***TRIGGER WARNING: CESAREAN***
This pregnancy was also a high-risk pregnancy due to my Type 1 Diabetes. This time around I didn’t have as tight of control because I was now not only taking care of myself, but a toddler. It was hard to focus on me when my toddler wanted me to always focus on him.
This baby started measuring big earlier than my other boy did in pregnancy. We were with the same doctor because we absolutely loved her with my un-medicated delivery and wanted the same experience. This time around though, she was more hesitant to deliver a big baby due to the shoulder dystocia with my last baby. She started talking about cesarean section before 30 weeks. We absolutely did not want a cesarean section. I had some misguided ideas of people who have had cesarean sections. I thought they didn’t try hard enough, they didn’t know better, they didn’t want to know better, they wanted to “take the easy way out”, etc. If you’ve had a cesarean section, you know these are very misguided ideas.
My doctor wanted me to have twice a week non-stress tests. Her and I agreed one once a week since my blood sugar control was decent and I was doing my kick counts. At my weekly non-stress test they found that this little boy was breech, meaning his head was up when it should have been down for delivery. I started getting nervous about him staying breech. My doula was helping me find things to do to turn him such as moxibustion, the things listed on spinningbabies.com, chiropractic care specializing in the Webster technique, rebozo sifting, etc. We did all of these things with no luck. My doula thinks that perhaps when I broke my foot around 30 weeks all my ligaments tightened up so my body didn’t allow my baby room to turn.
We scheduled an appointment with one of the few OB’s that delivers breech babies in Utah, Dr. Silver. We were going to see him when he was doing his rounds at IMC, since my insurance didn’t cover the University of Utah where Dr. Silver delivers. We would do my weekly non-stress test then consult with Dr. Silver. We were going to see if he would do an external cephalic version, or if a breech delivery was possible. While I was getting ready for this appointment I started having regular contractions. I got my toddler’s things ready to go to my parents’ in case they were able to do a version and I had to stay to deliver. I dropped him off at my parents’ house and told them I may or may not be picking him up later that day.
On my way to the appointment at 3:00, I was starting to have to breathe through the contractions. I called my husband, who was meeting me at the appointment, to let him know that I thought I was in labor and to let our doula know. When we got all settled in for the non-stress test I was having some serious back labor. I had to put my fist in my back during the contractions while trying to hold still for the non-stress test monitors. Laboring on your back really sucks, especially with back labor! During the test, baby’s heart rate was decelerating. The nurse doing the test looked concerned so I asked if the monitor just wasn’t picking up, or if it was a real deceleration. She said the monitor seemed to be working, meaning it was a real deceleration. A few minutes later, Dr. Silver came in and said that I seemed to be laboring and asked me if I thought I was in labor. I told him that I did think I was. He told me that since I was in labor and baby was having decelerations we could not do the external cephalic version and baby was too big for a breech delivery so I should go downstairs and have a cesarean section. My heart sunk. This was not how I wanted to bring my baby into the world, plus I was terrified of surgery.
We went down to labor and delivery and the nurse got us all checked in and started prepping for the cesarean. Chase, my husband, went and got our birth bag, which I had packed a few weeks ago and had ready in the car for when the time came. He called our doula to let her know what was happening and our parents. I signed a bunch of forms consenting to the c-section. One of the doctors wanted to check my cervix. I asked why because I was having a cesarean. She told me that they needed to know if I needed to go back right away or if we had a while. Really, they could have known by the way I was acting, but I didn’t think about that at the time so I let them. I was 1 cm dilated, so they had a while, especially with him being breech and not pushing my cervix open efficiently.
It was around 6:00 when my doctor showed up and was ready for surgery. She asked my doula if she was going to go back with me and my doula responded, “Yes, if I’m allowed.” The nurse told my doctor that due to the OR not being big enough (which it was definitely big enough) only one support person was allowed back. This made me even more nervous. I was not ready for this and now I was losing one of my support people. My doula walked me to the OR with my husband and she said she would see me when I’m done.
In the operating room they had me roll my back out so they could get the spinal block in. He started numbing it and I just broke down crying. I really didn’t want this. I had an amazing un-medicated, natural, vaginal birth last time. I knew my body worked, so I didn’t understand why everyone thought my body was broken this time. The anesthesiologist said you should feel better in a minute. My doctor touched my shoulder and told me the anesthesiologist was almost done. They were both trying to comfort me, but they didn’t understand that I wasn’t crying about the spinal. The spinal sucked, yes, but the situation sucked more.
Once he was done they had me lay on my back before I got too numb to move. I felt so nauseous. I told the anesthesiologist but he just said that he gave me some anti-nausea medicine so I should be fine in a second. Since he was not listening I told Chase, my husband, to find me a garbage can to puke in. The anesthesiologist did something about it since he finally got the hint that I was serious and gave me an alcohol swab to sniff in my oxygen mask. It smelled awful, but it worked.
The nurse leaned down asked me if I was okay and told me my eyes were beautiful. She was very nice, but didn’t have regard for personal space. She was literally right in my face. This just added to the situation. I felt like I had no choices, no personal space, nothing. Everything was up to them and I had to rely on them and go along with whatever they wanted to do.
My doctor asked me if I could feel her cold hands on my stomach and I couldn’t so they said they were ready to begin. I was not ready to be cut into, but I never would be, so whether I was ready or not, they began. My doctor asked me if I still wanted to have the surgery explained to me, per my request in my birth plan. I told her I changed my mind and didn’t want to know. Chase was trying to comfort me as much as he could. He didn’t want this just as much as I didn’t. He played music for me and stroked my hair. A few minutes later my baby boy was out! He was born at 6:19 p.m. They lowered the drape a little and I tried to lift my head, but couldn’t move much since I was numb from my chest down. He looked so big in my doctor’s arms. I barely saw him over the drape then they handed him off to the pediatric team.
They weighed and measured him. He was 9 lbs 14 oz and 23 inches long. He was huge! No wonder my belly was so big. They stitched me up while Chase went over to be with him. This is why I wanted my doula with us. She could have been by me telling me what is going on with my baby or the surgery. Instead I had to listen to the doctors talking about where they used to live as they put me back together and stitch me up. My doctor asked how I was doing, but because of the anesthesia I felt like I had big sand bags on my chest and could only muster out whispers. I’ve never felt so out of control of my body, and this was normal from the anesthesia.
After they stitched me back up one of the doctors who was operating on me asked how I was doing. I said I was fine, but I wanted to know how my baby was because I couldn’t hear him. She looked over at him and said that he looked good, but she’ll send over one of the nurses to let me know. They brought a hospital bed in to put me on. It felt very strange to be turned side to side and then lifted by several people onto another bed. They handed me my baby, finally. About an hour after he was born I finally got to touch him. I didn’t want to let him go. I couldn’t see his face because it was under my chin, but I was fine with just snuggling him. This was the only good thing about the cesarean, my healthy baby boy.
Once I got to my room my parents, our son, doula, and photographer were all there. My dad took some pictures to send to people and asked me who to send it to. I was so high on all the drugs they gave me for the surgery that I couldn’t answer his question. My doula was trying to help me feel better with essential oils, which did help. I got a couple minutes of bonding time with my new baby before they had to take him to the NICU for low blood sugar. His sugar was 26. I was sad about this, but understood. Chase and my photographer both went to the NICU with him.
My doula helped me get all situated in my postpartum room. One of the nurses came in and asked me if I needed more morphine. I don’t like to take medication unless I absolutely need it, so I was hesitant to get it. My doula suggested that I take it before I start hurting, so I told the nurse I wanted it. I asked her if it would make me nauseous and she told me she had given me some ant-nausea medication so I should be okay. Immediately after getting the morphine she left and I started puking. My doula got me some bags to puke in and was trying to push the nurse call button but it wasn’t working. Luckily my photographer had just come into my room and went and got the nurse. Apparently they forgot to plug in my bed so none of the buttons were working.
The nurse felt my legs and asked if I could feel her touching them. I told her I couldn’t and she gave me a look. I don’t know how to describe it, but it made me kind of nervous. A few hours later I could finally feel my legs.
After several more hours of getting me settled in, my doula left. She was so amazing for after delivery. I’m sure she would have been amazing during, but they wouldn’t let her in. I asked when I could go to the NICU to see my baby. They told me once I had gotten up to pee and my catheter was out. I kept asking for updates on my baby, but they didn’t know since they didn’t work in the NICU. I called Chase since nobody was updating me. Baby Wesley’s sugars were stabilizing and he was on oxygen.
Later that night I asked if I could see my baby. The nurses got me out of my bed to pee. I was still really dizzy, but I wanted to see him so I made myself get up. I asked the nurses if they would catch me if I fell. They responded, “Of course!” I finally got up and peed so now I could see my baby. They wheeled me down there and I told me that I couldn’t stay long because they needed to get to their other patients. I kissed him and stayed for less than 5 minutes before being wheeled up again. They told me that I needed to get some rest so I went to sleep.
The next morning I called Chase to come bring me down to the NICU again. Chase had been there all night with him and didn’t leave his side except to go to the bathroom. We spent all of our time there for the next 6 days. It took a while to wean him off of the glucose IV, but he was able to go off oxygen on day 2. My nurses had an easy job with me since they never had to check on me because I was always in the NICU. I got discharged after 4 days, we did a hotel stay in the hospital for 2 days, and finally baby was discharged before we had to figure out where to stay again. The NICU is a depressing place and we are grateful for all they do, but we were glad to finally be going home and to see our other child.
This was a very humbling experience for me. I learned that cesarean moms are strong, stronger than I ever imagined. I learned that cesareans are not always avoidable no matter how many things you do right. I learned that cesareans are NOT the easy way out. I have a newfound respect and love for cesarean moms.