Many, many of my Mama-friends have taken to sharing their children’s natural birth stories. They are beautiful, empowering, and awe-inspiring. From unbelievably fast hospital births to intense home births, these Mamas share the pain and triumph of their babies’ entries into our world.
But what about c-sections?
Before having E, I knew nothing of c-sections, other than it being a “less desirable” option for birth… Let’s be honest: when first time Moms picture delivering their babies they do not immediately think of themselves lying on an operating room table. They hear the statistics of deliveries leading to emergency ceseareans and think, “Stinks for them, but that won’t be me!”
But what if it is? Is there shame in that? Why aren’t our birth stories being told in detail as often and as adoringly as other stories? Do they not bring glory to God? I was talking to a dear friend recently and we shared our hearts on the shame we felt at our cesearean births… We agreed that we felt less like a woman, not true mothers… Why?!?!? We brought life into this world, bravely, and beautifully. There is absolutely no shame in it. I am adding our story to the mix in the hopes that the stigma of C-sections will weaken… And I just love telling a good story of God’s faithfulness!
It was Friday: I had been admitted since Monday due to a consistently, unbelievably high blood pressure which developed into preeclampsia. (Official definition here). I was 30 or so weeks along. Every day the high risk obstetrician visited me early in the morning with an ultrasound machine behind him to check on E. She was happy: stable, bouncy, and perfectly content. What a comfort it was to see E’s little body as part of our morning routine. I had requested that the sound of her heart monitor be turned up all day so that I could be reassured of her heart beating safely within me.
The day before I had celebrated my 25th birthday on total bed rest with Starbucks and Indian food delivery. Not too shabby. I was bored, yet extremely anxious (I’m talking daily doses of anti-anxiety medicine). We knew our girl would be coming early but we were told we wouldn’t be seeing her for 3 more weeks.
Then came Friday morning.
My OB came in at 8 am, ultrasound machine in tow. I gave him a hard time for coming to see me again with no gifts and no promise to go home. He placed the wand to my belly and within 3 seconds of searching he pointed to the screen and said, “See that? That is blood. We are delivering this baby today.”
… And my world grinded to a halt.
He brusquely explained that my placenta had begun to abrupt (official, scary definition here) and asked me if I had eaten (I was 30ish weeks pregnant and had been awake for an hour… Of course I had!)… He then said we would need to wait until 12 to be sure the pesky Nutrigrain bar had cleared my stomach… But no matter what she was coming today. 2 months too early.
What had been a relaxing morning quickly turned into surgery prep. Our sweet nurse Cara had to deal with Brittany the Hammer: I wanted to know every single thing that was going to happen, in detail. She was amazing and told me exactly what I needed to hear: what was happening and WHY it was happening helped keep me calm.
Ben donned his scrubs, and I was scrubbed down for surgery. Here goes nothing!
I was wheeled into the operating room by myself, as Ben had to wait outside while they did a spinal block/epidural. That was terrible. I had to hold onto a pillow and squeeze Cara’s hand, not Ben’s… while a huge needle was shoved into my back. Cara was nice and all… But I didn’t marry her to hold her hand when I was scared. 😉
After the block I was laid down and Cara placed my catheter (yep-GLAMOUROUS) in front of the room full of doctors and nurses. She asked how I was doing and I said, “Well, I’m feeling a little exposed…” They all laughed generously… those kind people.
My OB was called in for my delivery (it was her day off, the sweet soul), and came in wearing a full face mask. I’m talking like, hockey goalie, full-on face mask! I looked at her alarmed and asked, “Are you expecting to get THAT messy???”
As you can tell, Brittany the Hammer is quite the jokester when distressed.
So, it began. There was far more tugging and pushing than I expected to be sure. Though I hadn’t eaten in 4 hours I was almost positive that nutrigrain bar was going to make a reappearance from how rough it was. I guess getting your insides on the outside shouldn’t be expected to be a gentle process. My handsome, wonderful husband kept his face close to mine behind the curtain… No need to faint on such an important day! 😉 At one point in time my OB said, “Okay, Brittany. Maria (a nurse) is going to start pushing.” All I could do was laugh and say, “Better you than me, Maria!”
Hysterical, Hammer Brittany. Hysterical.
Then, at 12:44 p.m. E came into this world. As I’ve said before, they told us that we most likely wouldn’t hear her cry… there were NICU staff were waiting and expecting to work on her. But by God’s grace: she did cry. Her tiny little kitten mew rang out in that sterile room. She was ours, and she was here.
As a little side note, her APGAR scores (definition here) were an 8 at one minute and 9 at 5 minutes… Those are excellent scores for full-term babies… A little miracle from the beginning!
Ben was able to go see her, and in his words: “She was tiny, laying on a white sheet with a bright light on her. She was crying, waving her arms around. They wrapped her up and put a hat on her.” He’s my physical memory man… I remember all the feels… he remembers all of the details. We are the perfect match for each other. 🙂
The NICU team began to roll E away and I cried out, “Wait! Don’t I get to see her?” to which a nurse (who would end up being like a Mother to me) smiled and said, “Honey, I’m pretty sure I could go to hell if I didn’t show a Mama her baby.”, so she scooped E up and brought her to me.
The kitten cry was still going strong, as the nurse placed her head on my shoulder. I whispered E’s name and kissed her cheek… And she quieted. “She knows her Mama!” they said.
Me. Her Mama.
After a quick second, they rolled her away and Ben and I waited for them to stitch me up. Once we were finished I was taken to a recovery room where Cara and Ben held the breast pump to me to get the milk E would desperately need. The time that followed was a lonely time. No baby, just a pump… and then Ben soon left to deliver the milk to E and spend some time with her.
Lots of tears were shed in that curtained recovery room… and in the postpartum room. I was unable to move for 24 hours, with pressure cuffs on my legs, and the catheter still inserted. I was on magnesium because of my very high blood pressure, and I potentially ready to seize or stroke at any time. No one warned me how miserable I would feel in addition to recovering from the c-section. I was foggy, weak, and nearly incoherent… but man I looked good. 😉
No one warned me how miserable I would feel in general recovering from a c-section: no one talks about the fact that they are major abdominal surgeries! I don’t know how Mamas deliver via c-section and go home with a newborn 3 days later… I had 10 weeks to heal and I still felt like I may split open at any time! You all are my heroes!
Actually Mamas… You’re all heroes! Whether you powered through labor in your living room, pushed through an epidural, held your husband’s hand in an operating room… Whether you held a 9 pound, 8 ounce screaming baby, had to wait a week or more to hold your NICU preemie… or if you won’t be able to cherish your sweet one until Heaven… Their birth stories matter. They matter because the Lord created them within you, from the dawn of time they were known by the Creator of the universe, as your baby. You are a Mama, and you hold value, worth, and beauty in your babies’ stories. Don’t ever be ashamed of them. The Lord will use the triumph, pain, and glory of childbirth to further His purpose and draw you and many others closer to Him.
Another link to a blog I loved reading: Grace for C-Section Mamas 🙂