This post has been 4 months in the making. I've worked on it off & on (which makes sense when you see how long it is)...but it's complete now and here it is! For those that want to see pictures without all the text - scroll to a slideshow at the very end of this post.
Our third sweet baby boy was born June 23rd. We named him Maxwell Grant (middle name the same as my maternal grandfather). I had really been hoping to do a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), but it was looking like he'd be another big guy, and we didn't want a repeat of how things went with Lincoln. So, we scheduled a repeat section for a few days before his due date. I didn't go into labor on my own, so we went in on the morning of the scheduled c-section. For documentation sake (and the 1 or 2 of you that want all the details)...here are all the details on how the things went with the birth:
The 23rd was a Thursday. I got up promptly at 5:00 am to shower and get ready (minus breakfast, of course). We kissed the boys goodbye, snapped a couple quick belly shots and then scooted out of the house with just enough time to get to the hospital on time at 7:30 (thanks to landing a parking spot right in front of the entrance)!
Here are the belly shots that we got before heading to the hospital:
A shot of the hospital as we were walking in:
Me walking in with our suitcase (and my cord blood collection kit)...you can tell that I got significantly more nervous once we actually arrived at the hospital:
Since we had previously attended a tour of the maternal/fetal area of the hospital, we knew right where to go upon arrival. When we got up to the area to check in we were told to take a seat and that they'd be right with us. There was a girl there checking in who, although she was in labor, was cool as a cucumber (at least she appeared calm). She told the women that she was placing the child for adoption and she gave the adoptive parents first names. At this point all my nervousness and pregnancy-hormones spilled over and tears began streaming down my face. I'm sure anyone that saw me (and my large belly) figured that my tears were either due to my own pain or fear of what I was about to endure. At that point all I was feeling was immense gratitude for Nicole (Noah's birthmom) and all that she had gone through to bring our sweet son into the world. Nothing that she went through was for herself. In the end of this difficult pregnancy, and recovery from the c-section, I would be blessed to have another beautiful baby...she endured her challenges knowing that she would be placing her precious bundle into someone else's arms. Every now and then a flood of these emotions (for Nicole) comes over me, and it was just a unique time for me to feel them as I sat there in the hospital ready to bring a child into our family...and was watching this birthmother. I just wanted to run out onto the floor and plead with the staff to take extra good care of this sweet girl.
After not too long we were taken back to my room where I was prepped (and where I would recover post-surgery also).
While getting prepped I had two nice women asking me questions, giving me papers to sign, making me comfortable, and then digging around in my arm to get an IV in. It wasn't the smoothest IV that I've ever received...ok it was pretty bad, but what can you do?
While in that room (room number pictured left) they also drew blood for labs the hospital needed as well as to send with my cord blood donation. I got really nauseous at one point, but luckily I didn't throw up (until I was back in the room post-surgery that is). Eventually, Dr. Francois came in and checked on me, and then my anesthesiologist (Dr. Pace) came to introduce himself and answer any questions. Ironically one of the main questions that we had for him was if our he would ok our photographer being in the OR. He said no, and started explaining hospital policy of 1 support person being allowed in the OR. I tried to stay calm. We asked if it made any difference that my husband is a surgeon (is familiar with OR protocols and sterile field, etc)...and that our photographer is a professional and is happy to stay back out of the way to shoot the pictures. We mentioned that Dr. Francois had given her ok, but that we respectfully recognized that he needed to be comfortable with it also to make an exception (which is what happened with our last c-section also, we explained). He (thankfully!) relented and gave permission for her to come in to the operating room! Wahoo! I was so grateful. (Which reminds me, I need to remember to send him a thank you card...)
After that we were notified that we might get bumped to the next time slot due to someone in labor that unexpectedly needed to go in for a section (which I can totally understand). However, I was all ramped up by this point and just wanted to get that show on the road. About the time that I resigned myself to waiting a while - they came to take me back to the OR (I wasn't bumped after all). At this point I got super nervous and everything began just going so fast. Here are some pictures of me waiting outside the OR suite (getting progressively more nervous as the minutes ticked slowly by):
Before I knew it I was taken into the OR (without Mark, which I really didn't like) to get my spinal block. Here he is peeking through the OR window while I get my spinal:
It went pretty smoothly, but really...who doesn't get a bit nervous about something like that?
They transferred me to the OR table, gave me oxygen, and began doing all sorts of final preparations for surgery. I was really relieved when Mark was able to come in and be next to me. I didn't mind at all that he wanted to stand and watch more of the surgery this time than he did last time, it was just good to have him next to me. Before I knew it Mark informed me that they'd already started the surgery, which is always good to hear when you haven't felt anything.
After not too long I started feeling an extreme amount of pressure though (more than normal), and I began experiencing some really uncomfortable referred pain in my right shoulder. It got more and more painful and the sensation was moving across my chest. (In the picture below Dr. Francois is reaching inside my belly for the baby) I didn't want to have to get anything for the pain because I knew that it would make things foggy for me, but it got to the point that I really needed something, so Dr. Pace gave me something which helped fairly quickly...but it made me feel so sleepy and heavy. And so I was more grateful than ever to have a photographer there to help me capture those moments for later...besides I would never have been able to see these things over the sheet as he was born:
Max was posterior (facing up) so you can see his hand reaching up as they are pulling him out...
Clamping off the cord as they lift him out...watching as air fills his lungs for his first lusty cry...suctioning out his mouth...
Before I knew it, Max was lifted up into the world and he immediately began to cry (which was so good to hear):I was overcome with emotion and began to cry. And cry. It wasn't the loud, ugly kind of cry...but it was the kind of cry so deep that it made me shake. Relief. Gratitude. And overwhelming love for this little person on the other side of the blue sheet that I had yet to even lay eyes on.
After Dr. Francois handed off our baby directly to this nurse, she walked him over and showed him to me/us... Soon after that I was so sleepy that it took everything in me not to just close my eyes and go to sleep. They were cleaning Max up, weighing him, etc and Mark held back the sheet and had to remind me to look over and watch at one point. I am so glad that our photographer was there to capture these memories so much more vividly that my foggy memory would have allowed me to (I'll share plenty more of those pictures in a moment). I do remember Mark holding Max up near my face for me to see him. I remember being happy and oh so tired. I remember wanting to hold Max, but knowing that I couldn't (were my arms tied down on the other side of that blue sheet or did the medication just make that feel too heavy and impossible?)...I remember wanting to kiss Max's sweet face, but I had an oxygen mask on my face. Mark could tell how sad that made me, so he held Max's soft little face up to rest on my forehead. I loved that. And I loved that Mark realized in that moment (without me being able to articulate it) that doing that would mean a lot to me. It did.
Other than that I just remember feeling like things were ok. People weren't rushing around super-focused like they were with my emergengy c-section (when Linc was born and wouldn't breathe for a while). Nurses cleaning Max up wore their yellow gowns & blue gloves and were efficient, but not rushed. Max was born at 9:23 am, weighed in at 9 pounds, 8.9 ounces and measured 21 & 3/4 inches long. Head circumference was 15 inches. He came out wanting to suck, and made tons of sucking motions with his tongue and lips...I heard more than one person comment on that while they were cleaning him up. Also - Mark had plenty of time to hold Max while they finished up things with my surgery, which was so different from Lincoln's birth when they only had time to stop for 2-3 seconds to hold him up for Mark & I to see him before rushing him away.
So, here are several more photos that I cherish from the rest of our time in the OR. Thank you again so much, Barb for capturing them...
I love his sweet little toes...and notice in the following series of pictures his sucking face, relaxed for a moment, and then pulling his hands up to his face and turning onto his left side (his favorite position)...Mark bringing Max over for me to see him...
I'm so glad that we have some of these first moments of Max & his daddy together captured...
So, even though things weren't ideal with my referred pain and needing medication that made me drowsy...it was such a better experience than last time. In fact, we even got to bring our new, precious bundle with us to my recovery room. I only remember a few things from recovery. I remember that I got nauseous and threw up...and that I was so tired that I didn't even care that our photographer was there while I puked (nice of her not to take pictures of that part). I remember the cute, yellow hat Max was wearing. I remember them monitoring Max's blood sugar levels. And I remember a nurse putting Max up to me to nurse and him latching on immediately. Even with how tired I was I remember how shocked that I (and everyone else) was with how easily he took to nursing. That was nice...and it was so nice that it didn't hurt (like last time). Here are a few shots from the recovery room:
It was only about 90 minutes or so before they moved us to my room where I would stay for the next 4 days. Once settled there Mark gave my mom a call to come and bring Noah and Lincoln over, so that the three of them could meet Max!
We admired baby Max for a bit while he slept, and then we both rested until our entourage arrived...
I was so glad to see them all when they got there. It was so cute how the boys burst into the room, each with a balloon in hand, with gigantic smiles on their faces. They were so excited to see this long awaited new baby.
Grandma getting a chance to meet Max:
After they each had an opportunity to greet the baby, Lincoln caught us off guard with something that he did. He asked me where my belly was. I told him that it was gone (well, mostly it was anyway)! He got a bit of a skeptical/concerned expression on his face and asked to see. I held the sheets down against my abdomen, but he protested saying he wanted to SEE my belly. So, we showed him under my sheets and gown that my big belly was gone......and then he burst into tears. He began to absolutely sob the saddest little cry ever. We were all caught off guard, and tried to start explaining that it was baby Max that made the bump in my belly and that he was out now, but he no longer wanted to talk about Max...he was grieving the loss of my bump. Finally it clicked to us that he had actually bonded with his reality of this baby during my pregnancy...my belly. He kissed it, sang to it, and talked to it every day. Half way through my pregnancy he decided that he too had a baby in his belly, so that shared camaraderie (although make-believe) was something sad for him to mourn the loss of too. We hadn't ever really thought of preparing him that the belly would go away when the baby was born. Mark held Lincoln while he sobbed and cried that he wanted my belly back - it was cute, but really sad. Luckily kids are really resilient and Linc got over things quickly, but it was just an unexpected little response that we got from him. Since that moment our main struggle from Linc in regards to his brother is to keep him from kissing and hugging on him too much.
From the minute that Noah saw Max he has been in love with him. Simply smitten. He was so excited to hold him (although he was a bit nervous about hurting him), and he was also excited to see his hair. That first day and several times since then he's said, "I just love him so much." Here are some photos of his first time holding his new baby brother:
One thing that Noah was looking forward to doing after Max was born was to touch his umbilical cord. Noah had asked me lots of questions about the cord blood donation I would be doing (after he'd seen the donation kit I had packed to bring to the hospital with us)...so after talking a lot about that, he'd asked if he could touch the umbilical cord when he saw Max. He remembered about that and so Mark helped him touch it. With it only being a couple hours old it was still rubbery and strange feeling, so Noah jerked his hand back after touching it. He wasn't anticipating that since I'd explained that it just dries up and falls off eventually. I think he expected that it would've already been dry by the time he could feel it.
The rest of that first day I continued feeling pretty crummy...nauseous, itchy, and tired. Not as bad as last time though. That was basically my mantra after the surgery..."It hasn't been as bad as last time."
The timeline of the 4 days I spent in the hospital is a bit blurry as to what happened when, but there are still several things I want to write about. I'm just not sure as to the chronology. First - visitors. Last time (when Lincoln was born) we had lots of visitors come to the hospital...lots of friends and family. This time, other than my mom coming to visit with the boys (which I loved), the only visitor that we had was a lady from church named Emily. I had worked with her in the primary presidency at church and she works at the hospital (one floor down from where I was). She came by to visit after her shift ended on two different days, and that was really nice. It was fun to have someone to chat with while Mark stepped out, and I enjoyed being able to show off Max too!
Here are a few pictures of Noah and Max on one of my mom's visits with the boys:
Another thing that was different this time was that this hospital doesn't have a baby nursery (other than a NICU for the babies that need it). The baby rooms in with you the whole time. I didn't know what I would think about that, but I really enjoyed it. I liked having him right there next to me, and even though I didn't get much sleep during my stay at the hospital, I feel like I had a better feel for what our little guy would need when we got home. Of course it did help a lot that Mark stayed with me the whole 4 days that I was in the hospital - it would have been a lot more challenging to do without him there.
Here are a few shots of Max from my view (the side of his bassinet)...
A video clip of Max sleeping (1 day old):
A couple shots of Max (2 days old) and daddy...
And a couple more random shots of Max. This first one cracks me up...it's not posed. Mark took it joking that it's a genetic propensity to sleep like that because I often do and Mark gets an elbow in the chin...
Video clip of Max (3 days old):
The nurses at Scottsdale Shea were great. Helpful and nice. I never felt like I was bothering them or anything. Plus, you usually do like the people that bring you pain relief (meds). The hospital was also nice. Mark actually had a decent place to sleep. All their rooms are private rooms with large bathrooms. The view out my window was a grassy area with a large tree. We had a tv with lots of stations and movie choices, and a dvd player. Also, I loved that patients order their meals from a menu to be delivered to their room whenever they want. I really enjoyed being able to choose what to eat and when to eat it.
The physician who was on-call from our peds group while we were at the hospital was Dr. Jennifer Caplan. She was nice and knowledgeable and we liked her. She did his circumcision using the Gomco clamp and she did a great job. I didn't go with Mark to watch, but I think that the whole thing was still more traumatic for me than it actually was for Max. I was glad to hear that he was fine during the procedure.
As for my pain, incision, etc...As mentioned, I could definitely tell that things were better this go around. I'm sure that part of that is a result of knowing what to expect, but I also think that not laboring for 20 hours before major surgery helped with the recovery. Plus, I was not recovering in two places this time. I had also done some reading about quicker recovery rates for sections when people are up and mobile sooner after surgery. So, I was sure to be at least up moving the day of surgery and out walking the halls the next day (that was not the case for me last time). Don't get me wrong, things still hurt - but when I stayed up on my pain meds and ibuprofen then it was tolerable. Nursing has even better better (meaning less painful) this time around. The first 2-3 days it didn't even hurt at all. Things got sore after that, but then I was careful of making sure that he got a good latch and it's prevented some of the terrible pain that I had last time...which is good because this kid nurses a LOT.
Other random things that I want to mention: Mark brought me a bouquet of yellow flowers, including sunflowers. That was fun because when Lincoln was born my mom helped Noah bring me a bouquet of sunflowers while I was in the hospital. I also loved that Mark thought to get a card and some chocolates to leave for the nurses as a thank you. I love that I have a husband that not only thinks of doing thoughtful things like that, but that he actually does them.
The last pictures that I have to share on this post are of me in my hospital room...showing off our new little guy:
Lastly...things that I noticed (and jotted down) about Max during those first few days: His perfect, pouty lips! Soft baby skin. Long fingers & toes. From day one he rolled onto his left side to sleep. Cute little dimple in his left cheek. He's got a serious set of lungs...when he cries, he really hollers! He loves to cuddle. He wouldn't take a binky at all (until recently...and now only if you hold it in for him). We've wondered if those are curls that we see in those soft, brown locks (that have lightened up a lot over the last few months). And if I'd let him nurse 24/7 - he would!
When Max was born we had no idea that just 5 weeks later (while I was still finishing recovering from the c-section) that Mark would be taking a new job out of state, we'd make an out of state move, and that we would be buying and moving into our first home...all while trying to figure out how to juggle sleep deprivation and the colic that Max had the first few months (along with a 3 & 5 year old). Things have been a whirlwind, and there's been a lot of change to adapt to...but it's been good change. All good changes. And I feel so blessed.
June 23, 2011 Scottsdale, Arizona on PhotoPeach