Today would have been baby 3’s scheduled c-section date…but he decided to come 9 days early!! I wanted to share our birth story for a few reasons. Apparently it’s C-section Awareness Month (didn’t know that was a thing), so it’s relevant to share what we just went through. Also, our story is proof that most deliveries do not go according to plan and it’s always a good idea to be prepared and flexible. Since I specialize in prenatal and postpartum recovery as an OT, I’m an open book when it comes to sharing my birth experiences.
Friday, March 29, 2019
It was a normal day. I let in the construction workers to continue working on our kitchen renovation, dropped the boys off at school, made a target run, did some laundry and work at home. Then I decided to join my neighbor for a walk with her dog and took my smaller dog, Troy, along with me. I should mention that I haven’t walked my dog in close to a year, since my husband usually takes on that daily task. However, this particular Friday I was feeling strong and motivated. We walked the small hills of our neighborhood for about an hour and a half. I came home to move some more furniture back into place (they had resurfaced the floors), picked up the boys from school, made dinner and decided to mop the entire first level of the home because…hello nesting!! We gave the boys a bath and put them to bed. I started feeling some cramping but dismissed it as Braxton Hicks/false labor.
Contractions were getting a bit stronger so I started timing them. 2-3 minutes apart. Most people would go to the hospital at this point. However, I labored for 40 hours with our first born at 2-3 minutes apart, so I ASSUMED this might be a long ride as well.
Contractions were intensifying a lot, and I decided this is probably the real deal. I calmly called my OB office, let them know, and they told me to come to the hospital that night and if I was indeed in labor they would do the c-section right there and then. I also called our parents to let them know so my mom could arrange a flight down the next day. Again, pain is at about 6/10, tolerable but pronounced.
My best friend, who is also the boys’ godmother and also our family MVP, Kayla came right over to stay with the boys for the night. I packed my hospital bag (yup, by the 3rd child you really procrastinate), meaning I threw my robe, slippers, nursing tank, pajama pants and phone charger in a bag. Where was my husband? Eating dinner, because he wanted to be “fueled enough to support (me)”. He too was thinking we had a lot of time before this got real.
We finally get into the car and the pain is really hitting. Probably around 8/10 pain with contractions every minute. We live 15 minutes from our hospital, and I strongly suggested that we take the expressway (despite my husband explaining there is no traffic). By the time we make it to the hospital I am in 9/10 pain and can’t walk or talk, so I was thankful for the wheelchair escort. What I couldn’t understand is if I registered for the delivery online, why I was asked 100 questions at the front desk??
Saturday, March 30, 2019- 12AM
I’m going to write this part in present-tense since it’s still so fresh in my mind. At this point, I am no longer a human. I am a rabid animal screaming bloody murder in the triage room of labor & delivery. One nurse had the audacity to tell me “you don’t need to scream maam, you need to breathe”. To which I had to respond, “I am breathing. I’m exhaling loudly, so I need to scream”. The OB on-call with the flat affect and terrible bedside manner confirms that I’m “complete”, meaning fully-effaced, 10cm dilated, baby is engaged and ready to come out any minute. My knuckles are white and clenching my husband’s hand so tightly that he might lose circulation in those fingers. I’m having contractions every 30 seconds and 11/10 pain since I’m still unmedicated. Where is the anesthesiologist? Somewhere, but I’m on the list to get this epidural soon. Not. Soon. Enough. Despite my eyes being closed and shoving a blanket roll into my mouth to bite down on, I’m keenly aware of what everyone is saying and doing in the room. One nurse says “Why doesn’t she just try to push him out”. One nurse is making small talk with another about their weekend plans. My husband calmly explains that I can’t just push him out
Backstory to our scheduled c-section: Our first born son got stuck in the birth canal because my pelvis is so narrow that it won’t allow a baby’s head through, AKA Cephalopelvic disproportion. There was no physical way for me to push him out. He started to have decels, basically going into distress, so they had the emergency C-section. My doctors recommended c-sections for subsequent deliveries.
I was not going to even TRY to push this baby out. Because of 2 reasons.
#1-If it resulted in a prolonged or obstructed labor, like the first baby, there’s a high risk for him having an anoxic brain injury, e.g. cerebral palsy or encephalopathy, due to lack of flow of oxygen to his brain. I was not going to put him at risk.
#2- I was at risk for uterine rupture with a VBAC (vaginal delivery after c-section). Usually this risk is quite low for previous c-sections, but because I’ve already had 2 CS and my most recent was less than 18 months prior, the risk was higher. With uterine rupture, emergency c-section is required and possibly hysterectomy for life-saving measures.
I finally received a spinal block while in the OR. Let me tell you, trying to round your back like a cat and remain completely still WHILE having a 10/10 contraction is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. But once it all went numb, WOOOOO that was amazing relief. The baby started going into distress so they needed to get him out quickly. I asked for a clear drape so I could see him coming out.
He’s here!!! Camden Roc Johnson was in the world. He was fully engaged in the birth canal, so it took a lot of tugging and pulling. He was beautiful and pink and 9/9 Apgar score. After I gave him a quick kiss, he was rolled away with my husband to wait for my in the PACU. Because of all the scar tissue from previous c-sections and being fully dilated when they performed the CS, it took longer than usual to sew me back up (2 hours). So I decided to take a nap and catch some much needed zz’s. I was exhausted
I finally got to PACU and spend some time with Baby Cam. We did skin-to-skin right away and he latched like a champ for our first feeding. I sent my husband home to get some rest and to take care of our two boys once they woke up in the AM (3 hours later…God Bless him).
The first time I delivered back in 2016 I was terrified to stay alone at the hospital while recovering and taking care of a newborn. This time around was different. My husband brought the boys by to meet their baby brother, along with my mom, their godmother and some close friends. But for the majority of the time, it was just me and baby and I couldn’t have loved it more. We got to get to know each other and establish a good feeding routine, and the prolonged periods of peace and quiet were unlike anything that goes on at home! I was up and walking by the end of Saturday and discharged home on Monday. So far we are settling into a nice routine with the help of my two parents who are staying with us for awhile.
Bottom line takeaways:
- Engaging in physical activity towards the end of pregnancy can indeed induce labor at times, so take it easy if you aren’t quite ready for baby to come.
- Always prepare for the unexpected. Birth plans are nice, but you always need to be flexible with timing. And pack your hospital bag in advance…oops. Here are my tips for what to pack in your hospital bag
- Be an advocate for you and baby’s health. If they don’t know your medical or pregnancy history, you have every right to speak up about what you and your doctor had discussed. Tap into that intuition and fiercely guard it.
Do you have an interesting birth story? I’d love to hear it!