I left my doctor’s office, sent some texts, and made a phone call to my parents to let them know the babies were coming that day. For some reason, they both happened to pick up the phone to answer it, so I was able to tell them both. It was comforting to me that they heard the news at the same time.
I retrieved my overnight bag from the car and walked over to the main hospital building, and up to Labor and Delivery. My doctor’s office called to let them know I was coming. The nurses ushered me to a room right off the nurses station. I learned later they like to keep patients with complicated pregnancies close by, so they can keep an eye on them.
I unloaded my stuff, and the afternoon became a blur. I arrived in the early afternoon, some time around two o’clock. Someone told me that the surgery was going to be moved up from nine or ten to six thirty. I was happy it was going to be earlier. I was still waiting to hear if I was going to be able to get a spinal, and if I’d be awake for the delivery, or if I’d need to go under.
I had explained to my doctor that I was actually totally cool with general anesthesia. I knew with twins, that I’d be delivering in the operating room no matter what. It’s a precaution they take with every twin birth. When I found out I’d be getting a c-section, I almost didn’t want to be awake for it.
Did I mention that we had seen the videos? A c-section did not look like fun. It’s not a gentle or dainty process. They put up a curtain so you can’t see them cutting you open. Dave could hang out with me, on my side of the curtain. I’d be awake, and we’d “be there” for the birth of the babies.
But still. When my doctor was advocating the spinal over the general, I really had to tell her, I was totally cool with being out. I didn’t really want to be there.
Before being pregnant, I had spent exactly ZERO time in a hospital. I may have had some childhood ailment that required going to the doctor. But I had led a sheltered life in respect to injuries or illness. I had never had a surgery. The closest I had was having my wisdom teeth taken out. I’ve never broken a bone. The only stitches I ever had were after I had a mole removed. That was the extent of my familiarity with doctors and hospitals. So I’m a big baby about medical stuff.
That afternoon, they prepped me for surgery. I changed into the gown. I was in the hospital bed, laying on my back. The poked me in the hand and got a couple of IVs going, (which hurt like hell and totally sucked. I told you I am a big baby). Dave had arrived from work and he shuffled around the room as various nurses and doctors came and fiddled with me. One nurse shaved my pubes. It was a goddamned carnival of surreal experiences.
Laying on my back became increasingly more uncomfortable. I was semi-upright and reclined. But I had learned that compressing my torso made my ribs hurt. I thought it was the boys complaining about space, and that the pain was kicking in the ribs. I found out later it was probably my liver freaking out. I was getting very sick, very quickly.
I got a visit from the anesthesiologist nurse, who was already in scrubs. She was astonishingly pretty, with sparkly blue eyes. She explained how general anesthesia worked, and I had to sign release forms. My doctor visited later and confirmed that they would need to do general. My platelets were low, and getting lower. They didn’t want to risk doing a shot into the spine if there was a chance of uncontrolled bleeding.
The six thirty surgery time approached, and I heard the nurses say everything was on time. They wheeled me out of the room in the hospital bed. The labor and delivery unit had their own operating room. There was a small waiting area right outside the door. This was where Dave said goodbye.
Dave is as enlightened as anyone in 2012. But he had lamented that the days were over, when a father used to wait nervously outside the delivery room. Like in the classic movies and TV, where the father would pace and smoke cigarettes and await news of the birth of his child(ren). In the end, this was almost exactly his experience. Minus the cigarettes. He waited outside the operating room as they wheeled me in.
The operating room was blindingly white, and freezing cold. I had to heft myself out of the hospital bed and onto a flat table. This was not such an easy thing to do while enormously pregnant. The room was aflutter with activity. I couldn’t see much because I was lying flat on my back. And I was so, so, so freezing cold. Various faces floated in and out of my view like constellations against the searing white light.
I was terribly nervous. I just wanted to be out. I wanted to not be cold any more. I wanted to stop feeling them getting my belly ready. Someone drew a line where the incision would go. Everyone was on their tasks, buried in protocols and routines. I felt completely removed, almost ignored. And I felt completely, totally alone.
I wanted to be out. I shivered and wondered how much longer I needed to be awake. I didn’t want to be there. The astonishingly pretty anesthesiologist nurse put a mask over my mouth and nose. She said it was going to smell like plastic.
The nurse said “I want you to think of a nice dream.” I tried to think of something. But my brain couldn’t call up a specific thought with such a general command. What’s a nice dream? Why wasn’t I out yet? When would this be over?
“I want you to think of a nice dream,” she said again. I settled on a campfire. I thought of the campfire at Camp Creek, near Mount Hood, one of our favorite places to go camping, one of my favorite places to be. I remembered that place, and that time. Being in the woods, the river rushing below our campsite, the dusky green forest, the deep night sky, the flickering light, the glasses of wine. My love sitting beside me.
I went out.