Before you read, may I gently remind you that that criticizing or even opining about someone's birth decisions or their doctors after the fact (or before the fact, or, really, anytime) is generally inappropriate and too personal. This has some events that are not part of the usual birth story, but it's my story and I am comfortable with every part of what happened, and I get to stay that way. Thanks in advance for your good manners.
It's been 26 years since the day I met Johnathan face to face, but I still remember the most important parts: I decided to have a conventional delivery, which at that time was still considered fairly risky, because my first delivery was by C-section. There was a lot of discussion among all the physicians in the practice about how I should have Baby 2.0 in the safest possible way, but I was always consulted and my opinion considered. Long story short, one of the doctors in my practice was willing to let me go to term, then labor and deliver naturally, even though we knew this baby would probably be bigger than Jeff. Then Johnathan went a week past term and that one doctor went on vacation. The other doctors just weren't comfortable with me trying to labor, what with my previous history and a baby a half-pound bigger than when things were last discussed. I thought and prayed about it and considered all the various arguments both ways and decided that the health of the baby and my body was foremost and that a scheduled c-section was the way to go. Laboring all night THEN having the surgery anyway with Jeff was really hard because I was exhausted, and everyone predicted that scenario was a real possibility. No thanks. A birth-date was put on the calendar.
Once it was time, here is what I remember about how things went:
- Incision site prep, epidural (not that bad--I've never had any side effects or difficulties).
- Nurses wheeling my bed into the freezing cold operating room.
- Doctors and nurses all gowned and gloved and focusing on me for a few minutes with lots of laughing and congratulations.
- The room transitioning into a super-intense and professional mood, with everyone there except the anesthesiologist and one nurse completely focusing on baby. No chatting or laughing now.
- Surgery beginning but there being a tiny hiccup--I am realizing I can feel the incision and I cry out. My Epidural hasn't taken complete effect.
- Doc being completely in the get-the-baby-out-safely-NOW zone, and protesting that he can't stop to wait for more epidural med to deliver and ordering the anesthesiologist to put me out.
- The world going dark for 2 seconds (It was actually about 2 hours).
- Waking up in a warm recovery room with my mom next to me in a chair and a little wrapped bundle of curls and dimples tucked into the crook of my arm.
- Baby and I meeting, getting down to the business of eating and resting and learning about each other, and all being well.
- Getting moved to my room and Eric bringing Jeff to meet "New Brother" (we called Johnathan by that nickname for the entire three years until Sam was born).
In spite of it being surgery, in spite of needing that burst of general anesthesia (and feeling that first bite of that scalpel), in spite of that freezing operating room, I remember this as an intensely joyful and personal day. I didn't face that crazy minute of unexpected pain alone; there were people watching over me to keep me safe and as comfortable as possible. They were prepared for Plan B and it worked. I remember feeling so cared for and helped by doctors and nurses. I remember the utter joy of knowing that everything had gone well, I was okay, baby was okay, and recovery and bonding could begin. I remember thinking how different he looked from Jeffrey, with piles of curly hair and eyes that already looked blue. His personality was immediately different as well, which I remember about meeting Johnathan. He was calm from the start, a good sleeper, a watcher and listener, rather than one who had to reach out and experience everything first-hand, like Jeff. I marveled that this little boy could so instantly be an individual.
Jeff was immediately curious and caring of Johnathan, and big brother wanted to hold and look at baby. The memories I have from the hospital of the two of them are some of my favorites of all their lives. I remember feeling like having two kids moved us into a whole new realm of familyhood. It was a big deal that I had two sons. Jeff had a brother. Amazing.
I'm so grateful Johnathan was born in a time when safe surgical deliveries were possible. I feel certain I would have died in childbirth the first time round if I lived even just 75 or 100 years earlier. I'm grateful for his childhood, for the times I got to home-school him and have him with me all the time. I'm grateful for the fact that even now, as a grown man, he will still take a minute to send me this picture, because he knows I'm a sucker for a rainbow.
He's done that thing that all parents dream of, which is to grow up into a good man, and now, with Kristen by his side, he's entered into family life himself. Next year, he will graduate from college with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He's into rock climbing, pens and watches. He's still quiet and observant. He has a fantastic sense of humor that is wry and hilarious. He has good friends and plays sports all the time.
I love his wife Kristen. He's so lucky to have found her. They are great together, and I'm happy for him. Happy Birthday to you, Johnathan!