Hadley’s Birth Story

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I was scheduled to give birth to my daughter via a repeat C-Section at 9:30 am on Monday September 25, 2017. It was such a weird feeling to have a birth scheduled for a specific day and time.

I was so sure that the baby was going to come early and I anxiously paid attention to every new pain, twinge, or odd feeling I had during my last weeks of pregnancy.

My first child, a son, Wyatt, was also a scheduled C-section, but he came early – on his own terms. My water broke in the middle of the night and I gave birth to him, still via cesarean, early the following morning. It was impossible to not compare this second pregnancy and impending labor to my first.

During the last three weeks of my pregnancy I slept on a waterproof crib mattress pad, covered our couch with a blanket, and sat on a towel while driving my car. I was 99% my water would break at some inopportune moment. The days were painfully long as I uncomfortably waited. My back hurt, my hips hurt, and I was so tired.  

But baby girl was content on staying inside.

The night before the big day I was full of equal parts excitement and anxiety. I had the normal fears of bringing a new life into the world: Would she be healthy? Would I be okay? But I also couldn’t wait to meet my baby girl. Ryan and I went to bed early and tired to a get a restful sleep.

My alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and it felt like Christmas morning! I hopped in the shower and washed with the special Hippacleanse soap and got dressed in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I did my hair and applied light make-up (a perk of a scheduled birth!)

Ryan’s parents drove into town early to stay with Wyatt. As we gave them instructions on nap and lunch schedules, it felt like we were merely heading out of town for a long weekend or a date night, not going to the hospital to have a new baby!

I hugged Wyatt extra hard and said goodbye. “You’ll always be my baby” I whispered. He blew me kisses and smiled, totally oblivious to the fact that his entire world was about to be changed forever. Ryan snapped one final “bump photo” of me before we headed out the door.

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We were quiet as we made the twenty-minute drive to the hospital. I was most worried about whether or not the baby was healthy, getting the spinal tap, and the surgery recovery, but I kept trying to picture holding and looking into my daughter’s eyes. “Everything is going to be fine!” Ryan kept repeating.

We arrived at the hospital and checked in and were told to wait in the outpatient surgery waiting area. Sitting there, with Fox News playing on the TV, it felt like we were waiting to go in just to get a cyst removed or some other simple procedure, not to have a baby! I felt no urgency from the staff. We waited to be called back. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life! We finally got checked in and I got called back to a small pre-op room, Ryan wasn’t allowed to go with me yet.

Back in the pre op room the nurse went over my medications, took my vitals, and had me put my things in a locker after I changed into a hospital gown. Ryan was allowed to come back at this point. Another nurse came in and went over the surgery and the recovery. She was followed by the anesthesiologist who went over the spinal tap.

The spinal was what I was most worried about, and even having the doctor describe the procedure made me cringe. He went over all of the risks, like a 1% chance that the spinal wouldn’t work and they’d have to use general anesthesia, or that there would be permanent nerve damage. Everything had gone 100% fine with my cesarean with Wyatt, so I kept reminding myself today would go fine. These doctors perform cesareans thousands of times.  

He left and Ryan and I anxiously waited and watched the clock. Only about 20 minutes before the surgery! I decided to make a last trip to the bathroom and when I came back I was told that an emergency C-section just came in and my procedure had to be pushed back for another hour. Of course I completely understood, but what a disappointment!

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A nurse came in and put in my IV and then I went to another area and got scrubbed down and shaved. (I guess I didn’t do a good enough job at home!) I was given a disgusting “shot” of meds that were supposed to balance out the acid in my stomach. Ryan got scrubbed up. We were all prepped, now we just had to wait!

My parents came back and visited for a bit to pass the time. We all anxiously talked about what we thought the baby was going to look like, how big she was going to be, and how I was feeling. They left and then Ryan and I were left alone to impatiently twiddle our thumbs. Shortly after, a few nurses rushed in exclaiming it was go time! Everything started to move really fast after that.

We were quickly hustled out of the room and started walking down long halls to the OR. Outside the door to the operating room, Ryan and I had to temporarily say our goodbyes. He wasn’t allowed in the room while they prepped me and did the spinal block.

The blindingly bright OR was full of busy energy with nurses and doctors running all around. The scent of sanitizer filling the air. They checked my identity and immediately got me in position to do the spinal – the one thing I was least looking forward to!

The nurses instructed me to sit on the very edge of the cold table and hunch my back over my big belly as much as I could. It was so uncomfortable and I felt like I was going to fall down. The one kind nurse in the room held my hand, I felt the prick of the numbing needle go in and forced myself to take a few big breaths.

The anesthesiologist told me he was going to be inserting the needle now and I would feel some pressure. I felt the needle go in and held my breath. I reminded myself it would all be over in a few minutes and I would soon be holding my baby.

Then I felt the same pressure prick again.

 “What’s going on?” I nervously asked.

“Just trying to find the right spot in your spine to enter.” He calmly replied.

I felt four more distinct pricks in my spinal area. My whole body was so tense. “Did you find it yet?” I asked, not even sure what “it” was.

A few seconds lately he confidently responded, “Yes! All set not.” Phew!

I lied back down on the table feeling calm and ready to go. The nurses started putting the draping up around me and scrubbing my belly down some more. I started to feel my feet get tingling and numb. My OBGYN came over to check everything out and said I was looking good, “You’re going to be holding your baby in a matter of moments! We’re going to take good care of you.” She said warmly.

Meanwhile a nurse was aggressively wiping down my lower extremities, so much so that I called out, “Ouch!”

“You can feel that?” Her surprised reply.

“Yes…”

“What does it feel like?”

“Like you are wiping me with a lot of pressure.”

“Oh!”

They proceeded to pinch my thighs and stomach, asking me if I was feeling anything. Every pinch and prod felt like I wasn’t numb at all. The anesthesiologist recommended I be placed on a ninety-degree angle, with my head towards the floor, hoping that gravity would make the numbing medication surge through my body faster.

About 4 minutes later the doctor pinched my stomach again. I felt no change in numbness and started to panic. What was going on?

“You know; you will feel SOME pressure. Is that what you feel?”

“No, it feels like I have no numbness at all!”

 What if they didn’t believe me that I wasn’t numb – that they thought I was exaggerating. I started to cry.

“Don’t worry, we’re not barbarians, we won’t cut you open when you can still feel pain. We’ll wait a couple more minutes.”

I tried to breath and stop crying. A couple more minutes passed, although it felt like an eternity, and they tested my stomach numbness again. I felt no change.

The anesthesiologist sat next to me and calmly delivered the news, “I’m sorry, but the Spinal Block was not successful.”

Now I was panicking. Keep in mind, I was still basically upside down on the table.

“What does that mean?”

“We are going to have to put you under general anesthesia.”

I burst into tears. That would mean I would be completely unconscious for the birth of my daughter. I couldn’t let this happen.

“But my feet are mostly numb!” I urged. “Can’t we wait a little bit longer, or do the spinal block again?”

“No, I’m sorry, we have to move forward now.”

I was so taken by surprise. It was explained in my pre-surgery consult that the Spinal Block only fails one percent of the time! I never thought I would be that one percent!

They told me that Ryan would not be allowed in the room during the surgery.

I was heartbroken.

Neither Ryan or I would be present for the birth of our daughter.

I asked if Ryan could at least come in and talk to me before I was put under. He had been out in the hallway this whole time, completely oblivious to everything that was going on.

The nice nurse went out to get Ryan and meanwhile I couldn’t stop sobbing. The doctors were all being nice about the situation but I was so upset and angry. Ryan came in, very confused. He told me that everything was going to be okay, but he couldn’t hold my hand or kiss me, due to the sterile environment. Seconds later he was escorted out of the room. I later learned he wasn’t really briefed on the whole situation and thought that he would be brought back into the OR once I was put under so he could be there for the birth. There was such bad communication!

Everything felt so urgent all of a sudden. It was all bright lights, beeping machines, and the nurses and doctors talking in what sounded like a secret code to one another.

They put a mask over my face and counted one, two, three and then I was out.

The next thing I remember is waking up in another room, surrounded by nurses. The first words I uttered were, “Is she okay?”

I was still very upset and crying, I still couldn’t believe I fell under the one percent where the spinal failed.

I’ve had to piece together bits of information given to me to know what happened. Ryan was there in the room holding Hadley. I wasn’t awake enough to be trusted to hold her just yet, unfortunately. He told me that he had been patiently waiting out in the hall, expecting them to come get him, when he heard a baby crying and thought, “Well, I guess that’s my daughter!”  (below are photos a nice nurse took for us after the birth, while I was unconscious and Ryan was not in the room)

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It took five minutes for a doctor to come out to deliver the good news and tell Ryan everything was okay. Hadley scored an 8 and 9 on her Apgar screening. She was healthy, pink, and had a set of lungs on her. Five more minutes passed and then Hadley was brought out to Ryan and they were escorted to the recovery room. I’m so thankful that Ryan was able to hold and comfort Hadley during this time while I was still unconscious.

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I didn’t get to hold my daughter for another thirty minutes. After waking up in the recovery room it took a couple of minutes until I was alert enough to hold her. I had tears streaming down my face when Ryan handed Hadley to me. She was so tiny and so beautiful and screaming her head off. I pushed away my feelings of sadness and took in her tiny face, her sweet smell, and he little noises. She was perfect.

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We started breastfeeding right away and she had no problem latching. I felt fortunate that even if I didn’t get to hold her and do skin to skin immediately upon birth, she still knew what to do and we could bond right away.

I had to stay in recovery a bit longer because I had lost a lot of blood during the C-Section – so much that I was prepped and ready for a blood transfusion before my bleeding subsided enough to not warrant one. I was very dizzy and out of it. One of my contacts fell out during surgery too, so my vision was a little limited.

The whole birth experience felt out of focus and I still couldn’t believe this was how I met my daughter, having her simply handed to me, with no memory of her leaving my body. I’m still struggling with anger, guilt, and sadness. It breaks my heart that neither her father or mother were with her when she was born.

I know how fortunate I am. My love for Hadley was instant – for all my worry about how I would love another baby as much as I love Wyatt. It was like she was always part of our family. I love her so much, our family is complete.

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I Finally Feel Like a Mom

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Nearly five months on the job and I finally feel like a mom.

At the end of my pregnancy I was bombarded with a lot of advice and opinions from experienced moms. Mostly they were warning me how hard the first few weeks of motherhood were going to be. “Nightmare”, “despair”, “survival”, and “crazy” were words that were all loosely thrown around.

I felt like I was being hit with negativity from all angles when all I wanted to do was float on my cloud of pre birth euphoria. I had waited my whole life to be a mom and was so excited to share my life with a cuddly little newborn. I knew it was going to be hard work and that there were going to be sleepless nights and challenging learning curves but I was so angry about all the negative words I was receiving from other moms. “How dare they ruin such a special time for me?” I thought as I rubbed my pregnant belly, daydreaming in my soon to be born son’s nursery. 

Oh how naive I was. I wish I could go back and hug that version of myself. 

It’s true, the first few weeks, even months, are all about survival. On the days that I wasn’t asking doctor google a ridiculous amount of questions (you don’t want to know how much time I spent looking at articles and images about newborn poop) I was trying to figure out how to let myself rest and recover or to find a way to not cry as much. The internet and the books place a huge importance on a routine for you and the baby. I could only laugh. The only “routine” Wyatt and I had was to feed him when he was hungry. 

On the good days I felt like I was playing pretend. Ryan and I would sit together on the couch at night, taking turns holding Wyatt, and saying “I can’t believe he’s actually here!”. Motherhood still didn’t feel like reality. It felt like I was being tested and that the baby could be taken away at any moment and we’d return to our “normal” lives. The days were long and the nights were even longer. I had zero clue what I was doing and felt like such a failure when Wyatt would scream and cry and nothing I did could help him and all I wanted to do was sleep. 

But it got easier. We’ve slowly been finding ways to make a routine and trying to stick to it. We’ve formed a bond – a beautiful bond between Wyatt and I and a fresh new bond between Ryan and I. I’ve learned to pick up on Wyatt’s cues and he’s learning more ways to express himself. Some days are still long, but most go by too quickly. We are slowly learning to live our new “normal”. 

There were many times in the first few months where I didn’t think I can, but now I know, I can do this. I can be a mother. The type of mother I’ve always esteemed to be. 

At least for today. I’m sure tomorrow Wyatt will do something entirely new and throw me off my game. But today. Today I’m good. 

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My 6 Couldn’t Live Without Newborn Essentials

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The first few days (or weeks) with a newborn baby are all about survival. As a first time mom I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Learning to take care of a newborn on very little sleep is hard. Add in trying to recover from a c-section and it’s brutally hard. So I thought a list of my 6 essential newborn essentials would be helpful for some other soon to be first time moms out there.

The biggest essential when taking care of a newborn is physical support. After Ryan went back to work with Wyatt was 7 days old I could not have gotten by without my mom’s help. If she didn’t come to spend every day with us I probably would have never gotten out of bed, let alone showered.

Newborns don’t need much. Give them loving arms to rest in and a boob or bottle to feed from and they can be happy little humans. Yet, there is a huge consumer market out there for baby products. Before Wyatt’s arrival I spent too much time analyzing, cost comparing, and researching baby products. After three months as a new mom, here are my 6 newborn baby products that were essential to surviving that first month:

The Arm’s Reach Arc Mini Co-Sleeper

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On his first night home from the hospital we attempted to put Wyatt to sleep in his Fisher Price Rock n Play. And although we love the Rock n Play as a place for him to hang out during the day, it just wasn’t cutting it has a safe place for him to sleep. We both barely got any sleep that night because we were so paranoid that he was going to roll over and suffocate himself on the sides of the Rock N Play. The next day, Ryan went out and bought this Co-Sleeper bassinet. It’s amazing! It attaches to your bed and sits almost flush up against your mattress, making your baby believe you are co-sleeping when you technically aren’t. 

At three-months, Wyatt is still sleeping soundly in his bassinet. I love that I can reach over and soothe him and pull him toward me for his middle of the night feedings. This was especially a winner while I was recovery from my c-section and getting out of bed was still torture. I can’t recommend this product enough. 

 

Love To Swaddle Up, Original

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This is the only swaddle that Wyatt would sleep in. Once you get over how silly and cute the baby looks in it, you realize how effective it truly is. We tried various other swaddle wraps but our little Houdini always managed to wiggle himself out of them. He proved night after night that he HAD to have his hands UP in order to sleep. After more sleepless nights spent googling “Why won’t my baby sleep” I came across this swaddle that allows baby’s hand to be in the up position while sleeping. Genius! 

Boppy Newborn Lounger

 

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I must admit, when I was first encouraged to put this on my baby registry I thought it was a glorified pillow and would be a useless product taking up space in my already crowded house. But it has proven to be essential. It’s molded to fit a tiny newborn’s body and is perfect to place next to you on the couch or on the floor. Yes, newborns like to be held 99% of the time, but you can’t hold a baby ALL of the time. When you need a little rest or, god forbid, use the bathroom, this pillow comes in handy.

I had a tough c-section recovery and had a hard time getting up from the floor or even off the couch for weeks, making it hard to play with my baby on the floor. This helped to keep my baby near and give him the space to stretch out and kick while I could be right next to him still. 

Sassy Floor Mirror

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Newborns are only awake for about a total of 2 hours a day. And even then, their attention spans last about a minute or two, so there is really no need to throw a bunch of toys in a newborns face. But we found this big floor mirror to be a big winner. Wyatt got a kick out of studying his reflection in the mirror. I like that it stands up on its own and that the mirror shows a true reflection and isn’t all crazy distorted like some of the other baby mirrors out there. This was the one toy that always caught his attention. 

Target’s Nursing Camis

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I lived in these camis for the first few weeks. They are so comfortable and are easy to layer and are a nice long length. I now wear them under cardigans and sweatshirts for easy boob access at work for pumping and feeding. I stocked up when Target offered a buy one get one 50% off sale. 

iBaby Feed Timer Phone App

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I would be so lost without this app on my phone. I’ve been using is since the third day of Wyatt’s life. I downloaded a few other free apps first but they were confusing to use and not that helpful. iBaby Feed costs $4.95 but is so simple to understand and learn how to use. I track which boob he feeds on and for how long and get notifications to when and which side he is due to feed on next. It gives you a log from day one and analyses feed lengths. You can also track bottle feeds, pumping sessions, and sleep schedules. If you have more than one child, you can insert multiple child’s data in one app and even share data across multiple phones with various care givers. Very essential!

There you have it! The six items I’d be lost without during Wyatt’s first month, and still use!

What about you? What are your newborn baby essentials?