Having a c-section was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had, by far. Once we decided that we were going to go ahead and make take that path, I told Gabriel, “I may not have any say over this labor, but there is one thing I can control – and that’s how I look in pictures” haha! I asked him to bring my toiletries over to the bed, and I proceeded to give myself a sponge bath and actually do my makeup. It felt so nice to at least have some semblance of cleanliness after the past 44 hours of struggle!
Once they took me to the delivery room, everything became very blurry. I remember they took Gabriel separately, and I kept asking where he was – I was so scared to be alone!! When he finally came in, I was already very loopy because of the medication. It was awful – I remember I kept saying that my mouth was as dry as the Sahara desert. The feeling of the doctor cutting on my stomach…this intense tugging on my lower abdomen that I could feel while at the very same time…could not feel…was a weird experience. When my baby boy finally made his debut into the world, 7 lbs, 13 oz and all 21 inches of him, I couldn’t believe it. I remember staring over at him as they let Gabriel cut the cord, and I thought, “oh my God. That’s my son. My son? I have a son. Gabriel and I have a child.” It was as if all moisture had been soaked out of me with the medication. Gabriel brought Dresden Zane over to me and for a few minutes, my entire world stopped. I wanted desperately to cry – tears of happiness, of relief, of exhaustion…but I couldn’t cry! And then I wanted to cry because I couldn’t cry! I don’t know how long they let me hold him, it felt like forever and too quickly all at once before they escorted Gabriel with him to the post-op area. Once they started closing me up, I started to get very panicky because I couldn’t swallow…my mouth was too dry. I kept asking for water, and the anesthesiologist kept telling me that I could have an ice chip once I was in the post-op area. I’m sure he was annoyed as I’m pretty sure I was a broken record!
In post-op, I was wheeled in and I immediately saw Gabriel carrying our son…he was absolutely a natural! Dresden was so tiny, red, and squishy. He had so much less hair on his head than I anticipated…but certainly enough on his little body! When Gabriel handed him over to me, I laid him on my bare chest and the little stinker quite literally HOPPED onto my nipple! I was amazed to see he found my breast so fast!
That evening and the next day kind of just blurred together, thanks to the drugs. It was terrifying having this little tiny human stay with us the first night. The first time he woke up, I couldn’t sit up to take him out of the hospital bassinet (because of the pain) and Gabriel was sleeping so hard, he wouldn’t wake up! I eventually had to throw something at him so he could get up and pick him up for me. Side note: I did finally consume my chipotle burrito…at 6am the next morning! It was heaven, and it was SO worth the wait. We had Dresden with us almost a full 24 hours after surgery. When they came to do the routine newborn tests, that’s when things started to get crazy again…
Dresden had elevated respiratory levels, and as well as high Biliruben levels. They told me they would need to take him to the NICU while they waited for the results of his bloodwork, which would eventually tell us that he had high C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which is a blood test marker for inflammation in the body. They informed us that we would have to do an entire week’s worth of antibiotics. Normal CRP levels for a baby range anywhere from 5-10, and Dresden was at 40. He was diagnosed with Sepsis, which was a result of the prolonged labor with rupture waters.
It was extremely scary receiving that information, and there was an enormous amount of guilt that followed. We fought so hard to give him a natural birth, and when not being able to, we inadvertently put him in danger.
The NICU presented an entirely different set of challenges for us. For one, I was in extreme amounts of pain, and walking to the NICU not only took longer, but also was a struggle for me physically. Sine I was determined to exclusively breastfeed Dresden, we had to make the trek downstairs to the NICU every two/three hours in order to feed him. While he had no trouble finding my nipple, as demonstrated right after birth, he had trouble staying latched on. We would spend 30 minutes trying to get Dresden to latch. This began to get concerning when Dresden stopped having any wet or dirty diapers. After 24 hours of no wet diapers, the nurses began to insist we supplement with formula. I was still adamant that I only wanted breastfeed, and at 3am, still on a lot of pain medication, emotional, and sleep deprived, there’s no easy way to try to reason with a new mom. I broke down into tears, for what seemed the millionth time.
We eventually had to begin to supplement, as my milk was not coming in, and Dresden wasn’t latching. We did through the Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) through a inserting a very small tube that was connected to a bottle of formula in Dresden’s mouth while he was on my breast. It looked just like this picture - thank goodness for the lactation consultants who walked us through this!
There were two days when I was not allowed to get up because my blood pressure wouldn’t stabilize. The doctor ordered a higher dosage of medication since I wasn’t responding, and it finally normalized the day before I left the hospital. Since I had a c-section, I stayed in the hospital until Thursday, but Dresden wasn’t going to be released until Monday. We live about 15 minutes from the hospital, which isn’t far, but we were still feeding Dresden via SNS every three hours. The hospital offered a “hotel” package, at $70 p/night, where we could stay in a labor room at the hospital as guests, but only if the hospital had availability in Labor and Delivery. It was such a blessing!! We were able to stay there the entire time – which meant we were able to wake up every three hours and go feed our little man.
Dresden was such a hit in the nursery – two of our favorite nurses would always “request” him when they were working. One of the nurses was a charge nurse, and wasn’t required to have a patient, but she told us she made it clear that she wanted ‘Baby Valdez’ in her care! The NICU nurses were extremely patient with us as well as we figured out how to take care of our son – they often commented how rare it was to have both parents at every feeding, and how often times parents say they are coming down for the feeding and never do. How sad! We loved feeding him, however tired we were. Gabriel was such a huge support throughout the process as well – he made everything so much easier, and I honestly don’t think I could have done it without him.
Dresden continued to improve and by Monday was given the all clear to go home! The entire birth experience was just so unexpected, and nothing at all like how we imagined. Bringing a new life into the world is already such an emotionally charged experience and adding on complications, no matter how minor, can seem insurmountable! We were blessed with such a supportive hospital staff, and we can’t say enough how thankful we are for all the nurses. One of the nurses told us, “This may seem like its never going to get better, but in the grand scheme of things this is just a little blip on the radar. You just happen to be right in the middle of that blip.”
How very true that is! A month and a half later (has it really only been six weeks?!) our hospital experience is only a memory, and one that is less painful day by day. I learned, and am continuing to learn, to let go. I always want to control thing; it’s in my nature. I prepared so hard for Dresden’s birth, and in the end, I had to completely let go of my desires and notions and allow God to make His way perfect.
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."