There was nothing spectacular about the way May 13th started out. A normal, run-of-the-mill Thursday morning. My phone rang and it was my OB's nurse, calling to tell me that the earlier I could get to the hospital, the earlier they could start, and that my pre-op appointment was really more of a suggestion. With that in mind, J packed my bags in the car and we left. We waved goodbye to our neighbors as they headed to work. J stopped to get a drink at a gas station. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I walked to the Women's Outpatient Center at the hospital to check in, and was told to wait in the waiting room until they were ready for me. It was so bizarre. Having a baby by schedule. Bringing a life into the world in nice little schedule blocks.
Of course J's mom arrived sometime after anesthesia came to see me, my belly was shaved, and my IV was placed. She knew of the trouble we were having, but hasn't seen me since Christmas. I wondered if she could see on my face the months of struggle and hardship, etched into me like the tiny crinkle of crows' feet that are beginning to emerge. I think she could. She and J, along with E, were buzzing with excitement awaiting Zachary's arrival. But me? I was terrified. I was waiting there, staring at a clock, knowing that they were just waiting for the surgery case in one OR to be completed, and that was all. All of this time, all of the pain, the suffering, the tears...It all boiled down to that. What if he wasn't ready? What if the tests were wrong? What if something went wrong and I did not emerge on the other side to watch my boys grow? I could hold on. I could do it just a little longer. Maybe we should wait. We could wind backward the hands of the clock and I could survive one more day, one more week of monitoring and brethine boluses and contractions. Stop! Just. Wait.
But we weren't waiting. Before I knew it, I was watching J's and E's smiling faces disappear behind double doors that separate the cold sterile world of the OR. And I was sitting hunched over, leaning on a nurse I did not know as the anesthesiologist did my spinal. And I felt the tingle of numbness spreading up from my toes as a team of hands lay me down on the table. This was it. We joked as we waited for the doctors to come in. I remarked that the entire OB practice was going to have a party now that I would no longer be pregnant. And I felt the anesthetic working. How strange to be able to breathe, yet feel as if you are suffocating because you cannot feel your muscles in action. To need to cough and not be able to generate enough force. To only want J, and count down the seconds until they would let him back to the OR, to perch on a stool by my head. They asked if he would pass out, and I told them he would not, that we had done this before, to just keep him from taking pictures of my guts.
And then J was there. And I felt the tugging and pulling. I smelled the burn of my own flesh as they cauterized the bleeding parts of me. With E, I didn't recognize that smell. This time, my experience in medicine told me what it was. And the doctor was commenting on how big the uterus was. And J was saying "there he is". And the doctor said "Hello, Little Guy!".
And I heard it.
The cry that was more like a whimper than the rage that was E's first cry. Already so different from his brother. And my attention was directed to the place over the curtain where his little face appeared. Masses of black brown hair, wet and clumped. Face scrunched up. Mouth agape in a perfect O-shape, showing toothless gums and a quivering tongue as he tried to cry out the fluid that had sustained him all of this time. Zachary. 7 pounds, 4 ounces. 19.5 inches long.