Was it July 10, 18 or maybe it was the 12? We had been trying to hide the date from so many people that sometimes we forgot the date ourselves.
July 18. The day of our scheduled cesarean. The day we would finally meet our little girl.
At 20 weeks, I was diagnosed with Placenta Previa (feel free to google that bad boy) and it was inevitable that I would have to deliver via cesarean. When sharing the news with friends and family, the initial question I was asked was whether or not I was sad to have missed out on the opportunity to try a vaginal delivery. But, since Spencer and I conceived via IVF, our journey to parenthood already looked so different that I was truly just blessed to have a baby to birth in the first place. At this point in my pregnancy, I had let go of all “wishes” and just wanted to surrender to the process that was given to us.
Months and weeks prior to our due date close friends delivered, and it was as though they had crossed over to the other side. I couldn’t wait to join them. The exclusive club of motherhood, where every membership process is unique and unknown.
The exclusive club of motherhood, where every membership process is unique and unknown.
Our time had finally arrived. Walking into the hospital with Spencer felt like such a foreign experience, but we were oddly greeted by some familiar faces. My dear friends’ father, who was volunteering that day, saw me enter the hospital and was excited to ask what I was doing there. Nervously I gestured to my stomach, and he excitedly scooted away on his passenger cart. I presume he texted his wife while he drove away because I received a sweet text message from her shortly after. At this point they were only two of four people that knew we were headed in that day.
Checking into the hospital I started to hold my round, undisturbed belly and think how comfortable our little girl was in my stomach. She showed no signs of “readiness” to enter the world. I hated the thought of someone just pulling her out against her will. What if she was sleeping soundly? What if she was developing an important part of her brain? I still cringe at the thought. At this moment, a nurse entered the waiting room and called my name, “Brooke and Spencer, do you remember me?” It was our previous tenant from our rental property. Another familiar face. A still shot of comfort.
Once I was gowned up, Spencer and I were giddy with excitement. The nurses came in and gave me the low down as to what to expect in the procedure room. As usual, I wasn’t listening to the details and instead tried to find opportunities to throw in a joke and get a laugh. Classic me.
Turns out I should have listened. Spencer has always been my primary set of ears, so once they separated us, I started to panic. Entering the procedure room solo was terrifying. Was the room supposed to be this bright? So cold? So…well-staffed?
A student nervously introduced herself as she was going to administer my IV. About six pokes later and blood running down my arm they had to call in her shift senior. I made some sort of nervous joke about how glad I was that they practiced on my arm before my spine. Another staff member approached me. “Hi, I’m the student anesthesiologist…” A few misguided pokes in the spine and she called in her senior. Never once did I think they would have to do the spinal needle.…more than once.
My fluids and medications were all set and in place and I surrendered to the medical bed for the procedure. Spencer was invited back into the room and when his eyes met mine, they didn’t stray. During the procedure I recall having the urge to describe how the operation was feeling to everyone in the room. “I feel a lot of pressure and a lot of tugging.” I remember the anesthesiologist looking at me and saying “don’t do that,” and then he told Spencer to keep talking to me to distract me. But I actually quite enjoyed thinking about what was happening “down there” on the other side of the curtain, and I wanted to include Spencer on the experience by describing it. Anywho, I guess it was a bit graphic for everyone to visualize. I’ll never apologize ;).
After my doctor diligently lasered my stomach open (guys, the scar line is so straight), she started tugging at my cozy baby inside of me. I thought this would be a similar scene to how I imagined a vaginal delivery would be — a few tugs then the feeling of a release, but it felt quite prolonged and even though the tugs felt aggressive, she wasn’t coming out at an accelerated pace. Moments passed and the anesthesiologist again reminded Spencer to talk to me instead of us focusing on my guts getting shifted around.
Finally I heard the sighs of relief and cheers of celebration from the medical team as they placed our little girl on my chest against the plastic curtain. The image of her squinty eyes and puffy round face will never leave me. She was wrapped and quickly brought over to our side of the curtain so we could have a clear view and officially hold our new little bundle. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces. It was 12:21. What felt like a delayed introduction was a mere 35 minutes after our scheduled appointment.
After our first family photo was taken, they took our girl over to get all of her measurements and checks. Do they tap their knees to check her reflex? That would be so cute. Spencer joined them as I got stitched/stapled back up like a refurbished toy doll. I still don’t know if it’s true that during a caesarian birth they take your insides out and set them on a table only to be jumbled up and shoved back in afterwards? I chose to never google that. You are a brave soul if you have.
As I happily laid on the medical table waiting for them to bring our girl back to my arms, I heard them talking about how her breathing sounded irregular. Spencer came back and told me that she might have some fluid in her lungs, but that it could resolve itself in the recovery room. They wheeled us over to recovery and after about an hour of family bliss and a successful latch, it was confirmed that her sugars continued to drop and she needed to be rushed to NICU.
We were devastated. We were just getting to know her! What about skin to skin? Would she be able to latch again? I remember asking the student nurse with tears in my eyes as they took her away. She looked at me and said “I’m sure everything will be fine,” and assured me it would be only 24 hours.
I hadn’t done any research about what to do when your baby gets whisked off to NICU. Do you stay with them? Do they bring your baby up at night? How do you nurse them? There was no pamphlet for this process, and every bit of information we received felt so devastating as new parents. We just wanted the rest of our stay to be as “normal” as possible and begin our parenting journey at home.
I was determined to breastfeed, so I consulted every nurse I encountered. I learned quickly that if I wanted my milk to come in while my daughter was in NICU, I would have to pump every three hours and physically deliver the liquid gold to NICU myself. Remember — my stomach was sliced open just moments ago. It was devastatingly painful to cry, let alone pull myself out of bed every three hours into a wheelchair and roll down. I was determined and Spencer was a godsend. He did most of the body lifting and I did all of the complaining. Bless him.
Each time I delivered my colostrum to the nurses I was praised with the volume I had produced. “Whooaa ladies, come see this! have you seen how much this mom has been pumping?” I know I was smirking from ear to ear. We worked so hard for that milk. And literally, I mean we. Picture Spencer hunching over my bedside manually massaging my breast to extract the milk while I dozed off. Yeah…that happened.
Wheeling down to NICU and seeing our daughter in the incubator brought tears to my eyes every time. She looked so sweet and peaceful. Holding her like a piece of porcelain to ensure we wouldn’t tug at any of her wires or tubes.
They monitored her heart rate and sugars closely. It was such a strange feeling watching nurses hold her and spend time with her when all I wanted was her to myself. After a couple days of them telling us “she’s doing so good!” there was no clear communication as to what we were waiting for, and we started to get a frustrated. It can’t be easy looking after vulnerable babies alongside vulnerable parents, and we are so grateful for the staff in NICU at RUH for caring for our little one.
After several shift changes, pressing questions, and doctor sign offs, four days passed (not 24 hours…) and we were told she could now come stay with us in our room. I remember this news feeling like I just got promoted to my dream job. Shocked with excitement yet also thinking to myself “wait – am I qualified?” Spencer and I excitedly cleaned up our room like we were at home expecting a very special guest. And oh how special she was. Our first child. OUR daughter.
Rooney Munroe Smit. You’ve changed our lives. You have taught me so much this first year and I know I’ll continue to learn so much from you. The joy you bring me each day is indescribable but I promise you, I will find the words and tell you endlessly just how much I love you.
This is a special time in our friend group, as so many of our babies are the same age! So while BeezNeez isn’t solely a birth story platform, we have many right now! If you loved Rooney’s, check out Hart Wilde, Remy Claire, and Sasha Elizabeth.