Baby A2 arrived last week in an utterly unplanned way. He’s healthy, as am I and we’re back home now and recovering and attempting to sleep.
The doula warned me that I might have a lot of emotional swings today and I certainly feel that as I tear up for everything today. And I’m certainly having a lot of feelings now though I want to save that for another post.
For now, I am relieved and content that baby is healthy and here. I am healthy and recovering as expected. And we’re learning each other’s ways.
This seems as good a time as any to share A2’s birth story.
The plan was always a scheduled c-section (scheduled for yesterday actually). Waiting till 39 weeks because.. actually I don’t know but it seemed like unless there was a medical reason, 39 weeks was the default. C-section because after 4th degree tearing last time, literally every doctor recommended a c-section (from my OB to the MFM to my RE). Most of last week, I was getting contractions (I could feel my uterus tighten) but they were painless (I was literally having meetings through them) and not consistently 5-7 min apart. Like it would be 5-7 min apart for a few hours and then 30 min apart for half the day. I called the OB’s office and basically they said to wait till theres at least a consistent hour of 5-7 minutes apart.
On Friday, I woke up with painful gas pains and my back hurting a ton from it. Throughout the day I’d get period painful gas pains but nothing unmanageable and I was still walking/talking through them. Somewhere in the day, it occurred to me to track the intervals (I was tracking them in the days before but stopped because I was just getting stressed out). I had a ton of meetings (sigh, everyone at work put off all the planning for my being on leave until the last week!). And my last meeting of the day was a virtual baby shower that my manager gave for me. There were a couple of painful episodes but only 2 in the whole hour or something like that. Soon after the shower, I realized that the pains were getting periodic and when I timed them, they were 3-7 minutes apart. And still in the back. But I now also couldn’t walk through them and was kinda.. crumpled when they hit? Called a friend who mentioned she had back labor with the second, asked what back labor felt like and she was like “I think you should go to triage and just get it checked”. Called my OB and was like “I’m going to triage” – no questions or asking if I should go because by this point, I was sure they were contractions but not sure if they were far enough into labor to be admitted. It was maybe 5:30 by this time. Hubby was on the way home to pick up kiddo from daycare. I yelled to my parents to hand down the last few things we had to pack (namely electronics and chargers and snacks) — stairs were definitely beyond me by then. And the moment hubby pulled into the garage, I yelled at him “we’re going to the hospital NOW”. I hugged kiddo bye and told him that we’re going to the doctor to get checked and might not be home for a few days.
We reached the hospital by around 6 — luckily it’s only a 10 min or so drive but this was Friday evening and there’s a ton of heavy traffic then. I had a few contractions in the car ride over and was just thankful that at least we were in ambulance distance away. Parked the car (luckily friday evening so we got a spot RIGHT next to the entrance). Walked to triage (and had a contraction during that so after that walked as fast as I could during the off-times). Once we signed in, at least I knew we were going to be taken care of.
Now I still didn’t have a sense of how close I was. When they did a cervical check, I was 4 cm and I remember asking them to please please not send me home because it’s too painful. They probably thought I was crazy but for some reason, I thought they wouldn’t admit you until you were at 6cm. By this point, I needed to crouch to handle the contractions pain and was telling every nurse who came in that I was supposed to get a csection. They eventually did tell me that there was no way that I was going home tonight and baby’s on his way soon.
By the time they wheeled me to the pre-op/recovery room, I was still in severe pain and begging for the epidural/spinal but because I had drunk some coffee and eaten toast around 5, they were waiting for the NPO stage to clear (I just looked it up and apparently it stands for nothing by mouth). But I was also clearly in increasing pain and when they checked, I was at 8cm and I think they escalated to emergency and bypassed that waiting period? They were also waiting for the blood type results which were taking a while but I suspect they also bypassed those. I think at this point it was like 8pm maybe? So basically went from 4cm to 8cm in 2 hours WITHOUT ANY MEDICATIONS.
Since the doctor on call wasn’t my doctor she didn’t know the full history and she kept asking me whether I was sure that I wanted a c-section and wanted to go through with it. I kept explaining that my previous was a 4th degree and I didn’t want that again but I think in her (and probably the other nurses/docs) heads I was really far into labor and it was coming fast and I wasn’t that far from being done without a major surgery.
Somewhere during that waiting period, I signed the consent forms for both the csection and removal of fallopian tubes. That latter wasn’t even much of a decision — they would already be in the area and I didn’t want to constantly worry every time with sex about an accidental ectopic. It didn’t take away any future decisions – it’s not like the tubes worked anyways and IVF doesn’t need the tubes. And it lowers the risk of ovarian cancer. So I couldn’t see any downside and only upsides so.. mostly it was a practical decision however weird I found it.
Various distinct memories I have from this waiting period:
- Being STARVING. Since lunch, I had only had a 2in brownie square, like 4oz of a latte, and 3 pieces of rusk. And I wasn’t even allowed water so really really just wanted to get food.
- I also remember having sudden.. not quite panic but freaking out about “OMG I have no idea how to handle a newborn anymore and what do I do with two kids and how do we manage and did we do the right thing?”
- The pain getting really bad and at some point feeling like I needed to poop and remembering that it’s a sign of further down labor so yelling that to the nurse anesthetists so they’d get things moving faster. Also they kept being very polite and using “defecate” and meanwhile I have a little kid who happily talks about poop and pee so whatevs.
- Wondering what nurse anesthetists do and what their role was
- Suddenly realizing that I didn’t have any last day of pregnancy pics and took one in the hospital gown
- I was allowed contacts during the procedure
- Realizing that I forgot my glasses at home in the rush to leave but at least I had my backup pair
I finally was wheeled into the OR where they promptly started the spinal block. I do remember being hunched over and having a contraction during the process where the nurse holding me (god bless her) told me to squeeze her hand as the contraction went through. The block worked _fast_ and once it was in the relief was immediate. I think everyone in the OR saw how I could relax after that. I think one thing that caught me off guard throughout all this was the contractions themselves — the entire pregnancy was prepping for a c-section so I didn’t think I’d end up dealing with labor. And even if I did, I assumed it would be the early stages so I just literally didn’t know any pain coping techniques or positions or anything.
The spinal block itself was so weird. It’s hard to describe it but I felt like a beached whale. Everything below my boobs were numb. And breathing suddenly felt heavy and tough. The anesthesia team told me that as long as I could squeeze my hand, everything was ok and I was breathing ok, I just was feeling like I couldn’t. They tested my feeling/pain a few times — basically poked me with a stick to check where I could feel sharpness and where I couldn’t. And then telling each other T3 or T4. I was assuming that those were vertebrae that they were counting off of where the block was active? They also kept tilting me at different angles — it felt like I would fall down but the assurances that I wouldn’t were comforting.
When they were satisfied, they put up the drapes and brought hubby in (complete with cap and bunny suit). One thing that made me uncomfortable was just how close to my face the drapes were. I mostly just looked to my left where hubby was and at some point when my neck started hurting looked right.
Looking back, there were so many people in the OR. And I couldn’t tell you who or what most of them were there for. I think they kept some stuff on my chest? It felt like there was weight there but who knows – it could have been the spinal. Also weirdly through the surgery, I could still feel so hungry. I clearly really really wanted food!
Everyone mentioned pressure when they take the baby out and yep, that was there. It didn’t even quite feel like pressure down on me, more like suddenly having to catch my breath. And then I heard a cry from baby and immediately found myself crying. Hell, I’m crying now remembering that moment. With A* that moment of birth, I felt a gush and a sense of relief that we were done and he was safe and alive and I had done my job in nourishing him. With A2, it was more, “he’s here and real and alive in this world” gratefulness. I didn’t see him immediately — hubby took pics of them washing him off and checking his scores. I think he got a 9 in the APGAR one? It was kind of a blur about that. Someone then brought him to me to kiss and I spent like a minute just nuzzling his little cheek and kissing him. I didn’t want to hold him because the entire time my upper half of my body was shivering like crazy and I didn’t want to risk holding an infant. So hubby ended up holding A2 for most of the first half hour of life. I’m really grateful for the videos and pictures we have from those moments. More than the first time, this one felt like moments that would never come again and to cherish for the rest of my life.
The stitching up took longer. I kept hearing counts of things and stuff like “right tube out”. But mostly I focused on baby and when they took him back to run some more tests, listened to or talked to the anesthesia team. Basically the anesthesia team felt like they were there in part to keep the patient calm. One of them was talking about her food adventures and how she learnt to make croissants this year. Perhaps odd given that I was complaining about being hungry but it was comforting. Actually the freak out moment was when the anesthesia team switched shifts mid-operation! I didn’t know this was a thing!
And then they were done and they took down the curtain and wheeled me back to the recovery room. Still no food because they were monitoring my recovery. But I was allowed ice chips at least. And honestly post-anesthesia, I wasn’t quite starving anymore. Funny that. Hubby went to grab food while they were monitoring me since kitchens would be closed by the time we went up to the postpartum ward. Took a while to remember but my first meal post-op was a panera sandwich because I just wanted lightweight food by that point. I think I only ate half.
Eventually I was cleared to go up to the postpartum ward where we’d be for the next few days. Definitely an adventure — we reached the hospital at 6pm, baby was born a bit after 9, done with surgery around 10:15 and up to the postpartum ward a bit before midnight.
Long and not well written because I haven’t even reread what I wrote but I wanted to capture my memories of the day. It was completely not the birth I expected but still.. healing somehow? I second guessed my choices for days but that’s a different post I think. And for now, I’m in the typical postpartum phase — sleep deprived, painful boobs, sore back from the nursing positions but also so in love with baby and loving the cuddles.
6 thoughts on “Baby A2 is here!”
Congratulations on the arrival of your beautiful boy! Your birth story is a real cliffhanger! My second birth was also completely different than the first: our bodies can certainly surprise us. I hope these early, crazy weeks go well and you have many moments of joy.
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