Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Silas Jasper: His Birth Story

I read a lot of birth stories as I prepared for the arrival of Silas, and I dreamed of what mine would say. A successful VBAC, an intervention-free birth. A beautiful delivery. When we discovered Silas' breech presentation and subsequent efforts to turn him failed, I filed away the drafts. A scheduled C-section didn't seem deserving of a lengthy post. This post, though, reminded me that every birth is beautiful and every story is worthy to be shared.

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Four forty-five came quickly on April 10. For the second night in a row, I had slept fitfully. My efforts to rest were interrupted by trips to the bathroom and pangs of anxiety. Intermittent prayers and pleas to St. Gerard, patron saint of mothers, did little to ease me into slumber. If anything, it kept my mind racing.

But the time had come. Sleep did not matter now.

I nudged Mark out of bed and headed downstairs. I brewed a small pot of coffee for him and began to braid my hair. I heard the rich brew drip slowly into the carafe, and I tried not to breathe deeply, for fear of wanting it. I had to fast for six hours ahead of my scheduled arrival at the hospital, and the directives included nothing to drink – not even water and definitely not coffee.

The sound of Mark's heavy steps on our old wood floors snapped me out of a daze, one that had set in from the monotony and familiarity of twisting my hair. I glanced at the clock. The lime green digital numbers on the stove read 5:05.

We needed to go.

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I was on edge for the 20-minute drive to the hospital. I blamed Mark – he took too long in the shower, he didn't need to shave, he didn't have his stuff together. I picked at him for drinking coffee and driving, talking about topics of substance when I was barely awake and operating on empty.

I was being a brat. Plain and simple. So when he asked if I wanted the remainder of the commute to be in silence, I nodded.

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The security guard was accommodating when I refused to sit in the wheelchair upon arrival. He warned me that it was against hospital protocol but I reminded him that I wasn't in labor. I wasn't sick. I had two legs – two legs that I wouldn't get to exercise for some time. I wanted to walk while I could.

I was led to a labor and delivery room, where I was greeted by a nurse. There were questions to answer, blood to draw and things to prep. Namely me. I had six wipes and a detailed diagram of how to use them. It was clinical, procedural. It was not how I pictured my birth.

I got back in to bed and thought maybe I would rest. I thought I might have time to do so, or at leat watch TV, when I was told that I would need to be there at 5:30 a.m. for a 7:30 section. I feared I would be bored, would have too much time to think.

But I was wrong.

Not 15 minutes passed without someone coming into the room. My doctor, nurses, a rep asking if I wanted to donate the cord blood and placenta, nurses. A university professor inquired as to whether I would allow a nursing student to observe the procedure.

"Why not? What's one more person in the room?" I thought.

I began the process going through the motions, almost defiantly, but slowly I felt a bit of the anxiety dissipate. More of me came out. I still picked at Mark but it was mostly in jest, and I might have laughed. Once.

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The room was sterile. The lights were bright. The sound of metal instruments clinking metal trays and chatter filled the air. I could feel my legs weaken beneath me.

It was real. The C-section was going to happen, and I was going to meet my baby boy.

The nurse who would be with me through delivery and recovery was kind and reassuring as she led me to the table, offering a step up. I sat up and swung my legs to the side so I could face the wall. The anesthesiologist talked to me as I was prepped for the spinal. About her son, about the medications I would be receiving. She asked me if I was more sensitive – to medicine, to pain, to the IVs – because I was a red head. It's a question I got a lot. No, I responded, but everyone had decided that I was.

I tried to breathe deeply. Remain calm. Be strong.

I followed directions. I contracted my abs, slumped my shoulders and braced myself on my thighs. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Be strong. My nurse grabbed my hands and told me to push against hers. I breathed and pushed. The first needle went in and then a second. I pushed harder against the nurse's hands. I inhaled and with the exhale came the tears. Fat, ugly tears. They were filled with fear, regret, grief.

There was little time to wipe them. I had to quickly swing my legs onto the operating table before the spinal took hold. The tingling began in my toes and began to travel toward my waist. I had to bring my legs into a butterfly position, the nurses helping to get them just right. My arms were strapped into a T-position. My head rested down. Waves of nausea came over me.

"Am I supposed to feel light headed?" I asked. "I feel sick." One dose of medicine , then another, went into my IV. And then there was nothing but the flurry of activity around me.

The anesthesiologist behind my head, guiding a nurse as she prepped me. Other nurses got things ready for the doctor and still others were awaiting Silas' arrival. I was in a room full of people but never had I felt more detached, more alone.

I closed my eyes and breathed. I shut out the goings on. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. As I focused on the feeling of the air passing through my nostrils – the one and only thing I learned in a college meditation class – I could hear it. The music. Familiar and soothing, it could be best described as contemporary Christian. It was no doubt the choice of my doctor, as it's what is played in his office.
It's not necessarily my style as unless it can be played in an aerobics room, I don't pay much mind to music. But this. I knew this. And for that, I was grateful.

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I felt his hand on mine before I heard him. Dressed in too big blue scrubs and an unattractive cap, Mark was there. Next to me.

It was time.

My doctor, for whom I cannot say enough good things, talked us through the process. Narrating the cuts, what I would feel. The tugs. The pulls. Telling us he was almost there.

I could hear him trying to coax out Silas, his butt firmly planted in my pelvis. I could hear the declaration of success ... which was quickly followed by a surprise. Silas thanked the doctor for his help by peeing on him.

Yes, my child came out pissing and moaning. And, yes, despite some sourness over a C-section, I can still find humor. I just hope my dear doctor did.

Mark moved from my side to take pictures and quickly reported that Silas had brown hair and was peeing. Again. And then again.

Amid his screams, those shrilling newborn cries, I called out, "How are his legs? Do they go down?"

One of my great concerns, thanks to consulting Dr. Google, was that Silas would be stuck in the Frank breech position. He could have hip problems or another congenital problem that caused him to be breech.

"They're just fine," Mark said. "He can kick them down, I can tell you that."

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The waiting. It's the worst part of a C-section. Waiting for the procedure. Waiting for the delivery. Waiting to hold your baby. 

Everyone gets to see, to touch, your baby before you. And even when I could, I was almost hesitant. It wasn't because I was shaking uncontrollably from the drugs like I had with Miles. It wasn't because I was still strapped down.

Rather, I was afraid of what it would feel like. I had worried that I wouldn't want for Silas the way I had with Miles as I had spent so much time grieving the VBAC (or pouting as Mark said). I was afraid I'd resent him. 

But, as I had been assured and reassured by others, I couldn't.

From the moment the nurse handed him to me, unwrapping the blankets as she did so and placing him on my chest, he was mine. My dark and brooding boy who likes to make his own way on his terms.

Just like his mama.


  1. Beautiful birth story!!! My pregnancy hormones had me in tears and I'm so happy your baby boy is here. Congrats! In my opinion, every birth story is special because it's your baby's birth story. Enjoy Silas and your rest!

  2. Happy Birthday Silas. This is a beautiful story. ♥ your honesty!

  3. i am in both tears and awe. you are absolutely amazing. this is one incredible birth story - and it was told so well. i have really never heard an experience documented quite like this one. your perspective perfectly sums up motherhood i think. it's just full of all of the above. congrats on your beautiful baby boy - he is so lucky to have you for a mama (and big brother miles too!)

  4. Beautiful story. I'm so glad he's here! So handsome and so precious. I may need more snuggles soon.

  5. Congratulations! Happy Birth Day to you. I hope you have a speedy and easy recovery.

  6. Congratulations on the birth of your baby! I understand that having a c - section wasn't your first choice, but remember the women who can't have children. Be appreciative you can experience birth in any way. I don't think you meant to sound that way, but it could sound that way to people struggling with fertility. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    1. I understand this sentiment, and I reminded myself often of how lucky I was/am when I was working toward acceptance. I don't take for granted my ability to get pregnant and carry a healthy baby. Not for a second. I often repeated the words of a co-worker: It's about the baby not the birth. And, in the end, it was. However, I think one can only be so sensitive without discounting her feelings.

      Thank you for bringing this up!

  7. Thank you for sharing YOUR story. I don't think you should ever censor your own thoughts and feelings for some people who may be upset by it - this is YOUR story. And I loved every single word. <3

  8. Thanks for sharing this! I really appreciate that you let us get in to your head about what you were feeling. I find the birth stories so interesting and love when bloggers share them :)

  9. Kim,

    Many blessings to you and your beautiful family and thanks St. Gerard for praying to God with us!

  10. Awwww....this made me cry. Thank you for sharing. Your sweet Silas is precious. Congratulations again!

  11. LOVE THIS. And not just because I can relate on SO many levels. I'm so happy that everything has worked out and you and Silas are home safe and sound. How's Miles dealing with the new brother by the way?

  12. Congrats! What a great story! I can imagine how different a c-section/vaginal birth is! I am glad you wrote this up fast so you wouldn't forget any of the details!! ;)

  13. Congrats on your little man!! Your feelings are yours and they are valid. It wasn't what you wanted and you are right to feel what you do. Hold on to your little man!