This is a REALLY long one. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I have always said that I was going to opt for elective caesarean section, even before I got pregnant. My reasons:
1. Being the control freak that I am, I hate not knowing when the baby's gonna come out.
Somewhere towards the end of my pregnancy I kind of changed my mind. I wanted to try normal delivery but WITH epidural. To cut the story short, turns out that i HAD to go for c-section anyway due to my bone structure and my small pelvic opening. It was pretty crazy because I found out about my condition on Wednesday afternoon after the MRI scan (super traumatising, felt like I was in a coffin) then on that night itself I decided that we should have the baby on Friday afternoon. Yup, less than 2 days from the moment I found out that I was going to be cut open while being conscious.
If it was up to me, I wanted to have at least a week to mentally prepare myself for the whole ordeal but my in-laws were leaving for San Francisco on Friday night so it would be a shame if they missed the baby's arrival. On Thursday, the final day of being just the two of us, Nadri and I went out on a date. We had breakfast at La Bodega, we watched New Year's Eve, strolled around and talked about how excited/scared/nervous we were over belgian waffles. That night we had dinner with my family at Italiannies where there were more talks about how excited/scared/nervous everyone was. It was a perfect day.
I woke up on Friday morning with a thumping heart. I was scheduled for the c-section at 2.30 pm but I was supposed to check in at the hospital at 9.30 am. I showered, put on some make up and curled my hair (What? I wanted to look my best when my baby first saw me). My parents came to check up on me a few times and shook their heads when they saw what I was doing haha. Then it was time to go. I took one last look at my room and thought, "The next time I come home, I'll be bringing a baby along. A baby will lie and sleep right here on my bed." It felt so bizarre and surreal.
We held hands in the car on the way to the hospital. We kept saying oh my god, this is it. In a few hours we were going to become parents! In a few hours the baby was going to be in our arms instead of in my tummy. Every few seconds I would also get anxiety attacks, telling him I was so very scared of what was going to happen to me.
The hospital felt colder than usual. I was shivering at the registration counter. I requested for the private suite but it wasn't ready so the nurse said they'd put me in one of the labour suites for the moment and that my room would be ready after the operation. I got to the room and was handed the hospital gown which was totally hideous. It was white with SDMC in small letterings printed all over. I was told to lie down and just wait. The nurse said the anaesthetist would come around at 12 ish to explain to me about the different kinds of anaesthesia and the risks etc. In the meantime they handed me a leaflet which explained about the processes briefly.
I was going to go for local anaesthesia (LA) where you will be injected in your spine, causing numbness from the waist down. The reason was because I did NOT want to end up like Hayden Christensen in Awake. He went for general anaesthesia (GA) where you go under by inhaling some sort of gas, but he was actually conscious and he could FEEL every fucking thing when they cut him open. Before you laugh at me and say that's ridiculous and that only happens in the movies, YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG. Its actually a possibility and it is LISTED as one of the risks in the leaflet. This happened to a lady somewhere and she became mentally retarded or something because the pain she felt during the operation was too unbearable for her brain to cope.
LA is just as scary because of the injection to the spine. This is a huge deal since I am scared to death of needles. My whole life I've only had my blood taken twice. Once when I was 10 and my dad did it. The second time was during my pregnancy. I remember calling Erin crying hysterically asking if it would hurt, she said no macam kene gigit semut je (which was a total LIE). Nadri caught the whole thing on video. In the end 3 nurses had to hold me because I kept flinching and pulling my hand away when the needle came close. Anyway, you get the picture. So yes, the idea of being shot in the spine for LA was beyond traumatising but between that and risking myself being awake under GA, I'd rather take the needle.
I was so anxious I could not sit still. I tossed and turned, I sat, I walked around, I read baby books. Since I was in the labour suite, family was not allowed to stay but they let 2 to come in at a time so they all took turns. I gotta say, everyone looked just as nervous as I was which didn't help at all!
The nurse came in a few times to give me different kinds of medicines. Then she came to start the IV line (am I saying this correctly?). You know, where they stick a needle at the back of your wrist and connect it to the tube for the drip thing. I wanted to pass out already. It hurt like a b**** and to make matters worse, I was so tense that when she poked me, blood spilled over and caused a huge stain on the bed. The nurse had to call another nurse to help her out because there were just so much blood coming out and she couldn't stop it.
By 1 pm there was still no sign of the anaesthetist. I was getting restless because it was Friday prayers soon and I didn't want to be alone when the doctor came. By the time Nadri came back from the mosque, still nothing. The nurse came again to say that they were going to insert a catheter inside my urethra and I remember my cousin telling me that it hurts like hell so I asked the nurse if she could do it after my LA. Thank god she said OK.
Finally at 3 pm the nurse came and said that they were going to take me down to the OT. Oh my god I swear a part of me wanted to tell everyone that I was going to reschedule to another day and go home and sleep. But no time for that because the nurse started pushing the bed (with me on it) already. It was so so so terrifying. Looking at these nurses on my left and right pushing the bed, with grim expressions on their faces, just made me even more scared. I kept looking at Nadri for reassurance but he looked like HE was the one who was going under the knife -________________-"
We arrived at the OT floor and they pushed me passed the door. Then one of the nurses said something that I did NOT see coming AT ALL.
"Encik, SILA TUNGGU DI LUAR"
Wait, WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT WHAT WHAT!!!!!!!!!! Did she just tell Nadri to WAIT OUTSIDE??? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? I'M GOING TO DO ALL THIS ALONE????? Both of us were so shocked and it was so damn obvious because our jaw just dropped. At the same time I started crying. I mean, it's one thing to be cut open while being awake, but doing it alone without him?? I was so not prepared for it. I don't know why but both of us assumed that Nadri could go in. I asked the nurse again, and she confirmed that he had to wait. I cried harder. And you know what, the stupid nurses kept pushing me in!! I mean come on! Obviously the news was a shocker to us. And I was wailing by then so anybody in their right mind would have given us a moment or something. But no, they just kept pushing the bed. As the door closes, Nadri and I looked at each other, tears streaming down my face, I gave him a small wave, I saw him cry, and then the door shut.
I was going crazy at that point. It was too much for me to handle. The whole time when I was preparing for this day, I kept thinking it's ok because he will be there with me. When they administer the LA, he would be next to me holding my hand. When they cut me open I was just going to look at him and try not to think about it. But now I just found out that I was going to be alone. The next time I saw Nadri the baby would already be out. I could not stop crying.
They placed me at this one corner and left me. No one said anything. I had no idea what was going on. I later found out that I was at the waiting area. The OTs were all still full. I was fuming because the nurses could have just let me have a moment with Nadri instead of waiting there. But I tried not to focus too much on that, it would just make the whole situation worse. So I just laid there and told myself that it was going to be alright.
The anaesthetist came. He was a very nice guy. He had this soothing voice and there was just something about the way he talks to you that makes you feel vary calm. He could tell that I was scared so he took his time explaining to me about GA and LA. I said I was going for LA and asked if the injection on my spine would hurt. He said it hurt less than starting the IV line. I felt better.
I waited for an hour. The anaesthetist came and said they were ready for me. It was 4pm. And just like that my heart was pounding again. They pushed me into one of the OTs. I laid there and watched everything like a hawk. I saw a few nurses scurrying around. I saw the bed that I was going to lie on when they operate on me. I saw the big spotlight above the bed. I saw a tray full of scary-looking tools. I saw machines with monitors. I was like, is this really happening to me? I felt like I was in Grey's Anatomy.
They transferred me onto the operation table. I was asked to sit upright while the anaesthetist examined my spine. I started crying again. I was so scared guys. I tried to hold back the tears but they just kept falling. My nose started to get runny too lol. One of the nurses held my hand and tried to calm me down. She sounded genuinely nice. I'm pretty sure I squeezed her hand really tight but she did not let it show. She just smiled and gave reassuring words. The anaesthetist said he was going to inject me and told me to hold still. I was given a pillow to hug and was asked to bend forward and form a curve like a 'C'. I could not hear anything anymore except for my heart at that point. I felt the needle come in, and I flinched just a little bit. I felt a sting but the anaesthetist was right, it was less painful than starting the IV line. Phew!
I was so relieved that was over. I laid down. 4.25pm. There were tingling sensations from my hips all the way down to my toes. My gynae came in, said hi and started to prep herself. Already?? I panicked. Shouldn't we wait a bit longer for the meds to kick in? What if I could still feel? I guess the anaesthetist saw my worried face so he asked me, "Tia can you move your legs?" I said I wasn't sure. He asked me to try. I couldn't. I felt numb. My legs felt as if they were glued to the table. Whoa. Then the nurse said they were going to insert the catheter. 5 seconds later she said it was done. Whaaaaat? I didn't feel shit. This LA thing is the real deal man. I was totally paralysed from the waist down. It was such an alien feeling.
I took one last look at my baby bump as they pulled up a sheet so that I could not look down and see the procedure. I heard in some hospitals they have mirrors on the ceiling so that moms could take a peek if they wanted to. I'm not one of those moms for sure. The anaesthetist was over my head, giving encouraging words and said that they were going to commence the operation now. I tried to space out and think about other things because if I keep imagining my stomach being open with all the blood and gore, I would definitely go bananas. It wasn't hard to distract myself because my gynae started chatting with the anaesthetist and nurses. She was talking about how her son wanted to have dinner that night and the restaurants that she likes to go to. Um hello! Food is my favourite subject (after bags) so of course I got excited and eavesdropped the whole conversation. Then my gynae was saying how she loves Mexican food and always go to Las Carretas. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from exclaiming, "Dr, thats my favourite restaurant too! I love the back ribs!" How awkward would that be right? They moved on to the Mamak outside the hospital that was good but totally unhygienic and how a lot of staffs had to take MC due to food poisoning from eating there. I felt like such a busybody lying there just listening but what else was I supposed to do?
I was feeling pretty chill but then something went wrong. One of the equipments that was used to vacuum the baby out was not working or something. My gynae started yelling at the nurses because they should have checked and said that someone must have done something wrong seeing that it worked just fine earlier that day. I was like oh my god is the monitor going to start beeping soon like in the movies/TV when the patient's condition is deteriorating? I wanted to yank off the sheet and see what the hell was going on down there.
While one of the nurses went to look for a new equipment, my gynae and the other nurses started to shove me around. I could not feel a thing but I could tell that they were pushing my tummy from all different directions. I felt like I was going to fall off the operating table. The gynae kept ordering "Harder, come on guys PUSH HARDER!" The anaesthetist saw that I was turning white so he calmly said that everything was fine. He said they were just trying to get the baby to the right position and I was going to meet my baby soon. I was too terrified to even be excited about that. There I was, lying helplessly with my abdomen wide open, blood probably spilling out all over, having 5-6 people pushing me around, I just wanted the whole thing to be over.
Then, the anaesthetist said:
"Ok here we go, the baby's coming out."
OHMYGOD THIS IS IT.
"We can see the head now."
I felt a slight tug at my tummy area and immediately the loudest cry ever filled up the room.
It was Alayna.
Damn, this girl can CRY! She was screaming with all her might.
I quickly looked at the clock. 4.50 pm.
The nurse came over with Alayna and put her next to my face. She said something but I wasn't paying attention. I just stared at this tiny human being kicking and screaming. I didnt know how to react. Should I say something? Should I cry? I just touched her fingers and faintly smiled. The paeds came to check on her while my gynae stitched me up. I saw the paeds inserting a tube into her lungs. Her cries were so loud even the paeds said so. Then I looked away and just stared at the ceiling. A few minutes later the nurse came again with Alayna. She was all wrapped and still crying. The nurse showed me her 10 little fingers and toes, asked me to check the tag on her foot and make sure the number matches my tag, showed me her genitals to confirm that it's a girl and told me they were going to take her to the nursery to clean her up. I nodded, gave Alayna a kiss and stared at the ceiling again.
I was puzzled. Why wasn't I crying from joy? Why wasn't I feeling overwhelmed from this unconditional love for my daughter? How come I felt nothing when I saw her? I laid there quietly as they cleaned me up, confused as to why I was not feeing what I think I SHOULD be feeling.
They brought down the sheet so I could finally see everything. I saw all the blood on the floor. And blood soaked cloths. MY blood. I felt sick. Everyone congratulated me, told me I did a great job and transferred me to another bed. They pushed me to the post-operation observation area and told me that they were going to monitor me for an hour before they send me to my suite. Finally, some time alone. I needed to digest everything that had just happened.
When no one was looking, I quickly put my hands on my tummy. Get out of here!!! Its flat again!! I was so used to the baby bump I didn't even remember what it was like to NOT have a baby inside. I kept rubbing my tummy thinking whoaaa this is amazing! I tried to wiggle my toes but the LA has not worn off yet. I also dozed off a few times.
After what seemed like forever they finally said I was A-OK and they'd bring me to my family now. Again, I was being pushed around on the bed, going down the hallway, into the lift. It was quite nice actually. Imagine having people take you wherever you want while you just lie down on your back. When we reached the suite, the nurse knocked on the door and Nadri was the first to come out, followed by my siblings. And then it was chaos.
"Are you OK?"
"How was it?"
"You had GA didn't you? Abah was convinced that you passed out from terror when they tried to inject your spine so you had to go for GA which was why it took so long"
These people.. What do they think I am, a chicken?
My whole family was there, my in-laws, my aunties & uncles. I told them what happened. They didn't know that I had to wait an hour before the operation. They were worried because usually c-sections take half an hour tops. They said Nadri didn't sit down at all from the moment I went into the OT. He kept pacing back and forth and was oblivious when they called him to sit down. Before the nurse took Alayna to the nursery, she took her to my family first, so they got to see her for like 2 seconds. And after that, they all left the OT waiting area! Hello, I was still inside recovering! No one waited for me anymore pfft.
By that time my LA has started to wear off. Slowly I could feel pain in my abdomen area. The nurse said I could take morphine if i wanted to. I said it's ok, because they would have to give me a jab on the butt for it. I've had enough of needles for one day. But then, after a while the pain became so unbearable. I felt like I was being stabbed. So they gave me the drug and I was fine again. I got high and kept dozing off while everyone continued to chat.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. A nurse came in with Alayna. I was so freaking nervous. I remembered the strange feeling I had in the OT and was scared if I would still feel the same. Everyone of course fussed over her, wanting to take a peak at her/hold her, but my mom took her and brought her to me.
As I held her in my arms for the first time, looking at her peacefully asleep, so innocent, so pure, so tiny, I felt it. The rush of pure love that I was looking for. So THIS is what it feels like. Its true what they say. There are no words to describe it, you would have to experience it yourself to know it. Even though everyone was there, for that few minutes that I held her in my arms I felt like it was just the 3 of us in our own world. And it was perfect. SHE was perfect.
* * * * *
That was 9 months ago. I can't believe I went through all that! Me, the most penakut person ever. The girl who would cry at the sight of needles. The girl who would shriek and run when being chased by cats or upon hearing the word lipas. Me. I guess I'm actually quite brave after all *blows nails* LOL