After considerable nagging, I made Will dictate his experience of our C-section to me. I had heard odd snippets of what he heard and witnessed, so I thought it was a good idea to immortalize this before he forgot anything important. It’s written as he told it to me:
The admittance hall for the OR was completely devoid of people – completely. Every other part of the hospital had people in it, but this was the Dead Zone. The quiet place. Incubators were lined up against the wall, with natural light coming in the glazed windows. There must have been a back door to the OR, as I could hear people in there with you, yet no one was coming and going. I was lonely. I was in my surgical jumpsuit, uncomfortable not knowing what was happening in there. The silence would occasionally be broken by this din of cackling women, then ease back into silence. It was cold. The doctor came by in her Nomex and Uggs and told me we’d be under way soon.
I finally went inside. It was very bright, but not as bright as I had expected. The overhead lamps were directed at you. The big colander-bowl lights. Otherwise, it looked like the standard medical-drama OR. It had the sterile smell. It smelled like the hospital but stronger. You were laying back and prepped already. You looked a little fucked up but strangely calm. One of the 45 people in the room with us led me to a bench near your head and directed me to sit down. There was a layer of paper on top of you plus blue gauze/wrap, which I was told not to touch as it was sterile. Your eyes weren’t glassy and you weren’t talking weird. You were lucid. There were several groups of people in the room, organized according to task. There was a pair of women near the incubator, admiring our non-cheesy baby book. One person stood in the corner talking on the cordless phone, relaying some kind of instructions and laughing. There was a group on the far side setting up the surgical instruments. I assume they were the pre-op nurses. There were 2-3 people with the doctor, in full weed-eating face shields. They were fully kitted up, obviously the ones who would be doing the surgery. Occasionally, a random person would come in and out. Their purpose was unclear.
The room got quiet for a second. There was no indication that we had begun, but at some point I realized they had made the first incision. Maybe it was because I was sitting that I didn’t notice. The doctor and the surgical nurse had their game faces on, and were passing instruments back and forth. At some point I noticed the doctor was handed what amounts to a soldering iron. As I expected, there was a puff of smoke as they cauterized the first cut. The smoke smelled like burning hair and meat, at which point I looked at you. You were a bit glassy-eyed at that point as I told you what you were smelling. At that point you indicated that steak would NOT be welcome for dinner the next day. After the smoke cleared (literally), they made a second cut at which point a lot of blood and fluid came out. One of the nurses commented that she (the baby) would be out soon, and that the fluid was clear as it was suctioned. The doctor was pulling at the edges of the incision quite hard. She was using her whole arm, elbow and shoulder included. I looked at you and asked if you felt any of that, as it looked quite painful. Someone said it was almost time. The nurse told me to get the camera ready. Everyone in the room seemed very calm, except the surgeons, who were all business. The doctor then picked up what looked like a stainless steel lacrosse net and proceeded to pry our unborn child out of your uterus, quite unceremoniously.
The head came out first, a quite hideous shade of blue. The doctor actually grabbed her by the head, and pulled her out by her head. Her neck seemed unusually long and I was pretty stunned. I saw the umbilical cord which was a matching shade of blue. They held her up for a second. She didn’t cry quite right away. They clipped her cord and suctioned her mouth at the same time. All of this took maybe 2 minutes. You were totally oblivious.
The baby was passed to a couple of nurses and she was taken to a warming rack, like a McDonald’s fry rack. I took pictures, footprints were placed in the baby book. You know, normal baby crap. I went back to you to check on you at this point. It seemed like it was taking the surgeons a while to finish up. I saw that the surgeons had what appeared to be an “alien egg” (based on texture and color) the size of a Nerf football. They were shoving it back into the incision. It was like they were implanting an alien egg into your abdomen.
It was fucking weird.