When I learned I was pregnant the first time, I started conjuring images of exactly how the birth would play out. If it's possible, it went exactly the opposite & I learned that a birth plan is a sure-fire way to ensure that nothing will go as planned! Seldom does life (& it's miracles) follow a plan. When we were blessed to conceive again, I wondered if I dared to hope for the natural drug-free birth I had wanted the first time? I knew I desperately wanted to avoid the emergency cesarean I did have & started to think about factors I might be able to affect. The pregnancy progressed normally & my hopes cautiously soared. But, at 29 weeks, we learned that my amniotic fluid was already getting low. I started bed rest & drinking a gallon of water a day. That also marked the start of weekly (& bi-weekly) ultrasounds, visits with the midwives & a roller coaster of emotions each week as we wondered if TODAY the baby would need to arrive. If the levels went up or remained stable I held on to hope of a natural birth. When they dropped, I tried to accept that a second cesarean might be necessary. After 10 long weeks, I agreed to schedule a cesarean as it was not likely that the baby would tolerate labor well with such little fluid. Leading up to this decision, I started reading, googling & discussing possible options for a different kind of cesarean. Here are the things I wanted to have happen:
1. Music in the O.R. - I wanted my delivery playlist to fill the room with meaningful & comforting songs
2. Dim(mer) lighting - I didn't know if it was possible, but I wanted to minimize the bright sterile lights of the O.R.
3. I wanted my husband & myself to "discover" the gender of the baby together.
4. Skin to skin contact - as soon as possible!
At the pre-op appointment, I planned to bring this up to my mid-wife. Ironically, she came in ready to show me the same video I had seen of a cesarean birth in England that incorporated some of these ideas. She was enthusiastic about implementing these key points & promised to work ahead of time on the lighting & music & getting the rest of the doctors on board.
When we arrived early Monday morning, our "pre-op" room was cozy & dimly lit. Prior to the birth, I relaxed to my delivery playlist & enjoyed a lavender oil foot massage from my husband while reclining in a chair. (I wanted to stay out of the bed). The mood of the nurses was calm & positive. When the time came, I walked on my own to the O.R. My midwife had set up my music, turned on only the lights above the table & gotten all of the team to agree to try this "new" idea. While the anesthesiologist administered the spinal, I leaned on my midwife & focused on the music playing. Shortly after, my husband came in & started to rub my temples with the lavender oil. I was much calmer than the first time around. The ambiance of the room and the team was soothing & exciting at the same time. Things progressed quickly & at the moment of birth, someone lowered the curtain & we discovered the gender of our baby for the first time. Seconds later, he was lying on my bare chest.When I was ready, they took him aside to clean up & weigh him. Not long after, we all returned to our original room for recovery, his bath & breast feeding.
I don't want to sugar coat a cesarean. It is still a major surgery. Even though it was my second time, I was incredibly nervous. But these few simple changes and a team who was willing to try something different made a huge difference. I had some choices and actively participated in the birth of our son. Whether you have to have a cesarean for medical reasons, or personal choice, I hope that by sharing my story, you can find a way to make your birth story your own.
The midwives at Westside are wonderfully supportive. I highly recommend this practice, it's doctors and entire staff.