On November 2, I woke up at 7:20 am with a pretty strong contraction. I almost didn't dare to hope that things were starting when only nine minutes later I had another one. After a trip to the bathroom where I discovered that things were definitely happening down below (is that delicate enough for you?), I had irregular contractions for the next hour so we called the clinic. They recommended I take two Spasfon (a light over the counter medication that stops contractions if they are not related to real labor) and wait another hour. After tracking my irregular contractions for another hour, Stéph and I decided it was time, so we grabbed my suitcases and made our way to Troyes.
After about an hour on the monitor, the verdict still wasn't in. The contractions were still very irregular but the midwives couldn't agree on when real labor would start - one thought it wouldn't be that day unless I had a Cesarean, another was sure labor would start some time that day, but Tiny Town is far enough away that they couldn't decide whether or not to keep me. In the end, the OB/GYN on call made the decision for them. He felt that FF was too big and still way to high for this stage of the pregnancy and he recommended a Cesarean. Stéph and I agreed to it and everything happened very quickly after that.
What follows is a cautionary tale for those that think that Cesarean births are the easy way out and pain free. I'm here to tell you that this was not my first major surgery and I like to think that my tolerance for pain is not that low, but that day I experienced the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. If you're squeamish or don't like scary birth stories please be assured that FF made it through perfectly fine and skip to the end!
I should have known that things wouldn't be going my way when they insisted on inserting the catheter before I'd even been wheeled down to the operating room. Why they do this before the lower half of the body is knocked out cold, I will never understand. But when I say things went fast, I wasn't kidding - by the time Stéph had checked me in (with no waiting, since it was a Sunday!) and grabbed my suitcases, I was being wheeled into an elevator destined to the operating hall. I managed a quick wave and a "Bye!" before I disappeared.
Things went quickly once we arrived. The spinal block was done without incident but it made me extremely nauseous nearly right away. The actual operation happened so fast that one moment I turned my head and suddenly there was a nurse cleaning a baby on a table to my left! So French Fry made his way quietly into the world at 1:18 pm. As soon as I saw his face, I said (in English!) "Oh my god, it's Daddy!" and I burst into tears. When he was all clean and swaddled, I got to hold him for a few minutes before he went upstairs to Papa and the maternity ward while they finished my surgery. (Which is when the subject of the election popped up, it being two days before, and the anesthesiologist tried to argue with me that Sarah Palin was the first woman to run for Vice President, but that's another story.)
Unfortunately, I had a pretty bad afternoon after that. The nausea kept me feeling pretty bad for the following hour, but seeing Stéph's face when we made it back up to the maternity ward made up for it! He had some interesting news to share - the OB/GYN had said after the surgery that we had made the right decision to do the Cesarean that day, but it was my husband who eventually explained why - FF wasn't one week early, he was two weeks late!! If the fact that he had already passed meconium in the womb wasn't enough of a hint, the quality of his skin really drove the point home. Other than that, FF had gorgeous pink skin with no blemishes, a full head of hair the same color as Stéph's and was perfectly healthy, except that his blood sugar was a little low. I nursed him the first time about ten minutes after being transferred to my room so that he could be given a bottle right away to help him. The maternity's policy of always breastfeeding before offering a compliment (for those that wish to breastfeed, obviously) assured me a lot.
Not long after, the pain started. It seems that after the operation I was given a medication that forces the uterus to start contracting much stronger than it would do on its own. The problem is that my spinal block started wearing off and the medication hadn't run its course yet, so the next hour I basically screamed in pain while Stéph and three midwives stood over me trying to figure out what to do. Unfortunately, there was nothing to do but wait for the medicine to run its course. I remember the midwives discretely chatting at the window about the idiots practically running over each other for parking spaces four floors below while I nearly wrenched Stéph's hand off and Stéph cracking jokes (my favorite: Stéph: "You got the second baby out, didn't you?" Midwives: *moment of panic* Me: "I'm going to effing kill you for making me laugh you bastard!" Well, now I think it's funny). Plus they gave me a second catheter before they realized the pain was coming from the contractions, and I received a third one the next morning because I hadn't been able to do anything on my own for the twelve hours following the surgery. But FF! He was a perfect angel!
The next day I was able to get up a little on my own with great difficulty, and things seemed to be getting back on track, until things started going wrong again on Election Night.
Next time: Vivi endures a battery of every sort of exam you can imagine, more holes poked in her extremities than a dartboard, and finally escapes from the clinic after nine long days.