Monday, August 29, 2016

Samuel's Birth Story

Samuel's birth story really begins at 34 weeks. At our appointment, the midwife palpitated my stomach and commented that it felt like he was in a really position but that we would do a quick scan to confirm. Sure enough, that scan showed that what we had thought was his bottom was head - he was breech. I tried to play it cool but tears spilled out of my eyes on the exam table. There was still plenty of time for Samuel to flip head down, but in my heart I knew that wasn't going to happen. I cried, prayed and did every single thing in the book to try to turn a baby vertex - chiropractor appointments daily, acupuncture, moxie, spinning babies, headstands in pools, you name it we tried it.

Up until this point, we had gone to a freestanding birth center and were planning on a midwife-attended, natural childbirth more than likely in the tub. This changed everything. We started the process of switching our care over to the previous practice I had seen that was an OB/ midwife joint practice. I will forever be thankful for how welcoming they were to us and that from my initial welcome back consultation they set out to make our new birth plan, which would be a family-centered cesarean if he remained breech. While a c-section was what I wanted to avoid at all costs (hence a planned birth center birth), I realize now that God had been working on my heart for several weeks opening up to this change of scenario. When I was serving in Sunday school a few weeks prior, all three of the women I was in the nursery with were sharing their birth stories - all of which were c-sections. Some had good experiences, some bad, but it was eye opening to look around and see all of their children were beautiful, loved and smart - how they arrived in the world had no bearing on that.

As soon as I shared that Samuel was breech, I was overwhelmed by the love, support, advice and guidance of so many women who had been in similar situations. I felt so encouraged and uplifted and realize now that this was supposed to be our journey. I had every single thing planned for our natural birth, and this was God not-so-gently reminding me that I am not the one in control. It was one of my first real lessons of going with the flow and accepting that I can't plan everything!

I will forever be thankful that I had several weeks to wrap my mind around our change of plans and to work with our providers to make sure our wishes (family-centered cesarean, immediate skin to skin, breastfeeding within an hour of his birth, etc) were all honored. Because of this, we went into his birth week feeling so excited while also very calm. We celebrated my 27th birthday, played plenty of competitive games of Spoons with my family and counted down the days until we were going to meet our precious love. On Wednesday, we went on one last pre-baby date night (which of course included Moonshine skillet apple pie) and talked about how in just a matter of hours our world would be changed forever.

On the morning of Samuel's birthday, August 4th, I set my alarm for 4 a.m. - exactly 8 hours before my surgery so I could get in one last meal! I never want to forget the uncontainable joy I felt making eggs in the kitchen in the early morning, knowing that it was the day I would get to meet my son. I ate, went back to bed and woke up a few hours later with a perms-smile on my face. Preston and I showered and got ready, all the while knowing that Samuel Jacob would be in our arms in a matter of hours.

At 9:30, my mom came over to the house and took a few last pictures of us before we departed to the hospital. We checked in, and then because it was a busy day, we sat in the lobby where Hannah joined us and we got to relax and enjoy the excitement! Once they called us back, we had the sweetest nurses getting me all prepped while Preston changed into his OR attire (which made him look like an astronaut). Our Dr. came in at that point and did one more quick scan to confirm Samuel was still breech, which he was of course - little man was incredibly cozy in my rib cage!

At that point it was time for me to head into the OR so I could get my spinal and get prepped for surgery. Preston stayed in the pre-op room, and funnily enough was able to visit with one of his flag football teammates, whose wife was also having a c-section that day! In the OR, the mood was so happy and joyful. I will forever be thankful for the team of nurses, the anesthesiologist and of course our awesome doctor. They explained in such great detail everything that was happening and what it would feel like (i.e. when they inserted the spinal, the drugs, etc). I was pleasantly surprised that while you are numb to pain from your stomach down, you still have feeling so I could still sense pressure, etc. Once the spinal was in, Preston joined us in the room and I was SO happy to see him! I knew once he was there it would only be a matter of minutes until our precious son was there.

We had opted to have a clear curtain so that we could see when Samuel was born (versus them cleaning him up and then bringing him to us several minutes later). BEST DECISION EVER. Preston got to watch the whole thing (I was nervous he would be squeamish but he wasn't at all) and as soon as the Dr. picked him up (which was maybe 10 minutes after Preston had come in) and held Samuel over the screen I got to reach out and touch my precious son. It was INCREDIBLE. He was showing off his strong lungs, covered in amniotic fluid and was pure perfection. I truly couldn't believe that he was really here and that this perfect, handsome, chubby angel baby was OURS.

Once they cut the cord, they took Samuel to weigh him and when they announced that he was 9 lbs 4 ounces I could't believe it! My midwives and dr had all said he was a good size baby but I never felt big enough to be smuggling a 9 lb baby in my belly! I was so glad he was healthy and will never forget how unbelievably happy I was at that moment. Once they weighed Samuel, Preston held him and brought him over to my chest so we could do skin to skin. Seeing Preston hold our son for the first time was another memory that no matter how long I live I will never forget and having that precious boy on my chest will forever be one of the best moments of my life.

I had wanted to have all of the newborn testing done in the OR and didn't want Samuel taken away from me at all, however because it was such a busy day in the hospital they had to take him to the nursery. I was surprisingly okay with this because I knew that Preston would be with him and would make sure our son was safe and well taken care of. For the 10 or so minutes they did that, I finished up in surgery and then got wheeled into recovery. I had a permanent smile on my face - it truly felt like I was dreaming and I couldn't believe that our son, who I had spent the last nine and half months growing, was finally here.

A few minutes after I got to the post-op room, my mom found me in post op and came in to give me a huge hug! I had shared how much I wanted Samuel to stay with me the whole time, so as soon as she saw him in the nursery she came in find me to make sure I was doing okay which I so appreciated. Maybe five minutes after my mom arrived, Samuel and Preston came back to the OR and within minutes I had Samuel on my chest for skin to skin and breastfeeding. One of the biggest reason's I didn't want Samuel separated from me was because I wanted to begin breastfeeding within the first hour after his birth, and I am so thankful we still got that opportunity. He knew what he was doing (much moreso than I did!) and latched on great. I couldn't stop staring at him with the biggest smile on my face (I am writing this weeks later and that is pretty much all I do still!). Hannah got to come in the post-op room to see as well - I felt like the luckiest person in the world, they have a strict one person only rule (which is normally the dad) but having my mom and Hannah sneak in to come see us brought me so much joy!

A couple of hours later (which flew by because we were all so enamored with Samuel), we got moved to our actual room. On our tour, Preston had asked about upgrading our room to a suite (not surprising at all if you know him) and was told that it was not an option, there were rooms that were bigger and nicer but they were not available for requests from the general public. However, since it was such a busy day in the hospital, we lucked out and got one of the upgraded rooms which was amazing (especially because we stayed for 4 days!).

Having Samuel was truly an amazing experience. Yes, there were parts that were not at all glamorous (i.e. puking my brains out after going nuts with ice chips in recovery) but that is the case with any birth. The care that we received from the nurses at the hospital and the love and support our families gave us was incredible, and the emotion I remember the most from his birth is pure joy. A c-section was not my plan, but you know what? I'm not at all disappointed - this was the birth God had planned for our precious Samuel and I would gladly do it a thousand times over for him.

Samuel Jacob, thanks for making a mama precious boy. You are the best gift I've received and for the rest of my life I will treasure, protect and love you.

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