|January 23, 2014||Posted by Lauren under Pregnancy|
So turns out that finding time to blog with a baby is a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. I mean, who would have thought that a little human who eats every two hours, needs to be changed constantly, and has woken up from the ”newborn haze” so no longer sleeps all day would actually be a lot of work!? (note: read with sarcasm font). Good thing she’s so cute.
Amelia turned one month old yesterday. I know every new mom always says this, but I cannot believe I have a one month old already! And it doesn’t seem like it’s been an entire month since her birth; since the surgery.
So how are things going one month out? This is the first week that I’ve really started feeling like myself again. My stomach is still loose, my incision still numb, but the pain is gone. I’m walking normally. And I’m dreaming about running again. Although I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would, that familiar itch is coming back. My dreams are full of fast, effortless runs (totally realistic for those first runs back, right?) and my thoughts are on race plans. So far I’ve resisted the urge to sign up for more than just the one half marathon, but I’m ready. Mentally, anyway.
Physically – not so much. I plan on waiting until my 6-week check up before I attempt my first real run. As much as I want to get back out there, I also want to respect my recovery and take things slowly. And really, if I look at where I was a month ago, I’ve already come a long way.
I know recovery from any type of birth is hard, but those initial days after my c-section were some of the most difficult (physically) of my life. Keep in mind that I had never had surgery before Amelia’s birth, let alone been admitted to the hospital. Combine that with a new baby to take care of and it was overwhelming. I don’t really want to go into details of that first 24-48 hours, but let’s just say that like all birth experiences, it was messy. And I was in pain. The simple act of sitting up and getting out of bed was almost more than I could handle. I got myself discharged within 48 hours post delivery not because I was doing so well, but because I hated being in the hospital so much (have you tried to sleep with someone checking on you every couple of hours…or with noisy compression sleeves on your calves that keep inflating and deflating at regular intervals? It’s impossible).
Less than 48 hours after delivery — still looking very pregnant
The First Week
I was fortunate enough to not only have Evan, but also my parents with us to help. It just worked out that they arrived in town the day I was to be discharged from the hospital. Their help in that first week was invaluable. Walking was slow and difficult. My insides felt like they were going to fall out every time I stood up. And I was beyond exhausted. I couldn’t drive, couldn’t carry anything heavier than the baby, couldn’t stand for long periods of time without pain — in short, I was more helpless than I’ve ever been in my life. But thanks to them, I could take some time to relax and recover. They cooked, they cleaned, they took my stir-crazy pup for long walks. They snuggled the baby so that I could nap, and helped us adjust to life with a newborn. Having help after any kind of birth is important; after a c-section, I’d say it’s essential.
Where I spend most of my time
My first real “walk” was 6 days postpartum. My family went out to dinner to celebrate my younger sister’s grad school graduation. The restaurant was a little over a half mile away and although it was dark and cold and snowy, I was determined to walk there and back. So we bundled Amelia up, put her in the stroller and sloooooowly made our way to the restaurant. It was one of the slowest and hardest walks of my life – worse even than the long post-marathon shuffle to get to the gear buses after crossing the Boston Marathon finish line. But it felt so good to be moving.
Weeks 2 – 4
Gradually I started working my way up to longer and longer walks. Our shuffles around the block turned into walks around the neighborhood. I still wasn’t able to carry extra weight, so I pushed Amelia in the BOB while Evan was in charge of the dog. I tried wearing her* but the weight on my abdomen irritated the incision point in a way that carrying her in my arms never did. So I limited the amount of baby-wearing until after 4 weeks out.
Two weeks postpartum was the first real turning point. I could finally cough and laugh without too much pain, and stopped feeling the need to hunch over every time I walked. I was able to do more around the house and my pace increased from a shuffle to a slow walk.
(i.e. today) After 4 weeks, I was given the go-ahead to start “low impact exercise.” I celebrated with one of my favorite winter activities — a hike through snowy trails.
It was the longest and hardest “workout” I’d had in a month…and it felt awesome! Since then I’ve kept up a daily walking routine, averaging about an hour a day. Vermont has had a horrible cold front this week (I’m talking single digits and negative temperatures) which has made getting outside tough. Luckily, we have an ancient treadmill in the basement that’s difficult to run on but works well enough for walks — so that’s what I do. Sometimes with the baby, sometimes with the dog…and on days like today when it’s below zero and we’re all stir crazy, sometimes with both. I’m sure the three of us make quite the sight.
Don’t be jealous of my super fancy gym set-up (the leash if for the dog, by the way, not for me)
The Plan Moving Forward
Focus on Walking: There’s a lot of research and anecdotal evidence to show that walking after a c-section helps tremendously with recovery. My nurses had me out of bed within 12 hours after surgery and I was encouraged to get up and walk up and down the hall within 24. It was incredibly difficult, awkward (try standing up from a reclining position without using your abdomen) and hurt like hell. But once I was moving around, I found that I actually felt better…as long as I didn’t do too much. This has been a continued trend throughout my recovery. I’ve been slowly increasing the speed and distance of my walks over the past month. I’m still not speed-walking, but it feels good to be going a little faster all the time.
Limit Core Work: This probably sounds counter-intuitive, since my core is pretty weak at the moment AND a strong core is important for a successful return to running. However, I’ve been given strict instructions to not do any exercises that focus on my abdomen for 10 weeks. This seems like a ridiculously long time to me, but I don’t plan on pushing it until I’ve talked to my OB at my 6-week follow-up. Plus, while I haven’t been doing anything to specifically strengthen my core, it’s pretty impossible to get through a day without engaging it. In fact, you don’t realize just how often you rely on your core muscles until you can’t use them (specifically in those first days post-surgery).
Baby Weight Training: Despite what I said above, I do some core work on a daily basis — in the form of bending, twisting and lifting the baby.This little girl isn’t light, either. I’ve also started wearing her more often on my walks and around the house. It makes her happy, lets me get things done, and (I like to think) helps to strengthen my back and shoulders.
Strengthen my Pelvic Floor: The pelvis takes a beating during pregnancy and labor/delivery. It is very important to focus on strengthening your pelvic floor afterward in order to avoid injury when running (among other things). I actually haven’t done too much in this area yet but plan to start working in a few basic exercises over the next few weeks.
Take it Slow: Most importantly, I know I need to be patient and not rush into things. Even when I get the green-light to run again, I know I won’t be out there logging lots of miles. However, I know myself — I’m going to want to push. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to. So when I start getting frustrated by my slow progress, someone please remind me how important it is to take things one step at a time.
Fortunately I’ll be a little busy with other things to help take my mind off the running (or lack thereof)…
#cheesebaby onesie from Steph!
*We received a Baby K’tan, an Ergo, and a couple of slings as gifts. So far I use the K’tan the most, but sometimes will put her in the sling for wearing around the house. We plan to start using the Ergo when she gets a little older.
|January 15, 2014||Posted by Lauren under Running|
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU all so much for your kind, thoughtful comments on Amelia’s birth story. For everyone who shared the post, shared your experience, or just shared a word of reassurance — I am so incredibly grateful. Despite the fact that I’ve openly shared aspects of my life on this blog over the past several years, I was hesitant to share all the personal details of that day…because it meant being honest about some not-so-pretty emotions that I experienced. In the end I’m glad I did. Not only did it feel really good to write it all out, but it was also nice to be able to connect with others who have had similar experiences. So again…thank you.
Now that my pregnancy journey is over, I’m eager to shift my focus on what’s ahead. The next chapter. In terms of what that means for the blog — this has always been a running blog first. So as fun as it was to share regular updates during my pregnancy, I don’t have any plans to turn this into a baby blog and post regular updates about Amelia. Not that I won’t find ways to work her into posts regularly (because let’s be honest, my days revolve around this little person right now), but I feel a bit more private when it comes to documenting her life vs. my own.
I get this look on a regular basis. Not even a month old and she already thinks her mom is crazy
However, I do really want to talk about my recovery. As excited as I am to be back in racing shape and experience the highs of running fast again, I know I have to be patient. It’s going to be a long road back. A road that I want to document as much as I can, not only because I think it’ll keep me motivated when progress is slow, but also in case there’s anyone else out there who is getting back into running after a c-section (or significant time off for any other condition/injury).
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a clear roadmap when it comes to c-section recovery and running. I have very specific instructions on some aspects (no high impact exercise for 6 weeks, no abdominal exercises for 10, etc) but other things are more vague. My only guideline is how I’m feeling…not really the best rule of thumb for someone whose natural tendency is always to do more. I hate feeling weak, hate sitting around and being waited on. As you can probably imagine, I’m a pretty awful patient. But I’m trying really really hard to fight this and take things slowly. The last thing I want to do is move backwards with my recovery.
Anyway, instead of doing a “body after baby” thing on the blog, I plan to focus on PRs After Baby. I’m thinking optimistically here. I never focused on my weight/body before I was pregnant and I have no desire to do so now. I documented my weight gain during pregnancy just because I thought it was interesting, and obviously those numbers impacted my running. But the bottom line is — as much as I would love to have my pre-pregnancy body back ASAP, how it functions is more important at this point than how it looks. Plus, I know it’s going to be a long time before I look like the old LBC (if ever). I don’t have a scale at home, but I know that I had gained 28-29 pounds total by the end of pregnancy and had lost 18 at my follow-up 5 days later. Based on the lovely c-section pooch I’m still rocking and my obviously expanded thighs and hips, I’d say I still have a bit more to lose. And let’s not even talk about the size of my chest. Even when/if I get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, I know this body is going to look very different.
So — let’s just focus on the PRs instead, shall we? Because after a year of minimal racing and pregnant running, I have big dreams for this next year.
I want to discuss how recovery has been going over these first few weeks in more depth soon. But first, I want to talk about the plan.
As many of you know, I briefly debated signing up for Boston this spring. Although I’m sure I’ll be a little sad not to be on the course this April, I can tell you without hesitation that I’m so happy I decided not sign up (all of those who cautioned me from doing so…you were right). I’m glad I don’t have the pressure of a spring marathon hanging over my head. And now that I know my recovery will be much longer than anticipated, even if I made it to the starting line of Boston the entire race would be one huge strugglefest.
Instead, I plan to focus on shorter races this spring and summer with the ultimate goal of running a marathon this fall. Ideally I would like this to be a fast, PR-worthy effort. I have absolutely no desire to run a marathon just for the sake of the finish and my 3:18 PR has long out-stayed its welcome. I know I am capable of a faster race. Whether I will be fit enough to run it this fall remains to be seen.
With that in mind, I took the plunge and signed up for my first postpartum race yesterday! The Half Marathon Unplugged in April. It may be a bit ambitious, but I’m looking at it more as an opportunity to find out my distance-running baseline than an actual race…i.e. let’s see how out of shape I really am. Plus, I really want this to be my first big race back for a couple of reasons: 1.) the entry fee is relatively cheap (although it’s a no frills race, so I guess you get what you pay for) and 2.) this was the half marathon I had planned to run last spring before I found out I was pregnant. I technically could have still run the race, but opted to make a last-minute trip out to our parents’ houses that weekend so that we could tell them the baby news in person. A decision I never regretted, but now I have some unfinished business. I think it’s only fitting that it will be the first one back after baby.
I plan to fill in the rest of my schedule once I’m actually back out there. I’m finding that it’s really easy to sign up for races while I’m sitting on the couch like a lump. My last workout was almost a month ago; the pain of marathon training and racing are distant memories. I’m trying to resist that urge until I’m actually putting in some work and have a better idea of what my body can handle. But hopefully that schedule will include a couple half marathons, a few fun shorter races, maybe a relay or two, and of course, a fall marathon.
Speaking of which — I’m trying to figure out what marathon I want to run (since I only plan on doing one this year, there’s a lot going into the decision!) and I’d love your input. What’s your favorite, fast, small to mid-sized fall marathon?
There’s still a few more weeks before I can hit the pavement again, but I’m already excited to see what this year has in store.
|January 8, 2014||Posted by Lauren under Pregnancy|
I loved reading birth stories while I was pregnant. Not only because I felt like I needed to prepare myself for what was to come, but also because it was fun to hear about how other babies came into the world. Even the “horror” stories. Because no matter what, whether the woman’s labor was easy and short or long and difficult, there was always that element of triumph at the end. Where after all that hard work, the prize has finally arrived — the beautiful new baby you’ve been growing for 9+ months.
In the initial days after Amelia’s birth, I felt anything but triumphant. I didn’t even feel comfortable saying I had given birth to her, since she didn’t enter the world in the traditional way. I was thankful for her health and safety, of course, but there was this deep nagging feeling of failure. My body, which did such a great job of growing a healthy baby, failed in the final hour.
It’s hard to describe the emotional baggage that comes with an unplanned c-section, particularly when it’s a scenario you hadn’t even remotely considered. And it was something I didn’t truly understand or appreciate until I went through it myself. In the first few days, I found that I couldn’t even talk about the events leading up to her birth; would cry whenever someone asked me about over the course of that next week. And I found myself ashamed to admit to others that I had needed to have a c-section.
Fortunately the passage of time and a healthy dose of perspective has eased those feelings. I’m still not happy about the fact that I needed to have major abdominal surgery. I’m scared for any future pregnancies and the possibility of the same thing happening again (although doctors assure me it’s not likely, how do they know?). But mostly, I’m thankful. Thankful that I live in a world where surgery is an option. Thankful that my healthy baby is here and growing in front of my eyes every day. And thankful that 2.5 weeks after my c-section, I’m finally starting to feel a little like my old self again. A limited version, certainly, but glimpses of the old LBC are there.
Which means it’s finally time to sit down and tell the story of Amelia’s birth. The details have gotten fuzzy, but I’m sure it will be a long post nonetheless. So get comfortable, this could take awhile.
To tell the full story, I have to start the Monday before she was born (December 16th). As I had mentioned in my update posts, I had been having daily Braxton Hicks contractions since week 33, and over time contractions that had at once been barely noticeable started getting stronger. In the weeks and days leading up to Amelia’s birth, I had periods of more intense contractions that would come at regular intervals for an hour or two, and then fizzle out. It was maddening at first, and then I sort of got used to it. (Spoiler alert: my contractions never did become regular. Even now that I’m on the other side of it all, I still have no idea what real labor feels like.)
So on Monday December 16th, I went in for my 39 week appointment, got checked, and was told “there’s not much going on down there.” I left that appointment feeling a bit discouraged. Annoyed that all those contractions I had been experiencing for so long weren’t doing a darn thing, and prepared to settle in for the long haul. That week, however, I started feeling increasingly uncomfortable. I had periods of noticeable contractions every day, increased pressure, and just general feelings of crappiness. I was only comfortable sitting on an exercise ball, and would calm my mind by going on “long” walks on the treadmill every afternoon, pushing the incline up as high as possible and walking out my frustration while watching Netflix.
Wednesday evening (the 18th), I started experiencing more intense contractions about 10 minutes apart. I monitored them for awhile but when they didn’t seem to fall into any real pattern I gave up and went to bed. That night I barely slept — the discomfort from the contractions kept waking me up. I didn’t want to be too hopeful, but there was a small part of me that kept wondering if this was it. If today was going to be the day I went into labor. Unfortunately, as had happened so many times before, the contractions seemed to settle down once I was up and moving. I was still having them, but they were barely noticeable. Then a little after 10:00 that morning, I felt a gush, went to the bathroom and noticed mucus along with a lot more wetness than normal. I didn’t know what to make of it all because I just had that one small gush…and then nothing. Feeling a bit silly, I called my midwife to get some advice. They scheduled an appointment for me to come in that afternoon and get checked out, just in case.
To my disappointment, they didn’t find any evidence of amniotic fluid (though said there was a chance that I had a small, high rupture that had already closed back up…either that or I peed myself. Wouldn’t be the first time. Anyway…) However, my blood pressure and Amelia’s heart rate were both abnormally high during our appointment, so they sent me up to the birthing center for a fetal non-stress test. At this point I was 1.5 cm dilated, 70% effaced and baby was at -2.
I was hooked up to the monitor for over an hour while they waited to get a good reading on her heart rate. In the end, I was “diagnosed” with having a super active baby (which I knew). At the same time, they were also monitoring my contractions, which had started picking up again on the way down to the doctor’s office. At one point, a nurse came in, looked at my contraction pattern and said “Yep! Looks like you’re in labor to me!!” as if this was something we had all expected. It took me completely off-guard. I felt the contractions, but they didn’t seem any different than they had before. I was so excited — things were finally progressing! I left the birthing center at 4:00pm on Thursday the 19th. My contractions were 4 – 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long. Even though we lived an hour away from the hospital, they encouraged me to wait it out at home. I was only 1.5 cm dilated and would most likely have a long labor. So my midwife advised me to go home, eat an early dinner, take a Benadryl and get some sleep. I fully expected to wake up the next morning and head right back down to the hospital.
Unfortunately Friday (the 20th) came and went and besides feeling increasingly crappy (and having contractions all day that didn’t do much), nothing really happened. Evan and I went to a movie that afternoon in the hopes that it would be our last opportunity for awhile. While there, I started experiencing the same frustrating pattern. This time, contractions were 5 – 6 minutes apart and noticeably stronger than they had been the day before. But after a couple hours they started coming every 8 – 10. I was so frustrated by this cycle of increasingly intense contractions and then nothing, so just went to bed. I started doubting that my body would ever go into labor on its own.
The Big Day
But the next morning (December 21st – my due date!), I woke up around 2:45 am with strong contractions, about 4 – 5 minutes apart. I monitored for awhile and they actually seemed to stay consistent. I was still in denial that this could be it, so I ate cereal, showered, and basically wasted time until 8:00 am when I finally decided to call my midwife. She knew my history, so encouraged me to wait it out at home until they got significantly stronger or closer together. So Evan and I watched an episode of Friday Night Lights before deciding to walk to the grocery store (about 0.5 mile away) to get my mind off things and pick up stuff for an early lunch. I felt some strong contractions on the walk to the store but didn’t really pay attention to them. At the moment, all I could think about was finding something to eat.
We were just about ready to head to the check out when I suddenly felt a huge gush. I immediately stopped in my tracks and whispered to Evan “I need to get to the bathroom NOW!!!” ….which of course was on the complete opposite end of the store. I shuffled my way over there as quickly as a person who is using every single muscle to hold fluid inside can, all excited because I knew this was it! I laughed at the fact that my water had finally broken in a grocery store, since that’s where I had taken a pregnancy test on the day I found out about Amelia’s existence. And I thanked her for being so prompt and deciding to come on her due date.
And then I got to the bathroom and saw the blood. Dark red and way more than just the bloody show that can appear when your water breaks. I knew right away in my gut that something had to be wrong. The incredible excitement I had been feeling just seconds before was quickly replaced by fear and panic. We dropped our groceries and ran out of the store. Since we had walked, Evan raced back to the house to get the car while I stood outside, trying with all my might to hold everything in without drawing attention to myself (not successful). The minutes dragged by as I hid behind a pillar and tried to brush snow over the puddle of blood that was accumulating at my feet. It was 10:30 am Saturday morning.
The ride to the hospital was one of the most uncomfortable hours of my life. I cursed myself for being so set on this hospital. Cursed our decision to live in Vermont, where everything was so far away. My contractions felt extremely intense and were all in my back — which I thought just meant I was going to have back labor but now realize can be a symptom of placental abruption. I still felt myself losing so much fluid, and was panicking about how much blood I must be losing as well.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at the hospital. The next hour passed in a blur. I was immediately stripped down, given a sponge bath and hooked up to an IV and fetal monitoring. Because of the blood loss, I had to be hooked up to constant fetal monitoring and was confined to the bed. Everything that I had wanted to avoid for as long as possible during labor had already happened. (Don’t let Hollywood fool you — the bed is probably the least comfortable place to be when you’re in labor. Contractions are much more manageable when you’re able to move around.)
Once I got settled in and they determined that there was no immediate threat to the baby, my midwife checked me to see if I had made any progress. Unfortunately I was still 1.5 cm dilated and only 50% effaced — not very encouraging. I kept asking “Why am I losing so much blood??” and no one could give me an answer. Over and over I heard, “Let us worry about that. You relax,” as if that was possible. I couldn’t relax. Couldn’t understand how the blood loss wasn’t significant. “Labor is a messy process,” my OB said. But I didn’t know of anyone who had had so much blood loss before they even got to the pushing stage.
The truth was, they were also stumped. I was losing blood, but baby looked stable. Her heart rate was excellent, my vital signs were all good. I didn’t have any risk factors for a placental abruption, and she seemed to be responding well to my contractions. Finally they concluded that one of my cervical veins might have hemorrhaged. Nothing to worry about. I was going to be able to push this baby out no problem.
Despite the fact that my water had already broken and I wasn’t very dilated, they let me labor on my own for awhile to see if things would progress. I was warned that I may need pitocin if things didn’t pick up, but I was thankful to be given a chance to see how things went on my own. By mid-afternoon, the bleeding seemed to have stabilized a bit (it was still coming, but didn’t seem so dire). I was finally allowed to get out of bed and onto a ball, and Evan went down to get me the most delicious treat I had ever tasted – an ice pop. I savored that thing like it was my last meal on this earth.
Does this hospital gown make me look pregnant?
Unfortunately, around this time it started becoming clear that my body was not going to progress on its own. My contractions were long, but still not quite regular and I was not dilating. They didn’t push pitocin on me, but instead talked about the risks of infection and the fact that this labor looked like it was going to be a very long one, even with pitocin. At the time, I was thankful for the fact that they ultimately let me have the final say (despite making strong recommendations). From the moment my water broke with blood in it that morning I had been spinning, completely out of control and lost. The entire labor felt like something that was happening to me, not something that I was actively a part of. So while small, that simple gesture of allowing Evan and I to make the decision to start drugs changed my entire mood. I could do this. The pitocin would help. I was going to meet my baby soon.
I was hooked up to the pitocin at 5:30 pm on Saturday. I remember feeling a renewed sense of positivity. I was on the ball, the nurse who was sitting in the room with us was amazing and encouraging, and Evan and I started a game of Rummikub to take my mind off the blood. They even allowed me to have a small snack (Greek yogurt + fruit = heaven), since I was feeling weak from the blood loss on top of not having eaten anything in over 14 hours. Which shows you how confident my team was that 1.) things were stable and 2.) it was going to be a very long labor.
What – you didn’t play rummikub during your labor? We never actually finished the game…
Within a couple of hours, everything changed. And my situation seemed to go from stable to emergency in the blink of an eye.
My contractions picked up in intensity pretty quickly. At first I was thankful. I breathed through every contraction, willing my body to open and trying to remain calm. After about an hour on the drugs, they were still coming about 4 minutes apart, but were now 2 minutes long. After a few small increases to the dosage of pitocin, my midwife and the nurse made the decision to level it off for a bit. The fact that my contractions were so long meant that I only had a 2 minute break between them. It was still early enough in my labor that they were nervous this frequency would stress out the baby.
Around the same time, I started feeling a huge gush of blood with every contraction. And that’s when I knew my gut had been right all along — this labor wasn’t really normal. Despite all the assurances, everything was not okay. The nurses got me back into bed and the next thing I knew they were strapping an oxygen mask to my face and telling me to relax, take deep breaths. I had no idea what was going on until after. Amelia’s heart rate had dropped with my last contraction. I was told that my midwife had gone to get the OB and my heart sank.
They both came in to the room and explained that my labor was putting a lot of stress on the baby. If I had been further dilated, we may have been able to wait it out, but the blood loss and the lack of progress made them nervous about her ability to survive a long labor. Although the situation wasn’t dire yet, they recommended a c-section. The ironic part about it all was that at the time they presented it to us like we had a choice. But yet when Evan asked what our other options were, they basically said nothing. I could wait it out if I really wanted, but ultimately it would lead to the same result.
I’m pretty sure all the blood drained from my face the second they mentioned a c-section. I couldn’t talk, felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was at a complete loss about what to do next. Fortunately, Evan saw this and took charge. Since it still wasn’t quite an emergency, he asked if we could have a few minutes alone to talk about it…which basically translated into time for me to have a complete meltdown while Evan did his best to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. I know that he was just as scared as I was in that moment — for me, for our unborn baby — but to his credit he didn’t show it. He was my rock, keeping me grounded when panic wanted to carry me away.
As much as I had insisted that all I cared about in the end was a healthy baby, I hadn’t prepared for a c-section at all. I skipped over that chapter in the books, glossed over it in our birth plan discussions with my midwife in the weeks before. It was not even an option in my mind. Not because I was completely against them, just because I was naively convinced that nothing like that would ever happen to me. The knowledge that I basically had no other option was overwhelming. I was exhausted and shaky from the loss of blood, terrified about the baby, and so angry at my body for failing me when I needed it most. I kept hoping someone would come back in and say “never mind! Looks like your body is working great after all,” but no such luck. The nurses came in and started putting on their scrubs as they explained the procedure. I tried to pay attention as they told me about the prep and surgery, but my mind was a fog. I could barely speak, except to ask if this really was the only way.
And that’s when things started changing fast. Amelia’s heart rate dropped during my next few contractions, and each time they struggled to get it back up. They turned off the pitocin, moved me to all sorts of different positions on the bed and kept oxygen on me for what felt like an eternity. Waiting it out was no longer an option – I needed to get into the OR right away.
I don’t remember much about my prep for surgery except being so mad at the fact that my completely ineffective uterus was still contracting. I had taken off my glasses, so the room was just a blur of activity. People casually preparing for an emergency surgery — just another day on the job for them. I got a spinal (which wasn’t as bad as I had expected) and they laid me out on the table. I still couldn’t shake the sensation that this was happening to someone else. That this couldn’t be me on the table; it couldn’t be my baby that was in danger. My legs got really warm, then tingly, then the numbness spread up my body and into my belly, stopping at my chest. It was such a weird sensation. Evan was allowed into the OR for the surgery, but they had to take me in for prep alone. I still feel sad thinking about him waiting outside the OR by himself, scared for my life and the life of the baby, unable to do anything to help.
Everyone in the operating room was so wonderful and nice, but I was in complete shock. The anesthesiologist kept up a light conversation and tried to make me feel better. But I could barely muster up the energy to reply…it was taking every ounce of strength not to fall apart. I was shaking from fear and cold and the drugs, and just kept wondering how I got to this point and how Amelia was doing. For the first time in 9.5 hours, I couldn’t hear the comforting rhythm of her heartbeat — a sound that I missed dearly now that it was gone. Fortunately, the L&D nurse who had been with us all evening saw that I was struggling to keep it together. She came over to me and held my hand while we waited for Evan (both arms were strapped to the table). I just looked at her and tried not to cry. To this day, I’m so thankful she was working the night Amelia was born. She was exactly who I needed at that time.
Once Evan came in my OB quickly went to work. I didn’t feel much during the surgery besides pressure. It was like someone had two hands on my stomach and was shaking it back and forth. The scariest part was not knowing what was going on. I kept asking someone to please give me an update, please tell me that my baby was okay. But I think I was whispering and no one could really hear me. So I spent most of the time just staring at Evan. We were both so scared…he just rubbed my hand, looked into my eyes and didn’t say a word. Time passed in a vortex. I felt like I was strapped to the table forever, but in reality the surgery was quick. I remember someone saying it was 9:01 while I sat on the table getting the spinal. Amelia was born at 9:27.
Finally the anesthesiologist told me I’d feel some sucking and then strong pressure as they took the baby out. Words can’t accurately describe the sensation, the knowledge that she was being ripped out of my body. There was no pain, yet it was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. I still didn’t know what was going on. I wanted to see her, wanted to hold her, wanted someone to tell me she was okay. I was warned that she probably wouldn’t cry right away — most babies born via section don’t. But I still listened for it, holding my breath. I heard exclamations about her size (vs mine) and someone held up a small round, red ball of a baby. I was barely able to see more than a few feet in front of me. Amelia was rushed over to the warming table to make sure she was okay. I could tell Evan was torn — he didn’t want to leave his shaking, white-faced wife strapped to the table but didn’t want his daughter to be alone either. I told him to go to her, to be there for her when I couldn’t. Everyone kept saying, your baby is so beautiful! She’s perfect! And while I was relieved that it was over, that she seemed to be safe, it was still so surreal. Not being able to move or even see her.
Thankfully, my nurse had been working on a new hospital policy to allow skin-to-skin time after sections. It hadn’t even officially passed, but she somehow made it happen for me. I was the first person in that hospital to have skin-to-skin time after a c-section. It was an incredible gift. They finally brought my daughter to me. I could barely see her since I was flat on the table and she was held up high on my chest. My arms were strapped down, so the nurse held her there while I breathed her in. The rush of emotions I felt in that moment was overwhelming and I could no longer hold back the tears. They covered us both with warm blankets as my little baby snuggled against my chest. All too soon, they took her away (with Evan) so they could finish stitching me up.
Around 10:00pm they wheeled me into the recovery room and I was finally able to hold my daughter, all 9 pounds 10 ounces of her. The wrinkly little girl who had made every second of that day worth it. And as I snuggled her to my chest, I knew in an instant that I would do it all over again if I had to.
Taken the next morning. No one needs to see photos of me immediately after surgery
My official diagnosis was a placental abruption. The tear was low and the placenta hadn’t completely separated from my uterus, which is why my symptoms were atypical at first. My OB has assured me that this was a freak thing — nothing I did caused it, there was nothing we could’ve done to prevent it, and I shouldn’t expect it to happen again. I don’t know if her size was a factor and I don’t know whether I would’ve actually been able to deliver this baby on my own even if I didn’t have the abruption. But I still can’t help but feel at least partially responsible. I hate knowing that this little baby was ever in danger, wish I could’ve done a better job at keeping her safe. I know this is only the first time of many throughout her life when I will wish I could protect her from something outside my control. Still doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
I know that all labors are hard and I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience. I have no idea what a real labor feels like, so I can’t imagine how contractions would feel through transition, how difficult it is to push a baby out and how tough the recovery can be from that. But I do know that recovery from the c-section has been a struggle; the limitations incredibly humbling. I was not prepared for it physically or emotionally and I’ve had a hard time accepting the fact that I’m less mobile now than I was at 9 months pregnant.
However, I am so thankful that she is here and healthy. Grateful for a wonderful team that got me into surgery quickly and helped bring my little Amelia safely into this world. And although the day was scary while I was in the midst of it all, I know that things could have been much worse. She grew strong and healthy inside, and continues to be healthy now. I am healing and my scar is slowly fading. And my little Cheese Baby is perfect. Better than I could’ve ever wished for, worth all the waiting and the worry and the pain.
A huge thanks to my BIL Brett for the beautiful newborn photos (this photo and the first one in the post)
|January 1, 2014||Posted by Lauren under Pregnancy|
Happy New Year!
I’ve been in a bit of a haze over the past 11 days since Amelia’s birth. Not only because I’ve been adjusting to life with a newborn, but also because we’ve had family staying with us through the holidays. It was a wonderful, slightly exhausting, time warp and I only just now feel like I’m coming up for air.
Evan took my parents to the airport this afternoon and so for the first time since her birth, I found myself alone with the baby and the pup. After surviving a massive diaper explosion plus a nice healthy vomit (after I had fully changed her outfit, of course), I’d say we passed our first true test. But that’s about all I accomplished today. I’m starting to get used to a slower pace of life, days that pass in 2 – 3 hour increments, and relying more fully on others for help.
At some point, I will sit down and write Amelia’s birth story. Only because I’ve shared so much of the journey to her birth with you all. But for now, I find that I’m still too emotional, the details all too personal. So I’ll tell you the end before telling you the full story: Amelia was born via an emergency c-section due to a placental abruption. Despite all my proclamations that I wasn’t holding too tightly onto any ideal birth scenario and that I’d do anything to get her out, a c-section was not something I had prepared for. We went to an all day birth class that barely touched on it. Prior to my own, my only knowledge of c-sections had come from a couple of friends who had had unplanned ones. But at the time I couldn’t really relate. Because of course that wouldn’t happen to me. Women in my family didn’t have c-sections.
But after a day of bleeding and a labor that didn’t progress, I had the first major surgery of my entire life. A surgery that saved my daughter’s life and has made me incredibly grateful for modern medicine (and forever indebted to the labor and delivery team who helped guide Amelia safely into the world). But it’s also one that has been difficult to recover from — both physically and mentally. Being confined to my hospital bed in the hours after surgery, unable to get up and comfort my daughter, to change her or swaddle her, was incredibly humbling and tough. It made me rely on my husband in an entirely new way…and ultimately brought us closer together as I saw him take naturally to his new roll as a father.
Recovery has been a slow process. I managed to sweet talk my way out of the hospital a day early (so we’d be home for Christmas Eve), and I’ve been lucky to have my parents in town to help out ever since. Every day feels a little better, but it’s weird to be less mobile now than I was at 9 months pregnant. I know the road back to running will be a long one, so I’m just trying to be patient and soak up time with my new daughter…without going too stir crazy in the meantime.
On this first day of the new year, it feels weird to not be setting goals, especially related to running. I have goals in my head, things I’d love to accomplish in 2014, but since I don’t really know the time line of my recovery, I’m trying not to hold too tightly to any of them. For now I’m just taking things one day at a time. Each little shuffle around the block that will hopefully lead to longer walks and eventually, some slow runs, is a victory.
And of course I’m excited to be starting this new year as a family of three. To enjoy the year with my little Cheese Baby. 2013 was pretty amazing…I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store!
|December 24, 2013||Posted by Lauren under Pregnancy|
What a difference a week makes!
Amelia Lynne, our little Cheese Baby, arrived on December 21st at 9:27 pm — exactly two years to the day that Evan proposed. At the time, I didn’t think anything could top that Christmas. But…I think it’s safe to say that Amelia’s arrival will go down as the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received.
Born right on her due date at a whopping 9 pounds, 10 ounces(!) and 19 inches long. Talk about prompt! I honestly have no idea how all that baby fit inside me, but I can tell you that I’m happy she’s finally out. I’m pretty convinced that she’s the cutest baby in the entire world, but I suppose I could be a bit biased. And as I’m sure you can imagine, we are already so in love.
Unfortunately her arrival was not quite so smooth and easy as all that. Her birthday was simultaneously one of the scariest and one of the happiest days of my life. It’s a story that I promise to share with you all soon. But for now, we’re just soaking up time with our little Christmas present.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!