It all started on Thursday morning... Casey and I headed to Banner Good Sam Hospital in hopes of turning Lucy via an external cephalic version (read about that procedure in this blog post: click here). The procedure was unpleasant and unsuccessful; before leaving the hospital, I had an internal exam and I was a whooping 4 centimeters (hello active labor!). My doctor said to go home anyway, take it easy, and she'd call us later in the afternoon with a new game plan. When she finally called, she said that this was officially a high risk situation and to get our butts back to the hospital ASAP. The reason it was "high risk" was due to Lucy's breech presentation. Should a woman go into labor with a breech baby, there is a chance of cord prolapse (the umbilical cord coming out of the cervix before the baby).
Casey and I hung out in OB triage for a good three hours before a room in the labor and delivery ward became available. We spent the night in L & D, and I was officially put on bed rest; I think we finally got to sleep around 12 or 1 am (ideal). The next morning, I enjoyed my last meal before having to fast for twelve freaking hours (please note, I didn't actually get to eat again until lunch time on Saturday). Casey and I lounged around the room all day, watched a few movies, and I got an IV (ow!). Both of our families arrived at the hospital that evening. Before leaving for the OR we had a group prayer, and I was truly appreciative of all the love and support from everyone. The operating room was booked solid at both Banner Good Sam and Scottsdale Health Care Shea; we ended up at Banner because we had already been there for the version. The plan was to try the version again, this time with an epidural - to relax my uterus and every other muscle below my chest - and if the procedure was unsuccessful the second time around, we would have a cesarean section immediately after (hence the fasting...).
Because the OR was exceptionally busy, our time slot kept getting pushed back. We moved from noon, to six, to six thirty, to seven thirty, and eventually eight. As the minutes ticked away I became more and more petrified. I was scared to become a parent, scared to be responsible for a little baby, scared of having a c-section (um, hello, that's major surgery!)... I started shaking and I was nauseous beyond belief. As Casey and I rolled down the hallways of L & D, up to the big double doors you see in all the hospital TV shows, my thoughts were like one massive, run-on prayer. Casey was brought back to a separate area to be dressed and prepped in those adorable scrubs, and I headed to the OR (also in scrubs).
I climbed atop the operating table, and the anesthesiologist began inserting the epidural. It really wasn't that uncomfortable, just a big pinch followed by a burning sensation. The numbing was almost instantaneous; within a few minutes I couldn't feel my legs. They tested the epidural's effectiveness by spraying ice water on my wrist and then on my belly; I couldn't feel the cold until they reached my chest. I was put on oxygen and the nurses added all sorts of junk to my IV. My doctor and Casey finally came into the OR, and they began the version. They tried three times, checking by ultrasound intermittently, and eventually decided that our baby was not meant to be turned. It was so nice to not feel all the pressure and pain of the version again; but like a baby, as soon as they decided to do the c-section, I started to tear up. Casey was sweet enough to wipe my tears away and hold my hand the entire time. I wasn't crying because the version failed, I was crying because we were about to meet our daughter. My doctor kept apologizing, but I couldn't talk (that always makes me cry even harder); I felt like such a jackass.
And so they began prepping for the cesarean. They hung a curtain below my neck, so neither Casey or I could see; they scrubbed my belly; and, finally, they sliced me open. I felt no pain whatsoever; all I could feel was a slight pressure and pulling on my belly. I didn't even realize they had started; I was drifting in and out of sleep (because of all the drugs) and I was trying desperately to stay awake. I just stared at Casey, and kept telling him how thirsty I was (haha!). The anesthesiologist told Casey to get his camera ready and to stand up; Casey poked me in the forehead to wake me up, and then he literally watched them pull her out of my belly.
Lucy cried immediately, and so Casey and I began crying immediately. Casey said that Lucy was bent in half, and our doctor yelled, "She's a gymnast!" Dr. O cut her cord, and Casey was brought back to the warmer to meet Lucy for the first time. He brought her back to me and put her face by mine so I could kiss her cheeks and see her. He just kept saying, "She's perfect!"
Casey and Lucy were brought back to recovery, while I was sewn up. The doctor's told me to try to take a nap, and let me tell you, I did not have to try very hard. Twenty minutes later I was being rolled to recovery and I joined my little family. Lucy's measurements were double checked, Casey was on text messaging and picture taking duty, and I was put on a million different monitors. Casey took over 200 pictures in the first hour of her life; he did such a great job capturing the moment. The nurse helped me feed Lucy for the first time, and surprisingly, breastfeeding didn't hurt like I expected it to. Our family came back one person at a time. Most of the time spent in recovery is a blur for me. I remember staring at Lucy and Casey in utter disbelief. I remember being insanely thirsty; fortunately, Casey fed me ice chips and I was eventually allowed to sip water. And I remember having a death grip on Lucy, because I was so afraid of dropping her.
We eventually made our way to the postpartum floor. It was a little sad to leave the amazing team of doctor's and nurses; they took such great care of us and they were all so genuinely kind and supportive. The nurses that welcomed us in postpartum proved to be just as amazing. They showed Casey how to change Lucy's diaper, how to swaddle her, and bathe her; they had me up and walking by 4 am, and they took great care of us overall. I was not expecting the experience with this hospital to be nearly as wonderful.
After I hung up with my doctor Thursday evening, I started sobbing. I really thought the version would work, and that I'd go in to labor when nature intended; I didn't really think we'd be having a baby in just a few short hours. I wasn't crying because my natural childbirth was becoming less and less likely; I was crying because becoming a parent is terrifying and utterly surreal. In the end, the cesarean really wasn't bad at all. I'm sure having a natural, vaginal birth is very empowering and rewarding, and I hope to experience it one day, but I am very happy with the efforts my doctor put into our care.
I fell in love with Lucy the moment I saw her. Every ounce of fear dissolved; feeding her, changing her, loving her is all so natural. We love you, Lucy.
Lucille Ann Shelton
Born March 18, 2011
7 pounds, 1 ounce; 19 inches long