On August 29th, a Friday night, Mark came home from work with a sweet little bouquet from my favorite flower shop and announced that we were going out to dinner at a surprise location. We still had almost four weeks to go until Eden’s September due date, but I had been feeling pretty uncomfortable in the final weeks of pregnancy (plus, my doctor had told us that there was a chance she might arrive a little early), so it seemed like a good time to get in a last special dinner date together before bébé. Mark took me to Pace, an absolutely delicious and cozy spot in Laurel Canyon that we had never been to before. We dined on house-made pasta with seasonal, farmers market produce, and chocolate soufflé cake for dessert. Little did we know at the time that it would literally be our last meal together before baby!
At around 2 a.m. that night, I woke up to my water breaking. During the course of my pregnancy I had heard so many times that the start of labor almost never happens like it does in the movies. In fact, only 15 percent of women have their water break at the beginning. For most women, it happens once they have been experiencing contractions for several hours and are already in the hospital, and for others it never breaks at all. And when it does break, it’s usually a slow trickle not a big gush. But mine… it was a gush all right. Luckily, I was just at home in bed and not in the checkout line at the grocery store!
I woke up Mark, who was lying in bed next to me, and told him it was time! Our hospital bag was only half-packed, so we started rifling around for other items we wanted to bring. Mark called his sister Deanna, who we share a duplex with, and she came up to our house to help. They were both trying to get me to get the show on the road, but I was weirdly calm and unhurried. I insisted on doing things like hopping in the shower and throwing our bed sheets in the wash. (Ha!) Hey, my contractions weren’t painful yet and I didn’t want to come home from the hospital to dirty sheets…
Usually you have to wait until your contractions are closer together to be admitted to the hospital. But since we knew I had to have a cesarean, they had told us to head over as soon as my labor began. (Eden was breech, and despite our best efforts we hadn’t been able to get her to turn into position for a vaginal delivery.) So (post-shower, post-laundry… haha), we got in the car and headed to Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills. And the good thing about this all happening in the middle of the night was that it only took us about 15 minutes to get there from Silver Lake!
Once we were admitted to the hospital, things were slow going for a while. It’s safest to wait 8 hours after eating to have any type of anesthesia, so they told me that they would begin my surgery at 5:30 in the morning. They hooked me up to heart rate monitors and we started filling out forms and answering questions. I was excited and also so nervous I was shaking! I couldn’t believe it was all happening.
Then, around 3 a.m., the nurse who was tending to us got a worried look on her face. She called for help, and all of the sudden there were half a dozen doctors and nurses tending to me instead of one. The baby’s heart rate had dropped on the monitor, and they were trying to get it back up asap. An oxygen mask was slapped on my face, and the I.V. was thrust into my arm in about 30 second flat. (It had taken closer to 30 minutes for them to put in the I.V. for the version procedure I had done the week before!) I was pretty terrified, but also trying very hard not to panic because I figured it couldn’t be good for the baby. Luckily, they were able to get her heart rate back up in about four minutes. But at that point, they let us know that I would be prepped for surgery immediately so as not to risk an episode like that happening again.
Mark had been by my side this entire time so far, but he wasn’t allowed into the OR with me for the prep. I was pretty nervous there without him, but luckily my amazing OB was there, and the rest of the surgical team was really great and comforting too. I just tried to focus on the fact that we were going to meet our little girl soon and not, you know, the giant needle being inserted into my spine. Meanwhile, Mark was putting on scrubs and a surgical mask à la his Grey’s Anatomy days, and they let him back in before the actual surgery began.
Now the strangest and slightly heartbreaking thing about a cesarean birth is that it only takes them about 10 minutes to deliver the baby, but then the mother is on the table being stitched up for another 20 minutes or so. This meant that I wasn’t able to witness Eden’s birth in the same way I would have otherwise. I was able to hear her first little cries and the excitement going on around me, but it was several minutes after she was born before I was able to actually see her, and even longer before I could hold her. I’m just very grateful that Mark was able to experience these first special moments for the both of us. He was over at the warming table during the first moments after her birth as she was being cleaned up and examined, and they let him hold her and bring her right next to me while the surgery concluded. (And even before that, he snapped a couple quick pictures on his phone and then brought them back to me to look at.) It was hard not being able to hold her myself, but seeing the two of them together filled my heart up in a way I had never experienced before. It was an amazing moment. And soon enough, I got my turn too!
Eden was a tiny, at 5 pounds 5 ounces and 19.9 inches. Everyone keeps saying she looks just like me! We loved her from the moment we laid eyes on her, and that love only grows by the day. We’re so glad you’re ours, Edie girl.