“We recommend that babies with spina bifida be delivered by c-section,” the high risk OB told me.
Two weeks before, we had learned that our baby had spina bifida, and we found ourselves seated on a comfortable couch, across from the high risk doctor. We had just finished a consultation with the neurosurgeon, neonatalogist, high risk OB, a genetic counselor, the Spinal Differences Clinic coordinating nurse, and a radiologist.
“Is there any chance at all of a vaginal delivery?” I asked. “Or is it 100% that I would need a c-section?”
“Vaginal deliveries do sometimes happen with spina bifida, but it is more common to have a c-section. The defect is more protected that way, and the hope is that there would be less nerve damage. I can understand your desire to have a vaginal delivery, but you don’t want to get to some challenges down the road, and wonder if you had had a cesarean, if the outcome would have been better.”
I couldn’t argue with that logic. Because I would totally be the person that would have blamed myself if I didn’t feel like I had done everything I could to give Eisley the best outcome.
I was disappointed that I would be having a c-section, but also terrified about the process. I had never had any surgery in my life, so it was a big, scary pill to swallow. But as the weeks and months passed, I got used to the idea. I loved that we had a planned date (as long as I didn’t go into labor early like I had with Haven-but thankfully my weekly progesterone shots helped prevent that) because it made it easier to plan for my Mom and Mother-in-law to come to support us and help with Haven.
The morning of the planned c-section came, and after saying goodbye to a sleeping Haven, I stood in the foyer of our house, with Josh, my Mom, and his Mom. As I clutched my pillow to me, about to leave for the hospital, tears began to well in my eyes. I was excited to meet her, of course, but for a moment, the fear took over.
We made it to the hospital, and my stomach was doing all kinds of flips (that were not all due to the baby), as we checked in, I changed into a hospital gown, and they began to prep me for surgery.
I was wheeled down the hall, and we arrived at the operating room sooner than I expected. Another wave of fear. I remember being caught off guard by the blast of cold air as I hobbled through the door. It felt like a deep freeze in there. How the surgeons’ hands can grasp the tools without freezing up, I will never understand.
The anesthesiologist arrived and placed my spinal block. It took three tries to get it right, but it actually wasn’t too bad. Just little sticks in my back. The medicine took effect immediately, and it was such a surreal feeling to instantly lose almost all sensation to the lower part of your body.
They helped me lay down on the table, because I’m pretty sure I would not have been able to do it myself, even if I had total feeling. That table was tiny, and I was 39-weeks-pregnant-huge.
The curtain was raised, and my arms were strapped out to either side of me. It was a very vulnerable feeling-not having control of my body, being strapped down, and with my arms outstretched. Another wave of fear.
I was about to be willingly cut open on an operating table for my daughter. It was then that I felt the faintest whisper from the Lord: I did this for you. My body was broken for you. In that moment, I understood just a little bit more about the Lord. I loved Eisley so much that I was willing to be cut open for her. And Jesus loved me (and you!) so much that He gave His body and His life for me. What an amazing love.
If you have read Eisley’s birth story, you know that I bled…a lot during the surgery. I purposely did not look at the floor as they wheeled me out of the operating room, but according to one nurse with no filter, it looked “like a bloodbath”. The blood loss caused my iron levels to drop dramatically, so I had to be on iron supplements for a few weeks after.
I knew from hearing other moms’ experiences with c-sections that movement was key to recovery. Even just getting out of bed was difficult for the first couple of days. But getting out of bed meant that I could be wheeled down to the NICU to see Eisley, so I did it. One of the nurses told me that their c-section moms (at the children’s hospital where they deliver the more critical babies) usually recover much quicker than other c-section moms in the community, because they have to get around to get to their babies. I was glad for the motivation, because otherwise it would have been more difficult to heal.
After about a week postpartum, I was cleared to drive and do most things as I would normally. I was still careful with lifting Haven, who was only 19 months old at the time, so she still required lots of lifting and cuddling. But I actually felt pretty good, considering I had just had major surgery a week before.
April is c-section awareness month, so I wanted to share a bit more about my experience. Believe it or not, there are many out there that think it is the “easy way out”. Umm, just no. It took every ounce of courage I had, plus more from the Lord, to walk into that OR. C-section moms are warriors, plain and simple. We’ve been to battle for our babies, and we have the scars to prove it.
Would it have been my first choice? Definitely not. Would I do it over again for Eisley? In a heartbeat.