As I’m preparing for my second c-section in less than a week (I don’t mean 2 c-sections in less than a week, I mean that my second c-section is scheduled for less than a week from today ), I figured it was time to tell Isabella’s (pronounced eesabella with a long ‘e’ sound) birth story.
Isabella Promise is our 10th baby and this was my first c-section. Mark and I made the decision to have a c-section because with 6 of our 9 other births we had faced shoulder dystocia, an often serious complication. Of our first 9 children, 4 suffered broken bones and one (Nick) suffered a brachial plexus injury.
As we learned more about Nick’s injury and spoke with doctors who are specialists in the surgeries and therapies necessary to help these children regain use of their arm, we learned that shoulder dystocia comes with more than a risk of broken or paralyzed arms. Shoulder dystocia can also result in brain damage and/or death for the infant. As a matter of fact, the hospital tested 3 of our newborns for oxygen deprivation because of the complications associated with their births.
I will never forget the brachial plexus specialist we visited up in Pennsylvania. He leaned over, looked me right in the eye, held my hand and said me,
You have been very lucky. Generally, when I hear a story like the story of your first child’s birth it’s because the family has brought me their second born who is severely injured and frequently suffering from brain damage. The fact that you’ve had 6 dystocias in 9 births and only one permanent injury is miraculous. But you should never again risk a vaginal birth.
Even after this, I struggled with the idea of choosing a c-section.
My heart is in natural, home birth. (Our 8th and 9th were both born at home.) I believe that God created a woman’s body to safely give birth and that staying as close to this design as possible is best for both mother and baby. I also realize that we live in a fallen world and because of man’s sin we experience sickness and death and bodies that do not work according to the perfect way God designed them.
So after much prayer and many reassurances from my husband that this was the best decision for us, the c-section was scheduled.
Something that you should know about me, I struggle with a lack of faith that demonstrates itself in fear and anxiety. My internal dialogue goes something like this,
You’ve been blessed with healthy children. You were raised in a Christian home. You have a wonderful marriage. You are a wicked sinner and deserve none of this, so _______(something bad) is going to happen.
Rather than believing God when He says that He loves to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11), rather than believing that ALL things work together for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28), and rather than obeying Him when He tells me to be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:4-7) I often struggle with fear and anxiety.
So on Monday evening, the night before the c-section, I sit in tears in my bedroom and wrestle with what I know in my heart to be true and what my mind is telling me.
My parents arrive later that evening and after a quick ‘hello’, I want to be alone. That night I sleep some, pray lots and enjoy the quiet of the house and the beauty of the moon as it shines in at our living room window.
At 3:30am I decide that it is ‘late’ enough to get up and get ready in order to be at the hospital at 5:30. I take my time and continue to pray for calmness and peace. It’s nice to finally be able to do something other than wait.
While Mark gets ready, I make certain that this post is live , read/respond to comments and say hello to the children as they straggle out of their bedrooms, unable to sleep on this BIG day.
At 5, Mark and I hug the kids and head to the hospital.
We need to stop at a drug store for something or another and I am thankful for Mark’s steady hand in my shaky one.
After a little confusion about where we’re supposed to park, we enter the hospital right on schedule, register and make our way to the floor.
The first order of business is an IV. The nurse tries to get one into my usually very easy to get veins and fails. Another unsuccessful try and two huge bruises on my arms, the internal dialogue starts.
“I’m here for major surgery and we’re having problems with a simple IV.”, says my brain. “It’s only going to get worse.”
“Lord I believe, please, I beg, help my unbelief.” says my heart.
Mark and I are left alone and he holds me and prays for me and the baby. God is so good!
Dr. V (my OB) enters the room and asks how I’m doing. “I’m nervous.”, I say, and begin to cry. Dr. V gives thanks to God for this new blessing and asks for safety. God is good.
Since the baby had been transverse, they do a quick ultrasound to check her position and she is a simple breech, much better for the c-section. God is good.
At 7:18 we leave the room. It’s surreal to walk down the hall and realize that in a few short minutes Dr. V will be cutting into my abdomen. When we get to the OR and find out that Mark has to wait in the hall while the anesthesiologist puts in the spinal. I’m not prepared for this and begin to shake as I walk into the OR alone.
“Dear God, please give me your peace that passes understanding.”
I sit on the edge of the table and shake uncontrollably. The nurse stands in front of me saying things I’m sure are meant to be reassuring. I continue to shake and pray.
And then I remember, I remember that there are hundreds of people praying for me. I KNOW that God is in control and I feel God’s peace sweep down over me like a curtain. I stop shaking immediately and am calm and able to smile at the nurse.
Within minutes I’m lying on the table and Mark is holding my hand. We share a secret smile at the empty bassinet at the side of the room.
After seven hospital births the bassinet has come to mean that labor is almost over. I don’t think that Mark has ever failed to point out when they bring it in and remind me (in between contractions) “Look honey, it’s getting close. They’re getting ready for the baby. You’re doing a great job and are almost finished.”
Dr. V is in the room. He sits down and begins to hum. Mark and I hold hands and pray as “Amazing Grace” comes to our ears. Dr. V continues to hum.
At 7:43 we catch our first glimpse of Bella and Mark leaves me to greet his daughter at the bassinet. Minutes later he’s holding her beside my head. The anesthesiologist says to me, “Don’t you want to hold her?”
I can hold her? Of course I want to.
And the next thing I know I’m falling in love with a beautiful new life in my arms as Dr. V continues to hum “Amazing Grace” while sewing up the passage that God graciously provided to bring our sweet Bella safely into our arms.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T’was Grace that taught…
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear…
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares…
we have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me…
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be…
as long as life endures.
When we’ve been here ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
then when we’ve first begun.
Isabella Promise, 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 inches long.
At 8:17, exactly one hour after I’d walked down the hall toward that formidable OR, Bella and I are wheeled back into the room.
My recovery from this c-section was amazing. (At least that’s what the nurses said.) As for me, it was certainly an easier recovery than several of our natural births.
I never had any nausea (since I’m allergic, I wasn’t given any Morphine which can cause nausea), itching or other side-effects from the spinal or other pain medications. I was up and walking within 3 or 4 hours of surgery (another benefit of not having the longer lasting Morphine). Thank you, Tisha, for the advice to move as much as possible as soon as possible.
I felt terrific as long as I took my pain medication every 4 hours.
Within 72 hours of surgery, I was off of all the prescription pain medication and was just using over-the-counter Motrin (or was it Tylenol?).
My parents brought the children over mid-morning to meet their sister and we celebrated with birthday brownie.
Bella and I came home from the hospital on Thursday morning.
and were enthusiastically greeted by our houseful of children.
As we look forward to another C-Section six days from now, I’m grateful to remember God’s goodness to us in our first and praying to rejoice and trust in His perfect plan for our second.
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