scheduled c-section

Recognizing C-Section Awareness Month: My Birth Story

My birth story isn’t for the faint of heart. I hesitate to share it with new moms or those who are easily angered. Truth be told, my birth story is, for many, a worst nightmare come true. It has been nearly 6 years since my water broke at the doctor’s office two days past my due date. Actually it didn’t break, it BURST. No simple leak with me but an audible pop and a huge mess. A test at the office confirmed that not only had my water broken, but there was a presence of meconium. A nurse kindly directed us to go straight to the hospital and to skip the trip to Target we had planned for that afternoon.

I wasn’t ready for labor to start. My hospital bag wasn’t fully packed, much less sitting in the back of the car. My carefully crafted birth plan wasn’t printed. My doula was on an airplane. I was in shock.

We got to the hospital and after a bit of confusion, I was finally shown to a room and given a gown. After checking me, the nurses didn’t want to admit me since I wasn’t having any contractions. However, since there was a possibility of baby being in distress, the doctor insisted. Going through the early stages of labor in the hospital was NOT in the birth plan. But I was soon to learn that my birth plan was nothing more than a wish list, and that in birth, as in in life, wishes aren’t always granted.

10 am on Tuesday November 6th I was admitted into the hospital and labored naturally for roughly nine hours. I got in the tub, used the birthing ball, and tried different positions in the bed all to no avail. While I was progressing, I was in unbearable pain and eventually asked for IV drugs. For the next 4 hours or so I labored in a haze. My husband says I rested some, but I still was feeling every contraction. I was just unable to communicate that to him.

1 am on Wednesday November 7th my body was ready to call it quits. After 15 hours of labor my body had stopped progressing. At 16 hours of labor my body actually started regressing. My contractions were nearly nonexistent. At this point I had also been on antibiotics for 16 hours and there was concern about my and baby's health. I stopped the IV meds so we could talk through options and eventually agreed to Pitocin and an epidural. This was is no way my first choice. It was the opposite of what I had wanted for so many reasons. I had heard all the horror stories about both drugs and knew all the reason NOT to take that course of action. To add to the matter, we were entirely self-pay, and the cost of the drugs was not something I wanted to think about. That being said, the other options seemed even higher risk, so we moved forward with the drugs.

2 am, I finally slept. With the Pitocin doing its job, my body was once again progressing and with the epidural I was able to rest my, now very tired, body. I hadn’t slept in close to 24 hours and hadn’t eaten anything other than a bagel in close to 30.

5 am, the nurses came in and woke me up and encouraged Josh and I to get comfortable. Baby was coming soon and we were going to start pushing soon.

6 am, the doctor came in and we start pushing. We pushed. And we pushed. And we pushed. And we pushed.

8 am, the doctor’s shift changed and the new doctor came in to check on me. He was worried that my water had been broken for 24 hours and that because of the presence of meconium, I had also been on antibiotics that long. He was also concerned that after two hours of pushing, we hadn’t made more progress. He asked me to consider a c-section. I refused, convinced that if given the chance my body would do what it is designed to do.

10 am, I had been pushing for 4 hours. The doctor asked my husband to come see our daughter’s head. She was stuck. With each push, the top of her head smashed against my pelvic bone. A c-section was brought up again. I asked if they were able to use forceps or suction. Those options were discussed and exhausted. Each push put Abi under more stress. I’m still fighting a C-section when a very loving nurse comes in close. She kindly, but firmly, explains that for whatever reason Abi cannot come out. We were unclear if it was her position, or something not right about my bone structure, but if I wanted a safe delivery for baby and me, a C-section was the only way. She told me I could wait, but that the baby could only handle so much stress. If I waited, the doctors would be forced to do a C-section because of baby’s heart rate (or mine) showing problems. They gave me a little longer to talk with Josh. He called my dad and we explained the situation to him and to my mom. Josh put the phone on speaker and held it over my head while my dad prayed for my safety, the safety of the baby, and wisdom for our doctors. The choice for a C-section was made.

11:30 am Wednesday, November 7th, my dear baby girl Abi Lee was born via c-section and placed in her daddy’s arms. She had a black eye and the top of her head was bruised and swollen where she pushed against my pelvic bone for over 4 hours.

I am moved to the recovery room and kept company by a compassionate nurse. “We do this every day, and it’s safe, so to us it feels normal. But you just went through major surgery. It’s traumatic. It’s ok to be emotional.” Eventually Josh made his way back to me. The ordeal has been taxing and emotional for him as well. The last time he saw me was on a table covered in blood. He needed to see with his own eyes that I was ok. He held my hand, assuring himself that I was, indeed, okay.

Recovering from a C-section is an interesting experience. Not only are you adjusting to motherhood, learning to nurse and all the other normally post birth stuff, you are also recovering from major abdominal surgery and coping with the loss of an ideal. I was comfortable and okay with the choice I made for my first birth. I knew it was necessary for the health and safety of my child. I made the choice to put my own comfort and desires aside and do what was best for my little one. I acted like any mother would.

While I was comfortable with my choice with Abi, I was forced to face it in a new way 19 months later when I wanted to travel late in my second pregnancy. My doctor asked to check me before approving a 8 hour drive. In the process, it was discovered that Maddie had dropped. However, to the doctor’s disappointment, my body was not adjusting as it should.

The entire pregnancy we had assumed we would do a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). It was my first choice and the first choice of my OB, as well. Now, for the first time, we had to discuss a repeat C-section. She gently told me I needed to prepare myself emotionally for the possibility of a repeat C-section. She was willing to attempt a VBAC, but wanted me to know the complications my body was presenting.

Once again, my husband and I were faced with a complicated choice. We knew the complications on both side. Thankfully this time we were able to take our time. We took a few days to talk, pray and research. Eventually everything seemed to be pointing in the same direction -- we would go with a scheduled C-section.

I am now in my third pregnancy and each time I learn more about my own body. Together the doctors and I have made discoveries about how my body works and what my internal bone structure looks like.

I will never have a natural birth. And yes, there are moments where I feel a sadness about that.

I am not unaware of the risks involved in multiple c-sections. It’s something my husband and I have talked about at length and taken into consideration when discussing how many children we would like to have.

I am not unaware of the stigma around c-sections (both emergency and scheduled). I have experience firsthand the ridicule and opinions of complete strangers telling me what I did “wrong” in my birth experiences.

BUT I am abundantly thankful that c-sections and repeat c-sections are an option. There was a time when a situation like mine would have ended horribly. Instead, I got a happy ending. I had not one but two beautiful, healthy daughters and, God-willing, will deliver my third in late July.

Maddie Grace

It would be easy to feel bitter or angry about my situation, but rather I choose gratitude. I choose to thank God for doctors and nurses who speak love into painful situations and gave me the best chance at having what every mother desires, a healthy child.

Abi Lee

To find more information and support about Cesarean birth, visit title="ICAN">http://blog.ican-online.org/

Joanna's Birth Story, Part Two

Mama and Baby BW

On Monday, we shared Laura Mills' birth story. For some C-section Moms, the delivery process is relatively painless. However, for many, the post-partum period can be very difficult. Here are Laura's early thoughts on in her c-section recovery process. Thoughts from C-Section Recovery First of all, we have the best daughter in the history of babies. I realize there is a very long history of babies, but rest assured that she is the best. Ever.

The surgery was a huge success and my recovery is going better than anticipated. Each time a nurse checks my incision, they make a comment on how well it’s healing and how great I'm doing. (I know I'm the only one they ever say those things to because I just had the best daughter in history so they're simply recognizing my mad skills.) It took me a day or so to get back on my feet (literally) and move around "wirelessly" without an IV, catheter, and other fun medical equipment. I'm able to get in and out of bed on my own now. I can shower. I can use the bathroom. I can change diapers standing up. I feel like super woman! Thanks, Percocet!

Usually recovery is longer and harder than my experience. If I hadn't just given birth to the best daughter in history with the greatest husband in the galaxy, it would be harder for me, too. Jonathan, my husband, has been superhuman in taking care of me. Our parents have jumped at every opportunity to serve us and love us. Our incredible family and friends made sure to encourage us and love Joanna (although it's not very hard to love someone like her).

In terms of pain, it's a very real and expected part of recovery. Having a C-section is not a way to skip pain - it's just a different way to give birth. Rather than having one's pain take place in one (or two) concentrated days, the pain is spread out over weeks. The incision hurts in a sharp way without my beautiful drugs. Cramping and getting my piping back in order causes aches and lots of pressure. Walking, sitting up, adjusting, or just using stomach muscles at all can present a variety of pains.

The most rewarding pain of all has been trying to nurse. Our beautiful roly-poly needs to maintain her gorgeous curves and I happily oblige. The biggest hurdle we've encountered is her comfort level - she gets way too comfy while nursing and often falls asleep soon after latching. We have to keep her awake by keeping her cold and angry. It's a beautiful and beneficial torture technique. Not only do I have pain at the site of her nursing (obviously), but my uterus contracts while she goes at it. Nursing helps my uterus go back to its original shape and location, therefore helping me get back to my original shape.

BIG thanks to the nurses at Virginia Baptist Hospital. I'm nothing short of impressed with their professionalism, compassion, insight, and preparedness during this time. They answer our stupid questions without giving us a stupid tone, they bring extra slices of cheese cake, and they take the time to explain things to us until we understand what's going on.

If I knew then what I know now, I would still do it all again.

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Joanna's Birth Story

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July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. Getting Started It all started this morning as I awoke with a grumbly belly from not being able to eat since midnight. My surgery was at 1:45 and we had to arrive at 11:45. Thanks to an unexpected detour and U-turn, we arrived at 11:50. We registered, went upstairs, had my final weigh in (218lbs!) and were taken to our first room. After changing into a gown that didn't cover my butt at all (my bump far exceeded the average allotted circumference), I sat on a stretcher to answer questions confirming my medical history, etc. They recorded my blood pressure, took a urine sample and gave me a glorious IV that hurt like the dickens. (Because I was so dehydrated, they skipped the numbing drug and just stuck the big needle in first. Owies.)

Then we waited a half hour. 45 minutes. One hour. 90 minutes. Two hours.

We learned many things during these two hours. First of all, I was having contractions 2 minutes apart and barely felt them. Doc attributed the lack of pain to my thick cervix. It was stubbornly refusing to thin and Joanna never fully engaged. Good thing we were already planning a C-section! We also learned that there were several vaginal deliveries my doc had to make before us that backed up her surgical schedule. There was another patient preggo ahead of us that was getting sliced. They began prepping me at 4:00 immediately following Nate Berkus (thanks God!) and we started the fun!

Right before surgery I was admitted to the OR at 4:09. That freakin' epidural hurt. Holy Moses. At first it was refreshing to have my back cooled off by the ice cold rag she used to prep the area. The numbing shot wasn't bad. The epidural was put in slightly to the right, then slightly to the left, then again, and again, and again, and again, and another time for good measure, then one more time. They layed me on the surgical slab as my body went numb from my chest down. It was weird, exciting, and confusing! I was given an oxygen mask, my bed was tilted to the left because my breathing became more difficult given the 55 lb bowling ball still on my chest.

Jonathan entered the room looking like McDreamy and sat with me as they jostled me around. I asked when they would get started and she said that the baby was almost out. Oh! Okay!

"Great lungs!"

I heard crying. I heard the beautiful cries of my beautiful baby.

"Oh there's a big round head!"

Thanks, Nurse Obvious :)

They held her above the partition so I could catch a glimpse. Wow! She had hair! She's so round! She's gorgeous!

They took her to get cleaned up and I asked Jonathan to snap some photos...

"10 lb 4 oz"

(Holy crap. She really is 10 pounds!!!! YEAAA!)

She scored between an 8 and a 9 on her APGAR. Everything looked good! They were going to double check her for diabetes because of her size - no diabetes :) She had a condition where our blood types aren't compatible, so they wanted to keep an eye on her for potential jaundice issues.

Layer by layer, I was stitched back together as the nurses talked about what their kids would dress as for Halloween. Jonathan wheeled our little girl to the nursery to join her birthday buddies. Along the way she met up with the grandparents and they snapped tearfully-proud photos of their offspring's offspring.

I was then wheeled to a recovery room where I was fed ice chips and asked to wiggle my toes. I felt like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill - I couldn't do it at first but I just kept trying and trying. Those ice chips were so good. Oh my. Joanna joined us about an hour later and I was finally able to really get a good look at our contribution to society. She was so gorgeous!! While still paralyzed, I tried nursing and was mildly successful. She kept falling asleep but thankfully it didn't hurt me to breastfeed. I remember thinking that I'll be one of the few that has little issues with nursing.

Mama and Baby

Eventually I could move my leg but not my toes so they let me go to our mother-baby room. It's here where the nausea set in. Reminiscent of last winter, I couldn't keep anything down. It's a normal side effect of a C-section, especially for a pregnancy that already battled with nausea. I wasn't worried, nurses weren't worried, but I was really annoyed. At least I could taste popsicles and ice water. I was told that as soon as I passed gas, I could have a grilled cheese sandwich. I've never been so motivated to fart!

So as I wrote these thoughts, I was sitting in my electronic bed watching Craig Fergusen and listening to the beautiful snores of my brave husband. I love that guy. He gave me a beautiful gift of our daughter. And God gave us the greatest gifts of all - life and love.

 

If you have a birth story you'd like to share with our readers, please submit it here.

 

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