At 37 weeks pregnant, I knew I’d have to have a C-section. Victoria was measuring nearly 8 pounds and was still breech. While this alleviated much of my pushing/episiotomy/head-stuck-in-crotch anxiety, the thought of a C-section brought with it unique neuroses of its own.
The doctor and I scheduled the surgery for exactly 39.5 weeks and I was relieved that I’d be able to exert some
amount of control around the entire ordeal—or so I thought. The fact that I knew the exact date she’d be born and was pretty much able to guarantee that “my” preferred OB/GYN would be performing the surgery, made me feel like I was on the road to a tear-free, low-stress delivery. :: enter reality ::
After an uneventful check-in at the hospital, the most random, insignificant thought went through my mind: In three short hours, I will be a mother. “A what?” I thought to myself. “A mother? Wait a minute…this is all real?” Before the gravity of my realization could set in, I was being hooked to monitors, attached to hydration IVs, and prepped for my epidural. The famed “epidural.” The magic potion. The holy grail of comfort. Who knew the epidural would turn out to be my worst enemy?
I was rolled into the surgery room by some lovely nurses who informed me that the anesthesiologist would be right in to administer my epidural so my OB team could begin. They prepped my back, told me to slouch forward as much as possible, and assured me that it was normal to feel nervous about the procedure. The anesthesiologist made his way into the room and told me that the procedure should only take about 5 minutes.
“Lean forward into the nurse and press against her for support and to steady yourself,” the doctor said. “There will be a stinging sensation, kind of like a bee sting, and afterward you might feel some tingling leading to numbness in your legs.” “Ok,” I said, as I took a deep breath in and braced myself for the machete that would
soon enter my back.
“Mmmnnnnmmmnntttt,” was the only sound I could emit as I felt the needle pierce my spine. “Ahhh,” I said, as I felt the doctor remove the needle from my spine. A slight wave of relief came over me. “Mrs. Lazos, unfortunately, I was not able to find the space in your spinal cord that I need to insert the epidural. I am going to have to go back into your spine from a different location.” The only thing I could think to myself is you’re kidding, right? You aren’t really going to have to stick me with that thing again. Right?
“Lean into the nurse one more time for support and stability. Take a deep breath and exhale as I go in, please.” Immediately after that, I cringed as I felt the needle enter my back again. This time, I was keenly aware that the needle was not only IN my back, but was also moving around within my spine searching for the “space” he needed. By now, I was in tears. The procedure which was supposed to take 5 minutes took close to 20 minutes.
The apologetic look on the face of the nurse gave it away. I had to be stuck in my spine 5 times before the anesthesiologist could find the right area. By the time he found it, I was sobbing. I was in the worst pain of my life. I felt as though I had been stabbed in my spine multiple times with no remorse. “I’m so sorry about this, Mrs. Lazos. This almost NEVER happens.” By the time these words left the nurse’s mouth, I was ready to give up. I was at the point where I was about to beg for a general anesthetic. “Put me to sleep if you have to,” were my next words. I was terrified, livid, and traumatized. Before I could spew my wrath at the doctor, he found the elusive “space.”
No sooner than I felt my legs go numb, the room began to fill with additional nurses, technicians, and the comforting familiar face of my obstetrician was at my side. Next, my husband entered the room and the real show was about to begin.
Because I was still so shaken up by the epidural experience, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the orchestra of events going on around me. I was still in pain, still crying angry tears. And still wanting to castrate the
anesthesiologist for butchering my spine.
The blue curtain went up. The mirror went in place, and my husband grabbed my hand. Who knew that next up I’d smell burning flesh as the laser scalpel began to cut into my abdomen. Burning flesh? Really? Where was THAT little tidbit of information on all the glorious childbirth blogs? Did someone innocently forget to mention that in my “What to Expect” Meetup group? As soon as I began to feel nauseous from the combination of drugs and the smell of my own burning skin, I heard two words that would change my life forever…“she’s here!” No sooner than those words escaped my doctor’s lips, I heard her.
Her first cry opened the floodgates of emotion within me. My pain, anger, and trauma immediately turned to love and gratitude. I literally cried uncontrollably at the sound of her voice. I was now sobbing because she had arrived. She was healthy, alert, and we’d both made it through our traumatic ordeal. I found victory over the pain. Victory over the fear. And victory over the unknown. Victoria, indeed.
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