And Then There Was Clara (Part 2)

A few days back I started to share with you the story of how our new daughter, Clara, was born. In case you missed it, here is Part 1

I sat in yet another transitional bed and breathed deeply as the contractions amped up at what seemed to be an alarming rate, from every 10 minutes, to every 8, 5, 3. And as they sped up, they got stronger and more painful.

I squeezed Kel’s hand with each one as we waited for the nurses to work through the medical procedures necessary for our daughter to be born.

A steady stream of medical personnel made their way through the room, asking questions, running tests and filling little test tubes with blood for some last minute lab work.

Many of the staff mentioned that there might be a hold up centered around my breakfast. You see, even though I’d been having contractions, I had shared a bowl of oatmeal with our son around 9:00 that morning (3 hours prior) and the verdict was out as to whether or not the anesthesiologist would be okay with doing the surgery within five hours of the oatmeal.

Curses… I seriously knew I shouldn’t have had the oatmeal… 

Finally, gloriously, my OB arrived and took charge. Soon we had the all clear to move into surgery and were meeting with the anesthesiologist who, we were told, was the best one we could possibly get.

We talked about how I’ve handled spinal blocks in the past and I requested that an anti anxiety be “on hand” just in case I started to get panicky.

Minutes later, I left Kel in the room, clad in paper scrubs and was wheeled to the OR to meet our daughter.

I just told myself to keep breathing… in and out… in and out…  and praying, God be here… Healthy… Alive… See us through…and trying not to panic.

There is something about surgery that makes one feel very helpless and out of control and surgery where you remain conscious? Even more so.

The room was insanely bright and full of doctors and nurses, a half dozen in all, chatting  and hovering around screens and metal trays. Most of them had stopped into my room to introduce themselves before the surgery and so I recognized them behind their masks, at least sort of.

The anesthesia intern was from Oklahoma, which started a whole conversation about Oklahoma, earthquakes and oddly enough fracking. My wonderful anesthesiologist was totally against it and blamed it for earthquakes.

Sure… now’s as good a time as any to talk about fracking.

This led to banter about whether or not I liked living in Oklahoma and why we moved back from Michigan and… who met who where and how did I end up marrying a guy from Oklahoma?

The entire time we were prepping the staff talked TO ME, about life, like we were in line together at Starbucks. This really took my mind off all the poking and prodding, especially when it was time to get my spinal block in. If you’ve never had this done it’s basically you with your entire backside exposed, bending over and trying to remain calm while someone numbs your entire lower half and you try to contort your spine to accommodate.

It’s my least favorite part and the part that is always the most likely to cause a panic attack.

But the staff was right form the start, I had THE BEST anesthesiologist who talked me through each and every little piece of the procedure. “Now I’m going to do this, now this is next, now you’re not going to hear from me for a few moments but this isn’t because something is wrong, but because I am charting.”

Soon Kel came into the room and took his place by my side as we prepared for childbirth. I was much calmer than I had been for the births of our older two children, the staff’s dedication to communicating with me and validating me as a person made all the difference in the world.

My doctor and nurses were just as wonderful as my anesthesiologist. They filled me in on what was going on, and even offered me a mirror if I wanted to see the surgery (NO! That sounds like a personal hell to watch myself be cut open. Would any of you say yes to this?)

The doctors made their way through the surgery and soon it was time for the last layer to be cut and our daughter to be born, my doctor gave me the word and I held my breath as I waited to hear that one, first cry.

Baby Clara

And then? There she was. Our Clara Kellas making her presence known!

I exhaled, laughed and cried all at the same time as Kel took her over to meet me, face to face, cheek to cheek.

As I bonded with our daughter, the surgical team stitched me up and cleaned me up so I could be wheeled into the recovery room with Kel and Clara. With my first two C-sections I had to wait hours to hold our children and was taken to recovery by myself so this was a beautiful new experience for me and each and every moment I was grateful for the skin-to-skin, baby friendly philosophy of the staff and hospital.

photo 2

Kel shared pictures of Clara with family and friends as I, still admittedly a little groggy, stared at Clara and marveled at her surprise arrival. My thoughts drifted back just a few hours earlier when I was crabby and chugging water in bed at home and now here we were, three members of a family of five… five!

Soon Clara, Kel and I were cleared to go up to our “for real” room, the one we would be staying in for the next three days and after we arrived I began to breathe easier.

Sure, my legs were hooked up to these little machines that squeezed them periodically to keep blood clots at bay.

Sure, I still had a catheter and IVs…

But the trauma was behind us, the pregnancy was in the past and now it was nursing, healing, and meeting the world together.

Last installment coming soon. I promise.  

  • Natalie Trust

    All the weeps coming from me over this one, friend. I love your story, and it’s getting me even more and more anxious and excited for my own next week-ish( maybe?).

  • pastordt

    When the medical team become people as well as experts, it makes all the difference!

  • Mark Allman

    I am glad you had such a good team working with you. Welcome to the journey Clara!