Birth Stories

Stephanie’s Birth Story: Gentle C-Section

Editor’s note: We believe that all birth stories and all birth experiences matter. This post is part of an ongoing series of birth stories submitted by readers and fellow bloggers, featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences.

A Cesarean section doesn’t have to be a cold and impersonal experience. Today’s birth story is from Stephanie from Happily Homegrown who has graciously agreed to share the story of her family-centred, gentle C-section. If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to learn how. ~Olivia

Stephanie's story gentle c-section

Leading up to d-day, I would have moments where I couldn’t believe that I was pregnant again let alone that our baby boy was on his way in just a few days. Monday morning was no different. As my husband and I drove to the hospital early Monday morning, I did a final check on Facebook, and sent a few text messages to family to let them know that our son was going to be born in a few hours. I was a little anxious, but was doing everything I could to remain calm and collected while we drove down the Interstate.

Our doula, Kristy Burt, met us at RWJ Hamilton and the three of us walked into the maternity ward together. Upon check in (I feel like I’m talking about a hotel), we were shown to a private L&D suite where I would be prepped for surgery, which was scheduled for 9am. However, a few minutes after arriving, I was told another mom who had been scheduled to have a c-section in a few days just arrived at the hospital in active labor, and as such, I would deliver after her since I was not contracting and baby and I were both stable. I got a little anxious about having to wait, but Steve and Kristy quickly set my mind to ease.

Charlene, my L&D/Surgical Nurse, walked us through the entire process for the morning, and got me ready for surgery. As each member of the medical team came in, she introduced that person to us, and acted as a liaison between me and them if I had any questions or concerns after they had left the room. We discussed every facet of my birth plan, which is normal, but then I also answered a lot of questions that the nurses and doctors were just curious about – everything from how did I learn about gentle cesarean, to what did I plan on doing with the placenta after delivery. It was nice not feeling rushed and since Steve and I had discussed everything in advance (plus had been through 2 prior c-sections) we felt well prepared for our delivery.

Since my OR time had been postponed, Charlene took me off of the monitors so that I could be more comfortable and Steve, Kristy and I hung out for the morning chatting about everything under the sun. Having our doula there made the time pass more quickly and gave us continuous fuel for a fresh conversation so that I wouldn’t dwell on how long of a wait I had or the fact that I was missing my older children.

When it was just about time to head to the Operating Room, Charlene came back to finish getting me ready. She brought scrubs for Steve and Kristy, so I asked if this meant that she was in fact allowed in the OR. Much to my surprise, after weeks of being told no and that the only support person I could have in the OR was my husband, on delivery day the final decision was made that our doula could be in the OR as well!

Dr. Tom came by the room one last time prior to delivery to review what everyone’s role in the OR would be, and the choreography of the delivery with us and our team of nurses. We discussed who would cut the cord, when I would see our son, who would hand him to us, etc.

When everyone left the room, my anxiety peaked and I started to get shaky and cry. I couldn’t believe this was finally happening. Steve came over to me and rubbed my neck and calmed me down. Kristy rubbed some Roman Chamomile on my temples and on the pressure points of my feet, and the combination of essential oils and my husband seemed to do the trick and calm me back down.

Then it was time for the walk to the OR… Since I was not in distress, I was allowed to walk to the OR on my own. Charlene and Dr. Joshi (my awesome anesthesiologist) walked with me. I remained calm as we entered the OR, and I was introduced to everyone who was in the room (2 nurses and a tech whom I had already met earlier in the morning). As I got on the table and ready for my spinal, I began to panic again and get anxious, but Charlene and Dr. Joshi knew just what to say to me to bring me back down and get the spinal on the very first try. My legs went cold, and I knew that it was time. They finished prepping me for surgery before allowing Steve and Kristy into the OR. I didn’t like being alone so long, but Charlene and Dr. Joshi continued to chat with me and make casual conversation which did wonders to help me to relax.

When I was fully prepped, Steve and Kristy were shown in. Steve sat over my left shoulder where he could reach my hand, and Kristy sat just over his shoulder on the same side.

Dr. Tom and Joann, my midwife, greeted the three of us, and then began surgery. I continued to chat with Steve and Kristy about the baby, as well as my other children. A good 10-15 minutes into surgery, I actually asked if Dr. Tom had started yet since no one else in the OR was talking. He had said that he did in fact begin surgery, and had just finished removing both of my previous scars. He then told me something that I’ve never heard before, “You have great muscle tone.” I asked Dr. Tom to repeat that one at least 5 times because I’ve never been told I had good muscle tone, it made my day!

The OR remained quiet until he got to my uterus, at which point Dr. Tom gave a not-so-graphic play by play as to the surgery leading to the birth of my son. Right before the baby was born, the entire OR fell silent, and I felt pressure on my rib cage and upper abdomen, followed by the sweetest little cry. My son was finally here!

At my request, the nurses quickly did the initial assessment, and then wrapped our son in a blanket and handed him to Steve.

I was able to kiss and hold my son in the OR with the help of my wonderful husband. Michael nursed for the first time just minutes after he was born while we were still in the operating room, an experience I never had with my older children. It was amazing.

The next 30 minutes in the OR are a bit of a blur.

While Dr. Tom closed, I spoke with my midwife, a few nurses, and then focused on my son, who was now lying wrapped in a little blanket in my husband’s arms. Kristy, Steve, and Michael all got to stay with me during the entire time I was in the OR and the entire medical staff respected my wishes by continuing to keep the room quiet, and just let Steve and I bond with our new son.

When it was time to go to recovery, they placed Michael on my chest, skin to skin, and I just hugged him as I was wheeled across the hall.

Over the next 48 hours, I stayed in the postpartum ward, and just bonded with my newest baby. He nursed like a champ from the beginning, but something wasn’t quite right. Even after having two other children who I breastfed, it was a relief having Pam and Nicole Kekesi (IBCLC) stop by the room to offer their support and help with that pesky latch issue that was making me so uncomfortable.

And for the first time as a mother, when the baby slept, I slept. Michael stayed in my arms pretty much 24/7 while I was still in the hospital. And I enjoyed every precious second.

Because of how good I was feeling (that’s what happens when you get the good drugs), the fact that Michael was doing so well, and my midwife knew that my older children were staying with my parents, I was discharged a day early.

And then the adventure at home, as a mother of three, began. And it’s been a whirlwind three years. Not always easy, but always worth it.

Stephanie blogs at Happily Homegrown where she shares her passion for family, food, gardening, and throws in a few other creative ideas along the way. When she’s not blogging, she is a homeschooling mom of 3, living in eastern PA with her husband of 15 years, making the most of every day. Connect with Stephanie on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Wow this is beautiful! I experienced a very scary emergency c section at thirty two weeks two years ago. So reading about such a beautiful experience makes the whole idea seem not so svary.

  • I admire Stephanie and her husband so much. The C-section would still an ordeal. It is normal to have doubts and fears. My middle daughter has a C-Section for her first children twins, a boy and a girl. I visited her at the hospital at feeding time as she was nursing. I also stayed with her six weeks and helped with changing diapers and did the bathing. It was a wonderful time but she needed time to heal and to get her body strong again. C-sections are necessary but may be difficult afterwards.