So, approximately one month before Clement was born when I was about 31 weeks along I had an ultrasound to make sure the baby was still growing at a healthy rate and to follow up on the teeniest of concerns that maybe a Vasa Previa was a brewing. Simon wasn’t at all concerned and neither was I so when the high risk doctor came in (who happens to share an office with Simon so Simon could be there too … perk of the job!) to explain that the Vasa Previa wasn’t budging and that he recommended a scheduled c-section between 34-37 weeks I was pretty surprised. We were assured that the outcomes are pretty darn good with early detection + scheduled c-section and the catastrophic outcomes often come when you go into labor and then discover the pesky Vasa Previa.
I’ll admit that a sliver of my mom brain jumped right to all the logistics of a baby coming a month early and before Christmas vs. after Christmas which might sound heartless but if you have kids and you don’t finish shopping in July and don’t do all the fun and festive things and don’t decorate the day after Halloween .. you feel me. But, the vast majority of my sentiments fell into the grateful category. Grateful that it had been detected early and extra grateful for modern medicine.
I mentally chopped my project/paint to-do list down to a manageable size and grilled my friends who had had c-sections about what to expect in terms of recovery and became my usual insomniac third trimester self.
Clement had been measuring nice and big (just like Abe – who turned out to be my biggest baby by FAR) on ultrasound so I wasn’t concerned that he or she was going to be teeny tiny. And other than my usual Braxton Hicks marathons I showed no signs of going into labor so the month leading up to the delivery felt relatively stress-free on the medical front. I got the steroid shots to help his lungs about a week before the c-section and Simon was able to move his patients and surgeries around which was admittedly convenient about a delivery being scheduled.
We’d scheduled the c-section for early morning on December 11th which was one day shy of 36 weeks and about as long as my doctor was comfortable with waiting. Theo had been born right at 37 weeks and did really well so while one week isn’t nothing – I was feeling cautiously optimistic and stupidly hopeful about the baby spending little to no time in the NICU so as to get me home and back in ~working order for the older kids.
Lots of typing and no birthing, Grace.
December 11th. We made the short drive to the hospital and got all checked in at 4am. Our (very old and very faulty) car alarm randomly wouldn’t stop blaring and we were terrified that we’d get pulled over for auto theft (we didn’t and Simon fixed the alarm later that day) so any nerves I had about the delivery were thankfully distracted by Bonnie-Grace and Clyde-Simon.
I got my IVs (two! a first for me) placed, got gowned up, hairnet secured to my head, and away we rolled. Simon did hundreds of c-sections during residency so knowing he was completely familiar with the situation helped keep my mind at ease. He wasn’t going to be scrubbing in and wielding a scalpel or anything insane but it was nice that the OR territory was only uncharted for one of us.
Getting the spinal felt pretty much identical to getting an epidural but my lower two thirds were completely numb vs semi-numb and moveable. I voiced my concern that I would be the one person that actually feels every single bit of the c-section but the nurse anesthetist assured me he had never seen that happen. I felt sufficiently assured and appreciated that my arms didn’t have to be strapped down like I’d heard could be a possibility.
After a few minutes of some tugging and pressure I felt immediate relief and could breathe easier (I swear my babies like to live in my rib cage) and Simon exclaimed, “it’s a …. boy!!” which shocked him and did not shock me. He felt certain we were having a girl and I felt certain we were having a boy. I immediately teared up with all the happy + relieved tears as one tends to do after you have a baby and started to wonder if he was okay because I heard zero baby cries. Simon told me he definitely was and they brought him over almost immediately.
My doctor guessed he was six pounds and three ounces which wasn’t too far off as he weighed in at six pounds and one ounce. He was so calm and chill which was so different from a lot of our other newborns (Simon still claims Julia was the most angry baby he’s ever encountered post-delivery). It took a bit to get all put back together and my wonderful OB reconfirmed how important the c-section was after showing us that both the umbilical cord and placenta were laying super low. At one point I thought I felt short of breath and momentarily freaked out but I was kindly reminded that if I could talk — I could breathe. L to the O to the L, hypochondriac patient alive and well.
We had pretty much agreed that if we had a boy we’d name him Clement in honor of Simon’s mom (you might remember the following prayer she scripted that was handed out at her funeral last December) …
Back to the OR. Anesthesia gave me what was essentially a block on my stomach to help the pain as the spinal wore off and it worked initially but then … it did not. We spent our time in the recovery room trying to get Clement to latch which he did in between long naps. I was feeling pretty okay at that point and excited to get to my actual hospital room and have at least some of the kids come meet him.
The kids were all SO excited to meet him but I’d be lying if I told you Phoebe’s face didn’t fall when she realized he was a boy. She’d had many a dream that the baby was a girl and figured her dreams didn’t lie, I guess. She looked at me and said, “we have SO MANY BOZE” (boze = boys although she’s since learned to pronounce boy correctly which is really actually quite sad) but quickly came around and is always telling me she thinks Clement, “just needs a boob” when he’s crying and she’s usually not wrong.
Abe was very intrigued and not much has changed since then.
Clement was doing really well post delivery and we really thought he’d be coming home with me a few days later but he ended up needing some oxygen and observation in the NICU for a week two days after he was born. This is where I need to apologize to both c-section moms and parents that have dealt with babies in the NICU because I had absolutely no idea how difficult either one would be.
I could dedicate a whole series to how brutal I felt my recovery was BUT I think it was actually pretty average which is to say that it was really painful and I don’t think the many walks/shuffles back and forth to and from the NICU in between trying to pump an ounce at a time helped much. Leaving Clement at the hospital after I was discharged was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done (which is to say that I’ve had a pretty easy breezy life) but it was so nice to get back home to the kids and my own bed.
I had to start sending Simon to visit/feed Clement when I knew the NICU doctors were doing their rounds in the mornings because it felt like every day they tacked on, “a few more days” to his stay due to weight loss and it was getting hard not to break down into a puddle of tears every time. But, of course! He was eventually discharged and has been doing so well and gaining weight like a little champ.
I’m a little over two months out and feel mostly like myself again. Exactly one week after Clement was born Phoebe had her Christmas program at school and I was so distracted because I was still in so much pain and felt like maybe I’d never feel better or like myself again because I’d had such easy recoveries from all of my other births. But, as usual – I was wrong and the recovery was just a slow (and pretty normal) one. He was 110% worth it and I’d do it again and again to have him here. I try not to let myself think about what would’ve happened had I spontaneously gone into labor … so I don’t!
And, that’s the pretty undramatic birth story! I would definitely take hours + hours of pushing out an OP baby over a c-section recovery (although I have a friend that told me her VBAC recovery was so much worse than her c-section recoveries) so many and mad props to you ladies who’ve weathered multiple c-sections – you’re all warriors.
And with that … I’ll say, “the end” and wish you a very Happy Galentine’s Day 🙂