Editor's Note: April is National Cesarean Awareness month. Today, we are honored to share these words and birth story from Emerald Doulas client, Nyote Calixte.
As a first-time mom, the last remaining weeks of my pregnancy meant my mind was consumed with so many things… final nursery prep, installing car seats, and waiting for the birthing process to begin. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. I knew I would meet this little person soon and dreamt, down to every last little detail, what it would be like to bring him or her into the world. My large repertoire of Rom-Coms helped with the visuals. Think 9-Months-meets-Knocked-Up.
Leading up to my due date I read almost anything I got my hands on about labor and birth, pinned every pin I could find on Pinterest for birthing techniques, and wrote a 6+ page birth plan detailing exactly how I wanted the whole process to go. I was so confident I did not want or need a cesarean that I didn’t research anything about it and almost didn’t pay attention to that portion of my two-day birthing class. I was confident that a vaginal birth would be the way I describe my baby’s entrance into the world. There was no way anyone could tell me I wasn’t prepared to rock my first child’s birth.
Little did I know that this birth would certainly rock, just not for the reasons I thought.
Like most first-time mom’s (FTMs), I took every recommendation to heart. So, when I began third trimester, I religiously did fetal kick count monitoring. In the day or two leading up to my 39-week appointment, I began to sense my baby’s activity decreasing. Baby was taking longer to get to the recommended kicks.
Call it ESP, intuition, God’s gift of discernment, or soon-to-be-mama-panic, whatever it was, something wasn’t right.
This was scary, especially for a first pregnancy that had gone well and was pretty text-book until this point. I stayed home the day of my 39-week appointment because I didn’t feel well. When I mentioned to my doctor that I felt like there was a decrease in fetal movement, a non-stress test (NST) was ordered. All seemed fine as I sat in a large cushioned recliner with a monitor to my belly and the sounds of air horns and noisemakers filled the room. But it wasn’t. My baby was “reacting” but not as expected. After a brief absence from the room, my doctor returned to notify me that I would be meeting my baby today. My jaw felt like it hit the floor. A wave of excitement mixed with a bit of fear came over me. In the midst of my stupor, my doctor proceeded to tell me to go home and get my hospital bag because the OB on duty was expecting me at Labor and Delivery. I looked at my husband with bewilderment.
I thought, “This is it!? Today is the day?”.
My doctor sent us over for an induction because they wanted to be sure baby wasn’t in distress. I remember the first thing I asked once I was over the initial shock. “Does this mean I have to have a C-section?”. When the doctor said no, I was instantly relieved. “Whew”, I thought. So, we drove home dazed over the news and calling our families to tell them we were headed to have the baby. It wasn’t the call I imagined making. It wasn’t like the movies. We frantically grabbed our hospital bags and went straight to L&D.
We were finally over the initial shock and now excited to embrace the labor process.
Upon admittance, I had to be set up for continuous fetal monitoring which was nothing out of the ordinary, but I quickly grew anxious as the length time I was on the monitors increased. When my OB came back into the room, he wanted to have a discussion. I was only 1cm dilated and effacement had yet to begin. I was bummed. Additionally, my baby’s heart rate decelerated whenever I had Braxton-Hicks contractions. This combination of factors led my OB to believe that, even with an induction, I would eventually end up having to get a cesarean. He advised that I consider forgoing the induction and opting for the C-section since it was very uncertain how my baby’s health would do under the stress of active labor. I. Was. DEVASTATED.
I remember bursting into tears after my OB left the room. I wholeheartedly trusted his judgement, but I felt so ill-equipped to navigate this situation. I wanted nothing more than to avoid a C-section and now here I was being told that was the best option to bring my baby into the world safely. I felt selfish. I felt like my body failed me.
After lots of tears and fervent prayers, we called our uncle who is an OB in upstate New York. We explained the situation and without hesitation he reassured us that the cesarean was the best option. We agreed. We wanted our baby here safe and it didn’t matter what that meant with regard to our original plans. Our primary plan was to leave with a healthy, happy baby. End of story. From there we notified our OB that we would proceed with the C-section and things began moving quickly at that point.
Within two hours’ time I was surgery prepped and ready to meet our little darling. Surgery began at 11pm and by 11:28pm, Sebastian Oliver Calixte was born. A tiny but mighty 5-pound 8.2 ounces of pure joy had entered our lives safely and we could have been any happier.
Looking back on this experience, as I often do especially now expecting my second baby boy, I am grateful for a number of things.
First, we are grateful for my kick count app and the confidence it gave me to advocate for my son’s wellbeing. Even if you choose not use an app, knowing your baby’s movements/patterns could be a lifesaving tool for your little one. I monitor my current little boy and recommend that all moms never underestimate the power of this tool.
I’m grateful for my C-section.
Was it ideal? No. But it was birth all the same. I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter how you become a mother and having a cesarean doesn’t make me any less of one. Another reason I’m grateful for my C-section is that it removed my fears over having to get a cesarean. I believe part of the reason I wanted to avoid it in my first pregnancy was largely related to fear of such a major procedure. Now that I have a broader awareness of cesareans and I am no longer afraid to have one, it makes the prospect of birth this second time around less scary.
I love having this new perspective as I plan for my VBAC with baby number two. No matter the way it’s done, my path to bring my babies into this world it one that I will always revere with pride. My C-section scar is forever proof that God did as he promised. He brought my baby boy into the world safely. So, celebrate your beautiful entrance into motherhood C-section mamas. You did it and your scar is your receipt.