Missed part 1? Read it here.
Christopher calls it the “hardest moment of [his] life.” I think it was one of the hardest of mine, too.
We—me, in my hospital bed; Christopher, who walked alongside; and a few nurses—approached the double doors of the operating room. Someone told Christopher that was all the farther he could go. The rest of the crew kept wheeling me away. I turned my head back and reached my hand out; my eyes welled with tears, my face flushed with fear. Christopher stood there, helpless; he cried.
But no less than 30 seconds later, Dr. LeMay rounded the corner and Christopher calmed down. “Doctor,” Dr. LeMay said. “I look the part, don’t I?” Christopher replied.
In the next 10 or 15 minutes, I received my spinal block and the operating team prepared for surgery, all while Christopher waited outside.
Mike, the anesthesiologist, instructed me to scoot to the edge of the table, hunch over and stick out my back—not an easy task for a 9-months-pregnant woman of my stature. A sweet nurse, with the prettiest eyes and the softest voice, hugged me; she told me to hold onto her, not only to maintain the appropriate posture, but also to ease my fear. I held onto her for dear life.
It wasn’t long before the coolness, tingling and numbness washed over me, from my toes, up my legs and to my torso. Then, all of a sudden, I felt this stinging and pricking. Dr. LeMay was starting to make his incision, and I was feeling it. Mike urged him to stop to give the spinal a few more minutes to take full effect.
Finally, just a few minutes later, Christopher and I were reunited and things got going. Christopher sat to the left of my head, and I gripped his hand. A nurse stood to the right of my head, and I gripped her hand, too. Mike sat right at my head to keep an eye on things.
I alternated between staring at the cold, florescent, sterile ceiling and closing my eyes and praying everything would be over soon. I felt so much pushing, pulling and pressure in my midsection. But I was glad not to see any of it.
Suddenly, Mike said, “You’re about to have babies.” Christopher got his camera ready. I braced for the moment.
Anna emerged first. Christopher says she was so pale, almost lifeless looking, but so beautiful. He kept telling me that: “She’s so beautiful, honey.”
Christopher worked with the nurses to cut the umbilical cord (which he describes as a strange, almost mind-blowing experience), wrap her up and bring her to me. A nurse snapped the obligatory photo, one with Christopher wearing his mask and one without; he kissed Anna’s forehead, no matter that it was messy. Before long, they all were gone from my side.
Elise came next. Christopher was told to take her, and he almost took her straight to the recovery room, rather than over to me. A different nurse, Diane, who taught our childbirth class back in May, snapped the other obligatory photo, but it would prove to be blurry. Again, everyone was gone from my side in a flash.
Christopher will tell you that amid the joy of his twin daughters’ birth was fear for my well being. He said he leveled with Mary, the nurse; he wanted to bond with his girls in the recovery room, but he also wanted to be at my side—a sight that involved the most blood he’d ever seen. Mary assured him I was fine.
In the next 15 or so minutes, Christopher was alone (well, alone but with nurses and the on-call pediatrician) with the girls in the recovery room, while I remained splayed out on the operating table for “repair.” (Dr. LeMay, ever the comedian, remarked, “Kayla, you’re so skinny! Where’d your belly go?” Thanks, doc, for reminding me of my once-svelter frame.)
Finally, I joined them in the recovery room, and the nurses brought me my baby girls. I held them close, high on my chest and away from my sore, sewn-up belly. I looked into their bright, slate blue eyes. I marveled at their tiny features—noses, lips, fingers that already could grip mine. I later worked with a couple of nurses to nurse them, one at each breast—an incredible experience.
Christopher and I could not believe Anna and Elise were ours and they were so healthy and strong—healthy and strong enough that they would not require a stay in the NICU, that we could take them home with us.
Editor’s note: I know this seems like the natural ending to the story, and for all intents and purposes, it is the end of the birth story, but I assure you there is more. Stay tuned!