to get her into surgery in time.” Ten minutes later, another lady came in and said she was going to check me. She looked at me with huge eyes and said, “You are at seven. This baby is coming fast!” Then the mean lady from before came in with a catheter. For the love of God what did I do to deserve this? This was something I had been told was one of the the joys of having a scheduled c-section. You could ask for the catheter to be placed once you already had your spinal; that way you didn’t feel anything.
As she walked at me armed with it, I started having a contraction. She coldly said that she would wait until it was over. Then right as I was getting my bearings, she said, “Okay, I need you to get on your back.” Dear God it had to be this lady! I casually asked with a scared smile if I could have it after the spinal. I knew the answer, but it was worth a shot. She chuckled and said that there was no time. Then she inserted it like she was trying to drive it through concrete. I squeezed Todd’s hand. As this was going on, the next nurse walked in with a waiver for me to sign, agreeing to have a vaginal birth if necessary. This is what I had always wanted! Then I thought to myself I’m at seven, no chance of an epidural and my baby could be 13 lbs! I felt queezy. She then went on to explain the risks to baby and me, possible hemorrhaging and even death. She must have noticed my scared face because she quickly said, “That’s the worse case scenario.” Todd said firmly, “I’m not watching her go through 26 hours of labor again to end up having a c-section anyway.” Todd is usually not confrontational. I knew he had to be worried to be so blunt. Everyone was still running around in a panic about all the babies coming at that moment.
A nurse came in with a shot, explaining that it was to slow down my contractions so they would have time to do the other c-section before mine. I thought, “What the hell, is there only one doctor on tonight? Hadn’t his ever happened before?” Then right before they were going to give me the shot, the doctor walked in and said, “Don’t, we are taking her first!” Before I knew it, a nurse yelled for Todd to come with her and they were wheeling me into a room and prepping me for surgery. As I sat up on the gurney for them to do my spinal, people were running, literally running around the room trying to get it ready. They were strategizing out loud about how they were going to get the next room prepped and ready for the other mother. It was like I wasn’t there. I was alone, no Todd, no understanding doctor, no one even noticing me. I was just the mom they had to get through to get to the next. As the anesthesiologist went to give me my spinal, I read his name tag. His name was Steve. I felt like I had to get on some sort of a personal level with someone in that room. I said, “Steve, I’m scared.” He laughed and said, “Me too.” Then he quickly said, “I’m just kidding.” Usually that would have made me laugh but I couldn’t bring myself to at that moment. He asked me to bend forward. I looked around the room searching for anyone. I saw one woman standing alone and said, “Can you please come over here and hold my hand.” She did. Then they all continued to talk about their horrifically busy night.
Once they were finished, they had me lie back down. I lay there as they got the curtain ready. Still no Todd. I needed him. These people didn’t care about me. I needed someone in there who was on my side. Someone who was concentrating on me and our rainbow baby. I then pictured Nash. Praying to him to give me some strength. Reminding myself I wasn’t alone, he was here. I then interrupted everyone’s complaining and said with tears in my eyes, “I just want to warn you all that my husband and I may be very emotional. Our first child died at five-and-a-half months of age and this is our rainbow baby.” I was beyond shocked that they all knew what a rainbow baby was. The room went quiet and the empathy and love grew thick from that point on. I think they may have even forgotten about the next mom because they slowed down dramatically and explained everything. They got Todd right away. As he sat down next to me and put his hand on my forehead, I started to panic. He asked, “How are you doing honey?” I said, “I’m so scared.” He kissed my forehead. The doctor asked how I got Dr. Hardas to deliver my babies. I explained our story as she started surgery. The nurses were all tearing up. The doctor said, “She did an amazing job. You have very little scarring. We will make her proud and try and do the same.” I joked to not leave any gauze or scissors in there and they laughed.
I then asked for Steve. Todd looked at me with a smile behind his mask, like so you are on a first name basis with these people already. Steve came around to face me. I said, “Just checking if you were still there.” I asked if he was a Tigers fan and he said, “I’m actually from Cleveland, I’m an Indians fan.” We had killed them the night before and I said sarcastically, “You had a rough night last night, huh?” He laughed and said, “Yep, probably another bad one tonight.” I kept asking the doctor over and over again how I was doing and how the baby was doing. She always answered sweetly, letting me know that everything was going well. I felt pressure as they laughed and said that he was huge. Then I heard the sweetest sound, his first cry. They put him to the side of the curtain next to Todd, and all I could see was the back of his head. Todd yelled, “He is so tiny!” This must have shocked them, but compared to Nash he did seem small. Then they quickly took him away. I could hear him crying in the other room, and I lost it. Todd put his forehead to mine and I just bawled. It seemed like I was shaking the whole table.
I tried to calm myself down. I don’t know how to explain what I was feeling. Happiness he was okay, sadness for the missing piece. Bonded to Todd in our relief of that moment. Then the nurse grabbed Todd, and I was alone again. Todd didn’t get to be with Nash in the beginning. They just brought him in after he was all cleaned up. With this little guy, it was different. Wherever he went, Todd followed. Todd said he was able to look into a window in the OR door to see me when he got worried about me. It seemed like he was gone forever. I just kept talking to Steve and the doctor. One nurse sat beside me and said, “Tell me more about Nash.” I cried as I explained what happened to him. She got teary eyed herself and said, “You are one strong lady and your new little guy is just beautiful.” Todd said he panicked when he looked at the window to check on me and saw they had taped paper over it. He yelled to the nurse, “Is my wife okay?” She said, “I’m sure she is fine.” Then he asked sternly and panicked for her to check. She did and then waived for Todd to come in.
He sat down beside me with our baby. He put him to my face and I frantically kissed every inch of his face that I possibly could. I cried, remembering the last time I kissed a baby in this way, right before I handed Nash to Todd to put back in his casket for the last time. My heart ached. I was overwhelmed. Todd pulled him far enough from me so that I could get a good look at him. He was his brother in every way, only smaller at 9lbs 8oz. Giant to everyone else, but tiny to us. I smiled at him and said, “Oh Crue, momma loves you.” Then I saw it. The first of many such moments I have seen over this past week. Todd’s gaze at him. There was an undeniable connection. As I kissed Crue, he continued to scream and cry and Todd said, “Hey Crue, Daddy is here.” He opened his eyes searching for Todd and became instantly calm when he met his gaze . Daddy’s boy from the first second.