Crash

In school they tell you you’ll know a “crash” c-section when you see one.

I had thought I had seen them. I had moved briskly to the OR, helped get things set up, waited impatiently for the prep to dry while holding my sterile, gloved hands clasped, as close to prayer as I can get.

Then you have a true emergency.

The bed is hurtling down the hall, and I quickly scrubbed. Cursed because I had forgotten to take my wedding ring off before I started and had to have a nurse remove it, tuck it safely into her pocket, and re-scrub.

“Just copy what I do,” the surgeon said to me. “I know you’re new. Just follow my lead. Do exactly as I say and do it quickly.”

I expected to feel adrenaline rising. My heart pumping in my ears. But instead we just flew.

There were too many hands and not enough. Betadine flew everywhere as we prepped. Had we called the nursery? Questions echoed into the room and I couldn’t answer. We flew down the layers of tissue. Skin. Sub-q. Facia. Muscle. Peritoneum. Uterus.

Sweat beads ran down my spine, my glasses fogged up as I exhaled. Retract retract. Pull. Push.

Finally, a green-stained, squirming baby.

Relief.

Tears under the mask and finally time for deep breaths I didn’t realize I had been holding.

This was my first emergency since beginning practice on my own. I like to think I rose to the occasion. The OR was hectic, everyone moving, performing their job and that of at least two others. I stepped out of the OR and pulled off my gown and mask bent over the sink. I took a minute to breathe. To shake. To let the delayed release of adrenaline shoot a wave of nausea through me.

Breathe In. Out. In. Out.

I put my wedding ring back on, a grounding ritual, and went to help my other patients. Labor waits for no midwife.

They tell you, you’ll know a crash section when you see one.

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