I had everything planned for my twin delivery. I was going medication free, and it was going to be as natural as possible. My doctor knew that I wanted skin to skin and delayed cord clamping, and that I planned to breastfeed. Unfortunately things don’t always go as planned… but sometimes what happens is just as beautiful! If you haven’t read part 1 to our birth story, start here. Today we will pick up where that left off, with the c-section.
7 p.m. Failure.
The OB and Midwife had just finished their heart to heart with me. At this point a c-section was the safest delivery route for me and my boys, and I had agreed. But, I wasn’t happy. I was so very broken hearted. When the doctors left, I broke down to my husband, parents, and doula. I felt like such a failure.
Millions of women before me gave birth without medical intervention, what was wrong with me that I couldn’t do the most natural thing around?! I’m one of 6 kids, including a set of twins, and my mom had all vaginal deliveries, my aunts, grandma, great grandma… 12 deliveries all the way nature intended it. Why couldn’t I just do the same?
It’s my story.
This was one of the many times during my labor that I was so grateful to have a doula, because she reminded me of something very important. My birth story is just that….MY birth story! It doesn’t matter what anyone else’s looked like, it was mine, and it was all that mattered. At the end of the day all I wanted was a safe delivery and healthy baby boys, and this was how it had to be done.
Now, I had a choice in the matter. I could choose to be a victim here, or choose to own it, and be proud. Clearly, you can see what I choose. From there I really just flipped the switch in my mind from victim to warrior and it made all the difference. As crazy as it seems I washed my face and put on a little makeup (war paint) so I didn’t look a mess in our first family photos, pulled up my big girl pants and made the best of it.
My angel nurse
When I was first admitted I had an amazing labor and delivery nurse, who I just clicked with. I loved her so much that when she came back in that next morning for her shift (after only being gone of 12 hours) I cried happy tears to see her. She was with me all day Thursday, but her shift had ended at 7p.m., right when we decided to agree to a c-section. This nurse was a saint. Knowing how upset I was that my mom and doula wouldn’t be at my delivery, she offered to come into the operating room and take pictures of the whole thing, even though she technically was off the clock. Like, who does that? Only my angel nurse Emily who I still am in contact with today!
8 p.m. Game time!
At 8p.m. Matt and I walked by to the Operating Room. I had to leave him at the door, so that I could go in and be prepped. He would be brought in when they were ready to start. I was so freakin’ scared. Most of you know that I am a crazy researcher, so I had a few things tucked away just in case we came to this, and I’m glad that we did. One thing that I requested was to do my spinal before inserting the catheter because I didn’t want to have to feel it. Kindly, they obliged! So when I entered the room, the first task was to get my spinal placed.
This was probably what I was most scared of. What if it didn’t take? Was it going to hurt? It was a slight pinch but before I knew it I was numb and strapped onto the table. I was still incredibly nervous. It felt like hours while they were prepping me, Matt still wasn’t in the room, and my anxiety was really picking up. I remember telling the anesthesiologist that I couldn’t breath, and him jokingly replying “well, you’re talking to me so I know you’re breathing, but I just put a little something in your IV to take the edge off.” For a second I was pissed (remember I wanted a drug free delivery?! hahahaha), then the meds must’ve kicked in because I didn’t care much anymore!
Here we go! C-Section time!
Finally, Matt was able to come into the room! It was the best moment when I realized that he was there with me. From this point on, I just remember the O.R. transforming into a party atmosphere. Seriously! They had music on, the doctors were joking with each other and with me, and it was truly a celebration! I was about to meet my babies! In the operating room there were nurses for me, nurses for the babies, the anesthesiologist, the obstetrician, the midwife, the pediatrician, and my angel nurse, Emily.
Originally just like the films there was a big curtain up between my head and my body, blocking the view for both Matt and I. However, when it came time for delivery the Ob lowered the curtain with Matt’s approval so he could see all that was going on. Thank goodness he doesn’t get queezy, because then he would’ve needed a nurse too.
Baby A: Grady John
At 8:27p.m. Grady John Valvano was born. He was delivered and immediately grabbed the cord to some monitor that was draped over my tummy, they cleaned him off a bit and gave him a bit before clamping his cord. Then one of the sweetest things happened. The doctor wrapped him in a blanket and lifted him over the curtain and dropped him into Matt’s hands- they call it the Stork Drop. Matt then got to bring him down to my face, so that I could formally meet (and smooch) him. Ugh, I am tearing up just writing this, but there is no better moment than meeting your child. He was healthy as can be at 18.75″ long and weighing 5 lbs 8 oz. He was then handed over to the baby nurse and the doctors got back to work to deliver Baby B.
Baby B: Greyson Daniel
At 8:30p.m. Greyson Daniel Valvano was born. One of the funniest parts of reviewing the pictures that my nurse took was the time between Grady’s birth and Greyson’s birth. Grady’s water has been the water that broke, so Greyson’s was still in tact. Well, my camera setting was on “live photo” so when they broke Greyson’s water, you can see it pop and the doctors move out of the way. It is so amazing to have all of those details recorded!
When Greyson was born, he was lighter in color than Grady, and had the cord wrapped around his neck. He also had a true knot in his umbilical cord that could’ve restricted flow of nutrients to him while in the womb. Both of these things would’ve put him at risk had we ended up with a vaginal delivery, and may have resulted in an emergency c-section anyway. God works in funny ways, don’t you think?
Because of the cord being around his neck he was having some trouble catching his breath after delivery, so he was quickly introduced to me, but then taken away to be worked on by the pediatrician. I couldn’t really tell all that was going on then, but I knew something wasn’t quite right. The doctors assured us that this happens and there was no need to worry just yet. He was 18.25″ long and weighed 5 lb 2 oz. One of my immediate reactions after seeing him was how much he looked like my little brother, Hayden.
We had made a plan with the doctors that at this point Matt would take both boys to the nursery to do all their testing while I was closed up. So, he left with them, but I got to stay at the party a bit longer.
The doctor’s were really awesome, making jokes to keep my spirits up. At one point he held up my uterus and told me how great it looked, and said that my ovaries were healthy as could be! At the time it was just enough to keep my mind off of the fact that their hands were literally inside of my belly. Soon enough I was closed up from the c-section, and transferred to a new bed. They then wheeled me back into my room. I’ll never forget being wheeled past the nursery windows and seeing our entire family out there cheering for me and admiring our babies. Gosh, we are so lucky to have all the love that we do.
Recovery from a c-section is pretty freaky for a few reasons. To start, you start to shake violently – like the biggest shivers ever. I had read about that so I wasn’t concerned, but I was afraid to drop the babies. Also, I remember my legs feeling like pins and needles in random places when my spinal started to wear off. Shortly after I was back in my room, Grady was brought in to try to nurse. Soon after that Greyson’s breathing had steadied enough for them to bring him in also. Getting to hold my boys for the first time was worth every ounce of pain and stress that I’d experienced over the last 9 months. As exhausted as I was, I didn’t want to put my boys down to try to sleep. I was too excited and grateful to be holding two healthy baby boys.
Reflections from a c-section warrior
Two years later, it’s much easier to remove myself from the situation and reflect. I put a ton of pressure on myself to have the perfect birth. What I realized was that I had no clue what the perfect birth even was. As far as I’m concerned, the birth of my boys could not have been any more perfect for me. I think it’s so hard in the moment, but we have to try to embrace the fact that we don’t have all the details all the time, and that’s okay. I took every possible measure to be prepared and I’m so grateful that I did because it helped me know what to expect with a c-section, even though it wasn’t in my “plan.” Other than knowing that there is a lot of unknowns in child birth, you kind of have to let go and let God take the reins.
Thank you so much for reading our c-section birth story. It holds such a special place in my heart, and I felt compelled to share it in hopes to help other new moms set more realistic expectations than what I had set for myself. Who knows what my next birth story will look like (if we are ever blessed with another peanut), but I do know that my mindset will be completely different. I hope after reading, yours is too.
Your Millennial [c-section warrior] Mama,