Lucy James made her swift, unexpected, and early arrival at exactly 38 weeks (a week before her scheduled c-section, and 2 weeks before her due date) on May 13, 2020, at 7 pounds 4.9oz and 19.75 inches long.
A little back story. Our son was born at 37.5 weeks two and a half years ago via emergency c-section. I had gone into labor naturally with him, received an epidural and had my water broken by the doctor. While we were waiting for the epidural to kick in, they noticed his heart rate dipping with every contraction and made the decision for an emergency c-section. He was perfectly healthy, but sunny side up and the cord was wrapped around his shoulders. When I got pregnant with Lucy, the debate I wrestled with for my entire pregnancy was if I was going to attempt a VBAC or move forward with a planned c-section.
My doctors were in full support of either option. Truthfully, I was terrified to give birth naturally. I only knew delivery as an emergency c-section (that’s a blog post for another day), but the idea of pushing a baby out, potentially tearing and what that healing process could look like frightened me more than recovery from a c-section. I had heard from many that a scheduled c-section recovery was truly better than an emergency (at the time I could not fathom how that was even possible). I was not the pregnant mom with a detailed birth plan with either of my pregnancies. I just knew I wanted my babies healthy and for both of us to have a safe experience.
One thing I have learned with my two children, is that they have their own birth plans regardless of what we think or want to happen. You could even add a global pandemic to the mix…they do not care! I spent the last part of my third trimester riding a wave of emotions. There was (and still is) limited information regarding Covid and pregnancy. At the time of my delivery, they were only allowing one support person and they could not leave the hospital. No visitors allowed. If you tested positive for Covid, they would separate you and your baby. So, in a way, stressing out about Covid made me less stressed about how I was going to deliver. I just wanted to test negative for the coronavirus and make sure we were being as safe as possible with limiting any type of contact, staying home and quarantined, and wearing masks.
Some days were more stressful than others as more news reports would come out and eventually, I just stopped watching the news. I could not control what was happening and I could only focus on what was in front of us that day, and that helped my mental state tremendously. (Always easier said than done…especially when you have pregnancy insomnia or have to get up and pee for the third time that night and can’t go back to sleep!)
Lucy had her own game plan in mind and with that said, here is her birth story!
I woke up in the middle of the night on 5/12/2020 after only sleeping a few hours and felt a little off. No major labor pains but could not shake this feeling I had. I got up to use the restroom and then went back to sleep.
The following morning at 6am I felt a small “gush” of water. It did not happen like it does in the movies, so I made note of it, and continued about our day. It happened a few more times but I did not have any labor pain whatsoever or any spotting like I had with Jack. I had a few friends tell me of their experiences of thinking their water had broken but they had been mistaken, so I kept telling myself it was the same thing.
I had three conference calls throughout the day and even took a call to pre-register for my scheduled c-section for the following Wednesday. During Jack’s nap, Cody and I talked and decided it was a good idea to at least call the nurse’s line to inquire about what happens when you think you water breaks. They suggested we go to triage where they would monitor the baby and do a test to see if it was amniotic fluid.
I needed to wrap up one final work thing, have Jack wake up from his nap, Cody finish his conference call, and inform my mom that it was possibly “GO” time! Just a few things to wrap up in a short amount of time – haha!
Of course, Jack woke up just as I needed about ten more minutes of quiet time to get things sent off for work. Cody was busy packing up things in the car. We got on the road and headed to the hospital. I tried to remain as calm as possible but kept apologizing to Cody because there was no way my water had broken…I was not even having contractions.
We met my mom and transferred Jack (with tears of course) and said this was probably a false alarm and would keep her posted. He tends to wake up hard these days from naps and had no idea what was going on. We took one last family photo of the three of us and kissed him goodbye. As we walked into the hospital, we both acknowledged that we would have to figure out how to pick Jack up that night because, again, this was probably a false alarm, and we had just broke quarantine.
Once checked in, we got our temps checked (both when we walked into the triage area, as well as when we got to our room) and strapped up to the monitors. They administered the amniotic fluid test and checked to see if I was dilated. 1 cm and no contractions, but thankfully the monitor indicated she was moving around and had a healthy heart rate. Nothing is more calming than hearing your baby’s healthy heartbeat.
We waited about 30 minutes and our nurse, Shelly, came back in with the test results and said, “So, what do you think it is…?” Cody and I looked at each other (I was so prepared to hear that it was a false alarm) and she confirmed it was amniotic fluid and we would be checked in upstairs. It was officially happening; we were about to meet our baby girl! I told myself before we left the house that I needed to trust my intuition that I knew something was off and we were making the right call to head to the hospital. Lo and behold, we did the right thing.
Right before we went up to our room, we discussed with our nurse the option of VBAC vs. repeat c-section. I had not progressed at all with any contractions since 6am that morning, I was barely dilated to 1cm. We were all on the same page to do a repeat c-section to help prevent any infection or a long and tedious labor that may end a c-section regardless. This decision had weighed heavy on my mind throughout my entire pregnancy. The thought of having a VBAC scared me but the recovery of a c-section scared me just as much. Having the decision made for me in a sense, helped put me at ease with how Lucy’s birth was about to happen.
We got walked to our room (masks on) and got hooked up to an IV. They did swab me for Covid (it sucked, but it was necessary and mandatory). We wore masks anytime we were in the hallways and when we were safely back in our room after the birth. Thankfully, my test came back negative.
Walking to the OR was a surreal experience as well as being completely with it as I got my spinal after sitting myself up on the operating table. I kept my mask on until I asked if I could remove it right before the surgery started. It was hot and hard to breathe, and I was starting to feel light headed from the spinal tap. No one said anything, and so I kept my mask next to my head for the rest of the surgery until I put it back on when I was rolled back to our room.
Laying on the table, I talked with the nurse and the anesthesiologist about his little girl (again, surreal to carry on a conversation while they are cutting you open). I could feel them pulling and tugging and felt uncomfortable during the procedure, but never in any pain. Once they pull out your baby and you hear him or her cry, everything else fades away.
Lucy James made her debut at 7:51pm, just about three hours after our arrival to the hospital. She was 7lb 4.9oz and 19 3/4” long. Lucy was slightly bigger than her brother at birth, but just barely. Cody was able to cut the cord and held her before bringing her to me so we could meet for the first time. They let her lay on my chest as we were rolled back to our room. The only side effects from the medication I was on was that I was shaking a lot.
Once settled, we did skin-to-skin and she immediately latched to nurse. As much as we enjoyed having friends and family meet Jack in the hospital, we enjoyed the alone time with just the three of us this time around, getting to know our baby girl.
We choose to stay at the hospital for three nights and it was kind of like a vacation after being stuck at home for two months…with a toddler. Other than wearing masks if we left the room (I only did once to do a few laps in the hall to help with my recovery), our lovely nurses and doctors wearing PPE anytime they were in our room, everything felt normal and very similar to when we had Jack.
Recovery in those first three days at the hospital were night and day different from when I had Jack. This time, I knew how important it was to get up and walk around, so that was my goal. I knew it was going to suck getting in and out of the hospital bed (especially being on the shorter side and no longer having any abs to speak of). I knew how good it would feel to take that first shower and put on some make-up (did not do this with Jack). I knew I wanted to be able to get up and take some photos (I felt horrible when we had Jack so I had turned down the hospital’s photographer…now that wasn’t even an option). We ended up setting up a mini tripod with a Bluetooth remote to snap our first photos with Lucy.
So in the end, the mothers that I had spoken with were right. A scheduled c-section is better the second time around, and it has everything to do with your mindset and knowing what to expect and how to be in the best position to recover and heal. Do not get me wrong, it is hard, and it hurts. I could not lift anything other than Lucy for two weeks, and that was hard having a toddler at home. With that said, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Jack met Lucy the day after we got home. We kept Jack over at my mom’s house for one additional night while we were preparing for the four of us to be under one roof. Jack meeting Lucy may be one of my favorite moments of my entire life. Seeing my two babies together, realizing we made these two wonderful and sweet human beings. Just so much love and I did not know my heart could feel this way.