my cesarean birth story.
The birth of my second daughter, Kinsley, made me want to become a doula. My birth story didn't go as I was hoping or planning for and left me searching for other stories like mine, researching reasons why my baby had become so crooked in my pelvis and ways to connect with other c-section mamas. I don't think I'll ever know why miss Kinsley was asynclitic or why my water broke without contractions starting but I do know that this journey helped me to become even more fascinated with birth and our bodies. After some processing and telling my story over and over again, I do know that I did feel very supported through this whole process and I trusted my birth team and know that they made the right call. I wonder in hindsight if things would've been different "if...." about a lot of things, but I'm proud of my birth and proud of my journey.
My water broke at 10PM on Friday, March 10th 2017. My husband and I had just kissed each other goodnight and I rolled over in bed and felt a gush of water. Contractions hadn't started so we tried went back to bed. I was so excited, I couldn't go back to sleep so I bounced on the birth ball and watched "Baby Mama" with Tina Fey in the middle of the night trying to will my labor to pick up. In the morning my husband, dog and I went on a long walk through the neighborhood and couldn't believe we'd get to meet our baby soon. The walk was really drizzly and cold that morning, we thought it was perfect. Later in the morning, we headed to the birth center, Baby + Co where they helped us get labor to kick in. It took us all day trying different tinctures, breast pump stimulation, castor oil (yuck!), long walks, a St. Patrick's Day fair, naps and Chick Fil A to finally get contractions rolling. The midwifes at the birth center were so patient and had so many ideas to try to get our baby out!
Around 6pm my contractions started getting really strong and in a few hours I was ready to start pushing. The tub in my room was broken so my midwives and husband carted in bucket after bucket of water to fill up the bath and it felt so nice for the little bit of time I got to be in there. While we were at the birth center, we got to hear other mamas bring their babies into the world. We'd hear them in labor and then the sweet sounds of their babies. We tried so many positions of pushing to help our baby engage and get lower in my pelvis. We tried pushing in the tub, shower, on the birthing stool (I basically stabbed my husband's legs with my elbows for an hour), the bed, the floor...everything!
Through our whole labor, our midwives were incredible. They were always calm and encouraging. After every push, they'd tell me that they could see my baby's head and that I was so close. But, after 4 hours of pushing we weren't making much progress and we all decided that it'd be best for babe and I if we transferred to the hospital to get some help there. I was exhausted and was falling asleep during contractions.
The transfer was the worst part of the whole labor. My husband drove us down the street (about a mile) at 2 in the morning. I was in a bathrobe trying to push my baby out in the parking lot and in the back seat of the car (my body wouldn't let me stop pushing during contractions). That short trip seemed to take forever. When we got to the hospital, they were ready for us and after the most excruciating wheelchair ride, quickly gave me an epidural. It was so hard to sit still for the epidural when all I wanted to do was push but we did it. After the doctor checked me out a bit, they decided that a c-section was our best option. The decision and discussion about getting an epidural was difficult but our midwife was with us and helped calm us down. I remember looking at our midwife who was standing in the corner of the room nodding her head, and smiling with so much compassion and understanding as the doctor described the next steps towards getting a c-section. Within a few minutes, we were being wheeled to the OR to meet our babe! Everything was set up for us and I knew I'd be holding my babe in my arms soon. I was so exhausted from so much labor that I kept falling asleep and the anesthesiologist had to keep waking me up, telling me that my baby was coming!
It took a lot of wiggling and maneuvering but my baby finally came out and the OB let my husband announce to the room that we had a little girl. I was so excited!! I was relieved that my baby was here safely and I wanted to hold and nurse her. They let us do skin-to-skin for awhile but I was really tired and our sweet baby girl was pretty bruised and shaken up. My husband took care of our daughter and cut her cord and watched them take her foot prints and do all of her measurements. She and I were safe and healthy and we headed back to recovery to snuggle and nurse for the next couple hours!
Recovery from a cesarean was harder than I expected. In my immediate postpartum, I was surprised at how long I was numb for, how sore I was and how big my incision was. My nurses taught me how to roll over to sit up, how to hold a pillow to my belly when I sneezed or laughed. They taught my husband what to look for in my incision to make sure it was healing right and gave him my post-surgical instructions. I was able to get up and move around but because I had pushed for so long, I was sore everywhere, not just my incision. I was worried every time my toddler came looking for a cuddle or hug, worried she'd press on a suture. Nursing and snuggling with my baby in bed was the best, I felt good laying down and I could keep icepacks on my incision while my daughter slept on my chest.
I walked away from this birth stronger and more vulnerable all at the same time. This birth made me ask for help more than I ever have had to ask before. I was proud of my body for recovering but puzzled at why birth hadn't gone the way I'd prepared for. I asked for several postpartum visits with my midwives to process my birth journey and told my story a lot. I wouldn't be the mama/woman/person that I am today without this experience and while it wasn't smooth and calm and quiet like I envisioned, it was transformative and beautiful just the same.