A beautiful cesarean: The story of my not-so-expected planned cesarean
After 2 years of trying to conceive, I found out I was pregnant on November 3, 2021. We were so grateful to have a baby that we decided to keep their gender a surprise! Little did we know, this wouldn’t be the last surprise of my pregnancy!
Being plus-sized and pregnant felt like having a red flag sticking out of my back. My normal blood work and blood pressure, negative gestational diabetes screening, and negative for preeclampsia seemed to surprise the OBs I saw. Almost as if being fat meant my pregnancy would be doomed from the start…yet it was totally textbook and smooth sailing! I felt as if I was going against all odds – which was a totally bizarre feeling, since weight/BMI is not a good measurement of one’s health. At the first few appointments, my weight and BMI were brought up. “Because of your BMI…blah blah blah.” I put a stop to that immediately and asked the medical staff to not bring up my BMI or tell me my weight. With normal labs and screenings, I knew I was healthy. My body was doing exactly what it was meant to do – regardless of the number on the scale.
At 30 weeks, we learned our baby was breech. We weren’t overly concerned because there was plenty of time and room for baby to flip! Knowing baby was head up, I started doing Spinning Baby inversions, saw a Webster certified chiropractor, and went to an acupuncturist for a moxibustion treatment. If you googled “how to flip a breech baby,” you’d see everything and anything I tried. I’d never had acupuncture or been to a chiropractor before. I was nervous to try new things, especially while being pregnant. I found peace knowing that if I tried everything out there, I could at least say “I tried.”
For 34 weeks, I prepared my body for a natural vaginal birth. Prenatal yoga, pelvic floor exercises, preparing my mind. I was so ready to birth my baby out of my vagina. June 24, 2022, we found out our sweet baby was still breech at 36 weeks. Knowing we planned for and would continue with a hospital birth, our OB automatically brought up the need for a cesarean birth. We were so confident that baby had flipped…we were devastated. I cried a lot. I felt like I failed and that my body wasn’t doing pregnancy right. I was offered an External Cephalic Version (ECV) but with an anterior (in front) placenta and amount of belly fat I had, the success rate was less than 30%. I was told an epidural was recommended and that an emergency cesarean was possible. I declined the ECV, as it had high risks and went against many aspects of my birth plan. I continued doing everything I could to encourage baby to flip. It was exhausting and my mental health took a toll. I was no longer enjoying my pregnancy like I had for the other 8 months. I stopped everything and I accepted that whatever was meant to happen will happen.
Our 38 week appointment came. Baby was still breech and an ultrasound showed little chance (and space!) of our baby turning. Our baby was comfy head up and closest to
my heart. I wasn’t sad anymore. We laughed that our surprise gender baby was giving us another surprise of being breech. I had spent the week before my appointment reading positive cesarean stories, educating myself on the process, and creating an alternative birth plan. I knew what I wanted. I informed the OB that if I was going to deliver via a cesarean, I wanted it to be after 40 weeks. This was difficult to request, as the OB group wanted it done by 39 weeks to avoid my body going into labor while baby was in breech position. I put my foot down and made my needs known – the birth would not take place earlier than our due date: July 15th, 2022.
I scheduled my cesarean birth appointment for Saturday, July 17th, 2022 at 8am with the OB who let me cry for 15 minutes during our 36 week appointment. After scheduling our birth date, I felt a sense of relief. Weeks of anxiety, nerves, and tears were gone. I had regained some control and my confidence was back. While it wasn’t the track we planned to be on, we were back on a track. We were having a baby!
The night before our birth, we went to our favorite pizza place. I wasn’t able to eat or drink after midnight, so I wanted to enjoy my last meal before becoming a mom! Once home, I took a shower with the sterilizing soap and it was weird to bath with soap that didn’t suds. We crawled into bed with our three dogs for the last time before bringing our baby into the world.
The birth was scheduled for 8am and we needed to get there by 6am for prep. Though it was less than a 15 minute drive, getting to the hospital felt like forever. We listened to the birth playlist I made filled with songs that made me the happiest. We arrived at the hospital, grabbed our essentials, and walked through the huge spinning door.
My doula called me “mom” and for the first time, that felt real. We took the stairs to the third floor in order to walk off some nerves. Everything started to be the “last” before I became a mom. Last time going to the bathroom before becoming a mom. Last time checking my phone before becoming a mom. Last time I took off my clothes before becoming a mom. It was happening. I was becoming a mom.
Once in the prep/recovery room, they did a quick ultrasound. Our baby was still breech – no surprise! One OB told me my contacts needed to be taken out and the OB performing the cesarean said they were fine. It showed me that I still had a lot of control – I just needed to use it! I met the anesthesiologist and I prepared myself for the biggest conversation of the day: getting my husband in the operating room with me for the spinal block. I know this isn’t the norm but I’ve heard it’s not impossible. I shared my history of a traumatic spinal tap being done and without any issue, my husband was able to come into the OR while the spinal was administered.
I walked to the operating room wearing a bedsheet as a cape. It felt silly at first but now I can see the significance. I was a freakin’ superhero. The operating room was exactly as I expected: bright, cold, and white. I sat on the table while my husband sat in front of me holding my hand. I repeated “I can do hard things” over and over as the anesthesiologist completed the spinal block. It was over. I survived. My husband left for the prep and would return with my doula once they were ready to begin.
I closed my eyes as feeling left my lower body. I soaked in every remaining second of baby in my belly. Moments later, I heard music playing. My husband and doula were entering the OR playing my birth playlist. We agreed to let the playlist play on shuffle and have our baby born to whatever song was playing. Another surprise! I asked to have a clear drape the entire time, rather than after the birth, so I could see everything I wanted.
I heard the OB say, “we’re going to get started.” It was the strangest sensation. I didn’t feel much but was aware of everything happening. After about 8 minutes, the OB and anesthesiologist told me, “you’re going to feel a lot of pressure” and that’s exactly what happened. No pain, just pressure. And then I heard it. The cry. My baby’s cry. My baby was here!
The OB asked my husband to reveal the gender and he said, “it’s a girl!“ I have a daughter! I cried while my baby was immediately brought to me for skin to skin. The OB asked what her name would be and we immediately knew. We had names picked out for 2 years. Marisol Lucille. Marisol meaning “the sea and the sun” and Lucille was the name a grandmother on both sides. Our sweet baby girl was born at 8:52am to the song Such Great Heights by The Postal Service – one of my favorites. As I was being repaired, we held our baby. Exactly 8 pounds and 19.5 inches. I did it! We were officially mom and dad. We had a baby!
They rolled me out of the operating room and my doula told me to hold my fist up like the rockstar I was. It’s true. I was a rockstar and I held my hand up with pride. Before entering the elevator, I pushed a button that would play a song throughout the entire hospital. Now everyone knew I brought a baby into the world.
At that very moment, I didn’t care what hole my baby came out of. My baby was brought earth-side and I was a mom. Nothing else mattered.
Birth wasn’t something I feared. It’s something women have done forever and a process our body instinctually knows how to do. To make sure I had the birth I deserved, I needed to step out of my comfort zone. I advocated for myself throughout the entire pregnancy and birth. I learned to ask “why?”, educated myself, and trusted my intuition.
Throughout my pregnancy, I shared my journey in hopes of empowering more pregnant people and encourage them to trust themselves. Whether you have a hospital birth or a home birth, natural or medicated, vaginal or cesarean – you deserve to have it be YOUR birth. Your body and mind are capable of magical things!
My beautiful birth.