Although my birth story did not play out how I had hoped, it was still the most incredible day of my life. Adrianna Novella Guarino was born on 9/11/17, weighing 6lbs 6oz and 18.5 inches long. She scored a 9 out of 10 on the apgar test and was as healthy as could be.
I had planned and dreamed of an all natural birth, I even made a birth plan that was thrown out the window. Adrianna was head down the entire pregnancy until 36 weeks, when she decided to turn breech. My doctor recommended that since this was my first birth, we should do a scheduled c-section just to be safe. My heart sank and I immediately started researching how to flip her. I read and tried everything I could from spinningbabies.com to no avail.
I had to come to terms, because stressing was not going to help. So by 38 weeks, a week before the surgery, I mentally prepared for a c-section, and prayed for the best. My doctor had scheduled me on 9/9/17 but the hospital came back and said it must be done on 9/11, my heart sank again, I didn’t want my baby’s birthday to fall on such a tragic day, plus we already planned for my parents to watch Chico dog and they had to leave the day she was born. But again stress was not going to help the situation, so I just accepted my fate and knew everything would work out. I completely believe in the power of intention and the law of attraction. If you believe you will have a negative experience you will, and if you believe you will have positive experience you will. If you allow fear to take over, most likely you will have a negative experience.
Early Morning Scheduled C-section
We arrived at Inova Fairfax hospital at 6am where we were escorted to the first room. In this room I changed into the hospital gown and Dominick took my belongings to the car and grabbed a snack as recommended. The nurse strapped a fetal heart rate monitor around my burgeoning belly, gave me an IV and drew some blood. She said the IV would be the most painful part of the day, and she was right, but it really wasn’t that painful at all until they took it out, I had a bruise for a couple days which was sore. But overall I was expecting a lot worse. She also told me how her and my doctor had been working together for over 25 years, that gave me reassurance and made me feel even better. A couple other people came in to introduce themselves and ask questions, the in-house pediatrician, the anesthesiologists, the lady from the cord blood bank, my doctor, and a couple other people I can’t remember.
The Operating Room & Delivery
At 7:30, my actual scheduled time, they rolled my bed into the operating room, where there were about 8 people, 10 including Dominick and myself. There were 2 doctors, 2 anesthesiologists, 2 nurses, and 2 people who took baby girl to be weigh measured, cleaned up and scored. Dominick came in about 10 minutes later, wearing the whole getup, he looked so cute.
Immediately upon entering the room they went to work, the energy was little chaotic with people running all over getting prepped. Seeing the room, which looked like space shuttle, and feeling the energy was overwhelming. They put morphine in my IV, leaned me over and did the spinal tap. One of the doctors was so amazing, he leaned up against me, held me tight and breathed with me, it was so helpful and relaxing. I have to say the whole process was pretty scary for someone who doesn’t even take ibuprofen, I was completely beside myself with all the medical procedures happening all at once, but I knew that even though this is not what I wanted, I had to be strong for baby girl. I could have been angry, sad, resisted a c-section, but I asked myself “would that cause me more stress?” and the answer was yes, so I just went with the flow.
The spinal started working almost immediately, and they talked me through the whole process. I started to feel a cold tingly sensation in my legs and about 5 minutes later I couldn’t feel or move my legs at all. They did a series of tests to see if I could feel anything, like wiping a cold rag on my arm, which I could feel, and then across my legs, which I could not feel. They also put leg massagers on to keep good circulation, which I could also not feel. They said that I would still feel pressure and pulling sensations but I would not feel anything else, they were so right. It felt like they were pulling my entire insides out, the force they were using was strong, but again you don’t feel any pain. I asked Dominick what they were doing and he said they weren’t even pulling, they were pushing on the top of my belly, “oh, lol”.
Once I was completely numb, they put up the sheet so I couldn’t see what they were doing, brought Dominick over to hold my hand, and that’s when the doctor made the first incision. Dominick could see everything, and within 5 minutes baby girl was out in the doctors arms, and let out her first cries. The sense of relief I felt when I heard her cry was so intense, all the fear of delivering a healthy baby girl was gone, I felt I could finally relax, the hardest parts were over, a 9 month weight had been lifted. I had requested delayed cord clamping, so they waited a couple minutes, cut the cord, and the 2 ladies did their thing, they called out what she weighed, how long she was, that she looked good and scored highly. After 3 minutes baby girl was on my chest, skin to skin, rooting and looking to feed. It was absolutely magical.
The look in Dominick’s eyes was priceless, he was in awe and got to hold her shortly after.
While baby girl was on my chest, they started stitching me back up, I kept asking Dominick what they were doing because I couldn’t feel anything. Dominick and I just gazed into her eyes and the rest starts to become one big blur.
The Recovery Room
We were out of the operating room within about 10 minutes of being stitched up and into the recovery room. This is where the pediatrician had their first look, the lactation consultant made sure everything was going well, the anesthesiologist made sure everything was wearing off okay, and where we stayed until I could feel my legs again.
I was very shocked at how natural breastfeeding came to both Adrianna and I, especially after hearing many horror stories. Every woman is different, and I had prepared myself for the worst but expected the best. She latched on immediately and was eating like a champ. However after the first day, she came on a little too strong and my right nipple became cracked and super sore. The other problem I had was my left nipple didn’t want to come out and play, so I was having trouble getting her to latch on the other side which further hurt my right side. Once I started using the pump on my left side, my nipple protruded a bit more and I never had a problem getting her to latch on both sides since. To heal my right side, I just pumped and didn’t let her latch until it healed, which was only about 24 hours. I also used lanolin, coconut oil, shea butter and lavender essential oil to help it heal and not feel so tender.
The Final Room
After about 2-3 hours we left the recovery room and were brought into the final room. This is where we brought in our bags of food, our 5 gallon water jug and our clothes. The nurses joked that we were moving in, but really we were just prepared. I wasn’t allowed to eat solids until I passed gas and/or had a bowel movement, but I really didn’t feel like eating, probably from the effects of the morphine. I did however drink my green vibrance drink which is filled with fruits, vegetables and probiotics. This drink is very filling and gave me the energy I would need to get through the next couple of sleepless nights.
Nurses, pediatricians, insurance coordinators, the hearing test lady, cord blood bank lady, social security administration lady and a bunch of other people were in and out all day and all night. Dominick was getting a bit frustrated because as soon as we all dozed off, somebody came and woke us up. He handled all the paper work thankfully because I was busy feeding, there was a whole folder full by the time we left. He also changed all the diapers and did all the swaddling so I didn’t have to move much, it was extremely helpful.
They were constantly checking in on Adrianna and I, our temperature, jaundice levels, my blood pressure and heart rate. It made me feel secure but it also really inhibited our sleep. I also had a medicine schedule that I had to keep up on or my incision would start to hurt like a mofo. They had me on ibuprofen and Percocet, every 5 hours or so. Again this was really hard for me to accept, but I had read a lot of woman with the same values who said “would you rather be in pain and not be able to take care of your baby to the best of your ability?”. I still constantly did my research to see if anyone’s child had any bad side effects from these drugs. Everything and everyone turned out fine.
Trying to pee of the first time
Around 5:00pm they took out the catheter, trying to pee for the first time was extremely difficult, it was like I had to learn how to use my bladder again. They give you a bucket to monitor how much you’ve peed, this normally hooks onto the toilet, but I could not pee on the toilet at first, it took me about 30 minutes to get even a little bit out, then it would stop but I knew I still had to pee more. The only way I could pee fully was to squat on the ground, but it still took a lot of concentration.
Eating for the first time
That night I ate half a watermelon and drank about a gallon of water. The next morning I ate the rest of the watermelon, grapes, peaches and nectarines. Then I had edamame dumplings from an organic restaurant down the street. The hospital kept calling to see if I wanted food, but I kept declining. For the rest of the day I ate nuts, dried fruits, and greens. I drank a lot of green vibrance drinks, water and kombucha because I really wanted to up my probiotics and flush out all the medicine. I felt as good as I could and was up moving around and taking walks in record time.
Leaving The Hospital
We were in the hospital for 2 nights and 3 days. We left around 11am on the 3rd day. We could have stayed longer but we really wanted some peace and quiet. Before we left they made us watch a discharge video which informed us of everything we needed to know, the paperwork, how to clean my wound, how to care for baby girl in case of an emergency, and a bunch of other stuff. The doctor also check out my incision and made the final call on wether or nit we could leave.
Carrying baby girl in may arms as we left was crazy, I couldn’t believe that this human that I had been carrying inside me for the last 9 months was in my arms and coming home. We put her in the carseat, where she looked so tiny, and we made our way home carefully as ever. I was so excited to use all the stuff in her room that we had been looking at for so long, her crib, changing tables, clothes, everything. It was magical, all my hopes and dreams of a health and happy baby had come true.
All in all a c-section isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s actually quite amazing. A natural birth probably would have been a fuller experience, but I don’t blame myself or shame myself, a c-section doesn’t detract from how amazing our bodies are. I’m proud of my body for doing everything it was supposed to do. Next time I will most certainly try for a natural birth, as I did with this one, but no matter what bringing a tiny human into this world is so satisfying, no matter how they come into the world, I am amazed and proud of my body. I am also thankful for the wonderful staff at Inova fairfax hospital, they made our stay very comfortable.