I have always loved birth stories.
I’ve read dozens of birth stories throughout the last nine months, and listened to even more thanks to one of my absolute favorite podcasts, The Birth Hour. So I am just incredibly excited to share my very own birth story today! This post became so long, that I decided to divide it into two parts. In today’s post, I am sharing about the days leading up to the birth, and the birth itself. In the next post I will finish up with the days in the hospital post-birth, and what recovery has been like so far.
I had planned on a natural birth, with a due date of August 29th. Then our plan had to be changed, due to complete placenta previa, to a scheduled c-section on August 15th, but baby Gideon decided to make his appearance–in a hurry–on August 10th, sharing my Birthday!
It was our last week as just the two of us, or so I thought. On Tuesday, I was super busy getting things done–I was hurrying around crossing things off my to-do list, getting a few household items done, and trying to get caught up on cleaning and dishes. I hurried, hurried, hurried the whole day. So when that night I thought I saw the tiniest bit of blood, I broke down sobbing. I had just reached the 37-week mark, and I knew that Baby L would probably be okay if I gave birth at that point, but I desperately didn’t feel ready. I was afraid that all my activity had somehow sped up my birth, and it terrified me. I had had daily brown spotting for months, which my midwife said was just old blood due to the previa and nothing to worry about, but she emphasized that if it ever became pink or red to call them immediately. However, I wasn’t sure if this scant amount was pinkish or just the same brown stuff I’d been dealing with. So I called my best friend, who is a labor and delivery nurse. She told me to put my feet up, drink lots of water, keep on eye on it, and see if it stopped. If it did, great, if not, then call my midwife. So I put my feet up, prayed for mercy, and went to bed early.
The Day Before
The next day, there was no blood, and I was so relieved that I did a little happy dance. I had a fun day planned, the next day was my birthday, and then on Saturday Saia and I were planning on spending a fun day in the big city! I had so much to look forward to! I took a shower, which was going to be the last shower I could take for a while, although I didn’t realize that at the time. I did cancel the massage I had scheduled for that day, since I didn’t want to do anything to cause my body to go into labor, but I took the car to the mechanic’s to get repaired, met a sweet friend for lunch, then went and met with my mom and sis to get pedicures in celebration of my Birthday and upcoming Baby day! We had such a great afternoon, getting pampered, and catching up. Then, in the middle of it all, my little brother called in a panic saying that my parent’s collie, Scout, was having puppies! So Mom raced home, we all finished up our pedicures, and followed suit.
We spent the next few hours sitting around watching Scout give birth to puppies, and eating popcorn (can I just say, that I am grateful no one in the O.R. was eating popcorn while I was giving birth? Ha ha!). In the middle of the afternoon, I took a scheduled call from St. Elizabeth’s, the hospital where I was giving birth, to talk with a labor and delivery nurse about my upcoming c-section. She was an absolute hoot! SO hilarious. We talked for about an hour about my birth wishes, what a c-section was like, what decisions I needed to make, and how to get to the labor and maternity wing.
Looking back, I am so grateful that we talked that day, because it would be the very next morning I would need to know where to go for my c-section! But neither the nurse nor I was privy to that information at the time.
After hanging out for a while, I drove home. Hubby wasn’t feeling well, and we ate ice cream and popcorn for supper (which we never do, but I was still full from all that popcorn anyways). And went to bed. I remember thinking what a perfect day it had been.
The next morning, I woke up excited because it was my Birthday, and my bestie was coming over in the morning to hang out with me. Hubs had to work, but we were planning on celebrating Saturday. We were going to go to Lincoln, and have one last fun day before baby got here, and I was really looking forward to that!
Hubby told me happy birthday, and I rolled out of bed to use the restroom. Then I noticed the blood on the pillow that had been between my legs. I hurried to the bathroom, and there was more bright red blood on the tissue. I promptly sat down on the floor (I was afraid that I was suddenly going to lose a bunch of blood), and yelled to Saia that A. I was bleeding and B. We needed to go to the hospital right away. I grabbed the emergency number for our midwife’s office, and shaking–dialed the phone as hubby called his boss to say he wouldn’t be coming in.
The lady who answered the emergency line took all my information, and remarked with surprise–“Oh! Happy Birthday!” which felt oddly surreal, and I mumbled my thanks–but could I please talk to my midwife? I finally got to talk to Jill, my midwife, and she said that yes, I should probably just come in to the hospital to get checked out.
I hung up the phone, Hubby was getting ready to go, and I hustled around to find a pad to quell the bleeding. We didn’t have our hospital bags packed yet, that had been on the to-do list for that very day.
I would like to think that I am one of those people who react well in a stressful situation, but I definitely wasn’t thinking clearly enough to grab anything of importance. What did I grab on our way out the door? 1. A pillow with a colored pillow case so it wouldn’t get mistaken for a hospital pillow 2. Our boppy 3. A book about nursing I hadn’t finished yet.
Those, I guess, were the things I saw as I walked out the door so I snatched them up. Looking back, I wish I would have brought a cell phone charger, our nice camera for pictures, and a snack for Hubby. But my thinking was clear as mud at the time, and all I could focus on was getting to that hospital.
We live over an hour away from the hospital were we were planning on giving birth, and I was terrified of needing to go to our local hospital, and having to get transferred by ambulance to our hospital of choice. Goal #1 was to just get to St. Elizabeth’s.
After we’d jumped in the car (thank goodness I had cleaned it all out, taken it to the mechanic, and installed the car seat in time!!), I dialed my parents’ phone number.
My Mom answered, and I asked her how the puppies were doing. Then, attempting to act as nonchalant as I could, I told her that I had started bleeding, and that we were en route to the hospital. She acted equally calm, and said she wondered if that is why I’d called, that they would be praying, and just let them know as soon as we knew what was going on.
Then I texted my friend, so she didn’t drive all the way to our apartment for our get-together, and texted a few other friends to give them the head’s up.
I started getting so nervous, because I hadn’t felt Baby L kick or move yet that morning. I knew it was super early, and I hadn’t had anything to eat yet, but I started pushing on my belly to get him to wake up so I knew he was okay. Finally, he started moving–and that was the best feeling in the entire world.
We finally pulled up to the hospital, and that is when I realized that both of our cell phones were almost dead, and that we had no camera. I kicked myself for not grabbing my nice camera on the way out! Hubby dropped me off at the front doors, and went to park the car. I sat on a bench, breathed, and looked around. It was my twenty-sixth birthday, and an absolutely perfect morning. There was a heavy mist, the dew made every blade of glass sparkle, and the sun beams were gorgeous. It would have been a great day for a run, if I wasn’t pregnant with placenta previa, and bleeding. I wondered if this was the last time I’d be outside for a while.
As soon as we stepped into the hospital, I felt a huge amount of relief. I knew that if anything should happen, that this building was filled with people who would get this baby here safely, in minutes if they had to. I had felt so much anxiety, for months on end, about trying to keep this baby cooking for as long as possible, that finally being able to relax felt amazing.
I used the restroom, because I figured it was the last time I’d have privacy for a while (I was right), and following the directions from the phone call the day before, we took a right to the elevators, and went to the labor and delivery floor.
They were expecting us, they took a copy of my ID, and our insurance card, escorted me to a room, and gave me a hospital gown to change into.
I changed into my lovely green hospital gown, and climbed into the hospital bed. Then, in walked our first nurse–Sarah. She was the sweetest, chattiest lady. She was so happy and kind. She checked baby’s stats, and said that he was not in stress at all, nothing was bothering him in the least. She took my blood pressure, and pulse. Then in walked Amber, the midwife on call from the practice I went to. My midwife, Jill, was not able to be there that day, but I had met with Amber before, and I really liked her. She walked in, talked to me a bit, and said “You know what I think? That you are going to have a baby today.” She just beamed at me, and I smiled–tenuously–back at her. She said she was going to check with the doctor about what she thought, and then be back. Just ten minutes later Amber came back, and told me that we would be having a baby at 12:00 that day. She said that the thing is, with placenta previa, that you really get one warning bleed–which isn’t that big of a deal, but then the next bleed is an emergency. And since I had made it past 37 weeks, they were comfortable just getting baby out now and avoiding that scary emergency situation. She said that Dr. L, the surgeon Saia and I had met with and asked all our questions, had her one day off, so she wouldn’t be there, but Dr. S was a great doctor, and she would be doing the c-section. So I would have neither my midwife nor the doctor that I had met at the surgery, but I honestly didn’t care too much as long as the c-section went well. Amber said she was heading home, but she would be back in time for the c-section, she turned to Saia, and said: “Your one job before the C-section is to get something to eat!”. She was very serious, she didn’t want him heading into the surgery with an empty stomach.
After she left, my nurse put in an IV (which wasn’t as scary as I thought), a phlebotomist drew my blood, the financial lady had me sign a bunch of forms, and my nurse got me all prepped for surgery. She gave Saia a menu, and told him to order hospital food, and she popped out for a bit.
I called my family, told them what was going on, and asked my sister to go gather stuff from our apartment that we would’ve packed in a hospital bag. I texted her what we needed, and she and my little brother headed out. Then I called my friend, Catie, and asked if she could buy us some cell phone chargers. I was hoping that Saia could charge his phone enough to take pictures, because I really wanted some pictures in the O. R.
In the middle of it all, my eldest brother called to wish me a happy birthday, and was quite surprised to hear that I was spending my morning in a hospital bed waiting for baby to get here.
Meanwhile, Hubs was trying to order food from the hospital, but they were giving him a terrible time. Evidently, the people who took the orders were in Omaha (the hospital is in Lincoln), and their computers told them that I was not checked in the hospital and–even worse–that there was someone else staying in the room that I was in. I don’t know if they thought he just walked in off the street, and wanted a free meal or what, but he called two different times to talk to them, the front desk called to talk to them, and then finally our angel nurse Sarah got on the phone with them, and told them in no uncertain terms to send this poor guy some food, stat.
While Sarah and Saia were trying to figure out the food situation, in popped my new doctor–Dr. S. She was definitely not as warm and friendly as the Dr. L (who was supposed to do the scheduled c-section), but I figured as long as she knew how to do her job that is all that mattered. I told her that I really wanted to avoid having a hysterectomy, since we wanted more kids–and she replied “Oh, yeah! Me too! I want to avoid that as well,” which made me feel better. I didn’t really have any other concerns or questions, so she just stayed for a minute or two and left.
We watched a little tv, I put my hands on my stomach to try to memorize the last few movements of my baby inside of me, read The Engaged Home’s c-section birth story that she had just posted that morning, and I texted a few more friends.
Our nurse, Sarah, chatted with us about bed bugs and how Lincoln is one of the top bed bug cities in the country, about her kids, about Hawaii (she had lived there a few years), and other things as well. She really helped distract me from everything that was going on, and she was insistent that even though she was having to leave at noon–when my c-section was to take place–that she really wanted everyone to sing “Happy Birthday” to me in the O.R. She told this to the O.R. nurse who was a stony-faced woman, and she just sort of half-smiled and shrugged. Sarah whispered after she left that you could totally tell that she was someone who worked in the O.R. After the delivery, I found in my room a note from Sarah saying congratulations and happy birthday–and a chocolate bar she had bought for me. The next day she stopped by to see baby, and to say congratulations. She really was such an encouragement, and I am so glad I had her as my nurse before the c-section.
My friend, Catie, showed up with a couple of cell phone chargers, and we got our phones plugged in and charging. Once she arrived, I looked at the clock, noticed how little the time was remaining, and started crying. Which was incredibly embarrassing, but it was all just so overwhelming. She hugged me, and chatted away as the minutes ticked on by.
Then my anesthesiologist arrived. He was truly one of the nicest, goofiest, light-hearted guys–and he made the experience so much better. He sat on a chair, and just talked to me about what was to come. He acknowledged that I’d never had any type of surgery, barring wisdom teeth, and he chatted with me about everything. Then he gave the nurse a drink to give me to neutralize my stomach acid in case I got sick in the O.R. He told me that it was a shot for my Birthday, and to really just gulp it down. He said, seriously, that he takes one every three months just to remind himself how bad they are, which I thought was incredibly sweet!
I gulped that awful pine sap-tasting drink down.
They said it was about time to go. Catie prayed for me, and left. They got me out of bed, and I walked my way down the hall into a bright white room–the O.R.
The time had come. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but here it was.
They walked me over to the table in the middle of the room, I felt scared in that big, cold operating room. I wondered why O.R.s are always painted white. It is funny, because after the surgery I noticed that one of the walls was blue, and another wall was tan. But at the time everything seemed so bright, hard, and cold. I didn’t like being the one under all those bright lights. I remember thinking that the room looked exactly like all the operating rooms in the medical shows we’ve watched.
I sat on the table, and a nurse braced me as the anesthesiologist put in my spinal.
He explained his way through the process, and kept things as light and funny as he possibly could. I had heard that the spinal was super painful, but it hardly even stung when he put it in, so he must have done a really good job. My legs started feeling like they were falling asleep almost immediately, and the nurses helped me lie down on the table, and then they put a wedge under me so I wasn’t lying completely flat, since that would make it hard to breathe when you are nine months pregnant.
Hubby came over, and sat next to the right side of my head, and the anesthesiologist sat behind me. I watched as the nurses moved my legs around. When they touched me I felt this wave of sensation, it was almost like a bunch of pin pricks. They laid my legs flat, but it felt likely legs were in a bent position. Then, within minutes, I couldn’t move my legs or wiggle my toes.
Dr. S arrived, and asked if I felt something (I assume she pinched me), I said no, and before I knew it they were announcing that the first incision was made at 12:00. I smelled a bad odor (S said it was the smell of them using a laser to make the incision), and I mentioned that. My quirky anesthesiologist grabbed a little plastic cup that he unsealed, and put by my head–it had lavender and peppermint essential oils, and smelled amazing. I thought about how lavender would always remind me of Gideon’s birth.
Hubs asked me what I wanted to eat after this, and we talked about sushi, while the anesthesiologist chimed in as to where to get the best sushi in Lincoln. I asked the anesthesiologist if he had kids, and he said he didn’t, but he and his wife have two cats, and he proceeded to tell me about why one of his cats is psycho, and is on Prozac for behavioral modification. I pondered this crazy, Prozac-taking cat for a few minutes as I tried not to think about what was going on over on the other side of the sheet.
Before I knew it, they were pushing that baby out. I felt a ton of pressure, and Saia said they had a hard time getting him out (he was stretched under my ribs). Even that pressure didn’t hurt, it was just an odd feeling.
Then he was out, and he began crying. Which made me so happy, because I knew that meant his lungs were okay. Dr. S held him up over the curtain for a brief second, so that I could see his little face. I looked up at this crying baby boy above me, and marveled over how he seemed like someone I’d known a long time, and a stranger all at once. And then they whisked him over to a bassinet to wipe him off, check his vitals, and check his lungs.
Saia filmed baby arriving, and even though I never would have asked him to (I didn’t think he would want to watch, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to see a recording of it) I am so grateful he did, and I treasure that video clip so very much.
Saia had been told before the surgery, to be sure to stay on one side of the curtain. That he could watch the surgery, but not to get in the surgeon’s space. So when they took the baby over to the bassinet, they had to tell him: “Dad you can come over here!”, and he laughed and replied that he thought he wasn’t supposed to. He hurried over there, and I watched him as he met his son.
He called out “Babe, he has your toes! He has monkey toes!” which made everyone in the room laugh. There really is nothing like watching your husband meet your child for the first time.
At this point, they were closing up my incision. Gideon was about ten feet away from me, being cared for, and my view was blocked by two nurses and Saia. However, in this hospital, they had a huge flat screen tv in the O.R. and a camera pointed straight at that bassinet, so that I could see everything happening to baby, up close and personal. I watched, in awe. What everyone said was true–as soon as baby Gideon was here, everything else really faded away. It seemed like forever before they brought him over to me, but I am sure it was just a few minutes. My arms ached to hold him, and I just wanted all these people to go away and leave my baby with Saia and I.
As they were cleaning him up, Dr. S was trying to remove the placenta. I could hear her talking about it, and I asked a couple of times if it was out yet. My greatest fear was having to get a hysterectomy, and I really was hoping that didn’t happen. I asked her if the placenta was gone yet, and she said “Not yet, I know that is a worry for you, but I’m working on it. I will let you know!”, only a few minutes later she announced that the placenta was out, everything looked great, and that she was closing me up. There was no need for a hysterectomy. “I get a baby AND a uterus for my Birthday!” I said loudly, at which everyone laughed, but I honestly felt like it was such a gift to get through that, and not suffer all the complications that they had continually cautioned me about.
Even now, I cry thinking about the fact that we are done with this tough pregnancy, that we can still have more children, and that Gideon doesn’t have any health issues. I am so very, very grateful.
I couldn’t see his little face, because he was so scrunched up against my chin. Because they had propped me up, he kept sliding further down my chest towards my face, and the anesthesiologist tried to reposition him a few times. I dearly wanted to see his face, but I just focused on stroking him, and talking to him.
After they finished stitching me up, they inflated the cushion underneath me, and the anesthesiologist said: “This is going to be like the lamest amusement park ride you’ve ever taken!” then they lifted me up and transferred me to a rolling bed, and rolled me into the recovery room. I remember looking at the clock as we left the O.R., and only an hour had passed since I first walked into that room.