The story of June’s birth

8 May 2016

What more fitting day to share the story of June’s birth than my first Mother’s Day? I am so grateful for the little muffin who made me a mama, so grateful for this story, and so grateful for the One who wrote it. Thank you for allowing me to share!

Throughout my pregnancy, I never really knew what to say when friends asked how things were going. Aches and pains? Not really. Cravings? Nope. Complications? Nothing to report! Thankfully, the whole process was blissfully “boring,” and for that I am grateful. However, we did get our dose of excitement at the very end, starting at my 38-week appointment on January 4…

pregnant-em

Two weeks earlier, at my 36-week appointment, my doctor reported that June was head down and that I was not dilated. I opted not to get checked at 37 weeks, and so was curious to see what we’d find at 38. After a quick check, he relayed that I still wasn’t dilated. He also said I was measuring small, and so decided to do an ultrasound. Thankfully, the ultrasound showed that June looked great and that the amniotic fluid was adequate. Unfortunately, it also showed that she was in a breech position.

To be safe, he had me take a non-stress test (which I passed with flying colors – yay!). (For those who aren’t familiar with a non-stress test, in my case, it involved sitting in a comfy armchair and getting hooked up to a fetal heartbeat monitor for 20 minutes. Despite the stressful circumstances, it was quite peaceful sitting there and listening to her!) My doctor also scheduled me for another check a few days later, on January 7… and scheduled a c-section for the following week, a few days before my due date. (I was NOT pleased about this for many reasons, but he didn’t want me to go full term because of the risk of cord prolapse if my water were to break on its own.)

My emotions were a little strange at this point. I still believed there was a chance June could flip (after all, she apparently had flipped between 36 and 38 weeks!), and my doctor had said that if she flipped at any point before the c-section, we would call it off and let things proceed naturally. So in between working harder than ever to wrap up things at work and keeping John, our families, and our doula up to date, I drank TONS of water (I knew low amniotic fluid would be a reason for an immediate c-section, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to stay extra hydrated), and tried some of the moves to encourage flipping on this site. Without a definite “yes, you ARE having a c-section,” I couldn’t or wouldn’t wrap my head around that possibility and wanted to remain hopeful that I would have the birth we’d been imagining and for which we’d been planning. On the positive side, this meant I remained quite calm; on the negative, it meant I was pretty much in denial.

Thursday rolled around, and I was pretty sure June had not changed position – she felt the same as she always had, and they had warned me that if she did flip it would probably be fairly painful. My appointment was at 9am, and this time, John came with me.

It all happened pretty quickly — my doctor took a look at the ultrasound, confirmed she was still breech, and then told us that my amniotic fluid was too low and that we had to head to the hospital, because she was going to be delivered by c-section that day.

And then I started to cry. I felt very powerless at that moment — I wasn’t a doctor, so it wasn’t like I could look at the ultrasound and argue that no, it actually would be okay to wait a few more days. I knew if she was breech she would have to be delivered by c-section, but I did not feel at all prepared for it to happen that day. I wanted a few more days to wrap things up at home and at work, and to wrap my mind around what was happening. As I sobbed in the car outside the doctor’s office to John, I just kept saying, “I’m not ready, I’m not ready.” I also was very concerned that June would be small and unhealthy, which I think stemmed from my doctor saying she was measuring small and also that she would be delivered before 39 weeks. (I had actually said to John the day before, “What if she’s only four pounds when she’s born??” Not terribly likely, but that was where my head was at.)

That half hour was my most intense mourning period for the birth that might have been. I had thought I was going into labor with open hands, but it had never occurred to me that I might have a c-section. I had done a lot to mentally and physically prepare myself for labor, and I was looking forward to experiencing it with John by my side. I wanted this ultimate and uniquely womanly experience, painful though it might be. And besides, everything I had read about c-sections (which admittedly was not much) made them seem bad, painful, and almost shameful — plus with a terrible recovery to boot.

Eventually I regained my composure just a bit, and John called our doula to let her know what was going on. She encouraged us to go home before heading to the hospital, which we did. We had brought some of our hospital supplies with us to the appointment, but only halfheartedly, as again, we didn’t really think we’d be admitted that day. We spent about an hour at home, finishing packing and getting the cats prepared for a few days without us. I also took a shower and re-did my makeup, telling myself I was going to flip the switch on a positive attitude and put the kibosh on crying. We took this photo right outside the hospital:

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 10.27.05 PM

Of course, tears again sprang to my eyes as we checked in (“this is not how I thought it would be!”), and then again when the nurse showed us to our room on the delivery floor. After she shut the door behind us to let us get settled, I asked John to pray over all three of us, which he did. When our poor nurse returned and started going through the intake procedures, I again started to cry. She was confused at first, but so kind and encouraging after we told her a bit about our circumstances. Thankfully, those were my final sad tears of the day :) Two things she said that began to help turn my outlook around: you can always have a VBAC next time, and you’re going to meet your daughter today! We also texted our families to let them know what was going on, and their love and enthusiasm helped us get more excited and lifted the emotional weight a bit.

The next two hours passed fairly quickly as I had blood drawn, got hooked up to the fetal heartbeat monitor, received two bags of fluid through an IV, was briefed by the anesthesiologist, and had to drink a nasty liquid to avoid reflux during surgery, among other preparations. We got to listen to our girl’s heartbeat the whole time, which was the best soundtrack we could ask for. Then, after a last check via ultrasound to make sure she was still breech, John and I walked back to the operating room hand in hand.

We parted ways at the door, as husbands have to wait outside and get suited up in full sterile gear while the final preparations take place. I took my seat on the operating table under the bright lights and realized I felt very calm. This, I believe, was a supernatural peace, one that I was so grateful to receive… I don’t believe it was a coincidence I had declared “peace” my word for 2016 just a few days earlier.

So there I sat in my bubble of peace as all sorts of people bustled around me – there must have been ten different ladies and gents in there, from the surgical assistants to the nurse anesthetist to the baby nurse. One gave me two heated blankets to keep warm since it was so cold, and then our anesthesiologist put in the spinal block, which wasn’t painful. They lowered me back onto the table, put up the surgical drape, and before I knew it, they got started and John showed up next to my head, squeezing my hand.

The first sensation I remember feeling was what felt like someone roughly kneading my stomach. This was not pleasant. After just a few minutes, though, we heard a little gurgly cry!!! June was immediately brought to the warmer, and John left my side to go to hers. He reappeared a minute later, assuring me that she was “so cute!!” Another wave of relief washed over me, as I figured if he was talking about her level of cuteness, she probably had two arms, two legs, and weighed more than four pounds :)

P1030141

We had asked for as prompt and as much skin to skin time as possible, and thankfully our hospital was receptive to this. June was placed on my chest just a few minutes after she was born, while they were still delivering the placenta (I think? Couldn’t see, so I’m not really sure what was happening down there that whole time!). Unfortunately, a few minutes later, I started to gag (a side effect of the anesthesia), so they took June back over to the warmer briefly. They used the time to clean her up a bit more and take some measurements, then brought her back to me once I had stabilized. We stayed that way for maybe half an hour more, admiring our sweet girl and marveling at what had just happened. She was here! She was beautiful! She was healthy!!

P1030153

As I think back on June’s birthday, I find so much beauty in it all, but especially in this: that morning, I was so desperate to delay her arrival by just a few more days. As soon as we met her, though, I wouldn’t have wanted to delay her arrival by even a minute. Perfect timing, indeed.

Happy Mother’s Day to the mamas, the moms-to-be, and the mothers at heart.

17 Responses to “The story of June’s birth”

  1. Kelly

    Wow! Talk about a change in plans. So glad things went smoothly and everyone is healthy. Congratulations on your beautiful daughter and happy Mother’s Day!!!

  2. Rob

    Beautiful, Em. Happy first Mother’s Day!

  3. EJ

    Em, happy Mother’s Day!

    Thank you for sharing June’s birth story. I am almost six months pregnant and I found your blog in the earlier months of the journey. Reading your posts has helped me enormously in managing my often conflicting emotions, especially in the beginning. Like you, I never really thought much about having children and while this one was semi-planned, it was still a big surprise that we seemed to take quite quickly. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your journey – including this post where you reveal that your birth plans changed. I have been thinking about this a lot and my fear about the unknown and the sense of losing control over the situation is quelled slightly upon reading your story. Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Jennifer

    Emily,
    thanks so much for sharing this!! I had my first baby in December, a little girl, also via C-section that I was in denial for/sad/disappointed about/now at am peace with. Its a JOURNEY that’s for sure – between our expectations, hormones, medication, pain, joy, its a crazy time!!! recovering from the C-section is also NO JOKE and no one really ever talks about it. Thanks again for your honesty!!!! love the name June. My little girl is Selma and I must say, C-section baby girls sure are beautiful!!!!

  5. Wow! What a story! All in His perfect timing for sure! Happy First Mother’s Day! :) And June is definitely “so cute” and getting cuter every day! xo!

  6. Megan

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. His timing is perfect. Happy Mother’s Day!

  7. Kelly Strawberry

    June has a wonderful birth story! Happy mother’s day to you!

  8. Marget

    Happy Mother’s Day! June’s birth story is incredible! You did a perfect job for her–it couldn’t have been otherwise. The image of John praying over you is so moving! After giving birth, which was so much more painful than I had imagined, I remember asking maternity leave friends if they thought the best day of their life was the day they gave birth, and all of us said, “no way!” And yet, with each month that’s passed, I remember less and less of the pain or the feeling of not being in control, and increasingly am left with the miracle, and how that day transformed my life. I am sure it is the most special day of my life. (My wedding day remains the “best” day!)

  9. Anna

    Thanks for sharing your story! My first child was also breech and you put into words well and grief that you feel about losing the birth experience you thought you would have! Now, two children via c-section (both breech) later, I still have moments of sadness of missing the experience of labor. BUT, I am so thankful for my 2 healthy children and very proud of myself for the endurance that is truly required for c-sections! We c-section mommas know the loneliness and fear of the surgery prep, and the feelings of helplessness during the long recovery, and the importance of being adaptable and letting go of control! So, here’s to you, brave momma! Happy first mother’s day!

  10. Happy Mama’s Day, friend. I love this story so much. It inspires me to hopefully write my own sometime soon :) Xoxo

  11. Natalie

    Thanks for sharing. The story of June’s birth is wonderful because it ends with June! I also know firsthand that an unexpected c-section can be hard to adapt to when it pops up, but you did so remarkably well!

  12. Courtney

    So beautiful, Emily! Happy belated Mother’s Day!

  13. Such a beautiful and honest story! Congratulations Emily and Happy First Mothers Day, June is beautiful!

  14. Molly

    This is so similar to my story!
    I had spent 8+ months imagining and preparing for labor only to find out my little one was breech. I tried all the things I could to flip her. I could not wrap my head around missing the labor experience and having a c section. But the Lord knew what he was doing and it all was perfect. She was a planned c section and days before I finally accepted it and embraced it.
    It’s always so comforting to me to hear stories like this. I get tempted
    to feel “left out” and like I am not a true “mama”
    because I didn’t experience labor. Having s c section is not easy and we are mamas just like those who have their babies naturally! :)

  15. You are so so brave, both for your experiences during this time and for sharing your story! I love reading your little updates here and look forward to seeing where life with June takes you :) Happy belated mother’s day to a wonderful mama!

  16. WHY AM I GETTING SO WEEPY READING THIS? Tears and more tears. Love that Junebug.

  17. Abby B

    This story is so much like mine! The same exact situation with being breech, low amniotic fluid, and meeting my baby boy that day. Almost like deja vu. The tears that I shed that day thinking he might go to the NICU (he was 36 1/2 weeks) and the sheer shock of having him early… Wow, felt like I was right back there. What I always say to myself is that it doesn’t matter how he got here because he was healthy and continues to be healthy and strong. It was just preparing us for motherhood afterall – things never go as planned but that’s ok.