Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Elijah! A c-section story

 September 10, 2012.  I cannot hesitate to say that today has been the best day of my life so far.  Why today and not the day I got married or even the day Zach was born?  Because today my family is that much more whole.  

We began the morning by packing up the car and dropping Zach off at our friend Natalie's.  Natalie and her family have become more of a family to us in our time in Okinawa.  They have two boys of their own, Logan & Dylan.  Logan was born just a few months before Zach, and Dylan was born just a few months ago now.  So her kids are the same distance apart as mine are about to be.  Natalie is even more of a rockstar Mom because her husband happens to be deployed right now!  We are so grateful she was kind enough to watch Zach for us.  Zach had a great time with her and had so much fun playing with Logan.  It was a very odd feeling to drop him off in the morning, knowing we wouldn't see him until the following day.  I had never been away from him for more then 3-4 hours, so it was very hard to just get up and leave him.  Luckily I trust Natalie with all of my heart and know he was in great hands!

We then arrived at the hospital at 7:30 A.M. and began getting checked in.  We had our paperwork already finished so we were able to quickly get things moving.  I was forced to fast for over 8 hours the night before, so I was very thirsty.  I was anxious to get an IV in so that I could get some sort of hydration while we waited for surgery to begin.

We got an IV in first, which is one of my least favorite things.  I am not good with needles to begin with, and having something going into my body in plain sight like that is very hard for me.  I won't hesitate to say that the IV is harder for me then the spinal tap.  Luckily, I have great veins so it's usually a fast process when I need one.  The other thing I hate about IVs?  They make you swell up like no other!  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the hydration of the IV, but it makes you swell up and look fat!

Next up was getting a contraction monitor and fetal heart beat monitor on my big ole belly. As we made our way through some routine questions, we discovered that I was actually having contractions.  None were painful, just a tad uncomfortable.  There was no way of knowing if they were real contractions or not though, and really it didn't matter since I was about to go into surgery.  But in any case, I was having contractions every 4-7 minutes consistently while we waited.  Guess it was perfect timing for a c-section.

The next hour or two was spent doing paperwork, answering questions, being monitored, and talking with the anesthesiologist.  When we met with the doctor, we mentioned how I had an itchy allergic reaction to the medications last time.  The anesthesiologist decided it was most likely due to a medication given with the spinal tap before surgery called duramorph.  Apparently this medication is used to alleviate pain after the surgery.  The doctor decided he was not going to give me this medication as a precaution. 
Had to do the customary Okinawa peace sign before surgery!
And at 10 A.M.,  we were ready to go into surgery and meet our baby.  Right before being wheeled into the OR, I was given a super yummy "shot"which prevents you from getting sick during the procedure.  As you can tell, it taste wonderful

It has the most bitter and disgusting aftertaste!
They put some calf cuffs onto your legs before the surgery.  They basically blow up over and over again, causing the blood in your legs to flow correctly.  They serve a great purpose, but it is very odd having them on when the surgery is about to start.  Especially while getting the Spinal Tap.  Dima was able to come into the room and hold me still while I got the spinal tap (thank goodness, otherwise I would have moved!).  The spinal tap is not nearly as bad as people make it out to be.  It is a burning feeling and some pokes and prods, but for the most part, it's not terrible.  All that coming from someone who is terrified of needles!

As soon as that spinal is in, you get numb.  So numb so fast that they have to help you to swing your legs around.  Once that's done, they spread your arms apart and get a bunch of other machines attached to you.  They also bring in some warmers, because the medication can make you very cold.  You are also hooked up to some oxygen.  Dima was asked to leave the room for this part, but once they were ready, he was allowed to come back into the room and sit by my side while we waited.

All ready to go and waiting on baby!
From here on, the Doctors did their thing.  Very shortly after Dima was able to sit in the room with me, they told me it was time.  They began pushing down on my belly to get him down further into my uterus and pull him out.  It's a bit of some pushing around, and suddenly baby was pulled out of my belly!  His cry came almost immediately, which is a great bit of relief when you can't see anything!  The doctor lifted him up in the air to show me, but all I saw was the stream of pee going over my head! He was waiting until just that moment to pee all over the OR!

Baby is then whisked over to heating lamps to be cleaned up and taken care of really quick.  Dima was able to stand by his side, of course I still had not been able to catch much sight of him at this point.  I did catch a few glimpses here and there and immediately knew he was just like his big brother!  After he was cleaned up and swaddled, he was able to come meet mommy!
Just cleaned
Our newest addition with his family
After this, Dima and baby left the OR for his shots and to be weighed and measured.  The doctors finished up working on me in the OR and we had some great conversations about VPN addresses and netflix!  Only in Okinawa can you have a lengthy conversation about electronics and internet connections while having surgery.  

I was then wheeled out of the room and finally able to see my baby and husband again.  The first question on my mind upon coming out of surgery: How much did he weigh?  Dima told me right away that he was 6lbs, 4 oz!  Wow!  That's one tiny baby!  I did not even imagine having such a small baby when I was 39 weeks.  Zach was 6 lbs, 13 oz.  He was 19.5 inches long and got an apgar score of a 9 out of 10.  Everything looked perfect, and I was able to nurse him for the first time very quickly.  

That is one tiny boy!
First footprints.  Love the Japanese Cherry Blossoms

9/10/12- A sleepy little man

While nursing, we had the talk.  The talk we have been putting off for 9 months now.  A name.  We had a few names floating around our heads before going into the OR, but now was the moment of truth.  We decided we should both have a chance to hold him and see him before deciding, and now was the moment we were waiting for.  In the end, we decided on the name that just felt right...

Elijah Stepanoff
Mommy holding Elijah for the first time
As I was nursing, I began to feel very shaky.  My whole body was shaking uncontrollably, even my teeth were chattering.  I wasn't cold, and could tell that this was a result of the medication.  I was also a bit itchy on my face.  After Elijah was brought to the side for his first bath, I began feeling intense pain. It started to build and build in intensity, until I was finally given Morphine.  After awhile of the morphine, I was then given something else to ease the pain.  None of these medications were giving me any kind of relief.  I was rolled down to postpartum, where I was to spend the next 2 days, while still fighting the pain.

I was checked into a new room in postpartum, (the only c-section room without internet, just my luck) and given some food before being allowed to take percocets and motrin.  After waiting 3 1/2 hours, the pain was not easing up.  The wonderful nurse was finally able to bring me something to help with the pain through my IV.  Within 15 minutes I was a completely different person.  Finally, I was able to relax and enjoy time with my new boy.  

The next few days were spent in postpartum.  We got lucky and got a great staff for the most part.  A few hours after I started feeling better, I was able to walk up and down the hall, very very slowly.  I am positive that this is what gets you up and going fast after having a c-section.  It hurts the first time, but it's worth it for a speedy recovery.  
sleeping in his bassinet in our room
Zach came to visit us in the morning, but was barely interested in his new brother.  He said baby every once and awhile, but for the most part, he could care less about the new brother in mommy's arms.  We will see how that all changes over the new few weeks.  
For the first 20 minutes he was more interested in eating these rice snacks

He missed Mommy!  Gotta give kisses!

9/11/12- What is that thing?
We were discharged on Wed. morning, 48 hours after having Elijah.  We are happy to be home, but mommy is having a much more difficult recovery this time around.  We are crossing our fingers that things speed up on that end before Daddy goes back to work.  

Baby Elijah

9/12/12- Mommy, Daddy, & Elijah