Relatively early in my pregnancy, I chose not to attempt a VBAC. So, as my due date approached, I didn’t have too much anxiety about the birth. I was pretty confident that I’d make it to my C-section at 39 weeks, and knew what to expect of the recovery.
We were due at the hospital at 6 am, so we packed up the car and left a sleeping Nic with my parents. I debated whether or not to wake him to say goodbye, but I’m glad that I didn’t. That probably would have been traumatic for everyone.
After miles of paper work, it was finally time to get started. Shaun suited up in his scrubs and I walked to the OR (which was strange, since last time I was wheeled in). The very handsome anesthesiologist gave me my spinal, which hurt less than last time, and we were on our way.
With Dominic’s birth, the only thing that I was disappointed about was that I didn’t get to hold him as soon as he came out. When I wrote about this on MommyBeta, one of our fabulous readers introduced me to the idea of a “family-centered C-section.” In this type of C-section, the baby can be placed directly on mom’s chest after he is pulled out. You can also lower the drape to see the baby come out if you so desire—Shaun can’t handle the site of blood, so this wasn’t an option for us.
I was so excited about this possibility, although I was skeptical that my OB would go for it. To my pleasant surprise, after I sent her the link about family-centered C-sections (she’d never heard of it before), she talked with the hospital’s nursery and everyone was on board! They said that as long as the baby cried when he came out, he could go directly on my chest. I was so excited about this possibility. (I'll write a separate post with more info on the family-centered C-section later.)
So, as I lay on the operating table, everyone took some extra steps to prepare for our special moment. During a C-section, it’s typical to use something called a “bear hugger” that blows warm air on to mom’s chest. Because we had to make room for baby, the anesthesiologist moved that around a bit, but it still made me wonderfully warm. I remember feeling so peaceful waiting for the surgery to begin. I was completely relaxed, but excited. It was a very different feeling from when Dominic was born. That time, I was exhausted after 27 hours of labor, my shoulders and neck ached with tension and my whole body was shaking.
Shaun soon entered the room and took his place beside me. He was so nervous. After a few minutes of tugging and pulling, Baby Z was out. After about 15 seconds, I heard the amazing sound of Z’s first cries and my doctor placed him on my chest. I was breathless. It was exactly what I wanted and I was so happy that it had finally happened.
I could see his tiny face and feel his warm breath and slimy little body. And he was huge! I got to hold him for a few minutes and then the nurses took him to clean and weigh him. He was 8 lbs. 12 oz! That’s almost a full pound more than Nic. No wonder I was SO HUGE. Plus, my OB said that I had a lot of fluid.
She also said that my uterine wall was very thin, upon hearing that, I was very glad that I had chosen to forgo the VBAC. My doctor also put some extra stitches in my ab muscles all the way up to my belly button, as she suspected I was starting to have some diastasis or abdominal separation.
I nursed Z in the recovery room—he latched right away—and then we were moved to our real room, where we’d spend the next few days bonding and healing.
This time around, certain parts of the recovery were better and certain parts worse. This time, I wasn’t as afraid to get up and move, because I knew how much it helped last time. However, this time, I felt like I needed the pain meds more. There was one day when a nurse failed to stay on top of my meds and I really felt the repercussions. It was awful.
The other weird thing was that I had intense pain in my shoulder blade if I lay down for more than 20 minutes. Apparently, when you are splayed open on the operating table, air can become trapped inside your body and you can actually get gas pockets in places like your shoulders. Who knew!?! The worst part about it was that I couldn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time, and there was nothing the doctors could do about it. It lasted for almost a week and was definitely the worst part of my recovery.
Because I had such a hard time sleeping, I spent a lot of time snuggling with Baby Z those first few days. With Nic, I was terrified to have him in bed with me, and never once slept next to him. But with Z, I was more comfortable and more confident and we slept side-by-side from the very beginning. I loved it then, and still love it now. There’s nothing better than feeling his soft, warm face against mine while hearing him snore soundly (he’s always been noisy sleeper).
I never had much anxiety around Z’s birth, what made me nervous was how Nic was going to respond to his little brother. We did tons of prep with him—reading books, taking him to the hospital to see what it was like, a sibling preparedness class—but you never know how it’s going to transpire. We’d planned for Nana and Grampy to bring him to the hospital the day after Z was born, but we were all doing well by the afternoon of his birth, so we moved up the visit one day. I’m glad we did!
We made sure that baby was in the basinet when Nic entered the room. I wanted to put all of my attention on him and let him ask about the baby. I didn’t want him to feel replaced. I was happy that as soon as he entered the room, he was happily inquiring about Baby Z. He met his brother and quickly learned to say his long name. I think his favorite part of the visit was the special gift that Shaun, Baby Z and I gave to him. We took a few pictures together as a family and wrapped up our short, successful visit. I was relieved.
When I think of Z’s entrance into the world, three things stand out in my mind—the peaceful feeling I had during his birth, the feeling of him on my chest, and snuggling him in bed during those first few days. Compared to Dominic’s birth, there was much less drama and anticipation, but it was filled with just as much love and many more cuddles!