me and baby Jack in the hospital
Yes, I am well aware this post is about 7 months late. However, I am writing it now for a couple of reasons. First of all, I have always meant to write it down. It is, perhaps,the single most momentous thing that has ever happened to me and I don’t want to forget any of it (even the painful and gross stuff). And second, last night Jack slept for 10 hours straight!!!!!!
My baby boy has been amazing in every way possible, except for sleeping! Up until about 2 weeks ago he had only once “slept through the night” (*side note for those of you who aren’t Mommies yet, “through the night” means 6 hours or more, but since Jack goes to bed several hours before me, that does not mean I slept through the night.) Until about 31 weeks, Jack regularly woke up every 2 to 3 hours and the only way to calm him and put him back to sleep was to nurse. To be fair, I may bear some of the blame for enabling this behavior. However, since sleep deprivation is a form of torture, I don’t feel I can be held responsible for choices made in the middle of the night accompanied by the sounds of a screaming infant! That means that for at least 7 months, I never slept more than a 3-4 hour stretch (usually more like 1-3 hour stretches!) Needless to say, this 10 hour stretch of sleep is a literal miracle that has allowed me a new level of energy and clarity. Therefore I no longer have any reason to but this off, so here goes.
As I have previously mentioned, Jack was breech, frank breech to be exact (completely folded in half with head and feet pointing up and butt pointing down.) Now that I know the kid, I am convinced he was simply too stubborn to flip. After all, he was perfectly comfortable and who wants to stand on their head for a month anyway? Anyway, because he was breech, I knew I had to have a C-section. After some considerable frustration with my OBGYN (that is the stuff of an upcoming post) we agreed to schedule my cesarean for my due date, September 5th.
The morning of August 26th, I visited the hospital for a scheduled sonogram and we confirmed he was, indeed, still breech and approximately 7lbs 5oz. This was a Tuesday and although I had been having pretty strong Braxton Hicks contractions for the last week or so, I was not in labor and still over a week away from my due date. I made an appointment for a sonogram the following week and headed home.
I had been stockpiling frozen meals, and that night I cooked the last one on my list, a giant pot of my Mom’s famous spaghetti bolognese. After a healthy serving, Nick and I settled in for an evening relaxing on the couch and catching up on TiVo. Around 9:30 I started to feel pretty uncomfortable. At first I chalked it up to overeating and a touch of gas. However within a few minutes we were discussing heading to the hospital. Since we knew I was having a C section, we figured we probably didn’t need to wait but we weren’t sure. We tried calling my Dr. ( we got the answering service and no call back.) At this point the contractions were about 8 minutes apart, and uncomfortable but manageable. In the meantime I French braided the front of my hair, and I must say this was one of my better ideas! Childbirth, whether natural or cesarean, is a sweaty, messy process, and you are not likely to be up for a proper shower for at least a day or two. In the meantime, it is practically guaranteed there will be photos taken. A little French braiding can minimize the sweaty, tangled fallout! Then, I passed my mucus plug (BTW ladies, although this was not at all what I envisioned, it was both a little gross and EXACTLY what the name suggests. You will totally know it when you see it.) Anyway, at this point we decided it was time to go. We grabbed our pre-packed bags and headed downstairs to hail a cab.
I remember sitting in the cab as we drove up the FDR towards Lenox Hill Hospital, staring at the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building all lit up, and thinking how very lucky I was. Such an iconic moment in my life punctuated by such an iconic view. I also remember thinking it hurts to go over a bump while you were having a contraction, and that my poor cabbie seemed a little flustered by the woman in labor in his back seat!
By the time we got to the hospital it was 10:30 and my contractions were about 5 minutes apart. After waiting for less than 5 minutes, a nurse ushered me into triage for assessment. Before I had a chance to change into a hospital gown, my water preceded to break, all over the floor, like a scene from a Hollywood film! As the nurse put it, “I guess we’ll be admitting you then!” Nick was sent downstairs to check me in, my Dr was called, and the attending physician arrived to do my assessment.
By this point the contractions were becoming painful (laying on your back while contracting is the worst, but since I was being prepped for surgery I had no choice, and my thighs were literally shaking with exhaustion from squeezing my butt off the bed with every contraction) and I was told I was already 1 centimeter dilated. Interesting, but irrelevant since I would be having an emergency C section. The Dr and the anesthesiologist arrived and I was prepped for surgery.
Due to my recent large meal, i heard the anesthesiologist suggest waiting to do the surgery. However, by this point my contractions were about 2 minutes apart, it felt like someone was grabbing the base of my spine and my intestines and twisting from the inside, and I was starting to feel pressure. My Dr took one look at me and pronounced this baby was coming, no time to wait. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed holding the attending physicians hands and waiting to receive the spinal block, when a particularly strong contraction hit and I leaned to the side to try and mitigate the pain. My oh-so-helpful anesthesiologist chose this moment to remind me if I would “just sit still he would give me the anesthesia and it would stop hurting.” Thanks for the advice dude!
Once the spinal block had taken effect (I remember feeling very disconcerted that I could not feel or wiggle my toes), the surgery prep kicked into high gear. This part is all a bit mushy for me, but I remember the sheet going up, shower cap being placed on my head, and my husband (now in scrubs) finally being allowed in to sit next to me at the head of the bed. I think it was at this point that he was struck by how “serious ” of a surgery this is. It was certainly an overwhelming moment and although I was grateful to be free of the painful contractions, time seemed to be moving incredibly slowly and all I wanted to was to meet our baby boy.
I remember holding Nick’s hand and listening to the Dr and the attending discussing the procedure from behind the sheet. Although I could not feel any pain, I was aware that they were making the incisions. Then suddenly there it was, the most beautiful sound in the world. My healthy baby boy’s first screams! And boy did he scream! Jack Emerson Tzineff was officially born at 12:57am on August 27, 2014, weighing 7.1 lbs and almost 20 in long.
Because we couldn’t see anything beyond the sheet, that sound was was music to our ears. While the nurses did their tests on baby Jack, the Drs were busy stitching me up. Although there were no serious complications, in order to stop my bleeding they didn’t employ several sponges. This was probably the worst part for me. Although I couldn’t feel pain, I could feel pressure of two grown men pressing down on my abdomen with all their strength , and I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable. At some point, an overly enthusiatic anesthesiologist decided (without consulting me) to start a morphine drip. The second it hit my blood stream, I yelled at her to stop! My newborn baby was on the other side of the curtain and I’d be damned if I was too doped up to meet him!!
FINALLY the nurses handed our screaming newborn over to Nick and the sweetest thing happened. The moment he was safe in his Daddy’s arms, he stopped crying! Though I couldn’t hold him yet, I was able to kiss my beautiful baby boy for the first time.
The next few hours passed in alternating periods of far too fast and far to slow. Although we had requested not to be separated from our newborn, it was decided that the recovery room was too cold (I needed extra blankets) and Jack was taken to the warmer in the nursery. As I recall a couple of hours passed between his birth and my first skin to skin contact. But Jack was happy and alert and immediately latched on to nurse.
Although I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach by a horse, I wasn’t allowed to eat anything but clear liquids for two days and I don’t think I slept for longer (like all new mommies I was too busy watching Jack breath to actually sleep), I felt incredibly happy and lucky! Although I was unable to have the natural childbirth I had hoped for, since Jack decided to come early, I was able to provide him some of the benefits of natural labor and avoid a scheduled C section. And most importantly, the surgery went well with no complications and he is a perfect, healthy, happy baby!!