Yesterday, May 19th, was the day our sweet baby was due. (I had meant to have this posted yesterday but things happen now with a baby in our lives, like poopy diapers and no sleep so you take what downtime you can get!) No “guess date” here given we know the exact time (to the minute) I became pregnant. However, due to being diagnosed with Cholestasis, our 40 week timeline quickly got cut down to 37 weeks to avoid more complications. We were told our little girl would be born the first week of May and because she decided she would be in breech position from week 28 on, we were told May 2nd would be her official birthday after a scheduled c-section, unless she flipped. For almost a month, I tried everything in the book to get her to flip such as lying upside down on the side of the couch to doing headstands in a pool. Despite every attempt, she didn’t budge so May 2nd it was!
The Week Before
The week before May 2nd, we went in for our routine ultrasound and NST and found that my amniotic fluid had dropped significantly and was teetering on the edge of no longer being safe for Nora. Her NST and everything else checked out okay so they asked me to come back in three days for another ultrasound and NST to monitor any other drops in levels. When we returned later that week, my fluid levels had dropped again. We were only five days away from her debut so I was ordered on bed rest and asked to return for an NST two days before our scheduled c-section to make sure she wasn’t in distress. When we went in that Sunday, we were told she was a “textbook perfect baby” on the monitors and that we were okay to wait until Tuesday, May 2nd. Looking back at it now, had I not had Cholestasis, I probably would have delivered early due to low fluid levels anyway.
The Night Before
The night before, we had dinner with a few of our closest friends at one of our favorite restaurants. It was nice to have a worry-free non-diabetes-friendly meal before I was told not to eat or drink anything after that evening. (Which by the way, how come you are never hungry or thirsty until you are told you can’t eat or drink anything after a certain time??)
At dinner, one of my best friends who helped throw my shower, gave me an album full of pictures from the shower and words of advice and cute fill-in-the-blank sheets from all of the guests. When Hubby and I got home that night, we decided it was only fitting to read through the album as we prepare for our daughter to come into our lives. I was already an emotional mess but we began to laugh at the fact I could not stop crying. The overwhelming thought that I would no longer be pregnant anymore and our daughter would be in our arms in less than 12 hours took over. All of the complications and the less desirable things I experienced while pregnant and here I was, sad about not being pregnant anymore. Then add to it all of the thoughtful words everyone had for us in our album, I still tear up just thinking about that night.
The Big Day
The morning of May 2nd, I didn’t get any sleep. Knowing it was my “last full night” of sleep, having people tell me to rest was a complete joke. I went to bed around midnight, woke up at 2:30am and laid in bed. My mind racing with all the last minute things I could be doing. This lasted until 4:30am and then I fell back asleep until 5:15am. I woke back up and realized there would be no falling back asleep this time. I took a shower knowing it would be awhile before I was allowed to take one again. I did a few things around the house and packed a few last minute items in our bags before I woke up Hubby so he could start getting ready. We had to check in at the hospital at 8am for our 10am surgery.
Before I knew it, it was already 7:30am and we were running behind. Even though the hospital was only 10 minutes away, Hubby wanted to stop at his favorite local coffee shop to get his caffeine fix for the day. We quickly loaded up the car and were on our way. On our way to the coffee shop, we turned on the radio to our friend’s morning radio show just in time to hear him give us a shout out and wish us luck! Hubby stopped and got his coffee and we were on our way to the hospital. I teared up again knowing this is the last time I would head to the hospital pregnant.
We found a parking spot with 5 minutes to spare and took in the bags we knew we would need right away. We headed in (after I made Hubby take an obligatory “walking into the hospital picture”) and took the elevator to the Maternity Center. We checked in and were met by a nurse who would show us to our room. Weeks before, I was told by a close friend who had given birth at the same hospital to ask for a specific nurse because she was absolutely amazing during the birth of their daughter. When the nurse came around the corner and introduced herself it happened to be the same one! I instantly felt relieved and knew we were in good hands.
They walked us down to the room where we would be staying and we were able to drop off our bags settle in. They had me change into a gown after wiping down with antibacterial wipes to sterilize before surgery. Once I was sporting my fashionable gown, our nurse along with another one came in and started prepping me for surgery. This including starting my IV, (which honestly was the worst needle stick of the whole day), drawing blood for labs and doing another NST to check on baby. They began multiple bags of IV fluids to prevent my blood pressure from tanking when I received the spinal block. We also had paperwork and authorizations we had to go over.
About 8:45am or so, one of the anesthesiologists came in to explain how they would perform the spinal block. I was relieved to find out a spinal block was a one time injection that would numb my lower half instead of a catheter with the epidural. He answered all of my questions and made me feel more at ease as this was a huge portion of my anxiety about the procedure.
Around 9:15am, they gave me the worst tasting cocktail to neutralize my stomach acids. It tasted like a horrible sour patch kid times one-hundred. Afterward, my doctor came in to check on me and see if I had any questions. She had just finished a C-section and said they were cleaning and sanitizing the room and as soon as they were finished we would be ready to go. She also explained with breech babies, it was common to not hear them cry for a few minutes after they are born via c-section. They are typically disoriented and it takes them a little while to realize “they have been born”. She told me to not freak out and they would let us know if there was a problem but we would eventually hear her cry.
Our nurse started to put the hospital-issued non-skid socks on when I interrupted her and asked if I could wear my “lucky socks”. From day one of our second cycle of IVF, I wore these socks to every appointment, procedure, ultrasound, OB appointment and I wasn’t about to stop now. I told with Hubby back in August that I would deliver our baby wearing these socks and I did!
I had struggled with the thought of not being able to experience a vaginal birth for a few weeks when we found out we would possibly be having a c-section. The lack of control I was feeling had me feeling defeated. I was almost ecstatic when I asked our doctor that morning if it was possible to do delayed-cord clamping, where they allow the cord blood to return to baby after she is born before cutting the cord and she said yes if everything with the baby was okay. We were prepared to donate the cord blood to a cord blood bank if it wasn’t possible or if there was any blood remaining.
Around 9:45am, they told me they were ready to take me to the OR to start my spinal block and told Hubby to put on his fancy “dad suit” and we would reunite when I was all numbed up and ready to have a baby! I asked our nurse how long a typical C-Section takes because I had no idea. Expecting an answer of 1-2 hours, I was shocked when she replied “With your doctor? 45 minutes on a bad day!” In less than an hour, we could have a baby in our arms!! I gave Hubby a kiss and the nurse and I walked to the OR. She stated they could wheel me down but if she knew she was going to be bed ridden the rest of the day, she would enjoy the walk and thought I would too. She was right. We passed the nurses station and many of them wished me luck as we walked through the double doors of the OR area.
I could feel my nerves kick in as I started to shake some from the adrenaline and the feel of the cold sterile air hit my exposed skin. I was introduced to the nurse who would be looking after our baby girl when she was born and we walked into the operating room together. The room was smaller than I thought and then I realized I guess it doesn’t need to be that big for what they were doing. I saw the table where I would be and they pulled over a step stool and they told me to climb up and have a seat. I saw the anesthesiologist we spoke with earlier and was introduced to another anesthesiologist who would also be monitoring me.
When I took a seat on the edge of the table I looked to the corner of the room and saw the warming table and immediately thought “that’s where my baby will be in a few minutes.” Emotions began to overtake my body and I almost thought about saying “I’m not ready yet!” My amazing nurse told me she would be in the room with me for the entire surgery and was going to help me through the spinal block. It was so comforting to have her there and she was so encouraging! She gave me a warm blanket and placed it on the front of me while they exposed my back to prepare for the block. The anesthesiologist began to explain the start of the spinal block and how he would prep my back. It was the strangest feeling having the warmth on the front side mixed with the freezing cold feeling of the solution on my back they used to sterilize.
It was time to do the local anesthetic to numb the injection area for the spinal block itself. The anesthesiologist asked how I did with needles and I told him given this baby was conceived with IVF, my issues with needles had to go a long time ago! They had me bend forward to spread my vertebrae and I leaned into the nurse’s chest. The needle stick for the local wasn’t terrible but man, did it burn. They counted to ten and then it was over and we were ready for the actual spinal. The needle for the spinal block is so tiny they explained if they blew on it while holding it, it would sway like a blade of grass as opposed to a long, giant epidural needle. This helped my anxiety a bit and honestly, by this point, the worst part was over, in my mind.
He explained he was going to insert the needle and we would instantly know if it worked if my feet became warm right away. Sure enough, in the midst of feeling freezing cold on my back side, my feet felt as thought they were placed in a hot bath and and it started to work up to my ankles almost immediately. They had me lay back quickly so it would continue to work up over my body. My nurse explained she was going to start my catheter and I joked I welcomed the idea of not having to use the bathroom 17 times a day and was looking forward to that the most!
While everyone prepped the room around me, I could start to sense the “pins and needles” feeling over my legs and I remember touching my hips and feeling the sensation from my hand but not being able to feel it from my hip. I wiggled my toes and slightly panicked and told the anesthesiologist and he explained it could take up to 5 to 10 minutes for the spinal to take full effect and not to worry they would “test” to make sure I couldn’t feel anything before they started surgery.
Hubby joined us around 9:55am and came to my right side next to my head as they were putting up the infamous blue curtain. I remember telling him how weird it felt to be numb from the chest down but I was worried I could still wiggle my toes.
Our doctor came in and next thing I heard was “incision has been made”. My eyes shot open as wide as they could and I looked at Hubby and then I shot a look to the anesthesiologist almost in disbelief because I was still waiting for the “test”! He quickly replied, “Oh yeah, they already tested. They took forceps and pinched your belly really hard and twisted. You didn’t respond, so it worked!” Well, okay then!
I looked up at Hubby and squeezed his hand to say “this is really happening”. I looked up at the ceiling and noticed the operating room light and quickly realized I could see a reflection of what was going on, on the other side of the curtain. I said outloud, “NOPE!” and as quickly as I looked up, I looked away. Hubby on the other hand is fascinated with that sort of thing and I caught him watching the entire birth!
The anesthesiologists were great at checking in with me and making sure I felt comfortable and at ease and explained (in less detail than what Hubby was getting to see, thankfully) what was taking place. I heard my doctor say to the doctor that was assisting not only was Nora breech she was also in Posterior (facing forward) position, the two most difficult positions for a baby to be born in. Her head was also lodged deep in my ribs and I kept hearing the doctor say “She just doesn’t want to come out! This girl is difficult!” I wanted to reply she wasn’t telling us anything we didn’t already know!
The tugging and pulling sensations were unreal and there isn’t a way to explain being able to feel someone pull on your insides. The anesthesiologist said it was going to feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest and then I would feel like I could breathe the best breath I had taken in months, and he was right. I heard lots of suctioning and then it felt as if my doctor was on top of me with her foot on my chest for leverage trying to pull this baby out.
Then, at 10:04am, our little girl came into this world WAILING. There wasn’t “waiting a few minutes to hear her cry”. She didn’t make it to the warming table before she was announcing to the world she was here. Tears filled my eyes and happiness filled my soul. She was finally here.
They told Hubby he could go over and meet her and take pictures to show me while they looked her over. I heard them announce her weight and length, that she had a few birthmarks all while she continued to cry (I would too, if I was warm and comfy and not planning to come out for 3 more weeks). One of the anesthesiologists told me she had a head full of hair, (and he wasn’t joking). I continued to cry and Hubby came over to show me pictures he had taken. I couldn’t stop thinking about how beautiful she was!
Eleanor Charlotte weighed 6lbs 13oz and was 18.25 inches long.
They told Hubby they could bring her over to me. He brought her over, placed her on my chest and they helped me hold her for the first time. I was so overwhelmed with joy.
Before I knew it, they were done closing me up and ready to put me back in my hospital bed. They placed her in my arms as they wheeled us down the hall back to our room. Along the way, her eyes opened so wide and I just stared at her. The same nurses who wished me luck going in were congratulating us as we made the trip back to our room.
Two years of heartache, mental strain, physical stress and the overall unknown had come down to this moment. Our baby girl, our daughter was finally in our arms and she was perfect! I hope she understands someday how much she was wanted and how much she is truly loved.
We announced her birth with a video of our entire journey, if you want to check it out CLICK HERE!
As for now, two and a half weeks later, things are going great. She’s still pretty awesome even when she wakes up every 2-3 hours and has some pretty gnarly blowouts. I’m healing incredibly well and have only had to take Ibuprofen since the second day after surgery to manage pain. We are taking it day by day and are constantly in awe of our miracle. We want to express our sincerest thanks for everyone’s support and prayers we have received throughout this journey! We are so blessed to be surrounded by so much love!
I had the chance to take some newborn pictures of her last week. It was fun for me to finally get to take pictures of my own child! Check out the sneak peek below!