Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ethan's birth story

Ethan James
Born July 14th at 8:30 AM
10 lbs 2 oz and 21.5" long

The day before my scheduled c-section, my sister Angel came over. She was going to stay over a few nights with the kids, as well as go out to celebrate my "last meal". We went to The Olive Garden to stuff ourselves. While there, I recieved a phone call from the hospital. I was told that my c-section was going to be bumped earlier. Either I had to go in at 5:45 AM for a 7:30 c-section, or had to wait later in the day for who knows how long. Of course I told them earlier would be fine. It was perfect in fact. I wanted to go in earlier to get it over with instead of being jittery all morning, it worked better for visiting family, and as an added bonus, I didn't have to fast as long. I left the restaurant even more excited and anxious than I was went I went in; at that point it meant I was going to have a baby in 12 hours, and finally find out if we were having another son or daughter (BTW, I highly recommend not finding out the sex -- it was awesome).

When we got home, we put the kids to bed. Earlier in the day it had been pretty hot and humid outside, but by the time we got home, it was breezy and very cool. It was a perfect night. I went down to the basement where Jason was working on his computer, and we went out to the backyard. It was gorgeous,and so peaceful. I just stood there, taking it all in, trying to come to terms with what was about to happen. It made me feel very calm about the next day; I was ready to meet my baby.

I had Jason take some photos out on the patio. Then we went inside and shared a large slice of Taramiscu.

After hanging out with Angel for a bit, we went to bed. I set the alarm for 5:00 AM. Of course, I didn't get much sleep -- neither of us did. It was a restless, anxious sleep. Everytime I woke up I looked at the clock... counting down the hours.

The alarm didn't go off. It didn't need to; I was awake long before. I got up and turned it off, woke Jason up, and we finished packing some last minute items and got dressed. It was still dark outside... it felt surreal. I felt like I did on the first day of school as a child -- nervous about the unknown; the start of something new. I
was surprised at how hungry I was considering how nervous and anxious I felt. I was allowed "clear fluids" before we left, so I chugged some water.

Hannah happened to wake up right before we left, so I got her out of bed. I looked at her thinking this was the last time I would see her as my baby. We took her out to Angel, who was asleep in the living room, and kissed her goodbye. Then we were on our way.

The hospital doors were closed this early in the morning, so we went into the ER entrance, and made our way through the maze until we reached labor & delivery. We were brought back into a little room, and I was told to put on the gown and get into bed. I was picturing staying in one of the labor & delivery rooms while
waiting for c-section, but I guess not. The bed wasn't very comfortable, there were no windows and the room tiny, but it did have a TV at least.

I went into the bathroom and changed, then the nurse strapped me to the monitor and inserted the IV. She was really sweet and helped calm our nerves a bit. Jason and I chatted and watched some TV.

A medical student came in and asked a million questions, I got some blood taken, was shaved, a resident came in to introduce herself, and I met the anesthesiologist. I was given the nasty little drink to keep me from vomiting. I have always heard it was disgusting, but I finally got to experience it for myself. To me it tasted like really concentrated lemon juice.

Dr. Miller came in, and she gave us the rundown on what would happen. She also brought up lowering the drape -- something I really wanted to do -- and that they actually found a mirror they would try to position so I could see better. I was pleasantly surprised when she brought it up herself. I was worried that, for some
reason, they would forget and I would miss my baby being born.

At about 7:30, Jason was asked to suit up, and I knew it was really close. I was actually getting pretty nervous now.

One last belly shot. Exactly 39 weeks and HUGE!

Finally, at about 7:45, the nurse came back with the anesthesiologist to bring me back to the OR. Oh my god... here we go. Jason followed us around the corner until we reached the OR doors, and then they told him he needed to wait there for about 10 to 15 minutes. We said our goodbyes, and I went in.

The OR was bright and very cold. I don't remember the OR being that cold when I had the c-section with Mason, but this time I was fully aware of what was going on. With my first c-section, I was already so tired and out of it from labor, that it seemed like a dream.

I sat up on the table, which looked so tiny than what I had imagined. Everyone in the OR introduced themselves. The same wonderful nurse from earlier had me sitting facing her, and she held my hands and talked to me about baby names and my children as I was prepped for the spinal. I was feeling a little afraid here... it was really odd to be getting prepped for surgery while 100% aware and "with it". She saw I was shaking and asked me if I was cold, and I told her I was, but it was also due to nerves. They draped me with a warm blanket, and it was heavenly.

I have heard lots of different experiences with spinals -- some say they don't hurt at all, they hurt a lot, it felt like a bee sting... well, I thought it hurt. I felt it puncture the skin, and go in to where there was no resistance. It did sting, but much more than a bee sting. Then a very warm feeling radiating from my back, down to my
legs. They helped me lay down on the table. They did not strap down my arms this time, which was really nice.

At this point, they showed me the mirror, which was one of those mirrors on wheels that they had in labor & delivery rooms. They had me help them position it by having me tell them which way to turn it.

I remember the anesthesiologist telling me that July 14th was Bastille Day, which is Independance Day for France.. She said it was a good day to be born, and showed me a picture on her phone of fireworks above the Ifle Tower.

Finally I was drapped, and Jason was led into the OR, and sat by my left side. We held hands and talked a bit, trying to calm our nerves.

Dr. Miller explained to everyone in the OR that I wanted to have the drape lowered, and it was a "Natural Cesarean" of sorts. Again, I was really glad she brought it up. It made me feel like she knew how important it was to me.

Next thing I know, there is tugging. It's begun.

"This is your last chance," I told Jason, "Boy or girl?"

He laughed,"I don't know".

I told him we'd find out in just a few minutes.

Before we knew it, Dr. Miller said they had reached the uterus, and instructed everyone they were going to lower the drape, and have the mirror positioned. They dropped the drape on one side, at my left, and told me to look at the mirror and tell them if I could see anything. I did. I saw my incision open, ready to accomodate my baby. I wasn't freaked out a bit. It was awesome to see, actually. There wasn't much blood either. It was one sight I will never forget .

The other side of the drape was lowered, and Dr. Miller and a resident were standing right there. "Oh, hi". I joked.

Dr. Miller joked back,"If you reach over the drape and grab the baby I'm going to have to cut your fingers off!" The atmosphere in the OR was obviously light. That was a huge reason as to why I got along with Dr. Miller so well, we had the same sense of humor.

My doctor started to pull the baby out. At this point, I couldn't see anything, my belly was still in the way. But Jason said in complete awe,"I see a baby's head!"

Dr. Miller stopped and asked me,"Do you see anything yet?".

"No", I told her, "my belly is still in the way". I think the anesthesiologist helped hold up my head a little at that point. My doctor continued to pull the baby out slowly.

Then I saw it.

My huge, beautiful baby emerged from my belly, and started to cry almost instantly. I saw that round squinty face looking right at me. It is the most amazing thing that I have ever witnessed. I just remember saying, "Oh my god!" And started to cry, holding Jason's hand tight.

I still did not see the sex at that point, but heard Dr. Miller exclaim,"Oh my god! He's HUGE!" Then Jason said, sounding choked up, "It's a boy".

I said, "It is?!? I knew it!" And started to cry harder.

Jason leaned over, kissed me on the cheek through his mask, and said,"I love you".

"It's our Ethan", I told him.

They brought Ethan to the warmer to weigh, measure and swaddle him. Jason went over to take a few pictures. Ethan was still crying loudly. Then I head someone shout, "10 lbs 2 oz!" We were all shocked. We expected a large baby, but no one expected a 10 lb baby! I was told he was 21.5", definitely my largest. His
apgars were 9 and 9.

They handled Ethan over to Jason, and he held him by my face while they stitched me up. I kissed his face and breathed in his smell. I told him how much I loved him.

 My favorite picture. Snuggling with Ethan minutes after birth; Pure bliss.

After about 15 minutes, they had Jason go with Ethan to the nursery to check on his breathing, which was a little rapid. They finished up the surgery and then I was brought to recovery. Jason came back and relayed to me that his blood sugars were a little low, and his breathing rapid. They were going to bring him in recovery
for me to breastfeed as soon as possible, and then test his sugars again.

After what felt like an eternity, they brought him to me and told me his respiratory rate was better. I breastfed him in recovery, and when he was done, they took him back to the nursery to check his sugars again. In the meantime, they wheeled me to my room. I saw Angel with Mason and Hannah waiting outside the door.
What a beautiful sight to see. Mason and Hannah ran to me, but looked a little freaked out by seeing me in a bed with wires on me. I gave them both hugs and kisses.

Cathy, the midwife that was supposed to be there for the birth, was also waiting there and told me she was sorry she couldn't make it. She and a few other nurses were talking about how big Ethan was and one nurse called him the biggest baby of the day -- or probably the whole week! They were telling me how great and alert I looked after just having had a c-section. And, other than being a little tired, I did feel great. I felt like I was up for anything.

The nurses helped me into bed, and the rest of my family showed up. We waited for about 20 minutes, and Jason wheeled Ethan into the room. Apparently his blood sugars were okay now. Ethan was passed around the room, and I was so proud to show him off.

 The new big bro and big sis!

With Auntie Angel

 Ethan meeting his grandpa

After a while, things died down and family went home. I kissed Mason and Hannah goodbye, and they left to go home with Angel. Then it was just me, Jason and Ethan. We settled in the room and enjoyed the time to get to know our new son.

Recovery was fantastic. I was in shock at how great I felt on the first day. Later that evening, the catheter was taken out and I was up and walking to the bathroom unassisted. I had little pain. Ethan was nursing well too, something that I was worried about after the experience with Hannah.


I will never forget these moments. Ever. They were beyond perfect. At last a very beautiful, calm and positive birth experience. I felt fully supported, I felt my son and I were in good hands. My husband and I were respected, and the birth truly was a celebration. The birth wasn't scary or full of trauma or a life threatening emergency. It was everything I had ever dreamed of -- and it happened in an operating room. Four years ago after the cesarean birth of my son Mason, I would never have believed that it was possible. But now I realize how ignorant I was.

I am proud of my cesarean. I loved it. I believe it got my son here safe, sound and alive. After Hannah's birth, my obsession with the "perfect" birth experience faded away completely. I went into this birth wanting a healthy baby, and I got one -- the awesome birth experience I happened to get was just the icing on the cake. I learned when it comes to birth, you can throw your expectations out the window, because it can be one hell of a ride.

I hope this birth story can help women out there who are afraid to have a cesarean, or worry it will be "less than" a vaginal birth, or they will feel like less of a mother. I also hope that it shows those who believe a cesarean isn't really a birth (and I was once one of them...), or not a positive experience, or a joyful one, or amazing, that they are just wrong. Mine was all of these, and more.

My Ethan


Glo said...


Great post. I've been following you for quite some time now (since before H was born) I have seen such a change over the last couple of years.

I am so happy that you were able to have an awesome birth experience no matter where or how it happened!

Mrs. D said...

An absolutely BEAUTIFUL birth story Michele!!! I can't express how HAPPY I am for you!!!

Anonymous said...

Shelle, I'm tearing up over here because this is one of the most beautiful birth stories I've read. What a wonderful birth! Congratulations to you and to your entire family. :-)

Bambi C said...

He is precious!! Congratulations!!

Mrs.M said...

You have my tears over here!

SO, SO happy for you. <3 For ALL of you!

Anonymous said...

Wow. First of all, congratulations on your beautiful family! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sharing your story! My son was born by cesarean last fall after a ridiculously long labor. I stumbled across your blog a few months later after visiting ICAN's website, and have been checking in on you since then.

I deperately wanted to try for a vbac with our next child, but have been told by two doctors who have assisted with numerous vbacs that I'm probably not a good candidate. I was devastated when I first got this news, but after reading your story with Hannah, and now with Ethan, my attitude has changed a bit. I'd still love to have that "perfect birth" next time, but knowing that a cesarean can be perfect too is such a comfort.

I'm so happy you got to have a low stress birth (as much as possible, anyway!) and I pray that my next birth goes as well. Thanks again for sharing!

Ryley Culver

Heidi said...

Beautiful story! Im glad everything went well for you this time around! I cant wait to meet Ethan!

Im so happy for you! I love you!

Oh and thanks for making me cry!

GoMama said...

His birth story is beautiful, it has been a blessing to watch your journey as you came full circle back to cesarean birth, while gaining an insight into birth that will only inspire other mothers who struggled, only to find empowerment and peace in the end. Like many others, I was left in tears after reading the beautiful love story between you and your son. I can see the love you have for him jumping off the pages. Some of the best things in life come to us by surprise! Best wishes to your family and hope to hear more from you

Enjoy Birth said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful birth experience. I love that you demonstrate so beautifully that moms can have an empowering wonderful cesarean birth. Your desires for your birth were respected and it sounds like it all went perfectly!

Congratulations on your sweet sons arrival.

Rita said...

Congrats! I almost started crying reading that. I am just about to get married and both my fiance and I can't wait to have kids of our own. (well after he finishes school).

mjb said...

Yay, so glad to hear things went well and that you were able to view your sons birth -I can totally understand why you were afraid the doctor would forget. Great Success!
Many congratulations.

Daphnne♥ said...

Wow. Amazing. Congratulations on your newest addition!