Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Beginning - My First Birth Story. My C-Section. (Part 3 - Birth - She's New, I'm New.)

{Continued From Part 2}

The video they had shown us, in my birthing class, of the c-section had made me think I would feel alone and cold and terrified, just waiting for Blake to arrive if I were to have a c-section. (He was in fact not with me yet.)

But these faces, now coming into focus in the chill of the room, were faces that had been with me for hours and hours now.  And in here they seemed like friends.
They picked my limp and large body up off the bed that they wheeled me down on, and shifted me over to the operating table.  One nurse said, "Oh you are as light as a feather."  And I breathed out a shocked laugh and said, "Oh if only that were true."  And we all laughed together.  I didn't feel alone at all.
People were all busy, and it felt like for my good.  I felt at peace.  
That same anesthesiologist, the one who reminded me of "The Princess Bride,"was back.  
I was staring at that blue curtain (it wasn't so ominous) as he explained to me that we would need to numb me fully to do this, if we couldn't get that right I would have to get put to sleep.  
Oh man, I do NOT want to be asleep for this!
He started to ask me what I could and couldn't feel.  
He had this sharp metal pricker thing.  He pressed it into my shoulder and said, "This is what normal feels like." I was surprised he pushed it so hard into me, of course I could feel that, it hurt! 
But I focused hard to remember the sensation exactly as it was because I didn't want to get this wrong.  And then he began to move that pokey thing down my body, "Can you feel this?"  "Can you feel this?"  
He went behind the curtain.  "Can you feel this?"  
I had never wanted to be more honest in my life.  
I didn't want to be put to sleep for this, but I didn't want to feel being cut open while awake either.
So I figured my best bet in this situation was to share as much of what I possibly could, as honestly as I could fit into words.  
"I can feel it a little. It didn't hurt.  Not a lot, not much, but I do feel a bit of something." I felt like repeating that over and over. And I think I did just that. I wanted to make sure he got it exactly right.

My midwife was in the room now. I made sure to tell her my husband can pass out sometimes, and that my mom might be afraid. (Blake felt like me saying this was why he didn't get to cut the cord -- I say it was just that this new doctor that we never met, doing the c-section, didn't know Blake wanted to do that. And honestly, I'm not sure how often they let you do that during c-sections in general. It might be kinda rare, but I don't know.)

I later learned that once I was being wheeled down to the O.R., Blake and my mom had been told to move all of our stuff out of the room to our new room. Once they just barely had done that, someone rushed into to say, "If you wanna see it you better run." They were both quite frustrated by the way that went down.

They came in and and were shown chairs to sit in near my head. I could tell they were rushing over.

Just then I felt this crazy pulling and tugging. I had no idea they had cut me already, so I thought that was just what getting cut felt like while numbed -- and I couldn't help but think, "What are they cutting me with?!? A handsaw?" 
I looked at my mom and she told me I was already open and they were getting the baby. 
"Ohh" I said, still a bit dazed, not fully taking in the fact my baby was being born.

"Its a girl!" The doctor  said. 
I saw her for a second lifted up above the curtain, or was the curtain brought down?
I couldn't see her anymore.
And I held my breath to hear her cry.
My eyes on the curtain, but I was only ears.

A few long seconds 


And my eyes closed.
She was here. 
And she was fine.

With that sound I fell in love.
I became a mother.

I was losing the room again... falling back into myself,
And I started thinking:
 "If the doctor told me: 'I need to put her back in, sew you up, and you will need to do this whole nine months over, and then do this delivery one more time.' I wouldn't hesitate. I'd do it. I love that girl. If he told me, 'I need to cut off your arms and legs to keep her alive.' I'd hand them over. I'd do anything for her."

They were cleaning her up while I was falling in love with her.

Then they brought her to me and held her forehead to mine. 
I closed my eyes 
and was. 

I felt her as deeply as I could. 

And submitted to the day. I knew she would have to leave me, and I her. But we were ok. 
I would be ok. I just submitted to the day.

I had done everything now, 
and I had met her.
And everything was Ok. 
Just like I had, had to force myself cling to through it all.
"ok. ok. ok. ok."

She was heading off to the nursery now. 

Blake asked me if I wanted him to stay with me, or go with her. 
And I didn't know what was right.
I was spent and I couldn't make any more decisions.

My mom went and he stayed by my side.

I started to pray, "God don't let me die now. Blake needs me to be her mommy." I still was afraid.

I was shaking so hard.
So incredibly hard that it hurt my arms, for all the trembling --- my muscles were twitching against their tired will, they just kept moving despite the lack of strength.

I was trembling so much I felt like my whole body was moving back and forth.
I knew I couldn't have held her if they had offered. I had seen that in c-section birth plans, women ask to hold the baby while they are sewn up...I wouldn't have been able to keep her safe in my uncontrollable arms.

I closed my eyes and tried to rest.
It felt like a long time.
Blake and I said some stuff. But I don't remember what.
He was probably telling me about how she pooped immediately after coming out and how crazy that was. (He will tell me the story, probably, a million times throughout our life together...."It was four feet long!!")

Blake told me later, that the doctor didn't realize he was tracking my blood all around the room with his feet and apologized to the nurses. I missed that completely.

Next I was wheeled down the hallway, about half-way, to the recovery room. (I remembered passing it when walking the halls, and how I thought "that must be for the sick moms" -- I didn't think I would have any reason to be in there.) 

A nice nurse was in there, and no other staff. Blake was with me. We texted our friends that she was born. But he after a while went upstairs to see everyone. 

I asked for what seemed like hundreds of warm blankets to be piled on me.
I could not get warm.

My dad came down to see me.
I don't remember much of that, but that I was happy to see him.

I asked for my heating pad to put on my shoulder because it was killing me from all the pulling I did on that sheet while pushing. I must have nearly dislocated it because it hurt for a week or more when I got home.

Then no one was with me... and I tried to sleep -- but there was no sleep, only exhaustion, and adrenaline.

Eventually they said I could go upstairs now.

While they wheeled me, one of the nurses (someone I hadn't met yet) kept telling me when we would go over a bump (like the elevator's threshold) 

and I kept wondering why on earth she was doing that, didn't she understand I was 100% numbed from the chest down? Bumps didn't matter.

I finally got to my room -- of course it was at the end of the hall -- I was always going further than I had expected.

I was in there for at least a few minutes without my baby, but it could have been an hour. I was just kinda floating in space.

I can't really remember how Jasmine got into my arms. 

Looking at photos, I can see my mom hand her to me, while she tries to take in as much as she can of her sweet grand baby before she has to let go.

I don't remember her arriving in my arms.

I remember
   that I am captivated.

I had no idea I could have a love so strong.

I had no idea anything could be that beautiful.

I had no idea there could ever be a-something, more important than everything.

I remember telling Blake, "I don't care who tries to tell me otherwise, this baby is absolutely gorgeous. Someone could try telling me she was ugly and I could never do anything but say they were crazy and know to the depths of me that they really were. She is amazing!"

I sat there and looked at her face for decades.

I never even thought to open up her swaddle and look for fingers and toes.

I kept touching her cheeks. I couldn't believe she was real.
Kept touching them.
I couldn't believe a person was made out of parts of me.
I couldn't believe I had just hosted a miracle inside myself and that I was holding her now.
I couldn't believe I had a daughter.
And that having a daughter felt like this.
I stared at her all night.
I couldn't sleep.

I don't remember people leaving.

I just remember holding her.

I was so full of adrenaline from the day. And love for this brand new person. That I couldn't possibly sleep.

I let them take her to the nurse at the start of the night, with the intention of sleeping. But I just sat there thinking.
Thinking: "I had a c-section. I had a c-section. I had a c-section... and I am ok." 

I was almost asking myself if I was ok.  While simultaneously acknowledging I had just faced my biggest fear and lived.
I was ok.
But I didn't know if I was okay.
I knew I had to heal. 
I knew I would feel pain soon. (Still numb for the time being.)
I knew I had to face people and what they had to say.
But I just kept chanting, "I had a c-section. I had a c-section. I had a c-section, and I am ok." 

I missed my baby girl way too much to let them take her back to the nursery again. (I wasn't getting any rest with her gone.) So I kept her all night. Just bundled up in my arms while I looked at her.

Actually while I looked at her, and tried to nurse her, when I was supposed to. I had a sheet of paper they gave me to keep track.
It proved much harder to nurse on my right side.
I asked every person who came in my room to help me latch her on that side.
One staff lady, who seemed to be Amish (by the way she was dressed), was really gruff and she gave me a nipple shield for my "flat nipple" I was incensed. "No one insults my nipple that way! Its not flat! The other one is just extra poky!" 


I was going to try and recount my whole hospital stay -- but its a blur now.

I 'll just touch on what I do remember, as it comes to me.

Blake was passed-out-cold the first night. He was exhausted too -- he was with me physically and emotionally through all of it, but without the new mommy hormones surging through his body. 
I couldn't move though, so it was frustrating, since I couldn't get him to wake up a lot of times, and I couldn't get the baby when she cried -- or change her diapers. 

(I should have used my call button more that I did.)
I ended up hurting his feelings over the course of Jasmine's first year of life bringing this (and a couple other birth things) up too much. 
(Sorry Blake. I was stuck on myself. Again.)

Blake changed every single diaper there in the hospital. Which I thought was sweet. Then in retrospect I got strangely sad that I never got see meconium. (Who does that?) But I was. Especially after hearing Blake tale of her pooping on her way out -- and the intricate detail he gave. I started thinking I missed out on something. 

I remember hurting my mom's feelings and being so frustrated that it happened because I needed my mom to not be mad at me right then, I needed her love. And I didn't mean to hurt her feelings. 
She had had a hysterectomy so she knew what a surgery in that area felt like and she was trying to be helpful and tell me to take my pain meds on time, to stay on top of the pain, because she didn't and it was horrible. But she was trying so hard to make sure I did it, because she wanted the best for me, that she just kept bringing it up. And I was terrified, in general, of what I would feel like once the spinal wore off, so I got snippy when I asked her to stop saying it, because I was getting more and more scared with every mention of it.
When my mom left for the night I felt like she hated me.
And my favorite nurse, of my entire stay, listened to me cry about it.

I started to learn during my stay that I did in fact need people's help in my life. I had always wanted to do everything on my own. But since I could do very little on my own, and the staff so happily did things for me, I started to see it wasn't so bad asking for help.

I remember that my legs had compression things on them to keep the blood moving. And I couldn't feel my legs at all initally, but when I started to be able to, I would keep thinking that Blake was squeezing my leg and I would think "oh how sweet." But then would laugh when I learned it was my little leg machines.

I remember that it hurt my left hand --where the IV was -- to lift my deadweight body over and over to prop myself up to nurse all the time. (And my hand hurt for months afterward. I thought it might be permeant, for a while there!)

I remember nurses coming in and writing their names on my board, and Blake writing the times I needed to take my meds on there.

I remember wanting my meds about 15 mins before each time written on the board.

I remember the first time I saw myself in the mirror afterwards.
I was about to get in the shower.
I looked over at the mirror to see my naked body, in side-view.
For one split instant I thought, "Wow my belly is so much smaller" followed up immediately, as my eyes traveled down,  by "Woah." 
My soft new momma belly was hanging over my new incision. I had dunlap. 
I just stood there and stayed in a kind of shock.  Shook my head and used my new "Suck it up, Lydia" skill. And took my shower. 
I didn't recognize it just yet, but God had preemptively gave me a state of mind to handle seeing that when I had my "hallway moment" earlier-- without that healing I got there, I honestly don't think I could have handled the shock of seeing my body like that, when I had been having a hard time with just the pregnancy look earlier. Not to mention the fact that having my body opened up, and yet still being blessed enough to live, majorly changed my perspective of what my body was for.

During that shower I had to sit down on the hospital shower seat, and peel away my incision's dressing and rub off all the stickiness with a towelette remover thing. I couldn't believe I was allow to touch it -- I felt like I might just reach into my guts. I tried not to think about it.

I remember how I thought I smelled bad before I could take that shower -- I had labored all day and then been confined to bed for another almost whole day. I felt gross.

I remember how for another shower, I didn't have any towels. And so I asked Blake to ask a nurse for more, thinking he would bring them back to me.
I was standing buck naked about to get in the shower, when this nurse opened the door and said, "Here are your towels." And I said, "Oh thank you." and took them like I wasn't naked in front of a stranger. And I realized what my had told me about modesty going out the window after childbirth was true.

I remember trying to stand up straight as I walked the halls because in my birth class the crazy teacher made a big deal about how she thought it was silly when c-section moms stayed all hunched over like their insides might fall out.

I remember how every day at the hospital the room seemed so different. Different enough for it to have been a whole new place. And like I might have been there for a week after she was born, not the actual 3 days stay. 

I remember how the second day was overwhelming because I hadn't slept since I stayed up holding my baby all night, and I still wasn't allowed to eat and I was so hungry. And it seemed like everyone who worked in the hospital came in to check on me or tell me things.

I remember that my c-section doctor (who did an excellent job by the way. I healed up so well, and my scar looks as good as could be asked for) came to check on me but I didn't know who he was. (I still feel weird that I've basically never met the man who changed my life in such a big way.)
I remember more his assistant checking on me the first time, (he wasn't available yet I guess) because she stayed and talked longer and told me who she was. He basically just came in and lifted my gown and left.

I remember gas pains, and the nurse saying they would cheer for me if I could pass gas. To help my stomach ache they gave me warm sprite with a ginger tea bag in it.
They told me not to drink so much cold pop -- but I was sooo hungry, I was just trying to get calories any way I could.

I remember how when I went to eat for the first time, I was shocked that I could only eat 3 bites. My body was in a kind of post-surgery shock so that it wouldn't let me eat, but I still felt incredibly hungry.

And I remember how weird and silent I felt when Blake and I ate our "Yay-you-are-new-parents Meal" the hospital gave us. It had like 5 courses and I could take half a bit of each and was full. And Jasmine was off with the pediatrician and I just felt worried and awkward.

I remember when they told me Jasmine had lost too much weight and would need formula and how heartbroken I was that one more thing was going totally wrong. And how I kept wondering why she couldn't lose more weight since she was born so big.  But I remember how Blake loved to get to feed her. So at least that made me happy. And I remember trying to take pictures of him holding her since they were all of me. And how hard it was to take pictures from the angles I wanted because I was so sore.

I remember finally consenting to the hospital's newborn photos (I had thought I wouldn't need them since I could take better ones) and that when they brought them back I was just giddy over how "great" they were -- I knew then I was a mom. ( I never understood how they could love those posed family photos, they needed "artsy" ones, I thought... And week one, I join the love 'em club. Any photo of my baby is outstanding!)

Blake never thought these were any good. 
I will get oogley over them for the rest of my life. I'm a mom!

I remember not feeling like a mom yet -- well a mom-mom, because my mom would strike up conversations with women at the hospital who had been moms longer than 2 days (a nurse, or a second time mom), and I couldn't relate to anything that was said yet. I was still just in a fog, and tried to say something conversational, but either ended up mute or saying something dumb.

I remember seeing a new mom walking around with a couple people (her family?), they were really loud. And I remember getting the idea that she felt a thousand times healthier than I did right then (she sure as heck looked better than I did.) But I also remember being really obsessed with watching her walk around, because her baby was down the hall in the nursery, and she seemed like she didn't care, she had the attitude of a high-schooler being told to go to an assembly that they were too cool for. Like the hospital was the assembly, and she couldn't wait to leave to go grab a snack at the gas station.
(Weird. I know....Weird I remember that, and weird I thought that, and weird she gave me that impression.)
But there I was, pushing my "stroller"(the little baby cart, that doubled as my c-section walker) with my precious baby inside. Taking tiny, little small steps, on my fat-with-IV-fluids, sock-clad feet. One inch at a time. Obsessively looking down at my love, making sure she didn't twitch a muscle without me stopping to help her, as that other mom floated around baby-less, robe trailing in the wind, like she was inconvenienced. I felt like we were in some parallel universe from each other.
Soon after (after another roundabout through the hallway circle) I saw another momma, taking tiny, little, painstaking footsteps with her "stroller" and I knew -- she had a c-section too. That was the first time my heart beat for another momma. I smiled at her the smile only Knowing can smile, and she smiled it back at me. (She was the second time mom that I couldn't really share anything with, without sounding like a fool. But we had a moment of pure connection.) 

I remember having a nurse take our picture on the last day because Blake had to leave to go to his sister's wedding. And I remember hoping I looked "skinny" in the photo. (Ha. Not only was I still full of pregnancy weight, I was also full of IV fluids, that made my whole body feel like it was blown up like a balloon. It took about a week for my feet to stop swelling from it when standing.)
I remember that nurse was so so so sweet, and so so so busy. It was really nice of her to get that photo for us.

I remember that it took forever to be allowed to leave that day.

I remember that while I was waiting to be discharged. I got so excited to hear the story of the only male midwife's marriage. My friend who was pregnant at the same time, seeing the same midwives and I often tried to figure out if he was gay or straight, he would seem distinctly one way sometimes and another way the next time. And I guess we had nothing better to do than figure it out. :) But his story was really interesting, surprising, and made tons of sense. I couldn't wait to go tell my friend! The mystery was solved.

I remember the midwife that I had avoided birthing with, coming in to check on me, and her saying, "I thought I was going to be with you?" And feeling both totally relieved that she hadn't been, and yet like I totally forgave her for ever hurting my feelings (and cervix) and just honestly saying, "I was just done." And her saying, "I understand that."
I wondered, if she wondered if she could have gotten me out of a c-section.
I didn't wonder if she could have.

I remember one of the midwives coming in and talking to me, having them say, "She will be worth it." and me telling them, in a near-delirious new-love-state, "She is already worth it." And watching their face as they tried to take in how deeply I felt that, and watching tension melt off their shoulders, and them replying, "Good" as the exhaled a fear for me.

I remember finally leaving being wheeled down to the car in a wheel chair, and how it felt like the boy pushing me was literally running we were going so fast.


It wasn't until I got home that I knew it was all really hard. 
That it was disappointing. 
At the hospital I was kinda busy and sheltered.

At home I started having bad dreams from the pain meds, that I couldn't tell where not real. I thought doctors were coming into my room at home and saying they were going to do another surgery on me right there in my bed. I woke up and was fearfully begging Blake to tell me what the doctors had said. Blake had to talk me out of it for like 5 mins before I could comprehend it was really just a dream. It happened twice.
The second time I prefaced my begging Blake with, "I know you think I'm crazy but..." because I still thought it was real and I didn't want him to laugh at me.

Now at home, I started realizing my milk wasn't coming in.
And we started having to go back to the breastfeeding clinic once a day for many days.
It took 10 days for my milk to come in.
I was using dreaded formula -- that was scorned so loudly in my preparation for motherhood.
During those 10 days,  I could literally hear my breast pump chanting, "Failure. Failure. Failure." while it made its pumping inhale/exhale as nothing came out and my incision was hurting.

I got excited when I saw one tiny rain drop of milk come out at Day 7, and mom saying, "Oh good" instead of telling me I should be filling that bottle.

We did stick it out, and we were able to nurse. That little lady loved breast milk more than anything --- we could hardly get the kid to eat real food, even at after her first birthday, because she was so happy with her beloved milk. 
Breastfeeding brought me a lot of healing, as I watched my body "work right" and take care of my daughter. It patched up some holes in my heart.

But the further I got away from her birth day the more questions I had. The more I needed to pray, "But why, God?" "If you could tell me ahead of time, why couldn't you have changed it?"

It is only in recent days, perhaps just this month (November 2012) that I've even begun to feel like God is showing me parts of the why.

So that is the story of Jasmine's birth.
As much as I can remember two and a half years later.
It was both the most amazing day of my life and the hardest.

This was very, very hard to write out because I had to go back in time to do it.
I had to walk back through days where I had no peace to find the memories.
God has been good. So good. To me. He has patiently let me cry out to him more times than I can count. Sometimes 100 times a day I would pray my same questions. 
He let me yell at him, while I waited for Ruby (my second daughter) to be born -- to take my pen to my journal and draw furious non-word scribbles when I had nothing left but anger and fear -- ripping through the pages with the ball point.
And he waited and spoke softly. 
Still speaks.
Waits for me trust again.
And since he waits, I start to see, he really is trustworthy.  No one would be this patient with me if they weren't.


To read about my heart-hurting in-between {pregnancies} days, and how God spoke to my heart preemptively again, about having a VBAC, see this story.

To see me struggle through my second pregnancy here's all those posts! (All 41+6 weeks worth of 'em.)

To read my VBAC story, click here.  


  1. Hard to write, good to read.

  2. Thank you for writing your story! I think I bawled at least 4 times while reading it. I needed to hear this - yours is so much like my own birth story. Its so good to not feel quite so alone anymore, even though we're perfect strangers to each other. Again, thank you so very, very much :)

    1. Oh Shelby, thank you, quite literally for saying thank you. I wasn't sure why I wrote it, because it was just so hard. But your thank you brings me some joy in the healing process.

  3. Wow-- what an ordeal! thank you so much for writing it out. I'm a writing processor too so I can totally identify with having to wait years before putting down words to help with the healing. Bless you!

  4. You comment about Ruby at the end of your post- who's Ruby?

    1. She is my second daughter. She was my VBAC baby. I had her at home in July of 2012. (I have her birth story written out as well.) (I did initially refer to her as Baby A for a while there, before I gave the girls blog aliases.)
      I spent my entire second pregnancy trying not to be terrified of what would happen the second time I gave birth. It was a huge emotional battle for me to trust God again with her birth.

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