We welcomed our son, James Ellis, into the world on Friday, June 30th via a scheduled c-section because he was in a frank breech position. I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant. It was such a life-changing experience that I want to vividly remember for all of my days. When I found out that I was likely going to need a c-section, I was anxious and didn’t feel prepared. I then found some great blogs and stories online from moms who had similar experiences. I wanted to share my story to encourage other moms who either have breech babies, have a scheduled c-section, or who just need some extra support. Honestly, it really wasn’t bad. You can do it and might actually enjoy the experience! Below, I’m going to share what I recently wrote in my pregnancy journal.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
39 weeks pregnant! We get to meet our baby boy tomorrow! I’m feeling excited, anxious, ready, thrilled, in disbelief. It’s a very calm way for little man to enter the world. We know exactly when we need to arrive at the hospital, who our delivering doctor is going to be, and a general understanding of what to expect. We’ve had 39 weeks to prepare for his arrival and 3 weeks to consider/process a c-section. We found out baby was breech at our 36 week appointment and with attempts to flip him (chiropractor visits for the Webster technique, forward lean inversions off of the couch, lots of inverted yoga, etc.), he still stayed in his upright position. We checked his position yesterday at my last OB appointment. The doctor said “there’s still a chance he could flip by Friday, like a 1% chance but you could be that 1%!” If he flips by tomorrow morning, great. But otherwise, we are preparing to meet our little man tomorrow! We are scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 8:30am and surgery is scheduled for 10:30am. We are going to sleep tonight for the last time as just the two of us. Life changes big time tomorrow! Lord, we trust you. We thank you. We praise you. What a beautiful provider you are. We look forward to seeing your perfect creation in our son tomorrow.
Friday, June 30, 2017
We set our alarms for 6:45am. We cuddled, laughed, and anxiously climbed our way out of bed. We finished putting the last few things in our hospital bags, showered, got dressed and were out the door at 8am. We called our moms on the way and received their encouragement, parked the car, left all of our stuff in the trunk, took a photo in front of the hospital, and walked in hand in hand at 8:30am.We checked in at the front desk, filled out a quick emergency contact form, and prayed together in the chapel. We had visited that chapel over the past few months while at the hospital for our newborn care and childbirth classes. We sat in the lobby for a few minutes and then heard “Mrs. Stoker” from a nurse who was ready to take me to the pre-op area. David had to stay behind in the lobby while I got settled. I had my weight and blood pressure checked and then was taken to a small room surrounded by curtains. I changed into a hospital gown and got into the bed. The nurse put an IV in my left hand and a blood pressure cuff and heart rate monitor on my right arm and pointer finger. A full bag of fluid started through the IV to prepare my body for surgery. I gave the nurse the birth plan requests I made and asked her to pass them on to the doctor and surgery team. She gladly did that. Things like delayed cord clamping/cutting, not to strap my arms down, immediate skin to skin, talk us through the surgery. Shortly after, David was able to come back to my waiting room and he sat in a chair next to my bed.Our doctor then came to our room and talked with us for a little while. She brought an ultrasound machine to check baby’s position one final time. She scanned the top of my belly and a large round shape showed up on the screen. She asked us, “do you know what that is?” and we both said “his head?”. Yep, still breech. Alright, let’s do this! We waited in that room until about 11am. Then, David was taken to the “Daddy prep room” where he put on scrubs, a face mask, and hair net. I was wheeled away to the operating room. The room was smaller than I expected. Lots of tools, a small bed, and a handful of people. They helped me scoot over to the new bed and then things quickly started happening. I sat up, put my feet on a chair on one side of the bed, and the anesthesiologist started the spinal anesthesia. The doctor behind me and a helpful anesthetist in front of me coached me through the whole thing. I hunched my back and took deep breaths, felt a sting in my spine and a slow trickle of warmth move in and down my back. Then, they immediately laid me down, moved the blue curtain across my chest, and the team quickly started doing lots of things to my body that I couldn’t see or fully feel. My legs started to become very heavy and warm. The anesthesiologist rubbed a cold wet swab on different areas on my chest and asked if I could feel it. Around this time, my breathing got very heavy and my heart was racing. I tried to breathe through it but then felt nauseous. It felt like the onset of a panic attack. I told the anesthetist that was by my head that I wasn’t feeling right and it was hard to breathe. He told me that those feelings were normal and that he’d adjust the anesthesia. I was starting to really worry that I was going to feel like that for the whole surgery. Fortunately, a few minutes later, I felt so much better. I could breathe normally and I felt calm again. David came in shortly after that and he sat in a chair to the right of my head.He held my hand, asked how I was doing, encouraged me, told me how proud he was. Then, we all waited for the doctor to come in. Maybe 5 minutes went by when I heard the door open and everyone started moving to their places. The team did a “time out” where 3 groups of people shared my details – “Michelle Stoker, c-section for a frank breech position”. Then, they started the incision and cutting. This seemed to take longer than I expected but I guess there were many layers to get through. I would go back and forth from looking at David to looking up at the lights and taking deep breaths. I will always remember David holding my hand and telling me “you’re giving birth to our son right now” and that was the perfect reminder and reality check that even though I wasn’t laboring and pushing, I was still giving birth. My body was giving us our sweet baby. While the team was doing their thing on the other side of the curtain, I couldn’t feel anything except some pressure and movement. I knew and could feel their hands on me but didn’t experience any pain or discomfort. There were a few moments when I felt some harder tugging and firmer pressure but never any pain. We finally heard someone say “it’s definitely a boy!” and shortly after, we heard a shriek/raspy baby cry for the first time. Someone announced 11:41am. David and I had our eyes locked on each other and we both started crying when we heard that first cry. Then, our doctor said “Ok, Michelle, you’re losing some blood but we’re going to wait for the full minute before we cut the cord and close you up.” A few seconds later, I heard someone else say “1 minute” and then (I assume) the team clamped and cut baby’s umbilical cord. Then, someone carried baby from my belly over to us to quickly show us and then he walked baby over to the warmer/scale/baby station behind David, to my right. The nurse told us that baby had some fluid left in his lungs and they needed to suction it out and give him some oxygen. She assured us that this is very normal and common in c-section babies because they don’t go through the process of being pushed through the canal and their airways don’t get cleared. They kept baby in the warmer for maybe 5 minutes suctioning out his mouth and holding a little oxygen mask over his face. They also weighed and measured him, 7lb 3 oz and 19.5 inches.The baby nurse came over and asked if I was ready to hold him — yes!! She unbuttoned the top of my gown and rolled it down. She brought over our baby and placed him on my chest!! I held his head with my left hand (with the IV attached) and his back with my right hand. He wore a blue and pink striped hospital hat and a hand knitted (by one of the nurses) green hat on top. He had on a diaper and a white hospital blanket over his back. He alternated between a raspy cry and quiet breaths while on my chest. We told our baby boy “Welcome to the world, James. We are your parents and we are going to take good care of you.” I held him for a few minutes while the doctor stitched up my inside layers with dissolvable stitches and closed my incision with dermabond glue. The baby nurse said she needed to take James to the nursery to monitor his breathing and make sure his lungs fully cleared. She picked up James, put him close to my head and let me kiss him goodbye. David, James, and the baby nurse left the room together and I stayed in the OR for maybe 15 more minutes as the team finished. I took many deep breaths and tried to take in all that had just happened. I gave lots of praises and thanks to the Lord that everything went well and I prayed for baby’s lungs and his breathing. I also focused on drinking a big cup of cold ice water as soon as possible because I felt soo thirsty. The surgery team assured me that everything went “beautifully” and that James looked great.After I was fully closed up, the team moved me from the OR bed to another bed and wheeled me to the recovery area. There were two nurses there who quickly took my vitals, checked my bleeding, and massaged my uterus to help it contract and shrink down (big ouch). The nurse asked if I could move my legs at all and I told her “not yet” and she said “you’re doing it!”. I looked down and saw my toes moving side to side. She encouraged me that everything was looking great. I had to be in the recovery room for at least an hour for monitoring post-surgery. While recovering, I felt pretty good and numb but my legs (especially feet) felt really warm so I asked the nurse to take off my socks. David came down from the nursery to check on me. He brought good news that baby was doing great and breathing well. He was able to hold James while in the nursery and take a few pictures of him. We chatted for a few minutes (is this real life??) and then he went back up to the nursery to be with James. I rested, tried to move my legs as they gained more feeling, and texted family and a few friends. Once an hour in the recovery room past, the nurses released me and took me to my mom and baby room. I met my nurse and she checked my vitals, my bleeding and massaged my uterus again (probably the most painful thing of the whole experience). She said the morphine pain medication that I received in surgery would last for a total of 18 hours and that she was going to start a bag of Pitocin in my IV to help my uterus contract.
I called the nursery and asked for a status update on baby James and they told me that he would be released soon. A little while later, David, a nurse, and James in a bassinet strolled into the room. He was finally here! Our nurse did her first baby check on him and then it was time for skin to skin and to try breastfeeding. What a surreal feeling. I feel like this is the moment I became a mom. I had this precious newborn on my bare chest and he was mine. He had been in my belly for the past 9 months, not knowing what he looked like or any of his characteristics, and now he was on my chest and dependent for his every need. The nurse helped me try to get James to latch on but we weren’t successful then. She encouraged more skin to skin time and said she would be back soon to try again. So, we cuddled together, I rubbed his back, and held his tiny fingers. A little while later, I tried to get him to latch on my own and he did it! It felt like a slight pinch and then rhythmic suction. He was doing it! I felt like such a proud (and relieved) mama.The rest of the evening and night was filled with baby cuddles, nursing, David’s parents meeting their first grandchild (such a sweet moment), nurse checks, getting sick twice after trying to sit up from bed to take a family photo (it came out of no where. The nurse gave me some anti-nausea medicine and that helped a lot. I made a joke that the first and only time I threw up during my pregnancy was the day I gave birth!), a liquid diet for me, short naps, and staring at our precious son.The next morning (Saturday), the nurse came in around 6am and took out my IV line, took off the leg pressure cuffs that are meant to prevent blood clotting (those got so hot and annoying), and took out my catheter. She offered pain medications and I received a dose of Percocet and Motrin. Then, I was able to slowly and carefully get out of bed! David helped me get up and go to the bathroom. I could feel the incision and my whole belly area felt very sensitive and tingly but didn’t hurt. By the afternoon, I was out of bed and moving around the room. I could move between the bed, chair, and couch. I had to move slowly but it felt so nice to be able to get out of bed and use my legs. My family came to visit and all the chickies were so excited to meet my new little boy. Later in the evening, David and I were slowly walking laps around the hospital floor. The nurses were constantly stressing the importance of walking and moving to have a quicker recovery. That night, I was able to eat my first real meal (salmon and roasted veggies, yum!). We had another night of nurse checks, a lactation consultant visit, baby cuddles, nursing, visit from friends, short naps, a refreshing shower, and getting to know our new favorite tiny human.Sunday morning, our nurse asked us if we’d like to go home today or stay for one more night. David and I quickly agreed that we were ready to go home. She told us that once I was discharged by my doctor and James was cleared by his pediatrician, then we should be able to go home today. She also gave me more pain medication, which I was taking every 6 hours. The pain meds were so helpful and I think necessary to have a comfortable recovery for the first few days after surgery. My doctor came in shortly after and checked my incision and she said “wow! This is healing beautifully!” She gave me some post-surgery instructions like no swimming or baths for 6 weeks, no driving while on the pain medication, take a shower but don’t scrub the incision, just let the soapy water run over it, etc. She told the nurse to check my vitals one more time in the afternoon and then release me after 4pm. A little while later, the hospital pediatrician came to look at James. She checked on his heart, lungs, stomach, eyes, ears, in his diaper, his hips, etc. She mentioned that his jaundice/bilirubin levels were a little high but still in the low risk range so she told us to follow up with our pediatrician within 48 hours. Then, she cleared James for discharge! We relaxed for the next few hours, I nursed James as he gave me hunger cues, ate lunch, and packed up our bags. Shortly after 4pm, our nurse brought us our discharge paperwork and prescription for the Percocet. She called for a wheelchair and then, we were out! I carried James in my arms as the nurse pushed me in the wheelchair and David pushed a cart with our bags and car seat on it. Once we got outside, David pulled the car around and the nurse put James in his car seat and checked the straps. We took a quick picture and then loaded up the car. We were headed home as a family of 3! It was crazy to think that we had only arrived at the hospital a few days ago and how our lives were already so different. James did well on the 25 minute car ride back to our house and David did great, too, as a brand new dad driving his firstborn son home.
As I write this, James is now two weeks old. He’s nursing like a champ, sleeps a lot during the day and 2ish hour chunks at night, and he’s already above his birth weight. He had his bilirubin levels checked by the pediatrician (he had to get his heel pricked and he did not like that) and fortunately, his levels were still in the low risk range. My recovery has been way better than I was expecting. I took the Percocet every 6ish hours for the first week. Then, I just took Motrin when needed. My incision is still glued up and the area is sensitive (all the way towards my hips). I can move comfortably now but still at a slower speed. James went back to the pediatrician today for his 2 week appointment (he weighed in at 8lbs 2oz!) and I go back to my OB doctor in mid-August for my 6 week post appointment.
All is well. And I feel so fortunate to be able to say that. Baby is healthy and growing. David and I are working together as new parents and long time partners. We feel a little sleep deprived but that just means more coffee! Thank you for reading and for following along. It’s been a wonderful journey! Expecting moms, if you have any questions, please comment and I will try my best to help! You’re going to do great.