Tuesday, May 20, 2014

C-section soap box

Six years ago with my doctor said that I needed a c-section, I remember crying. Paul was worried that I felt like a failure or something, but I simply didn't want to be limited in the number of children we had. But I accepted my fate, had a decent experience in the OR and with recovery, and was ready to try a VBAC next time around.

Remember how my water broke 7 weeks early with Anna? Well after sitting around the hospital on bed rest for a week and not going into labor, I pretty much expected that a VBAC wouldn't happen. I think I was pretty okay with it. Honestly, my body ached from being on bed rest and I just wanted to have a baby and be done with the hospital. Again, good experience with a great recovery.

With Niels, I searched and searched for a doctor in Texas who would be willing to at least let me try a VBAC, since most docs won't after two. But I also wanted an excellent surgeon, since again, I knew my chances were pretty high that I wouldn't be able to do it. My doctor was willing, but would only let me go to 39 weeks before scheduling something. Honestly, vaginal birth still terrified me, and when 39 weeks came, I was ready to schedule everything. During that third surgery, my doctor discovered that I physiologically would never be able to birth a baby naturally. He also said that I healed well enough to try for a 4th baby.

So now that my fate is sealed and all my babies will require surgery, I've done some thinking and had some experiences. Whenever I tell people I have to have c-sections, I get a variety of responses. Pity is most common. While I know that being cut open repeatedly is not ideal, I really don't deserve any pity. I am able to carry children, where many woman can't. I have had healthy children so far, where many babies are sick or even die at birth. Maybe I need to be more humble, but I don't like being pitied for something that really doesn't matter.

Another response is skepticism, in the sense that I perhaps didn't really need to have c-sections at all...that if my doctor had just let me try a little longer, if I had mentally/physically prepped myself more, and if my doctor hadn't been so anxious to end his shift and go home, then I could have done it vaginally. In essence, they think I failed. This is certainly the most irritating response. Although I know there are many doctors out there who do perhaps jump to surgery too quickly, I for one would be dead if I didn't live in a time when c-sections were possible. When people portray that vaginal birth is the superior way to deliver in all cases, I get extremely irritated. Again, I probably need to be more humble and lighten up. But I have spoken to quite a few women who send this vibe to me when we exchange stories.

And that brings me to the last response I get - indifference. This is the response that I aim to portray whenever women gather together and share birth stories (which we seem to do a lot as women). I don't mean indifference to the story being shared, but to the method of birth. If you want a home birth, go for it! If you want a midwife, great! If you don't want an epidural, more power to you!  If you want an epidural, enjoy it! If you need a c-section, so be it. It really doesn't matter the way you choose to or have to have your baby. Just the fact that you are able to create and carry a baby inside you is amazing. And having a healthy baby is such a blessing. I wish people wouldn't put so much stock in how the baby actually comes out of you and just enjoy the new life that has been created.

Maybe I am a little oversensitive about this issue. Maybe people aren't passing judgment that I was a failure or that I had a knife-happy doctor. But having spoken to other "c-section only" mothers, I am not the only one who has had these reactions from others. 

I know that many people out there don't care how the baby comes out. But hopefully next time you hear a birth story you will be careful that you are aware of how your reaction to your story comes across to the new mother you are speaking too. 

Soap box over. More pictures of Anders to come :)

P.S. One nurse once said, regarding c-sections, particularly VBACs, "Why would you ever want a VBAC? Once you have messed up one part of your body (from birth), why would you want to mess up another part? Just keep them coming out the same way!"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Surgery, birth, and baby naming

Being that my first 3 kids were born c-section, with #4, it was scheduled from the beginning. I must admit, it was nice knowing that no matter what happened, by April 22nd, I wouldn't be pregnant anymore. 

Not that anyone even wants to know these details, but for my own sake, and for my kids, here's the story:

On Monday evening, my mother flew in from Boise, just 13 hours before the surgery was scheduled. We woke up the next morning, showered, fed the kids breakfast, and left for the hospital. I really felt gigantic this time around. I mean huge. People started asking me how many more days when I still had 7 weeks left. I had been pretty uncomfortable for the last two months and I was oh so very ready for a c-section. I wasn't nervous at all...although this was going to be my 4th hospital, in my 4th state, with my 4th doctor, and while procedures do vary a little from hospital to hospital, the basics were the same. I told the nurses I was a tough stick (they poked me 7 or 8 times before they got a good line in when I had Niels) and I was determined that wouldn't happen again. And, gratefully, one poke was all it took. That alone alleviated any worries I may have had. They got me all prepped for surgery, and then we waited an hour. What the hold up was, I don't know, but I was just antsy to get started.
Finally I was whisked away to the OR. Anesthesiologist gave me the spinal, I laid down, and the nurses took over, attaching monitors all over. Paul eventually came in, and once they verified that I was completely numb, it all started. The anesthesiologist told me that if I didn't feel well to tell him, since I would feel a change in blood pressure faster than his monitors could tell him. At one point I had a moment of dizziness and difficulty breathing...so I told the anesthesiologist, he gave me some drugs to my IV, and in a few minutes I felt like normal. The wonders of medicine :)

Every time I've done this, I'm surprised how long it takes to actually get the baby out. For some reason I think it should be instant...and I suppose in emergent cases, they are able to go in very fast. But as long as mother and baby are okay, the doctors take their time. Which is good. They carefully cut through all fascia, clear up adhesions, and do their thing, taking their time to be careful. So about 15 minutes after starting, they were ready to take out the baby. Quickly, the baby's left hand shot out! I guess he was done with this pregnancy too! They pushed it back in, but he kept trying to punch his way out. Sadly, he was transverse, or sideways in my tummy, so they had to push and pull and twist a lot more than they normally do. In the past, I have felt the doctors pulling on me a bit, and have felt a lot of "pressure" as they pull the baby out, but nothing terribly painful or memorable. This time, I felt like I was being pulled right and left and jostled all over the table while they tried to pull him out. It felt like a full 3 or 4 minutes that they battled with the baby before he finally turned head down and came out. I felt like I had been beat up a bit...they had to cut my uterus a little more in order to flip him and help him out. But alas, he came. He had a bit of trouble breathing at first, but all was quickly normal. Born at 11:09 am, he weighed 8 pounds 10.8 ounces and was 21 inches long.
Paul and the baby sat with me a bit while the doctors started to clean me up. Again, this part always takes longer than I remember. I timed it this time and it took 50 minutes from when he was born to when they wheeled me out of the OR. Again, I'm glad that doctors take their time and don't hurry things along. Take all the time you need in stitching me up!
We got to hang out in the recovery room for an hour while my legs slowly regained a little (very little) bit of feeling. And I got to hold him for the first time. Oops. We didn't get a picture of that.

That afternoon my mom brought the kids to see him. They all loved him immediately, especially Niels, who we feared may have some problems being displaced as the baby.

I stayed in the hospital two nights, although I felt good enough to go home earlier. I really had an easy recovery. I felt great physically, and didn't have a hard time moving like I have with previous c-sections. And with my mom around to help, life at home was pretty relaxed and easy.

The only problem was the name. For the two months leading up to his birth, we had considered Erik and Dane. I really wanted his middle name to be Steven, after Paul's dad, and Paul wanted his middle name to be Thor. One of us had to budge, so about a month before birth, Paul agreed to Steven. But it was still a battle between Erik and Dane. Anna wanted Dane, because with her speech impediment, she couldn't say Erik (it came out Erit). And Hattie wanted Erik...probably just to pick something different than Anna.  I vacillated between the two from day to day, as did Paul.

On the way to the hospital on Tuesday morning, I said to Paul, "I guess I'm not totally against Anders. I still think it's a great name (we had considered it for Niels) but I don't love how it sounds with Iverson." I went on to mention a handful of other names we had discussed that I wasn't wholly against.

So fast-forward to Wednesday afternoon when Paul came to visit me and the baby after work. He said, "You know, I think I like Anders more than anything." Funny thing was, I was going to say the same thing. All day on Wednesday while I was alone with the baby, I tried calling him Erik and Dane. And I just wasn't feeling it. And for some reason, Anders fit. I can't really explain it. It wasn't really an overwhelming feeling...just that we liked Anders...it seemed to have a bit more personality to it. So despite the fact that I still don't love the sound of Anders Iverson, we started to call him that. We called him that for about a week before I finally called the name registry office to make it official. Sometimes I still have moments where I ask myself, "Did I really just name my son Anders? Are people going to think we are weird-os who have to have crazy creative names? Will he like his name as he grows up?" And it seems that most peoples' reaction is either something along the lines of "That is an awesome name!" or a simple, polite, "Oh," with a half grin.

We love our little newborn, and are relishing in the weeks in which he stays a newborn. They change and grow so fast! He sleeps quite well, and is generally a pretty good baby. The kids can't get enough of him. Anna always wants to hold him, Hattie always asks to see "his cute little face," and Niels gives him about 80 snuggles a day.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Silly things

Yes, there will soon be a post with details and pictures of our newest family member...but I wanted to make sure to document some funny things the girls have said recently.

Remember back in February when we went to Wisconsin Dells? And Paul and the girls did the ropes course? And although the girls didn't exactly hate the ropes course, they certainly didn't love it. Well, starting today, Paul has a week of paternity leave...so we planned to go to the zoo. Last night I told Paul that the zoo has a ropes course, and he, of course, told the girls that they were going to do it. Suddenly, neither girl wanted to go to the zoo anymore. 

After looking online, we weren't sure they would be able to...there might be a height requirement, but the website was unclear. So Paul said that we would see when we got there if the girls were tall enough to participate.

But upon arrival, Paul realized he had flip flops on...so regardless of the height requirements, they wouldn't be able to do the ropes course. The girls were thrilled.

Later this afternoon, Hattie came over to me, bright-eyed, and said, "Mom, He answered my prayer, but not in the way I thought He would. I prayed that we wouldn't be tall enough to do the ropes course, but instead Dad forgot his tennis shoes!!"

And now an Anna anecdote. Yesterday, after cleaning out the dishwasher, Anna came to us and said, "Something crazy happened with the sharp knives...they just floated to where they belong!!" Ha! Is it bad that I'm proud of her for not being afraid of knives, but not proud because she lied about it, for fear of getting in trouble? She is my crazy girl.