Devon's Birth Story
Here's the crazy thing about birthing children: it is wild, unpredictable and MIRACULOUS. We are so grateful Devon made it safely to our arms and is doing so well.
Here's a bit of background.
For those who don't know/remember, Taylor is studying Law at University of Miami Law School. Currently a 2L (law school lingo for second year students. 2nd out of 3 years to get a JD)
Miami-Dade shut down mid-March and I was about 5 months pregnant. Self-isolation was ROUGH in all the ways for all of us. Once Taylor's finals were finished in May, we weighed all our options and decided our best course of action was to not renew our lease (and find a new apartment TBD by pandemic), move all of our furniture and most of our belongings into storage, and drive our car to Utah to isolate with immediate family. We thought that might last a few weeks-a couple months MAX. No one knew what to expect but here we all are a year later still trying to figure that out.
A week of packing and deep cleaning (plus 4 full days in the car...((my poor pregnant body)) later, we arrived in Salt Lake City.
We stayed with family including 3 amazing nephews (aka massively helpful and entertaining for Charlotte), an amazing yard, our family, many excellent recommendations for a new OB and did I mention how great it was to be with FAMILY???
Ok, on to the BABY I MADE from scratch and the reason you're reading this...
I have been asked if I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I definitely considered it. VBACs come with quite a few scary risks, a big one is uterine rupture...YIKES.
The OB I started my prenatal care with in Miami told me it was off the table the second I chose their practice because they just don't do them. Too many risks. That didn't sit well with me at all but I got to talk about my situation properly with my OB in Utah so I felt much better about the decision to schedule a c-section.
Main points of complications which led to our decision to schedule a c-section:
I failed my glucose test which means....gestational diabetes! (though it was under control by diet alone which decreases risks to me and baby) That combined with my previous c-section increased risk to me and baby the longer the pregnancy went on. Notable complications of gestational diabetes are stillbirth or trauma to me and/or baby due to higher birth weight plus a plethora of post-delivery issues.
Without knowing IF I would go into spontaneous labor or how well I would progress on my own, there was no way to guarantee that I wouldn't end up in another emergency c-section. Using the drugs to induce/progress labor acts too unpredictably and are risky for a uterus that has been cut open before so my OB didn't recommend relying on Pitocin or anything else for a successful VBAC.
conclusion: the best way to avoid trauma to us both was to pick a date as close to 38 weeks as possible to meet our baby! (38 weeks is full-term with a significantly lower chance of needing a NICU stay due to lung development)
To be perfectly honest, the third trimester kicked my butt. Everything was uncomfortable. My pelvis HURT. Like I had been kicked repeatedly in the groin. I had to check my blood sugar four times a day and eat smart (which is especially challenging when you're also fighting pregnancy cravings!). Our uprooted 2 1/2 year old was getting used to sleeping in a non-crib, big girl bed in a different time zone in an unfamiliar house so she crawled in to my bed almost every night for a month. And she kicks. So I was getting kicked on the inside AND the outside. Not great things for getting quality sleep at 6-9 months pregnant. Hence, I was VERY ready to get (a healthy and happy) baby OUT.
July 23, 2020 was Delivery Day. For those of you who didn't know, we chose not to find out the sex early! We decided to wait and meet baby to see with our own eyes. It was WILD but so fun to do it that way. I thought it would drive me batty to not be able to plan but we pulled it off.
The days leading up to D-day were busy and full of last minute errands. My absolute least favorite thing was having to get tested for COVID-19 prior to my scheduled procedure. I think there are a few different ways to administer the test and the facility I went to definitely does the worst one. I gagged and cried and am fully traumatized. The test alone gave me another year of motivation to self-isolate. BYE.
On D-Day we called the hospital at 10am to let them know we were coming and headed off be prepped for a 12pm scheduled cesarean section. I had been wandering the house for 4 hours and barely slept from pure excitement. Like Christmas Day!
We parked and walked in with our bags, masked and ready. After check-in, we were taken back to our room. I changed into a gown, got my blood sugar tested (I was fasting, gah!) and held my arms out as medical professionals cycled in and out to take blood or insert IVs, etc.
One thing I can't understand about medical care is the numerous times I have to write down or recount my history of pregnancies. Same OB in the same hospital I had been attending for weeks and I still had to give my history to the nurse prepping me for surgery again. Can't I sign something that says they can share that information? I'm sure I signed something for everything else in my body, what's one more signature?
It probably wouldn't bother me so much if it was a more straight-forward history. I know that walking a new person through our losses will always be complicated for THEM to process. I end up comforting the person hearing it after years of working through it myself. It has gotten easier for me to talk about our losses at the level of detail that they need to record. Easier in the sense that I don't stop and choke on my tears every time I have to say the words out loud but still hurts. And then having to console the person asking me questions when I was trying to stay calm and focus is not my preferred way to prepare for an impending delivery. I need to remember to put that burden on my OB and his team if there's a next time we do this.
Two anesthesiologists came in to talk to me about the spinal block they would perform instead of an epidural. Almost the same procedure but spinal block is a single injection, measured to be effective only for the window of time needed for surgery. A spinal block works much faster than an epidural so I was already losing feeling in my bum and legs before I straightened my back to lie back on the table. In fact, my legs were already asleep by the time my nurse inserted my catheter so my brain froze my legs in the oddest position even though my legs had been moved onto the table and strapped down. Does that make sense? In my head, my legs were in butterfly position but physically were not like that anymore. They still felt spread open wide to the world until right before the meds wore off about 3 hours later. It was awkward.
Everyone was set. They raised a plastic shield and the surgical drapes right over my chest and Taylor crouched next to my head to ensure he didn't catch sight of anything too bloody. I kind of wanted to watch but didn't want to scare myself. Luckily, the light above me was placed at the perfect angle for me to get a direct but slightly distorted view of my mid-section. I watched as much as I felt I could focus on but my spinal block spread up my torso slowly until my fingers and hands were tingling. That's not really supposed to happen but I was warned that my short body could react that way. They tilted my bed a little more but I couldn't shake the fact that my arms and hands were falling asleep because I was nervous that would feel them enough to hold baby when he/she would be placed on my chest.
I wanted video documentation of the moment we found out if we had a son or daughter but hoped Taylor wouldn't be distracted by a phone/camera to capture the moment. At the last minute, one of the anesthesiologists offered to take the video. I would share it but this sweet guy whose life is filled with bodies, blood and babies isn't phased but how graphic that video ended up being.
Let's just say, it's WAY up close and personal and too intense for public consumption.
Taylor went to the other side of the room to watch while she was checked out and weighed. I could hear her sweet little cry which made me want to jump off of the table to get her. It felt like an eternity before they brought her to me to hold and see her up close. I had guessed she would be a girl but it still felt like a dream to be holding another sweet baby girl in my arms.
Everything had been smooth and calm and it just continued to be that way. Everything eerily devoid of drama and unknowns which was pretty incredible to experience. It didn't feel real.
The nurse rolled us out of the operating room to short stay in the recovery room before setting us up in our room for the duration. It was quiet and peaceful again. Taylor asked the nurse how many babies were being born in the hospital because we felt like we were the only ones in labor and delivery. We didn't see anyone in the halls on the way to our room. Due to COVID, the one visitor policy, and always keeping the doors closed, the floor was actually full but felt like a ghost town.
A few things that stood out from an otherwise very quiet and socially distanced hospital stay:
-after one of many abdominal 'massages' the nurses insisted on giving me, (haha I know they are necessary) my incision was actively bleeding. Creepy but not the first time that's happened to me... So I got to lie flat in bed with a 10-lb sandbag on my pelvis to keep pressure on and try to stop the bleeding. It hurt for a second but then the pressure actually felt really nice. (Bleeding did stop and they replaced my steri-strips. All good)
-my IV fell out of my vein and started filling my forearm with fluid. It looked like that guy in Lady in the Water. You know the one who only works out half his body? It was scary-looking but not bad and only a little painful. (hot packs and then ice to get the fluid to absorb but I had heavy yellowish bruising from the sudden swelling.)
-I got blood all over my anti-blood clot boots the first time I stood up so my nurse just left them off. I attribute a large chunk of that to my legs getting next-level PUFFY! Retaining water in my legs freaks me out so hard so I got compression socks ASAP, drank as much water as I could get, walked in circles around my small room then elevated my feet while I wasn't taking those teeny little steps.
Charlotte at 3 days old on the left. Devon 3 days old in the same outfit on the right.
Charlotte was born in the UK and even after an emergency C-section, I felt good and was out of the hospital (and even went OUT for thanksgiving dinner!) on day 3. With Devon born in the US, we were in the hospital for 3 long days before we took her home to meet her sister. There's going to be a little post for that. Watching them meet was so sweet and Charlotte continues to be a wonderfully helpful big sister.
In honor of posting this during C-section awareness month, I have to say I am beyond grateful for this medical procedure. I gave birth in the way that allowed me to leave the hospital with a healthy, living child. I've been that mom leaving labor and delivery with empty arms. I have a scar and a healthy baby. I have no guarantee that it would've happened another way. I wouldn't change it for the world.
If you want to read Charlotte's Story, click the link.