I've written before about my choice to have a scheduled c-section and I will admit that up until the day of my scheduled surgery, I was hoping that I would go into natural labor so that I could attempt a VBAC. I was so nervous about the prospect of major surgery and the possibility that something could go wrong with my heart. I had contractions for about a week before the scheduled surgery date, but they never got closer than 10 minutes apart.
|This was my last picture I took of myself while I was pregnant at 38 weeks, 4 days|
So on the morning of Monday, October 29th, 2012, Mike and I got up at 6 AM and made our way to the hospital for my scheduled c-section. Neither of us had slept well the night before, but we were both excited to meet our little boy! Due to my high risk status, I was forced to deliver at St Luke's on the Plaza, a good 30 minute drive from our house, and of course we got stuck in traffic on the way there. We got to the hospital a few minutes past 8 AM and were immediately ushered into pre-op. Things moved quickly from there and within minutes, I was in a gown and hooked up to the IV. I flipped channels on the TV while the nurse drew blood and we signed tons of consent forms.
I always get a lot of attention in hospitals and doctor's offices now because my heart syndrome is so rare, and this day was no exception. When I explained to the nurse that I was technically a heart failure patient, but I was fully recovered and my OB and cardiologist expected no problems with the c-section, she looked amazed. I laughed when the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me and he said bluntly: "You're cool. No, seriously, I've never seen a case like yours. So cool." I was happy he thought I was cool and not difficult. As my attack had occurred while I was under general anesthesia, I expected anesthesiology to be worried. If he was at all concerned, he never showed it, which helped keep me calm. So after speaking with my entire surgery team, the nurse let me know that they were actually running ahead of schedule and that we would probably getting into surgery early. Within minutes, they told us it was time and at about 9:45 AM, they rolled me back into the OR and had Mike put on his scrubs.
Because I had a failed induction with Grace, I was exhausted by the time we got into the OR for her birth and I honestly don't remember much of the actual surgery. But for Connor's, I was wide awake and full of energy. They had me get onto the operating table and hold on to the nurse while they put in my spinal. It felt so different than the epidural I had with Grace. While the epidural took a while to kick in, the spinal kicked in within seconds. They quickly laid me back on the table and started prepping. During this time, they brought Mike in and settled him on a chair next to my head. When I was completely numb, they let me know that they were starting. My OB and the surgery team were joking around with me the entire time, trying to keep me from getting nervous. According to them, I sound like a medical professional because I use terms like "failed induction" and "ejection fraction" when speaking about my medical history. They thought it was pretty funny that I blame it on being a librarian and needing to know as many facts as possible. The banter kept me entertained and distracted me from the fact that I was having major surgery.
Before I knew it, the OB said they were at my uterus and that he would be born soon. A short time later, we heard him start to cry. Connor Michael was born at 10:13 AM. The first comment I heard about him was "oh look at all of that hair!!" They quickly dried him off and handed him to Mike. My OB made it clear to me early in my pregnancy that she was a huge advocate of mother and baby bonding as quickly as possible and so she did not see any reason that my arms needed to be strapped to the operating table like most hospitals do during c-sections. Basically, as long as everything was going well and I felt okay, I was more than welcome to hold him or have him on my chest while she finished the surgery. And sure enough, as soon as he was cleaned off, I was holding him with a little bit of help from Mike.
This was our very first photo with him. We didn't really get a good one because I wouldn't give him up!
Here's one where you can at least see his face, but Mike looks creepy for some reason!
He came out screaming and didn't stop for a while. It's the one time in life where you want to hear your baby scream! I was so emotional when I heard his cry. There's nothing more amazing than seeing your baby for the very first time. I held him for the rest of the surgery. The anesthesiologist would occasionally tell me to move my arm back so he could get a good blood pressure reading, but as soon as the reading was done, he would let me move it right back over to holding Connor. It was an amazing experience that I feel so blessed that we were able to have. Allowing a mother access to hold her baby is a part of a very very new trend in c-sections called "gentle c-sections" that most hospitals refuse to practice. I wasn't able to do it with Grace and I loved being able to do it with him.
As soon as the surgery was over, I asked if I could hold him on the way back to recovery. The nurses quickly obliged and put him skin to skin on my chest.
We were never separated from him. We were moved into recovery and we were able to have our photographer come back and get some shots of the three of us. Instead of eating, he quickly fell asleep and we simply cuddled while the nurses monitored me. Everything had gone perfectly during the surgery so they weren't really concerned and pretty much left us alone. After a short nap, he woke up to nurse. He latched on well and calmed my nervousness about how breastfeeding would go. During all of this, the photographer got some great shots that I have to share.
They came in to get his weight shortly after he ate and the nurse asked us what our prediction was. Mike and I both guessed somewhere in the 7.5 pound range. We were shocked to see that he actually weighed 8 lb 6 oz, one ounce more than Grace weighed when was when she was born. I know second babies are normally bigger, but I had Grace at 41 weeks. Connor was born at 39 weeks 2 days! If he had made it to 41 weeks, he would have been a big baby!! He was 19 and a quarter inches long.
We knew that we wanted Grace to be the first to meet him, so Mike went and got her. Not surprisingly, she wanted nothing to do with him and only wanted to sit with me. This is the best shot we could get of their first meeting:
We didn't want to overwhelm her, so Mike took her back to my parents and by that time, the nurses were ready to move us to our room in the mother/baby unit. When we toured the hospital, we were told that they were in the process of remodeling the entire unit but that there was only about a 50% chance they would be done by the time we delivered. So we fully went in expecting a tiny old room. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in a huge, gorgeous room with a large window overlooking the park. The room was only about a week old and we were one of the first to get to stay in it. It made our stay very pleasant!
We spent the next few days cuddling and getting to know our new boy.
We quickly learned that he has his daddy's personality, along with his looks, and that he is a calm, laid back baby. He rarely cries, even when he is hungry. He mostly grunts until we give him what he wants. His favorite thing to do is to snuggle into your chest and fall asleep. He had his days and nights mixed up for the first week or so but we've finally managed to fix that I think.
Overall, his birth was so much easier than Grace's. I was mentally prepared for the c-section and everything went as well as it possibly could have. I was nervous that my heart condition would cause trouble, but it was never an issue. He is so amazing and I feel so lucky to be his mommy. I feel like our little family is now complete and I can't imagine anything better!