We welcomed our precious daughter into the world on January 14th via a repeat c-section. I was exactly 39 weeks pregnant. It was such a beautiful day and as a way to remember all the details of Claire’s birthday, I’m going to share her birth story here. Just like I did for James when he was born in June 2017. I have shared James’ frank breech c-section birth story many times over the past two years and have been told by many nervous, anxious mamas that it was encouraging to learn more about what to expect with a c-section birth. Hopefully Claire’s birth story will also encourage and inform more parents as they prepare to welcome their babies.
Monday, January 13, 2020
David and I had been anticipating the arrival of our little girl since we found out we were pregnant in May. Fortunately, my pregnancy was smooth and without complications. We scheduled a repeat c-section for 39 weeks and had been eagerly waiting for January 14th to arrive. Mostly me… the last few weeks of pregnancy were rough! My belly felt stretched to the max and it was difficult to keep up with James. On the eve of our daughter’s birthday, we packed our hospital bags, welcomed David’s parents, and set our alarms for 4:30am.
After only a few hours of sleep, we arrived at the hospital at 5:30am for our 7:00am surgery. We checked in at the front desk, filled out a few papers, and my name was called shortly after. I went back to the pre-op room where I was weighed, had my vitals taken, and then changed into a hospital gown. I had to wipe my body down with anti-bacterial wipes before getting into the gown. The nurse started an IV with fluids to prep me for surgery. I was in this room for about 45 minutes before David was able to join me. The rooms were sectioned off by curtains and I could hear other expecting mamas and women getting prepped for their surgeries. At this point, I was feeling excited and a little nervous. The anesthesiologist came in and talked through what would be happening in the OR and asked if we had any questions. A little while later, my doctor came in and talked with us for a few minutes and then said “alright, let’s do this! See you in there!”. Shortly after, they rolled me into the operating room and David went to the Daddy room where he put on scrubs and a hair net.
The operating room was cold and had a handful of people inside. Two very sweet nurses talked me through the next steps. They had me scoot over to the operating table and sit up, with my feet on the chair next to the bed. The anesthesiologist was behind me. He told me to lean forward and hunch my shoulders while he cleaned my back, placed a numbing agent that felt like a small sting and then administered the anesthesia in my spine, all while the two nurses were holding my hands and rubbing my shoulders. Then, things quickly started happening. They laid me down on the table with my arms out straight and put up the blue curtain. At this point, my nerves started to grow and my hands began to shake. It’s a common side effect and I was able to take deep breaths to calm me down which relaxed my hands for a few seconds. They put a warm blanket over my arms and chest to help warm me up. There was music in the OR and the song “It’s a wonderful world” was playing and I thought how nice of a song that is to enter into the world. At this point, I could feel my legs get very heavy and warm as the medicine moved down my body. I could still kinda feel my legs but wasn’t able to move them. Then, the team put in a catheter and prepped my stomach for surgery. David came in a little while later and sat in a chair to my left. Then, there was a ‘time out’ in the OR when multiple people stated my name, birthday, and the reason for the surgery. Since everyone was in agreement that I was Michelle Stoker and I was there for a c-section, they got started. I could feel hands tugging on me but I didn’t feel any pain. At one point, a wave of nausea rushed over me and I immediately told David to tell the anesthesiologist. He adjusted something in the medicine and also taped a citrus smelling aromatherapy card on the curtain by my face. It instantly helped!
During James’ c-section, the doctor talked me through what was happening as she worked but this time, the doctor had small talk with the nurses and I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening. That actually made the whole thing go a lot quicker because before I knew it, there was a deep, firmer tug on me and we heard a beautiful raspy baby cry. She’s here!! Then the doctor said “Here she is! 7:56am. Dad stand up and take a look over the curtain!” David stood up and was able to take a few pictures of our sweet baby fresh out of my belly, with her umbilical cord still attached. If you’re interested in seeing a graphic photo of this moment, text me and I’ll share. 😉 They waited one minute and then cut her cord and then passed her over to the ‘baby catcher’ nurse. She took our baby to the warmer where she cleaned her a bit, cleared her nose and mouth, took her apgar scores and vitals. She was healthy and strong and a few minutes later, the nurse came over and laid our sweet baby on my chest. Our precious daughter was finally here. We told her “Welcome to the world, Claire. We’re your parents and we love you so much!”.
David got to hold her for a few minutes and the anesthesiologist took a few pictures for us. During this time, my doctor was finishing the procedure by closing, stitching, and taping my stomach closed. It all went very quickly. Before I knew it, our doctor was asking about which church service we typically go to (we go to the same church!) and then said all done! The team moved me to a bed next to the OR table, sat me up, and placed baby Claire on my chest. They wheeled me (David walked behind us) to the recovery room. It was really nice that Claire was healthy enough to come with me straight to the recovery room since James had to go to the nursery right after he was born to monitor his breathing. A nurse took Claire to a nearby baby warmer where they took her vitals and scores again, examined her, gave her Vitamin K and E. Claire weighed 7lb 7oz and measured 20″ long. The nurses also checked my vitals, my bleeding, and started the oh so lovely fundal (uterus) massages. If you’ve never experienced this, it’s basically when a nurse makes a fist and pushes on your uterus to reduce bleeding and cramping and to help it return to its original size. Ouch. We were in the recovery room for 2 hours (that’s the minimum after a c-section at our hospital) and the nurse did this about every 20 minutes. At this time, I was slowly starting to gain feeling back in my legs and I was able to try breastfeeding. Claire was crying and rooting around since the moment she was born. She was obviously hungry. She latched on right away and knew exactly what to do. She had a strong latch on both sides. I was a proud mama!
Our room was ready around 11:15am. We had a spacious room on the 4th floor. The nurses checked on both Claire and I shortly after we arrived. Then, we had designated quiet time reserved for skin-to-skin, nursing, and baby cuddles without distractions. It was a sweet time. I facetimed my family and showed them their new granddaughter and niece and shared her name. Around noon, David went downstairs and met up with his parents and James! They came upstairs and David carried James into our room. I was holding baby Claire in my arms on the bed. He was feeling a little shy and cautious but was so sweet and gentle. He eventually warmed up and was happy to sit next to her and point out her tiny details. It was so sweet!!
For the rest of the day, we held our sweet baby girl and the nurses came in a few times. Claire had her first sponge bath. That evening, I was able to get out of bed for the first time with the help of the nurse. I still had IVs and the catheter in. The pain medicine from the surgery lasted about 18 hours, so I was feeling totally fine moving around. It really was a beautiful day. God answered so many prayers. He protected our sweet girl and me. Our doctor and nurses were great. It was a really beautiful, calm, peaceful day. Happy birthday to little Claire!
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
After a night of cluster feeding and little sleep, our room was busy with various nurses and doctors starting at 6am. The nurse took out my catheter and gave me a dose of motrin for pain relief. Claire had a check up from the hospital pediatrician and we were elated to hear that everything looked good! My OB came in to check on me and my incision, everything looked good there. Claire had some blood taken and her bilirubin levels were tested, all good. She had a hearing test done, fortunately she passed! A hospital lactation consultant stopped by to check on Claire’s latch and give me some breastfeeding advice. The morning was really busy. If you’re having a baby anytime soon, I definitely recommend not having any personal visitors the morning after baby arrives. There’s no down time between 6am and noon with all of the medical needs that happen then. An unexpected thing that happened was that I started to develop pain in my right shoulder. It felt like I pulled a muscle and I wondered if it was from my arms being straight out during surgery or maybe the way I was holding Claire. It was super uncomfortable. I later found out it was referred pain. Didn’t even know that was a thing but that pain plus the pain around my incision made for a difficult time getting in and out of bed.
David’s parents arrived with James around noon and he was happy to see his ‘bobby seester’ again. It was surreal to have our big boy and our new baby together. We had been anticipating her arrival for so long and wondered how it would feel as a family of four. It was simply wonderful. That afternoon, I took a long, hot shower while Claire napped. We slowly walked around the unit and pushed Claire in the bassinet to get me moving around. David and I had a mini date night on the hospital couch and ordered salmon and roasted veggies from room service. The hospital food was pretty good! We got ready for bed, I nursed Claire, swaddled her and we went to bed around 10:30pm.
Once again, we didn’t get much sleep that night. I could not get comfortable in the bed and my nurse was late with bringing pain medicine so I wasn’t feeling great. In the middle of the night, the nurse said it was time to do a weight check on Claire. She brought in a scale and Claire weighed in at 6 lb 13 oz. She lost a little weight but that’s to be expected in the first few days. Then, the nurse went over discharge information since we told her we’d be ready to go home the next day. She told us all about my restrictions as I recover from the c-section, seeing a pediatrician within 48 hours, and things to look out for with Claire. Then, she had a little advice for David and I. She said, “take care of each other. Let each other rest. Work as a team. Get outside. It will be hard but it will get easier.” I appreciated that she thought to give advice to us as a couple during this transition. It was a sweet, gentle reminder to take care of our marriage first so that we can care for our children well.
Thursday, January 16, 2020
The morning was quiet and slow. We ate breakfast, cuddled Claire, and packed up our bags. The pediatrician gave us another visit and said Claire looked strong and healthy and cleared us to go home. My OB doctor also came in, checked me and my incision, and cleared me for discharge. We took a few pictures of Claire in our room and Facetimed Jamesy at home. Around 1pm, our nurse came in with a wheelchair and briefly went over discharge information. We rolled out of there around 1:30pm. We had the option to stay a third night at the hospital but we were both very ready to be home. I sat in the backseat with baby Claire as David drove us home to big brother.
As I write this, Claire is twelve days old. At any moment, you will find her either sleeping or eating. She is growing well and is so stinking cute. We have her two week pediatrician visit soon to check on her weight and development. The first few days after the c-section were rough for me, mostly the pain in my shoulder and around the incision (getting in and out of bed was the hardest). Fortunately, about five days later, I started feeling so much better. I finished taking the percocet pain relief recently and am just taking motrin now, as needed. I can move around without pain and the pain in my shoulder is entirely gone. That lasted about three days. It’s amazing how our bodies can recover so quickly! I am so thankful for our sweet baby girl and her birth story. God heard our prayers and was so kind to us. Thank you all so much for your love and encouragement.