On April 30th, 2016, I gave birth to our second daughter! Because of complications and a repair surgery from my first birth (read here), This baby had to be a scheduled c-section. Now, my first birth was a vaginal birth, so it was strange going from a spontaneous vaginal birth to scheduling a c-section- it's usually the other way around. Since we knew this was the best option for us, we sought out a doctor who would give us the most "natural" and "gentle" delivery. Enter Dr. Newman of Premier Care for Women.
Dr. Newman is known in our area for being one of the best doctors/surgeons for women who want or need a hospital birth. I had talked with many women who had great experiences with him, and he was supportive of allowing me immediate skin to skin, slight delayed cord clamping, placenta encapsulation, and our doula in the OR with us. This is referred to as a Gentle Cesarean. He also has three midwives who work in his office that I could see regularly for my appointments. This was important for me, as my last experience was at a birth center and a completely different atmosphere than an office and hospital!
The pregnancy was uneventful, besides the severe morning sickness that held on well past the halfway point. We decided not to find out the gender again, which is always fun! Everyone I saw (even strangers) said I was having a boy. Deep down, that made me think it was another girl because the same thing happened in my pregnancy with Piper! Mother's Intuition I guess...
This is her story....
On the morning on April 30th, Daniel and I woke up at 5:30am to prep for our birth. I showered and did my hair and makeup. I figured that if I could plan a birth, I might as well look good! I also had recently gotten a manicure and a pedicure, because WHY NOT? Plus I knew it would be very unlikely that I would take a shower in the coming days... AND we had a birth photographer. Look at all those reasons! My husband made fun of me for getting ready, so he took a picture.
We arrived at the hospital at about 6:30am. We walked in to register and said "Hi, we're here to have a baby". SO.WEIRD. After finishing our paperwork, we were given a "suite" number and directed to the elevators. Once we got into our room, I was instructed to do the normal things- pee in the cup, undress, put on my gown and socks (oh yeah!), and get into the bed. Then a nurse started hooking me up to monitors and taking mine and baby's vitals. I laid there talking with my husband and trying to settle my nerves. My mom and sister showed up. Our doula, Dianne, showed up and started snapping pictures. A couple different nurses monitored me and prepped me with bracelets and IVs. I looked up to see the baby warmer sitting in front of me, empty, ready to hold the sweet little soul we were about to meet. It was so surreal.
After about an hour, the doctor came in to ask if I was ready. He was dressed in a polo shirt and shorts and Birkenstock sandals. Was HE ready? Ha! I started getting really shaky. I'm assuming it was my nerves, but I'm blaming it on the IV fluids. My nurse, Kristi, brought me my beautiful hairnet and scrubs for both my husband and our doula. And suddenly it was TIME!
I said goodbye to my husband and family (I had to prepped in the OR alone before they let him in for the delivery) and the nurse walked me across the hall to the OR. I remember thinking that the room was smaller than I had imagined and pretty plain. It just had lots of surgical instruments and a nurse in there sorting them. I'm not sure I ever saw her face. My anesthesiologist was wonderful and had talked me through the process before we entered the OR, so as soon as I sat down she started my spinal block. Yes, it is a little painful to have a needle stuck in your back, but after the first prick I didn't feel much. Nurse Kristi was holding me up. As soon as the anesthesiologist was finished, Kristi told me to lay down quickly because the spinal block would take effect right away. My legs felt really heavy as I tried to lift them and I remember saying "wow, that was fast". Once I laid down, the nurse adjusted my head pillow and put a wedge under one hip so I wasn't laying flat. They started putting the drape in front of my face and putting oxygen on me. Everything felt a little blurry and lots of people were working around me, but it was so calm and pretty quiet. I could barely see Dr. Newman and midwife Janelle washing up through the little window in the ER.
My anesthesiologist was at my head rubbing my head and my face. She was constantly asking how I was and how I felt. This was the surprising part- I actually felt pretty awful. I told her that I needed to close my eyes and she said that was fine. The spinal block took over my body so quickly and so heavily that my arms also felt numb and my head felt fuzzy. I had a quick thought of "I wish everyone would leave so I could go to sleep", knowing that it was just the pain medicine. I think I expected to be much more alert and be able to enjoy this part, but I didn't feel good. She said it was normal, because I sure didn't want to feel the surgery.
In the next few moments, I glanced over to the left to see Dianne and Daniel come in, with their hairnets and face masks secured. Although the next parts are blurry, I will do my best to describe them. Daniel had barely reached my side when I heard Dr. Newman say "okay, we're almost there". I said "almost where? To cutting?" and he said "No, almost to your uterus!". I seriously felt like Daniel had just entered the room and that this was going SO FAST. I didn't feel a thing. No digging, no pulling. My body REALLY responds to medicine!
I took a deep breath and the doctor told my husband to stand up. Then there was a blur of words like "baby is here" and my husband laughing and saying "another girl!" and describing a few other things to me that I can't remember. I looked at Daniel and said "What? A GIRL?". I think I would have been surprised either way!
Then a voice (I'm not sure who) kept saying to me "okay are you ready? Baby is coming. She'll be here in a second. Are you ready?". The doctor (from what I am told) laid her on my leg for a minute to let the cord pulse a little longer before cutting it and bringing her to me. I also discovered later that there was meconium when the baby came out, so the doctor was concerned and trying to decide if he would allow skin-to-skin. He decided that she was fine and had not inhaled it, and within 90 seconds or so, I had a screaming baby on my chest! I felt happy and relieved and sleepy all at once. The baby calmed down, as they usually do on Mommy's chest. I remember speaking sweet nothings to her and touching and kissing her. My arms still felt numb, so my husband and the baby's nurse were helping me to support her. I couldn't believe I had another DAUGHTER. It felt so strange!
Before long, it was time to leave the OR. I was so busy with my new baby that I have no idea how long anything took. At some point, the nurse took the baby from me, wrapped her up, and handed her to Daniel. He took her back into our recovery room while I finished in the OR. It didn't feel like long before I was being wheeled into the room, seeing my husband cradling our baby and my Mom and sister crying over her. From the time I had left this room and returned, only 40 minutes had passed.
Then the normal things commenced. She was given back to me and we began our nursing journey. She latched and nursed so quickly that I was surprised! She knew exactly what she was doing. It was so beautiful and such a relief. After awhile she was taken to be weighed and measured and my husband changed her first diaper.
I was just laying there, totally drugged up, taking it all in. But I was starving and thirsty and was only allowed ice chips. I threw up twice. Recovery was not pretty. But more on that later.
Although this birth experience was beautiful and healing (and not at all traumatic like my first), it still was not what I expected. After all, I have to remember that a c-section is still major surgery, and the advances have only come so far for these births. But I am so thankful for the ability and the option to birth this way, and for a team who supported my wishes and made the process as gentle and love-filled as possible. Every person I came in contact with was kind and understanding. Our hospital stay was pleasant and filled with the sweetest memories.
Selah was such a perfect newborn and for days I felt like I was in a "honeymoon phase" with her. I couldn't wait to jump (or slide gently) into bed with her for cuddles and naps. I loved holding her and smelling her and hearing her sweet sounds. This baby made me feel a redemption I hadn't felt before. Thank you Jesus, for this perfect little one!
And now for the pictures you have all been waiting for....
|Dr. Newman just minutes before the delivery|
|Nurse Kristi holding my gown on the walk to the OR so I wouldn't be showing off my goodies!|
|This is one of the best unnoticed pictures. If you look closely at the board, you can see all of the information from the birth! It's so neat!|
|Daddy's first glimpse of his baby girl!|
|My first glimpse of her! Oh sweet relief.|
|What a cheesy little girl!|
|I'll share a secret with you... If you look on my right shoulder, you can see where she peed all down my neck within moments of being put on my chest!|
|I love all of these hands on her...|
|Holding Daddy's finger|
|Daniel got to take her back into our room and announce to my Mom and sister that it was another GIRL!|
|I got her back as soon as I was back to my room.|
|What a champ!|
|My nursing journey has been hard with both girls... I am so thankful that Dianne captured these precious moments for me!|
|Midwife Yvonne came to visit and love on us!|
|Daniel wanted to see my placenta, so the nurse got him some gloves and Dianne explained it all. I didn't see much of it since I was busy with baby and then I had it immediately encapsulated. These pictures are so wonderful to have!|
|The sack where baby Selah grew so well!|
|The "Tree of Life"|
|Talking it out with Grandma. Grandma says that they were discussing what her name should be. She was nameless for over a day.|
|A little skin-t-skin time with Daddy while I rested.|
|Sister meeting for the first time! Piper was so thrilled that it was a GIRL!|