Sunday, July 10, 2016

Jocelyn's Birth Story

Baby Jocelyn joined our family at the tail end of November 2015. She is perfect and beautiful and now 7 months old, sitting, trying to crawl, has two teeth and is in love with all her people. It's taken me this long to be able to write about her birth, just to have it on record somewhere.

Jocelyn is my fourth baby and my second cesarian delivery. My doctor assumed the other c-section was my third baby, but actually it was my first! I had two VBACs, then, for a variety of reasons, elected to have a c-section this time around.

From prior experience with "late" babies, and with my due date falling just after Thanksgiving and no one wanting to schedule a c-section then, I was able to schedule it for 39 weeks, 6 days. I never once thought I'd go into labor earlier than that (I didn't), and in fact, this was my shortest pregnancy! One advantage of a scheduled c-section is knowing how many days you have left!

I dealt with a lot of anxiety during my pregnancy with Jocelyn. I was worried about my health, worried about being older, worried about the birth, worried something would be wrong with the baby. There were no indications that anything would be wrong. We had a very talented ultrasound technician tell us everything was fine, and after Jocelyn was born the pediatrician gave her double 10s on the apgar test. I'm still not sure what caused all the anxiety, but it was a reality that I struggled with for months before and after Jocelyn's birth.

One thing I did to help alleviate my anxiety regarding the c-section was to stop thinking about it. I tried to call it "birth" or "delivery" or at least "the procedure". I also tried to focus on meeting the baby, what it would be like to see her and hold her, and finally be a mommy to a GIRL. I tried to remember this was a routine "procedure" and think of all my mommy friends who have had c-sections and how they are just fine now.

I guess I'm mentioning this because having a scheduled c-section takes the physical part of labor away, but leaves you with the emotional part times ten! In labor, you can't really think about anything else, but preparing for a c-section, there's nothing else to think about!

There was a list of things I had to do to prepare the day before, not eating or drinking after a certain time, washing with a certain soap, not wearing make-up or jewelry, etc. We had to be at the hospital super early and it's a 45 minute drive. It was a little surreal to go to the hospital fully prepared to meet our baby girl but to not be in labor!

We checked in at the Emergency Room because the main hospital wasn't open yet. Everything went fine and I chose to walk upstairs to Labor and Delivery because I knew it was the last time in a long time that I would want to walk! I knew where to go because of a series of non-stress tests we did every week because of my "advanced maternal age". (I'm 40.) I changed into the wonderfully ubiquitous hospital robe and sat in the bed while the nurses did preliminary tests, placed the IV, and I tried not to get nervous.

After a few minutes they wheeled me down to Surgery and the nerves tried to get me. Later, I had to ask for heated blankets because the stress and the chill of the pre-op room gave me shivers! My husband was a rock, holding my hand, trying to crack jokes, helping me relax by imagining what the baby would be like.

The worst part of a c-section for me is when they wheel you into the Operating Room and your husband is not there. It seemed like forever, but I was expecting it and just tried to stay in the moment. It was that or black out! And seriously, I was almost 40 weeks pregnant and very very ready to meet my baby girl!

They placed the spinal and helped me lie down. So weird and awkward with your legs getting numb! They propped me up kind of sideways, and I was glad for the oxygen because laying on your back THAT pregnant is not fun! They placed the partition wall and everyone kept saying hi to me. I'm sure I'd met them at the office, but with scrubs and masks, I barely recognized the head surgeon!

Finally Gary could join me again. I was almost excited because I knew we were minutes away from holding Jocelyn! The weirdness of the surgery--ooops, procedure--continued longer than I thought. It seemed forever with adjusting and tugging and pulling and talking. Then someone said they could see her and she was beautiful!

They finished whatever they do, then handed Jocelyn to the pediatrician. She was making a sweet little cry and sounded upset that they had disturbed her in her cozy nest. There were lots of ooos and aaaahhs from the staff, comments on her size and how smart and perfect she was. The pediatrician told us her stats and assigned her a 10 on both apgar tests! The other staff said he never does that, so I was beyond thrilled!

At last--really about 5 minutes or less--they snuggled Jocelyn next to my head while Gary held her. It was perfect.

It took a few more minutes to get out of Surgery and wheeled to Recovery. I honestly don't remember what went on in there. I just knew I was warm and comfortable (still numb from the ribs down), the surgery was over and my baby girl was perfect.

The rest of the day centered around holding Jocelyn. I just couldn't get enough! I held her and fed her and we napped and Gary held her and went to get food for himself (our hospital didn't cover that, but others do). Of course the staff kept checking on me and my stats and my bandages and all. I gradually began to feel my legs and move my toes. I sat up but didn't get out of bed until the next day.

I really had a good experience with Jocelyn's birth. To be honest, the few months following were some of the most difficult. I always find the postpartum period to be the hardest, and recovering from a c-section doesn't make it any better. It was also winter and the northern part of the country where we live only has about 6 hours of sunlight in December, plus it was snowy and really cold! It was cozy and nice until Christmas, but January and February were hard months for me!

But that's another story, one that I'm not sure I'll tell here. Just know that postpartum depression is real. As my best friend says, sleep deprivation is a form a torture and all new moms are chronically sleep deprived!

So any of you moms with c-sections coming up, you can do it! Focus on the birth and seeing/holding your new baby! Recovery will be slow at times, your body will look and feel weird for a long time, but it will get better. Our bodies are amazing and healing will happen!

Thanks for reading my story!




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