When I became pregnant, I felt excited to get to experience it all. I couldn’t wait to feel her move, and I quickly began reading about natural and un-medicated births, as well as hypno-birthing. Excitement ran through me as I thought of the labor that would bring me Violet.
My excitement took a turn for the worst; at our 20 week visit with the midwife we discovered that I had complete placenta previa. This occurs when the placenta is covering the entire cervix. At the same time we discovered that I also had vasa previa. This is when the baby’s blood vessels run across the cervix. This meant that I would have to undergo a Cesarean Section, and I was heartbroken. It was hard for me to cope with the knowledge that I would undergo a Cesarean, and as I tried to grasp how her birth would unfold, I only became more worried.
We spent our last night as a family of two eating out at my favorite Mexican restaurant, watching Supernatural, playing our favorite card games, and doing our best to remain calm. I was relaxed, which is unusual for me. I felt that everything was going to be okay, and I was able to accept the nature of my daughter’s journey here. We didn’t get much sleep the night before, as we shared a mix of excitement and nervousness that kept us restless.
We arrived at the Hospital at 4:45 AM, where I was quickly hooked up to monitors and prepped for delivery. I understood that I was about to undergo major abdominal surgery, become a mother, and have to wait to see my Violet; yet, I had a strange sense of calmness where I would normally experience anxiety. I did get a bit excited as her arrival drew near. Jake, my husband, got dressed in scrubs while I was being wheeled to the delivery room. For some reason, Jake wasn’t allowed in the room while they gave me the epidural. I was worried that it may hurt, as everyone says it does, but I focused on my breath as my midwife held my hand and I felt no pain. I was laid down and the epidural began to take effect, which was a strange sensation. Numbness overtook my legs and back, and my anesthesiologist would poke me and ask if I could feel it. At this point Jake was allowed into the room; the doctor, midwife and other staff were ready.
My doctor was great. He told me what he was doing throughout the procedure, and he also made some fun remarks about the henna on my belly. He told Jake he could peek over and take some film if he wanted. The anesthesiologist was also very good at letting me know what to expect. He warned me that I was about to feel some pressure and boy did I! Violet didn’t seem quite willing to come out. She must have been comfortable inside me, because they REALLY had to push on my stomach to nudge her out.
She let out a subtle screech as she met the world. They gave me a super quick glance at her, and then she was taken away. I knew that there was a possibility that I couldn’t be with her immediately after birth, but Jake went to be with our new girl so that she would at least have her dad there. Shortly after Violet and Jake had left, they announced her weight and length, six pounds four ounces and 21 inches long!
As I was being stitched up, my midwife came back in to let me know she was doing great and breathing on her own. She also explained that since my placenta was so low, they had to cut through it to get Violet out which caused her to lose some blood. Her heart rate was a bit high because of blood loss, so she was given an IV to increase her blood pressure. Other than that, nothing was wrong with my little girl.
They brought me back to a room, and, thinking I was going to get to see my baby as soon as I was stitched back up, I asked when I would get to see Violet. They said, “as soon as you can move your legs and get into a wheel chair you can see her.” I immediately tried to wiggle my toes, but nothing moved. I sat alone in that room for a while until I asked a nurse to go find my mom and mother-in-law, who were waiting somewhere in the hospital.
It is at this point that my calmness began to crumble, and I’m still not sure what was going on inside my head during that time. The comfort I felt before the procedure vanished. On the outside I remained calm and put-together, but on the inside I was crumbling. I desperately wanted to hold my baby; I needed to hold my child, but I couldn’t. My heart crumbled, and I was filled with exquisite pain. My desire to have my baby had transformed itself into feelings of anxiety, and to this day I am haunted still.
For four hours I was kept away from her, and one by one I felt those precious bonding moments following her birth being robbed from me. Jake face timed me so I could at least see her, but that wasn’t near enough to fill the cavity within me. I had carried her all this time, and now, at the moment I could see her she was kept from me. The drugs from the surgery made me kind of sleepy, but I fought and stayed awake because I had to see my baby. A little later my mom and sisters took turns holding her before I could, and this only compounded my pain. Moment by moment the hours passed, and I became increasingly desirous to have that special moment with my daughter.
Excitement penetrated my core when the time finally came for me to hold her. Jake and a nurse helped me into a wheel chair and I was pushed to the NICU. I came inside to see that my mom was holding her. She was wrapped in a white blanket, still had wires connected to her, and was sound asleep. I didn’t feel that ‘connection’ that everyone talks about feeling when they first see their baby. I didn’t really feel anything, and I hated it. It seemed unreal and odd; I felt it backwards that this was how I was meeting my baby for the first time. Where I should have felt joy, where I should have felt love, and where I should have felt the thrill of holding my daughter for the first time, I felt desolate and empty. The mix of the separation and the Cesarean affected my feelings, and honestly, I think that if I had seen her sooner I would’ve better felt that connection. I think I could have seen her a lot earlier than they let me. She was doing great, I was doing great, and I wish I would have fought harder to see her.
Because she came early, Violet had to be in the NICU for 6 hours for observation. But once those 6 hours were up she was brought to our room with us. The next couple days were spent loving our little one and trying to figure out breastfeeding. It was a struggle. Since Violet was born early, my body just wasn’t ready to give her nourishment. I was producing nothing. Not to mention we couldn’t do skin to skin immediately, and it was frustrating because I was determined to breastfeed her exclusively for as long as I could. I was afraid that yet another experience with her would be taken away. But we worked hard. It wasn’t till about a week or so that I began to make something. And at about 6 weeks she was completely off formula!
I was recovering great–really great. I was moving well and all I took was ibuprofen, and even then it was just a couple of times. The nurses were all pretty surprised that I wasn’t asking for a stronger pain medication. I was definitely sore but I handled the pain well.
The hospital wasn’t my favorite place to be. I was ready to leave. The doctor said we could leave by Saturday, but we made our way out on Friday.
This special day may not have happened how I had hoped, and it still gives me anxiety today. But I am grateful the doctors were able to bring Violet to us safely, and that she was very healthy from the start. Though there were struggles, I am still filled with love and amazement for this little girl.