“She was never quite ready. But she was brave, and the universe listens to brave.”

Rebecca Ray

April 25th I went into the hospital bright and early for Pre-op. They did a blood panel, an ultrasound, and a vaginal ultrasound to check on my cervix, a quick check in with the team and my vitals and then I was cleared to go home. They gave me an anti bacterial wash to use at some point before the next morning, and gave me instructions to drink “an unreasonable amount of water.” I was allowed food until midnight and clear fluids up until 5am, we were due back at CHOP around 6am the following day.

Our previous night had been spent in a condo rental in the neighborhood of Rittenhouse Square. It was comfortable, and right near a book store, which to me was the best part. We would stay here until after I was admitted, and then of course Jesse and I would be staying in the hospital until I was discharged. We spent our last night perusing the Barnes and Nobles at the end of the street, I bought some activity books to fill up my time on bed rest, and looked at comic books and novels with my husband. Since it was my last chance for solid food for the foreseeable future I was allowed to pick dinner. We got Italian, and I ate WAY too much. I stuffed my face with ravioli, and garlic bread, and a lemon bar, and I didn’t regret it at all. After stuffing my face with carbs, and drinking what I hope could be considered the correct amount of water, I took a shower, neurotically used the pre-surgical wash they gave me about four times, and tried to sleep.

Spoiler alert. I did not sleep. I was much too nervous and anxious to sleep, and spent most of the evening, and into the early morning staring at the ceiling listening to everyone else’s snoring and the sounds of the city below our window. I think overall all night I probably cumulatively slept around an hour and a half, and woke up around 4:00 am, as we had a scheduled Uber rider coming to get us and take us to the hospital. I packed a small bag with some pajamas, and toiletries, my phone charger, and a few other little things. I knew I wasn’t going to be super active during the hospital stay, so kept it light. With everyone awake, but sleep deprived, we hopped into the Uber around 4:45 am and headed to CHOP. Kim grabbed a coffee, and we went headed into the Special Delivery Unit to check in to my room.

My room was big and airy, there was more than enough room for visitors, and a pull out bed/sofa for Jesse so that he could stay with me. My nurses came in and introduced themselves to me, we put in my IV, and switched me over from my street clothes into a hospital gown. We all tried to keep the mood light, as I’m sure people could sense my anxiety. I had spent pockets of the night before crying, both out of relief and fear. I had gone through two surgeries before as a teen and in my early twenties, I knew and was confident that I was healthy enough for the procedure, and that I had no adverse reactions to medication or anesthesia. I was worried about my baby. All medical procedures have risks, and while this team was the best around, and their record was amazing I was still nervous. The baby would be effected by my anesthesia and would be given pain medication, he was going to be operated on and he wasn’t even born yet. Its a lot for a mom to take in. I feel like Jesse was even more afraid than I was. I was in mom mode, I wasn’t worried about myself at all, but he was worrying about both his son, and his wife concurrently. I just feigned over the top positivity, (Fake it until you make it, right?) I made jokes with the nurses and the surgical team. They eventually came in and gave me my epidural, which was way less terrifying than movies and TV would lead you to believe. To be fair I told them to make sure to place the epidural when Jesse was out of the room, and also not to show me the needle beforehand so I couldn’t picture it. But after numbing the area it just felt like pressure, and then nothing at all. They were just about to whisk me back to the Operating Room when my parents rushed in. They had been stuck in traffic, and I wasn’t expecting to see them until after I returned. We all had last minute hugs and kisses. My mom cried a little bit saying bye to me, and reminded me that as much as I was worried about and loved my baby, she felt the same way about me. I was HER baby, even at almost 30 years of age.

I was whisked down the hallway. I normally don’t remember being IN the actual OR, or at least I didn’t in past surgical situations, but I was very much awake at this time. I transferred myself from the hospital bed to the operating table. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t hysterical, I was calm, made conversation with who was in the room, and mostly just wanted to be asleep. Besides not getting any sleep the past few days I knew the faster I fell asleep the more quickly it would be over and I could feel relieved and focus on recovery. They must have sneakily given me a sedative because I started feeling super calm, and then eventually they placed the mask on my face and told me to take deep breaths and count. I didn’t even make it to 99.

While I was sleeping, I was given a breathing tube, an arterial line in my wrist, (Those are kind of like, super IV’s used for blood pressure monitoring and strong meds) My epidural was turned all the way up, and was under the effect of the general anesthesia. My vitals as well as the babies were constantly being monitored. They opened me up in an incision slightly higher than you’d see for a traditional C-section, they opened up my uterus, exposed the baby’s back and did the repair on his spinal lesion. They then replaced some of my amniotic fluid and worked on sewing me back up, all the while making sure both me and the little man were doing okay. I of course don’t remember any of this happening, I just was very aware of the steps of the surgery.

I awoke in my hospital room. Very tired and very loopy, but not in any pain. I could not feel anything below my belly button, as my epidural was still in, and I wanted to sleep for a thousand years. The surgeons had periodically come in while I was still being operated on and updated my family about our progress, both myself and the baby did fantastic and we had no complications. They were very pleased with us both, and would check on me in the coming days. I was on IV drip only as far as sustenance went, which was unfortunate because my throat was very sore from the breathing tube, and I would have killed for a glass of water. My parents and Kim stayed for a few hours to make sure I was stable, I’m sure I slept through most of it, I hope I didn’t say anything super embarrassing, I had forbidden Jesse to record me in any way … just in case. Eventually they headed out back to the suburbs, and Jesse and I settled in to our temporary home. The nurses came in periodically to take my vitals and make sure I wasnt in any pain. And that… was that.

It was done.

It had happened.

Now what?

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