(1) I walked in.
On a day when everyone else did the doing, I did this.
Keep your wheelchairs, keep your gurneys.
I am not sick so I will be walking.
Hair straightened; makeup applied.
(I took advantage of this scheduled birth business.)
I walked in.
In to the operating theatre.
In to the place of surrender.
It was so cold in the OR.
I saw the room as a patient instead of a nurse.
I remember seeing wall suction, baby warmer, fluorescent lights, cardiac monitor.
But instead of scrubs I wore a hospital gown.
So I only saw a jungle.
There were lots of vines.
There were predators.
I was the prey.
(2) I walked to the table where prey is prepared.
Jim offered a matter-of-fact hello.
He was the anesthesiologist but not the one I’d met before surgery.
It was shift change.
“Come around to this side of the table and step up on the stool.”
I complied with his instructions.
He silently motioned for me to sit on the table.
Oh no, I thought, he seems gruff.
“Stay right there like that. You’re going to feel a bee sting.”
Needle, prep solution, drapes.
“Curl your back around like a cat. Hold that position.”
The circulating nurse collected supplies.
And then I got a spinal, I guess — I felt nothing.
Jim praised me for being so still and
helped me lie down on the table.
(Why is it so narrow?)
And then I felt a lot of things.
Tingly numbness started at my toes and quickly lapped
up to my breasts, giving way to elephant heaviness,
giving way to complete divorce from my body.
“My left thumb feels tingly. Is that ok?”
Jim had asked me to tell him if I felt anything funny.
I decided Jim took his job incredibly seriously and I was so grateful.
“So where are you from?” he asked.
St. Louis, I said.
He told me he did his residency (or fellowship?) at UMKC.
He told me he did an internship (or something?) at Gateway Regional in Granite City.
He told me he loved the Galleria and he used to shop at that Whole Foods sometimes.
I told him I used to live five minutes from there.
I decided Jim was awesome.
He talked to me about St. Louis.
St. Louis makes things better.
(3) A nurse got to work inserting my urinary catheter.
She mumbled something about how I hadn’t been
and remedied that.
She didn’t ask before she touched me.
I get it; I’m a nurse; I know my surgery was just another work day for her.
I’ve done it too as a professional.
Try to ask people before you touch their genitals and stick things inside them.
Even if they are paralyzed.
Especially if they are paralyzed!
I wasn’t mad, though I could have been.
But I noticed.
(4) Simon and Jetta, my midwife, were brought into the OR.
Jetta tethered me to my former reality
and things that made sense.
Birth plans out the window but still
my midwife at my side.
My husband sat down on a stool next to my head;
Jetta positioned herself beside him.
They helped keep my arms on those skinny boards
(why are they so narrow?)
sticking out from the table.
I couldn’t help but think I was in the crucifix position.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,
I can do all things through Christ who strengths me,
I repeated it to myself over and over.
Lay down on this tree, they said,
put your arms out on planks.
Wait to be pierced.
(5) I tried everything
to get Tabitha to come out
before I ended up on that table.
Evening primrose oil.
Walk walk walk walk walk.
A round of basketball with Simon.
Hell I flew at 39 weeks pregnant
for a family emergency
and that child could not have been more content.
At 41 weeks and some change
I drank a castor oil milkshake.
I vomited it up a couple hours later.
I was on the toilet all day.
I eventually contracted
for four hours.
Simon blew up the birth tub
and made a groceries run.
I circled my hips on my yoga ball
and breathed through contractions.
I started getting psyched up,
altered my birth team,
laid down to rest while I could.
Baby Cookie did some big big moves,
and then I slept all night.
The next morning was Christmas Eve.
I walked my neighborhood streets singing
“Baby all I want for Christmas is you”
with tears rolling down.
I put out milk and cookies for Santa
and went to bed that night
but not before baby did some more big big moves.
Christmas morning came.
But not baby.
I contracted all morning,
got psyched up again,
alerted my birth team again.
My midwife’s only December client
was going to give birth on Christmas Day.
(That’s Murphey’s Law for you.)
But by noon it all stopped again.
Baby Cookie’s stocking went unopened,
her Santa onesie unworn.
I went to bed Christmas night
with my best present still wrapped up.
The next day I learned why.
(6) They went about testing my anesthesia’s efficacy.
“No. I feel nothing.”
I felt everything.
“Ok, we’re doing a gentle c-section today!”
A nurse announced to the room what was about to happen.
I was grateful in one sense.
Yes please make sure everyone here KNOWS:
Baby goes to ME
not the goddamn warmer.
But I was also perplexed.
Why isn’t this the standard of care?
If baby is healthy?
If Mom is conscious?
If it’s not a crisis?
I’m so glad you’re giving me a gentle cesarean.
Just please provide it to everyone.