Brady, Brady, Brady. He came into our world on February 26th, weighing 8.5 pounds and measuring at 19 inches. We fell in love immediately and Jonny and I are living in a newborn dream. Jonny and I talked a lot about what we wanted our birth experience to be. We decided that we didn’t want to hire someone to take hospital photos because we wanted to be 100% in the moment as Brady entered our world. To be honest, I am so glad that we went this route because Jonny and I were able to experience every single second of Brady’s birth and we will never forget how special it felt. With that said, I wanted to break down Brady’s birth story because I found reading birth stories before our own birth to be very comforting and therapeutic, especially since I had never experienced something as profound and life changing as birth. I wanted to share ours with you, especially since our birth story was not exactly what I had envisioned.
When we embarked on this pregnancy journey, Jonny and I both agreed that we wanted to go for a “natural” vaginal birth. I actually very much wanted to experience labor as I had heard such incredible (and some terrifying!) stories around it. To be quite honest, I didn’t really envision any other birth plan for myself because I just assumed that this was what would happen since the majority of pregnant women “go into labor” with little to no complications. When people asked what my birth plan was, I told them my birth plan was to have a healthy baby and a healthy birth for myself. I would confidently say “if I need to have a C-section, I will. If I need to get an epidural, I will. Anything to ensure that my baby makes his way safely into the world.” I truly felt that way…until I found out that Brady was breech.
We saw my OBGYN at the 38 week mark to see if baby boy was head down where he should be. When she did the ultra sound, she informed us that Brady was in fact Frank Breech, meaning that his head was still up near my ribcage, his butt was down by my pelvis, and his legs were shooting straight up near his face. When my doctor told us this, Jonny and I were in shock. It was almost like I couldn’t understand what she was telling me because I had just assumed that baby boy would be head down. My doctor took a lot of time to help us process through what we were feeling. I was started to feel very overwhelmed, especially when my doctor told me that Frank Breech is the hardest type of breech position to turn on his own, meaning that he most likely wouldn’t have flipped before I went into labor. Delivering breech babies is actually possible but most OBGYN’s won’t take on such a risky delivery because it can have so many complications, many of them very serious for mom and baby. My doctor did recommend that we try an ECV, which is a procedure doctors use to try and manually flip the baby from the outside. We tried this. It was VERY intense and it didn’t work. The doctors tried three times to flip him but he would not go past one certain area and we decided it was best to stop. My doctor and I scheduled my C-section and that was that. I talked a bit about this on Instagram, but it was hard for me to process having a C-section. After examining my own feelings around why I was so emotional, I realized that I felt like my options were being taken away from me and that I basically had one choice to deliver our boy. I felt sad that I wouldn’t be able to experience labor but with the support of my family, doctor, and Jonny, I felt confident about delivering our baby via C-section, even though I was nervous about having major surgery and what the recovery would look like. Unknowns really scare me because I always like to be as prepared as possible for every possible thing and I felt like I was not as prepared for a C-section as I was for a vaginal birth. However, I ended up feeling really good about the C-section route once I read up more about it and talked to friends who had recently gone through one themselves.
The day before our scheduled C-Section, Jonny and I felt oddly calm about everything. We felt good with our decision and knew Brady would be in the best hands possible when he was born. We went out for a last meal of sorts to our favorite Chinese restaurant and talked out loud about what we thought the next day would feel like. I washed my hair and Jonny helped me use the hospital provided antibacterial wipes to wipe down my entire body before going to bed (common with most surgery prep).We went to bed excited and a bit anxious and woke up the next morning ready to meet our little babe. We headed to the hospital in the morning and to be completely honest, it was amazing to not have to anxiously wait around for me to go into labor and leisurely drive to the hospital at our own pace with zero stress. I even curled my hair in anticipation of being in the hospital for the next few days and it was 100% the right decision. I needed to drink a carbo heavy drink that my doctor provided me to help me recover better after surgery so I drank that on the way in (kind of reminded me of the glucose test drink). Other than that, you can’t eat anything past midnight the day before your C-section, which is VERY hard when you are 9 months pregnant. However, the drink did help subside any hunger feelings, which I was grateful for. When we got to the hospital, we were greeted right away and the nurses showed me into one of their triage rooms to prep me for surgery. I needed to get undressed, put on a hospital gown, and lay down in the bed so that they could strap the monitors on my belly to monitor me and Brady’s heart rates. At first, the nurse thought that Brady might have flipped because his heart rate was found much lower down in my stomach but alas, he was still in the exact same position. With that, they inserted my IV (ugh, I HATE IVs) and we waited for the doctor to come in and talk to me about the surgery.
I know that hospitals have to do this, but when you are about to have major surgery, it’s so hard to hear the “risks” associated with the surgery that you are going to get. The doctor, who was AMAZING, talked me through the entire procedure and did go over potential risks of the C-section, even though the risks she outlined are pretty minimal (accidentally nicking an organ/baby when they go in) so it didn’t make me feel nervous at all. Jonny and I asked if the doctor would be okay with giving us a play by play of what was happening during the surgery so that we could be kept in the loop while we were behind the sheet that separated us from the actual surgery stuff. She happily agreed to do that, which made us feel like we were partners in this process. Jonny changed into his scrubs and we waited for the doctor and nurses to tell us that it was go time. When the time came, Jonny was asked to wait in the triage room so that they could take me into the operating room and give me the epidural. We both did not like this because we didn’t want to be separated. I could tell that Jonny was anxious because of course he wanted to be there with me while we got everything set up. I’m not going to lie, being separated from your number one support person as you are heading into major surgery is not the best feeling in the world and it made me feel more nervous. The nurses assured me that he would be brought in as soon as possible and that the reason they don’t have him come in right away is that they needed to create the sterile OR environment around me. Okay, fine. I get it, but I still didn’t like this and felt like this could’ve been handled better because Jonny and I were separated for about 30 minutes while they prepped me, which felt like eternity. Jonny told me later that he was pacing in the room because he felt like it was taking too long for them to come and get him, which of course made him feel nervous. While Jonny was waiting, the anesthesiologist (he was incredible!) prepped me for the epidural. I learned that a C-section is the only type of major abdominal surgery that they perform while the patient is awake, which is NUTS. I kind of expected the epidural to hurt more than it did (I was nervous for it), but it really did feel like the slightest pinch followed by pressure, then pinching again, then more pressure as they move the needle further into the tissue. Honestly, the IV was way worse. You guys, I couldn’t believe how fast the epidural worked. Immediately, my right leg felt tingly and warm and in like 5 seconds, I couldn’t feel either of my legs. They felt super heavy and the nurses helped me lift my legs and swing them up onto the OR table and lay down to prep everything else. The nurses walked me through every step, which was so appreciated. The cleaned my vagina, had my hold my arms out on each side (think Jesus pose), and started putting up the divider sheets between me and the surgery team.
At this point, all I wanted was for Jonny to be in the room with me so that I could feel more at ease. Luckily, the nurse brought him in right at that moment and he sat right down next to me. After Jonny joined the room, the surgery literally took about 5 minutes. The doctor took us through each step and announced each move. “Here comes his leg,” she said. “Here comes his other leg, now his torso! He’s almost out!” When she announced that Brady was out, I didn’t hear him cry, which I thought was unusual. Immediately, the doctor told me that the cord was wrapped around Brady’s neck but that he was totally fine. Seconds later, Jonny and I heard Brady’s first cry and our world forever changed. Jonny went out to Brady to cut the cord. If you are having a C-section, you can elect to have a delayed cord clamping (you can do this with a vaginal birth as well) so that the partner can still cut the cord and have that special first moment with their baby. Jonny cut the cord and had the nurse hold up Brady so that I could see him from the table. The one downside of a C-section is that it can be difficult to see your baby right away but don’t be afraid to be vocal in the OR. Everyone was very accommodating and wanted us to be partners through every step of his birth, which we really appreciated. The first thing I said when I saw Brady was “that’s our baby!” followed by “he looks just like you” to Jonny. He was so cute right away, weighing 8 pounds 5 ounces and measuring at 19 inches.
This was the moment when things started to feel more intense on the operating table for me. As the doctor started to stitch me up, I felt an insane amount of pressure on my chest, almost as if someone was stepping on my heart with all their body weight. Jonny was right by my side to let the team know what I was feeling and apparently this is very common post C-section surgery due to your insides getting a bit smushed during the birth. It felt like this pressure lasted forever but it probably only lasted for five minutes at the most. I also felt pretty nauseous once Brady came out, which is also very common. I can’t tell you how weird it was to be dry heaving knowing that a doctor is stitching you up. Nothing actually came up but the anesthesiologist was on it and gave me something to help with that right away. Because of those two weird symptoms, they didn’t bring Brady to me right away because they wanted me to feel better first. Instead they brought him right to my cheek so I could see his cute little face up close. I had told the team that I wanted to do skin to skin right away since I know it’s an important bonding moment for mom and baby but I needed to feel okay before I held him for the first time. I would say that from the time the pulled Brady out to the time they started wheeling me out of the OR and into the recovery room was around 10 minutes. It was faster than I thought it would be, which was great.
One thing that took me by surprise was how much I HATED the feeling of the epidural. Not being able to feel from my breasts down to my toes was a very helpless and anxiety producing feeling for me. It felt like an odd out of body experience and that was really the most uncomfortable part for me. I couldn’t wait for the epidural to wear off so I could feel normal again. When they wheeled me into the recovery room, Brady was already there with the nurses. They started checking him out from head to toe to make sure he was okay. They were a little worried about his breathing at first but once they brought him over to me for our first real skin to skin moment, his breathing stabilized and he snuggled right into me. I really can’t describe the feeling of having your baby on your chest for the first time. It’s surreal and mind blowing to look down at this little body and know that he grew inside your belly for 9 months. The nurses helped Brady latch onto my breast for the first time and he latched for 20 minutes drinking colostrum (usually breast milk doesn’t come in for 3-5 days post birth), which everyone was very happy about. Jonny and I looked at him on my chest and in that moment, we were just so happy to see him looking so healthy and cute. Even all the nurses told us how cute he was. Maybe they say that to all the new parents but hey, we agreed with them.
My family was actually there with us before we went into surgery and stayed for the rest of the day, which was such a gift. As you all know, my family is very close so to have them there on such a special day was the icing on the cake of a perfect day. The numbness of the epidural went away in about 2-3 hours and I finally started to feel normal again post surgery. I wasn’t in any pain (they had me on a medicine called Toradol, which was described to me as a much more potent form of ibuprofen) and to be honest, I felt really good. Part of me was just relieved that the surgery was over but from there on, my recovery was not painful, which I was extremely grateful for (more on this in a bit). We had a fantastic nurse with us and she made everything so much easier on us as we transitioned from just the two of us to the three of us. The nurse told me to order some food but to make it light so I ordered chicken noodle soup. I know I was just starving since I hadn’t eaten that day but omg, it was the best chicken noodle soup EVER. She said if I felt okay after eating something small that I could order something else so I ordered pasta with marinara on it and scarfed it down. My family left that evening and Jonny, Brady, and I stayed in the recovery room until around 8:00 pm, around 6-7 hours post surgery. Once the epidural wore off completely, the nurse asked if I felt strong enough to walk a few steps with her and Jonny supporting me. In that moment, all I wanted to do was jump out of bed and walk around because I was so relieved to not feel the affects of the epidural anymore but the nurse made sure that I took things VERY slow. We took a few steps all together. The nurse asked me to scale my pain and I think I remember giving her the number 3 or 4 out of 10. She asked if I felt comfortable to take a few steps with just Jonny. I said yes, and we did. Then she asked if I thought I could walk to the bathroom on my own, and I said yes! I was able to walk to the bathroom without much effort (yay!) and because I could do that, the nurse said we could remove my catheter so I could start peeing on my own again. The catheter removal didn’t hurt at all and the nurse helped me slip into some mesh underwear (LOVED them) and put a big pad inside them to catch post birth uterine bleeding. At that point, we (me in a wheelchair) started to make our way to the hospital room that we would be staying in for the next three days.
When we got to the room, the nurse took my vitals and introduced me to the recovery nurse that would be taking care of us that evening. One thing that I didn’t really expect was that the nurses would be changing every day. I totally understand why (everyone has their assigned shifts) but it was kind of a bummer because you get attached to some of them and then you don’t see them again. Luckily, some of our favorite nurses were with us for multiple days, which was amazing. That first night in the hospital was sleepless for both me and Jonny. The hospital where we delivered prefers to have parents take over responsibilities for their baby right away to develop important bonds but at first, the nurses do a lot for you (change diapers, swaddle your baby, reminding you when to feed your baby, etc.). When we got to our room, I remember asking the nurse, “so is it our responsibility to now take care of changing his diaper and making sure we feed him?” The nurse was so kind and said “yes! You’re parents now!” When I look back on this moment, I realized how silly I sounded and how much of a new mom I was (still am!) but I just wanted to make sure what was expected of us.
During our hospital stay, the nurses gave me Toradol for the first night and first morning, but since my pain ratings were so low, they decided to switch me to just ibuprofen and Motrin to treat pain. I could definitely “feel” my incision area but I wouldn’t say it was painful. I could easily move around the hospital room and hold Brady so I felt extremely lucky. The nurses gave me a belly binder to wear around my lower stomach and incision site to help with mobility and it truly did wonders. I felt much more supported with it on and highly recommend asking your hospital for one if you are recovering from a C-section. Every few hours, the nurses would come in an take both Brady and my vitals to makes sure we were recovering well. Brady did lose a little weight after birth, which all babies do, but other than that, everything always looked good. Huge relief. I can’t tell you how anxious I was every time someone came in to check us because I was always worried something would be wrong. Luckily, Brady passed all his tests with flying colors! Just an FYI, be prepared for many different hospital staff to walk through your room at different times needed different things from you, like filling out birth certificate information, hearing exams, blood tests at 6 am, etc. It was a bit overwhelming after awhile because while we were recovering and getting used to our new roles as parents, we had to keep track of so much paper work coming in and out. It’s definitely doable, just make sure you keep everything in one place with you. If I had known we would be walking out with as much paper work as we did, I would’ve brought a folder to keep everything in (could be a great addition to your hospital bag!).
That first night in the hospital with Brady was a sleepless one for us. We ran to his hospital bassinet every time he made a noise to make sure he was okay and spent every second just looking at his beautiful perfect face. We couldn’t believe he was ours. We didn’t even care that we didn’t sleep. We were just so happy and in love with our sweet boy. I’ll never forget all the special moments Jonny and I shared in the hospital over those few days. Working together to change his diapers, trying to master our swaddle game even though every nurse we saw had a different technique, walking laps around the hospital halls with Brady in his hospital bassinet, snuggling him every chance we got and just taking in every moment with him. All we did was talk about how much we loved him and how amazing the entire experience was. The best part was that we weren’t even on our phones hardly at all because we wanted to be 100% present with Brady. It truly was magical. During our second day, Brady did have a choking incident that nearly sent us into cardiac arrest. Apparently, C-section babies have more amniotic fluid build out in their lungs when they are born because those fluids don’t get pushed out when the baby comes down the vaginal canal. Luckily, a nurse was in the room with us when this happened and she showed us exactly what we needed to do. She gave us a suction bulb to help clear out the spit in his cheeks if he were to start doing that again and showed us how to position him to burp him when that happens. Luckily, this symptom goes away within a few days and we only had one other incident in the middle of the night that I heard and took care of immediately. Thank god we were in the hospital when this happened so that we could learn how to best take care of our boy if it were to happen again.
Overall, even though I felt like my C-section experience was great, it was much more intense than I thought it was going to be. I know that some people elect to have C-sections so I kind of thought they would be a walk in the park even though they are considered major surgery. While it’s not a walk in the park by any means, my C-section recovery has been pretty great, which I am chalking up to staying active throughout my pregnancy. Even the nurses were shocked to see how quickly I was recovering, which was very reassuring for me because the recovery process was the thing I was most concerned about. A couple things that helped me on the road to recovery were walking as soon as I could post surgery, not reaching for things way above me or below me (this can pull on your stitches and feel very painful), wearing the belly binder that the hospital gave me, and making sure to drink a TON of water when I was at the hospital. My doctor and I agreed that exercising throughout pregnancy also helped with this because a week later, my body has really bounced back from just having carried a baby for nine months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not 100% healed or even comfortable in my post birth body yet, but it is amazing to witness what our bodies can do.
Looking back on this experience will be one that we will always remember. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that special time in the hospital and I can’t wait to tell Brady all about it one day. Thank you for all the love you have given us all throughout this journey and for all the support and encouragement you continue to shower us with now that our Brady babe is home with us. We love you all!