Lukas was born on a chilly Friday in January, in Charlotte, NC. As you might be thinking - Charlotte doesn't really do winter, but in 2009, it did! There were record lows the week Luke was born, and we even watched snowflakes fall outside of our hospital room windows during our first few days together.
On Thursday morning, the day before his scheduled c-section, I was a nervous wreck (as you can imagine!). We had to leave the house by 5:30am, and towards the end of our time at home my anxiety was getting the best of me. I was so incredibly nervous for what I would be facing, I kind of shut off my mind & let the anxiety take over. I thought the emotions that were going through me at this point were intense - it was only the beginning.
We got to the hospital and were shown to our room where we settled in as much as we could. I was told to put on my gown and get in bed and they'd be in to prep me momentarily. Thus began the journey. They started out by hooking me up to a fetal heart monitor, as well as the monitor that tracks contractions. Apparently, I was having contractions 3-5 minutes apart - and I had no idea! I'd only felt 1 contraction during the entire time I was being prepped - and it wasn't even a painful one. I couldn't believe how often they were occurring & I was oblivious to it. The baby was moving around like crazy! I think it must have been adrenaline from me or something - he hadn't moved that much in months.
They did a few more things to get me ready - I can't even remember them all at this point. They tried to start an IV in my left arm, and it didn't work. I don't know what they did wrong, I think I remember them saying something about a blown vein, but I ended up with the biggest bruise I've ever had. It looked absolutely terrible for a good week - like I'd been beaten up or something. They ended up trying to run the IV in my hand next, and that one worked. As soon as they had the fluids running, I felt sick. I remember getting the cold sweats, feeling queasy, and my heart was racing a little. I was told this happens sometimes, and people who get motion sickness are more prone to it (yay me). They gave me some cold wash cloths & let me turn on my side and I felt better shortly. As soon as I did, they added antibiotics to my IV fluids - it's a precautionary thing for all c-section patients. So for quite a while, I laid there hooked up to all sorts of things, feeling all sorts of uncomfortable and getting more and more anxious to meet my sweet baby! Time seemed to crawl during this time of our experience, and rather than calm down during this quiet moment, I was getting more and more nervous.
The surgery was scheduled for 8am, but something ended up taking too long and it got pushed back to 8:30. I was so nervous - I didn't even notice. I swear, I was trapped in some crazy place where time didn't make any sense! Before I knew what was happening, they brought me a heated blanket, wrapped it around me, and said it was time to go. I was surprised that they were asking me to walk to my surgery, but apparently it was hospital policy. So I walked across the hall to the OR, following my IV, and they asked me to hop up on the table. My nerves were so intense at this point (in fact remembering it is making me anxious now). They started hooking me up to monitors left and right, and soon they got me ready for the spinal. I had two really nice nurses who were actually my age (one was 24, one was 22) and they really calmed me down. They talked to me and distracted me while they started doing their work on my back. I was so terrified for the spinal. The nurse told me what they were doing as they were doing it, so I was prepared for each step. I must say - it didn't feel good, but it didn't hurt any worse than having my IV put in. I felt a few electrical-like pulses in my muscles - and just like that, everything started to tingle below my waist.
At this point they helped me get my legs up on the table and had me lay down. They tipped the table to help the medicine flow, and as they did this they put in the cath - I didn't even feel it. They strapped down my limbs, and started testing me for numbness. They'd rub alcohol swabs on my shoulder to feel the coldness, and then on my belly to see if I could still feel the same temp. As soon as it felt warmer on my belly, they started their work. I didn't even mention - Matt had to sit just outside the OR during all of this. They wouldn't let him in until they were sure the meds would work on me. He told me later that he felt so sick to his stomach with worrying about me that he had to sit with his head between his knees. I was so scared without him - I was dying for them to let him in. As soon as I was totally numb, they called him in and he was right by side.
The operation was interesting. I felt all the pressure and nothing else. It wasn't as bad as I expected, though. Regardless - I was so scared even while it was going on. Matt sat and pep talked me the entire time. I kept telling him I was scared, even though it was already happening - I was scared. He knew all the right things to say to keep me sane. My doctors were talking and making jokes which also helped a lot. One of my doctors announced that Dr. Bhojwani was going to put a lot of pressure on my belly to help get the baby out, and he'd be out in just a minute. The next thing I heard was someone yell, "he's peeing!" and then I heard Luke cry. Oh my gosh, it was such a moment - I was laughing and crying. Laughing that he was peeing on his way out (Matt did the same thing when he was born!) and crying over hearing his cry.
The nurse who was assigned to Luke brought him over to my side of the table to show him off. Oh, my, gosh! He was SO chubby and snuggly looking - I couldn't believe how gorgeous he was! They checked him out a few feet away where I had plain view of him, and I told Matt to go see him and take pictures. Luke was crying so hard - he was pretty angry about having to leave his comfy home! I was crying, too - no, bawling. Matt kept telling me how great he looked. He leaned down to kiss me at one point and we cried together for a minute - it was such an intense moment. I heard the nurses checking Luke out, and even though I knew he had all of his bits and pieces from the sonograms, I was so relieved when I heard them count his fingers and toes and he had them all. In not much time at all, he was bundled up and in Matt's arms. He held him right in front of me and we just kept talking to him. Around this time I started to get a headache - one that extended into the back of my neck even, and I tried telling Matt how uncomfortable I was. I don't know what caused it, but I kind of lost awareness at this point - because I was telling Matt how my head hurt & I had pain just below my lungs, and the next thing I knew he and Luke were waiting in OR recovery and I barely noticed them leaving.
The pain under my lungs sucked - it felt extremely sore. I thought it was my diaphragm, but as time went on the pain was getting lower & lower, and I realized it was my uterus that was sore & shrinking down. They finished up, and one of my doctors announced that the tumor was off my ovary and they'd be finished in just a few minutes. (I had a fairly decent sized dermoid, which was the reason for my c-section.) A few other doctors started prepping me for recovery & added something else to my IV. I remember my hand stinging where the IV was flowing in, and not knowing why until they told me this later. They transferred me to my bed from the table - which was a scary experience, and then wheeled me out to recovery. Matt and Luke were waiting there for me. The nurses hooked me up to a few new monitors, got me situated, and then Luke was in my arms and nursing. I could not get over how adorable he was! Matt was taking pictures left and right and calling our parents. After he nursed (which was at 9:30, I remember) they gave him his first bath right next to me, and the poor thing fell asleep during it. He was so cute!
As soon as I could wiggle my toes, they let me go back to my room. I don't remember much from this first day - I was very out of it. All I really remember was slowly regaining feeling in my legs, taking a lot of pain killers, and slowly learning how to nurse.
I've tried to detail how I felt - what it was like seeing my baby for the first time, holding him, hearing him cry - the emotions involved and how wonderful Matt was and how great it felt to have my little family pieced together. But I just can't find the words. They don't want to come out, or don't know how. But, I have them in the most precious of places in my mind, and I will never forget them. Having Luke is truly the best thing I've ever done. He made me a Mom, and my life will never be the same.
It's really hard to wrap my mind around the fact that my baby Luke will be 5 years old in a few months. FIVE?! I remember the day he became a part of our family like it was yesterday, and now he's a KID....a preschooler, almost a Kindergartner, all smart and funny in wonderful ways, and such a beautiful, sweet soul. He paved the way for his brothers, and I can't imagine there being a better guy for the job.