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Buckle up, because this is gonna be a long one...
We didn’t know that we would be meeting our baby when we went to the hospital that morning.
We went to the hospital on September 8th, 2016 at 7:30am because the baby had been transverse for weeks and he didn’t seem to want to budge. At my appointment the day before, my midwife said they could try an ECV (external cephalic version) to manually turn the baby the next morning, when I was exactly 39 weeks. The ECV was scheduled for 8:00, so my sister came by to pick up Avery around 7:00 and Kevin and I headed to the hospital so we could get there in enough time to get registered.
Once we were registered, we headed up to Labor & Delivery. They put us into a triage room and did a quick ultrasound to determine the baby’s exact position. Then they hooked me up to the heart rate monitor, put the IV port in place, and strapped the heart rate monitor for the baby to my belly. We had to lie there for about an hour to make sure we were both stable before they would attempt the ECV. Kevin and I just hung out and tried to keep our families updated on what was happening.
Around 9:00am, my midwife came in, along with a doctor and midwife student from the same practice. It was the moment of truth. My doctor was on one side of me and my midwife was on the other. They checked the position of the baby one more time and then tried to prepare me for what they were about to do. My doctor told me to try and breathe through it and tell him if the pain became too much. I really had no idea what to expect, but it was the most intense combination of pain and pressure I have ever felt. It was almost impossible to breathe through it, but I did the best I could. My doctor tried to push the head down while my midwife tried to push the rest of the body up. They pushed for about thirty seconds or so and then gave a much needed break. They checked the ultrasound and my doctor said the baby may have moved a tiny bit, but he seemed to be in about the same spot. They decided to try one more time and we repeated the process. They again checked the monitor and let me know the baby hadn’t moved at all.
There was really nothing else they could do. It was obvious this baby was very happy where he was. My midwife said that babies usually have a reason for staying where they are. Her student gave me a hug and I teared up a bit. I had been pretty hopeful, but I also knew that they had tried everything they could to turn the baby. I had even joked with my doctor that I don’t think he could have tried much harder. My midwife said that it was the hardest she had ever pushed on someone’s uterus, so I felt pretty confident that they had both given it everything they had. I had really been hoping for as little intervention as possible, but we were way past that. My midwife said something along the lines of, “Our first two concerns are a healthy baby and a healthy mom, and delivery method is third.”
Once we knew the baby wasn’t going anywhere, we had to decide what to do next.
After the attempted ECV, they hooked me up to all the monitors again. I would have to stay on the monitors for four hours to make sure that the ECV hadn’t put too much stress on the baby. We settled back in and tried to relax for a bit. I came prepared with magazines and the iPad so we had plenty to keep us busy. I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since about 10:00pm the night before so funnily enough, my main concern was when I would be allowed to eat or even just have a glass of water or an ice chip! At this point, we really didn’t expect that we would be staying at the hospital. We knew that I would be having a c-section, but we figured we would be going home and maybe coming back in the next couple of days. Then the nurse walked in and said they could get me in at noon! We had no idea we would have to decide so quickly, but we had known it was a possibility so luckily we had packed the hospital bags in the car with us.
Faced with making a pretty quick decision, we had a few questions for my midwife and the nurse. Everybody felt pretty strongly that we should stay and have the c-section that day. Basically, even after monitoring me for four hours, there was the possibility that the baby could go into distress once we arrived home, or, if I went into labor, I could lose too much fluid and the cord could potentially prolapse because of the baby’s position. Obviously, both of these situations could be very bad for me and the baby. They gave us a few minutes to talk it over and we knew the benefits of staying outweighed the risks of leaving, and it was then that we knew we’d be meeting our baby that day! The same doctor who performed the ECV would be performing my surgery – luckily I have worked with him before and already felt very comfortable with him. He is pretty funny, too, which helped to lighten the mood.
We still had a couple of hours until go time, so Kevin started sending work emails to get things in order since he knew he would be out for a few days. He also called his family to let them in on the news. I read a bit more and let my immediate family and a few friends know that we would be having a baby in a couple hours. After a while, the anesthesiologist came in to go over the procedure. Then the nurse came in to hook up my IV and let Kevin know they would come and get him after I was prepped for surgery. They also gave him some lovely protective paper clothes to wear in the operating room. I made sure to tell the nurse that I wanted Kevin to tell me the sex of the baby, too. After that, they wheeled me away to the operating room. I still couldn’t believe we were about to meet our baby!
At my hospital, they typically perform what is called a gentle or family centered cesarean section:
Your arms aren’t tied down, you get immediate skin to skin with your baby, and you can even have a clear drape to watch your baby being born if you choose (I chose no, I don’t need to see it all go down, I just needed to see my baby). The operating room was very bright and white and there were eight or nine people in there, I think. The anesthesiologist, a couple of anesthesiology students, my doctor, my midwife, her student, the baby nurse, and a couple of other nurses. They asked me what we were doing and I said, “Having a baby”. They said, “Yes, but what are we doing right now?”, and I laughed and said, “A spinal block?”. I got the answer right that time.
The anesthesiologist explained everything he was doing as he was doing it. He first gave me a shot with a local anesthetic and that shot hurt! It worked, though, because I didn’t feel anything when he tried to place the spinal block. Unfortunately, it took three tries to get it in place, so I had to endure the local anesthesia three times. It wasn’t fun, but it was bearable. Almost immediately, my legs began to go numb. They pinched and poked my belly to see if I could feel anything, but I felt nothing at all.
Things happened pretty quickly after that.
They asked me again what we were doing and I said, “Now we are having a baby!” Everybody laughed. They put up the big blue drape. I couldn’t feel anything, but I’m pretty sure they cut me open and had everything ready to go when the nurse left to go get Kevin. I could barely recognize him with the mask and cap on! They had a stool for him right next to my head, but he stood up to watch most of it while holding my hand. I was so happy to see him and have him with me. I kept tearing up – I was so excited that our baby was almost here!
I started to feel super-nauseous and told the anesthesiologist I thought I was going to be sick. He immediately put something into my IV and it took the nausea right away. I joked that I really didn’t want to throw up while my baby was being born. I could feel a lot of pulling and tugging and then I heard my midwife say, “I see a part.” I guess she was hinting at Kevin that she knew the sex because right afterwards he looked down at me and said, “A boy.” I asked if he was sure (silly question, I know). I even asked a couple more times, “It’s another boy?” I guess I wanted to be sure. He confirmed it was indeed a boy and a couple minutes later I heard his first cries! He was born at exactly 12:43pm. He was really screaming, too. My doctor showed him to me around the side of the curtain. I started to tear up again, but I was trying not to cry too much because I didn’t want to move around while they were working on me. He cried the whole time they were wiping him up, but then the baby nurse brought him to be and put him on my chest. He immediately quieted down. His eyes were open and he was so alert and just taking it all in. We had already chosen a name (unlike last time) and it was so nice to call him by his name while we snuggled. Norrin Radd Price.
I was able to hold him on my chest for a few minutes and the he went with Kevin and the nurse to be weighed and measured.
He also had his vitamin K shot and the eye ointment. While they were gone, the doctor stitched me up and stapled the incision shut. I started feeling nauseous again so they gave me some more medicine and some morphine to help with the pain once the spinal block wore off. A nurse came in and asked if I wanted to know how big he was. I was pretty shocked when they said he was 9 lbs, 1.6 oz because he was a whole week early still! No wonder he wouldn’t budge. At some point while they were stitching me up, I said “Now that he is here I guess it’s safe to say I was hoping for another boy”. Everybody laughed at that too. 🙂
The medicine started to kick in and I could not keep my eyes open. I asked if it was okay to just rest my eyes and they told me it was fine. I closed my eyes while they finished up and wheeled me back to my recovery room (the same room we were in for triage). I just laid there with my eyes closed until Kevin came back with the baby. The nurse put him back on my chest so he could try to nurse. He kind of ate and kind of hung out, but he was still very alert.
When my room was ready, they rolled my bed down to our new home for the next couple of days.
The first day was rough! I hadn’t eaten for almost 24 hours so Kevin brought me some yogurt and granola from a vending machine. I ate a few bites, but the next time I tried to sit up I threw it all up. Kevin said it was probably because of the morphine. I still had zero feeling in the lower half of my body and I really hated that. I was hooked up to so much stuff, too – a pulsometer, IV, blood pressure cuff, and these leg wraps that squeeze your legs every few seconds to prevent blood clots.
Norrin just wanted to nurse and then sleep for little short spurts and then nurse again. I just loved staring at his little face and all of his dark hair. They eventually brought my dinner, but I was still so nauseous I could barely look at it. I ate a cracker and a bite of my chicken sandwich and threw up almost immediately. I decided I wouldn’t try too eat anything else until the medicine wore off. Avery came to visit with my Mom and sister a little while later. Even though I was sick, it was so good to see him and have him meet his baby brother. He even gave him a kiss on the head before he left.
Around 1:00am, I was allowed to have my catheter removed and try to use the bathroom. I couldn’t go, but I was happy just to be out of bed! Luckily, they only made me put the pulsometer back on and not all the other stuff. I hated feeling so tied to that bed. Around 4:00am or 5:00am, after more nursing and sleeping, I ate half of a banana. I ate the other half a couple hours later and nothing came back up. By the time they brought breakfast, I hadn’t eaten in almost 30 hours and I was starving! I ate breakfast, took a shower and I felt like a new woman! We stayed one more night and since Norrin and I were both doing so well, they let us go home.
I thought I would be disappointed by needing a c-section, that it wasn’t as special or that I had somehow failed at birthing my baby, but it was actually a very special experience.
It was every bit as exciting and joyous as when I gave birth to Avery. In some ways, I enjoyed being more present in the moment and getting to really experience his birth. With Avery, I was so focused on getting through labor, that I didn’t have time to really appreciate what was happening. When I was lying on the operating room table, I was completely present in the moment and had so much anticipation and joy knowing that I was about to meet my little baby. The first time I saw him and they placed him on my chest felt just as special as those first moments with Avery. It felt no different, even though they came into this world very differently. I have no regrets about our decision and I have so much love and respect for the team of people who helped to bring Norrin into this world. Birth is birth is birth and no type of birth is less admirable than any other. In fact, I feel it would have been selfish for us to do anything but what we did. I would never risk my baby’s life simply to have the type of birth I envisioned. I chose a c-section because I love my baby. I would never say that I “had to have a c-section”. I had a wonderful experience and I am so in love with my happy, healthy baby.
We are all at home now, recovering and adjusting to being a family of four. Norrin is such a happy baby and is so loved by his big brother and, of course, his parents.