If you haven’t read Part One of Camryn’s birth story, you may want to tune in here before reading this!
So, to pick up from where I left off, I had to sign some forms for the C-Section. I had done absolutely NO research on a C-section because I never thought I’d have to have one (not that there’s anything wrong with it). I had just pictured a natural vaginal birth. And after the day’s events, though I was a little sad about the outcome, I was more than ready and excited to meet baby girl.
You can only have one person in the operating room with you, so Ed came and I said bye to my doula. I should say at this point my parents had been troopers hanging out in the hospital waiting room all afternoon. They came in to check in before I headed into the operating room.
The Actual Process
The operating room reminded me of like an elf’s work station. Let me explain. There were just so many people there with a purpose. I was fully conscious so remember it well. They all communicated with each other so well. It was like an assembly line where one person said out loud what he/she was doing, or preparing, and they all adjusted their jobs accordingly. I felt pretty good about the team atmosphere and how transparent everyone was. I could hear all of the commands and knew what was coming. Everyone was so nice, too.
Let me also say that I didn’t realize how major of a surgery a C-section was. Because again, I did absolutely no research on it. But, it’s a pretty major surgery. They basically have to cut you open, move your internal organs around, and stitch you back up. And oh yea, get the baby out.
They put a screen up so you don’t see below your abdomen where they are doing the surgery. My biggest fear was feeling something. I don’t do well with these kinds of medical procedures but Ed distracted me the whole time. We just kept talking about what we thought the baby would look like. Would she like more like him or me? Would she have long fingers and toes, like me? Chubby cheeks? A head full of hair? It was fun to imagine all the possibilities and it really helped me not focus on the fact that I was being cut into.
The whole thing probably took only 15-30 minutes and I didn’t really feel anything. My version of time is so skewed because it was such a long day and I feel like I was borderline delirious at this point. But I remember first hearing her when she came out. She had a healthy scream. They weighed her and did whatever checks they needed to do and let Ed cut the umbilical cord. I was laying down so couldn’t see her but I asked him, “Is she cute?” He said, “she’s perfect,” and my eyes filled with tears.
She did, indeed, have a head full of hair. And I’ve since come to realize she has long fingers and toes, long eye lashes, chubby cheeks, and bright blue eyes.
She was 6 lbs, 8 ounces, 19.5 inches. Born at 8:08 pm.
From there, we were taken into the “recovery” room where she was placed on my chest for skin to skin. My initial thoughts upon holding her was, “I can’t believe this is my baby. I can’t believe we made her.” Truthfully, I was in shock that we’d be taking her home with us. Sometimes, I’m still surprised that she lives with us, and we are responsible for raising her. It’s pretty cool.
We hadn’t had our exact name picked out ahead of time – we had 3 names that we both liked and figured we would pick after meeting her. The texts came in from my family about what her name was. I didn’t hesitate at all when I chose Camryn. I had kind of known all along that’s the one I had wanted and felt better once Ed warmed up to it. We named her Camryn Grayce and I think it fits her well.
She was so little and angelic and laid down calmly and peacefully. The nurses did a few checks on her while she rested on me. My parents were going crazy at this point because they wanted to meet her before they went back to our house for the night, but we had to wait in the recovery room for an hour. Once we headed to our hospital room, we introduced my parents to Camryn and I’ll never forget the looks on their faces. This is one of my favorite pictures!
Despite the feeling of pure exhaustion, there was so much adrenaline too. By the time all this was said and done, it was close to 11pm and we headed to our hospital room. I had so many questions – like what am I supposed to do in the middle of the night if she wakes up? How do I breastfeed? What if she stops breathing? How often should I wake her?
These things flooded my mind that even though I was tired I couldn’t fall asleep right away. The nurses were there to help, though, and were very wonderful. I had to stay in the hospital an extra day due to the C-Section. It was an uncomfortable few days in dealing with the pain of the incision, squatting to go to the bathroom and even getting out of bed. I made myself walk around the hospital starting on day 2 just because I knew it would speed up healing, and truthfully, I needed to get out of bed and our hospital room.
A Little Bit About Breastfeeding
For the first few weeks, I was basically feeding her every 2 hours or so. And, since newborns sleep alot, that meant constantly waking her up to feed her. Especially since newborns typically lose weight. After night two, Camryn had gotten down to 5 lbs, 12 oz. So, it was even more important that we keep a consistent feeding routine.
I saw two lactation consultants when I was in the hospital. They were extremely helpful in helping me understand what a good latch is and the different positions based on my comfort. I’ve also seen two since leaving the hospital. I think lactation consultants can play such a strong role in helping to empower women and families about breastfeeding. It’s a very hard thing and there are so many reasons it may not work properly. I’ve found that getting an expert’s opinion has been monumental in helping me feel more confident. I still don’ think breastfeeding is easy by any means, but it’s something I value and hope to do exclusively for at least the first 6 months.
Thoughts on the Whole Process
When I look back at birth, it was definitely a turning point in my life. Aside from marking the point where you become a mother, it also emphasizes so many natural parts of being a woman. I’m in awe of the capabilities of the body, the medical system, and even the little baby who just seems to know what to do. All of the things I read about newborns hold true – they search for the breast, they know a mother’s touch and they loveee to be swaddled.
Weirdly, I’ve heard birth compared to running a marathon and I can completely see the comparison. Birth is actually wayyyy harder, in my opinion. But, it’s just another testament to the capabilities, wonder and astonishment of the human body. We are capable of so much, and when we relinquish control and let our body do what it knows how to do, the end result is magical. I think this is similar to intuitive eating – letting our bodies guide us. But, that’s a conversation for another day 🙂
I would definitely hire a doula again. While every part of my birth plan wasn’t able to be completed, there were many things that I valued that happened and I felt good about. For example, quiet voices upon entering our hospital room, dim lights, and having my partner with me at all times.
Our doula was such an emotional strong point for me. Even more so, since things didn’t go as planned. She kept me levelheaded and helped me explore all my options, even leading up to birth. Ed was a total trooper too in supporting me, holding my hand, offering water and ice, and just saying the right things. I know they say it takes a village after birth for raising a newborn, but having the support during birth was helpful for me too.
Now, 7 weeks out, I feel pretty much back to normal. I’m sure my hormone levels are still leveling. I’ve just started some light exercise and hope to slowly ramp that up. But, stroller walks with Camryn are still my favorite. We’re getting better at sleeping through the night, seeing conscious smiles from Camryn, and really bonding with each other.
I know there will be MANY more ups and downs, but each day is totally worth it.