When I was six months pregnant, my husband and I took a birthing class at our hospital. It was a strenuous course, and I commend my husband for taking it with me. They discussed the different types of births, and gave us a tour of the different birthing rooms and suites. I squeezed my husband’s hand when we went into a room with a birthing tub. I admired the beauty of the room. I envisioned the birth I dreamed of; the magical moment I would meet my baby. I honestly was fighting back tears imagining what beautiful story would unfold within these walls.
The tour ended with a brief stop at the operating room. A woman in our group was pregnant with twins, and one of them was breech. So, she announced to the group that she was planning to have a scheduled C-Section. My heart dropped for her as I stared into the operating room. It was so sterile and cold-looking. After admiring the warmth that was the traditional rooms, I shivered at the idea of having my baby cut out of me. No, that wouldn’t happen to me… We left the hospital that day, with the ‘perfect’ birth plan still dancing in my head.
At the end of my pregnancy, I had been having braxton-hicks on and off for a few weeks. Nothing too serious. Presley being my first baby, I had no idea what to expect. But, I knew I didn’t want to go to the hospital only to be sent home. The night before I went into labor, I was having light contractions again. I was 39 weeks and 5 days at this point. I felt HUGE! I began dilating earlier in my pregnancy, and baby was measuring pretty big. I thought I would have my baby early… But here we were. Sleep was non-existent at this point. My heartburn was insane, my body was constantly uncomfortable, and every contraction made my heart skip. “THIS COULD BE IT.”
I was ready to have this baby! I remember the quiet moments that night. I sat on the couch in the wee hours of the night. I would poke at Presley and talk to her- mostly about how Mommy was ready to meet her and it was time for a Birthday! She would kick and punch me in return- I knew she was strong! The contractions didn’t stop, but they were light and far apart. I eventually got a little sleep. I woke up at five AM, and was still having contractions. I started timing them.
I woke Dakota up and told him to call his boss and let them know he wouldn’t make it to work. “You think this is it?” He asked. “I think this is it!” I went and took a bath, because I heard sometimes it can make the contractions stop if it isn’t the real deal. Well, my contractions stayed! At this point, I started to get excited. I ate a tiny bit of oatmeal, which I absolutely regret not eating more! It would end up to be my only real food for over 36 hours. We grabbed our bags (which had been packed for weeks!) and went to the hospital.
We walked up to the check-in and the lady asks what we are here for. I stared down at my huge belly. “I think I’m in labor.” I reply nervously. They take me into a small monitoring room first. I am instructed to put on a gown and they start hooking me up to machines. The nurse shows me where my contractions were being displayed- Yep! I was having them! Dakota and I started to get excited. She left the monitor on me and left us alone. This was it! I was mentally preparing to enter my glorious birthing room and let Mother Nature guide me to my baby. I was thinking of the tub, the birthing ball, the massages and breathing we had learned.
After a while, the Nurse came back in. But, the way she started talking, I immediately became disappointed. She let us know that my contractions had slowed down. I was still having them, but they were getting farther apart instead of closer together. She let me know it was perfectly normal for first time Mom’s to come in multiple times. She said we could go walk around a while and it might start them up again, and we could potentially come back even that same day. I was crushed. She left the monitors on me and said she would send my reports to my doctor before they discharged me.
We were just absorbing the idea of leaving, when the Nurse came back in. She looked at us and exclaimed, “Well, you’re having a baby today!”
I was so surprised! Had my body finally kicked into baby-gear? Had I started dilating significantly more? And then my bliss turned sour. She started pointing to the monitors and explained how with every contraction I was having, our baby’s heartrate was decreasing. She explained that happened for a few reasons- it could be simply that she was in a position that she was squeezing her umbilical cord with the pressure of the contractions. Or, the cord was around her neck. Or, the placenta was beginning to fail. No matter what was going on, they weren’t going to let us leave until she was out.
It was not instantly an emergency situation- I did not need a C-Section right away. I was still intending to have a vaginal birth. However, everything I ‘wanted’ for this delivery went out the window. I was worried about my baby. My mental process was simply to get her out. I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t help her while she was still in me. I wanted her to be out so that I knew she was OK. I was panicking on the inside, but I tried to remain calm. The nurse took us to a delivery room- I did not ask for a room with a tub. I did not ask for a birthing ball. My idea of a slow and peaceful labor was gone.
They let me know that they wanted to help the labor and contractions as much as we could, so they would be starting me on pitocin. Pitocin- a thing I planned on avoiding. And now, I saw it as an aid to help get her here sooner. They hooked my IV up immediately. Shortly after the pitocin was doing it’s job, my contractions’ intensity sky-rocketted. I had been having contractions for hours, but now my pitocin contractions were unreal. I can’t describe the pain, because there is nothing to compare it to. I looked at Dakota and told him, “I don’t think I can go through another contraction.” I gripped the side of the hospital bed with tears in my eyes. I felt like I was being ripped apart!
The epidural, the thing I was so afraid of ever getting, was such a welcomed idea. My anesthesiologist was incredible. He was so nice and made the experience so great. It was honestly the easiest part of my labor. Dakota held me as it was placed. I didn’t budge, I didn’t cry, I held still. I did receive instant relief. However, I eventually had issues with my epidural. I won’t spend too much time focusing on it, however I was still able to feel pain. I had issues with my catheter. They placed one, and then took that out and placed another. It was causing so much pain that I begged them to just take it out. These circumstances are very abnormal, and with the epidural I should have not felt anything. So, I have no idea why I had that happen, and my doctors don’t know either.
I was hooked on pitocin for hours. They had broken my water early in my labor to also help my labor progress. Unfortunately, there was meconium in the water- meaning my baby had passed feces in the womb. This put her at a risk of aspiration. Essentially, she could suffocate on her own feces. More panic.
After hours, and hours, my body was not progressing. I was stuck at a 7.5. They had me switch positions as much as I could. The contractions got intense, no matter how much medication they pumped through my epidural, I still had pain. It got so bad again, the point it had earlier when I begged for an epidural. Ripping pain. Yet, I had the epidural. The doctors told me they couldn’t give me any more medication- I was at my maximum. My epidural medication was so strong that it greatly impacted my blood pressure, I felt as if I would lose consciousness a few times. Luckily, the monitors they had on me read this, and they were able to give me stabilizing medication for my blood pressure. How could this be happening? I never planned on any of this.
After nineteen hours of labor, I was still stuck at a 7.5. No progression in hours- not even a little bit. My baby’s heartrate was still dipping with every contraction- the entire labor. After this much time, they were concerned for baby. I was trying so hard. I was fighting so hard. This whole time I was so concerned about my little bean. The precious baby I had felt and loved the past nine months. I just needed her to be OK. I was so incredibly exhausted, but I needed to keep strong for her.
My doctor eventually came in and somberly said, “I think it’s time we start to consider a C-Section…”
I tried to be brave but I felt the tears building in my eyes. Everyone left the room and it was just my husband and I. He came to my bedside and held me as I cried. I felt my body had failed. I couldn’t get this baby out on my own anymore. And she was in danger. We had been fighting together, I know the labor was tough on her too. I just needed her to be out so that she could be ok.
Dakota got dressed in scrubs. They wheeled me away first. No one was allowed with me while they prepped me for the surgery. They transferred me to the operating table. I remember looking around at this room- the room I so feared and never desired to be in.
The nurses and doctors were great, but they were at work. This was their every day. I was simply just another name on the board. They assembled the tools and made casual chit chat. What their plans for Thanksgiving were. Someone put on a radio. I remember thinking how odd this was. How perfectly ordinary for them. But, it was the strangest, scariest, most emotional day of my life.
I had a new anesthesiologist now, and he was much more procedural and less personable than my first. He administered the proper medication for the surgery. I remember feeling so cold. I was shaking so hard, involuntarily.
They had to re-administer a catheter at this point, and again, I could feel it and I had pain when I should have been entirely numb. However, the medication was working for my stomach area properly. Dakota was now allowed into the room. I remember being so happy to see him. It had felt like I was alone for so long while they had prepped me. He sat close to me, grabbed my hand, and it began. There was a huge, blue screen blocking our view of what was happening. I was mostly numb, but again, for some reason, part of my body would not accept the epidural. There was nothing we could do. So I had some feeling during the surgery. I kept apologizing to the nurses and the doctors, it was so painful and I was trying to just remain calm and happy. It was finally time to meet my baby! But nothing was going right, I was so exhausted, and I was frustrated that I was still hurting despite the epidural.
But then, they pulled her out. I could tell. And we heard her! The doctor lifted her up.
THAT WAS MY BABY. MY BABY.
Joy, pure joy. She was here. My beautiful, beautiful daughter. She was breathing. I was so happy. But then, she had to be immediately whisked away by the NICU team to get her lungs sucked out. I only saw her for a second. They told my husband to go follow the NICU team. And just like that, I was alone again.
This was the worst part for me. I didn’t know what was happening with my baby. The doctor was sewing me up and that was where the pain was the worst. The tugging of my skin and incision- not just pressure, but searing pain. Again, you’re not supposed to feel this and most women don’t experience this, so don’t let this scare you.
I was crying and shaking again, laying on the table. My shakes were uncontrollable. I remember hearing my teeth chatter HARD, nonstop. They layered several blankets on top of me.
I didn’t get skin to skin with my baby. I wasn’t the first person to hold her. My husband didn’t get to cut the cord. Small, minuscule details in the scheme of things. But, moments I had dreamed of. And here I was. A nurse that I didn’t even know stayed behind with me and held my hand as I bawled and got stitched up. I was so scared something was wrong with my baby. I saw my baby for just a moment, and she was out of sight. I didn’t hold her. I didn’t get to look into her eyes. I didn’t get to study her cute, little features yet.
And then, the glorious moment. My husband returned with her into the operating room and had tears streaming down his face. I remember his first words to me were “she’s perfect”. I finally got to look at her. She was so strong. She was perfect! She was breathing fine. She was alert. I couldn’t wait to hold her. I was wheeled back into the delivery room, my husband carrying Presley in his arms. I remember that feeling so well. I did it! She was OK. We were a family. We were finally a family. And as tough as it was, it was so worth it just to finally have her here. I would have done anything.
November 17th, 2016 my life began. No, it was not what I expected. But she, she is beyond my wildest dreams. Presley Autumn Lee came into this world a little tornado. 8 lbs and 9 oz of the sweetest babe you have ever met. She is the greatest soul. My purpose, my heart.
I still have bad days. I have encountered issues postpartum that I never planned on. But when I wake up each day and see her eyes light up, I am happy. She is happiness.
I love her so much, because she taught me what that really means.
April is C-Section Awareness Month. I haven’t typed out her birth story before because I did struggle with it. I didn’t realize it could happen to me. But, today, you have about a 1 in 3 chance of ending up with a C-Section. Yes, even if you are healthy. Even if you are young. Be aware, be informed. And if you do have a C-Section, that is still birth. You are still empowered. You are scarred, but not broken. ❤