It goes like this…
For two+ weeks we had a diagonal breach baby on our hands. (I told her to move or they’d come in and get her and drag her out by her butt if they have to.) A plan was made to try and get her to spin the morning of December 11th and then possibly get on with an induction to bring her into the world. We knew walking into the birth center that we might be ending our pregnancy story with a cesarean but were hopeful to try induction first. We took one last belly photo and then headed upstairs at the hospital to begin the last leg of this journey to parenthood.
I got into a hospital gown and we started our day with an IV and an ultrasound. The doctor started the ultrasound low, thinking she was looking at legs moved upward to find baby’s head. We soon discovered those limbs were actually dangling arms and our little girl had turned herself around. That seemed like a fantastic sign except that she was very high up in my abdomen and not descended or engaged in the pelvis at all. The cervical check was actually difficult because it was high and closed, no baby pushing on it to even begin to prepare for birth. This began a new discussion about how successful an induction could be with the new developments. The doctor’s presented their info, not wanting to sway us if changing the birth plan was a traumatic moment in our story. Ultimately we decided that we’d come in knowing cesarean was on the table and beginning a long difficult induction process when my body gave every indication it would not cooperate seemed a little pointless. Of course, there was also the happy news of we could meet our baby in an hour instead of days. So, rather than put my body through the difficulty of trying to drug it into birth we opted for the cesarean.
After what felt like a hundred questions and conversations with doctors and anesthesiologists I walked two doors down from the birthing room and into the operating room. I climbed up the table and leaned over a pillow and into my doctor while they placed my epidural. That twenty minutes were undoubtedly the worst of the whole day for me. The epidural started out too far to one side and while they stepped it over and over to try to get it just in the right spot I had crazy shocks of pain down my right side. By the time they accomplished the task I was a shaking crying mess trying to hold in my fear of this very big surgery.
They did eventually get the epidural in just the right spot and layed me back and tried to help calm me down while they prepped the room so they could call Darin in to be with me. It’s hard to be surrounded with bustling doctors and nurses and be immobile on a table and blind to everything but a big blue drape. It’s hard to feel your legs slowly disappear and feel your body tugged and manipulated by unseen hands. I held Darin’s hand and tried to remember to breathe while the doctors complimented my anatomy (so strange) and the anesthesiologist gave us a bit of a play by play of what was happening.
It made me feel much better about the way the day was going and really reassured when the doctor said it was good we’d chosen the cesarean because we’d have ended up there anyway. Amara’s umbilical cord was short and thick; it would never have let her exit any other way. It was strange to hear I grew this really great placenta and rope like cord when I had worried so much over the last several months that I was giving my babe all I could. And when they pulled her out and she was held up over the drape I felt completely overcome. Her first cries were like the sound of a mewling kitten and it felt like forever that I waited for them to bring her back to me. Darin went with her and held her tiny hand while they suctioned her nose and mouth, took her footprints, and clamped and trimmed her cord. Once she was swaddled he held her to my face while the doctors worked at stitching me back up.
He got to carry her to the heating table in the recovery room after the completion of my surgery. Another nose and mouth suction happened here along with her weight (6lbs 14oz) and length (18.5 inches) check. I really didn’t witness those things because my blood pressure had been going a little bit crazy all morning. They’d given me something like six doses of blood pressure lowering meds to regulate it during surgery and put me on magnesium for a day to help it come down afterwards. I was a seizure risk so I got padded bumpers put all over my hospital bed. So while my girl was getting her vitals taken the same was happening to me.
After we were deemed stable I got to tuck my little love into my hospital gown for some snuggly skin to skin time.
I have never been more in love than in that moment. Never more thankful. I will stare at this face for endless hours. I will struggle to allow other people to hold her. I will marvel that this perfect body was created within me. All of these things are still true one week later.
During our four day hospital stay I was asked to limit my visitors as to keep things quiet for me and my blood pressure. Though let me state for the record all the things the hospital did for those first two days were all its own stress. I had vitals taken every hour for the first day and every two hours the second. The babe had hers taken every couple hours and then every four I think. She was not a fan. She also had weight checks, heel sticks for blood draws, pediatrician visits, lactation consultations… Newborns have a very busy schedule! By the third day when she was having her hearing checked and a photographer came on top of all the repatition of the previous days we were both pretty much over being touched and handled.
We did have some really wonderful family time too though. We had room service and everything we needed to just hold our kiddo and revel in her beauty.
Amara was actually released to go home a day earlier than I was which was wonderful and encouraging. She did have jaundice and the nurses actually made it seem much worse than it actually was. (Which made us feel anxious about every little thing.) The pediatrician just encouraged us to feed her lots and get her to poop. No need for lights or a trip to NICU. Part of our lactation consultations was not only learning how to help her breast feed, but also learning how to use the breast pump to help my milk come in, and getting donor milk for her to supplement until I can take over production so to speak. We thought even after she was released to go home we’d be making trips back to the hospital to have her checked, but the pediatrician assured us her numbers were trending down and he really felt she would be just fine. There is no greater relief than a doctor telling you your baby is healthy, it was a definite Thank you, Jesus. moment.
By day four we really felt like we were finding some balance and a rythum as a family of three. My amazing husband has taken on the role of amazing father as though he’s always been one. He changed all but two or three diapers in the hospital, y’all. I changed one. The day we went home. He’s up helping me feed, change and rock our girl all through the night. That’s something I expect to change as I heal and have more stamina and he goes back to work, but this week especially I needed that support so much and he’s never once wavered.
Even though so much of this story to mamahood has not happened the way I wanted or wished it would I’ve got no regrets. My cesarean experience was a good one. Even though I’ve had some trouble regulating my pain in the middle of the night I feel like every night gets a tiny bit better. (The first two nights home from about midnight to two a.m. I basically could not have gotten up to help do the one a.m. feeding. Thanking God for that husband of mine.) Even the struggles we are having with feeding don’t make me anxious. Maybe I’m too tired and too much in survival mode for that to even be a thing but I really thought it would be while I was pregnant. I’m finding that whatever we need to do to keep us all sane and fed is OK; Amara has had time at the breast, she’s had Mama’s milk bottles, donor’s milk bottles, and even a formula bottle. She’s thriving on all of it and I’m feeling really OK about however it all works out over the next several weeks and months.
We’ve now had our first Well Baby checkup with her pediatrician and that went really great. She’s a healthy babe! Though I find it hard to smile and nod as we get numerous new parent speeches. They sound like they are speaking to a teenager who has never touched a baby and I bite my tongue not to say something snarky about my age and the fact that I have changed a diaper or two in my lifetime. When the doctor told us “She’ll be really sleepy for the first couple weeks, and then she’ll have a phase of crying all the time for several weeks and you will try a hundred things and no one thing will work consistently and you’ll feel a little crazy. That’s all normal. THEN she’ll develop a personality.” I laughed. And made an allowance because he’s a man and never been pregnant. Silly doctor this girl had a personality in the womb and she certainly has one now -even sleepy.
So now our long infertility journey has its happy ending; we are a family of three. All those years of praying, of hope, of frustration, of pain, fear, sorrow… They have a beautiful ending, one I’m super aware not everyone gets, one I’m not taking a second of for granted. Before I was released from the hospital my doctor came and asked “Have you guys thought about birth control?” And y’all know I laughed so hard. I haven’t thought about birth control in nearly ten years. So she recounted a patient who had IVF triplets and then got pregnant with a singleton and everyone thought she had quads as a warning to us. And still I laugh. Because after all of this if we do get a spontaneous blessing no body in this family is going to be upset about it. We’re gonna do just what we did the entirety of this first miracle -be thankful and pray over that blessing everyday.
Even in my days of darkness and doubt He had a plan. Amara Joy was born at 9:40 a.m. the morning of her great-grandmother Martha’s birthday. We were headed for that glorious moment all along. It was worth it.
God is good.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued love, support, and prayers!