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Throughout the end of my pregnancy, I really enjoyed reading other mothers’ birth stories. I noticed there was a huge lack in *positive* C-section stories, so I want to add mine to the mix.
At our 32 week ultrasound, baby was measuring BIG— like 5 lb 9 oz, 99th percentile big. With 8 more weeks to grow! Yikes! I hoped her growth would slow down just a little bit. How on earth would I deliver a 99th percentile baby?! A few weeks later at our 37 week appointment, the OB said we could “consider an elective C-section” if baby was measuring at 9 lbs or more at our next visit. I’d originally wanted to avoid that route. It is major abdominal surgery after all! I really struggle with making decisions, so choosing my method of delivery was stressing me out. A vaginal delivery would be scary and trying for a few hours, but it probably meant an easier recovery. A C-section might temporarily be “easier,” but it likely guaranteed a harder recovery. For some reason, I had no peace about the idea of a vaginal delivery. There were so many unknowns and it made my anxiety skyrocket. The predictability of a scheduled C-section was very appealing to me. Yes, I know that C-sections come with major risks, all of which I thoroughly researched. I also talked with mom friends and I prayed about what the “right” decision for me would be. I decided that if baby weighed 9 lb or more at our 38 week ultrasound, I would pursue an elective C-section.
And guess what? Baby measured at 9 lb 1 oz the next week. I had my answer! Despite another OB having doubts about the necessity of an elective C-section, I decided to trust my gut. She told me that the decision was ultimately up to me. A few days later, my elective C-section for “suspected macrosomia” (very large baby) was scheduled. We would get to meet baby Noelle on Wednesday, November 24th at 2 PM! To say I was nervous would be an understatement! I had 2 days to mentally prepare. I’d never even had surgery before and here I was about to have major abdominal surgery in order to meet our daughter!
The night before baby’s birth, Borys and I got takeout from my favorite local Italian restaurant and relaxed on the couch together. My dear friend Jordan and her fiancé stopped by to chat and pray with us. It was such a sweet night, being right on the cusp of a new season.
The morning of our C-section, Borys and I did our best to sleep in. I wasn’t allowed to eat after midnight, so I tried to keep my mind off of food. I finished packing my hospital bag, took a bath, played with our dog Luna, and went to visit my parents. By 11:45, Borys and I hopped in the car and headed toward Bayfront Baby Place to begin the check-in and pre-op process. Our car was valeted, our bags were inspected, and we took the elevator up to the third floor. We were greeted by an angel of a nurse named Alyssa. She brought us to a pre-op room, instructed me to change into a hospital gown, updated my medical history, took vitals, and started my IV. Then the anesthesiologist and CRNA came in to chat with us about the surgery and go over any concerns. My OB came to greet us next. She donned a Lilly Pulitzer scrub cap, which I took as a good sign! I love Lilly! An emergency C-section got pushed in front of us, so our 2 PM surgery would now start at 3:30. I think the extra waiting calmed my nerves. We were ready to get this show on the road and meet our girl!
At 3:30, a nurse walked me back to the operating room and instructed Borys to go change into scrubs. I wheeled my IV pole with my socked feet and entered the OR. It was so much brighter and colder than I expected. The CRNA directed me to sit on the operating table so she could administer my spinal block. A sweet nurse covered my chest with a warm blanket and told me to squeeze her hands as hard as I wanted to. As soon as I felt the alcohol wipe on my back, I started crying. I was so nervous! A needle was about to go into my spine and there were sterile metal tools all around the room that would surely be used to cut me open. I did my best not to look! The procedure started with a shot to numb the area, which felt like a bee sting. When the actual spinal block was placed, all I felt was intense pressure. It was jarring but it wasn’t painful. The CRNA and nurses helped me lay down immediately as I felt a warm sensation travel down my abdomen and legs. The OB tested my reaction to different temperatures and tools as they prepped the incision site. I felt pressure and could tell I was being touched, but it was so faint. I could no longer wiggle my toes! Then they hung up the drape between my chest and my abdomen. The tears started flowing again. The surgery was about to happen and I felt totally overwhelmed– full of nerves, apprehension, excitement, joy… everything!
As I lay there waiting, Borys finally walked through the door. He sat in a chair at the head of the table and started reassuring me and rubbing my head. It was almost time to meet baby! My OB and the surgical staff took a timeout and reviewed out loud my name, birth date, allergies, blood type, and intended procedure. My OB asked if I had a final guess for baby’s weight. I said “I think she’ll be 9 lbs on the dot!”
From then on, things started to get blurry. I think it must have been from some of the medicine in my spinal block. Just a few minutes later and surprisingly fast, baby Noelle was delivered! The first thing my OB said was, “She’s so alert!” The nurses quickly whisked baby away to be weighed and called out “7 lbs 12 oz!” What?! I thought for sure she would be bigger! But I was immediately excited that we would have a teeny tiny baby to love on! Borys went right over to Noelle and comforted her while the nurses checked her vitals. He even got to cut her umbilical cord. Once she was all swaddled up, the nurses brought Noelle over to me and laid her on my chest. I looked at those big, wide open eyes and was in total disbelief that that was the baby we created that had been growing inside of me for 9 months. I gave her a few kisses, then Noelle and Borys were sent off to the recovery room.
The end of the surgery felt like an eternity. As they stitched me up, I wanted to be with Noelle and Borys so badly but I was stuck on the operating table. I started to become lightheaded and nauseous from the medication. I tried to vomit but nothing happened because I couldn’t work my abdominal muscles. Such a strange feeling! My chest also began to tighten and it felt like an elephant was sitting on top of me. It was hard to breathe. I told the CRNA what I was feeling and she quickly administered a medicine to make me feel better. It worked almost instantly. Finally, my OB said we were finished and that everything went perfectly! I was transferred from the table to a bed and was wheeled to the recovery room.
As soon as I arrived in the recovery room, they gave baby to me. A lactation consultant came in and helped me nurse Noelle for the first time. She latched very quickly and then we spent time cuddling. Borys eventually put her in the bassinet to get some sleep, but she just laid there awake with her eyes wide open. Birth was a big ordeal for her. You would think she’d be tired!
After a few hours in recovery, we were sent up to our postpartum room. By now it was nighttime and we were greeted with a pair of chipper nurses. Borys and I pretty much spent the entire night (and rest of our hospital stay!) staring at Noelle. I was pleasantly surprised by how much easier the recovery was than I expected. Noelle’s pediatrician came to check on her twice during our stay and he said she was doing great. An OB from the practice came to clear me on Friday evening. Just 48 hours after Noelle’s birth, we were discharged home with her our tiny, perfect baby. Life was never the same, in the BEST way.
Recovery was *much* easier than I expected! I think that is partly due to the fact that I didn’t labor prior to my C-section, so my body was wasn’t fatigued going into surgery. My OB did a fabulous job closing me up. Somehow, she did it without any external stitches, staples, or glue– everything was internal. Even the night of my surgery, all I had was a dark line of scarring where the incision took place. Mind blowing! For the first 2 days, I had trouble standing up straight. I could do it, it was just a slow process. I felt like I had done a really hard ab workout. My abs felt the most sore getting into or out of bed, but I never felt pain. (Funny enough, the most painful part of my entire birth and postpartum experience was the uterus cramping while breastfeeding. It was horrible!) By day 3, I was showering and getting into and out of bed by myself. I still just had sore abs. By day 4, I was walking all around the house and feeling great! By day 7, I was driving, bending over (carefully), and going for leisurely walks around the neighborhood.
To me, my birth story is everything I hoped for: it was predictable, relatively pain-free, I delivered a healthy baby, and enjoyed an easy recovery. I’m so grateful that this story and this baby are mine. I wouldn’t change a thing!
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