Birth Stories

Grace's Birth Story

My last belly shot at 38 weeks, 5 days:

I don't know why I didn't take any photos after this! But I figured I would have Grace at anytime. Boy was I wrong! She made me wait...and wait....she was comfortable in there and didn't want to come out!

Here's her birth story:

She was due January 7th and by my appointment on Thursday, January 13th, I was begging for an induction. I was so uncomfortable! The midwife scheduled me for an induction that next morning.

To give some background, women in my family tend to have easy births. My mom had extremely quick labors with both my brother and I and she said the pain was manageable. I fully went into the hospital expecting to have a similar experience....

I went in at 6 AM and was started on pitocin by 7:30 (I was already 2 cm dilated by this point.) I relaxed until about 11, feeling slight cramping but nothing else. Grace's heartbeat dropped several times so they kept having me change sides and wouldn't let me lie on my back, but they didn't seem too concerned about it. They kept increasing the pitocin and by noon, my OB came and broke my water. This is the weirdest feeling in the world by the way! That's when contractions really started picking up and I was begging for an epidural. I was at 4 cm and the OB recommended waiting for another hour to let me get to 5 or 6. I did and although the contractions were painful, they felt like bad period cramps and were manageable.

This is where my story starts veering from the normal induction experience. When my OB came in and broke my water at noon, he said that he expected me to have her by 6 or 7 that night. I was able to take a nap after getting the epidural and quickly progressed from 5 cm to 9 cm by 5 PM. At 9 cm, they had me do a couple of practice pushes and discovered that my epi was working too well. I literally had absolutely no feeling from my hips down. I couldn't push effectively because I couldn't feel anything! Normally you're supposed to at least feel pressure I guess. So they had the nurse anesthesiologist reduce my epi and said we would try practice pushes again around 6...

By 6 pm, my epi had worn off completely. I was in pain. A lot of pain. They came and checked me again and said I was at 9.5 cm and there was a small ridge that should go away soon and I would have her anytime. They tried upping my epi to help the pain go away, but we soon discovered that either I felt nothing or I felt everything, there was no in between. Unfortunately for me this meant that I needed to feel everything so that I would be able to push. I was having back labor and so contractions never let up and I got physically ill from the pain. I don't remember much about this time, except laying in bed groaning and whimpering while squeezing Mike's hand.

And that's where I stayed for the next 3 hours........every 20 minutes or so they would come and check me and tell me that I was still at 9.5 cm, the ridge wouldn't go away......also during this time they kept having me change sides and lay in weird positions because they discovered that she was facing my thigh instead of facing down, so they wanted her to turn.  By 8 pm, I was begging to be checked every few minutes because I had been feeling the very painful urge to push for about 2 hours, not pushing was the hardest thing I've ever done. At 9 PM, the ridge was still there, Grace was still facing the wrong way and the last time that the nurse checked me and left the room to talk to the doctor, I told Mike that I wanted a c-section. I had been totally against it before, but at that point, I was sick of the pain and just wanted to have my baby! Mike was such a supportive husband and said that we should do whatever I felt like was best.

The OB came in to discuss our options and said that while he would be fine if we wanted to keep trying for a vaginal delivery, he was concerned about her positioning and that I would be in pain all night and then we would have to do an emergency section anyway. I agreed to the surgery right away and within 25 minutes I had my baby. They took her to be suctioned out right away because she had meconium around her in the womb and we didn't get to see her for a few minutes, but after they determined that she was okay, they gave her to Mike and he was able to hold her the entire time.

After the surgery was complete, he gave her to me and I was able to hold her while they wheeled us back to my room (the same room I labored in, it was so nice not having to move!) I was immediately able to breastfeed and Grace never left the room that I was in.

For both Grace and I, the c-section was a blessing in disguise. Grace had meconium around her in the womb (basically, she had pooped) which can cause major distress in babies. Meconium aspiration (when they inhale the meconium) can lead to weeks in the NICU. She didn't inhale it (thankfully) and I am so glad we got her out when we did. She did end up having a minor infection that led to 2 days in the NICU for antibiotics, but it could have been so much worse.

Also, during the surgery, my OB discovered 6 cysts on my ovaries. He diagnosed me with PCOS on the spot. He was amazed we had such an easy time getting pregnant! He drained all of the cysts, so basically I had two major abdominal surgeries at one time.Who knows how long I would have gone undiagnosed had I not had a C-section.

Overall, I know a lot of women regret the decision to get a c-section or are mad at themselves for not being able to deliver "naturally," but honestly, I got my healthy, happy baby and I was able to enjoy being with her instead of being exhausted from a multiple day labor.

I can't believe we made her....she's the most beautiful, amazing thing in the world! She was born at 9:25 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2011 weighing in at 8 pounds 5 ounces (that's a big baby in our family!) and she was 20 1/2 inches long. I don't know how she fit in my belly as I'm only 5'2!

Connor's Birth Story

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!


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