Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday Sophia!

The birthday girl, holding her nephew Noel (23 months old) at her birthday party!
And in honor of her birthday, here is Sophia's birth story!

It is with the greatest joy we welcome our newest daughter into our family:
Sophia Zevin
Arrived on June 20, 2002
At 2:29 PM by planned c-section
Weighing 10 lb. 5 oz
Measuring 21 1/2 inches long
Head circumference: 14 inches

Here is an account of the hours before and the 24 hours following the arrival of my newest daughter. When we found out that she would have to be delivered by c-section I searched the web and all I could find was birth stories from women who were either upset with their cesarean experience or who had been unprepared for having a c-section. I wanted to share my account, hoping that it is as honest as possible. For us the most important thing was insuring the safe arrival of our daughter and I am not disappointed that it took a c-section to give us that outcome.

I couldn't sleep at all the night before the scheduled c-section. Every time I would drift into that state of semi-sleep where you are half asleep but still awake I would have vivid hallucinations about the delivery and everything going wrong. The fears that I had harbored my whole pregnancy, that we would get to the very end and lose this baby filled every recess of my mind. I tossed and turned so much that when I finally pulled myself out of bed Thursday morning, I felt like I imagine a marathon runner must feel like after a race. Note to self: If we every plan to have another baby delivered surgically, ask doctor for drugs to help me sleep the night before.

Spend the early hours of Thursday morning doing 2 loads of laundry and cleaning up the kitchen. The kitchen was barely half done when I realized I had to get the kids to my friend Michelle's house. Of course as ran around like a frantic nauseated chicken with my head cut off, Jay leisurely enjoyed a shower and the morning paper. I dropped the kids off and kissed and hugged everyone. Got weepy at the thought that it was the last time I would kids Cade when his the baby of the family. Drive back home, radio blaring to keep from completely losing it. Jay has the bags ready to go in the minivan when I get home. I don't think we said a word to each other on the ride down to the hospital. Neither of us is doing well with the reality of the surgery looming over us. We arrive up in Labor and Delivery at 9:55 AM, five minutes ahead of schedule. We get some bad news. One of the 2 operating rooms is down so now the 6 c-sections that they have scheduled will have to run concurrently instead of simultaneously. We are shown to our room, and told we will either be taken back earlier than expected or up to 3 hours later than scheduled. Bet you know which one happened! By 1:15 no one had even been in to tell when we would go back. But then all of a sudden, things began to happen in a flurry.

Mike, the anesthesia guy, comes in and explains our anesthesia options. I tell him I would prefer to go with what Dr., S prefers. Mike replies that Dr. S prefers spinals so he discusses the procedure with me and he mentions
that I have a 3% chance of developing a spinal headache because of the anesthesia. He mentions that they will give me duramorph after surgery and that is MIGHT make my skin itch. He then asks me if I have any questions.
No questions, lets just get this show on the road.

Nurse Kathy comes in and has me drink an antacid to help neutralize my stomach acids. It tastes like sour sweet tarts crushed up in lukewarm water. YUCK! Next she inserts the IV in my left forearm, honestly she did
the best job of any nurse who had ever put an IV in me. She managed to do it on the first try and it didn't hurt at all, she even positioned it so it was COMFORTABLE when I moved my arm. IV in place, she proceeds to shave my abdomen and the upper section of my pubic hair. Talk about a WEIRD sensation. Baby moving, contractions, and a woman you barely know whipping a very sharp razor over your abdomen. Note to self: If we ever do this
again, arrange for a bikini wax the day before. Once she is done shaving my abdomen, she gives Jay paper shoes and a paper hat to wear into the OR, I am also graced with a BEAUTIFUL paper hat to wear during the surgery.

They wheel me down to the OR right in the bed that I have been sitting in since 10 AM. I am a bit surprised when they don't make me change into a sterile gown, and even more surprised when they take the pillow off of my
bed with me into the OR. Jay is whisked away to scrub up and be prepped to watch the surgery. I wish I had had someone take a picture of him in his surgical garb!

The moment of truth is upon me. I am taken into OR. The room is WAY SMALLER than I had imagined. In the middle of the room is a single table with 2 outstretched arm rests. I can't help it, the first image that pops
in to my head is the table that they use for lethal injections in death penalty cases. I feel a wave of panic come over me. If I had thought my legs would have worked, I probably would have bolted from the room at that
point. Mike tells me to sit on the table, lean forward and RELAX-yeah
right, I am going to relax and lean forward over this massive huge belly of
mine. He pokes around on my back a bit, I get more and more apprehensive,
anticipating what it to come next. He scrubs my back with something COLD
and SCRATCHY. He tells me I will feel some pressure as he injects a numbing
agent and I just about BOLT out of my skin, he promises the worst part is
over. Turns out he was wrong. He can't get the needle into the spinal
space he was hoping for so he has to move further up my back and do the
whole thing over again. It wasn't as bad this time, partly because I knew
what to expect and partly because I was a little numb from the first round.
He gets the spinal administered and tells me to QUICKLY swing my legs up
onto the table before they get too heavy for me to move them. I made some
crack about them always being too heavy for me to move them. He wasn't
exaggerating though, my legs were numb and dead weight within a couple of
minutes. Although it seemed to take forever, the whole spinal procedure had
taken less than 10 minutes.

Spinal administered and me numb, except for the fact that I could wiggle my
toes (very odd, even according to Mike) the nurse inserts the foley
catheter. I will say it is a totally ODD sensation to know someone is down
between your legs in your genitals and you can't feel them. One of the
nurses in the OR is busy counting instruments and another nurse is checking
them off as she counts. Probably a good idea so they don't lose any of them
inside me. I think in this day and age I would have a hard time convincing
airport security that my doctor had accidentally left a retractor inside of

Jay and Dr. S enter the OR. Jay looks pale and disoriented. I am a bit
nervous he may pass out. The nurses position him on a stool right by my
head. Jay keeps asking Mike why I am not asleep. Mike re-explains to him
the spinal and the fact that I will be awake for the whole surgery. More
color drains from his face. I am thinking I should have done a better job
preparing him for the c-section. I thought that since he had talked to some
any people whose wives had had c-sections that he understood I would be

Before they make the first incision, Mike does a pain test to see if I can
feel him pricking at my skin with a sharp point. It is really weird to know
he is touching me but I can't feel it. I am completely numb from about 2
inches below my sage breasts to my toes. Dr. S takes a pen and draws a
line to guide his first incision. Time of first incision, 2:02 PM. The
weird thing is once the surgery is underway the mood in the room becomes
more relaxed, although Dr. S makes a couple comments in a hushed tone that
make me worry a bit. Either time is standing still or this whole thing is
taking much longer than I had thought it would. Everything I had read on
the web or in books had said from the start of surgery (first incision) to
birth was less than 10 minutes. Probably a good thing that I can't see the
clock or I would be freaking out. I feel absolutely no pain as he slices
layer though layer, but merely this odd sensation that I can only describe
like this. Imagine yourself on a ride at the amusement park. You are
wearing a blindfold so you can't see what is ahead of you, but you can feel
the sensation of movement and occasionally even a moment where you feel
nauseated, like your stomach dropped after going down that big hill on a
roller coaster. You feel some rocking and rolling from side to side. For
brief seconds the movements seem overwhelming, but a deep breath and you
feel settled again. I comment to Mike that I feel like I am on an amusement
park ride and he laughs, saying he bets I wouldn't buy a season pass to this
amusement park. I comment back that I know I will like the prize at the end
of this ride much better than some giant stuffed Tweety Bird I could win at
our local amusement park.

Again I feel waves of movement, then I hear what sounds like a cry. I say
"Is that my baby?" by the time I have the question out, the answer is clear.
Lusty cries fill the OR and Dr. S announces "It's a GIRL!" and then he adds
" A BIG GIRL!". As they hold her, covered in vernix and blood right next to
my face for me to see for the first time, Jay and I look at each other and
almost simultaneously exclaim "She has hair. She has DARK hair!" One of
the peds asked why we said that and Jay told her that our others were BLONDE
and BALD! Time of birth is recorded at 2:29 PM, a whole 27 minutes after
the first incision.

The pediatricians access the baby right by my head, so I can see the whole
thing. Our little girl scores a 9 on her 1 minute apgar and a 10 on her 5
minute apgar (it isn't until the next day that I realize how impressive this
is, when a nurse who had been at that hospital for years tell me she has
seen only one other baby given a 10). They clean her up a bit and the
moment of truth is upon us. They put her on the scale. The scale was
directly behind me, so I couldn't see it, but I could hear everything they
were saying. Everyone kept saying how BIG she was, but I think everyone was
shocked when they clicked to convert the 4666 grams to pounds and a WHOOPING
10 lb. 5 oz came up on the display. She bet her big sister by a matter of
ounces! Once she is weighed she is wrapped up and Jay sits and holds her
right by my right arm during the rest of the surgery. I almost have to
laugh at the irony that our "surgical" birth has ended up with the least
amount of intervention and no separation from our baby.

The exciting part of the surgery over, they begin the repair and suturing.
Dr. S asks us what the baby's name is. The moment of truth, Jay and I both
say DIFFERENT names and then admit to everyone in the room that we haven't
even DISCUSSED names. We tell them the only thing we know for sure is her
middle name will start with a "z". After finding out the other kids middle
names (Zachery, Zoe, Zara, Zane, Zaren, Zavier) everyone starts throwing
out "z" names. I think the best one had to be Dr. S suggestion of Zeppo.
After exhausting the "z" names the room starts suggesting first names. It
quickly becomes apparent that Mike and Jay must have watched every one of
the same sitcoms over the past 20 years. Names like Ginger (Gilligan's
Island), Marsha (Brady Bunch), Uma and Mulva (Seinfield episodes) are
amongst the most memorable they suggested. Dr. S gets paged and says that
an emergency has come up and asks if I mind if the attending doctor finishes
closing me, he is up to the top layer. I say that is fine and he leaves the
OR. I tell the doctor doing the suturing, to make sure that all my stretch
marks get lined back up. The room explodes in laughter! Apparently I
lucked out that the person doing the closing liked suturing and opted to
close with disposable sutures covered with steristrips rather than staples,
which means I wouldn't have to have ANYTHING removed!

Once I am sewn back together, the remove all the draping and sterile
dressings and prepare to move us back to the room. They wheel the bed I
rode down to the OR in right back into the OR and transfer me into it. It
kind of freaks me out a bit that they wheel the bed right through the blood
on the floor and then right out the hallway and back to the room. The
hospital is set up that you go immediately from surgery back to your
postpartum room and they send a nurse with you. She is required to sit with
you for an entire hour. Once we get back to the room, I am hooked up to a
heart monitor, pulse oximeter, a blood pressure cuff and my catheter and IV
are both still in. As soon as I am hooked up to everything, the nurse puts
the baby in my arms, she is barely an hour old at this point. Never again
is the baby out of my sight. The nurse helps me position her to nurse and
since I am still numb from the spinal, I feel no pain.

Once she finishes nursing, the nurse says they have orders from my
pediatrician to test her bloodsugars. If her level is below 40 they will
need to test it 4 more times and have it register above 40 before they
consider her to be in the clear. With her bassinet right by my bed, my hand
patting her tummy, they draw the first level. Unfortunately it comes back
36, too low for the healthy baby standard. The nurse standing there
suggests that we supplement her with one ounce of formula to rapidly bring
her sugar up. She says chances are since I haven't eaten in 18 hours my own
blood sugar is so low that I won't be able to bring it up on my own.
Knowing I didn't want her to be supplemented or given a bottle (great thing
about being at a hospital that doesn't promote formula or give out samples
is they are very supportive of breastfeeding moms) the nurse suggests giving
her the supplement from a cup. I had serious doubts that a baby less than 2
hours old could drink from a cup and was utterly AMAZED to watch my
daughter drink down an ounce of formula with only one drop rolling off her
fat little chin. As much as I hate formula, it brought her blood sugar up
to 46 the next time they checked it. After that we just relied on her
nursing to keep it up and she did!

About 7 PM Mike (the anesthesia guy) came in and removed the heart monitor.
I was told everything else would remain in place until about 8 AM the
following morning. Of course that meant I would be stuck in bed ALL NIGHT!
The scary thing was that I was left alone in my room with my baby. Jay went
home to take care of the other kids so the baby and I were solo with me
drugged up the first night. The nurses were wonderful, anytime I rang they
were right there to change her and hand her to me. I spent most of that
night hold her, smelling her, nursing her and fading on and off into sleep.
Although I wasn't allowed anything solid to eat, I was given all the juice,
ice and lemon frozen ice that I wanted through the night. The duramorph
really made my skin ITCH, but an unbearable itch but more an annoying itch,
like when you have a bug bite. The percocet they gave me made me have hot
flashes and made me sleepy, but it took the edge of the pain. Worse than my
incision pain was the aftercramps, full blown gut tighten cramps every time
baby nursed. 800 mg of motrin barely touched that pain. Every time I would
drift off to sleep I would kick of the pulse oximeter and make the alarm go
off. Finally the nurse agrees around 5 AM to remove the pulse oximeter.
What a relief to be able to move my foot without setting off an alarm!

About 6 AM the nurse helps me out of bed for the first time since the
surgery. Even with the IV still attached and the catheter still in place,
it is such a relief to be upright and out of bed. The baby seems to like
our new more upright position and settles in for a long nursing session.

At 8 AM I am surprised to see my obstetrician, Dr. S walk into my room. He
had told me the day before that he wouldn't be in the hospital the following
day because he was scheduled for vacation. I asked him what he was doing at
the hospital and he says he had to come check on "Ginger Zeppo". He also
tells me that he was sorry he had to cut me so far across, apparently from
hip to hip because he couldn't get the baby free. Suddenly the hushed
whispers and the fact that it was more than 25 minutes from incision time to
delivery all becomes very clear. He tells the nurse to disconnect my IV and
remove the catheter. Less than 20 hours from the start of the surgery I am
complete free of all tubes and wires!

12:30 PM I eat my first soft meal, Roast Beef, Mashed potatoes and gravy,
cottage cheese and pears, and iced tea.

1 PM : Jay and the kids come to visit. The kids are THRILLED with their
newest sibling and it isn't surprising that they argue over who gets to hold
her and for how long. We have a family discussion about names and by the
end of their 2 hour visit, her first name is at least decided. Sophia,
named for her great grandmother that she never got to met, is welcomed into
our family. I only hope she has half the stubbornness and tenaciousness
her great-grandmother had.

2 PM: 24 hours outside of the start of our surgery, my bladder FINALLY
kicks back in. It is
unreal the feeling of urinating through a urethra traumatized by a foley
catheter. My bladder seems to empty fully, but I am completely FREAKED OUT
that I can't seem to control the flow of urine. Note to self: KEGELS,

So there you have it, our c-section story. I sit here typing this 3 days
post partum (we came home at 7 PM on Saturday following delivery) and I am
very sore, but taking only motrin for the cramping. I decided against
getting the percocet perscription filled, I felt it was better to feel some
pain and use it as a gauge for when I was overdoing it. Our first night
home brought some tears on my part, it was almost impossible to get up off
the couch or roll out of bed, but things get easier by the hour! Sophia is
nursing well and adapting to life in our large family. Every bit
of discomfort, every ounce of pain is worth it because I now have my
daughter safely in my arms!

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