To the pain: Birthing Lucas, 5

December 2, 11:38 AM: Decision

The hour passed. Nothing changed. Dr. Jayjay called it. “We have to go in,” she said. She explained why, though I don’t remember what she said. I think she said something like, you’ve done enough, we’ll go in na, you’ve labored so long. I nodded, and while I didn’t want a caesarian delivery, I was in so much pain that I knew I couldn’t hold on any longer. I felt like I was going to break, like I wanted to give up.

They left to prepare, and Ros and Oneal comforted me. “Don’t worry about it, Rej,” Ros told me. “You’ve done everything, you worked so hard. OK lang yan, matatapos na.” Oneal held my hands as yet another contraction triggered my screams.

Someone came to wheel me into the operating room. Dr. Jayjay hovered nearby, and told them to stop as we exited the labor room. She had told them to call Mommy and my brother, and I managed a feeble smile. My mom came over to hold my hand, to tell me it was going to be okay, and that’s when I lost it. The tears flowed freely, and my breath caught in my throat. I don’t know why, but I felt like I’d failed, like I’d given up, but I was so damn tired and I didn’t know what to do anymore. “It’s okay, ‘be,” Mommy said. “It’s okay, you’re okay.” I nodded, and they brought me to the operating room. Oneal and Ros put on scrubs, and followed me in.

The team put me on the table, this narrow thing. I felt like if I made the slightest movement, I would fall off. Off went my hospital gown. They put a curtain in front of my face, so I couldn’t see what was happening, My arms were strapped down. I had the oxygen thing over my nostrils, and the sphygmomanometer cuff on one arm. Someone tucked my hair into a cap, and the anesthesiologist injected morphine into the epidural catheter. I started shivering. “Is that normal?” I think I asked. Someone explained that it was the morphine. On my body, I felt hands, instruments. I remember thinking, are they cutting me now? I think what I felt was a shaver of some sort.

I think it was the anesthesiologist who held a small instrument with a pointy end. She pricked my body with it, and asked if I felt it. I must have said no, because I don’t remember any further conversation after that. I registered Oneal popping up to my left.

December 2, 1:12 PM: Lucas

I drifted in and out of consciousness. I’d had a total of five epidural injections, plus the morphine for the surgery. I didn’t know what was happening, or how long I was lying there.

And then I heard it: my baby’s cry. There he was, safe, alive, breathing. I was awake for that. Oneal told me I started crying.

I saw him from afar, and I said out loud, “Anak ko ba yan? Bakit ang puti?” Again I drifted in and out of sleep, until they brought him near me. Oneal was beside me, and Ros took our picture.

Later, they put him on my breast, and I was thinking, oh, he should latch, I should feed him! His head was on my breast, his little hand on my shoulder. They must have released the straps, because I moved my arm to cradle his head. He was crying, and I feared he would fall.

They took him away, and I hovered between sleeping and waking. I remember thinking, the baby’s out, what are they still doing down there? Eventually they were done, and the various things they’d attached to me were removed. Down came the curtain. One by one the machines were turned off, and I was transferred from the operating table to a hospital bed.

Dimly I noticed things quieting down. I didn’t know where Oneal went, or Ros. I was wheeled out of the operating room and into recovery. There, a nurse finally put my baby in my arms.

Lucas wasn’t lying in my arms for very long, but I remember talking to him and promising I would do my best not to screw him up. The pediatrician came over and took Lucas, putting him in a bassinet to check on him. When she put him back in my arms, she put him to my breast to latch. Later, the nurse came back, and put Lucas back in the bassinet so they could put a binder around my middle, for the stitches.

Another doctor came by, checking on me this time. I don’t even remember what she checked on. Maybe my stitches. Probably my vitals. Then Lucas was back in my arms.

I don’t remember exactly what I said to him in our first hour together, but I know it was something like this: “Okay baby, I don’t really know how this works. I’m sure I’ll get more than a few things wrong. But I’m going to try really hard, okay? And whatever happens, I love you. You’ll help me figure things out, okay?” I’m pretty sure I cried a little bit.

Eventually the nurses came back, so that they could bring us up to the room. They put Lucas back in the bassinet, and transferred me to another bed. Oneal was waiting outside the recovery area, and he walked alongside us as we were wheeled down the corridors, into the elevator, up to the maternity patient rooms and into our room, where my mother was waiting. I don’t even remember what time we got to the room, only that it was evening, and I was so tired–and hungry!

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