I was scheduled to have a c-section on Monday March 20th. When Dr. Tran told me I was going to have to have a c-section, I was devastated; however, I eventually came to like the idea of having a “scheduled” birth. Greg and I still had so much to do before Andie’s arrival – finish her nursery, get the car seat bases and car seat in the cars, pack our hospital bags, write thank you notes, and I was planning to work up until the Friday before, so knowing when she would be making her big debut into the world – Monday, March 20th, at exactly 7:30 am – I was looking forward to embracing the time Greg and I had left just the two of us and finishing the to-do list stress free. I mean, Dr. Tran did say the chances of me going into labor with a breech baby on my own were very unlikely.
March 14th was a normal Tuesday, for the most part. It was spring break week so a few people at work had taken time off and things were pretty slow around the office. I texted Jody, a friend and co-worker, first thing that morning and told her I was going to get some purchasing done for the office and I would meet them all at Red Robin around 12:30 pm for our celebratory spring break staff lunch. I didn’t feel bad that morning, just tired, so I laid in bed a little longer than usual and lingered while getting ready. While at Walmart, I remember an old man making a comment to me like “you’re about to pop,” and at lunch, my co-workers were shocked that I still hadn’t packed my hospital bag (as was my mom when I called her on my way to Walmart) and I remember another co-worker saying something along the lines of, “I keep thinking any second you’re going to scream, ‘My water broke!'” I just kept thinking to myself, “Does no one understand what a scheduled c-section on Monday, March 20th, at exactly 7:30 am means?”
As usual, I got home before Greg that day. I laid down and rested until he got home and then we spent some time in the backyard playing ball with Kliff. For dinner, we ate fish and rice on the couch while watching a new episode of The Middle. And then I got a sudden burst of energy and announced I was going to pack my hospital bag! (You’re welcome, Mom.) We got in bed around 10:00 pm.
It was normal for Andie to get active at bedtime but this night she was especially active. I tossed. I turned. I sat up. I laid back down. I got up and paced back and forth. Greg kept telling me to try to be still and relax and maybe that would help her settle down. No. I wasn’t in pain just extremely uncomfortable. Around midnight, I got up to go to the bathroom. Without going into too much detail, a mucus plug is a real thing. I walked out of the bathroom, turned on the lamp, and told Greg I thought we should call the doctor. He woke up so fast (haha)! The on-call doctor told us to go to L&D just to be safe. I called my parents and Greg called his just to let them all know what was going on. Greg packed his bag and got ready in record-breaking time while I brushed my teeth, changed clothes, and washed my face in slow motion. On the way to the hospital, Greg just kept saying, “It’s game time,” over and over but I truly thought it was a false alarm and we’d be back home and back in our own bed in a couple of hours. Thank goodness I packed my bag.
When we got to the hospital, we got checked in and I got changed into one of those godawful gowns. The nurse hooked me up to the machines, and as uncomfortable as I was, I felt myself relax when I heard Andie’s heartbeat loud and clear. Then the nurse said, “Hmmm. Are you feeling those contractions?” Excuse me. What. “You’re having contractions.” She checked me, said I was dilated to a 3, and then said she was going to call Dr. Tran. That’s when I remembered Dr. Tran was on vacation. Trying to stay calm, I said, “You can’t call him. He’s out-of-town.” To which she replied, “Honey, he’s still your doctor. He’s going to have to tell us what we need to do.” She stepped out and I heard her say, “I have Kadie Henderson here. She’s having contractions, dilated to a 3, and I can feel a foot.” Then she stepped back in and said, “You will have a baby in about 45 minutes.”
The next half hour was a blur. Greg’s parents were in the waiting room so he went to let them know what was going on. I called my mom to tell her and my dad the unexpected news, and we both cried because they were still an hour and a half away. I’ve never wanted to hug my mom as badly as I did in that moment. We met with the anesthesiologist, signed some papers, met with the OR nurse, signed some more papers, then Dr. Tran walked into the room in his pajamas, and as badly as I wanted to hug my mom I wanted to hug him even more. By the grace of God, him and his family decided last-minute to have a stay-cation. Y’all. The bond between a pregnant woman and her obstetrician is a special one. Am I right? After we met with Dr. Tran for a minute everyone gave Greg and I a minute alone, and that’s when I went into full freak out mode. I started crying, shaking uncontrollably, and I asked Greg, in all seriousness, if I could sleep for a couple of hours before “game time.”
For those of you who have had a c-section, you know your spouse (or whomever you want with you) is not allowed to go back with you while they’re getting you ready and everything else set up for surgery. A friend of mine had told me this a month or so before, so I had time to emotionally and mentally prepare; however, it didn’t make it any easier. (Now that it’s all said and done, I actually think it was harder for Greg than it was for me. Poor guy thought we forgot about him.) When they got me in the operating room, they had me sit up on the operating table. The OR nurse told me to “kiss my belly” and then she literally laid on top of me to help me get in the perfect position to get my spinal. After that, they helped me lie down and I quickly lost all feeling from right below my chest down. Two things about a c-section – 1. It’s the weirdest feeling having surgery while awake; and 2. You can still feel everything (SO. MUCH. PRESSURE.), you just can’t feel pain. Once they got everything set up and were ready to get started, Greg was able to come in and be with me. Oh, and one other thing about a c-section – If you think you love your obstetrician, you will love your anesthesiologist even more. Mine gave me a play-by-play, and after Greg left the operating room to be with Andie, he was the one that kept me company and helped keep me calm. The Christian music filling the room didn’t hurt either. Thank you, Dr. Tran.
I know it didn’t take long for Dr. Tran to deliver Andie but it felt like an eternity. Because she was breech, her head was stuck in my ribs so it did take him a little longer than normal to get her out. They think maybe that’s why I was feeling her movements more than the contractions, because she was feeling the contractions and trying so hard to get turned into the right position. Poor baby. Because of this, she was in some distress when they got her out, and she didn’t cry immediately. After I heard Dr. Tran say, “She’s out,” I think I asked at least three times, “Is she going to cry,” before she ever did. (It felt like forever. Greg swears it wasn’t.) But when she did cry, I was certain I had never heard anything so beautiful. When she cries now, I remind myself of how badly I wanted to hear her cry then. They announced her time of birth as 2:31 am and then everyone sang Happy Birthday, which was the cutest thing. Greg went to the other side of the room with the nurse to watch her get cleaned up, and I’ll never forget how proud and smitten he was when he walked back over to me. “How is she,” I asked. “She’s perfect. And she squeezed my finger,” he said. The nurse finally brought her over to me and I just remember saying, “She’s so pretty” over and over and over. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Greg went with the nurse and Andie to the recovery room, and I joined them about twenty minutes later. Her and I did skin to skin, and those two to three hours that we got to spend together, in the quiet, just the three of us were truly magical. A word of advice to all of you mom-to-be’s reading this, you will be so excited to introduce your baby to your family and friends but DO NOT rush that time you get with just your husband and your baby. It’s truly such a special time that you’ll never be able to get back so take all the time you need. And don’t you dare feel guilty about it. Cherish it. Embrace it. Soak it all in. Take pictures. This is the moment you’ve been waiting nine whole months for. You did it, Mama! Hold your baby, kiss your husband, and enjoy the fact that time truly does stand still in this moment, because when this moment passes, time will start passing by way to quickly.
I’m so thankful that Greg and I went from having a scheduled c-section to having an unexpected birth story I wish I could relive again and again. March 15, 2017, the day I became “Mama,” was truly the best, most life-changing day of my life. <3
Photography by: Jessica Price