4 weeks | 9 months | 4 months
i've been wanting to share bear's birth story for a while now, and thought i better do it now before i forget any of these sweet memories. he turned 4 months last week and i can honestly say these have been the best months of my life. it's hard to imagine life before him. he brings so much joy into our lives, and with it, a sense of completion (even though i know there will be more babies to come!). a year can make so much difference, can't it? the picture above on the far left was right after i found out i was pregnant. the 2nd one was taken the day before i had him and the third was taken yesterday (4 months old).
i won't go through my entire pregnancy, but if you're interested you can read about it in detail here. in a nutshell, it was wonderful. i remained vegan with no problem, walked routinely and managed to gain a whopping 40 pounds. the only hiccup in the entire 9 months was that he was breech and wasn't interested in flipping.
first, i want to say that everyone's birth story is different and very personal. this is ours and though i feel a little vulnerable sharing it, i want to share my life with you and let other mothers-to-be know more about what to expect and the options they have. each decision we made was well researched and decided upon with care. i know pregnancy, birth and babies come with a lot of opinions but i ask that we all be respectful of each others life decisions here. :)
i'll begin the story around 34 weeks. i had my routine check up when my doctor felt that bear might be breech. after an ultrasound to check, it was confirmed he was right side up (or wrong side up?). i knew i had a few weeks to try to get him to turn, so i made an appointment for moxibustion acupuncture, started doing lots of stretches and several inversions every day. we looked into having a external cephalic version (ecv) done, but due to the risks involved and bear's particular positioning we decided not to try. long story short, after weeks of exercises and moxibustion, he was still breech, so we scheduled a c-section for one week before my due date, september 3rd.
i quickly mourned the ability to have a 'normal' birth. i would have liked to have let my body experience labor and tried to have him naturally. though i'm not sure if i could have made it without an epidural, we'll never know. i decided that i was happy to have a healthy baby and would just be welcoming him in to this world through a different experience.
my main concern was having the most 'natural' c-section possible. as long as he was healthy, i wanted to try nursing immediately and focus on skin to skin contact as much as possible. thankfully, my doctor was all for it and recommended we have a family centered cesarean (read more about them here, here and here).
september 2nd was an interesting day. we new by 9:30 am the next day we would have a baby, though monday felt like an ordinary day. david and i spent all day together, getting ready and spending extra moments snuggling. we ate a healthy dinner and went to bed early, though i'm pretty sure neither of us got much sleep. we woke up at 5:30 on tuesday to get ready and head out the door for the hospital. we were a little quiet, and i was a little nervous. all of it gave me a pretty weird feeling. i'm going to have surgery while awake today. i'm going to have a baby today. repeat over and over and over again.
the hospital was wonderful and very accommodating. i just so happened to be surrounded by female doctors and nurses the entire time and they were all so sweet and nurturing. after checking in, they took us to a back room where they hooked up a few monitors to watch bear's heart rate and gave me an iv (3rd try was a charm!). they allowed both of our families to come back where they hugged us and kissed us and prayed for us. shortly after, they took me to the cesarean room while they had david dress in scrubs. the anesthesiologist gave me an epidural while the sweetest nurse held my hands. it wasn't bad (in fact, i think the iv was worse!) and the numbing immediately began to take effect.
they asked me what my favorite pandora station was and put it on to play for us. i chose ray lamontagne because it's so soothing. david came in, sat beside me and began stroking my hair.
i'll stop here for a moment to tell you more about the family centered cesarean. it opened up several options for us to discuss and choose from, all of which i believe made our experience much better. in short, it means everything is a bit more relaxed. they allowed me to keep my arms free (sometimes they strap them down for the procedure) and keep my contacts in (i hate my glasses). and most importantly, if bear and i were both healthy they would put him directly on my chest for skin to skin contact and allow him to try and nurse.
back to the story. after they checked me for numbness, they began the procedure. david was wonderful the entire time and just kept looking at me and whispering sweet things. i felt no pain at all, though i did feel a lot of tugging and pushing which i hadn't really prepared for. it was fine, but very weird feeling. it only took about 5 minutes before i heard 'i see boy parts!'. i felt a huge weight lifted off of my abdomen. they quickly wiped him off (to keep him warm) and placed him on my chest within about 45 seconds. he was beautiful.
he first gazed into david's eyes for several seconds and then mine for several more. he was quiet and very observational. though it took 30 more minutes for them to finalize the surgery (aka stitch me up), i wasn't aware of it. i was so deeply consumed with meeting my son that i didn't care about anything else. after about 5 minutes on my chest, bear began to root around. 'he wants to nurse' i exclaimed! so i positioned him lower and he immediately latched and nursed for about 20 minutes. i couldn't believe it! i had been so nervous about the whole breastfeeding thing.
after they had finished my surgery, they quickly took bear across the room to weigh him, stamp his feet and give him the standard vitamin k shot. we decided to opt out of the eye drops (since i don't have chlamydia and he wasn't going through the birth canal anyways) as well as opt out of the hepatitis b vaccine. in most cases, they only give hep b at birth to help at-risk families get protection early, though there's a very low risk of having any issue with heb b until much later in life (if ever). since the major side effects for the hep b vaccine is poor nursing and crying, we decided to wait so we could get off to the best start possible.
all of that only took about 2 minutes, when the put him back on my chest and wheeled us to recovery. we spent a few hours in recovery where he nursed again and napped a while. we were up in our room and seeing family by 2:00 that day.
in a nutshell, everything after that was downhill. we spent four days in the hospital where david learned how to swaddle bear and change his diaper (in fact, he had to teach me how when we got home!). the recovery went well, and though i wasn't eager to jump up from the bed for awhile i was able to walk up and down the steps by the time we got home. 6 weeks later and i was ready to start jogging again. the weeks to follow were wonderful. though i had to get through about 2 weeks of extremely sore nipples (tmi?), i'm happy to say that breastfeeding has gone exceptionally well and i'm so happy we stuck with it.
bear has been the biggest blessing to our lives thus far. i'm so happy to be mama bear!