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Our son had been delivered via c-section, but my entire pregnancy with our daughter I hoped our birth story would include a successful vaginal birth after c-section(VBAC). Our sweet baby girl Pearl was breech at 37 weeks, and after trying a million things to get her to flip, I relented to a scheduled c-section.
Save The Date
Knowing the day that my baby was going to arrive was such a strange feeling. Sure, there was a chance that she could arrive before the scheduled date, but barring something rather bizarre, she would be here by Tuesday, February 27th. C-sections are scheduled on Tuesday and Fridays and 39 weeks and 4 days seemed like the best balance of giving Pearl time to be ready and not going into labor. I also liked the idea of having a baby on a Tuesday in case we struggled with nursing, so there would be a lactation consultant available in the first few days. (I had our son on a Friday before a holiday weekend and he struggled to latch and not to be able to get help for several days was incredibly frustrating.)
Plus the 27th is one of my closest friend’s birthday, amethyst is a beautiful birthstone, and I’m a March baby so Pearl wouldn’t have to share her birthday month. You know, all very important factors 😉 A scheduled c-section was the LAST thing that I wanted, but I knew I needed to make the most of it in order to have the healthiest mindset.
Last Day Ever as a Pregnant Mama
On Monday, February 26th I had originally planned to go to work, but I decided instead to pamper myself and relax as much as possible. I had a packed schedule of acupuncture, prenatal massage, I then enjoyed some healthy fresh spring rolls for lunch in a restaurant all by myself, and then I walked over to the nail shop for a manicure and pedicure. I thought that a light pink would be appropriate and the one I selected happened to be called “Sweet Baby Girl”; clearly it was meant to be!
It was mind-blowing the whole day to know this was the last day I got to spend with our baby girl in my womb. Pearl was wonderfully active all day! During my massage and even the massage therapist commented on how much she was moving. That afternoon I floated home to meet my mom, who was due to arrive in town soon. I have to admit; it was convenient to tell her exactly what day I needed her to arrive to watch our older son! We have a few friends in town, but they either don’t have any children or had their hands full with their own children. I didn’t want to dump off an extra toddler on someone who already had a toddler and newborn. I enjoyed a relaxing evening with Hubbs and Leo (2.5 years old) and loved catching up with my mom.
At bedtime, I headed off to take my first of two showers with the prescribed disinfectant soap and then attempt to sleep. I was sure it would be impossible to sleep because there was SO much to think about…. Is a scheduled c-section the best choice? Is our baby ready to be born? Wouldn’t it be cool if I went into labor tonight? Oh maybe not, it’s snowing outside… I hope the surgery goes well…. I was pretty tired, so the rapid thoughts didn’t go on for long.
The BIG Day
Miraculously, I was able to get some decent sleep and slept through the night I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t wakened in the middle of the night with my mind racing. I woke up when my alarm went off at 6:00 am. I looked out the window at the snow and wind lifted any doubt I had that a scheduled c- section may not be the right choice. There was tons of snow, and the road conditions were extremely icy. Being in labor and stuck on the side of the road in a snow bank with a breech baby sounded terrifying! I had a mild sore throat and a little cough developing which made me very nervous; maybe we should call the whole thing off? A cough after abdominal surgery would be torture! I decided it was minor and kept putting one foot in front of the other to move through my morning. I took my second disinfectant shower, and what the heck, no one else was up yet, so I curled my hair.
Everyone else woke up around 7:00 am and we managed a somewhat typical morning. Leo was excited that Nonnie was “still here.” (Apparently, he was nervous she was going to leave in the middle of the night?) I was sipping my black tea (I was only allowed to consume clear liquids the day of surgery), and Leo was sitting beside me enjoying some yogurt. Out of nowhere he leaned over to hug me and said, “I love you very much,” and kissed me. That’s the first time that has ever happened, and it was so completely unexpected, as he’s not a super sentimental kid. Immediately following that sweet gesture he was concerned as to why my “eyes were watering” 😛
My mom and I sat on the couch and after a cup of coffee Hubbs was scampering around the house getting ready to go. My mom stayed home to prep food and get things prepared for our return. (She doesn’t do hospitals, she never has. I’m sure she would have come if I’d asked, but it wasn’t that important to me. Even as kids whenever my little brother or I hurt ourselves badly enough for an adventure to the Emergency Room, dad always took us.)
Hubbs and I dropped Leo off at daycare and then headed to the hospital. I work at the hospital, so I got to see a few friendly faces on our way to the Labor and Delivery floor. Our doula met us as we entered our room. A great nurse checked us in, and she was very friendly, and her sense of humor meshed well with ours. We were able to enjoy fun conversation during the anxious hours of waiting. IV fluids had been administered, and paperwork had been completed. My c-section was scheduled for 10:00 am, but there were a few unexpected c-sections and a lot of babies wanting to be born that day.
My doctor came in a few minutes before noon to do an ultrasound to confirm the baby was still breech and deliver the news that things were again delayed. (It would have been WILD if she had flipped!) The delay was not a surprise to me in the least; actually being on schedule would have been a surprise. I was happy I’d set my expectations as such. All the babies in our town wanted to be born on the same day! After a 2.5-hour delay, and 15 hour fast, we were wheeled into the operating room.
I felt much calmer than last time. It was a tremendous advantage to process my feelings regarding the c-section situation in advance. It was also nice that I’d had a c-section before and generally knew what to expect. Not having contractions while someone plunges a needle into your spine saying “hold still” feels a thousand times safer. The room was familiar since I’d been in it before and it was comforting that I had my doctor there, someone I knew and trusted deeply. I hopped on to the metal table that was much narrower than I’d remembered.
A goofy, energetic anesthesiologist gave me an epidural. I wasn’t scared like last time. I wasn’t thinking about how maybe I wouldn’t be numb enough and feel excruciating pain or about how I could have back pain for the rest of my life if something got screwed up, etc. I was repeating in my head that everything would be fine and I was so excited to meet our baby girl! Any time a negative thought crept into my mind, I would require myself to automatically think “I’m so excited to meet our baby girl!” to redirect my thoughts toward the positive. The anesthesiologist placed the cold oxygen tube on my face. I had asked for the operating room staff to move the mirror so that I could see our baby girl coming out of my belly… It was good to ask early so that it wasn’t forgotten, but I shouldn’t have looked up until much later haha. I looked up out of curiosity to see what my doctor and the nurses were doing during the preparation, and I looked gigantic with my big pregnant belly hanging out and my legs in circulation cuffs, ugh, not a good look! It wasn’t long before some more familiar faces trickled in. Our son’s pediatrician was there, and best of all, Hubbs was there, too. Everyone in the room seemed upbeat and excited to get our baby; I loved the energetic vibe in the room.
Hubbs did an incredible job of giving me lots of eye contact, caressing my face, and asking me how I was doing. I could hear my doctor from behind the blue sheet walking us through where she was at in the process. I glanced up at the mirror a few times, but I couldn’t see much with all of the people standing over my belly.
The anesthesiologist kept asking me how I was doing; I guess some patients feel sick or nauseous, so he was regularly checking in. I kept telling him I was doing well, but kept thinking to myself, “is it weird that I’m STARVING right now?!” I hadn’t eaten since the night before and even as I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of our daughter and in the middle of major surgery, I was…. Also hungry. Clearly, I’m a gal who doesn’t skip meals often, if ever. (Sidenote: the first meal they served me afterward was baked chicken and steamed zucchini with zero flavor and salad with fat-free dressing. I literally CRIED I was so mad. And hungry. I made my husband get me something more suiting… doughnuts, of course!)
We had asked in advance if we could drop the blue sheet so that I could see into the sterile field to watch our baby arrive in this world. (One of the strangest and hardest things about my prior c-section was that there was a major disconnect not seeing or feeling our son being born and I wanted that to be different this time.) It was a little hard to see since I was laying flat, but Hubbs did a fantastic job of making sure the sheet stayed put so that I could see. I saw my doctor break my water; wow, it splashed! She even jokingly apologized for dousing the other doctor’s shoes. My doc ever so gently pulled Pearl’s tiny little hips up, and the cutest little buns appeared. Shortly after both legs popped out at the same time and her shoulders came out easily, but it took some maneuvering to get her head out. I heard my husband exclaim, “look at that head of hair!” but her head did not emerge for a few more moments. Then there in my doctor’s hands was one of the two most beautiful babies I’d ever seen and indeed, what a full head of hair she had. She had the sweetest bleating little cry, and there’s no sound in the world as sweet as the first cries of your babes. (This would have been an incredible option if it were allowed in our hospital!)
My doctor handed our baby off to the pediatrician who walked us through everything that she was checking and our daughter was scoring great on everything! (Forget the SATs, making sure your baby is healthy as they enter the world is the testing that matters!) After my husband trimmed the cord, the pediatrician put our daughter on my bare chest, skin-to-skin, while my guts were placed back inside me and my doc sewed everything up.
My husband filmed the entire operation, and it’s the coolest video. Even if you think you’ll be squeamish about seeing a little blood or you’re nervous that you won’t look like a gorgeous supermodel, I highly recommend it. I treasure it tremendously. I plan to watch it at least once each year on Pearl’s birthday.
Birth, even via c-section is a surreal experience. Though you’ve been pregnant for months, in a single moment, a new person appears before your eyes. Hubbs and I gazed at our precious new daughter. We had two names in mind before delivery, Remi and Pearl, but we wanted to meet her before deciding. I thought we were going to end up with Remi since she seemed rebellious from the start: being breech and refusing to flip and choosing to come into the world butt-first. However, Pearl seemed to fit perfectly because she was unexpectedly sweet.
Our pediatrician offered to take our first photo together which was thoughtful of her. She even made sure that Hubb’s arm covered up the exposed parts since we were doing skin-to-skin a little extra skin was showing. (As I was in the process of being sewn up the anesthesiologist’s shift was over, so he changed out with someone else. It seemed rather odd to me to change staff in the middle of the surgery, but apparently, that’s normal for anesthesiologists.)
The nursery nurse asked if he could take Pearl to the next room for some testing since they’d be wheeling us back to our room shortly and he noted that my husband was welcome to join them. Hubbs even double-checked with me that it was okay because he knew I wanted skin-to-skin after birth. From my first c-section, I knew that per policy, I wouldn’t be allowed to hold my baby while they wheeled us back to the room, so I reluctantly okayed my husband and baby slipping away into the next room.
However, almost immediately, I realized that I was going to be in the operating room a good bit longer because I wasn’t entirely sewn up yet and they still had to do the tap block afterward, which was an additional procedure. I was alone which I didn’t like, but my baby wasn’t with me, which was unbearable. Tears streamed down my face, and the anesthesiologist asked me what was wrong (probably worried that I was feeling pain) and I managed to croak out, “I want my baby!”
She called a nurse to retrieve my baby, and they brought Pearl back in to me. I then held her until we had to be separated briefly when we were wheeled back to our room. When we got back to our room, there was a massive sense of relief. Knowing that the surgery went well and our baby girl safely transitioned into our world and into our arms was the BEST feeling. The relief to be holding a healthy baby in your arms is immense regardless, but after suffering through the trauma of a miscarriage, the first moments holding our daughter were all the more special.
What kind of birth did you have? Did it go as planned?
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