April 23, 2011

The C-Section Saga

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged at 6:27 pm by Tamara

40 Weeks...and still 10 days before Baby made his appearance!

A few days ago Adam was unpacking our hospital suitcase and held up our natural childbirth book with a wry expression and asked “Where would you like me to put this, since we didn’t get to use it at all??”  We had to laugh at how different things ended up going than our “birth plan”—thankfully I feel like God really gave me grace to not worry about it so long as Berean was safe and healthy!  I was very curious about people’s birth stories before Berean was born, so here’s the story for those who are interested (and don’t find this to be TMI!)  Oh, and this is NOT the abbreviated version—this is the “I want to remember everything” version, just to warn you in advance.  : )

As I posted before, when I was ten days overdue they did a third ultrasound and decided that since my amniotic fluid was only a five that it was time to induce!  Strike one against the completely natural plan, but oh well.  They gave us two hours to go home, eat, and get our hospital bag.  We got back to the hospital a little before seven pm and they started giving me pills to soften my cervix and start contractions.  The contractions got painful sometime in the middle of the night, but when they checked me 12 hours later I was only 3 centimeters dilated and baby was still at -2 station, so they started pitocin.  By 10:30am the pain was pretty bad, but they checked and I was only 4 and still only 70% effaced.  The midwife broke my water and was a little concerned by how little fluid there was.  There was also meconium, so they told me I wouldn’t be able to hold him right away when he was born because they’d have to quickly suction and check his lungs.  Sad day, and strike two!

By 4:30pm I had been laboring for 21 hours and I was a wreck.  Although I have to say it wasn’t painful the whole 21 hours, it sure was by then!  I think the worst thing was that I had to be strapped to all the monitors, IVs, etc, so I couldn’t do any of the natural childbirth positions, labor in a tub, walk around, etc.  I was also absolutely exhausted after not sleeping the night before, and swiftly turning into a sobbing, emotional basket case.  Baby’s heart rate had dropped a couple times, which sent the nurses racing into the room to make me get flat on my back in bed, which made the contractions excruciating, not to mention that it was scary to hear his heart rate was dropping!  I had reached the “I don’t think I can do this anymore” point, which supposedly means you’re really close to time to push, and when the midwife came to check me I prayed that we’d made some progress.

Well…after 21 hours I was still only 4 centimeters, 80% effaced, and baby was at -2 station.  I had told Adam when we were figuring out our birth plan that I was open to an epidural “If I labor for 20 hours and am only 5 centimeters or something.”  I thought I was exaggerating, but there we were in that boat.  The nurse said, “Honey, would you consider an epidural?”  I said yes.  Strike three against natural childbirth!

Now, an epidural certainly wasn’t my ideal, but I have to say…holy shamoley, bliss.  The pain was gone so quickly (although I kept wiggling my toes to make sure I wasn’t paralyzed.  Heh.)  They increased the pitocin because we were running out of time before they’d want to do a c-section, but I couldn’t even feel it.  The midwife decided to administer some fluid to my amniotic fluid to hopefully wash out some of the meconium and maybe give Baby a little more room to descend further.  I progressed to 5 and 80%, but Baby was still at -2 and his poor little head was wedged.

Grandma L and Grandma H

My mom and Adam had been with me throughout the day, and at 7pm Adam’s mom arrived from Wisconsin!  We had thought she’d be arriving to meet a 2 week old baby, so it was pretty neat that she ended up making it before he was born.  I told her Baby must just have been waiting until both grandmas were there!

Adam, all suited up to go into the operating room with me

Well, at 6:30 they checked me again…no progress.  Eight thirty…no progress.  I’d been in labor 25 hours by that point, and the midwife consulted with the doctor overseeing my labor (they assign a doctor to midwife patients in case of an emergency c-section) and they decided it was time to get Baby out of there.  The nurse told me she was amazed the doctor let me go so long, but they were concerned that I wasn’t progressing even after so much pitocin, Baby was still so far up the birth canal, my water had been broken so long, and Baby’s heart rate had been dropping.  So, they immediately started prepping me for a c-section.  And there we had it—the final blow was dealt against natural childbirth!

They wheeled me into the operating room, and I don’t know what meds they started giving me then, but I started shaking uncontrollably and throwing up.  If you’ve never tried throwing up while lying flat on your back, let me advise you not to try it.  It was not a pleasant experience.  Equally unpleasant was the fact that for no apparent reason I suddenly had a song I hate stuck in my head!  I tried thinking through the lyrics to another song but I was so groggy I couldn’t remember them.  They let Adam come in when they were ready to start surgery and I asked him if he would say the words to “In Christ Alone” to me.  He started singing quietly and I just looked at him and listened to him sing.  All the lyrics to that song are amazing, but one line about brought us to tears:

“From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.”

Our little family!

It was just a couple seconds after Adam finished singing the last verse when they said “Look up!” and there was Berean!!  Thinking about this chokes me up now—it’s by far one of my favorite memories!

No one told me this until the next day, but when Berean was born his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.  Who can say “what might have happened,” but maybe that was why my labor never progressed?  Either way, I am so thankful that God protected Rean!!

At first Berean was having a little trouble breathing and they decided to take him to the special care nursery.  They brought him over to me so I could hold him for a second, and the doula told me later that as soon as he was in my arms his breathing calmed down and they decided he didn’t need to go to the special care nursery after all.  Awwww.  He looked right at me when he heard my voice, and when Adam came up he turned toward his voice, too.  Awww!

They still needed to take Berean to the nursery, and I told Adam to go with him.  I don’t remember this, but Adam says that just as they closed the door to the operating room he saw me start convulsing and throwing up again and he was horrified that he had to chose between going with baby and staying with me.  Apparently I passed out, because the next thing I remember I woke up shaking uncontrollably and with excruciating pain in my shoulders and arms.  The anesthesiologist had told me that as soon as the procedure was done he would give me some medication that would immediately stop the shakes and the nausea.  Apparently it didn’t work, because I could hear them talking, saying he’d tried three different medications and none of them were working.  They were asking me where I hurt, but I was so groggy and shaking so badly that I couldn’t even tell them.  I think that was probably the scariest part of the whole process.  The only thing I managed to say to them was “Wh-wh-what’s wr-wr-wr-wrong with m-m-me??”  I found out later that the shoulder/neck/arm pain was “referred pain” from air hitting my organs.  Weird!  I think it hurt as bad as labor.

Once they finished stitching me up (which must have been an interesting task with me convulsing and throwing up) they wheeled me into the hallway and Adam was there again.  It was sooooo good to see him!  I suddenly had an overwhelming conviction that I HAD to get onto my side and not be flat on my back.  I barely managed to communicate that to Adam, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him sound so commanding as when he insisted to the nurses that I needed to be put on my side, now!  It was so nice to have him taking care of me!  Sure enough, a few minutes later the nausea got better.

A nurse brought Berean in so “I” could nurse.  I was still shaking and I kept falling asleep, but that didn’t stop the nurse from taking charge and making sure Rean nursed!  I was so annoyed with myself that I kept falling asleep during his first ever time nursing!

Adam got to take Berean out to meet his Grandmas—it was so wonderful that they both got to be there!   Eventually I stopped shaking and they got the pain under control enough that I could go to our room and Adam and Grandmas could come in.  They brought Berean in after a while–how amazing to get to hold such a perfect little boy!

We stayed in the hospital for three nights, as recommended.  My first night I had a total of eleven (eleven!!) cords and monitors attached to me on my torso and all four limbs.  And I was expected to sleep and nurse?!  It was so nice when they finally “unleashed” me from them the next day.  Thankfully, Berean did WONDERFULLY.  He was absolutely angelic—caught on to nursing really well, slept, let us sleep, and barely cried at all.  The nurses kept offering to take him to the nursery, but I kept thinking “Why?”  He was just perfect.

Coming home from the hospital!

My recovery in the hospital went really well, and Rean did great, too.  The pediatrician who came to see him told us he was “Absolutely beautiful, and I don’t tell that to everyone.  He really is—perfect skin, symmetrical features, he’s just beautiful.”  Of course, I agree, but I’m biased.  When we went in for the one week weight check the nurse said, “So this is the little guy the doctor keeps talking about!”  Apparently he came back to the office and told them all what a beautiful baby he’d seen.  : )

Now we’ve been home for a week—I can hardly believe it!  We are so, so thankful for a healthy baby and healthy me.  God was watching over us, and who cares how baby comes into the world as long as he’s healthy?  I can see God’s grace in so many details of this story, and in the meaningful little moments He gave us along the way.

And now we have an adorable, perfect little baby boy to love!  Who could ask for more??



  1. mary said,

    Thanks for sharing! I loved reading all the details (Haha…my original birth post had been twice as long but I cut out a ton to shorten it…you were smart to keep it all recorded for yourself!). Which midwife did you have? Can’t wait to see you again sometime and meet Rean! It will be fun to have another mommy friend. ; )

  2. Mom said,

    Wow! Crying tears of joy and relief all over again! :)

  3. Tamara said,

    Mary, I had Debbie. Terry was there overnight, but Debbie during most of it. The doctor who did the c-section was Dr. Wilcox, who also seemed very nice. :) Everyone at Lexington was wonderful! We felt very blessed.

    • mary said,

      I am glad you had a good experience there too. And I loved Debbie. She was so sweet. Oh, I meant to say earlier that I loved that part about In Christ Alone. That is so cool that the Lord spoke to you both so clearly through that song.

  4. Desirae said,

    I LOVE birth stories. :) Thanks so much for sharing. I am glad that, despite things not going according to your plans, everything went well. Praise God!!

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