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If you follow me over on instagram, you know that for the entirety of my second pregnancy, my husband and I had every intention of going the all-natural and unmedicated route. However, as you would have later seen, that did not end up being the case. In fact, the birth we ended up was one I was terrified of but ended up loving. Confused, well let me explain…
So before you assume that I am some hippy, the plan to give birth unmedicated this time around was prompted by the traumatic birth of our daughter, Cassidy. Long story short, after 14 hours of labor and a failed epidural, our girl suffered an unexpected complication called Shoulder Dystocia (her head was out but shoulders got wedged on pelvis). I will spare you the full story (you can read her birth story here) but what I will say is that after about a minute of not hearing her cry followed by a 2- day NICU stay, both my husband and I left that experience scarred.
Going forward, knowing we wanted to try for another kiddo, we started to research and after meeting with our wonderful midwife practice they explained to us that a shoulder dystocia incident is often unpredictable and not necessarily a reason for a c-section. Despite a c-section being my previous OBGYN’s recommendation, our new midwife practice told us that they’d support any decision we made. However, they did recommend that if a vaginal delivery was our hope, it would be best to go unmedicated so that I could move around and get myself into positions that made my pelvis a bit more “optimal.”
So with that in mind, we prepped for the remaining 9 months. We took hypnobirthing classes so that we could better work on our mindsets, I started visiting a chiropractor to better align my pelvis and then hired a doula. We put in a ton of preparation. However, our little man had different plans. At 34 weeks, we found out our guy was transverse and from here he kept us on our toes as he continuously switched back and forth from being head down to sideways. Finally at 37 weeks, when he had literally been head down the week previous, he was back to being transverse again which meant we’d need to visit with the partnering OBGYN practice if we wanted to get him manually turned.
Now I’m not one who believes that there is some grand plan in place by God but I do believe that certain things just happen when needed and this was one of those times. Funny enough, when we went to the OBGYN, we learned that our boy was back to being head down. However, since this was the first time meeting with a doctor and reviewing our medical history and hearing our birth experience with Cassidy, he highly suggested we consider a C-Section. Why? Well because our little shoulder dystocia experience wasn’t so little after all. As he explained, we had about a 10% chance of it happening again and since our daughter did have be monitored in the NICU afterwards, that told him that it was a much more serious incident and one we were lucky to have made it out of without her being effected permanently.
Of course, this entire time we knew their would be risks with trying for a vaginal delivery but hearing it put into words again and reminded of how severe our experience was, we knew a c-section would be the safest option. Sure it would require more recovery and come with its own set of risks but it better guaranteed our boy arriving safe, healthy and happy. I wouldn’t have ever been able to forgive myself had we pursued a vaginal delivery and end up in another similar predicament or worse. Once again, this is when I really look back and think there was some divine intervention in play.
So going forward in choosing a c-section, we were given two options: either we could schedule a date (anytime after we hit 39 weeks), or we could wait until I went into labor naturally. For us, with having Cassidy to think about, living an hour away from the hospital, and Keven having work obligations, it was much easier to go ahead and schedule our c-section to be done exactly on the day I hit 39 weeks. September 19th, 2019, had a great ring to it.
So when that day came, we were told that we had to be at the hospital 2 hours ahead of time. Since our section was scheduled for 9am, this meant we had to be there by 7 AND since we live about an hour away from the hospital, this meant that we’d need to be up super early.
Once we got there, we went straight to the labor and delivery ward and went to the lady at the front desk. She had all of our paperwork set and was expecting us so it was pretty straightforward from there. After waiting about 15 minutes for a nurse to come and grab us, we were brought back to the prep area. This is where I got on my gown, got an IV, had fetal monitors placed, was asked basic health questions, met with the entire surgical staff and then waited.
Funny enough, during this time, our decision to have a c-section was reinforced when we learned that our little acrobatic baby was at lying transverse. Yes, he was no longer head down. As the doctor later said, there was clearly something going on with my pelvis that just did not want to birth a baby. In fact, that makes perfect sense considering all the pain and problems I had been experiencing this pregnancy with my pelvic and SI joint area. I can’t even imagine what might have happened had be tried going for a vaginal delivery.
Additionally, during our prep is where I got to meet with one of our midwives on call. Even though they wouldn’t have any part in the surgery itself, the midwife would still accompany me into the O.R. and basically be on my side of things so that they could ensure the delivery went as much in my favor as possible. Essentially they would be the ones in there to make sure the team stuck as closely to my birth plan and make me feel at ease. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this and how thankful I am to have had their support.
As opposed to an emergency c-section this preparation as a whole was what set the mood for the entire rest of the delivery. Not only was I able to calmly prepare myself but I was able to walk in knowing I had such a supportive surgical staff. I knew that even though it was a major surgery and one I was scared of, they all had my back and would make sure both my baby and I came out safe.
So when it was time to get started, they had me walk in first with my midwife so that I could get the spinal administered. Again, this was where I was thankful for having worked with midwives. They were able to be by my side during this process, since Keven couldn’t come in. The O.R. was cold and bright and a bit intimidating at first but the staff waiting were all smiles and very personable, which helped ease me.
Now if you have ever given birth and had an epidural, the spinal was fairly similar. The only difference is that there is no catheter with a spinal. Instead there is one injection to numb and then another injection which goes into your spinal column and numbs your entire lower body, from your nipples down. It felt mostly like a bee sting and then sudden warmth. It was quick and painless and took effect fairly quick. Best of all, it actually felt really relaxing. However, I was told it was probably the tiny bit of morphine found in the spinal medicine that was making me feel good. Either way, I had zero complaints!
From here on out, the team asked if I wanted any specific music on, set up the drape (we decided not to go with a clear drape although this is very common with “gentle c-sections”), put an oxygen mask on me and then Keven was walked in to sit by my head. Thats when I heard the OBGYN say, “making first incision.” I’ll admit, I think I held my breath afraid I was about to feel it but I definitely did not and surgery was underway. Aside from a few occasional moments of nausea, which the anesthesiologist treated with a counter medicine, I felt perfectly fine. This, I was told, is a common to thing to happen as a result of the spinal medicine affecting your blood pressure and from your internal organs being moved about. Thankfully, I knew this prior and was sure to speak up ASAP so that I never puked.
I should also mention that at no time did I ever feel “out of it” or loopy. After hearing from others that this had happened to them during their c-sections, I made sure to discuss this with our anesthesiologist before hand. It was also stated in my birth preference sheet as well. From my understanding, this can happen as the the result of anti-anixety medication being given, which is not the standard practice. As our anesthesiologist explain, he prefers to avoid such medications unless absolutely necessary or personally requested.
Aside from all of this, the first 10 minutes or so was pretty uneventful. However at 9:50 a.m., Keven and I heard the doctor say “why hello Spencer!” That followed by a giant cry. Our little boy had been born and as you’d expect, I immediately broke down in tears. To hear that cry was all that mattered, especially since during Cassidy’s delivery we had to wait for that. Keven and I celebrated with a kiss and then I sent him over to the area in the room where the staff were getting the main vitals on Spencer.
Even though I couldn’t see him for the first 5 minutes, the staff was excellent in that they kept him in the same room and then also made sure to yell out everything they were doing so that I could be involved. Once all looked good the midwife then grabbed him and brought him to do skin-to-skin while they finished stitching me up. This was the one perk of having a “gentle c-section.” The rest of the surgery from here took about 35/40 minutes. However, the rest of that time was of no bother to me. All that mattered was that I had my baby on my chest. Since I never had that moment with Cassidy, this meant everything to me.
Once surgery was complete, Keven and I got to spend some time in the recovery area with our newest bundle of joy. While we were there my vitals were monitored for about 90 minutes and we got to try breastfeeding. After everything seemed good to go, we were wheeled to the maternity floor, which is where we’d spend the rest of our 3 day stay.
Now I don’t want to get to into the specifics of recovery (because I think that deserves a post of its own) but I will say that while it certainly wasn’t the easiest, it was not impossible. In fact, I think my recovery was worse with Cassidy. Additionally, mindset was most definitely the biggest factor in my recovery. Fortunately, the one perk of knowing I was having a c-section was that I could do my homework, educate myself on what to expect and prepare for the discomfort. I can’t imagine going into this major surgery unprepared or without warning. So with that in mind, if there any pregnant mamas out there reading this, please do yourself a favor and do your homework just incase. 1 out of 3 women will end up with a c-section so while it isn’t always planned for, it is certainly a possibility in any birth.
This birth experience was amazing. Sure, a c-section wasn’t my preferred delivery, but it allowed me a chance to regain what I had lost when Cassidy was born: CONTROL. I wanted to make a choice on how things went, how I’d feel and most of all, ensure I gave my son the best chance possible at a healthy delivery. Yes, I put in a lot of preparation into a vaginal birth but I’ve come to accept that that wasn’t in store for us and most likely never will be again. It doesn’t mean my body failed me or that I gave up. Instead, in my eyes, I made an even bigger sacrifice. I chose the path less traveled and in the end ended up with a gift greater than anything. I’d do it all again a million times and wouldn’t change a thing.
So with that being said, welcome to the world my sweet little boy. Spencer Michael Hendricks, you are a dream come true. Thank you for picking me to be your mama
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When I found out that we were indeed expecting again, the one thing we knew was that we wanted this time to be different. Now don’t get me wrong, my first pregnancy was pretty flawless but when it came to her delivery, it was traumatic. Aside from experiencing a scary situation (check out Cassidy’s birth story here to see what I’m referring to), the thing that we say most affected us in her birth was the feeling of complete lack of control. I didn’t know what decisions to make, what to reject, and what to ask for. In summary, I was not a very good advocate for myself.
Of course, in any pregnancy and labor, there is only so much a person can do. In fact, that’s pretty much true in all aspects of life. Some things just can’t be planned for. Instead, all we can do is hope for the best. This very approach was the exact thing we wanted to acknowledge this time. We wanted to stay realistic but also not be afraid to tailor requests based on our desires. We didn’t want to create a birth plan but rather we wanted to create a birth preference.
Whats the difference? Well a birth preference sheet maintains structure while still remaining fluid. It takes into consideration that things at the end of the day may not always go exactly how we want them to. Instead, a birth preference sheet gives a general idea or rough blue print to your practitioner of how you’d like for things to occur so that they can best help you meet those goals. They might not be able to adhere to it all but at least they can try and get some things matched.
So with that being said, I created three different birth preference sheets: one for a unmedicated vaginal delivery and one for a cesarean and then one for a general vaginal delivery, in the case an epidural is requested.
Now with all birth preferences, I should note that each hospital has its own sets of protocol and procedure. For example, our hospital is one of the leaders in New Jersey to do “gentle c-sections.” Because of this, that is what the birth plan follows and is structured for. I’d recommend you check with your doctor and hospital to see how they operate. Another thing to keep in mind is that we are going in for an elective c-section so this obviously means things should run a tad more smoothly than it would if it were an emergency.
Trust me, I know how easy it can be to set your mind to a specific idea of how you want your birth to be. I did this with Cassidy (my first), did it with my son (my second) but with my third I am leaving it up to fate. While I know that I can’t ever say with absolute uncertainty that things will go according to plan, I know that with the help of a well structured birth preference sheet, I can better prepare and set myself up for a birth that is as close to perfect as possible.
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