*warning, contains some graphic images of surgery*
I had a planned c-section on April 17th to deliver our baby boy, William Jackson Joy, a day that also happen to fall smack in the middle of Covid-19, in fact I think it was the very peak. Today I’m going to share with you what having a c-section was like, from the moment I learned that a c-section would be the safest way to deliver, to the actual day of the c-section, and then my recovery.
I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa and marginal cord insertion around the 20-week mark which made my pregnancy “high risk”. I am also 35 so that is also consider a risk factor 🙃. Placenta previa is a condition that happens when the placenta lodges itself on the bottom of the uterus covering the cervix where the baby would eventually exit in a vaginal birth. In normal pregnancies, the placenta takes residence higher up in the uterus with a clear pathway for baby to exit. Marginal cord insertion is when the umbilical cord attaches to the edge of the placenta instead of the center. The placenta is thinner at the edges, and therefore less able to structurally support the umbilical cord. There is nothing you can really do for either of these conditions except rest your body and monitor the baby’s growth. I was told to “rest” as much as possible for the remainder of my pregnancy for a couple of reasons. One, we wanted as much oxygen to get to the baby as possible, so instead of making my body work and forcing the oxygen elsewhere, we reserve it for the babes. And two, with placenta previa comes the risk of bleeding. Because the placenta itself is so vascular, if it starts to bleed it could be very dangerous for both mom and baby. If I had bled at any time throughout the pregnancy, I would have been on stricter “rest”, either bed rest at home or in the hospital. SO, I did my best to “rest” for the remainder of my pregnancy.
Here’s the thing with placenta previa, if you’re diagnosed with it early on like I was, chances are IT WILL MOVE! In fact, research shows that there is a 98% chance that the placenta moves out of the way by delivery time. I was assured most likely, by several doctors in my practice that things would move and I’d be cleared to have a vaginal delivery, like I had for Brian and Grace.
Welp, as you can guess, my placenta was stubborn and remained covering the birth canal. We watched it closely and hoped that at every visit we’d hear differently, but around the 32-34 week mark, we began planning for the likelihood of a c-section. When my doctor and I started talking about dates, at first I was crushed. I so badly wanted another vaginal birth for this guy, I am one of the weird ones that loves labor and delivery. I played what it would be like to delivery him vaginally over and over in my head since I saw the pink lines. It was also something I knew how to do, so being forced into the unknown of a c-section was scary to me, especially during this crazy world pandemic.
As soon as I got in my car, I had myself a good old pity party and cried my eyes out. I quickly called my friends and family who had had c-sections and they talked me right out of my fear, I even spoke to many of you actually on instagram DM! I shifted my mindset and it instead of looking at this diagnosis as a hardship, it was indeed a blessing that my doctors would be able to get our guy out safely, and thus far I hadn’t had any bleeding. I only had a couple more weeks to go so we just needed him to stay in and keep baking safely! He would be delivered at 37 weeks, this was to ensure I didn’t go to labor on my own because again with the previa that is danger zone. Once I wrapped my mind around this new positive outlook, I started to get super excited. I also kind of liked the idea of having a set date for his entrance, a safe plan, and the ability to prep and line up of family support we needed. Because of COVID and so many unknowns, having the scheduled date and my doctor at the ready gave me peace of mind during an otherwise scary and confusing time.
The Day Of
(Friday) Well, I should really start with the day and night before. My OB advised eating very lightly after 1 PM the day before, just liquids, which would help with gas and digestion post-surgery. I also took a stool softener that day around noon to clear out my bowels (sorry TMI). I had a smoothie for lunch and chicken broth for dinner. The next morning, I woke up around 3 AM because I was so excited to get the show on the road to meet William. I desperately tried to go back to sleep but no way. We left our house in Fairfield at 7:30 to get the kids to my parents where they would be staying while we were in the hospital. Leaving them was emotional, I was so nervous about the surgery and leaving them to go to the hospital. I was nervous about Covid, I was nervous something might go wrong, that they would miss me, etc…
We arrived to the hospital around 9, and the first thing that happened before we were even let into the labor and delivery unit was checking our temperatures because of Covid. We were both normal so were brought into our room. Our nurse came in to meet us and went over all of the procedures and what would be happening in the next couple of hours. I was hooked up to an IV for fluids and had a second one put in my other arm in case they needed it during my surgery. Brian was asked to go back into the waiting room while I had my Covid test performed. My amazing OB who doesn’t realize she’s my best friend, but she is, came in to talk to me as well as my anesthesiologist who would be administering my spinal, which is basically like an epidural, came in and explained everything and made me sign a bunch of papers. My COVID test came back negative and so Brian was allowed back into the room at this point. It was about go time. I’d say this whole process took about 2 hours.
Brian stayed in the room, we said goodbyes, and my OB took me down the hall to the OR (operating room). I was holding her hand so tight and freaked out when I walked into that room. All I remember was it was cold, the lights were very bright, and there were a bunch of people. Another OB from our practice was there, a couple residents, nurses, etc… felt like a lot of people… I think because of the previa there may have been more people on staff but don’t quote me on that.
The next thing I remember was feeling sheer anxiety. Then I got the spinal. You have to stay very still and kind of hunched over while sitting so the needle can be inserted correctly. That was pretty quick and once it was done, they immediately began getting me ready. I’d say in about 5-10 minutes from the spinal, surgery began. There was a curtain put up so I wouldn’t see what was happening down below and the anesthesiologist was right there by my head asking me how I was feeling and keeping tabs on my levels. I asked for a tranquilizer because I was legit panicking, but they can’t give you one until the baby comes out, and then Brian walked in. Thank GOD!! I needed him so badly to just be by my side. It was so comforting when he walked in! It was all happening quickly.
I could feel a lot of pressure which was such an odd sensation but no pain. It was very strange to be fully aware in your mind that you’re basically open on a table 😳 but I will say it’s quick. Almost as soon as Brian entered the room, they told him to get ready to meet our baby. He got the camera out and stood up to see William coming out and he was CRYING!!!! Tears are what we needed to hear with this delivery to ensure he was healthy, and there was nothing like hearing those first cries 😭Both Brian and I started crying and were SO relieved our little boy was finally here!!!! They laid him right on my chest and I was in complete awe of our perfect little guy. He was 6.5 lbs and 19 inches, and had the most perfect little face. We just stared at him, crying, and feeling so good, while they finished up with my surgery. Soon, we were wheeled back to our recovery room where we would stay for another couple hours with William to be monitored and prepped to go up to the maternity floor. I felt no pain, just pure elation with William.
My C-Section Recovery
(Friday) The first day of the surgery was okay because I still had the lingering effects from the spinal. I started taking Motrin right away and the nurses asked for my pain level hour by hour. I did get up to walk for only for a couple minutes or so that first night to make sure I still had functioning legs, praise, I did! My incision started to hurt that night so I requested the strong stuff, I believe it’s percocet. That helped, and I got some decent sleep the first night, as best as you can with a new baby and staff coming in and out all night.
(Saturday) The next day, I did my best to get up and walk around as much as I could but the pain was REAL that day. Looking back it was the worst day of all. The pain was all in the incision. I continued taking the strong pain medication that whole day, coupled with the Motrin. At one point, I actually took two to get me through the afternoon 😬 We watched “Something’s Gotta Give” and I got a little nap in. After that dose, I was able to control the pain with Motrin and Tylenol for the rest of my recovery. 🙌🏻
(Sunday) We left on Sunday afternoon. That morning, William had his circumcision and we met with his pediatrician and we were cleared to go home. Under normal circumstances, I would have wanted to stay another night to recover further, but because of COVID, the hospital stay didn’t feel as comforting and relaxing as my others. We weren’t allowed to leave the room, I was a bit fearful of all the different people coming in, we could hear the “code blue ICU” being called over the speakers, etc… Again, we were there in the peak of Covid in our city, (we delivered in Stamford, CT, which is right outside of NYC). We were discharged pretty quickly, and made our way home.
My parents kept the kids that first night we were home which made it A LOT easier even just for that night. I cried like a baby when we got home because I felt like the kids should be there with us but Brian and my parents insisted and looking back I’m glad they did. I mostly stayed in bed, took a shower, was able to walk around the house a bit, and it just felt SO GOOD to be home in my own bed!! I cleaned out my hospital bag and just enjoyed William that first night.
And then the kids came home!! Seeing them meet William was probably the best moment I’ve had as a mother, they were SOOOO excited and overjoyed to meet their new brother.
( Monday afternoon) I was seriously feeling so good. I was taking Motrin every 6 hours for the entire first week. I was able to walk around the house, go up and down the stairs slowly, and even go for a light walk by that Friday. After that first full day post-surgery, the recovery wasn’t bad at all. Definitely took it slow and steady, but it really was fine.
The real pain and physical hurdle came from my boobs. My milk came in fierce but I wasn’t able to effectively get it out. William wasn’t nursing so well in the beginning because he was sooo sleepy, and the pump wasn’t getting it out. It’s been one hell of a ride, let me tell you, to nurse him, but we’re almost eight weeks and we’re still going so that’s a win in my book. I am unable to breastfeed exclusively which is annoying for all the effort that is required with a low milk supply, but I’m happy for what I am able to give him.
By six weeks, there was literally no remnants of my c-section except for a little bit of tenderness over my scar. I feel great, and physically pretty much back to normal. My days look a whole lot different with the baby and the older two being home from school, seems like there is never enough time hence, the 7 weeks it took me to write this blog post, but we are so happy as a family of FIVE. My heart feels so full and complete. I am SO happy we went for baby #3, I can’t imagine our lives without him. I get questions about how the transition from 2 to 3 kids has been and what made us decide to go for it. I wrote about our decision here, and will write another post on what it’s like going from 2 to 3!
If you have any questions about placenta previa, c-sections, recovery, or anything at all, feel free to ask in the comments or email me!