Tomorrow Gideon will be ten months old! It’s taken me far longer than I ever imagined it would to write Gideon’s birth story and I think that I dragged my feet because I felt that our story was somehow “less than.” (It only took me 10 weeks to write Simon’s.) Gideon was delivered via c-section, quite unexpectedly, and I remember thinking how I didn’t want to share that first photo of the two of us with Facebook because the blue paper cap would be a dead giveaway that I had a dreaded (and so often frowned upon) c-section. It’s silly now, but it’s taken me ten long months to get over it. Thinking so much about it in recent days, looking at pictures, and writing this story have all helped me come to accept it and truly, truly get over the feelings I’ve been plagued with of how our story and Gideon’s birth was “less than.” So, what follows is probably a bit too long and I really don’t expect anyone but Matt to read every word!
Matt finally decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to go out of town for a conference the week before Gideon was due. We had talked about it a lot and initially thought it’d be fine since my mom would come up just a day after Matt would leave. And anyway, if I did go into labor, he could get home in 5 hours — plenty of time! It was a good thing, though, that Matt came to his senses and called off the trip because wouldn’t you know, I went into labor while he would’ve been away AND I ended up needing a c-section.
Gideon’s due date was June 13. I was crossing my fingers he’d come on June 6, exactly one week early, because Dr. M (whom I love) was on call that date and how cool would 6-6-12 be as a birthday? As it turns out, I almost got my wish. Gideon came quite unexpectedly (and a bit traumatically) on Tuesday, June 5.
Throughout my entire pregnancy with Gideon, I wondered and worried about how the end was going to go – what would we do with Simon? Simon had never spent a night away from me – how would he be? What if I went into labor very suddenly and early and there was no one to watch him? We did manage to have two emergency back ups in place, but the preferred plan was for my mom to make it up to Gainesville to be here for whenever Baby Time arrived. We all breathed a heavy sigh of relief when she arrived on Sunday, 6/3! She got here just in time for us to have one glorious day together on Monday. I had no idea it was my last full day of pregnancy, my last day as a mother to just Simon, otherwise we might’ve done something a little different than having lunch at McDonald’s and going to the bookstore. But I was happy to get some shopping taken care of for Matt’s upcoming birthday and for Father’s Day, and it was fun to buy Simon a new book (or three!). And, the day ended in a glorious breakfast-for-dinner that my mom cooked!
We went to bed around 10 pm Monday night and as soon as I got into bed, Gideon moved like crazy. It was such a gigantic, crazy movement that it was definitely visible and it left my stomach looking very lopsided. Matt saw it and we chuckled at how odd it was, but we never imagined that it was Gideon flipping himself around so that now he was breech.
Around 3 am on Tuesday, June 5, I woke up to go to the bathroom and I thought I might’ve had a contraction. I certainly had a sharp pain, but it passed pretty quickly. I sat on the floor by the bed and brought up the laptop thinking that I better type out some instructions for my mom (mainly, how to use the DVD player) in case we’d be heading to the hospital soon. Sure enough, I felt another pain, and then brought up the contraction tracker app on my phone. The rest of those wee morning hours were spent tracking contractions and listening to music, specifically this song over and over. My mom said she saw the light on in our bedroom and wondered if something was about to happen.
As luck would have it, I had my 39 week doctor’s appointment scheduled for that afternoon at 3:40. I originally told Matt to just go into work and then I would drive myself to the doctor and meet him there. When both my mom and Matt said this was a pretty stupid idea, I offered the alternative, fine, you should go to work and then come pick me up in time for the appointment. HA! Matt did not go to work that day.
I spent that last day of my pregnancy taking three long showers, waiting for my water to break, waiting for the contractions to get consistently closer than 7 minutes apart, lying on the bed in my mom’s room watching Simon sing and play with his new book, sitting in the chair in Simon’s room watching my mom read to Simon.
Matt spent the day hanging curtains in Simon’s room and installing a bookshelf. And then it was finally time to head to the doctor’s office. We decided to take my hospital bag just in case.
I remember being pretty calm as we waited for the doctor. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I had already decided that I would not agree to an induction if it was suggested (as the contractions, though painful, weren’t consistent). I remember telling Dr. M excitedly that I had been contracting since early that morning and she smiled and had me lie back so she could listen to Gideon’s heart. It took her a while to find the heartbeat and my heart stopped during those very long seconds. Her face was straight and focused in concentration as she moved the Doppler around my belly looking for the heartbeat. She helped me sit up and said, “I am 99% sure that Gideon is now breech. But I’m going to go get the portable ultrasound and we’ll take a look.” I immediately started to cry as I could feel a c-section was imminent. She did her best to reassure me and told me we’d talk about our options once she confirmed Gideon’s placement.
He was breech, which was puzzling. At my 38 week appointment, just 5 days earlier, he was certainly head down. She asked if I had felt any strange movement recently and then it hit me, the crazy movement the night before must’ve been when he turned. I begged with Dr. M for the chance to try to turn him, and bless her heart, she was extraordinarily patient with me. She assured me that if I had to have a c-section, it would not be the end of the world – and here’s why it’s taken me 10 long months to write Gideon’s birth story: I thought it was the end of the world if I delivered Gideon via c-section. Blogs I read, Facebook friends and groups, and the general consensus of women I know are anti-c-section. I felt that if our birth story was one that involved a c-section, it was somehow less than. I felt that I had in some way failed. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around how Simon’s birth had been so incredibly fast and easy and natural and Gideon’s was going to be like nothing I had planned for or anticipated and hoped for.
Dr. M introduced me to the doctor who was on call that evening (Dr. S), the one who’d be delivering Gideon. I asked if I could try to deliver him vaginally, even though he was breech. The practice would not try for a breech delivery with a baby over 7 pounds and they knew Gideon was over 7 pounds (he was born at 8 lbs, 9 oz.). I begged again if we could try to turn him and the doctors agreed to it while stressing that it’d be very painful and the likelihood of a successful turn at 39 weeks was very slim. I wanted to try anyway because I simply didn’t want a c-section, what I felt was the sure sign of failure. We had a plan in place and we were told to get to the hospital immediately (and sadly, not to eat anything!). I remember calling my mom in the parking garage at the doctor’s office and tearfully telling her that we were on the way to the hospital and I was probably going to have to have a c-section. She assured me she’d be praying and that Simon was perfectly fine.
The drive from the doctor’s office to the hospital took about 5 minutes. The last view of my very large pregnant belly! Having only gained 20 lbs during my first pregnancy, I was pretty shocked to gain about 50 lbs this time around. And, boy, has it been difficult to lose (though, really, I haven’t tried too hard!).
We were in the elevator heading to the labor and delivery floor at about 5:30. I was a little bummed the post-doctor-appointment outing was ending in a trip to the hospital instead of a dinner date (which my mom had previously suggested we try to squeeze in), but also a bit excited. At the day’s end, we’d have Gideon! Things moved very quickly. Dr. M had already called ahead and a room was waiting for us. Three or four nurses were buzzing around the room and told me to immediately go into the restroom and change into the hospital gown. As soon as I got out of the bathroom and went to sit on the bed, my water broke. And more tears came because this meant that Dr. S would not be able to try to turn Gideon. Because my water broke, there was a certain urgency to get to the operating room and things felt like they were moving much too quickly. One nurse was holding a clipboard for me to sign rambling on about death and things that could happen. One nurse couldn’t find Gideon’s heartbeat, so another had to rush up and reposition the monitor. The anesthesiologist came in and explained the spinal block. More papers to sign, more talk about death. Another nurse was drawing blood. And then we had to wait for what seemed like forever for the hospital to do their own type and screen of my blood. Many calls of “hurry up, lab, we need those results” later, I was being wheeled through the hallways into the operating room. Matt stayed behind and put on the blue paper clothes.
I felt like I was on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy as I was being wheeled through the hallway and into an operating room, which felt very cold (and I am never cold!). Getting the spinal block in place was terrible. A sure way to make someone squirmy is to stress the importance of staying absolutely still. Throw in constant, painful contractions, and horrible nausea, and I have no idea how I survived those endless minutes as the anesthesiologist did his thing. It worked near immediately, and before I knew it, I was flat on my back and the room was filling up with people – Dr. S came in, a few nurses, and someone who popped her head in and asked if she could assist. When she was told yes, her response was, “Cool.”
The attending anesthesiologist joined his resident and helped to tweak the spinal block. And then I got so incredibly nauseous that I was tipped down and told, “Don’t worry if you throw up. It will be ok.” Thankfully, I didn’t throw up. Matt joined me and the attending anesthesiologist made small talk with us which greatly calmed me down. We asked if Matt could take photos and when the doctor found out that we weren’t afraid of bloody photos, he offered to take our camera and snap some pictures.
And then I heard someone say, “Oh my, he’s definitely a boy!” (We found out later that Gideon had been born with a hydrocele.)
Now here’s the crazy part – I think I was slightly more emotional during Gideon’s actual birth than Simon’s. Simon’s birth was nearly perfect. Though I didn’t get to labor in the water, he came quickly and it was unmedicated. I was overjoyed when he was immediately placed on my chest and was extremely proud of having delivered him. But when Gideon was delivered, even though I had done absolutely nothing to bring about his birth – no focused determination or pushing – I was still so overjoyed and the tears came. I happily watched to my left as Matt watched the nurse assess, measure, and clean Gideon up.
I was aware that the doctor in charge of the c-section was talking to his students and nurses, but their voices were very faint and jumbled. It was nearly 7:30 when Gideon was born and just minutes after his birth, he was placed on me for our skin to skin contact. The anesthesiologist helped arrange Gideon and Matt snapped a photo so I could send it to my mom.
I love this photo that the doctor took.
Gideon stayed with me for a good while as they stitched me up.
Matt watched as my uterus was taken out of my body and stitched up resting on my stomach. He also remarked later how he couldn’t believe how the skin could stretch so much. I think it’s pretty remarkable that he was able to watch both a natural birth and a c-section without becoming woozy! I was stitched up and transferred to a recovery room within an hour after delivery and that’s where I was able to nurse my sweet new baby. He latched on without a problem and contentedly nursed for nearly an hour.
Then it was time for him to go to the nursery to be checked by a pediatrician. Matt went with him and sent me photo texts like this one
while I stayed in the recovery room drinking box after box of Gatorade and called my mom.
I don’t remember the exact time we were finally transferred to the 9th floor mother/baby unit, but it was late. We were pleasantly surprised with the size of the room and happy to see a couch that Matt could sleep on, rather than just a reclining chair.
The first night was a bit rocky. I could not believe how many times someone came to check on us.
Dr. M, who we knew for months was going to be on call on June 6 (remember, that was the day I was hoping to deliver Gideon), made a special visit to our room the following day. She held our precious Gideon and I so wanted to get their photo together, but instead, I just enjoyed her visit. She wrote a note in my chart that said not to disturb our room after 9 pm that night and boy, what a different it was! Matt left in the early afternoon to go pick up Simon and my mom to come for a visit. I love all three of these photos from that first special visit.
After several very long days in the hospital, we were finally discharged Friday afternoon (6/8), but before we could actually leave the hospital, Gideon had to be fitted with a portable holter monitor to keep track of his heartbeat during his first 24 hours home. (The pediatrician detected a slight irregularity in his heartbeat and he’s still under the care of a pediatric cardiologist who is certain he’ll outgrow it soon!) It was rather an ordeal with a few mishaps, so by the time we were finally loading our new babe into the car, it was quite late … but not too late to stop by McDonald’s for a french fry treat!
I’m not sure what made Simon happier — having Mama home or a fry in each hand?
What a relief it was to be home AND what an incredible blessing that my mom was able to stay for 5 weeks to help, especially given the circumstances of my c-section.
And so, 10 months later and I’m finally ok with having had a c-section. It was crazy unexpected and definitely unwanted, but necessary and I do believe in no way less than my experience with Simon’s birth. I had unexpected and still unexplained complications many months later, but Gideon is perfect and I am no longer afraid of what future pregnancies might bring, even another c-section (though I pray that won’t ever happen again!). I’m thankful for having had a doctor whom I trust and so grateful for many things, especially a hugely supportive husband.