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Emily's Birth Story: A C-Section in a Pandemic

Updated: Jan 2

Post by guest writer: Emily Courtright

I will try to be as concise, but as detailed as possible. The day started out like any other day and I went to work. I was 37 weeks 2 days. I had been having some Braxton hicks but nothing that indicated labor was even remotely close and I was still feeling good. I went to my 37 week appointment (alone, thanks 2020). And the wrist cuff read a pretty damn high blood pressure. It should be noted I have “white coat syndrome” a big reason I chose not to deliver in a hospital so I’ve had multiple instances of moderately high readings only for it to go down shortly after. This time they read it manually for the second time and it was literally right on the dot to be marked as gestational hypertension (130/90) and this was the second reading. Gestational hypertension and signs of pre-eclampsia are conditions that do merit further evaluation and possible intervention.

I went to Fairview - Children’s Masonic as they have a midwife team there, to be monitored. The midwife at the birth center had notified them we would be arriving shortly after we went home and packed. It didn’t start off great, I was greeted in L&D by intake saying “are you ready to have a baby?” Actually, no. I am not. Of course, my blood pressure was sky high. I had no other symptoms of pre-e (headache, dizziness and my labs were normal— they look for protein in your urine). They recommended that I admit for induction. And again thanks to early pandemic months, our doula was not allowed in the hospital.

From the education I had received about gestational hypertension, I agreed to be admitted. The monitors showed Rowan was doing great, no signs of distress and I was having regular contractions. They started me on Cervidil to start hopefully dilating and ripening my cervix. This was a medication administered multiple times over 24 hours. Within that time, there were two attempts made to insert a foley bulb (also to help dilate). It was really 3 attempts as the 2nd resident needed to re-evaluate her methods. She placed it successfully and within three hours it fell out! Yay! I was feeling a bit more hopeful at this point.

At 10 am the next morning (admitted Tuesday at 4pm) they broke my water and had started Pitocin. This is when things really ramped up contraction-wise. The thing about being induced for pre-e/hypertension is that you’re also on an IV of Magnesium. I was lucky and didn’t feel too many side effects of the mag but it was really hard to stay motivated to move with all that sh** hooked up to me. I was back and forth from the ball to the toilet.

After about 6 hours I asked to be checked and if there was even a LITTLE bit of progression in any sense, I’d keep going. There wasn’t. (keep on mind checks aren’t always accurate, especially if you have different people assessing progression. Read more about cervical checks here).

After some talk with Landon, our Doula, I felt validated in my desire for the epidural (moving further away from our birth plan) because I really felt I wouldn’t be able to push him out if I kept going the rate I was going out of pure exhaustion. The epidural went great and I found some relief. I started to feel pressure and was hopeful this meant my body was relaxing and we were progressing. Again, another nurse checked and there was no change (6cm, 80% effaced, -2 station).

Later the doctor stated she wanted to do internal monitoring as they didn’t understand how I was not progressing given the consistency of my contractions (maybe he just wasn’t ready). The results came back as “the contractions weren’t strong enough” and I was officially deemed as failure to progress.

This is when the OB said she recommended a c-section. I’ll give her credit that it was very gentle and was not approached in the way of “you NEED to do this” and she left the room so my husband and I could talk. However, it didn’t take much talking as, I knew this was coming, hours before she spoke the words. We were going on days of labor and I just wanted to see our son.

I signed the papers.

Was prepped and wheeled to the OR where Sam met me about 15 minutes later. Since I had already had the epidural, this did speed up the prep process in prepping for surgery. I’ll never forget the surgical tech who met me in the OR who said “I’m right here baby, we’re gonna have this baby and I’m not going anywhere”. Sam and I took our last picture as just us. And surgery started.

It went just fine and at 11:55 pm Rowan greeted me with strong lungs over the curtain. For a while, all of the scary feelings went away - I did feel at peace. He came to my chest, though he was removed shortly after - I was so nauseous from everything (tip: instead of having babe be taking from you, you can say, “I’m feeling a little nauseous, so I’m going to have my partner/doula hold the baby on my chest”). Rowan went to meet his dad and have his first picture taken.

To be honest the rest is sort of a blur. We got to recovery, decided on his name, Rowan Wilder. At 3 am we finally go to our room. And he was fine in his bassinet after they transferred me to the bed but after the nurse did all our checks, he immediately went on my chest until the sun rose.

I hope this not only helps those who have also birthed via belly but offers a lens that can help prepare us in an instance that we are faced with an unplanned c-section. Often times we are under the impression that this is an example of an emergency c-section, when in reality it did need to happen soon but MOST of the time, there is time to prepare and ask questions.

Our stories are powerful so I invite you to share yours in the comments.



To learn more about the interventions Emily mentions in her story, register for our next Preparing for Childbirth class.

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