Shelley lies calmly and quietly on the hospital bed, her hands holding a tiny white baby’s cap and a teeny nappy. She’s wheeled into the operating room and I change into blue scrubs. There are warm smiles all around. This is a scheduled C-section.
Shelley leans over, her back exposed, to get the epidural into her spine. It always makes me nervous to watch that long, thick needle entering such a vulnerable spot.
Shelley lies back and the doctors start to prepare her stomach. They are cleaning and laying down plastic sheeting over her legs and building up a curtain between Shelley’s round belly and her head, hiding the technicalities and gore of surgery. We wait a bit longer for the epidural to take full effect.
The C-section commences. Its magical that a baby is about to appear! A fine line followed by a tiny trail of blood has the first incision is made low down between the roundness of her tummy and her pubic area. The doctors are incredible, so calm, so warm, still smiling. More incisions are made, deeper and I get dizzy for a few moments. Then a gush of pink, fine liquid as they break her waters and open her womb. I see little Kingston’s head, its full of the thickest hair I’ve ever seen on a newborn, so, so very sweet.
His little head peaks out and the doctors hold back for a moment as he pushes himself out a bit, then they guide his head and his wet and vernix covered shoulders out. His hands pop out into the cool air of the operating theatre. The doctors grasp under his armpits and gently pull him out, his little legs kick into a new open space for the first time. A cry escapes as he inhales his first breath and releases it.
The doctors gloved hands clasp him gently to her body and she carefully grips him around his chest and holds him up above the dividing curtain to show Shelley her son for the first time. He opens his eyes, just the smallest squint into this new world, and reaches out and grabs his Moms pinky finger! The sweetest thing! Richard, Shelley’s husband is strong and watching mesmerized and holding his phone up to video the whole process as he meets his son for the first time too.
Kingston is carried to the warmed receiving bed on the left where a pediatrician runs his hand over his little head, over his fontanelle. The umbilical cord is clamped, and round nosed scissors are handed to Richard. He’s transfixed still with his phone watching. He takes the scissors and cuts the cord. Its emotional. Measurements are taken, hospital bracelets are attached. His little back and shoulders are covered in the finest and cutest lanugo I’ve ever seen.
Little Kingston is weighed. 3985 grams. A little frown on his face, his wet dark hair. He’s wrapped in a towel, his nappy and cap are put on by a lovely nurseand he’s on Shelley’s chest, very close to her face. She’s got the biggest smile on her face as she takes his little hand into hers. His tiny fingers are all wrinkled and pink!
Kingston rolls his head around to his mom’s face and places his mouth over hers. A kiss!
The surgery is complete, and Shelley is moved off the operating table and onto a bed and wheeled out of the room.
The towel is removed, and Shelley and Kingston are skin-to-skin. A nurse comes and helps her as Kingston wiggles around her breast looking for her nipple. There are many hands: the nurse, Shelley and the obstetrician all guide his head gently and he latches. The first feed.
Shelley gentle strokes his face while with her other fingers she pushes his nose away from her breast, so he has space to breath. More photos. The new family! The exploration of his little bod for the first time, his hair! They will need a brush Shelley says.
The bed is wheeled back into the ward where the families are eagerly and excitedly waiting for news.
I take a few sweet portraits of Kingston, his hair still wet, before I make a quiet exit and leave Shelley’s family coo-ing and emotional with their first grandchild.