We arrived at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Francisco at 10:00am on Thursday, January 15, 2015. I was all nerves and excitement. Chip was cool as a cucumber, as usual. Brian and Natalie drove me and my mom to the hospital. Friends really are the best. Chip took the scooter so he could run out and quickly get anything we needed. I think it will be fun to tell little Judge that someday: “Your dad drove a scooter to the hospital the day you were born.”
Once we made it to the third floor (Labor & Delivery), we squeezed into the ever-so-small family waiting room. There we met a grandpa-to-be eagerly waiting for his daughter to give birth to his grandchild. There was something so calming and special about seeing his anxious smile as we shared “congratulations” between his glances at his phone for the all-important text.
I don’t know how long we waited, but it seemed like forever. Finally, a nurse ushered Chip and I into a hospital room, where I changed into my hospital gown and waited some more. Our friends Natalie, Brian, Christi and Jeremy joined us, which was great. I had plenty of company to keep me distracted from the wait.
They strapped monitors to my belly to make sure everything was ok with the baby, and performed one last ultrasound to see if he was still breech (he was).
Still more waiting and several nurses and doctors stopped in to reassure us and answer questions. There was another c-section being performed, so we had to keep waiting past outer scheduled noon surgery time. Again, I was grateful for friends who cracked jokes and kept my mind off of getting cut open.
Finally we were told they were ready for me, and I walked with the nurses to the operating room.
I haven’t had a surgery since I was very little; and that was on my eyes. Walking into an operating room full of folks prepared to numb your lower half and cut you open is a surreal experience. Knowing that you’re moments away from meeting someone who will forever change your life is even stranger.
The doctors and nurses ran through their checks. Hearing each of them introduce herself and state her name and purpose for the procedure was oddly comforting. They walked me through the epidural procedure before performing it. My legs were numb almost instantly and I was delicately positioned on the table, a sheet draped at my chest to block my view.
Once everything was prepared Chip was ushered into the room in a sterile jumpsuit and face mask. He sat at the head of the table and we both waited for everything to start. I think he was more nervous than I was.
A c-section is a strange experience. While I couldn’t feel my lower half, my body was shifting and jostling during the experience. In truth, the surgery itself was super easy, probably because I didn’t have to do a thing. (It was all of the after-surgery stuff and recovery that was hard, but that’s another post for another time.)
About seven minutes into the procedure, it happened: I felt some pressure relieved from my abdomen. I heard a nurse say, “He’s a big boy! He has big feet and big thighs.” I heard feet shuffling to carry my newborn baby boy to the scale.
Then, the most memorable moment: I heard Judge’s first cry.
The smile that had already started to form on my face spread wider than I thought possible. My eyes teared up and I laugh-cried. “He’s here and he’s healthy!” I wanted to spring from the operating table, but before I could, a nurse walked Judge to our side of the curtain and placed him in Chip’s arms (since mine were too drug-weakened). That moment was the best. He was perfect—so small and helpless. I did what came naturally—asked Chip for my phone so I could snap our first family selfie.
Baby Judge weighed in at a whopping 9 points 2 ounces and 21 inches of cute.
The next few days in the hospital flew by. Friends visited and both grandmothers took turns spending the night with me and Judge. When we came home, it struck me that we were now a family of three. Let the adventures begin.