I had Cesarean sections. . .
With both of my boys, ages 5 and 2. With my first son, I was induced at 42 weeks, and after laboring for 45 hours, only dilated to 4cm. Because my water had been broken for the time limit, I was forced to have the Cesarean. With my second son, I chose to homebirth, and unfortunately didn’t trust myself or my body and started pushing too soon (because the midwife said I was ready, despite never checking my cervix at all). I pushed for 9 hours at home, and ultimately transferred to the hospital for another Cesarean. I was devastated, fell into a very dark place, and it took almost 18 months to even talk about the experience.
For my third pregnancy, I was desperate to have a vaginal birth (VBA2C). I searched and found the only provider in my area that would allow me to even attempt a trial of labor without just automatically scheduling a repeat c-section. That provider was Dr. P., and he is a hero in my eyes.
My whole pregnancy was so easy and uncomplicated. Then, at 36 weeks, I developed pre-eclampsia. I was put on medication for my blood pressure and was told to go on “modified bed rest.” That was the absolute worst for me, because I am very active. But it managed the pre-e, and we were hopeful that I would be able to get to 39 weeks before delivering the baby. The day before I was 38 weeks, we had an appointment. My protein levels had tripled in a week, my blood pressure was very high, and they decided I couldn’t wait any longer. Baby was high and not engaged at all, and I wasn’t dilated. Dr. P said that induction was likely going to be a futile effort, but he would do it if I pushed him to. I was induced under those circumstances with my first child, and I knew in my heart that I could not go through that again. So I had a long heart-to-heart with Dr. P about the reasons I didn’t want a Cesarean again.
I Told Him . . .
That I just wanted to be treated as a mother giving birth to her baby; not as a belly behind a blue screen that was “just another surgery.” I never saw my boys right after they were born. I only knew their gender because the doctor at the other end announced it. The first time I saw the boys, they were swaddled, hatted, and I was allowed to see their tiny face looking at me for approximately 30 seconds before they were whisked away to the nursery and I was carted to the recovery room, alone.
So while everyone and their uncle got to stare at my baby through the nursery window – the baby I had worked so hard to carry for 9 months – I was lying in a room alone, for at least an hour, just waiting to hold my baby for the first time. That, folks, is the pits.
Dr. P assured me that I wouldn’t have that experience in his OR. And he was right. After our discussion about my fears and wishes, I made the transformation from thinking that I desperately needed a vaginal birth to feel whole, to realizing that what I really needed was an empowered birth; one where I made the decisions and listened only to myself and my body and trusted my instincts.
So on Tuesday, June 26th . . .
I went in for an elective Cesarean. I was scheduled at 10am, but due to unforeseen circumstances, didn’t get back to the OR until around 1pm. My spirits were diminishing and I was getting grumpy. I was tired, hot, hungry, and so very thirsty. Dr. P was nowhere to be found, and I was getting angry with him. In fact, when he finally came in to see me before the procedure, I told him I was bitchy for having to wait so long, and he said, “Bitchy, huh? Well, I like that. I’m glad you’re a real person and not just one that pretends everything is OK.”
After the spinal was administered (this process took forever. It also took them 3 stabs before they got it right, because my back is crazy), it was time to begin. My dear friend and doula Ashley waited through the whole process with us, but wasn’t allowed in the OR. Imagine my surprise when I saw her walk in, dressed in scrubs and mask, right next to my husband Cullen. (Dr. P got her in – this guy is awesome).
Per our discussion, Dr. P didn’t put the blue screen up. He put a mirror at the foot of the bed so I could watch the whole procedure, and most importantly, so I could see my baby come out. He explained what he was cutting, what he was doing, and what I was seeing. When he got to my uterus, he showed me the scar from the previous sections. He showed me a “window” where the scar attached to my uterus and said, “Wow, this is really thin. I’m afraid you would have ruptured.” (if I would have induced or labored). Then he just touched it, and it popped right open. It was frightening to think of the situation that might have occurred if I would have chosen induction rather than opting for the Cesarean. My uterus would have likely ruptured and it could have been an emergency in the blink of an eye. Thank God for trusting my instincts and my own body!!!
I watched him birth Baby E’s head . . .
I was under the impression that once the body was out, he would hand the baby to the nurses to get suctioned/swaddled/cleaned up, then Cullen would bring baby to me and unwrap him/her and we’d be skin-to-skin. But Dr. P. surprised me once again, and as soon as Baby E was born, he put her right on my chest. I got to hold my baby immediately after she was born! The nurses did their checks while she was on my chest. She never left my arms. Then she was flipped over so we could see gender. We were surprised to find out she was a girl!!! I held my baby and sobbed with joy while I was being sutured back together. Baby Eila went with me to recovery, where we nursed and bonded, and she was never taken from me.
I got the birth of my dreams. It was everything I needed, and so much more. Dr. P went out on a limb for me that day, and as he was leaving the OR he said to me, “I hope this is what you were hoping for. You really educated a lot of people in here today, and you should be proud of yourself.” That man deserves a million hugs for helping me have the birth experience I’ve always wanted.
Photo credit: Courtney Paris Photography