Three weeks ago, our little Rye was born. I get the best kind of chills as I write this, as she already feels like the perfect piece to our family puzzle. It feels good to slow down and reflect on her birth, how much we already love her, and how we’ve made it through the first three weeks! Practically the moment she was born, it felt like she just fit in the rhythm of our life. Her and I were so connected during my pregnancy, which may sound funny and I don’t really know how to explain it other than that. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I felt a bond with her unlike anything I’ve experienced with someone I’ve never met before! And, the bond between Finn and Rye when I was pregnant was really incredible too.
I’ve got lunch to make, and laundry to fold, but Adam and Finn are out doing errands and instead of doing those things, I’m making the time to write this. I want this story written down for many reasons - for us to have, for me to process her birth, for others to read and for Rye to read and cherish someday.
Everyone says, no two births are alike. When you have a borderline traumatic experience with your first birth and postpartum period (I talk about it a little bit here), you want nothing more than for the experience to be different. I actually have really good feelings about Finn’s birth at this point. Maybe odd since this birth was so different, but experiencing giving birth again has been cathartic in a sense.
Before I write the story of Rye’s birth, I feel the need to say one thing. If what happened to me with Rye’s birth had been my first experience with giving birth, I would have been devastated. So many women have c-sections the first time around and I know how incredibly hard it is to cope with, recover from, and grieve. I credit my contentment with what happened to two things - I have had so many friends who have had c-sections (probably more than those who haven’t!) and they are so strong and positive about it. They were faced with loss (of the birth experience they imagined), devastation, exhaustion, elation all in the same breath, yet processed it all and have incredible perspective in time. I knew I would be OK emotionally recovering from a c-section, and that Rye’s health wasn’t doomed because she didn’t get inoculated when traveling down the birth canal. Had this happened to me the first time, I would have been SO hung up on her not getting this inoculation, not getting to come into the world when she was ready, no immediate skin to skin, etc. Because I have so many strong women in my life who have processed their c-sections with me, I was able to spare myself the guilt, most of the heartache, the sadness that I inevitably would have felt the first time around.
Another important thing to note. From about a half an hour before I went in for a c-section, I came to peace with what was happening, with how Rye would enter the world. Each time I felt myself slipping down the “but what if, but why...” hole - I pulled myself out. I’m sure Google would have 101 reasons to tell me about why my baby was breech. 101 reasons why a vaginal birth is “healthier” than a c-section, and all of the potential side effects the medications could have on me and my baby. I like to know why things happen. I like to know what can happen, what to look for and expect. But with this, Googling “why are babies breech” was only going to make me feel bad about the way I had been sitting on our couch each night for 9 months, or beat myself up for not going drinking enough water. Peace. At peace with this unexpected outcome, has 100% been a major reason I feel so well, emotionally and physically...because we all know how draining stressing and beating ourselves up about things like this can be.
And so the story goes. I should have bit my tongue, but instead I got arrogant and told my brother in law who was visiting on the morning of my 38 week appointment, “I almost cancelled this appointment, it’s always the same thing and man I just wanted to stay in bed. They take my blood pressure, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, measure my belly and confirm she’s still in “perfect position.” “ I wouldn’t have actually cancelled, but in that moment, 2 days after Christmas - I just wanted a slow morning! Well, that came back to bite my because at my “routine appointment” I found out Miss Rye was breech, and not in perfect position like they had been telling me for weeks. I was alone at the appointment, and actually handled the news quite well. Again, because I have had so many friends that have courageously rocked having a c section, and the perspective that comes the second time around - I knew if this breech baby needed to be born via c-section, it would be OK.
I left the appointment and met up with my family as we had plans to go to Boston for the day - a Christmas week tradition! We went to one of our favorite spots - a place where you can bowl AND eat Flatbread pizza! Needless to say, I didn’t bowl. I did some research on ways to naturally flip a breech baby, because for whatever reason, my gut was telling me not to try a Version (a procedure that happens in the operating room where the OBGYN’s try to manually flip the baby). That afternoon I went to see a Chiropractor who uses the Webster Technique, and the following morning I went to see an Acupuncturist who uses Moxabustion to try to encourage the baby to flip.
Friday afternoon I had an ultrasound. After the ultrasound we met with a midwife, and the first thing she said was, “So, are you ready to have your baby tonight?” I immediately teared up, naturally, as it was so much to process and take in. I have to say, a small part of me knew this might happen. I hugged Finn extra tight before saying good-bye, and we brought our hospital bags with us. She explained to us that there were 3 reasons they were recommending a c-section that evening, 1. Because Rye was breech 2. Because my amniotic fluid was low. This was a concern to them, and because it was low they wouldn’t have been able to flip the baby even if I had wanted them to try. 3. They were concerned she was small. She was 6 pounds 2 ounces when she was born, but because the ultra sound isn’t precise, there was a concern she could have been less than 5 lbs, which at 38 weeks apparently is indicative that the baby isn’t getting what it needs from the placenta. We asked a lot of questions, cried a few tears, and were on our way to the hospital.
(Picture: Post Ultra Sound, Post Tears, Post happy call with Finny. Pre Surgery)
The parts that made me the most sad was that we told Finn we would be home, and now all of a sudden we wouldn’t be home until Monday or Tuesday. And, that we were taking this cozy little baby out before she was ready. I hated to think of her just suddenly making her entrance into the world before she was ready. But after talking to both Finn, and baby Rye in my belly about each of those concerns, I felt much better. Turns out Finn had the time of his life because Uncle B was visiting from MI, and I fully believe in my heart that Rye actually was ready to be born - she entered in such a calm, peaceful fashion - no indication that she was pissed we took her out too soon!
We arrived at the hospital and settled in a delivery room. We had about 3.5 hours before the surgery, because I had eaten a couple hours before and they wanted my stomach to be empty. It honestly was just the right amount of time for - us to ask all of our questions, talk to friends to find out what we should advocate for, for Adam to eat dinner and for my Mom to come and totally help me get in a relaxed state pre surgery. This was such a gift, my Mom coming. I wasn’t even trying to get myself into a “zen” state like I would have if I was in labor. But, just because I was having a c-section, didn’t mean I shouldn’t use the skills I had to be relaxed and in a good place.
I walked (!!) into the operating room, which was kind of wild in itself. They must have given me something in my IV to relax me, because I walked in quite happily (I mean I was about to meet my baby, so perhaps the ease of walking in was just that!). I hopped up on the operating table, and got a spinal. There were so many things to worry about pre-surgery - would the spinal take or would I have to get General Anesthesia? Was Rye ok in there? Were my platelet levels high enough (this was a concern early pregnancy, and luckily they were totally fine)? What if something went wrong in the surgery? What if I threw up (apparently it’s common)? How soon would Adam be able to come?
The spinal took so that was a huge relief. I layed down while they prepped for surgery. Adam was not allowed to come in until the spinal had taken and they were all set up. I found an incredible amount of comfort from the male anesthesiologist who was at my head the entire time. He was the only male in the room, so it’s kind of cool that he provided me so much comfort. After 15-20 minutes Adam came in and they had already begun the surgery. After about 10 minutes, they lowered the drape and the clear one was there, so I was able to see my Rye come into the world. I now have two best moments of life, when each of my two children were born. She was healthy and well, so they were able to delay cord clamping for 1 minute, something I really pushed hard for. She was brought to the warmer for her APGAR scoring (they don’t allow immediate skin to skin at the hospital I was at, but hopefully some day!). She was crying of course, and when Adam went over and put his hand on her belly and started talking to her, she calmed right down. They wrapped her up and brought her to meet her Mama. Oh man I had all the feels, even though I couldn’t move and could only manage to kiss her sweet cheeks. Adam and Rye stayed in the room a bit as I got stitched up, and then they went to the recovery room, where my Mom was, and Adam and Rye did skin to skin. I was really, really sad not to have immediate skin to skin with Rye, but man knowing that she had it with Adam is almost better. They have such a strong bond already!
We reunited in the recovery room, Rye and I got to have skin to skin, my Mom was there, my baby was healthy and all was right in the world. The majority of my fears were around taking her out too early and her not being ready, but most of this concern melted away when she was in my arms. In the coming days I felt such relief that she was here and all was well.
That night I didn’t sleep a wink. Adam snoozed, and so did Rye, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Unlike my first birth, I was well rested going into this, so I could easily stand to stare at her for the night.
We had some family visit on Saturday, and again on Sunday, but for the most part we kept it quiet in the hospital (much different from the first time!). We had time to connect, reflect on what happened, and even watch a little Friends on Adam’s Kindle! It truly is amazing the impact not being sleep deprived can have.
Welcome to the world our sweet, sweet baby Rye.
(I’m excited to share in the coming weeks about my postpartum experience <3)