Welcome to the world our little peanut and the love of my life - Dagny.
First-time Mama and worrier extraordinaire who really, really was praying she wouldn’t need a c-section.
Dagny Elisabeth made her grand entrance into the world at 9:27 am via C-section, weighing in at four-pounds-one-ounce, measuring 17-3/4 inches long.
Here’s how everything went down from start to finish.
Nine Weeks Ago
At 28-weeks pregnant, we discovered that Dagny was measuring only in the 4th-percentile and my previously super chill pregnancy suddenly became a high-risk pregnancy filled with twice-weekly doctors appointments, constant monitoriing of her movements, and a speed round of “get everything ready for the baby arrives because we have no idea when she will be dropping in our laps”.
Our new high-risk obstetrician told us that Dagny was considering an IUGR baby (intra-uterine growth restriction) and that if, at any point, she started to show signs of stress they would bring me in to have her delivered. Because of that, we would keep our fingers crossed at every appointment for the next nine weeks that she remained active, would show signs of her practice breathing, would have a strong heartrate, and I would continue to be able to supply her with a sufficient blood flow and nutrients.
Thankfully, every week Dagny proved she may be tiny, but was mighty. She rocked every test she went up against and both of our doctors became more confident that she was just a little baby and less worried that something else may have been going on.
we reached March and celebrated my husband’s birthday by not having a baby.
We reached her 32-week mark and celebrated that, developmentally, she had hit a lot of milestones.
we reached her 34-week mark and celebrated that I wouldn’t have to get any additional steroid shots.
We celebrated the fact that we were continuing to march towards our goal of reaching of reaching 37-weeks pregnant and began talking with our doctors about where would deliver and what our plan would be.
As we moved through each week, our doctors became less concerned that she would need to spend any time in the NICU, but, ultimately, the hospital where our routine OB resided didn’t have a NICU, Marshfield did - that became the deciding factor for our choice to deliver at Marshfield Hospital.
Just in case she needed it, we wanted the extra safety nets.
during my final week of pregnancy, my hubby and i drove down to Marshfield Hospital to meet with our high-risk OB for a few final times, to put Lil’ d through her final set of tests, to meet the OB who would be in charge of her induction, and to tour the Labor + delivery floor (which didn’t happen because we also learned i had tested positive for Influenza A).
We got our final plans in check:
We would arrive to the hospital on monday night to kickstart the process with Cytotec because my body was 100% not ready to have a baby
Oma and Opa would arrive in town that night to take care of our fur babies
We would plan on having a baby come hell or high water some time during the week
Bags were packed, final pictures were hung, and the house was cleaned in preparation for the arrival of the newest Flanders
It’s 4:45 am, do you know where your kids are?
Well, if you’re my mom, then your kid is strapped to a hospital bed with baby monitors and IV fluids of pitocin running through her veins.
And if you’re my kid, then you’re still in utero, but about to enter this brave new world and your mom’s mind is still blown by the fact that you exist at all.
After an eventful dose of Cytotec to kick off my induction, our OB for the evening decided they would switch me to Pitocin so they could better monitor how the baby was handling the dosing. She and I were both much more sensitive to the Cytotec than was anticipated and had a fun few hours of cramping and stressing out over trying to catch her heart rate on the monitors while she was practicing her somersaults of discomfort.
Pretty quickly after the pitocin was on board, my body went from having preteen-level-period-like cramping to full boar contractions lasting 45-seconds long, spaced every two minutes apart, and leaving me writhing in pain.
Around 7:00 am, our nurses started popping in a bit more frequently because with each contraction I was having, Dagny’s heart rate was dropping just to a point where they were getting uncomfortable. They dialed back the Pitocin levels and started talking with the OB’s who were available.
At 7:30 am, They let me know that my delivering OB, Dr. Sampson, would be in at 8:15 am and would talk about our next plan of action. It was right around this time that I decided I wanted IV pain meds on board and was convinced I must be progressing enough to get this nugget out.
By 7:45 am, My water broke and I was begging my husband to tell the nurses I needed something to combat the pain - I had known all along I wasn’t going to go into this trying to be a hero. Mama wanted pain medication and mama wanted them now. Even with the dialed back pitocin, though, Dagny’s heart rate was still slowing with each contraction and I knew by the look on my doctor-husband’s face that he was concerned too.
Dr. Sampson arrived at 8:15 on the nose and let me know she was concerned enough about how dagny was tolerating the induction and, because she was so small, she didn’t want to mess around: we were going to C-section and immediately I was in tears … out of fear, pain, and overwhelming emotion that I would be meeting my daughter in the matter of about an hour. She talked me through the entire process with complete sincerity and kindness, knowing, based on my tears and full body shivers, that I was beyond petrified. She would encourage me through every contraction, telling me “You’ve got this!” as she carefully watched the baby’s monitor and kept one hand on my shoulder. I love it when people tell me “You got this” when I very obviously feel like I do not.
At 9:00 am, nurses, labs, and my anesthesiologist came in to get the ball rolling.
I was shaking, out of complete nerves and pain as they rolled me into the OR. Although they had cut my Pitocin almost an hour ago, I was still having gnarly contractions and Lil’ D was about as unhappy about it as I was. I remember Dr. Sampson watching me as I rolled through and she was scrubbing in and saying, “Oh! She’s still having contractions?!” in the most pitying tone I’ve ever heard (apparently that was a little surprising since they had cut my Pitocin almost an hour agO).
All of the doctors and nurses were beyond amazing about helping me through the pain since hubby couldn’t come along with me quite yet. I was particularly reassured by the anesthesiologist who didn’t leave my side the entire time, explaining what was going to happen and giving me multiple countdown updates to Dagny’s arrival once surgery got started. Hearing him tell me, “Your daughter will be here in five minutes” and then “She’ll be here in 90-seconds” were two of the most surreal moments of life: something I had been waiting over a year to be able to experience was within arm’s reach.
I had been the most nervous about the spinal tap and the pain associated with the surgery, but everyone moves through the motions of providing a successful surgery with such confidence and ease that it calmed my nerves as well. Not to mention the fact that I was, simply, in so much pain from the contractions that I just wanted it all to be over.
We arrived in the OR around 9:15 am and Dagny arrived at 9:27 am. While they did delayed cord clamping, they dropped the blue drape so that a clear plastic drape was the only thing separating us.
Before seeing her, I heard my husband shout that she “was here” and asking if I could hear her crying, then I felt her warm little wiggling body laid down on my chest and the nurses held her in place until they cut her cord. I erupted into tears.
Kristin, The nurse who had been with me from the start of the morning, started unhooking my hospital gown and the moment Dagny was ready to be moved around the curtain to me, Nurse Kristin brought her to me for our first skin-t0-skin contact.
It’s true what they say - the moment your baby appears for the first time it makes all of the pain and worry worth it. Did I still remember the pain of contractions? Yes. But the love I felt for her was instant and the worry that we had shared over the last eight weeks washed away.
She was here.
she was safe.
She was ready to begin her life.
I felt the little feet that had been kicking me in the ribs over the last several weeks.
I felt the little tummy that caused her morning hiccups.
I felt her little head that had been laying on my bladder since she was twenty-weeks-old.
I felt the hair that they had spotted on her ultrasounds weeks ago.
And the first time I looked at her and she looked back at me? That was simply the best moment of my life.
After a few moments, they whisked her away to get weighed. The NICU doctors and nurses had been given a heads up that she was an IUGR baby and that I was high-risk, meaning there was some potential she would need to go into the NICU. they were on stand-by to give her a good assessment right away.
Everyone had been commenting on how much of a peanut she was, so I knew there was no chance she had tricked the growth scans and had actually popped out as an eight-pound baby.
At her last growth scan, she had measured to be around four-pounds-twelve-ounces, when she hopped off the scale, though, it was determined that she was only four-pounds-one-ounce. My husband came back to me after talking with the NICU staff and let me know that they were going to take her into the NICU to start doing some tests: she was smaller than they anticipated so they wanted to make sure there weren’t any other health concerns we needed to worry about.
Maybe it was the adrenaline from the morning, maybe it was a Mother’s intuition, maybe it was pure ignorance, but I wasn’t very worried that something else was wrong with her.
She had landed on the ground safely and I trusted that she would be just fine.
Having absolutely no feeling in your lower half is totally strange.
Being completely helpless and unable to do most basic human functions is even stranger.
The spinal tap lasted a bit longer on me than the nurses were expecting. i had to wait a few extra hours before feeling finally came back and I was able to wiggle my toes.
Almost immediately, Nurse Kristin brought me a breast pump to get started on telling my body it was time to take of this baby. because I had been induced a few weeks early and because the baby was taken via C-section, NUrse Kristin warned me that it might take a little extra time to get anything “flowing”, but to stick with pumping every three hours like clockwork. She hung out with me to make sure I felt comfortable with everything and we watched the Price is Right together.
During that time, Nurse Kristin had me waiting in my Labor + Delivery room at the side of my mom and mother-in-law who had already been on their way to the hospital before I’d gone into surgery and were, thankfully, already in the waiting room by the time I was finally finishing up. Because Dagny had been taken to the NICU, I told my husband to go tend to her while the MOm’s and nurses tended to me.
By the time I was finished, my husband came back in the room to let me know that Dagny had been a little bit cold, so they were putting her into an Isolette in order to better be able to control her temperature. Her blood sugar levels had also been low, so they were going to have to monitor that with heel pokes every few hours until it stabilized itself. She, otherwise, looked good and they weren’t going to do any other tests with her at this point and would just start monitoring her behavior. The Neonatologist suspected it was possible that my dating was off as Dagny, to her, was looking more like a 34-week-old baby, not a 37-week-old. I’m still not convinced that was a possibility beause we had so many first trimester ultrasounds and Dr. Sampson and Dr. Ames (our high-risk doctor) weren’t super convinced of that possibility either.
After a couple of hours in the Labor + Delivery room, Nurse Kristin let me know they would be moving me to the Postpartum room where I would be spending the next four nights recovering, but first we would stop at the NICU so that i could see Dagny. Because I still didn’t have enough feeling in my legs to safely ride in a wheelchair, they had to wheel me into the NICu in my hospital bed. Talk about a grand entrance.
As we went through the glass double doors, I anxiously looked around, not wanting to miss the exact instant when I would spot my daughter. Wrapped up in a grey blanket and Winter hat, I immediately started crying when i spotted her and Nurse Hannah placed her in my arms. When I had held her in the Operating room, I had been so overwhelmed with emotion that I hadn’t been able to really stop and look at her. and based on how she reacted when she saw me, I think she felt the same way.
In every ultrasound picture we had of her, her little hands had always been pressed up to her face. i had always been curious if she would act the same way when she was out in the world and I learned quickly that she would. Nurse Hannah told me all of the encouraging news about our little peanut and handed me a bottle of donor breastmilk for her to drink. She guzzled down the 15 mL she was provided, keeping her eyes on me the entire time, and, subsequently meltied my heart into a massive puddle on the floor.
After about fifteen minutes, Nurse Kristin wheeled me back to my Postpartum Room so Christian and I could catch some sleep during the NICU’s Lullabytime and so we could meet our new nurse, Sue. At this point, I could start moving my legs around a little bit, but still didn’t have the full feeling back in them. We pulled Dagny up on our NicView screen (an online baby-cam that they have on her throughout her entire stay in the NICU so that we can watch her from our room) and promptly took a cat nap.
By the time I woke up about an hour later to pump, I was able to bend my knees, rotate my legs from my hips, and wiggle my toes; the tingling had disappeared from my legs and they were no longer heavy on the bed. My husband went back over to the NICU to spend some time with our daughter and Nurse Sue came back in and asked if I thought I was ready to try standing up and getting into a wheelchair so that I could go visit Dagny whenever I wanted.
we were off to the races.
I’ll spare everyone the rest of the details about recovery, but, should you ever find yourself getting a C-Section here are a few tips:
It’s not going to be as bad as everyone tells you it is. Truly. I was terrified ahead of time because I’ve heard awful stories from people about their experience (and because I’m a weinie with anything medical), but the whole process was way less scary than I thought. For the medical team, this is a routine surgery so they all moved about confidently and helped calm me down.
The spinal tap is a bizarre feeling, but you truly do not feel any pain once it kicks in and it kicks in fast. It hardly takes any time at all to get placed and didn’t hurt in the slightest. Really, it was a breeze. If you are having contractions ahead of going in c-section (especially pitocin-induced ones), trust me, you will be ready for the spinal tap no matter how nervous you are about it beforehand. You will still feel touch and pressure during the surgery which takes a bit of getting used to, but just breathe through it and trust that you are in very good hands. Remember, you’re about to meet your kid!
look to your support people (be it a nurse, one of the doctors, or your actual support person) to tell you how things are going. For me, it was incredibly helpful that my anesthesiologist was giving me updates about my daughter: telling me “your daughter will be here in about two minutes” and “thirty seconds” and “she’s here! She’s beautiful! Do you hear her crying?” helped me to focus on what we were all there for and not start freaking myself out over the surgery part of things. Nurse Kristin and Nurse Sue, along with Doctor Sampson, were all “we’ve got you girl” through the entire morning. And my doctor husband was keeping an eye on both of us to make sure both of his girls were being treated with the best of care.
be honest about your level of pain and your pain goals. The whole “rate your pain from 1-10” thing has never made any sense to me. I don’t know what a “Level 10” pain feels like (well, maybe after today I have a better idea) or what a “Level 1” pain feels like, so I asked my nurses how they would describe it so that I knew we were all speaking the same language. Be realistic about where you want to be; you won’t have zero pain either during labor or post-operatively, but you can certainly be comfortable enough to walk around, hold your baby, and go to the bathroom. Don’t be shy about taking medicine as recommended by your nurses and doctors throughout the entire process: they are not going to recommend anything that will be harmful to you or your baby. You just had a baby and major abdominal surgery. enjoy these first few days together, Don’t be miserable, take the meds.
Being able to go to the bathroom again will be the greatest gift of your life. That being said, learn from my mistake: leave your foley catheter in for the recommended 24-hours. I was feeling so great about twelve hours after my surgery (thank you spinal tap still swirling around) that my nurse let me take my catheter out early and, let me tell you … having to pee, but not physically being able to is the most distressing feeling ever … and it means you’ll have to be “straight-cathed” in order to relieve your bladder. Trust me, pregnancy and motherhood becomes a shameless enough experience as it is, you don’t need to add the adventure of laying on your bed in modified frog-pose while your body is forced to pee in a pan. Talk about over-exposure. And poor Nurse Taylore.
Ask for an ice pack. I didn’t do this until when nurse Cailee recommended it to me when I told her I wanted to start weaning off of the heavier pain meds as soon as possible. It really does help while you are sitting in bed. You can even tuck it underneath your binder to still give you comfort as you are walking around.
Buy high-rise underwear. While you are in the hospital they will give you the softest mesh underwear and you will be good as gold, but once you are out of the hospital you will not want to go back to your normal bikini cut pairs, trust me. One day of having to fold my underwear down to the point where it wasn’t even worth having them at all and I immediately found myself in the undergarments section of Target buying Hanes seamless High-rise underwear. You might feel like a grandma wearing them, but it sure beats being more uncomfortable than you need to be.