The difference between Dorothy’s birth story and Frances’ is outrageous. Both were born via c-section, yet there is simply no comparing the two experiences.
The minute I gave birth to Dorothy during an emergency c-section after 23 hours of induced labor (at 40 weeks + 6 days with NO EPIDURAL), I knew I was never going to have a vaginal delivery. I just wasn’t. Sure, medically speaking, I could have a VBAC. But after my first birthing experience, I decided that the only way another child would ever exit my body again would be via scheduled c-section. Executive decision. End of story.
So, not surprisingly, that’s what happened.
My first birth is something of legend at my doctor’s office. Seriously. Every time I’m there, my doctor is telling someone about how Dorothy’s birth went down. Something about the titanium in my spine makes people freak out a little. At my first prenatal appointment for Frances my doctor looked at me, started laughing, and asked if I wanted to plan for a VBAC.
I told her, “Hell no.”
I’m glad we were on the same page.
I scheduled the surgery as soon as I was allowed. The nurse told me that they would not schedule a repeat c-section before 39 weeks, and then proceeded to ask me what day I wanted. I picked June 1 – 39 weeks and 0 days on the dot at 7:30 a.m. I was not going to be pregnant a minute longer than absolutely necessary. I feel like if you have ever gone past your due date before, you know the elation I felt in knowing I was most certainly not going to be late this time.
Nearly every doctor and nurse that I met during my prenatal appointments confirmed my choice. “Oh, you’re going to just love a scheduled c-section,” they all said. Even the receptionist felt the need to tell me how great her sex life is, in her early 60’s, partly because of her previous c-section births.
Guess what? They were right. I’ll have to get back to you on the state of my sex life in 30+ years, but otherwise I’m fully on board the scheduled c-section train.
We took Dorothy to my parent’s house at dinner time the night before my c-section, since we would need to leave for the hospital around 4 a.m. I really didn’t want to be there when she went to sleep, just to minimize the weirdness for her. She loves slumber parties at her grandparents’ house, but she would totally know something was up if I were the one to put her to sleep there.
I held up pretty well until we were leaving. I was trying my hardest not to let the tears well up in my eyes, but I could not stop it even if my life depended on it. Something about nonchalantly saying goodbye to her, knowing that moment was the last time I would see her as my only child, was more than I could take. We left quickly, but Dorothy definitely noticed something was going on. Luckily she’s easily distracted by sugar, and Mamaw’s house is full of it, so she forgot about me probably three minutes after we got out of there.
I, on the other hand, cried all the way across town to dinner because pregnancy hormones always win.
But, that was that. Scheduled c-sections are so simple because life just goes on as normal. We ate dinner (the waitress must have thought I was a hot mess), came home to finish packing, and Courtny decided that night was as good of time as any to clean his guns in our kitchen until midnight.
I can’t make this stuff up.
We had to wake up pretty much in the middle of the night so that we could drive an hour to the hospital for our pre-op time. I tend to not sleep at all the night before big things, but I slept awesome before my c-section. When I woke up, my hair was already done (I highly recommend scheduling a blow out the afternoon before giving birth) and all we had to do was jump in the car. I couldn’t eat or drink anything, but it was like 3 a.m. so who cares? Have I mentioned that I love scheduled c-sections?
I should note that during our drive to the hospital, we debated changing our daughter’s name. Little known fact: before we knew the gender of Baby C2, we were set on Naomi Frances for a girl. The night before our gender ultrasound, I decided I wanted Frances to be her first name. Naomi was just a name we liked, while Frances is a family name. Since Courtny chose Dorothy’s first name, he told me I could have this one. That meant he got to pick the middle name – which was fine by me. We had a hard time coming up with a middle name (which I wrote about here), but
I thought he settled on Frances Belle.
Until literally two hours before she was born, and Courtny is all like, “What about Frances Rose?”
Once we got to the hospital, we were taken to a labor & delivery room. I was originally told we would be in a small triage room before heading to the operating room, but since there weren’t many mommas in labor that morning we got a big comfortable room. I changed into a gown, and a nurse started my IV.
And that’s it.
At 7:15 a.m., I walked across the hall to the operating room. Courtny waited outside, and I sat on the table and watched the nurses prep around me.
I talked with the anesthesiologist about my spinal fusion, and it became evident that he didn’t look at my chart before coming in to the OR because he was clueless that I have Harrington Rods. He left, and returned a short time later with a student (apparently I’m an unusual case). That’s where this story gets a little interesting.
Because my spine is fused with titanium rods, screws and cadaver donation, it’s a bit of a guessing game as to where I can receive spinal anesthesia. With my first c-section, the anesthesiologist got it on the first try (or at least that’s what I remember). This time I received local anesthetic SIX TIMES, and was probably poked with a needle at least 30 TIMES.
Yes, it hurt. But I was handling it.
Then he started asking for a larger needle… then I saw the anesthesiologist’s gloves covered in my blood… then I started freaking out just a little.
40 MINUTES LATER, and on what I imagine was the last attempt before he was going to put me under general anesthesia, he finally got it.
Courtny joined me, and the surgery started like 30 seconds after the spinal took effect. I didn’t have much nausea this time, which was a pleasant surprise. And really, the c-section itself was rather uneventful.
At 8:10 a.m., Frances Belle Cotten blessed our lives.
She was a tiny thing, in comparison to her sister, weighing in at 7 lbs. 2 oz. and measuring 20 inches long. Frances had all the hair we knew she would, except she must have rubbed some off on my pelvic bone because she’s nearly bald on top. She was wide-eyed and alert immediately – so much so that she grabbed on to the doctor’s scissors when they cut the umbilical cord.
She was absolutely perfect.
The doctors allowed me to have skin-to-skin with Frances while they stitched me up. Looking back, I think this was a sympathy move after my less-than-desirable spinal. I definitely didn’t get to do that with my first c-section!
While closing, my doctors noticed that I had a hernia on my right side. I had no idea, but that certainly explains the “roundhouse kick” pain I was experiencing. I’m going to blame all 40 lbs. of Dorothy, and her insistence to be carried, for that surprise.
When the surgery was finished, I went back to my room for recovery. I was sweating, but my body temperature was too cold for the nurse’s liking. If you want to know what Hell feels like, try having hot flashes underneath an inflatable heating blanket… for a couple hours.
By then, my pain medication had totally kicked in. A side effect of pain medication? Itching. I was tempted to rip my own face off, so I finally had to give in and take something for the itching. Side effect of the anti-itch medication? Drowsiness.
And that’s how I ended up drugged for the next 12 hours.
I could barely open my eyes. We had instructed our families to wait until after lunch, when we would be moved into a postpartum room, to come visit. Conveniently, they all showed up at once. I only know they were there because I could hear them – I couldn’t even function. I have almost zero memory of Dorothy meeting her sister. I think I managed to look awake and happy when Dorothy first entered the room so she wouldn’t get scared, but after that it was a crap shoot. Thankfully, our families and her new Anna & Elsa dolls distracted Dorothy from being too traumatized from the whole experience.
We were in the hospital four days, however we could have easily gone home on day two. Once my drowsiness wore off that first day (and I projectile vomited all over everything), I was totally fine. In fact, we had our friend Cammi come take family photos of us the next day because I was showered, dressed and walking around like I didn’t just have major abdominal surgery. I wasn’t taking anything more than Aleve for my pain. We sent Frances to the nursery at night, so we were getting decent sleep (for being in the hospital).
Frankly, we were bored out of our minds.
Our lives went back to normal immediately after we were released. Frances has just seamlessly fit into our family, like she was truly made just for us. I can’t imagine God giving us anyone else to complete our hearts.
We’re so blessed.