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From Traumatic Cesarean to Postpartum Depression {Trigger Warning}

From Traumatic Cesarean to Postpartum Depression {Trigger Warning}

(Do not read this birth story if Cesarean birth trauma will disturb you.)

My entire pregnancy was hard, I was sick the first and last trimester. I struggled with even going to work daily. I pretty much lived off of Shells and Cheese for weeks at a time. I tried it all, peppermint oil, sea band and even took medicine from my doctor.

I went into pre-term labor at 29 weeks; the physician gave me a shot to stop the contractions along with an Rx to take daily. I went in at 38 weeks and nothing had changed, my OB knew I was miserable. Caleb was head down; I was swollen and taking hot Epson salt bath every night. That day she scheduled me to be induced, told me to report to the L&D at 5 p.m. on Monday, January 30th.

I took that week off work and planned any last minute things that needed to be done as well as house cleaning. Sunday night Pat & I had a date night in and just enjoyed each other’s company. I woke up at 3 a.m. in sharp pains, I took a hot bath but nothing helped. I called the doctor and we decided to wait as long as we could. My contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart at 8 a.m. they started to be 3-5 minutes apart and we headed to the hospital.

I arrived at the hospital and I was 2 ½ cm dilated. They let me stay and decided to start the IV and Pitocin. My contractions came with full force about 10 minutes afterwards. They checked and I was 4 ½ cm and begging for my epidural, mind you I had all intentions of natural birth! I got my epidural and my contractions were so fast the slowed the medicine down. Once I got to 5 cm I stalled. The baby was healthy and happy but me not so much. My labor had come to a halt! The night was long, we tried to rest and asked for no visitors. Tuesday morning came and I had finally made it to 8 cm and 75% effaced. They had me turn on my side, put the peanut ball underneath me and had me to everything but stand on my head!

My OB came in at noon and broke my water. I begged her to take the baby then but since I had come so far and she knew how bad I wanted to try and have him we decided to keep going. At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31st I had finally reached 10 cm and 100% effaced! I started pushing! I had never been more excited in my life. It felt so good to push.

After pushing for an hour they called the OB. Caleb was crowning but face up. They tried to get him to turn and he is stubborn like his Mommy and wasn’t having it.

Around 5:30 p.m. my OB said “I don’t like this, we’re going to have to take him.”

I wasn’t scared at all; I was ready to hold my precious little boy in my arms!

Dad scrubbed up and they raced me down the hallways (have I mentioned I work at this hospital as well?). I knew everyone on my team; I was so comfortable having them all by myside.

They wheeled me into the OR and started prepping me, Pat met me in there and him and I were just talking away. I felt some pressure but nothing that I couldn’t handle; after all I had been in labor for almost 37 hours!

At 5:47 p.m. my son was born, he weighed 7lbs 15oz & 21 inches long! My husband and I both cried the first time we heard him. It was the most amazing feeling in the whole wide world. But that is where my journey had just begun.

They brought Caleb over to me and let me see him for the first time, I kissed him and the nurse said Daddy and baby would meet up with me later. I remember asking the OB if I was okay and I got no response. Next thing I knew I was waking up 6 ½ hours later in recovery!

The OB had cut my bladder during my C-Section & it had to be repaired along with me bleeding out. I woke up in recovery with a SP tube, drainage tube and foley cath. I had never been so scared in my entire life. I got to my room about 3 a.m. on Wednesday; I went into shock around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning due to blood loss and loss of electrolytes. I stayed in the hospital for a week; I did not get up out of bed until the 4th day. I received 2 units of blood, magnesium and potassium several times a day until they could get my levels up.

I had my drainage tube removed on the 4th day, foley on the 5th day. I went home with my SP tube for 6 weeks. I wasn’t allowed to pick my son up for 6 weeks. My mom came to visit for two weeks and my mother-in-law flew in from California and stayed a month with us.

I had my SP removed on March 7th and also found out that I had an issue with me left kidney due to the surgery. That’s when the postpartum depression took over. I had signs up it beforehand but thought it was just due to having the trauma of what all had happened. I had been having some blood pressure issues and sever weight loss due to being severely malnourished.

I went to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack to later find out it was a post-partum anxiety attack. I seen my OB the next day. Whom I must add has taken excellent care of me during all of this. It took me a few weeks to get back to “normal” and I’m still not certain I’m there yet but postpartum depression is REAL. I had heard about it before but never understood it. I was so disconnected from the world, my life, even my own son. It was scary! I look at him now and I can’t imagine that I felt so disconnected. I pray that he doesn’t remember it or felt any of it at all.

I found out on May 24th I would have to have a stent placed in my left kidney. The doctor is very hopefully this will correct the issue.

I look at my scars (pictured below & took a lot of courage) & stretch marks daily, some days I don’t want to look at them. I can’t stand for my husband to see them or touch them but he loves me, he loves them, he loves that OUR son came from all of that.
Not a day do I regret it or wish I could change it. Everything happens for a reason & God blessed us with a healthy, beautiful baby boy!

But always remember to stay strong; being a new mom is hard enough, don’t make it harder for yourself! Embarce your scars! Let your husband tell you how beautiful you are with them and your stretchmarks! You’re super woman and don’t let anyone tell you any different!

Story and photo submitted by Lorie W. 

Laughing Gas, a Cesarean, and a Double-Edged Sword

Laughing Gas, a Cesarean, and a Double-Edged Sword

Saturday morning, June 1, 2015, I wake up with this crazy urge to pee.

I get up, or rather I roll out of bed and head to the bathroom (I am on my 38th week of pregnancy).

Everything goes as normal, so I head back to bed.

Check the time… it’s 3:30 am.

I’m lying there WIDE awake at this point, just trying to flop around and get comfortable when I feel a small warm surge flow out of my “va-jay-jay”.

Whoa… Felt like I went an extra tinkle, it happened before.

No biggie.

Then, this warm surge happens again and once more but on the latter, it went from a wee bit more to a LOT more!

I whack my partner on the bum and say, “I think my water broke!” Of course, I have no clue and I was freaking out. Normal, right?!

I roll out of bed and the moment I stand up completely, a much larger surge flows out! Yet, I am still clueless and asking out loud if my water broke because, again, I am freaking out.

Could it be true?

Is this really happening?

I don’t know what to do, what to think and want dearly for this not to be happening.

Back to the story, I went into the bathroom to see what this was and my bottoms were fairly soaked with a slimy type substance. And as I am standing there, more is coming out.

By this time, my partner is up and waking my mom up because it’s time!

I make the call to my OB office and they said for me to come in immediately.

I change while my mom is getting ready and I am standing there chanting, “I can’t do this, please, why did I do this to myself, I don’t think I can do this!”

Over and over…

Side note: I was saying why did I do this to myself because I went through a IUI process to become pregnant.

My mom, just listening to me, calmly says, “Get in the car because I am not calling the wambulance to come get you.” Yes, mom, real funny.

Oddly enough, amongst all my chanting and on the drive, I was feeling NO pain.

When I calmed down, I was still feeling nothing. The car ride was filled with even more chanting and just talking to myself about how I can’t believe this is happening.

My mom, just smiling.

At The Hospital!

We get to the hospital and check in.

At the hospital, everyone is being so nice. Too nice. I wasn’t expecting this kind of treatment. I actually didn’t know what to expect.

All the nurses were just making sure I was as comfortable as possible. (Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA was where I had my baby girl.)

My OB came in, did the ultrasound and tested my amniotic fluid. It’s a GO!

Next I am being hooked up to all the many monitors to make sure the baby has a heart beat and mine hasn’t exploded!

Next, they need to know how far along I am. Pelvic exam.

Let me preface this by saying I am NOT a fan of pelvic exams. Who is? But for me, it’s just not a happy time for me. Painful.

So when it came time to see where I was at in dilation, well it wasn’t pleasant.

My OB attempted the exam and an epic deathly scream filled the air. Failure.

My OB walked right out of the room saying only, “get the epidural!”.

She stated I was NOT dilated past 1 cm.

As a result, the nurses had me going through a 10 hour regime of walking, squatting, bouncing on a medicine ball, hugging that medicine ball and just trying everything under the sun to get my body to dilate.

Not happening.

After all was said and done, I never dilated.

By then 15 hours passed, exhaustion set in and I was asked that dreaded question (meaning I knew it was going to be a c-section), “Do you want to have this baby?” I replied, “Yes.”

I was truly and utterly exhausted though.

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Quick side story, leading up to getting myself and the epidural ready, I was being induced with Pitocin. (My water broke only but I was not in labor. If that is even possible?!)

With being induced, I started to feel the twisting and straining of labor. Not bad until the dosage was being raised higher and higher and then the pain. I was then offered, laughing gas.

Never heard of this and surely didn’t think this would ever work for the pain of labor.

I had a myriad of questions about this but the main one, will this hurt my baby?

They assured me that inhaling this does not hurt the baby but helps with the pain.

I was given the mask and told to breath it in very deeply. I remember taking 3 deep breaths in
and on the third I felt my entire body just instantly relax.

My hand holding the mask dropped and I began to literally laugh. Laugh in a tone I have never heard before.

So loud that the nurses had to ask my mom if this was normal! It was not normal, I could not control this screeching high pitched laugh at all. I had NO control over my body.

It struck me as so funny that I could not control a thing and felt so relaxed.

Of course, here is my short video of this happening. Thanks, mom for recording this!

As you can see, I was just as fine as can be with no pain. All I could feel was extreme pressure. End quick story 🙂

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So it began, the preparation for getting ready for the c-section. Just breath, the anesthesiologist said right before he slid the needle in my lower back. I didn’t jerk nor did I feel any pain. Just a prick.

Felt like a rush of cold water flowing down my back but from the inside.

Almost immediately my legs went limp and felt as if they weighed 100 pounds each! It was the oddest feeling to see my legs yet couldn’t move them or have control.

While the team was prepping for the procedure, I started to regain feeling in my right leg. Not sure why but the anesthesiologist had said that my spine was twisted slightly in the middle of my back.

So right before I was taken into the birthing room, I had ANOTHER epidural done. I was completely numb at this point.

My legs felt like lead weights, made me laugh that I could not move them no matter how hard I tried.

Into the operating room I went with only my partner. Upsettingly, my mom was not allowed in the room.

It was a small room with white walls and 1 door in and out. I had one hand on my OB, Christina T. Thomas, M.D, the entire time. I was scared and felt so alone…

I was also administered a spinal tap at this point. I was so out of it by now that I didn’t question why I even needed that… as well as why I needed morphine.

What I Was Feeling?

I felt so drugged up and my mind was just so distant. I felt alone and so very nauseated. I was throwing up the entire time. Especially during the c-section.

The only things I was feeling physically were the shaving, the harsh pushing (she was pushing hard on my chest for a while, knocking the air our me moments at a time) and a vacuum of sorts (for the blood I am guessing).

What Was I Hearing?

The first words I heard from my OB was, “Look at all that hair!” Yes, she had a full head of hair.

Then moments later, I hear my daughter’s first sounds… her cry. The most beautiful sound I heard and I just lost it. I started asking for her and crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t see anything but my blue tarp!

Then she came around the side and was brought right to my face to kiss, feel and just love.

I almost don’t remember after this. I also never got skin to skin right away either.

I felt so sad because they took her away and I didn’t see her for almost 45 minutes later.

I was also so exhausted that I think I was sleeping most of that time, I was in and out.

Granted, post birth, the doctors had to stitch me back up, make sure I was ok and clean up but I figured I would get some time with her right away.

I felt a bit of a disconnect. Is that normal?

Overall, after all was said and done my little girl was healthy and well, just wanted to sleep.

The next 5 days were of recovery and just learning the ropes of motherhood.

I am sure that the mommy reading this knows all the highs as well as the lows.

For having a c-section, I couldn’t get out of bed for the first couple days, so thankfully my mom was a huge help with feeding, changing and caring for my baby…

I also got extremely nauseated and had vomiting for the first day post birth as well.. I couldn’t eat anything. Just drink water.

BUT loved all those nurses, all hours of the night, who brought my pain meds every 4 hours because healing from this was extremely painful.

But amongst all that pain, I had no feeling in my legs for a long while but I noticed they were put into a compression device, constantly being massaged to keep blood flowing for a good 24 hours post birth.

It did feel good and after the feeling came back into my legs I was instructed to begin walking around… noting that my feet would most likely begin to swell.

It was a double-edged sword here because when I would walk, my feet became so swollen that it merged with the width of my calf!

Then they told me to put my feet up but yet I was supposed to be walking as much as possible.

That double-edged sword.

Home

After this week at the hospital was over, I headed home with my new baby girl and began a life changing feat that I just absolutely love. Well, sometimes.

Anani Pearl 7 lbs. 9 oz. 20 inches long

Story and photo submitted by Toki T.

I’m Not Sorry

I’m Not Sorry

This week, the twins turn three months old. It’s crazy…time has truly flown by! We are amazed every day at their progress, thankful for their sleeping habit improvements, and amazed that these little miracles are ours.

But, during these three months, there’s been something I’ve been debating sharing, unsure of how to put it out there without sounding offensive. But, I think it’s time…so…here goes.

To get there, I have to start with how the twins arrived. It’s something I’ve had to figure out how to come to terms with on my own, something I treasure, and something I’m asked about on a fairly regular basis.

See, when you have twins, it seems like no questions are off limits. That’s okay; I don’t mind sharing, and I used to be the one with all of these questions! One of the questions is about how they were delivered, and that’s okay!

At 37 weeks and three days, I was scheduled for an induction due to Intrauterine Growth Restriction. Basically, the babies ran out of room. I was proud as John and I marched (okay…waddled and limped) down the halls of the hospital, excited to have made it to term, and ready to meet the babies!

imnotsorry3

We had absolutely fantastic nurses and a doctor that was completely supportive of our desire for the most natural birth possible considering twins were in the picture. One of her requests was that we have an epidural, because things can turn really rapidly with twins. We agreed to have it placed as soon as we arrived, because of platelet issues, we could have lost this opportunity if we had waited. (Note: I use “we” a lot, because John was just as much a part of this process and support as I was; this was a team effort in every sense of the word!). But, we wanted to wait to have the meds put through it. Our doctors were completely on board.

The labor was smooth and I was able to stay relaxed through it. Contractions were manageable and I was on cloud nine. When I progressed to eight centimeters, the doctor asked if we could start putting the drugs in, again, just in case. I agreed. However, we quickly found out they couldn’t push the medicine through the epidural…it was defective. So, it was removed and they placed another one, which didn’t work. At this point, it was time to move to the OR (standard for twin delivery) to push, so a natural birth it would be!

Our baby A, which we quickly found out was a boy, was delivered quickly! It was smooth and amazing; we were in love instantly! Other good news included the fact that our Baby B, which would be a girl, had flipped from breech, where she’d been the whole pregnancy, to head down. Great, we thought. She’d be here in no time!

imnotsorry2

This is where everything took a turn. Our doctor’s face became concerned and she put an internal monitor in. See, our Ginny wasn’t moving down and we’d lost her heart beat. Things changed quickly. Our doctor remained calm and explained that there was no time to wait, we would lose the baby if she didn’t get in there and remove her fast.

Within one minute, everything was ready and the anesthesiologist was apologizing, saying she was trying to push enough drugs to make up for the fact that the epidural wasn’t functioning. Soon, from what I understand, the baby was out and I was hemorrhaging. Our natural delivery turned into a medical emergency where both of our lives were at risk. I was put under and John and the babies were sent to recovery.

It would be a few hours before I was sent down to join them and before I would be able to see the babies. Obviously this time flew by for me, but John took care of skin to skin and made sure all was well, taking all of the first pictures and spending time with our new family members!

imnotsorry1

I don’t remember my first few hours with the babies, I don’t remember our first picture or the first time I held them, but we have precious pictures to document the experiences. They were here, they were healthy, and modern medicine and quick thinking and acting doctors saved us all, especially Ginny and I!

This is where the comments generally start and where I need to share my thoughts. Generally, when I’m asked how I delivered, I say, “One natural, one c-section” No details needed, right? The next thing I hear is almost always, “I’m sorry.”

Here’s the thing: I’m not. Was my delivery ideal? Nope. Was it what I envisioned? Nope. Was it ideal to have a regular delivery and a C-section without pain relief at the same time? No. Do I still have nightmares and need time to process it? You bet.

But. I’m. Not. Sorry.

I’m not sorry for the way I delivered my babies or the way my daughter entered this world. I don’t feel bad about it or feel regret. I don’t resent the doctors who made the best choices they could to ensure the health of my family.

I don’t understand those that compare their experiences to something horrible. I don’t understand how a wish for a natural birth could trump the desire for a safe one.

This story is something I will share with Ginny when she asks someday, with pride, because you know what? It’s her story! It’s how she chose to get here. It’s unique and it’s hers and she’ll be able to understand it, because all potential consequences of waiting were avoided. She could have suffered and she did not. She’s healthy and my hope is that she’ll be happy. So far, we are doing pretty well in that department.

I understand that doctors make decisions we don’t always agree with and that sometimes there may be other motives at play, but, in our case, there were not. The best decisions were made from the start of the day until the babies arrived.

imnotsorry4

So, no, let me reiterate…I am not sorry. I am grateful. I’m grateful for modern medicine. I’m grateful for a doctor that let my husband stay in the room to witness our daughter’s birth and to pray over everything that was happening, even in the midst of chaos. I’m grateful that I get to hold my healthy babies each day.

This story brought them to us, it’s a part of our family now, and I choose to see it as a happy one.

How can I be sorry for that?

Originally published on Take Two Blog.

An Empowering and Healing Cesarean Section

An Empowering and Healing Cesarean Section

My first pregnancy was one that was mostly good, but the bad was very bad.  I had extremely bad swelling.  So bad I thought my skin would split open by the end of my workday.  And the carpal tunnel was sheer misery.  At eight months pregnant, the beginning of October 2008, I had cortisone shots in my hands to make the pain more bearable.  By the beginning of that November, the pain was starting to come back.  Baby’s due date was November 17th, but I begged for an induction.  My OB and I scheduled it for November 10th.  I was already partially dilated and mostly effaced, so I was a good candidate for an induction.

However, it actually was a textbook cascade of interventions that led to the inevitable end result, a c-section.  I was hooked up to a Pitocin drip to begin.  I had my water broken for me three hours later.  I had an epidural (after the Nubain’s luster wore off) three or four hours after my waters were broken.  About five hours after that, I pushed a posterior baby for three hours without being able to fully feel my legs or get off the bed or work at trying to shift the baby’s position by switching my position. They then told me I had one more hour to progress or I’d have a c-section. Needless to say, the baby didn’t budge, and after the fourth hour of pushing, I was wheeled into the operating room and my baby was cut out of me.  Finn Steven was beautiful and healthy and everything I had hoped for.  All the same, I felt like a failure.  I felt like I couldn’t even give birth properly and my body had failed me.  The best thing about the situation is that my son was born and he was amazing.  I didn’t get to touch or hold him until about three hours after he was born, while I was in recovery, and we had a rocky first few days (which I chalk up to being first-time parents), but we did manage to bond while in the hospital.  Right away I knew I loved him with a ferocious intensity and that I would die for him.  We established an amazing breastfeeding relationship, and he self-weaned at 15 months.

There are many things I would have done differently in Finn’s birthing process, in hindsight, but it actually set the stage for my second pregnancy.  See, my second pregnancy also resulted in a c-section, but it’s THAT c-section that healed any lingering hurt or doubts that I had from the first one.

My second son was my third pregnancy.  (The second pregnancy was a blighted ovum which resulted in a sudden and bloody trip to the emergency room and the performance of a d&c.)  Because of this, I had my first ultrasound at seven weeks to determine if there was actually a baby in there, and, to my absolute relief, there was!  The second ultrasound was done at 12 weeks when we couldn’t find a heartbeat by doppler, and in the five short weeks between the first and the second ultrasound, the bean had grown into a baby, with a cute nose and brow and chin and belly all seen in profile.  The third ultrasound gave us the reveal, another boy!  Finn was crushed, as he had his heart set on a little sister.  It also showed that I had placenta previa.  I had been contemplating a VBAC, switching from my regular OB who did not perform them at all to someone who would, but with that diagnosis, it became obvious that I had to come to terms with having another c-section.  I had two more ultrasounds for the duration of my prenatal care.  We would always check on the baby and then the placement of the placenta.  The ultrasound at 34 weeks had shown that the placenta previa was no longer complete, and for a short moment, I again thought about trying to pursue a VBAC route.

But at 34 weeks, 5 days, I started bleeding.  It was September 20th, 2012, my husband Erik’s birthday.  I was finishing up my shift at work, second shift, and we were going to have a great relaxing family weekend with good food and ice cream cake, a calm downtime before the storm, with four weeks left before baby‘s arrival.  We had scheduled the c-section for October 23rd, due date of October 27th!

I had been feeling the baby do a hearty move, and then there was a weird pressure down low, but hey, baby was a tumbler, so I didn’t think anything of it.  Right there at the very end of my shift, 9pm on the dot for once, I felt like I had peed a little, so I toddled off to the bathroom to use the facilities and check it out.  I didn’t expect to see blood, but there it was.

Since I couldn’t get ahold of my husband (I’d forgotten it was game night) I waddled to my car and drove myself home.  By this time it was 9:30pm.  I’m surprised I didn’t get into an accident, since halfway to home I realized I hadn’t felt the baby move in a while and kind of drove pretty reckless.  When I got home, I freaked out on my husband a bit, I’ll admit, and then I told him and Finn to get ready to leave because we were heading to the hospital.  Even though the placenta previa had been cleared, I was still pre-term with bleeding and cramping and I didn’t want to risk anything.

We got some stuff together and hopped in the car (where I started to feel the baby move again, thank goodness), and once at the hospital I got admitted right away.  I even got a posh labor and delivery room for observation instead of one of the triage rooms in the old part of the Birthing Center (my local hospital had just built a whole new and amazing wing just for birthing).  By this time it was 10pm, so Erik and I talked it over, and we got ahold of our friends, who took Finn overnight.  We didn’t want to chance anything if this baby was going to be born, and I wanted Erik with me.  Before Finn left, he cried that he didn’t want to leave because I had an ouchie and he wanted to take care of me, and oh, how he made me cry.

When Finn was gone, Erik and I could relax a bit and wait it out.  I was still bleeding a bit, and it became obvious that my cramps were actually contractions.  Baby kept squirming away from the fetal monitor, so my nurse left it off for a while.  As long as I felt him moving, that’s all we cared about.

I had an ultrasound (the sixth one of this pregnancy) to help assess the situation, and then the doctor who was on that night (an absolutely wonderful woman) came in and checked my cervix, which was 3cm dilated, to my surprise.  Considering I was having contractions, 3cm dilated, and still bleeding it was a foregone conclusion that Erik and I were going to become parents again that night, no waiting, no trying to stop the process.  Since my OB was on vacation (doing Oktoberfest in Germany of all things!), the doctor who was already there was to be the one to perform the surgery/delivery.

So I was prepped for the operating room, and the whole time Erik and I managed to crack jokes and try to make light of something that was actually pretty serious.  Because baby was early, we hadn’t even started on some of the things we had wanted to accomplish before baby’s arrival.  We had also counted on four more weeks of my regular pay (my husband is the stay-at-home parent), and we really were not ready!  The nurses and PCAs thought we were hilarious, and when I was rolled into the operating room everyone was amazed at my sense of calmness threaded with levity.  It’s not that I was blasé and not taking things seriously, but it was more like I was fatalistic.  We were there, and it was happening.

The only time I panicked was when the spinal block kicked in.  Erik wasn’t in the operating room with me yet. I couldn’t move my legs, it felt like I was falling through my butt, and all I wanted to do was shift my weight and I couldn’t.  I had to stop thinking and just breathe, otherwise I would have full-on freaked out, and if that had happened they would have put me under.  Putting me under would have meant I wouldn’t have seen my baby right away, and that was something I couldn’t bear.  Once again I was complimented on my poise. When Erik joined me, I clung to him as my lifeline.

The cutting began soon after.  The baby’s delivery went surprisingly fast.  Someone had to practically sit on my upper abdomen to push the little one out.  He didn’t cry right away, and I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time…  But with a little prompting, his little voice started protesting against the world, and what a beautiful sound.  Nearly 35 weeks and his cry was amazing and strong.  Which of course made me cry.  Hard.  Hard enough to vomit.  Do you know how ridiculous it feels to vomit while laying with numbed legs, arms spread, on a table while also cut open?

But Archer Rhodes was born at 2:59am, and he was beautiful.  5 lbs, 14oz, and 18” of beautiful.  He was cleaned up and assessed in my line of sight (which didn’t happen with Finn’s birth), and I could see him, his precious little face, his tiny body, so pink and healthy.  I gripped Erik’s hand so hard.

I didn’t see Archer again until 12 hours later, and I didn’t get to hold him until that night.  I began my relationship with the hospital-provided breast pump right away, and as soon as I got the all-clear from the NICU nurses, I put Archer to breast.  He fed like a champ, even though he was so small that he had to take frequent rests and I had to pump the surplus to relieve engorgement.  I held him as much as I could, stayed with him as long as I could, and kissed him at every opportunity.

Even with the separation and hurdles that we had to jump, we have bonded beautifully.  I think part of our success is that I was completely at peace with his birth.  After the surgery was over, I learned that his umbilical cord was only 38″.  (A normal cord is 60″+.)  Even if I had managed to attempt a VBAC (or hadn’t had a c-section with Finn in the first place), his cord would have made it impossible to birth him vaginally without extreme risk to himself and to me.  Also, I had started to have placental abruption (a product of his short cord and his tumbling).  To deliver him, the doctor had to cut through the placenta, proving that it was still actually very low and would have made a VBAC risky.  So many things added up, before and after, to make Archer’s c-section birth a healing experience rather than the disappointing and resentful one that Finn’s was.  I am grateful to the birthing team in that operating room for not letting me or my husband know just how critical every moment was and how badly the situation could have gone.  Everyone was calm and supportive and efficient.

Archer was in the NICU for six hard days, but he is six months old now and beautiful and amazing and sassy.  He is proof that c-sections CAN be empowering.  He is proof that not all c-sections have to be a sign of failure.  In the end he chose his entrance, he chose his time, and we were very, very lucky.  I’d call that a win.

healing c-section

healing c-section

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