Friday, October 9, 2015

Abel's Birth Story

I know birth stories involving planned c-sections aren't as exciting as other birth stories.  There was no moment when my water broke, no contractions that got stronger and stronger, no moment when I suddenly turned to Sam and said, "I think it's time!"  But it's a birth story, and it's mine and it's something I want to remember.  Also, it may help give someone about to have a c-section a general idea of what to expect.

Sam and I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 on Monday morning.  The nice thing about a scheduled birth is that there was plenty of parking at the hospital and zero traffic to worry about.  It was very odd, knowing exactly when I would have my baby.  I felt a little numb.  Because there were so many emotions and feelings competing for space in my brain, I think my mind shut itself off to everything, making me feel almost nothing at all.  I was on auto-pilot, to protect myself from being too scared or too overwhelmed.  But I was definitely excited and so ready to meet this little man.

We got to our room and the nurses quickly hooked me up to an IV and began walking me through what would happen during the surgery.  It was so helpful to have everything explained to me so thoroughly, and even though I've had a Cesarean before, it calmed my nerves to be informed about exactly what to expect.

Here I am getting warm air pumped into my hospital gown.  Don't I look like a really happy whale?

One of the nurses told me she was on light duty because of a torn rotator cuff, which meant she'd still be in the operating room but wouldn't be too busy.  She offered to take pictures of everything for me which was wonderful.  It was so special to have this done because a blue curtain prevented me from seeing anything during the birth (which is good, because I'd most likely pass out if I saw myself cut open), yet I still have these images of Abel being born.  And most hospitals don't allow anyone except hospital staff into the operating room, so I didn't have the option of those great professional birth photos I've seen on Pinterest.  But iPhone photos are good enough for me.

They wheeled me into the operating room and gave me a spinal while Sam waited outside.  My doctor, Abby, is amazing.  She stood with me while I was getting the spinal and talked to me about Christmas, keeping me nicely distracted.  Abby is the kind of doctor who makes you feel like she's your friend, not your doctor, and that you are the most important person.  I'm so thankful she was the one to deliver Abel.

Soon I was laying on the table and they were setting up the partition.  After determining that I was sufficiently numb, they let Sam come in.  He sat near my head and started talking to me.  They began the surgery around 7:45, and it seemed like it went super fast.  I kept taking deep breaths, trying not to think about what was happening (I was being sliced open) or all the potential problems that might occur, and prayed constantly that everything would go well and Abel would be healthy.  The anesthesiologist warned me that I might start getting itchy, and encouraged me not to scratch.  I remember thinking that was weird.  I also couldn't stop my teeth from chattering.  I wasn't cold, but it was almost like my body thought I was, so I was shivering.

Here I am being cut open! ^^

All of a sudden, there was a slight uproar from my doctor and the nurses.  I heard, "Did you see that?"  "I've never seen anything like that before!"  It didn't sound like it was anything bad, but when you're having major surgery performed, and a doctor is attempting to cut a baby out of you, it's a little alarming to hear things like that.  My mind raced with what could have caused it - was this baby actually a girl?  Was there a second baby inside?  I tried not to panic, and thankfully one of the nurses poked her head around the partition and told me what had happened.  Apparently as soon as they cut through the final layer, Abel's arm shot out of me, as if to say he was ready to come out.  I said, "Like an alien trying to escape?"  She said, "Yeah!  That's exactly what it looked like!"  And for those wondering, no, he didn't jump out and start performing "Hello My Baby."  (Spaceballs anyone? <-- click the link if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Here's my little prince, straight from ma insides.

(I put this picture in black and white, so those with sensitive stomachs don't freak out over all the bloooood.)

They allowed Abel's cord to finish pumping, then cut it long and took him to be wiped off.  Sam then cut the rest of the cord, and after determining Abel was breathing well and not in any serious trouble, they brought him to me and laid him on my chest.  I couldn't stop crying with relief and crazy, crazy love.  It is mind-blowing to have a new baby.  This person was my tiny companion for nine months, and suddenly there he was, in the world.  With both Ellery and Abel, I saw them as brand new people and knew them.  They seemed so familiar to me, and I had the strangest sense of, "Wait, haven't we met before?"  It's crazy the connection between mother and baby, and for me the intense sense of love and protection for this little person, this person my body worked so hard to grow and develop, is such a spiritual experience.  (I know, I know, I'm such a cliche.)

The baby nurse said, "Tell me when you start to feel sick, and I'll take him away."  I thought that was weird.  What made her think I'd start to feel sick?  A few minutes later, I said, "I think I'm going to throw up."  She quickly took him over to be weighed and measured and cleaned up, and Sam came over to distract me.  I don't know what it is about the process of being sewn up, but they said there would be a miserable few minutes and then I would feel better.  They were right.

He weighed 9 lbs, 14 oz, just like Ellery, and was 21 and a quarter inches long.  As soon as I didn't feel sick anymore, the nurse brought him back to me, and I so appreciated how quickly they had him next to me.  The whole team was determined to keep him close to me as much as possible as soon as possible.  That's what I loved about my doctor and my hospital; they were focused on what's best and healthiest for the baby, even in the event of a c-section.

Soon we were wheeled into the recovery room where Abel nursed.  The baby nurse and another nurse stayed with us to keep track of our vitals and make sure Abel's blood sugar wasn't too low.  His first couple readings were a little low so they just encouraged me to nurse more.  Thankfully, my body knows how to nurse.  And my babies know how to nurse.  So he nursed and nursed and soon his blood sugar levels were in the safe zone.

After two hours in recovery, we got to go back to our room.  I felt elated, and so thankful that everything was okay.  I was also pretty tired, but enjoyed nursing Abel and watching Sam fall head over heels in love with his son.  I couldn't believe how much he looked like Ellery.  I think Ellery has changed so much since she was a newborn baby, but as soon as I saw Abel, it was like a flashback in time to Ellery's first days.  When he cried and nursed and slept, I was reminded of her.  And it made me so happy to think of how much they look alike already, and how happy I was to be giving her a sibling.  It also made me miss her a lot.

The rest of the day was lots of time being checked on by nurses, and lots of nursing and cuddling and welcoming visitors.  Ellery didn't want much to do with her brother, which seemed pretty natural for a nineteen month-old.  She didn't understand why I was holding another baby, and just wanted me to hold her.

The hardest part was being separated in the hospital.  My mom and Sam traded off taking care of Ellery and helping me with Abel.  They brought her to the hospital as much as possible, and she had fun running around the halls.  It was the first time I'd ever spent a night away from her since she was born.  Fortunately, we only ended up staying two nights!

When I first got pregnant with Ellery, I had such high hopes of a natural birth.  I really wanted the chance to try it.  When that didn't happen, I hoped that I'd get to try a VBAC with Abel, and maybe have a natural birth the second time.  After determining his head was a full 4 weeks bigger than it ought to be, my doctor told me she would support me if I wanted to try a VBAC, but said that with how big his head was, we would probably wind up having an emergency c-section, which is not as safe as one that is planned.  I let go of those dreams of natural birth, and accepted that it's just not meant to be for me.  If I tried to have natural births, there's a good chance my children or I would have had critical medical issues.  I probably would have been one of the women that died in childbirth back before modern medicine made Cesareans possible.  Or my babies wouldn't have survived.  So for that reason, I'm thankful for the way my babies were born.  After all, isn't a healthy baby and mother the end goal anyway?

My recovery was easy and quick.  I had very little pain.  The first time I stood up, which was the same day Abel was born, I didn't have any pain at all.  I had two nurses standing next to me as I pushed myself out of bed, ready to catch me if I fell over from the pain.  But I stood easily, happily surprised at how great I felt.  I only had one moment when I had pretty strong pain, but that passed fairly quickly.  It makes such a huge difference when the surgery is planned and you're able to rest beforehand, and not be on pitocin, because I think that's why I felt so great.  Not to mention, I have two beautiful babies and my lady parts are still fully intact.  Like, I can totally jump on a trampoline and sneeze without peeing my pants.  So you know, pros and cons.  C-sections aren't the most horrible thing in the world, especially when done at a hospital that is so focused on doing everything in the baby's best interest.

And now my baby boy is nine months old!  And I can't imagine our family without him in it.  We love you, little mister!  So thankful you picked us.

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