On Wednesday, March 2, at 1:26 p.m., we welcomed little Wyatt into our world. It’s taken me a while to get around to writing about the story of his birth…but after four or five (or more) tries, here it is!
I have to preface this by saying I was not looking forward to having a c-section. And that’s putting it mildly. In fact, after learning mid-way through my pregnancy that the baby was breech, I tried everything in my power to get “it” (at that point, we didn’t know what the sex was) to flip naturally – from swimming and inversions to acupuncture and moxibustion.
After all, my original hope was to try for a natural birth. But after an unsuccessful version there was simply no other option because our hospital won’t deliver breech babies vaginally.
It wasn’t so much the surgery aspect that freaked me out, though; it was the fact that I’d be awake for all of it…and that I’d be confined to an operating table, unable to move, while everything was happening around me.
Plus, I had concerns about it not feeling like an actual “birth” without the labor aspect. Would I still be able to create that bond with the baby that happens when you get to enjoy those first few moments of skin-to-skin contact?
I do believe everything happens for a reason, however, and it turned out to be a pretty positive — I’d even go so far as to say fantastic — experience. So future c-section mamas, take heart!
At 39 weeks and two days, we were scheduled for surgery at 12:30 p.m., so we needed to show up at the hospital to check in at 10 a.m. I was a bundle of nerves that morning, so Ben suggested we hit the gym early to work off some of my nervous energy. There’s nothing like 30 minutes on the elliptical to get your mind right.
After a quick shower — no breakfast because you can’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery — it was already time to head over to the hospital. Time was passing too quickly, and walking into the labor and delivery ward was absolutely surreal knowing, “Well, we’re going to have a baby in about 2-3 hours.”
After we got settled into a spacious room with a nice view of Northwest Portland, the nurses quickly went to work prepping me for surgery. There was a lot of activity, but the three things I remember most were getting my IV, meeting with the anesthesiologist to go over what would be happening and being put in a paper suit hooked up to what sounded like a blow dryer to warm me up before surgery.
I closed my eyes and tried to enjoy the warmth, but it wasn’t too long before it was time to get down to business. I remember thinking that I should be walking as they were wheeling me in my hospital bed down the hall toward the operating room.
As we went past the waiting room, I got to say hello to Ben’s folks and pause for a quick photo op. It was a relief to see family and get a final few words of encouragement, plus it was a nice distraction!
Despite doing everything I could to mentally prepare myself beforehand, I was dreading the next 10-15 minutes. There’s a great explanation of it here, but basically Ben wouldn’t be allowed in the OR while they got everything set up and started.
Meanwhile, they rolled my hospital bed into the OR, and I fought the overwhelming urge to RUN. Instead, as instructed, I climbed out of bed and up onto the operating table, which was (again) surreal. Those tables are surprisingly tiny!
My doctor was amazing, though — she held my hand and talked to me as I hunched over a pillow and got my spinal. I had been worried about how I’d react to it because I’d never had one before and heard some horror stories, but everything went very smoothly. First came an injection to numb the area (they said it’d feel like a bee sting, but it wasn’t that bad) and then an injection into my spine to numb me from the chest down (I didn’t feel anything).
As the spinal kicked in, however, it did feel a lot like that pins and needles sensation when your legs fall asleep. And as it took full effect, I could still feel pressure and movement (again, surreal!) but absolutely no pain.
From there, things continued to, again, move swiftly. In order to create a pleasant atmosphere and try to add some warmth to what can feel like a very sterile situation, my OB told me in advance that I could make a playlist for surgery prep. So I chose some Motown music to play in the background as the doctors and nurses chatted and got to work.
They draped me with a surgical screen, which was a little claustrophobic because it hangs so close to your face. But there’s a small window in front of your face — yes, really — that you can open to see what’s going on.
The cover to mine kept flopping open, and even though my bump was in the way, seeing anything specific was not in my revised birth plan. So, fortunately, a nurse kindly taped it shut until the big reveal. I was really glad we’d waited to find out the sex because the anticipation and excitement outweighed my nerves at this point.
By the time Ben walked in, he said that surgery was already underway. I’m not sure if it was the medications or the adrenaline, but either way it seemed like only a minute later that they were tugging around a lot (a really weird feeling, but totally tolerable) and then announced that we were about to have a baby!
There were another few tugs, which were forcible enough to rock my whole body back and forth, along with one strong push on my abdomen. I heard a nurse say to Ben, “Alright, are you ready, dad?”
“I’m ready.” he said, as the doctor had her assisting doctor give one final tug to pull the baby out of me.
“We have a baby!” Ben exclaimed, and as the doctor flipped Wyatt over he said, “It’s a little boy!” The doctors joked around about the grumpy face he was making after leaving his cozy confines from the past nine months and held him in front of the screen so I could see.
From there, they cleaned him up and took a few initial vitals before bringing him over to me so I could check him out and sneak a quick snuggle. He was so tiny and soft…all six pounds, nine ounces and 20.5 inches of him.
After that, things were pretty blurry as the pain meds kicked in. This is both good and bad – good because I felt no pain from the surgery, but bad because I would have liked to have been more coherent in the first few hours (and days!) after our son was born.
Ben said I was completely lucid with everyone, and I remember bits and pieces of conversations and moments…but didn’t retain information or have much of a short-term memory. Like when I asked the next day if we’d had the baby yet. Oops…oxycodone is no joke.
I do remember initially hanging out in the recovery room getting to do some skin-to-skin to bond with Wyatt, but the following days of recovery were fuzzy between the drugs, the sleep deprivation and the sheer excitement over growing our family by one tiny human.
Ben pitched in like a champ and was not only on diaper duty but also brought Wyatt to me for feedings because I wasn’t mobile right away. They did get me up and out of bed the day after surgery for a shower, and the pain at my incision was present but not overwhelming.
The worst part of the next few days was probably the frequent fundal massages! If you’re not familiar with ‘em, Google the term. Every nurse was apologetic and as gentle as possible, but my whole abdomen was super tender.
Aside from that, the hospital stay was really enjoyable. The staff was kind and helpful, the food was great, our room was comfortable and, as a friend told us beforehand, the best part was that time simply does not exist in there; you just get to enjoy your new addition and forget about the outside world for a few days.
All good things must come to an end, though, and by Saturday morning we were packing up and watching the mandatory newborn care videos. A lot of good those did, though, as we ended up taking out first ER trip a week later when I was worried Wyatt had caught my flu bug!
He shot us more than a few suspicious looks (his go-to face, as we’ve now learned) as we dressed him in his first outfit – a newborn one, which he was swimming in at a mere six pounds at that point (babies lose up to 10 percent of their body weight before they leave the hospital). We secured him in his car seat, loaded him up in the car and were off as a family of three…
Despite the fact that we are his parents, I couldn’t help but feel that we weren’t qualified to be taking this little man home with us. Sure, we did fine in the hospital under the guidance of the doctors and nurses, but being the sole people that he’d now be relying felt like an enormous responsibility (and, quite frankly, still does).
But babies are born each day, and people figure it out. And we’ll likely make a lot of mistakes along the way, but we’re excited to see where this ride called parenthood takes us.
So far? It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. We’ve had highs and lows when it comes to deciphering his cues, getting the hang of breastfeeding (still a work-in-progress), troubleshooting gas and reflux issues and navigating life on very little sleep and even less free time.
Foolishly, I thought that perhaps my endurance background would prepare me for the marathon that is the first few months with a newborn, but I learned a valuable lesson: There is no training plan when it comes to an infant.
Not only are they their own individual little people with distinct personalities, but just as pregnancy and delivery can be a total crap-shoot, it’s the luck of the draw when it comes to what kind of baby you’ll get, too.
Fortunately, though, even in their toughest moments they’re still lovable (and adorable). Although I may be eating those words when it comes to the toddler or teenage years!
Interested in learning more about my journey back from baby? Read about a few of my favorite tips here.