Introducing Arlene Gail Lampson Opstad! Born at 12:24pm on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 weighing in at 7 lbs 15 oz and stretching in at 20″.
We did it! We had a baby! She is perfect, from her tiny little toes to her cute button chin. I have never felt so much love in my whole life. The moment I was able to kiss her little cheek I was overwhelmed with emotion – relief that she was healthy and crying, joy like I’ve never experienced, and fear that something might happen to her. To say the last week has been a whirlwind is such an understatement.
It all started on Monday night (August 12). I woke up around midnight with what I thought could be contractions. They weren’t what I expected so I didn’t trust that I was actually having them. I thought they were the pretend ones or maybe I was just crampy from sleeping with a giant baby inside me. I started timing them and around 2am I woke Danny up to tell him I might be in labor. The contractions were coming about 8 minutes apart – but I was trying to be conservative. I didn’t want to be that crazy lady who goes to the hospital 4 times before she’s actually in labor. Our doctor wanted us to go to the hospital at 15 minutes apart, so we decided we better be safe than sorry. We got the bags and walked over to the hospital (our hospital is super close, but I still think it’s badass to say I walked to the hospital while in labor
We checked into Labor and Delivery at around 3am. They hooked me up to the contraction monitor thing and the fetal heart monitor. It turned out I was having full on contractions every 2-3 minutes. I was only about 3 cm dilated so they said it would be a while before things got really going. They told us to try to rest and save our energy for the later morning. We decided to hold off calling family and friends until a decent hour since we thought our baby girl was a long ways off.
In the meantime, the doctor ordered an ultrasound to monitor the size of the baby. The ultrasound technician came in around 5am and estimated that our little girl was a whopping 9 lbs 4 oz! What the duck? This seemed hard to believe, but she’s the expert. Our doctor came in around 7am to check the results of the tests and when he heard the estimated baby size recommended we get a c-section. He said that if a baby is over 9 pounds there can be harmful risks involved both for mom and baby. Of course, I totally trust our doctor and I would do whatever it took to avoid any risks to the baby. However, this isn’t what I had imagined or prepared for and I was sad that I wouldn’t have the chance to deliver our baby “naturally”. I had a mini cry session that was compounded by the news that our doctor wanted to do it immediately. Remember, we had waited to tell our family to head over to the hospital – so all the people we had hoped would be waiting for us in the waiting room wouldn’t get there in time. Seeing my panicked face, my doctor said he’d push it until noon. Phew. The only downside to waiting 5 more hours was that I was still having contractions – and they would continue until then – but it was a small price to pay to have everyone with us. It also gave me a chance to wrap my head around having a major surgery. Granted, c-sections are done safely every day, but I was terrified about having my stomach cut open and having my baby pulled out all while I’m awake on the other side of a very thin curtain.
The procedure was a pretty isolating experience. They took me into prep and there seemed to be 6 or 7 nurses, technicians, and other staff all talking about their weekend and making jokes about this and that. All the while I was trying to remain as unstressed/calm as possible. Danny couldn’t be in the room with me while they prepped – he came in at the last possible second. So, I was by myself getting the spinal block – a pretty scary thing – they gave me 4 or 5 shots in my spine to numb it before they put in the mother-load spinal block. I really should have read up more on c-sections. Then they laid me down on the thin metal table and put up the curtain. They took my arms and placed them flat on extended platforms and then they started dressing my tummy for the procedure. Here’s the thing about a spinal block – you can still feel things – it doesn’t hurt but you feel pulling, tugging, and stretching. I thought they started and noticed Danny wasn’t there and asked for him. They made a joke about getting a husband for me, any husband would do. I wasn’t in the mood for jokes (I hate bits). I just wanted Danny there with me and our baby out and healthy.
Danny finally came in dressed in complete Breaking Bad gear to stand by my head. I felt so out of it and started worrying that I wouldn’t be in the moment when the baby was born. It was a relatively quick process to get the baby out. I could actually feel the absence of her when they lifted her out of my body – it was the most surreal, crazy feeling I think I will ever feel. She immediately started crying and they gave me a quick glimpse before whisking her away to get her vitals. Danny went with her and soon after brought her back and laid her on the operating table next to my head. Her little feet were facing opposite mine, but we were cheek to cheek. All my fears of not being “in the moment” were for naught – it was love at first sight. I kissed her cheek and told her that I loved her. Danny and I spent our first moments as a family while behind the curtain they were putting my insides back together. Pretty crazy.
The rest of the day is a blur. I had only had one hour of sleep the night before, not to mention the stress and excitement of all the day’s events. I don’t remember all that much about the rest of the day. The spinal block lasts for 24 hours – so I was lying flat on my back until the next day and the next day, when they took the catheter out and had me try to get up, was super painful. I didn’t expect it to be so painful. I couldn’t imagine why women would opt for a c-section – but I didn’t experience a vaginal delivery, so I have nothing to compare it to. It definitely wasn’t a walk in the park (it still isn’t). I had 14 staples in my tummy that just came out yesterday. But it doesn’t really matter – all the pain, all the fear, all the worry – it doesn’t matter because the we had the best possible outcome. Our little Arlene Gail came out screaming and kicking and ready to take on the world. I wouldn’t trade that for anything – including the “perfect” delivery.
Also, we were surrounded by our loved ones and they were able to experience the day with Danny, Arlene and I. My great friend, Justin, made a beautiful video capturing the events of the day. I am so grateful that I have this because, like I said, Arlene’s actual birthday is a blur. I feel like I wasn’t part of it (even though I know that is totally not true). I will have this video forever and I will be able to show it to her someday and she will get to feel how much love there was waiting for her. Here it is:
Danny and I are incredibly lucky and I am so thankful to have so much love and support from friends and family.
I’m a mom. How awesome is that!?