Over 16 months ago, I was packing my hospital bag and about to head to the hospital for my scheduled C-section. This was a much different experience than my first birth, because it’s almost as if you pull up to the hospital like,
“Here I am! I’m ready for you to cut this baby out of me!”
Maybe that’s a bit blunt for some, but unlike my first experience, I now had some idea of what to expect– or so I thought. I followed my doctor’s medical opinion, which was that I should opt for another C-section the second time around to reduce the risk of complications that could occur if I went for the V-back– Vaginal birth that is. And also, because– let’s be honest here…I labored with Benjamin for 20+ hours, and I didn’t want to risk going through that again (Benjamin’s Birth Story: Here). My doctor pointed out that because of my narrow hips, labor would be much more difficult for me, and since this was proven the first time around, I took her advice. As a side note, I am well aware that many women have experienced successful V-backs, but this was my choice, with zero shame attached. Some people view a scheduled C-section as taking the easy way out. Quite honestly, I did too before I went through it myself. I’m here to put that myth to rest. A Caesarean is anything but freaking easy. Please keep your opinions to yourself on people’s birth choice. Thanks.
On the way to the hospital, Noah and I were still finalizing the spelling of Elanor’s name. He wanted to spell it the traditional way and I wanted…well the spelling we went with. I wasn’t backing down from that one since I had already compromised on her name to begin with, and this was a HUGE issue for us. We originally decided on a different name, but five months in, Noah decided he no longer liked it. I’m sure any woman who has carried a child can imagine how infuriating this was for me. I am so, so glad we settled on Elanor, because not only was it was my grandmother’s name (someone I absolutely adored), but our little girl is such an Elanor!
Back to the car ride…Noah was drafting up the welcome message (being the planner that he is) to send to our friends and family after I gave birth. I took the phone to double check the message and accidentally pressed ‘send’. Sooo, while we were still en route to the hospital, our close friends and family thought we had already had the baby. We were of course mortified, but it really gave us a good laugh, which helped me release some built-up pre-birth anxiety. Sadly, that relief didn’t last long because it hit me again like a ton of bricks right before I walked into the operating room.
I had horrible anxiety walking into that room. I went from remembering B’s birth, which was this intense, rushed experience with my doctor telling me I needed a C-section (because Benjamin’s heart rate was dropping), to this very different, almost slow-motion type experience. The first time around, I didn’t have time to think; it all happened so fast– but when they rolled me into the operating room this time, I was almost too alert and took in every single thing around me. The room felt so sterile and there were several hospital staffers in the room setting everything up to begin the surgery.
My doctor had me hold on tight to a pillow so I could create a nice C curve with my spine for the anesthesia injection to numb my lower body. Well…one prick, two pricks then several pricks later, and the anesthesiologist still couldn’t find the right spot. He said because I was on the leaner side it was hard to find (whatever that means). I was hysterical at this point. Yes, it hurt, but it also shattered me emotionally. I couldn’t stop crying, so my doctor now had me hugging the pillow to calm me down while a new anesthesiologist came in to find the spot. Thankfully a few tries later it worked, but the tears kept coming. I literally could not stop crying, and couldn’t feel my lower body, (which yes– I knew was coming) but no matter how many times you’ve experienced this sensation, it feels so foreign. I was in such a vulnerable state (birth does this to a woman) and everything and anything set me off.
Then…I couldn’t breathe, it felt like my lungs were collapsing and I couldn’t catch my breath. Which in turn made me cry again, even harder this time. My amazing doctor came over and started reminding me of the meditative breathing I was doing before entering the operation room, and she started doing it with me to calm me down. Later I found out that the reason I felt I couldn’t breathe was because they had to inject the needle a little further up my spine. The feeling of breathlessness spiraled me into a massive wave of anxiety.
Then my Noah walked in with his scrubs. His calm, peaceful energy filled the room and my heart, which made me cry harder for a moment then I quickly settled into a peaceful place. I knew that everything was going to be okay the moment he walked into that room, which is a feeling I’ve been aware of since the very beginning of us, and the ultimate reason I knew he was my future husband. Even though time still felt like it was standing still, I felt safe.
I was in the operating room for what felt like eternity. My nurse (nurse Lisa) who also helped deliver Benjamin, helped ease my mind when I started questioning why things were taking so long. I remember her coming over to me saying, “Are you ready to meet your baby girl? She’s coming!!!”
And then…time stands still once again and every single thing, every emotion, and every heartache that came before this moment just disappears the second you hear that little cry. It’s a feeling beyond gratitude, it’s a feeling that lets you know no matter what in the world comes after this, this is what life is all about.
When you have a C-section there’s a sheet up, so you can’t see the operation in progress. So, when you hear that little cry, you have to wait a second before they go through the routine cleanup, weigh-in and check-up before you get to meet your baby. What does she look like? Does she have all 10 fingers and 10 toes? Will she look like me or daddy?…and the thoughts go on. I remember Noah’s face clearly at this point because he technically saw her before me. His face was lit up like a Christmas tree. Noah rarely gets emotional so when he does, its flood works for me too.
They finally brought this little girl with a full head of hair over to me and I saw her face for the first time. Aweeee, she had the sweetest little face with these plump rosie lips and cheeks. Benjamin had been through some serious trauma with me pushing for so long, so when Elanor came out, let’s just say they looked very different. She came out like a perfectly plucked little flower. Noah pressed us cheek to cheek and although I couldn’t hold her yet at that moment, I felt more complete than I’ve ever felt in my life.
After Noah and Elanor left the operating room, it was time to close things up, literally.
I opted to have a plastic surgeon come in and close my scar because I didn’t like how my previous scar healed over time. Typically a C- section can take anywhere from 1 hour to an hour and 1/2 but this took so much longer than I expected. This was by far the most challenging part for me to breathe through because I had now met my baby and couldn’t wait to hold her, but I still had to go through the rest of the surgery.
Awake and feeling every pull and tug, not the pain– but the pressure, is the scariest part of the process in my opinion. You’re fully aware that you’re cut wide open, and it’s very uncomfortable. It feels as though time stands still at this point (again lol), but it seemed to me like it was taking far longer than it should. I’m a talker (if you didn’t already know that about me), and when I feel out of myself, I have to talk my way through it. So, I asked a lot of questions. It’s funny, because I always say ‘go with your gut,’ but mine was currently being adjusted… (okay sorry, I think I’m really funny). Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the surgery was over.
Fast-forward a few days… After recovering and smothering this new precious angel baby with love, it was time for Benjamin to meet his baby sister. If only I could have frozen time in this moment. My sister Laura who has two boys, suggested that Benjamin meet his new sister with just Noah for the first time, without me in the room. You have to remember, it had been years of just us and then suddenly, there’s a new baby in town. I wanted to do everything to make Benjamin feel at ease with the new reality that he now had a baby sister…. Who wasn’t going anywhere, haha!
So, Noah and Benjamin went to the nursery to get Elanor, and I have the sweetest videos of B rolling her back to my room. They make me cry every time I watch them. When he got to the room I was sitting on the couch and he walked in telling me he brought his baby with him. I wanted Benjamin to feel like he was that only person in that room because I hadn’t seen him for a few days now, and there was a piece of me that missed it being just us. Then we all sat together on the couch and we put her in his arms for the first time. Seeing my babies together for the first time was a feeling of utter contentment and inner peace. One that I’d never experienced before. Benjamin was so into it until he realized we also had a toy for him, then his attention shifted! This was another idea a lot of parents suggested so that he would feel extra special that day.
I decided to stay an extra night in the hospital because I needed the rest before settling into my new reality, which was taking care of Benjamin and a newborn, all while still recovering from surgery. Post C-section recovery is not pleasant and it’s very uncomfortable. You’re inflamed from surgery and from being pregnant for so damn long. Feeling and physically looking pregnant when you’re not is just odd. Add all the drugs you’re taking to ease the pain… you’re in bizarre state to say the least. I had lots of fluid in my abdomen, which is a very normal occurrence after a C section. I pointed it out to my nurses, but they said this was all pretty normal post-surgery. I didn’t think anything more of it until I got home and realized the lower part of my abdomen was visibly more swollen. Still, I continued to ignore it until one evening I was in the shower crying to Noah about how I looked and wondering if it would ever go away. I called my best friend that night because something didn’t feel right, and I remembered she’d had a crazy experience after her C-section. I told her exactly what it looked like and how I felt, and she made me FaceTime her. Well thank freakin’ God for FaceTime, because she immediately said,
“You have to go to the hospital.”
I was hysterical and called my doctor and explained what was going on. I sent her pics and she responded with,
“Go to the ER right now.”
She met me there with my surgeon (they are both incredible and care so much about their patients), and thankfully I did not have to go through another surgery to release the liquid. With a syringe, they removed 200 CC’s of blood/fluid from that area.
They did an ultrasound to make sure there wasn’t anything else going on, and it appeared that I had a seroma, which is very common post-surgery. A seroma is a pocket of fluid that can occur after surgery. It’s caused by ruptured blood vessels and is comprised of blood and inflammatory fluid that is produced by dying cells (yikes!)
What I didn’t realize was how long I was going to have to deal with this pouchy thing in addition to having a postpartum belly. Once a week for a couple of months, I had to go in for fluid removal, which isn’t the most convenient thing when you have a newborn and toddler in tow. There’s a chance that I will have to have another surgery down the line, but for now I’m letting it heal naturally. Doing my postpartum series really helped me rebuild my abdominals (especially the lower abdominals) in a very gentle way. The more I moved, the better I felt.
I’ll never forget telling Dylan prior to delivering Elanor that I felt like I wasn’t going to have much of a birth story (because of the scheduled C). Well…be careful what you wish for! No matter what birth you experience, it will always be the story of a lifetime. There is nothing like bringing a child into your world. Nothing.
Photo Shoot By Photographer Michelle Rose Sulcov www.michellerosephoto.com firstname.lastname@example.org @michellerosephoto