I was laying on my back, naked from the waist down while numb and shivering on an operating table. My hubby was holding my hand and standing next to my head, decked in his own surgical cap and mask (he brought one from his personal collection). All I could see was a wall of blue paper hospital sheets when I tried to look down at my body. Who was I kidding? I could barely even move. I could see nothing. My first baby would be busting out from my body soon.
I was bracing myself. I was excited for it. I was scared of it. This is what I secretly wished for, remember? A C-section. I was way too petrified for my baby to come out the way nature intended. It's no secret that the reality of birth freaked me out long before I even became pregnant.
"The baby is tangled in the cord and her heart rate's going down. I think we should do a C-section," my OB said a few hours before. No qualms from me. Get the baby out.
Except I sort of forgot about what I agreed to weeks before we got to this point.
"If you end up needing a C-section, I think Robert* should do it," my husband suggested. "His stitch will be good. Since I can't do it [due to hospital regulations], he's the next best choice."
Yes, my husband is a plastic surgeon—and, in case this isn't common knowledge, plastic surgeons are notorious sticklers for executing and appreciating superb, flat stitches when it comes to closing a cut. Or, in what would be my case, a C-section. Robert was his friend and No. 1 partner-in-crime from when they were rotating med school residents decades before. My husband and Robert were both now respected plastic surgeons with privileges at the hospital where I'd deliver.
"Sure! That sounds great," I instantly agreed. I'll take a shallow perk to being married to a surgeon any day.
It wasn't until Robert actually busted into the silent operating room that day—with the most loud and joyfully boisterous, "Heeeeeey!!!" (after my hubs called him with "You're on, buddy")—that I realized what I'd previously agreed to. ROBERT. IS. GOING. TO. SEE. EVERYTHING!
All I could think was that, from this point on, he would know what my hoo-ha looked like up close.
Despite my drugged haze at the time (Pitocin plus an epidural), I will never forget the sound of my husband and Robert doing some kind of high-five fraternity-type back-slap greeting with what sounded like a secret handshake, complete with laughing and shouting, "Hey man! Hi everybody! Good to see you again!" like we were at a bar.
Just as I was I imagining what my numb legs looked like—sprawled naked from the waist down, freshly shaven by the nurse down there—Robert ran up to where my head was, squeezed my nose with a "How you doin'," clapped his hands together and asserted "Let's do this!" with a big grin on his face. I wanted to smile and laugh, but all I could worry about was why the hell I didn't bother to put any makeup on for this surgery. I felt like I was the first-act punchline an episode of "Grey’s Anatomy."
Robert was (still is) a friend we'd sit and drink wine and cocktails with. I even tried to set him up with a friend of mine once. He's a smart guy, a fun guy, a nice guy, a good guy, a great surgeon! But all I could think was that from this point on, he would know what my hoo-ha looked like up close. He would know what my entire bottom half of my naked body looked like at a most vulnerable moment in my life—because every woman is at her very best during delivery.
Then the laughing and high-fives stopped and everyone got super professional. It became quiet. I closed my eyes, held my husband's hand (as he peered over the blue paper wall at my neck to keep tabs on what was happening down there), breathed and forgot about my naked ass.
I was having a C-section. Serious business, serious scenario (rightfully so). Baby was born. I mommed up and was happy. Hubs was happy. Robert was happy ... and also told us how honored he felt that we'd trusted him with such a personal and delicate experience. Side note: My scar turned out incredibly flat and almost invisible (plastic surgeon sewing specialties, you know). And, yes, we did the same thing over again a year and a half later with my second baby.
We’ve all had wine and dinner together several times since then. Nobody ever mentioned my naked private parts. All modesty aside, I now thankfully count each of my deliveries as two of the most unexpectedly unique, hilarious and oddly shocking experiences in the history of my own life.
Because that's what friends are for.
*Names have been changed.