If you haven’t read Part 1 of our birth story, start here.
My heart dropped as the doctor said the words: c-section. Suddenly my worst case scenario was becoming a reality and I struggled to wrap my mind around what she was telling me. I asked the doctor if we were going to do the c-section in the morning and she told me we while it wasn’t an emergency, it was urgent and we needed to do the c-section right now. Since Adam still hadn’t made it back to the hospital yet, I started to get really panicky but the doctor informed me they had talked to him and he was on his way there.
I called Kahla and told her what was going on. She started rattling off a list of options that would postpone the c-section and give my body time to go into labor naturally. But I told her we were out of options. This c-section was happening whether I really wanted it to or not. The deciding factor for me was the fact that the doctor left her home and came to the hospital. She wasn’t wrapping up her shift or late for another appointment. She was genuinely concerned about mine and the baby’s wellbeing.
Time suddenly started moving in fast forward. Doctors and nurses came in and out of my room. I met with the anesthesiologist who went over how the procedure would go. The nurses prepped me for surgery. Adam finally showed up and the nurses tossed him a set of scrubs to put over his clothes. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he pulled the doctor aside in the hall and had her explain what was going on because he knew how much I wanted to avoid a c-section and wanted to make sure the correct decision was being made.
I felt like I was being swarmed with people. Nurses kept reassuring me everything would be okay. They could probably read the concern on my face because I’ve always joked that I don’t have a very good poker face. I remember looking over at Adam at one point and bursting into momentary silent tears, pouty lip and everything, because I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. Cindy, the anesthesia nurse, came in and introduced herself to us just before they wheeled me to the OR. She gave us the rundown of how the procedure would go and reminded Adam to grab his phone before leaving the room.
As they wheeled me down the hallway, I still couldn’t believe what was happening. Adam asked me if I wanted to call anyone but I said no because it was late and it wasn’t like anyone would be able to make it up to the hospital in time. Cindy told Adam to wait in the hallway while they prepped me for surgery but that she would bring him in once I was ready. They sat me on the operating table and a nurse gave me a pillow to squeeze while wrapping me in a warm blanket hug. Cindy explained how the spinal block would work and when the time was right, they told me to slouch over and hug the pillow. The thought of getting the spinal block terrified me (and was one of the big reasons I was against having an epidural) but I didn’t have enough time to be afraid. I slouched over and felt a small prick, not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be or maybe my adrenaline had taken over. They laid me down on the table spread out like Jesus and put up the infamous blue c-section curtain.
My biggest fear at this point was that the drugs wouldn’t work and I’d feel everything. My legs started to get tingly but I could still feel them. The nurses started rattling off a list of supplies to make sure everything was accounted for. Adam finally came in and sat next to my head. I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. He’s a pretty squeamish guy and I knew the mixture of nerves and being in the operating room was getting to him. So I switched modes and tried to console him. I cracked jokes (I don’t even remember what I said), stuck my tongue out at him, and we laughed. (I’m sure the meds had something to do with my laughter at this point.) The nurses made the remark that we were going to laugh the baby out. Nurse Cindy checked on Adam and told him while me and the baby were first priority they wanted to make sure he was okay too. She told him to put his head between his knees if he felt like he was going to faint. She also took my phone from him and started taking photos. (We are so, so, so thankful she did this. Otherwise we wouldn’t have any photos and she took photos of everything.)
By this time, the doctor and nurses had everything ready. The doctor asked if I could feel what she was doing. I couldn’t and she told me she was pinching me very hard with a pair of forceps. My fear of being able to feel the procedure drifted away. They began the surgery shortly thereafter and I continued to keep my focus on Adam. We were in this together and I couldn’t have him being a nervous wreck. The doctor then told me I would feel pressure and sure enough, it felt like an elephant was standing on my chest as they pushed the baby out. And then I finally heard the cries of my baby, music to my ears after such a stressful night. At 1:12 am, Emmeline Grace (finally!) came into this world.
The nurse brought Emmeline around to show us before they evaluated her. She was so squishy! They asked Adam if he wanted to cut the umbilical cord and surprisingly he agreed. Up until that moment, he’d said he would pass but I was so proud of him for conquering his fear and partaking in the ritual. But he sat back down a little green and panicky. Cindy told him to sit down and put his head between his knees. He had to get it together again.
Shortly thereafter they took Adam and Emmeline out of the room while they finished the surgery. While they were stitching me up, Adam was in the nursery where they documented Emmeline’s vital signs, stamped her feet, and administered her first vaccination. She weighed 6 pounds 11 ounces and measured 19-1/4 inches long.
Up until that moment I hadn’t felt any pain but suddenly my left rib cage became super sore and I struggled to breathe. I told Cindy who administered some pain medication in my IV and I closed my eyes and focused on breathing. The doctor and the nurses were chatting about campers and RVs as they stitched me up. I wanted to chime into their conversation about our love of camping but I was too focused on breathing and not being in pain. This part felt surreal and almost like an out of body experience. But before I knew it, they were rolling me into recovery.
Nurse Brittany met me in recovery. (Side note: Of all the nurses I came in contact with at the hospital, she was by far my favorite. I was thankful to have her for two nights.) She told me I’d have to stay there for about an hour and a half but that Adam and Emmeline would be joining me shortly. My time in recovery was a bit of a blur. I was feeling drowsy from the drugs and finally coming down off my adrenaline high. But I remember holding Emmeline for the first time and fighting back the tears. Brittany snapped a few photos of us and then asked me if I wanted to try nursing Emmeline. Brittany guided me through my first time breastfeeding and Emmeline latched without a hitch and began nursing. Brittany told me I had great nipples for breastfeeding and we laughed while she reassured me that was a compliment.
They finally wheeled us back into our room around 4:00. I started sending out text messages to announce Emmeline’s arrival and heard back from a few family members who were shocked that she had already arrived. Adam and I joked during my pregnancy that we hoped I would go into labor late at night and we’d announce the baby’s arrival the next morning… and that’s basically what happened. We were all exhausted but got little sleep thanks to the raging storm outside, the fact that I just kept staring at Emmeline in the bassinet beside me, and all the emotions we’d felt over the last few hours. I still couldn’t believe everything that had happened but despite how she got here, Emmeline was here and healthy and that’s all we really could have asked for.
Tuesday was full of family and friends as everyone stopped by to meet Emmeline. I was in high spirits despite having just undergone major surgery, being on bedrest, and having very little sleep. Finally around 2:00 pm the nurses prepped me to get out of bed and standing never felt so good. They were impressed that I was able to move around so well. I was sore but in very little pain. They offered me Percocets and Motrin. (I am someone who rarely ever needs or takes medication. I also have a high pain tolerance.) I took the Motrin and was able to easily manage the discomfort with two to three doses per day.
We spent the next few days in the hospital trying to adjust as best we could to life with a newborn. I was healing well and even showered and put on “real” clothes on Wednesday, April 5th. By late afternoon on Thursday, April 6th we were finally discharged from the hospital and headed home.
Despite the fact that events didn’t go as “planned,” we really cannot talk highly enough about the staff at Baptist South. We were seriously blessed with wonderful doctors and nurses who took such great care of all of us. The president of the hospital stopped by our room at one point and we could not quit singing praises about our stay.
I’ve been reflecting on the entire experience and I’ve chalked it up to this. Either God knew I wouldn’t be able to handle natural childbirth and didn’t want me to feel discouraged OR He wanted to show me that I could conquer my biggest fear. Either way He blessed us with a wonderful baby girl that has been such a joy already. She is sleeping and eating well. She is healthy and happy. She is pretty much my clone and I’m so grateful that our story went the way it did. I may not have pushed this baby out but after such a scary ordeal, I feel like I can conquer anything now.
PS. Emmeline = Emma-Lynn