On September 24th, 2013 I gave birth to our baby girl Madeleine Sophia Gillespie. She was born at 9:07AM weighing 9 pounds 2 ounces and measuring 22 inches long.
That morning, we woke up at 5 AM, showered, got our bags into the car, called our doula, and began driving to the hospital. For a moment, in the quiet of the morning, I almost forgot we were heading to the hospital and rather it seemed as though we were heading to the airport for a trip overseas. It was quiet. Peaceful. Serene. An excited silence filled our car. We communicated by holding hand, stealing glances, and taking deep breaths.
We were quickly admitted – as they had been expecting us. The surgeon was there, my midwife was there, and we had arrived. In less than an hour they assured me I would meet my baby.
Dave, our doula, and I were all smiles and nervous anticipation.
I busied myself writing thank you notes and preparing the macarons (read: bribery) for distribution.
I made sure to reiterate the highlights of my now succinct birth plan: please wait to cut the cord, delay the hep b shot and erythromycin drops, and MOST importantly so not take the baby to the nursery while I recover.
This last point was the real reason for the macarons 🙂
I had heard that while OSU was progressive when it came to natural labor and birth yet they continued with ancient protocols for c-section births. Rather than leaving the baby with the mother to bond during recovery they would take to baby to the nursery until mom’s spinal had mostly worn off. For a new mother, this means going through surgery and waiting 2 – 3 hours before seeing, touching, feeling her baby. I knew I would be requesting to go against protocol which meant being persistent and vocal about my right to keep my baby with me (all the while being as respectful as possible). I repeated my desire for my baby to be kept with me to every nurse, anesthesiologist, student I was introduced to. I had been told that I needed to be that persistent in order to allow those in my operating room to go again hospital protocol. And it worked. But I’m getting ahead of myself
Once I had the IV in place and all necessary blood work was completed, I had a quick meeting with the anesthesiologist and began my walk into the operating room….alone. It was at that moment we found out Dave would not be present for my spinal. He was able to come into the room just after. That’s when I got scared.
I walked alone into a bright, sterile operating room with about 15 people wearing masks staring at me. I met my midwife there (thank goodness for a familiar face) who told me that things would move very quickly. I needed to sit on the edge of the operating table and curl my back while the anesthesiologist placed the spinal. First, he would insert a needle that would numb the site. This would hurt.
It felt like fire radiating up and out from the bottom of my spine. There I sat. Curled. Burning. Breathing. Then he placed the spinal. I was told I *might* feel a Zing and to tell them. I felt 3 Zings. And each time my left leg would kick out spontaneously. They seemed more concerned than I liked. But soon after that third Zing, they quickly flipped me on the table and the room became a flurry of activity. All the while I had been listening to my calm hypnobirthing meditation on my iphone which I smuggled in (lesson learned: it’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission:) ). This kept my anxiety down and breath steady. I focused on the meditation until Dave joined my side.
Dave came in, rushed to grab my hand, and, in trying to comfort me, gripped my hand with such force that I had to ask if he was ok and to loosen up. 🙂 He did. And I just kept my focus and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. It wasn’t long after, the doctor announced we had a beautiful baby girl! He instructed the team to wait to delay cord clamping, as I had requested in my birthing plan.
During those few minutes, Dave jumped up — looking over the sheet that blocked us from surgery — and set his eyes for the first time on his little girl. All I could do was look up at him. I saw him beaming. And tears welling up in his eyes. I will never forget that moment.
One beautiful fantasy followed by humbling reality. And thus, we were thrust into parenthood.
Dave went with our little girl as she was bundled up. And, finally, after what seemed like eternity, I got to meet Madeleine Sophia.
After a quiet moment with my daughter, Dave took her to get weighed, measured, etc. It was then they discovered she had low glucose levels and needed to feed her immediately. Dave got the chance to take care of his little girl, now, for the second time in minutes.
It took about an hour for the surgery to take place. Once the surgery was over I was placed on a new bed that could be wheeled into recovery. I was then, FINALLY, given my baby to hold. Like really hold. It was wonderful. I rested her body against mine and held her close as they wheeled me down the hall.
We met with our Doula who hadn’t been allowed in the OR and she was beaming seeing our family. It was very important to me to breastfeed as soon as possible and I was so thankful for my doula’s guidance. She confidently instructed me to place Maddie on my chest, and almost immediately Maddie started crawling toward my breast, did a head bob I would come to know well, and latched. All on her own! I was in shock. It was the most natural thing I have ever experienced.
In that moment, I was overwhelmed with emotion. It is still indescribable. Joy. Love. Euphoria. Bliss. From that moment on I knew I would never be the same. I would be so much better. Insecurity was replaced with confidence and I knew in my heart I would rise to the occasion. I have the incredible privilege of being Madeleine’s mother. I love you, Maddie.