March 12, 2015

The Birth Of Thomas River

Posted in: Baby


Our beautiful River man is over a month old already! That’s so crazy! People weren’t joking when they said, it all goes way too quickly.

I have been meaning to write this post for ages now but just haven’t had the time. But today I am going to relive the best day of my life.

For as long as I can remember, being pregnant and especially giving birth were on my, ‘Things that are scary and unnatural and I will never do,’ list. When I was fifteen or sixteen, I started to buy books about birth. I wanted confirmation from those books that giving birth naturally was this horrendous, painful torture. The books confirmed what I already believed and I made up my mind then and there, having children won’t be something I will ever do. What was really the nail in the coffin was something I saw at twenty years of age, birth? No, thank you.

Fast forward to today and obviously things changed. I now have the most glorious son and this is how he came into the world.

When we made the decision to bring a child into our family I asked friends in the medical field whether they knew of any excellent obstetricians that would be sympathetic to my situation, fearing pregnancy and natural birth, and allow my baby into this world via caesarian. For me, having a caesarian seemed much more natural and less frightening. I got given the name of an OB who was kind, knowledgeable but relaxed and had a reputation around Adelaide for being an excellent ‘cutter.’

I called his offices the day I found out I was pregnant.

The second I met him, I feel in love with him. He made me feel comfortable and confident about my pregnancy and the delivery of our baby. He made all my appointments such an enjoyable one. Andrew and I always left his office laughing. He was always amused by my monthly list of questions I brought in to him, he loved how ‘serious’ they were:

Me: I love coffee, like REALLY love it, I don’t know if I can give it up! Can I have coffee while pregnant?
OB: Yes, have your coffee. Just don’t have 6 a day

Me: Google says…
OB: Has Google gone to medical school for 15 years? No. Don’t Google anything. Next question

Me: I got sunburned pretty badly last week, have I damaged the baby?
OB: Yes, you have cooked him. No, you have just hurt yourself, make sure you wear sunscreen

Me: Can I listen to music when you’re doing the c-section?
OB: Yes, just no Enya. Only Salt n Peper
Me: Sure, what about MC Hammer, I was thinking MC Hammer
OB: Yes, MC Hammer is good and I can do this dance while operating on you (gets up and does the MC Hammer dance)

And so on.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, my OB gave me the date of our baby’s arrival. February the 3rd at 7.30am. I felt so relaxed and calm knowing when the due date would be.

The day before going into hospital, Andrew and I woke up, looked at each other with wide eyes and I said, ‘We are going to have a son tomorrow. Tomorrow you will be a father, I’ll be a mother.’ Andrew replied with a, ‘Man, that is so scary, I don’t want to think about it, I’m going to get ready for uni. It’s just a normal day, I’m not going to think about tomorrow.’

That whole day, I was so calm and relaxed. Toby and I went for our morning coffee and a two hour walk along the beach. Then we went to a cafe and had a long lazy lunch. We came home and we cleaned the house. I got ready for dinner, packed Toby’s bag as he was staying at a friend’s house for the week and waited for Andrew to return home from uni.

Andrew came home at 5pm, gave me a hug, looked at me and loudly sighed and said, ‘OK, now I’m nervous. All day I didn’t think about it but now I’m really nervous.’ He then went straight to the dishwasher and started to unpack it. He then proceed to his car and spent half an hour checking and rechecking the baby car seat he correctly installed a month ago. He came inside and said, ‘Where is the pram, I’ll pack the pram into the car. We need to take the pram right? We can’t carry a baby from the hospital to the car, can we?’ The way Andrew was acting started to make me feel nervous and I told him to stop it and get ready for dinner.

Before we went out to one of our favourite restaurants in Adelaide, we dropped Toby off at our friend’s house. At dinner we talked about how we met in a carpark 15 years ago at the age of 16 and what a crazy and wild ride our lives have been ever since. We tried to talk about everything but what was going to happen tomorrow. We tried to stay in the moment and enjoy our last few hours of not being parents.

We came home from dinner, put our hospital bags in the car, went to bed and set our alarms. We managed to get to sleep with both of us waking up every few hours to check the time. Our alarm went off at 5 in the morning and I started to feel nervous. I had an incredibly long shower while Andrew had breakfast and at 6am we set off.

In the car I said to Andrew, ‘I don’t want to make this a big deal because if we do I’m going to freak out. Let’s not talk about what is about to happen, we are just going to the airport to pick up our son, no biggy.’ ‘No biggy,’ Andrew replied and turned up the music.

As we parked the car I kept chanting to myself, ‘Don’t work yourself up, it’s fine, what’s about to happen is no big deal.’ Trying not to give any power to my nerves.

We checked into the maternity ward and I loved how nonchalant the nurses were.
‘Hi, I’m here for a caesarian.’
‘Helena? 7.30?’
‘You can go into Room 5 and get into your gown and Andrew can get into his scrubs and a nurse will be with your shortly.’

In the room we got changed. After a few minutes a lovely nurse came in to take my details. She was talking about how much she loves my OB and how good he is. She asked me if I knew much about the procedure. I told her about my phobia and that I knew EXACTLY what I was in for.

I had researched it to death. I knew that before I went into theater I would get an IV line put into the back of my hand, then I would be wheeled into theater where the anesthetist would inject an area of my back with some local anesthetic. Then he would inject the spinal block into my spine. I would have to lie down quickly as the lower half of my body would go numb. The theater nurse would then check if I’m numb by putting ice blocks on various parts of my body. A catheter would be inserted and the operation would start. I read that I may feel cold, I may shiver, I may get bad shakes, I may feel like I need to vomit, so I was prepared for all these feelings. I also knew that I wouldn’t feel any pain but I would likely feel pulling and tugging during the procedure. Knowing all this information strangely comforted me.

The anesthetist came into my room and dropped a bombshell on me. I would have to get a blood test before the procedure. This threw me off for two reasons. Firstly, I did not know that this would happen and secondly, I absolutely hate blood tests and faint every time. I told the anesthetist I had to lie down because I was feeling faint and requested a cold flannel be placed on my forehead.

Next my OB came into my room, saw me and gave me a big hug. I told him I was scared about the blood test. ‘Don’t worry, I won’t let them poke you twice, we can just draw blood from your IV line so you don’t need this blood test. Now relax, I’ll go put my pajamas on and I’ll see you at the party downstairs.’  This made me laugh, relax and ready to get the show on the road.

What happened next is all a blur even though I remember it thoroughly, it just feels like it didn’t happen to me.

I got wheeled down to theater where they put an IV in the back of my hand and drew blood. I was then told to sit up and lean forward while the anesthetist put a local anesthetic into my back followed by the spinal block which felt like a warm hug going through my body. I was told to lie down and the green sheets went up so I couldn’t see anything.

The theater nurse said she was about to insert the catheter. I said, ‘Er, don’t do that just yet, I can still feel my legs.’ She just looked at me and smiled. I yelled out again, ‘I can feel my legs!’ But no one would listen to me. I turned to Andrew who was by my side and said, ‘Tell them I can feel my legs.’ I closed my eyes and heard Andrew say, ‘Sorry, but she says she can feel her legs.’ The anesthetist replied, ‘They have already started, she is open, if she could feel anything she would be screaming very loudly right now.’ Andrew stroked my head and told me that they had started and to try and relax.

I had my iphone with me and Andrew placed the earphones into my ears and asked me what song I wanted to listen to. I requested Summer Party by Breakbot and as soon as the music came on, I concentrated on the music and visualized Toby and I walking down the beach, the sunshine streaming onto my body and Toby bunny hopping into the cool, blue water.

After the song ended, I waited for the next song to come on but nothing happened. My hands fumbled around to find my iphone so I could put on another song but heard my OB say, ‘OK, get ready, he is about to enter the world!’ I ripped my ear phones out and could hear Andrew say to himself, ‘Wow, here we go!’

‘The little guy doesn’t want to come out, come on buddy’ my OB said. My body shook from side to side as he forced our baby out. All of a sudden the room filled with the loudest baby scream and I started to cry and Andrew kept saying, ‘Wow, wow, wow, oh my gosh wow!’

The green sheets were lowered and our baby was presented to us, ‘As advertised, a baby! Congratulations!’

All these months pregnant, I had envisaged this moment. I had imagined what I would say to my baby when I saw him, how I would feel, what I would think and every thought and visualtstion was beautiful and romantic. However, in real life as I laid eyes on him for the first time I thought, ‘Oh, you’re funny looking, you kinda look like a potato!’ – ha, mother of the year right there!

Potato or not, I was in love and couldn’t believe that I had done it. I survived pregnancy and birth and it was the most magical and easiest ride from start to finish. A lifetime of fear, for nothing.

Andrew went and cut the cord and hung around the pediatrician as he looked over the baby and cleaned him up. I was on cloud nine and couldn’t believe what had just happened. ‘So, what have you decided to call him?’ my OB asked as he was stitching me back up, ‘Thomas River Chan.’

Once Thomas was cleaned, Andrew brought him back to me and I held him in disbelief.

‘Hey Buddy, we are your parents, welcome to the world,’ Andrew said. Before we could say anything else to him, the whole thing was over and done with. I couldn’t believe it, ‘That’s it? That was so quick and easy. This feels so surreal. This was the best 30 minutes of my life! I am so doing this again,’ I sang out as they wheeled me into recovery.

That was the beginning of the best 5 days of my life. I was a little sad the day we had to leave the hospital. I just wanted to live in that moment for as long as possible and 5 days just wasn’t enough.

I recovered from my c-section extremely well and quickly and never had any pain or discomfort. For me, the birth of Thomas was a dream and I can’t wait to do it all over again.

In the mean time, we are enjoying the insane amount of love Thomas keeps pouring into our lives each day. Each day is filled with more love and happiness than the day before.

Welcome to the world Thomas River Chan, we can’t believe our luck. We love you like crazy.