I wrote this post months ago, right after my baby was born. I’m just now getting around to posting it. But I wanted to make sure I had these events recorded. My baby’s birth didn’t go as planned, but it all worked out and I couldn’t be happier.
On December 2, I went to visit my doctor for my 37 week checkup. It was supposed to be a routine visit, and I fully planned on being pregnant for 3 more weeks. At the appointment, the nurse used a Doppler to check the baby’s heart rate. It was 180. She didn’t seem too concerned, but said the doctor might want to check it out. The doctor explained to me that it wasn’t a problem that his heart rate is high, but it could be a problem if it stays high. So she sent me to be hooked up to a constant fetal heart rate monitor to see what happens.
Once connected to the monitor, his heart rate went down into the normal range, and I thought I was about to go home. Then all of a sudden, the baby’s heart rate dropped to 85. Apparently this was a big issue, and they sent me to Labor & Delivery for further monitoring. As we walked over to the hospital, Cameron and I called our moms to update them. I wasn’t too scared yet, just a little anxious. At the hospital, they hooked me back up to the monitor, and started asking medical history questions.
Over the next several hours, baby’s heart rate stayed in the normal range. They had residents coming in and out giving me ultrasounds and checking my cervix. The nurse was trying to put an iv in my hand, and I was tired and irritated and ready to go home. The baby’s heart rate was normal, and I was about to just leave on my own, when the resident returned and said my doctor recommends that we induce labor.
I was shocked. They want to induce me?! Are they out of their minds? I’m no doctor, but everyone had been telling me that everything looked normal and there were no problems. At this point, I was beyond irritated, demanding to see my doctor, and still threatening to leave. My doctor had already left for the evening, so the doctor on call came in to explain my options. They didn’t want to take any chances, so they were going to give me medicine that night to ripen my cervix, and start pitocin in the morning. I was outraged. It made no sense to me. No one could explain to me why the baby needed to come out so urgently. I wanted to let him keep cooking until he was ready. I had heard too many stories of failed inductions that lead to emergency c-sections. I did NOT want to induce. So I told the doctor that I would stay overnight for continued monitoring, but I was going home in the morning if everything still looked normal. They seemed irritated with my decision. I didn’t care. I needed way better reasoning before I would allow them to induce labor.
About 30 minutes later, it happened again. The baby’s heart rate dropped to the 80s, stayed there for a minute, and then jumped up to 180. The nurse returned, and I could hear the urgency in her voice. This was not normal. She said my options were getting smaller, because this was serious.
I started freaking out right about then. And sure enough, it happened again. The heart rate dropped super low, and stayed there even longer this time. The doctor returned and said it looked like the drops in heart rate were correlating to when I was having contractions. He recommended a c section immediately. He explained that it was not an emergency situation yet, but it could become an emergency at any point. He said I still have the option to induce, but it was likely that the baby wouldn’t be able to handle bigger contractions and there was a good chance I would need a c section anyway. I never expected to need a c section. I knew that births didn’t always go according to plan, and I was open to go with the flow for a normal delivery, but I never in a million years thought I would need a c section. Only other people need c sections. Not me. But I guess baby boy had different plans.
Since I am irrationally afraid of needles, he explained the anesthesia options to me. The standard anesthesia is a spinal, but I nearly had a panic attack just thinking about that. He said the alternative was general anesthesia, where I am knocked out and won’t remember anything. This sounded like a brilliant option. Unfortunately, he said general anesthesia has many more risks, and they absolutely do not recommend it. I told him I needed time to think about it.
The nurse came in demanding to put an iv in my hand. I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I looked away and held Cameron’s hand tight. And ohhhh my god it was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. No joke… The worst. I was screaming in genuine pain. It was 1000 times worse than I expected it to be. Fear of needles – confirmed.
After panicking and crying for a while, Cameron finally convinced me that a c section is the best option. Inducing just sounded like a terrible idea to me, especially if it would lead to a c section anyway. So I agreed, and told them I would attempt to let them do a spinal but only if Cameron got to be there. They gave me a drink to neutralize my stomach acid, and started wheeling me away to the operating room.
Once we got to the operating room, Cameron had to go put scrubs on. They wheeled me in, and I immediately panicked. I was surrounded by people in medical masks. I didn’t recognize any of them. They were talking about me as if I wasn’t there. I started asking where my husband was. No one answered. The anesthesiologist showed up, and I said no one is allowed to touch me until my husband was there. Again, everyone ignored me. I started majorly freaking out. I felt so helpless and vulnerable and alone. No one there cared about me or what I wanted. I was just another patient on the operating table. Finally, Cameron was allowed in the room, but my anxiety was already too high. As the anesthesiologist was preparing the spinal, I started screaming that I changed my mind, I don’t want a spinal, I don’t want a c section, I can’t do this, don’t touch me, etc etc. I demanded general anesthesia. I could not handle the anxiety. I was terrified. I was hyperventilating and screaming for them to knock me out. Everyone ignored me. The anesthesiologist injected the lidocaine, and I lost it. He told me the worst part was over, and I felt ultimately helpless. I thought about the book I was reading, “Mind Over Labor”, and while it seemed useless with a c section, I remembered the instructions to “surrender to the labor process”. I had to accept that I had no control over the situation, and that it was happening no matter what. So I just gave up trying to resist. I zoned out and tried not to think about it, and when they gave me the spinal, I barely felt anything at all.
My legs went tingly, and a wave of warmth fell over the lower part of my body. They laid me on the table. I was still scared. They put up the curtain, and laid something heavy and warm over my arms. A catheter was shoved up my lady parts. The anesthesiologist stared checking that I was properly numbed, which scared me because I could still feel the pressure. The next thing I know, I hear the doctor ask for a knife and I felt like puking as he cut through my stomach. I felt shaky and sleepy, so I closed my eyes and waited for it to end. A few minutes later, I felt some tugging, heard a weird squishy noise, and felt the biggest relief of pressure from my stomach. The sense of relief was unreal. Physically and mentally, I felt calm for the first time in hours. It was over. The baby was out, and I was almost done.
I heard a few small cries, and the nurse asked Cameron to come see the baby. Cam said something hilarious like “Whoa…that’s a baby”. I don’t think either of us had even gotten the chance to realize that the baby would actually be here after the operation. Cameron walked away and I laid there feeling calm and content and sleepy. Minutes later, they brought the baby to me and laid him by my face so I could see him. It was so surreal. I just stared at him in amazement. That thing was in my belly. Weird. The baby wasn’t crying, just hanging out and making some cute little squeaking noises. I could hear him behind me, and that’s what got me through the rest of the procedure. It felt like hours while they stitched me up. My whole body felt itchy, and I could barely keep my eyes open. But my husband was holding a little squeaking baby right behind me, and I knew everything was alright.
He was born at 10:38 pm, 18 inches long, 6 lbs 6 oz. He was so perfect. So bright eyed and alert. It’s amazing how babies come into this world…so full of love and trust.
Finally they finished, and it all feels like a little blurry from there. We went to a recovery room where they watched me for an hour or so. They encouraged me to try to nurse the baby, so I did. I was nervous because I didn’t really know how it worked, but we tried. We had some skin to skin time, and I just started in awe at this tiny little human that had just been pulled out of my belly.
We had some family members come to visit, and they moved us into a postpartum room. The rest of the night I felt very sleepy and very itchy. The baby didn’t cry much at all… A few whining noises, but mostly just cute little squeaks. We eventually had to kick some people out so we could sleep. My mom and mother in law took turns staying the night with us.
The next morning, I had feeling back in my legs, but still couldn’t move much. I was still extremely itchy, and also super hot. I couldn’t stop sweating, and I was on a liquid diet to prevent nausea. They eventually removed the catheter (which I actually really enjoyed having after being pregnant and needing to pee every 5 seconds), and told me I needed to get up soon. It was painful and very difficult, but I eventually got out of bed.
The first time I looked at myself in the mirror, I got dizzy and lightheaded. My body felt so foreign. It didn’t look like me, and it didn’t feel like me. My stomach was soft and flabby, and I had a huge red scar across my abdomen. It was a scary moment, trying to accept that this was indeed my body. I tried to take a shower, and things got worse. I hyperventilated and blacked out. Luckily there were hand rails, because my legs couldn’t support me. It was terrifying because I desperately didn’t want to fall and have to stand up with the pain in my abdomen. Cameron and the nurses helped me out, and they gave me some explanation involving the warm water and my blood vessels. I was so scared that I put a folding chair in our shower for weeks after.
The baby has a different blood type than I do, so they ran a bunch of tests. He had antibodies fighting the conflicting blood type, so they had to closely monitor his bilirubin levels. Poor baby had so many heel pricks, but he didn’t get any jaundice.
The rest of the hospital stay was pretty uneventful… Lots of people checking on the baby and telling me things I wouldn’t remember. Lots of awkward moments where people walked in and my boobs were out, trying to feed the baby. By the third day, my butt was in tons of pain from sitting constantly. But I had a precious little baby it in my arms and I couldn’t have been happier. And finally on Saturday morning, the nurse came and basically told us we had an hour to leave. So we went home with a baby and not a clue how to take care of it hah. We’ve been adjusting well, and we love our little baby Captain more than we ever imagined.
Recovery Updates: This is for my future reference… If I ever need a c section again, I can remind myself what the recovery was like in the weeks after surgery.
1 week post surgery – Still in a lot of pain. It’s very difficult to sit up and get out of bed. I’m wearing a belly band to help with the pain. Incision still makes me nauseous, and looks pretty gnarly.
2 weeks post surgery – Pain isn’t too severe. I’m only taking ibuprofen occasionally. I still can’t walk very fast, and movement is limited. The incision is still uncomfortable, and the glue makes it very itchy. Still wearing belly band.
3 weeks post surgery – Finally feeling normal-ish again. The glue has come off the incision, and it looks a lot better. I stopped wearing the belly band, it was making me uncomfortable and didn’t seem like it was helping anymore. Sneezes and coughs are still very painful.
4 weeks post surgery – I’m feeling close to 100%. My abdomen is still tender, and muscle use is limited, but I can sit up, cough, etc. without feeling pain. I am having occasional sharp pains deep inside under the incision.
8 weeks post surgery – I feel mostly healed. The incision looks much better. My abs still feel tender when I use my core muscles. And it’s still slightly uncomfortable to sneeze. I still have to use my arms to help me sit up in bed, but