Baby Tee is three months old now and it's taken me that long to type up his birth story, mostly because I didn't know what the birth story really was. There was not water breaking. No timing contractions. No pushing and catching. Having a planned c-section meant everything was done to me and that was so weird for me that I didn't know what to tell. But, in the end, I want to have some sort of written record of all my kids' births so I'm including all the little things I can remember and piecing them together does make a story. You can read about his name and backstory here, and here goes the rest...
On Monday, December 21st I had an appointment with my midwife, a truly wonderful woman. While I was pregnant with Ben she was training with my homebirth midwife and cared for me at all my appointments. She delivered Resa and JP. She has supported me through homebirth, an unmedicated hospital birth, an induced and medicated hospital birth, and has listened to my fears associated with all of my births. I trust her a great deal. We'll call her Anne.
With Baby Tee's pregnancy I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes for the first time. I know what you're thinking, "Bonnie, you had three babies who weighed over ten pounds and two who weighed over eleven. How were you only diagnosed with GD once?" and I don't know. One doctor suggested that I maybe had late onset with would make sense because I tested a month later this time than I had with previous pregnancies.
Regardless, I had it and I pricked my finger and changed my diet and saw a high risk doctor because of it. I also had a lot more ultra sounds than usual and at 37 weeks the sonographer guessed the baby was weighing 9lbs 14oz. So on that Monday, at 38 weeks pregnant, my trusted midwife Anne asked me if the high risk doctor had a birth plan for me. He didn't. Anne and I were considering inducing on the afternoon of Christmas Day, 39 weeks exactly, but she told me to discuss it with the high risk doctor the next day, at my scheduled appointment.
So Tuesday I went to the high risk doctor. A different sonographer measured my baby and guessed he was weighing 10lbs 14oz. The doctor came in to see me and we began to discuss my birth history. Big babies. Three had gotten stuck with shoulder dystocia, though they had been freed with the suprapubic pressure trick. One had been stillborn.
He listened and asked me questions and I explained that I had had a bad experience with the epidural the last time and was really nervous about having another one. I would actually prefer to feel the pain and not have another epidural. After some more discussion he said, "I think we need to do a planned c-section. I think that's the safest and best bet." I explained that I was game for that as long as they could knock me out. I would much rather not be awake for it because I didn't want anyone putting anything in my spine. He said he didn't know about that and I'd need to talk to the anesthesiologist and my ob but it was a possibility. That was all I needed.
I was so glad to have someone else make that decision for me. I had spent months worrying about it and trying to decide what I should do, what kind of birth I should have. It was wonderful having someone say, "This is the best option; we will go with this." It was exactly what I needed.
The ob/gyn my midwife works with was scheduled to perform the c-section and December 29th was picked. I had a DQ Blizzard and had Travis set up the crib.
On the morning of the 29th I went to the hospital. I had my Boppy, an outfit for Tee to wear home, my laptop, and a change of clothes. My hips / SI joints hurt so much and I wore slippers on my feet.
Next, my trusted midwife appeared. Anne had another patient in labor at the same hospital but would probably be able to be in the room with me during the c-section. She asked how I was doing and Travis and I explained about the anesthesiologist and my preference. "You know what, I trust Sue but she probably just doesn't understand everything you've gone through. She's great and she'll take care for you and there's honestly no one else I would want you with. I'll talk to her." Anne then stayed to explain how a spinal tap is different than an epidural and said she thought I would have a much better experience this time. She left to fine Sue and Travis and I felt better about the spinal tap option.
After a few minutes Sue came back with Anne and this time she was much warmer. She explained in detail how she would do the spinal tap, asked me questions about my epidural, reassured me that this would be very different and brought Travis and I to a place where we both felt good about it, though I was still nervous.
My c-section had been planned for 1:30 but another delivery made the doctor, Dr. K, late so we waited a bit longer. I fidgeted and worried and prayed. We tried making small talk and I posted some pictures to Facebook and Instagram. And then just like that it was Go time.
I was wheeled to the surgery room. Travis was taken somewhere else to suit up. I sat on the edge of the table, holding a nurses shoulders while Sue gave me the spinal tap. She hit the same spot that had bothered me with the epidural and pain shot down into my right hip. Just as we had discussed, though, Sue pulled the needle out and found a different location. There was no pain this time, suddenly my legs felt incredibly heavy, and they swung me around and laid me down. My arms went out, a sheet went up, and Travis came in from behind to sit with me at my head.
Anne came in with her phone and asked if we wanted her to take pictures. "Yes."
Dr. K came in with a resident, Dr. M, and everyone was in a good mood.
I felt... weird. I was worried. I was anxious. I knew everything would be okay but at the same time I was - well I think I was dreading it all. The only surgery I had ever had before was getting my wisdom teeth removed and well, this was such a weird way to have a baby.
I don't remember a ton, probably because of all the drugs I was on, but this is what I do remember:
Tugging and jerking and me thinking, "If I can't feel anything but I can tell they are tugging at my body, how much force must they be using?"
Dr. K saying, "Look at those cheeks!" as he first laid eyes on baby Tee but before he was delivered.
Tee being held up for me to see as people guessed his weight as "at least ten pounds!" and taken to the cart at the side. Travis was invited over and I sort of watched as Tee was cleaned up and weighed.
His weight was announced - 10lbs 7oz - and I remember thinking, "I could have done that" - as in delivered him.
I next remember Dr. K saying to the resident, "This placenta is going to weigh 10lbs!" as they worked to finish the delivery and then, "This is a very big uterus." as they cleaned out all the extra... bits and bobs. The first comment was said lightheartedly and people chuckled. The second comment was part of a direction, I think. Either way, neither was insulting, though they could be read that way.
At some point they brought Tee over to lay on my chest and it was just as awkward as every picture has ever made it out to be. I'm glad I got to hold him and see him, but I still felt so strange that it wasn't a really tender moment. I was relieved when Travis and Tee were taken to the nursery while they finished stitching me up.
From there they took me to my room where I was visited by my mom, JP, Travis, and my midwife Anne. I watched a lot of Netflix - The Great British Baking Show, Ken Burns' documentary on The Roosevelts - and celebrated my 9th anniversary by splitting the hospital's chicken strips and french fries with Travis. Amore.
Because of the diabetes there were issues with Tee's blood sugar and in the end we had to give him a few bottles and wake him up to nurse and feed on a schedule. Nursing wasn't always the smoothest but there was success to balance the frustration.
Travis spent the first night with me but I was alone the next couple nights. The second night there I was so uncomfortable. I hated the bed and Tee wouldn't sleep and nothing was right. My nurse offered to hold my baby while I showered and slept. She turned the water on and helped me in and - oh man! - that was probably the best shower of my life! She kept Tee while I slept for quite a few hours and when she finally brought him in to nurse I felt so much better.
I also chatted with Dr. M the resident every chance I got. I just loved her and I loved joking around with her. Once she came to check on the incision and commented on how nice it looked.
"Do you know who did that?" she asked with a big smile on her face.
"You should take a selfie with it."
She busted out laughing and said, "I'd be fired!"
Another time she came in as I was wincing and shuffling my way to the bathroom.
"Are you okay?!" she asked after I cried out a little in pain.
"Well," I said as I grabbed her arm, "I did just have major abdominal surgery."
Laughing she said, "Yes. Yes, you did."
Gosh, I'd like to pop in to take her lunch and visit with baby Tee.
But c-sections are funny things. I don't really feel like I gave birth to my son; it seems much more that something was done to me. The process of giving birth - of pushing a baby out and feeling all the contractions and pressure and pain - that was so very different than Tee's delivery, where all I did was lie on a table and worry. It's not that the other births feel more victorious. I don't know. I can't explain it really except to say it was weird.
The soundtrack to Thomas Emil's pregnancy and early days: