It’s taken me seven weeks to put this pen to paper (so to speak).
My pregnancy with Roman was the most challenging, most terrifying, most emotionally exhaustive experience of my life (and I am no stranger to drama). For the first 16 weeks, I wasn’t sure he was going to make it…which is a f—king insane thing to consider. And now that I know him, I can’t possibly imagine the unbearable grief I’d feel if I had lost him.
As some of you already know, before I knew I was expecting, I had an HSG. Basically, it’s an x-ray of your reproductive system that is uncomfortable and highly dangerous for pregnant women. Shortly after, I discovered I was 7 weeks pregnant (awesome).
By some divine intervention, Roman survived that ordeal (which must mean I have a guardian angel who isn’t penalizing me for much of my 20’s) and my doctor assured me that he was a perfectly healthy, perfectly normal baby. But in the back of my head, I was crippled with anxiety that he would arrive and there would be a major medical abnormality. After all, homeboy got pushed around my uterus by orange dye, which caused him to detach and re-implant, while getting exposed to radiation. Best case scenario: he’s Spiderman. Worst case: he’s green with three arms (and I would still love the shit out of him).
And if I expected the rest of my pregnancy to go smoothly, I was wrong (bed rest, a hematoma and a fractured foot). Despite all of the chaos, the fear and major discomfort, I made it full term. I had a lot of people interested in what it was like to have a second C-section. For me, it was never a question. In my mind, the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t. As we got closer to his delivery and the more uncomfortable I became, we discovered that he inherited the strongest Bruce family gene….an enormous head. My baby refused to drop; he was just too big and decided to keep his active little feet firmly in my rib cage for the last month of my pregnancy. Regardless of my personal preference, I was going to have a C-section one way or the other.
***PREGNANT WOMEN READ THIS: Any person’s birth story right now is going to f—k with you, including mine. If you decide to continue on, I want you to know this: we are perfectly healthy. But having a baby is a big deal. I don’t want to terrify people, but I’m all about honest mom life, so I’m not going to sugar coat my experience. That being said, my delivery was textbook and easy from a medical standpoint. I, on the other hand, was a total f—king basket case. Admittedly, I’m the human equivalent of an emotional yo-yo, so please proceed with caution.
A few days before our planned delivery, I was started to feel anxious about leaving our daughter. I called my husband on the Friday before and made him promise to take care of Tallulah in the event of my demise, and to make sure she becomes a woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone.
“Ok, babe,” he said, “but you’re going to be fine.”
“Just makes sure she knows how much I love her,” I sobbed, like a super fucking intense Claire Danes in Homeland cry.
(This is when he told me he “can’t do this right now,” because he has a conference call. He doesn’t normally indulge my crazy, which is why we’re still married.)
Like any surgery, you can’t eat or drink anything for eight hours beforehand, so the morning of the C-section I was anxious and STARVING. My parents had stayed over, and my mom got Tallulah ready for school. I got myself ready, packed our car and said goodbye to my little girl. It was the hardest thing not to sob in front of her. My husband finally got me in the car, and we began the 30-minute drive to the hospital.
I’m not gonna lie: it’s a pretty incredible commute. It’s 10 miles up the Pacific Coast Highway…and if anyone of you have seen the opening credits to the OC, it’s basically the same view.
As we made it to this particular curve of PCH (my favorite part of living in Orange County), my husband reminded me that 32 weeks earlier, at 5:45 a.m., we took this very same drive because I was certain I was miscarrying.
“And now, we’re going to the hospital and we get to meet him today,” he said.
Sounds like a sweet moment, right? But did he have ANY IDEA HOW HORMONAL I WAS? Like, f—king stop, dude. Needless to say, from that point forward I was a complete head case.
Side note: I had told my doctor that after my daughter’s delivery I was extremely nauseous (I’m super sensitive to anesthesia it turns out), so I wanted to do whatever I could to prevent it this second time. Because I was so vomit-y, I couldn’t sit upright long enough to hold her until about eight hours post-op and I didn’t want my nausea to impede on that important bonding time with Roman. She agreed and gave me anti-nausea medication to take on the way to the hospital. I also asked her if I could take a Xanax before surgery but she declined. (It was worth a shot.) Moral of the story: talk EVERYTHING through with your doctors.
When we got to the hospital, they weren’t ready to bring me back into pre-op, so I was stuck in the waiting room with a set of grandparents who were mowing down on the McDonald’s breakfast meal. Not cool, considering I hadn’t eaten in 10 years (read: eight hours). When we finally got back there, shit started moving pretty quick. During pre-op with Tallulah, I was happy, chipper and excited to meet her. During pre-op with Roman, I was subdued and emotional. I didn’t speak for risk of crying.
The only time I did open my mouth was to tell the anesthesiologist that I needed all the anti-nausea medicine he could find and to ask that he start pumping me with anxiety meds as soon as Roman was safely out of my body.
I remember saying, “Like, all the drugs.”
When we got into the operating room, I looked at my nurse and said, “This is a pretty intimidating set up.”
It’s straight up out of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but instead of using the operating table as an opportunity for a quick tryst with McDreamy, it was going to be where they pulled a human out of my stomach. A little less sexy.
At this point my husband was not yet in the room. I’m not sure when I lost him along the 15 foot walk from pre-op to surgery, but its standard procedure. They don’t allow partners in there until after your epidural (during a natural delivery, your partner CAN be with you for the epidural).
Ok, ladies…it took them not once, not twice, but FIVE TIMES to get my epidural in, which meant four pokes of the numbing shot and finally the epidural (which is what I think happened). And if you’re not having contractions, the answer is yes…an epidural really fucking hurts. I screamed. (Again, remember, I’m a drama queen). I looked at the nurse in front of me and asked through a stream of tears, “Can he be done now?” referring to the doctor behind me.
“Almost,” she said. “You just have to stay still.”
Apparently, every time the numbing shot went in, I reacted my sitting straight up and compounded my spine, making it impossible for them to get the epidural in. So, when they tell you to just relax your body, there’s a real reason for it. By the time they got it going, I was in shambles.
They quickly moved me onto my back, and I couldn’t breathe. I was having a full blown panic attacked and hyperventilating to the point where the anesthesiologist needed to give me oxygen to calm me down.
“This is just oxygen,” he said, putting the mask over my face. “Deep breaths.”
It must have helped, because I immediately began to calm down. I was still nervous to meet him, praying he would be ok. I was still nervous for Tallulah, praying I would be ok for her. But the panic had subsided.
I looked back to my nurse and said, “I’m so sorry. Am I the absolute worst?”
She laughed. “No way, we have waaaayy bigger freak outs.”
When my husband came into the room, I immediately told him: “Babe, I freaked the fuck out.”
“Yeah,” he laughed. “I heard you.”
Unlike Tallulah’s surgery, I couldn’t be distracted. My husband tried to show me pictures or talk to me about things we had planned, but I just needed silence until the baby was out. I kept looking at the clock, and thinking how much longer this was taking the second time around. The anesthesiologist promised me that my son would be born before 11 a.m., but the minutes dragged on. I was calm, just anxious to have him out.
“Just a few more minutes,” my doctor said. “Just a bit more scar tissue to get through.”
Since my surgery, I’ve learned that all repeat C-sections take a bit longer to get baby out because the incision from the first procedure leaves a good amount of scar tissue that the doctors need to get through. It makes sense and is totally normal, but I would have been less nervous about the time if I had known this fun fact beforehand.
With a few minutes to spare, I heard my doctor announce: “Ok, I see him. Wow, he has SO much hair!”
Because Roman was still sitting so far up in my body, I could feel the pressure across my chest as they wiggled him out. It felt like someone dropped a cinderblock on my sternum. It didn’t actually hurt, but there was this enormous pressure and then…it was gone.
At 10:55 a.m., Roman Bruce Amin was born… a whopping 8 pounds, 15 ounces.
I heard him cry.
He was here. He had made the journey. He had survived it all. I didn’t lose him. He was here. It was relief, joy and the release of so much guilt.
When I finally could get words out, I asked: “How does he look? Is he ok?”
I couldn’t see him over the sheet they put up (to prohibit me from watching my own surgery), and was still paranoid that there was going to be some ailment.
“He’s perfect,” my husband said. “He looks just like Tallulah.”
Then, the most magical thing happened: the anesthesiologist started giving me the good stuff and ALL WAS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD.
The rest of the procedure continued perfectly to plan, but I wouldn’t have noticed if there had been an issue (drugs). Plus, Roman arrived safely and was healthy, and everything else was just the cherry on top.
And this is where the story turns into a fairytale. I held my son, my beautiful boy who I was so riddled with fear that I would lose. I held him in my arms…something I wasn’t always sure I’d get to do. I held him, and we both cried. My heart grew.
If you expecting mamas stayed with me to the end, I hope that you can see that my delivery, even with small hiccups, was safe and healthy. I was never in danger, nor was my son. I was just an emotional pinball. Women with traumatic pregnancies often have anxiety-fueled deliveries. It’s not fun, but it’s normal.
Trust in your birth plan and your team, and you’re going to be just fine. And yes, its OK to freak out.
I’m planning to share with you our hospital experience as well, but this post is already hella long. Thank you for reading and for caring enough to read.