Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Notes from the NICU: Emergency C-Section

The day that would become Baby M’s birthday, I woke up feeling great and had a big breakfast. Shortly thereafter I began bleeding very heavily again. The nurses put me back on continuous fetal monitoring and it was apparent that the baby was not doing as well as she had been. Her heart rate was erratic – faster than it had been, and then suddenly it would drop by half. The nurses told me to call Peanut and have him come be with me at the hospital, and they called my doctor. They also took away my water pitcher and made me “NPO” – nothing by mouth – in case of surgery. I was not allowed to get out of bed for any reason. The baby’s heart beat kept getting more and more erratic until my doctor said, “we have to do a c-section NOW”.

An emergency c-section was my worst nightmare. I lost a friend only last year when she hemorrhaged after an emergency c-section. I kept thinking, “this cannot be happening to me. This isn’t fair, it’s my worst fear, you’re never supposed to have to face your worst fear. My baby is going to die, and I am going to die, and Peanut is going to be left all alone.”

Suddenly things started happening REALLY fast. About twenty people materialized in the room. The nurses put an oxygen mask over my face to try to get more oxygen to the baby. Someone tried three times to get an IV started, which resulted in a bruise that extended from my wrist to my elbow and took eight weeks to heal. Someone else undressed me and shaved my lower abdomen. Someone took Peanut aside to fill out paperwork. A gurney was brought in and I must have climbed into it and then we were running through the hallways and people were flattening themselves up against the walls and clearing out of elevators to let us through.

They wheeled us into the operating room, and I wish I could say that my memory of this was hazy but I remember Every. Freaking. Detail. I remember the smell of my fear and of the alcohol wipes. I remember seeing my office doctor done up in surgical scrubs and face mask like it was Halloween. I remember the pink bandana that the anesthesiology assistant wore and the hooting noises I made as they administered the spinal. I remember the eerie silence of the time-out as they announced my name and the reason for the surgery and everyone agreed. I remember the random things I kept talking about because I was so nervous and if my mouth ran, my mind wouldn’t, and I remember Peanut being right next to my head. I remember the tugging and pressure as they opened my abdomen and then my uterus.

And then I remember hearing the tiniest cries in the world.

To be continued…


  1. I'm so glad you've been writing these. They're hard to read, so they must be hard to write. But I appreciate your openness so much!

    1. They were hard to write, but they were also very cathartic. Writing about it has helped me come to terms with what happened.

  2. How terrifying. I guess it's merciful you didn't know it was coming and that it went relatively fast.

    1. That was SUCH a mercy. I only had about two hours to be absolutely terrified and then it was all over.


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