Well if this doesn’t scream 2nd kid. I’m 12 months late to writing this. I have written bits and pieces throughout the last year, but I haven’t sat down to publish this post! If you follow along with me on my IG account then you may have watched the video version of this Birth Story days after I gave birth!
Regardless, although very late here, it doesn’t make it any less important and meaningful. My sweet River Bottom!
There is some background info that is needed before I dive into this explanation of Rivs big day.
Rad, my first, was delivered via emergency C-section after 26 hours of labor (and a host of other reasons) and “failure to progress”…ouch…those words stung. They stung then and they stung a little just now. “Failure” as a word in describing our a mama brings her baby earth side, still doesn’t feel right. Because it just isn’t true. Birth is a success. It took me a while to really feel that way. Birth trauma is a funny thing. A thing to validated and worked through…deeply.
I was told, Right before they wheeled me in for that emergency C-section with Rad, that Id never be able to have a vaginal birth in the future…and those were the words hit me like a train…a punch to the gut…a slap in the face…like an elephant sat on my chest. I looked my husband and I just tested up. I could not process that in that moment. And then then wheeled me away.
When I recovered from her delivery, I let my pride…my ego…convince myself that I was not going to let anyone tell me how I was going to birth my babies. I was DETERMINED to have a VBAC. Even more determined than when I went in for my delivery with Rad, for my next pregnancy. Mind you, this was BEFORE I was pregnant with River. Wayyy before.
When I finally got pregnant….my thoughts changed. I DID NOT want to end up in the same situation, needing another emergency C-section, with a toddler at home, working as the sole income earner for the family. Recovery from 26 hours of labor and then a C-section and infection was brutal. Plus. I knew what that birth story/trauma did to me mentally. Something I didn’t talk about and even really digest for almost a 3 years after delivering rad. I didn’t know how much struggled, until after having River. She really healed me in so many ways. From being our rainbow baby after a loss to helping me feel empowered and so much more in control for this second delivery. She truly helped me heal so much.
I decided a few months in, really after meeting my OB, that I would have a scheduled, second C-section. He really helped me feel confident in my situation and this really helped me prepare mentally for my delivery. He chatted about scar tissue, his techniques for minimizing scar tissue and this all made me feel really good when choosing him as my doctor.
We also talked about uterine ruptures and the fact that we are in such a rural area that there was the extra risk if I had decided to go the VBAC route.
I really had to weigh the risks, think about my daughter waiting for us home and again the mental toll as well if my birth didn’t go as planned.
There really is no right choice. You have to choose what you think is best for you and your baby.
If you want to here more about why I chose to have a repeat c-section vs a VBAC you can listen to a few of my story highlights on Instagram Here and (my c-section tips Q&A highlight is here) and you can also listen to this podcast I did with The VBAC Link!
Ok ok, let’s get closer to the big day.
March 10th – day before scheduled C-section. My mom and sister flew in from California and had been here with me for over a week to help me prep for River and get comfortable with Rad again. We only see our families a couple times a year and my mom was going to be watching rad while we were in the hospital. So giving them a week before so rad wasn’t so stressed out while we were gone was really important to us. My mom (and sister) was the best person to watch her because she is really really aware of how we want things done and handled and she is super active and I know would (& could) do anything to protect Rad. She also is the most respectful of ALL our choices when it comes to raising our kids. I know and could trust she would do things as close to as I would when we were gone. We don’t let anyone watch our kids alone, this is just a personal choice, so this was a HUGE deal for us.
So back to day before.
I was feeling ALL THE THINGS. Like ALL of them. I was sad it was the last day of Rad being my baby and she was about to be my Big girl. I didn’t know how to share my love. It felt IMPOSSIBLE. Rad didn’t even know what was coming. But she actually, totally did. She always pointed to my belly and said Riv was in there.
Gahh all the things.
We had gone to the coffee shop in town and had coffee and scones. Rad loves scones from our coffee shop. We were so happy and I was just soaking in these last hours as a mama of one.
I was driving us to the park to let rad get her energy out and I had such overwhelming feelings wash over me. Tears were streaming down my face. I couldn’t make them stop. I was silently crying as my mom was talking about something, I can’t even remember, my mind was not present. I stayed looking forward, but I felt her gaze as me. She stopped talking and grabbed my shoulder and gave me a squeeze. She didn’t say anything else. She already knew. I was so scared. So so scared. I didn’t tell her. But i knew she knew. I’m not sure if she said “it’s going to be ok” or if she was just sending me that energy through her mama shoulder squeezes. My mom has had 3 csections. So she knew.
We got to the park, i wiped my tears. We got out and my sister played with Rad up and down the slide, looking at the ducks and the creek. It’s one of our favorite places. Shane was golfing today, as it would probably be the last time for while, as I recovered from my future C-section.
We stayed for a while and then went home to finish all the things on our list.
We got home and I couldn’t do anything on that list. My mom stayed up all night making pastas and fruit salads for us to take to the hospital because we are vegan. I was still so overwhelmed with everything I was feeling. Every time I sat down, the weight of that elephant was in my lap and on my heart. I still didn’t tell anyone about the feelings I was having. I didn’t want to breathe life into them.
We had to leave very early in the morning because the hospital was 45min away and I was the first surgery of the day.
The last thing I did was sit upstairs with my mom and rad. We folded tiny clothes together. I was taking off all my jewelry. I never take It off. But I knew I needed to for the surgery. My mom asked me if there was anything I needed her to wear for good luck. So she wore my mama bracelet.
my mom had told us to go to sleep so we could get some sleep.
We went to sleep as a family of 3 for the last time.
We woke up to our alarms and I went downstairs to put on my face and get one last look at this belly. Making sure I had everything in my hospital bag and also preparing myself to leave Rad for the first time ever since she’s been born. This was harddddd.
She was sleeping upstairs. And shane brought her down to my mom, still asleep. It was very early like 4am I think. My mom took her and woke up.
Rad was sooooo upset as we left. My heart was racing. My belly contracting. I’m crying. She’s crying. We are going to be late.
Part of me was glad she woke up and saw me. And glad I got to kiss her and tell her we were going to get River and bring her back home to her.
Omg that was hard to hear her crying.
We got in the car and left for Kansas. I started having contractions, very consistently actually.
I was less sad as the drive went on. More excited to meet River but still very overwhelmed.
Shane was having a lot of feelings too. He knows I hate surgery. And he HATES to see me in pain. We knew the pain was coming.
We waddle in, check in and get to our room.
The nurse is asking me questions and telling me I can get comfortable, put on this gown, asking medical history and…the words coming out of her mouth are like another language to my brain. Omg I was struggling. I didn’t know where to put the clothes I was wearing, which way the gown went, forgot the answers to some medical history questions lol
My monitor on my belly actually let my nurse know i was in early labor. Good thing I was in for my scheduled C-section!
The nurse got me set up and left the room. I had a little time before they’d prep me for surgery.
Shane set up the diffuser we brought with “gentle baby” and “gratitude” to help bring me some calm. But it wasn’t really working.
My dad FaceTimed me. The older i get, the most i realize my parents are my best friends.
He was just who i needed to hear from. I was shaking like a leaf. I couldn’t stop crying, not sobbing but streaming. I was so scared. I had a baby to get back home to. Radley needed me.
I was not in a good headspace. Shane kept reassuring me I was in the best place with the best doctor. And then my dad was telling me I needed to get in the headspace of a fighter. I fight to stay awake. Fight to get through to the other side to meet my River. Get really clear. And really focused.
Birth is a fucking battle. And it’s a battle that you need to fight for.
I love my dad. I know he hated being across the country while I have surgery again. He wanted to be there.
He was very strong on the phone. But he cried too. He could see the fear In my face.
I got off the phone and tried to focus. But I COULDNT STOP shaking. They hadn’t given me any medication at all yet and I was basically convulsing with nerves.
The team & anesthesiologist came in and told me what would happen, when they would give me the spinal, when shane would come in and then the run down of after Riv was born. They transferred me to the rolling table. And Shane kissed me. I was stone cold in my face and shaking everywhere else. This is how it was with Rads C-section too. As soon as they take me away from my husband is when shit gets so real for me. I just have to hold it together until I see him in the OR room.
I hate this part. They roll me in. The lights are bright. It’s sterile. There are students, everywhere. This nurse helped sit me up on the end of my table to get my spinal tap. I couldn’t stop shaking. She was an Angel. She hugged me and said just relax into me, her accent was thick. She felt like a mama holding me. My forehead pressed hard into her shoulder. I tried to stay still for the spinal block. It was a weird pinch and ice cold sensation. Not fun. But also not like what you’d expect.
They laid me down quickly because the spinal also works quickly.
As they prepped me for the doctor. I laid there fully exposed. 🤦🏼♀️ again. I hate this part lol. The team around me is making jokes to each other & small talk. And I’m laying there waiting to not feel my legs. Waiting for shane to walk in. Waiting to meet River.
My anesthesiologist sat at my head. He too. An Angel, felt like family. Not sure why.
I had an amazing team. I am so so grateful.
I was feeling loopy loopers. Much more relaxed. They brought shane in. The curtain was up. My arms strapped down. I wasn’t as nervous.
Shane was there. I was more grounded. And much more medicated.
My doctor came in and started to work. He took about 30 minutes getting through adhesions and scar tissue. My uterus was completely attached to the abdominal wall. He was taking his time working through the scar tissue all the way up to the rib cage. He guessed the doctor that did my first C-section based on the look of previous scar. He continued to talk his way through the surgery. Which was great for me. I love this stuff. It was also taking my mind away from all the other feelings I was having.
My anesthesiologist keep touching my head and checking in with me.
Another doctor let shane know that River was coming and to get the camera ready to record. We didn’t have this opportunity with rad so I was so excited to be able to see this one later.
Shane was recording and I kept asking can you see her, is she ok. They pulled her out and omg she sounded totally under water. And I felt a huge release of pressure on my belly.
I kept saying my ribs hurt, they feel so weird. My ribs hurt.
They sucked out fluid from her little lungs behind us and then wrapped her and gave her to daddy. He put her on my face and my worries left. She was here. She was perfect. And my love for her was her own. It wasn’t split or shared or anything i was worried about. It was like I had a whole other heart just for her.
I just remember asking if she was ok over and over. The fluid in her lungs ended up being a problem during our stay and for the next couple weeks after we got home.
Here was another sucky part. Daddy and Riv went back to our room. I was supposed to go recover there too. But they didn’t have enough staff so I had to recover on a separate floor.
My doctor continued to sew me up. He was very very careful so this took some time.
The anesthesiologist stayed with me and the other nurse with the thick accent.
When the doctor was done sewing me up and the other students left, my anesthesiologist looked down at me and grabbed either sides of head gently and said words to me I will never ever forget.
“See, you didn’t die. You thought you were going to die and you didn’t. You did so good”…I looked at him and smiled so so big. “I did think I was going to die, and I didn’t.”
I didn’t tell anyone that. How did he know I was feeling that. I was feeling that yesterday when I was driving my family to the park. But I was certainly not going to tell my mom that or say it out loud to my husband. Literally no one knew about this fear i had of not coming out of that C-section alive. My fear of never seeing Radley again.
He validated my fear. And praised me for conquering it. These are the people that moms need on their birth team.
They took me to the PACU and I recovered there with a new nurse for a while. I kept asking how much longer. Basically they just wait for you to be able to wiggle your toes and they sat me up a bit as well. I was there for about 45 minutes before they took me to our room. This is always the hardest part. Although, KNOWING, this was happening this time around made it a bit easier.
They wheeled me In and I saw the Pediatrician looking over River. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her.
Gosh how everything is so new again. But I feel a little more seasoned. A little more like veteran at this mom stuff.
I was so euphoric. You can see it in my face. Its also the drugs lol those will have you feeling a little floaty as well.
Riv was perfect.
I was able to nurse her right away and she latched immediately. Something I didn’t get to do with rad because of meds I was on. Another one of many curve balls my first birthing experience threw at me.
One thing that did hit us hard was how much we missed Rad. This was the first time we had ever been away from her. Never for one night of her life had I been away from her. This was hard on all of us. And the weight of it hit when we were all in our room together again and we finally got to FaceTime Rad to show her baby Riv.
She wanted us to come home and we told her we were coming soon. Gosh it’s hard to leave our babies.
My recovery was going really well. I was up walking to the bathroom and showering within 12 hours of my surgery. I was in a lot of pain but nothing like my first experience.
I did struggle to pee. I felt like I needed too and it was like my bladder was offline and not connected to my brain! Insert oils! I brought peppermint oil and put a couple drops in the toilet and wa la! I peed!
We only stayed in the hospital one night but omg was it a long one. River not having that big squeeze out of the vaginal canal worked against her because she had breathing issues while we were there. She basically couldn’t lay flat for any period of time. Which was extremely anxiety provoking because she was choking and wheezing a lot. Dad stayed up all night with her. He was exhausted to say the least over the next couple days. River slept at an incline for the next couple weeks because of this. We even went to the emergency room because she projectile vomited and then mucus got stuck and she was turning blue. It was the 2nd worst day of my life. Rad sent us to the emergency room once and that was the 1st worst day of my life 😮💨
Shane especially was especially anxious to get home because it was our first night ever away from Radley and she was missing us so much and us her. My healing was going so well so we opted to leave as soon as possible, there was also a huge storm coming in Kansas and we didn’t want to get stuck here for longer than needed.
We had our last visit with our pediatrician and OB and we were given the all clear to head home….
We saw many new moms leaving in wheelchairs…you know like in all the movies, even vaginal delivery moms leave in wheelchairs holding their new babies…so this is how I expected to leave. WRONG.
Shane asked for a wheelchair next time our nurse came in and she told us that if I couldn’t walk from the room to the car without a wheel chair then I wasn’t ready to leave…my heart fell into my butthole….
I had only walked from my bed to the bathroom since my surgery….and now, if I wanted to leave, I was going to have to walk basically a mile from the top story down all the halls to the elevator to the main lobby and out to the party lot..after a major abdominal surgery and tons of pain medication etc
When I shared this part of my story on social media, I got many nurses that responded saying that this was a huge liability on my hospitals part and most surgical patients aren’t allow to leave walking… when this was just the start of the series of unfortunate events that unraveled over the next 12 hours.
We opted to still leave, I was determined to walk to the car and get back to Rad. The walk was very painful and felt extremely long. I made it to the car with help from Shane and we carefully made the drive back to the panhandle which took an hour ish with Shane driving slow and steady. I think he left the hazards on the whole time lol
We made it home and my medications were soon wearing off. It was close to needing my next dose. We introduced the my mom, sister and of course Rad to her new sibling and the whole interact was like a dream. She loved her new sister they exchanged their gifts to each other.
Then all hell broke loose.
My mom had left to go pick up my prescription so Shane could stay with me and the kids. She gets to the pharmacy and they WILL NOT fill the script because they can’t read my OBs writing! They have to cal the hospital, we have to call the hospital and everyone is giving us the run around because its after hours and my doctor went home…
But this point its 45 minutes past the time I needed painkillers and I am in a lot of pain…im not even 48 hours out of surgery at this point. Ive been sitting the same chair since we got home and I have to pee really bad, but walking and my full bladder against my incision was extremely painful and Shane is trying to basically carry me to the bathroom while our 2.5 year ‘watches’ her new sibling on the couch. I know I know.
My mom and Shane are on separate lines yelling at people trying to get them to fill my script. It finally happens and my mom comes back with my pain pills. Its over 1.5 hours since I needed medication and by this post I am sitting on my office chair pants around my ankles in my bathroom hallway, crying, stuffy nose, excruciating pain….then the worst thing happens
My sweet toddler sees me crying and offers me water. Im not thirsty but I take a drink through the straw…but you know how you need to breathe through your nose to drink through a straw..my nose was totally clogged…so I aspirate the water….and proceed to choke and go into a full blown coughing attack. Which almost killed me. Coughing is a forced exhale…for all my ab rehabbers reading this, you know what that means…core engagement…the core that I just had cut open to get my baby out. I was whaling like a dying animal, I literally could not breathe from crying from being off pain meds for so long, and then choking on water. I thought my incision was busting open. I can’t explain how much pain I was in. My poor family and mom and sister and my poor husband, have never seen me in pain like this and hearing the noises I was making…it was awful. Everyone was crying.
Shane literally had to nose Freida my nose so I could breathe again…and that was the end of my terrible 12 hours. It would have been a perfect recovery if my medications weren’t late! Curse my OB’s not legible handwriting!
I do have to say that this planned c-section experience has healed me in so many ways. Besides the hiccup with my delayed medications and walking to our car, it was an incredible experience and I felt much more empowered during my entire experience. I am so grateful for the staff I had, OB, my mom & sister for taking care of our most important human on the planet and I’m also so incredibly grateful for my husband who would do anything to make sure I have all the help I need and would switch places with me in a heart beat so I not need to go through the pain of a c-section.
And last but not least, I love my sweet babies Rad & Riv for bringing me into my purpose of motherhood and also fueling my passion to be a support system for moms around the world through the work that I do in ab rehab and Birth recovery center. I feel extremely grateful.
To all c-section mamas reading this. You are doing an amazing thing no matter how you bring life into this world. No one can take that from you. No matter if you end up in an emergency c-section or choose a c-section or unnmedicated or medicated vaginal delivery, I believe in you to make the best choices for you and your babies. Love you guys!
If my story resonated with you, tell me in the comments or share on social media and tag me! I can’t wait to read some of your stories as well.