Stubborn. Unpredictable. These two words describe AB (Baby Girl) to a T. They also perfectly describe her birth.
At our 35 week appointment, AB was head down and in the ideal birth position. A week later, she flipped breech. The ultrasound tech casually asked if we were having a c-section and I felt my heart sink. A c-section? No, we weren’t having a c-section and we hadn’t even talked about one. After my son’s birth, I’d just assumed that we’d be having another vaginal birth. My only hope was that she baked a bit longer … and to avoid pitocin. Now those seemed like minor requests.
We started talking to our doctor about what options we had and we all agreed to try for an external cephalic version, ECV, to try and flip her. We scheduled it for the Saturday I hit 37 weeks. Then my son got the flu and strep and we rescheduled for the next Saturday. If you aren’t familiar with an ECV, it is a procedure where the OB attempts to manually flip the baby head down by pressing on mama’s belly. The risks to mama and baby are low, but include inducing labor, rupturing waters, placenta abruption and stress for baby. All of these risks are very, very low, so for us, it was worth a shot.
Unfortunately, after twelve hours in the hospital, a failed ECV attempt and a few hours of intense contractions later, we left with AB still breech and a c-section scheduled for the next Monday, when I’d have been 39+2. I started researching everything I could on c-sections – the procedure, recovery, possible complications, etc. I also began researching tubal ligations. We’ve always known we were done at two and if we wanted another, we’d consider adoption. Since I was going in for a c-section and they’d be there anyway, this was the best birth control option for us … nothing quite like being told you are getting too old for the pill and were at a great risk of clots and other negative side effects.
So, we made arrangements for my mother to come up on Sunday and be with the soon-to-be big brother while Dad and I headed in to welcome his baby sister.
Then little miss unpredictable decided to take our predictable, planned c-section and flip it on its head (ironically, she still refused to flip on her head). At our 38 week appointment on Wednesday, February 21, we had a biophysical profile (BPP) scheduled (another perk of being advanced maternal age). That morning, she’d been a little more subdued than normal and didn’t dance around after my morning latte as normal. This wasn’t completely out of the ordinary at this stage, she was running out of room.
During a BPP, they watch for baby to show signs of practice breathing and baby has to move three times during the 30 minute scan. In our prior BPPs, she’d waited until the last minute to start moving, so we were expecting a similar result during this scan. But, she didn’t. Her practice breathing was great, but her movements were not and she failed with a 4/8. At this point, I asked if we’d be heading for a non-stress test.
The tech didn’t even look up from the screen when she said, “No, delivery.” I blinked. Excuse me? No, we have this scheduled for Monday – today was Wednesday. Our son was at daycare and I’d literally just text my mother that my cervix was still cooperating and not progressing. “Looks like we are set for Monday!” I’d said.
The tech left the room and five very long minutes later the OB on call came in and told us to head to the hospital – either my husband was taking me or they were calling an ambulance. My brain tried to process this news while also trying to problem solve what we were going to do to get my mother here, get her my car (she drives a Miata, not exactly carseat friendly) and get my son from daycare. My poor husband is just staring at me in disbelief as I am asking the OB if we have time to take my car home. No, she said, you have to leave now.
Now. Ok. Shit was getting real at this point and I knew we’d be welcoming baby soon.
We got to the hospital a bit before 10am and scheduled the c-section for 3:30 that afternoon – 8 hours after my latte (I guess the nonfat milk counts as food). We’d hoped to have a family-centered c-section that would allow us to have immediate skin-to-skin with the baby, delayed cord clamping and a few other benefits that are standard during a vaginal delivery. Unfortunately, the nurse that does the family-centered c-sections ended her shift at 3pm, so we just missed the window. Damn latte. (I still love you Starbucks.)
At 4:24pm AB was born via a mostly planned c-section and she was a sturdy 7 pounds 4 ounces and 19.5 inches. The moment they held her up in the little viewing window was a moment I will never forget. It wasn’t the same as the moment they laid my son on my chest, but the heart-stopping, life-changing moment was just as powerful and overwhelming. It took a few minutes to get her color to maintain, but when I finally felt the weight of her in my arms, how she was welcomed into the world no longer mattered.
As much as I’d dreaded the c-section, it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t the birth I’d hoped for. Going into this pregnancy, my birth plan consisted of the following and having a c-section allowed me to achieve each goal:
- Avoid pitocin
- Don’t be a bitch to the nurses
- Get an epidural
Recovery from the c-section was dramatically different from my vaginal delivery with my son. It’s been difficult to not be able to pick up my son or drive or get out of bed. But, two weeks post delivery, I am slowly getting back to normal.
Big brother is over the moon and is loving having a baby sister, but he refuses to hold her. Every day he comes home from daycare he asks where she is and then gives her a kiss on her head. It’s been amazing to finally have AB here and to see our toddler embrace his role as Big Brother. He’s also been very patient and sweet as I have recovered. He is intrigued by breastfeeding and how his sister is “eating you Mama” or how the breast pump works, “you have milk like a cow?”
Our little family feels complete and while we’re missing those precious hours of sleep.