We went down to the pool on Saturday August 15th and had a really nice day bonding as our family of 3 soon to be 4. That night Richard grilled us a delicious Branzino and we had a nice dinner all together. After dinner I was giving Mathias his bath when I started feeling some drops down there. I thought maybe it was just from the pool and didn’t want to admit to myself or Richard it could be Emma coming soon since it was a few weeks before her due date which was September 4th and it was August 15th. So I finished giving his bath and went to sleep. Sunday morning I felt the drops again and told Richard so we decided to call the Dr.
Before calling him, I called Tania my sister Sol’s friend who is also a Doula in Brazil. We had actually just caught up as I was walking to the pool that day. So she first asked me to change into a dark colored underwear and check if I kept dropping. She also asked me to send her a picture of my underwear – which sounds disgusting – but would help her figure out if it was amniotic liquid. She confirmed I was leaking and also knew all about my fear of calling the Dr and going to the hospital since she had also had two C-sections instead of the natural birth she wanted. In any case she said to call the Dr and try to request staying at home for longer and to express my wish for natural birth.
Dr Rock picked up and said what I feared. I had to go to the hospital to get checked. It sounded like my water broke and he needed me to check at the hospital. The Dr’s office was closed on a Sunday and if my water had broken then Emma was indeed joining us sooner than later.
My fears were all over the place. I had a feeling if I was sent to the hospital we’d end up where I didn’t want to. But Richard always leans towards Dr’s recommendations and I knew I also wanted me and baby Emma to be safe. So we decided to eat a little something, even though the Dr had advised me not to, and start getting ready to go to the hospital. Luckily my sister Male was still in town. She lives in NY but has an apartment in Miami they use as a beach getaway and also to see us and escape from the colder NY seasons. We were hoping to have Mathias stay with her family while we were at the hospital since leaving them with my parents wasn’t an option and even though Maria lives in Miami she has a full-time job, has 3 kids, and we can’t really trust leaving him with her nanny because she always ends up calling with some issue like he is crying or doesn’t nap. So we didn’t feel as comfortable leaving him there.
Dr Rock recommended not eating just in case we had to operate soon but I am someone who is hungry pretty much all the time and am a full time snacker so just to feel I had somewhat control of the day and not rush out we decided to eat a little something while we finished our bags and Mathias stay over bag as well. I had already sent my sister a little routine note with a breakdown of his day including wake up time, milk and feeding routines. Mathias had never spent a night away from us so I was a little nervous about that but knew he’d have a good time with his cousins and Tia Male and Tio Edu who he has a lot of fun with and also calls Tio Grande because he is a tall big guy.
After eating and packing we headed out and since Mathias slept in the car Richard decided to drop me off first and he’d go drop off Mathias as we waited for the COVID test result. They’d check if I tested negative to let him join me. If I tested positive, Richard or no one else could join me and I’d have to deliver without a loved one and basically not be able to have any visitor until I left the hospital with Emma. Another thing I was freaked out about and hoping the test came out negative since I’d hate to deliver our baby without Richard by my side. He is much more patient and calm than me in a hospital setting. Also he’s much better at listening to the Drs advice and translating it to me. He is my calm when I need it and the person I most trust in a setting like that and I couldn’t imagine going through it without him.
So I walked in with my backpack of personal belongings and I was asked to change into the hospital robe for my first interactions. I had a Dr come talk to me and explain that I would have an ultrasound to check on everything so I walked into the ultrasound room and a very kind nurse technician did the checkup. I started asking questions and they usually wait for the Dr to give the results but he calmed me down saying the baby was ok, which I deep down knew, and that it did in fact look like my water had broken and that usually meant what I feared as it could be risky for baby to get infected. The Dr reiterated that my water broke and as I was leaking amniotic fluids we had to make sure baby was ok and that Dr Roca would be coming in for what I feared most – to deliver my baby with a C-section. I asked a few questions teary eyed and was told they’d test me for COVID, which at least meant I still had hopes for Richard to join me. As I sat in my robe I started typing to my closest friends and family letting them know Emma would in fact join us sooner than later and I started hearing some words of encouragement and excitement. Although I was happy to meet my baby sooner than later I was also so sad that I would again have the kind of birth experience I had hoped so much I wouldn’t have.
As I read all the excitement from my friends and family, I continued to have tears trickling down as I waited for my test results. The nurses came in to start preparing me for my C-section and gave me some encouraging looks as they saw my teary eyes. I wrote Tania to share what I feared and she sent great messages telling me that at this point the best was just to give in and she basically said that although the Dr didn’t know what he was doing (she believed there were other options he could try before giving into my feared C-section) to trust that perhaps there was a larger protection out there.
The wait felt like forever. Richard had time to drop off Mathias, wait in the parking lot for a few hours, listen to podcasts, nap, and then decided to go eat lunch at a McDonalds nearby. When my results finally came back negative – one little light in the day – I immediately texted him and he said he’d come up with the rest of our packed luggage. He was a breath of fresh air after being probed and touched by a few Drs and nurses. He gave me the lay down on how Mathias drop off had been and that he’d had a nice nap in the car and was happy to see his cousins and didn’t cry at all when he dropped him off so that was another positive in the day and calmed me down a bit more.
Tania’s words started to make sense to me. I am a spiritual person and grew up with the catholic religion and believing in saints so I started feeling them, my grandmother, Tia abuela and how somehow maybe they were all there protecting me and us (baby Emma and my family) for everything to work out. And although I was wishing for a natural birth and would have preferred it, I also believed in science and started trusting that if that was what they were recommending, we would be okay since we had this protection from up above. I started to feel more strength, confidence and calm from within and decided that if this was the birth I was going to have I was going to make it the best possible. Richard came in dressed from top down for COVID times and for the operation and I cracked up – another good sign I was feeling better as I’m usually someone who can look at life with a touch of humor and lightness. Ok, here we go Caro. You got this. You’ve done this before and you will do it again. We have a good team of Drs. I trust my Dr, the hospital and all the crew. So far everyone had been very professional and even with a touch of kindness and humanity that I usually hoped for.
Dr Rock arrived. He is a pretty handsome guy by the way. A brown haired and fit guy with a charming face and kind eyes. He is the father of 2 and also a kind person overall. Even though Tania had mentioned something along the lines that I wasn’t having the birth I wanted because he didn’t know how I still trusted him. He’d been kind since the first day I saw him and I trusted he knew what he was doing. That was always a feeling that kept coming back since I was curious and excited to meet her. We would be together soon and everything would be ok. Our little girl was joining us today. I’d be able to hold her and nurse her and hug her. Here we go. I’m ready, I can do this.
“Hi Carolina” he said with a compassionate gaze. “I know this isn’t what we were planning and hoping for. I know this is hard. This happened to my wife too.” he reminded me she had also had an unplanned first C-section and was hoping for a VBAC (vaginal birth after csection) for their second child but she also had to have a second C-section. “I’m sorry” he said and he really meant it. I trusted he knew a little bit more about how I was feeling and really cared. At least it felt that way and it meant something after the experience I had had with my previous Dr that delivered Mathias. In a nutshell, he was a nice guy and helped deliver Mathias safely to us but had ended up being as far from compassionate as can be about the birth ending up in a C-section. And once Mathias was born he was very cold and insensitive about the fact that it was very hard for me to process and accept. He was almost just proud that he’d delivered our baby and that everything had worked out. We were just another operation and successful story under his belt. It felt almost like a factory and we were just another number or result for him to boast about.
With his kind gaze, he asked me if I was ready to sign the C-section paperwork or if I wanted to wait for Richard. I preferred to wait. I was in no mind-frame to go through that alone even though it was standard release forms that basically had to be signed to move forward with the operation. I continued to answer my encouragement messages. The nurses continued running routine tests and everything continued well with baby and I. Deep down I knew Emma was ok and that we’d be okay.
At around 7.30 pm Dr Rock said we were ready to start and I was wheeled into the operating room. It was bright and filled with nurses prepping the room. Music was playing in the background. The anesthesiologist approached me and began explaining the potential side effects of the epidural. The list went on of potential side effects and all I wanted was to get it done and over with. He was a kind guy and despite the horrible list of things, he made it somewhat light. He was from the northeast and mentioned he was in Miami the last couple of years. He turned me over and all I can remember was the tingling feeling as the anesthesia started kicking in.
I remember the song “Josies on a vacation far away…” by The Outfields playing in the background. I grew up in Brazil and that was a song often played in our house and also in the clubs once I started going out at an early age with friends.
Once Richard came in, he sat next to my head and the divider the Drs put so we couldn’t see the gruesome details of the operation. He began calmly talking to me and explaining what was going on step by step.
Emma was pulled out at 8.04 pm. She came out screaming. She was definitely much louder than Mathias. Richard shared that they were cleaning her, measuring her weight and height, and the step-by-step until they laid her on me and she finally took a deep breath and calmed down and so did I. Our first hug calmed us both down. She weighed 5.5 lbs. She was not technically premature but they called her ‘tiny but mighty’ and I believed it. Her voice was strong for her small size. A good trait in the long run. She would make herself heard.
They then took her to the baby nursery to continue running routine exams and they wheeled me to the post-op room. Richard joined me soon after. I was laying on the bed and was instructed that I’d stay there until I could move my legs on my own. I couldn’t wait for that to happen so I could be joined with my baby girl again. I kept asking if I was ready and they kept telling me no until I moved my legs more. It was such a frustrating wait. We started texting the family that Emma was born and that everything was ok with her and I.