This editorial series, Stork Stories, is brought to you by Des Moines Moms Blog and MercyOne. All 8 original articles from the Stork Stories series can be found here.
I was 23 when I found out I was pregnant with our first child.
I had just taken the big walk down the aisle and the news came a short month later. We were shocked but joyful.
Shortly after we confirmed the pregnancy, I began looking into all the baby things. I was the typical first time mom, a little anxious and a little naïve. I’m not sure when it formed in my mind, but the expectation that I would have a normal labor and delivery set in fast. The possibility that it would go in any other direction never crossed my mind.
My pregnancy was smooth. I truly enjoyed pregnancy and my growing bump. When the time came to create my birth plan, again, the idea it wouldn’t go this way never crossed my mind, I imagined a tranquil birth experience. I was open to pain management but wanted to keep my options open. During child birth classes I didn’t pay much attention when they talked about C-sections. I didn’t think I would need that.
I was induced because at my appointment on my due date, they couldn’t get a consistent blood pressure reading. At one point, it was leaning towards the high end. I was also starting to have contractions (irregular) as well during the non-stress test. Due to these factors, the doctor I saw that day scheduled an induction. I was so excited to be induced because I just wanted my baby here now.
I was admitted to the hospital for the induction at 7 a.m. They broke my waters, and started Pitocin. I remember the slow progression of labor. I wasn’t ready to push until around 11 p.m. Then I pushed for almost 2 hours, but wasn’t making any progress.
The doctor told me he would need to use the vacuum. I hadn’t even conceived that this was a slight possibility, so I hadn’t even decided if that was a measure I wanted to consent to or not.
I remember at this point though, I just wanted to be done and have my baby here, so I drowsily consented to the vacuum. A rush of nurses came in and again, I pushed. Still nothing. The doctor stopped and told me he worried that if we continued, the baby would be at risk for shoulder dystocia and felt it would be necessary to do an emergency C-section.
By this point it was 1 in the morning and I was exhausted.
Another set of nurses rushed in and it was honestly a big blur. From the time that they decided I needed to have an emergency C-section to the point that she was born, was mere minutes. I remember tears falling down my cheeks as they wheeled me out to go into the surgical room. Will had to stay back- I felt scared and overwhelmed.
This was NOT what I had envisioned, and I did NOT want to have surgery.
During the surgery, even with Will by my side, I was still so disappointed.
I felt like I failed, and I wasn’t bringing my daughter into this world how I envisioned. I vomited and was freezing; my teeth were chattering, and my arms were held out to the side on the cold table. There was pressure, lots of pulling, and to say it was an unpleasant experience is an understatement.
I remember still crying while waiting to hear my baby’s first cries. But as soon as those cries came and she was settled on my chest, those prior disappointments melted away. I had her in my arms and at this point, that was all that mattered.
After her birth, I did a little research and found some information that probably didn’t help the feelings of guilt and regret. Some of these involve factors that increase risk for C-sections, some of which I experienced.
While I was thankful I had a healthy baby and I was also healthy, it didn’t take away the disappointment of how she was delivered. I still hung onto some of that guilt and disappointment when we became pregnant with our second daughter. I knew there was an option to still be able to have the delivery I wanted.
I trusted our doctor and wanted to seek their opinion and feedback. I researched all the risks and the pros- and felt ready to meet with my doctors and reach a decision. My doctor was wonderful and was honest with helping me decide to attempt a VBAC (Vaginal birth after cesarean section) or schedule another c-section.
He said I didn’t have to decide right away and it was completely up to me. He gave feedback about my last labor and delivery and estimated that the chances this were to happen again were increased due to the reasons I experienced a c-section with my first child. Neither baby or I experienced a medical emergency and he said that if that were the case, my chances of having a successful VBAC were lower. He still was supportive and told me I didn’t have to decide right away.
After a lot of lengthy discussions with Will and continuing to do a little research, I decided to do a repeat C-section.
I knew how hopeful I was to have a vaginal birth. The possibility of going through labor and having it end in a c-section sounded too emotionally draining at the time. I could know with positivity that I was having a c-section and begin to process it and accept it. My heart couldn’t handle another let down. I felt confident about this decision moving forward.
A Second C-Section
The night before my scheduled C-section, I went into labor at home. I went into the hospital around midnight and they proceeded to prep me for surgery. This time, I was still freezing, I still felt the pressure and the pulling, but I wasn’t as emotional.
Baby Saidey came into the world at 1 a.m. and again, how she entered the world, became a null point as soon as I met her. I requested to be able to try to nurse her right away. As long as everything went accordingly, I was told that would be the plan. Once I was in recovery, she was brought to me and I was able to breastfeed. When I finally was wheeled to my regular room, I was so tired and out of it. She wasn’t brought to my room until a few hours later.
After Saidey was born, I reflected on the experience. While it was a much better experience because it was planned? I began to question my decision. Should I have tried to have a VBAC? Because the worse case scenario would have been a c section. Maybe I should have tried.
I finally reached peace and acceptance and was able to put those small doubts on the back burner. Would I have changed some decisions? Yes. But at the end of the day, both my girls were happy and healthy. I was also healthy. That was truly all that mattered.
Fast forward almost 5 years; we wanted a third baby.
In April 2018, I found out I was pregnant. During our first doctor’s appointment, I knew if we continued care there, it would be an automatic C-Section. My other option was going to Iowa City and looking into the option of a VBA2C. I didn’t have to think too long and hard about this one. I had finally reached a place where I truly believed that it doesn’t matter how your baby is brought into this world as long as everyone is healthy.
A Third C-Section
With this peace in my core, I decided to schedule a third c-section. I knew the risks increased with every c-section. I knew the recovery time increased after every c-section. C-sections can impact breastfeeding. I knew that undergoing surgery had its own share of fears and anxieties.
However, despite all of those things, I had reached a level of acceptance of all the decisions that brought us to this point. I also liked the surety of another c-section, and maybe even selfishly, the control I had in several parts of having a scheduled c-section.
This time around, was truly a planned experience. I had a scheduled c-section for December 17, 2018 at 10 a.m.
I went into the hospital and had a completely different experience than my previous c-sections. First of all, I was mostly well rested. (because hello nerves and excitement) I was able to speak to the nurses, my doctor, and the anesthesiologist. Then I was able to walk into the surgery room, converse with the nurses, and express my wishes for when the baby was born.
I wanted to be able to do skin to skin contact right away, if possible. I also wanted the baby in the recovery room to allow to breastfeed immediately. The actual c-section still was uncomfortable and I was a bundle of nerves. There was still the usual pressure and tugging and pulling but I wasn’t as cold.
I held him while I was being stitched up and just soaked in his newborn smell. He joined me almost right away in the recovery room and I was able to breastfeed him and hold him. They wheeled him with me to my room after recovery, and I spent the remainder of the day holding him and getting to know him.
It’s now 9 months later as I’m writing this. As I reflect, I wouldn’t change a thing about how he was delivered. Even with the girls, I don’t remember how they were delivered, I just remember their sweet smell. Their tiny fingers holding onto mine. The instantaneous, delicious love I felt when they were placed in my arms.
Through the years, I’ve been able to shed the layers of guilt, “should haves,” and disappointment when telling my birth story.
I truly believe that no matter how your baby arrives, we are rockstars! Women are wonderful, strong, and courageous.
I know I never thought of myself that way when thinking about my birth story. Sitting here, though, in reflection, I think “Dang girl! You did good!”
We carry our babies for 9 months, some of us with more difficult pregnancies than others. Then we go through child birth. Whether you pushed for 5 minutes or 20 hours, or your little one arrived via scheduled c-section our bodies, our minds, our souls go through so much.
But what do people ask when our babies are born? It’s all about the baby, isn’t it? I remember all I could think about was how my baby was- is he/she ok? Is she breathing? Is she healthy?
And that truly encompasses motherhood, selfless and boundless love.