The nicest thing you can do for yourself is eat a bowl of pho by yourself, very slowly.
My due date had come and gone. This was my last opportunity to enjoy a meal out, while I had one child.
They scheduled the induction that morning. Baby was over a week past his due date and seemed in no hurry to leave – peacefully floating in a sea of hazy amniotic fluid, snuggling his umbilical cord and snoozing away.
I ate lunch nearby at Pho Mai in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota.
A lovely bowl of soup with seafood and roasted pork, cream cheese wontons, and a limeade blended until almost creamy.
I hadn’t been seeing this Midwives/OB provider because their care was exceptional, but because it was fine and I wanted to give birth at Masonic Children’s hospital again.
The day before my induction, I started to feel funny things. After being unable to leave my bed for a few hours, I called the doctor who advised me to come in.
“But we’re closed and at capacity,” they added.
I asked if I could go to the hospital near our home.
“They’re diverting too.”
They directed me to two hospitals that had available bed, neither of which was particularly close. “They don’t do VBACS though, so if you go there you’re guaranteed to have a C-Section.
The doctor added, “But you can still try to go to Masonic,” seeming to imply they wouldn’t technically turn us away.
“I NEED A YES OR NO,” I exclaimed. WTF does that even mean?
We had pulled over on the side of the road and were in a panic about where to go.
At that point I didn’t care what kind of birth I would have – I had no idea if I was in labor and wanted to be seen. We headed to Fairview Southdale. When we got there, they quickly let us a room.
The nurse confirmed I was in early labor and that they did in fact do VBACS. The nurse tried to nicely informed us that if I thought the contractions were painful now, I was in for a wild ride. They did end up admitting us for the evening.
In the early evening, they ran bloodwork and told me my platelets were so low that their anesthesiologist would not do an epidural. This dip was sudden from the week before.
Since my platelets seemed to hover around an acceptable number during my last pregnancy, they skipped checking my platelets a few days prior.
I panicked because I was absolutely not giving birth without an epidural. I am not that woman. They checked other hospitals’ platelet threshold and debated sending me home in hopes that I could wait until my scheduled induction the next morning.
No one would do an epidural given the current situation.
The nurse thought they could give me fentanyl.
“Does that work well?” I asked.
“Not really,” she replied.
“With a C-section under general anesthesia, you aren’t able to hold the baby right after,” they warned me.
“I don’t care if you hit me over the head with a rock and deliver the baby, I’m not giving birth without an epidural.”
In the end, they decided a C-section under general anesthesia was the safest option.
“Do you do these a lot?” I asked.
“No.” they replied.
I signed a waiver after listening to a thousand terrifying disclaimers. Then they wheeled me into the operating room. A nice lady held my hand while I cried.
One second later, I opened my eyes to bright lights and a chorus of people talking. They assured me everything went smoothly. I was fine, the baby was fine.
Compared to a C-section with an epidural, the pain during the first two days was excruciating. By the time I reached one week, my recovery felt as smooth and quick as the first. I feel great, but hate that I have lifting restrictions. It makes life with a toddler hard.
I suppose this time will pass like the other tough ones. When I look back on the months Addie spent in a harness or helmet, they do actually feel like small, faraway blips in time, just like everyone said they would, even though they felt insurmountable.
I didn’t mean to give birth at Fairview Southdale, but I’m glad I did. Everyone we encountered made us feel like we were in good care.
There’s a reason why we don’t remember what the first month of Addie’s life were like.
The newborn phase passes like a weary haze. We depend on the kindness and generosity of those who have stepped in to help us find our way through the tears and sleepless nights. Endless pumping. The chaos that is the early mornings and evenings when we’re juggling our firstborn and second before bed. Feeling guilty about not being present enough to both. Grabbing a nap here and there. Eating whatever can be microwaved or delivered.
The days are long but the weeks/months are short.
We haven’t forgotten the infertility struggles we experienced along the way. And so we are grateful. Just really really tired.