Pregnancy & Baby

Our Planned C-section Birth Story

Our planned c-section birth story 2

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Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
John 11:4

He abstained from going, not because He did not love them, but because He did love them. Divine love could alone hold back… until the angel of pain had done her work.

Streams in the Desert, September 28

Our Birth Story Background

I knew I would write about our birth story, but needed time to process everything that happened. There is much more to the story than what David and I have written about here so far. But we decided to give ourselves a little time before I attempted to write about all of it on my blog.

If you are looking for a wonderful, natural birth story… you won’t find it here. If you are looking for one of those magical, no medical intervention stories where the baby arrives assisted by a midwife at home after a brief labor and a few pushes and the mother and baby magically bond the second the baby is put on the mother’s stomach… well, you should probably surf on. And if you are looking for assurance for a non-complicated c-section story… well, you might want to surf on, too. But, if you would like to read an honest planned c-section birth story of God’s providence and graces in the midst of difficult circumstances… you might be blessed and encouraged by something here.

The verse and quote at the top of this post is the entry on my Streams in the Desert calendar for September 28 – Caroline’s birthday. I found it after we were home from the hospital and thought it was such an appropriate thought for that day. If you have never read about our experience with childlessness or the discovery that we were expecting a baby, you might want to read those first in order to understand the story behind this birth story.

The Night Before and Morning Of

The day before my scheduled c-section I had my last NST and OB visit. While at the appointment, I discussed with my doctor what would happen if I “crashed” while I was fasting for the surgery. (I had diet-controlled gestational diabetes with my pregnancy.) Usually if I started to crash I would drink a glass of grape juice and that would quickly remedy the problem. But with no food or water for before the surgery, that wasn’t going to be an option. He told me to eat a big meal just before midnight with lots of protein and fat (so it would stick with me longer). Then just before 3:00 a.m. I could have some water. He told me to monitor my readings and if they started to head south, I could go to the hospital early so they could monitor my levels and start me on some sugar via an IV if necessary.

It probably goes without saying that doing all this did not make for a restful night of sleep. We got to bed around 1:00 a.m. and once I was awake at 3:00 to drink my last water it was basically impossible for me to sleep again. I was so concerned about my glucose numbers that I finally gave up sleeping and just found things to do. My numbers fell at a safe but steady rate until around 7:00 a.m. At that point they were getting low enough that I called the hospital to tell them I would be coming in an hour and a half early just to be safe. So we headed to the hospital and checked in just after 8:00.

There were several things I prayed about specifically before the delivery and one of them was that God would put the right people on at the right shifts so we would have really good nurses and staff members. Starting with the OB triage nurses, we had wonderful care. God abundantly answered that prayer. The two nurses who took care of me before, during and after the c-section were both great. They were in and out to check on me, but mostly David and I just had to wait around from 8:30 until my scheduled time at 11:30. I dozed off and on and David tried to read, ate an early lunch, and just generally kept me company.

Around 11:00, the anesthesiologist’s nurse came in to consult with me. I expressed my greatest concern regarding the c-section – that the spinal would take too well and my hyper-sensitive body would be so drugged that I would not be mobile very soon after the surgery and/or that the numbing would come up too high and I would have a suffocating feeling. She told me that they could not use less medication and explained why. (I don’t remember now, but it seemed plausible to me at the time.) So I still had some misgivings about the whole spinal thing, but trusted that they knew what they were doing.

C-section Complications

When it was time to start, the nurses walked me across the hall to the operating room. David stayed behind in the other room to get his scrubs on and wait for the nurses to come back for him once I had received my spinal. I hopped up on the table and met the anesthesiologist, a very experienced doctor who has been doing this for over 20 years. He seemed very nice and I was comfortable with him from the start. It should have been apparent to me rather quickly, however, that something wasn’t right because my spinal insertion was taking too long. The anesthesiologist worked on me quite a while, longer than I know it should have taken. His nurse kept assuring me that I was doing great. My OB even came over at one point to see what was going on. Finally, he declared me ready and they had me lay down. At that point David came in and things started moving very quickly.

Several times the anesthesiologist poked me at various points and asked me if I could feel this or that. I could, although at times it was not very strong. Finally they decided to start and I was glad because we were very anxious to finally meet our little girl! David kept me updated regarding what was going on. I had read tons of c-section birth stories and articles online so I was very educated about what to expect, how long things would take, etc. I did notice that it seemed to be taking longer to get Caroline out than I would have expected based on my reading (something that would make more sense later on).

Unfortunately, my concerns about the spinal taking too well were the least of my worries. What happened in reality was that my spinal did not take well at all. While my OB and the resident were working at delivering Caroline, I began to feel discomfort. I remember them telling me that she was here and someone announcing the time of birth. I also remember looking over at the table and seeing Caroline getting cleaned and such. David went over, took pictures, and gave me a report. By the time he got back, however, I was in a lot of pain. I remember asking David to pray for me and I remember him praying although I don’t remember anything he said in his prayer. I remember my OB saying something medical that was obviously meant for the anesthesiologist. At that point I was in so much pain I was crying out and, apparently, moving quite a lot.

I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up in the recovery room. David told me that I was moving so much because of the pain it was making it difficult for my OB to put me back together. At first they gave me the gas where you are awake and can communicate but you don’t remember anything afterwards. Even that was not sufficient to make me stop moving so they eventually had to give me a general anesthesia. David had to leave at that point and wait in the maternity waiting room until the nurse came to get him and took him to the recovery room where Caroline was ready and waiting. David was in the recovery room for a while with Caroline until they brought me in.

I’ve had a previous surgery with a general anesthesia so when I woke up in the recovery room I understood at least on some level what had happened. It was really hard for me to talk because they had put a tube down my throat when they put me out and my throat was raw because of it. David was there with Caroline and a short time later when I was a little more awake my parents and my in-laws came in to meet their new grand-daughter. I remember bits and pieces of that time, but I was still fairly drugged so parts of it are blurry. I’m thankful David took pictures of that time because it helps me to remember what happened.

Recovery and Ileus

My recovery went pretty well at first. The pain was very well managed between shots and a patient activated morphine drip. I was in no pain, just discomfort. However, my stomach was still extremely bloated a day and a half later. I literally looked like I was eight months pregnant. I knew it was normal to go home looking five months pregnant from the swelling and such, but I was still huge. My OB determined I had Ileus, a complication when your intestines basically shut down. It can happen after surgeries, including a c-section, but it is not a common complication with c-sections.

Because of the Ileus, I was put on no food and no water for 24 hours. I was also given other treatments to help resolve the issue. The no food part wasn’t a big deal, but the no water was really hard. I was on IVs for my fluids so there was no risk of dehydration or anything, but it was really hard to not drink anything for that long. Thankfully the 24 hour rest did the trick and I only had to stay one extra day in the hospital. It can take up to two weeks to recover from Ileus so it was a tremendous blessing that my situation resolved itself in only 24 hours. Once I had eaten two meals and did ok with those, I was cleared to go home.

God’s Grace is Evident

There were many ways we saw the grace of God in our birth experience. Our prayer for good nurses was abundantly answered. In particular, we had two nurses on twelve hour shifts over the weekend so we had the same two nurses a number of times. They were so kind and helpful with all of the situations I was dealing with and we were thankful for them.

I was also very grateful that I had the OB I did. I had switched doctors when I found out I was pregnant because I wanted to work with one doctor through the entire process, not work with a group practice and end up with potluck when it came to the delivery. My OB was a blessing in that he took seriously my concerns and looked out for my best interest each step of the way. This included strongly recommending a c-section because of the high probability I could not deliver normally. His advice was accurate as he was able to determine during the c-section that I would not have been able to complete a delivery, especially in light of the fact that Caroline’s head size was in the 90th percentile. So that was a choice well made.

I am thankful that I had wrestled through the breastfeeding issue beforehand and had decided to formula feed from the beginning. With all of my complications it would have been very difficult to even try breastfeeding. I was glad that choice was already made and I didn’t have to wrestle with that decision when I was exhausted from the complications and highly hormonal like all women after a delivery.

I had also prayed that I would have a room with a nice view. That might sound trivial, but I did not want to spend four days looking out the window at a brick wall. I was put in one of the corner suites with a large picture window with a beautiful view of the south end of the city and the sky. I was so thankful that God answered this prayer with this room.

I had asked people to pray that Caroline would not have any complications because of the gestational diabetes. God graciously protected her and she was born without any complications and required no interventions.

So there were many, many reasons to be thankful in addition to just making it safely through the delivery and having a beautiful daughter to love.

And Yet…

On the other hand, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by parts of our birth experience. Yes, the most important thing is that we had a safe delivery and that Caroline and I were both fine in the end. I am truly thankful for that. However, there were things that did disappoint me.

One in particular was because I had had the tube down my throat during the delivery, my voice was not normal for about a day and a half. I had so looked forward to talking to Caroline after the delivery and seeing her recognize my voice. I had spent a lot of time talking to her while she was in the womb, telling her some of the same things over and over. It was well into the second day before she even showed any signs of recognizing my voice. This is in contrast to the fact that she recognized David’s voice right away. I am thankful Caroline knew her daddy’s voice, but it was a great disappointment to me to not be able to bond with her immediately after the delivery. I missed all of her quiet alert time immediately following the birth. I think in some ways she is bonded more to David than she is to me and the selfish part of me is disappointed by that. It makes sense because he spent far more time with her in the beginning, but it is still disappointing.

It was also disappointing that I don’t remember so much of what happened surrounding the birth. Even now, a month later, I am still asking David questions about different aspects of the delivery, trying to piece together the things that aren’t clear to me. I am glad we have pictures of a lot of it, but they still don’t replace the actual experience of being awake and involved with the delivery. So this is disappointing.

This Will be our Little Family

But by far the hardest part of our birth experience has been coming to terms with the fact that I should probably not seek to have another baby. David and I have spoken twice with my OB regarding this – once when he came to discharge me from the hospital and again at my four week follow-up appointment. Although my OB said I can certainly have another baby and he will treat me if I do get pregnant again, he said that he felt it would be the wiser choice to add to our family via adoption rather than another pregnancy.

I don’t take this advice lightly. My OB is a very prolife Irish-Catholic. He values every baby and believes that babies are a blessing from God. However, he also believes as David and I do that God gives us common sense for a reason and common sense would tell us that another pregnancy would be very hard on me. I would be older by the time I would have another baby (into my 40’s), I would probably get diabetes again, I would be at higher risk for all the complications I didn’t get, I would be at greater risk for genetic abnormalities in the baby, I would have to have another c-section, and my anatomy is very challenging. My OB said it was very hard to put me back together and the anesthesiologist also commented on the fact that I was a challenging patient.

So although David and I would like Caroline to have a sibling, I know that she needs a mother more than a sibling. I simply cannot shake the idea that going through another pregnancy would be an unwise choice for our family.

This has been hard for me to come to terms with over the past four weeks. It has been the hardest part of my recovery. Even though there were times during the pregnancy that I thought I definitely did not want to go through pregnancy again, I always thought that once I had my baby I would feel differently about the challenges of pregnancy and would want to have at least one more child (God-willing, of course). This is true. There is a part of me that does want to have another child and the challenges and complications were worth it now that we have Caroline. However, when David and I look at the whole pictures, we are in agreement that the best thing is to be satisfied with our little family of three and not put me at risk with another pregnancy.

We haven’t completely dismissed the idea of adoption, but at this point we aren’t ready to even think about that, nor do we have the means to explore that option. Right now I just want to focus on enjoying Caroline. If God chooses to move us toward an adoption in the future, that will be up to Him.

So I am thankful that I had a strong commitment to enjoying my pregnancy. I knew there was the chance that I would only be pregnant once and I made it a priority to relish all of the good parts on a daily basis. It does make me profoundly sad to think of not carrying another baby. It truly is a miraculous experience to feel a baby move within you. I will miss not feeling that again. However, I also know that I am extremely blessed to have even one beautiful, healthy child and to have experienced a pregnancy and delivery at all, no matter how challenging it might have been. I know there are many, many women who would trade places with me in a heartbeat and I don’t take lightly these blessings I’ve experienced.

Our Pregnancy and Birth Story Comes to a Close

So that is our birth story. Nothing about our story has been “normal” yet we can see God’s hand in every part of it so that makes it as “normal” as it needs to be. It is what God has had for us and we are thankful for His grace during the waiting, during the expecting, and now during the coming to terms and moving on to the next phase of our life. He has truly done abundantly beyond all we could ask or imagine. To Him be the glory forever and ever.

Our planned c-section birth story


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  • Thank you for sharing that. It is evident that you see the Lord’s hand through the entire experience, even the parts that are hard. This will be such a testimony for others as you share this. 🙂

  • Although parts of your story are heartbreaking, it is still a beautiful story of God’s grace and mercy. I am so glad that you have your beautiful little girl – what a precious gift from God.

  • I came across this site from a “Google Alert” – apparently, google has recently added blogs to its sites that it checks for “news”.

    It is great to hear of your trust in God through your birth, and the faith for Him to answer even the “small” prayers.

    You have lots of time to think about it more, but I wonder if you would consider that God knows more than you, your doctors (or me) about what is best for your family, and to leave that up to him.

    Hebrews 2:13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

  • I’m sorry to hear that you had such a rough birth experience. In some ways, it resembles the birth story from my first child, who was also born by c-section. It took me a long time to feel emotionally and physcially healed from it, as I’m sure it’s taking you some time to recover as well. Take comfort in your beautiful daughter and enjoy this time.

  • I’m simply amazed that you were able to write your story so thoroughly, and Caroline is only 4 weeks old! It took me a couple of months before I could piece the scribbles together, and certainly nothing as beautifully written as you have here.

    This will be such a treasure for your little girl to read someday — how she entered into the world, and all you and her daddy went through. Thank you for sharing with us. God bless your sweet family! 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing your story.
    I’m thankful that God kept you all safe and continues to uphold you.

    I’m sure deciding to be done with one so soon after delivery is an emotionally charged decision.
    Wishing you blessings:)

  • Wow. Thanks for sharing…

    Why relegate your story to the category of “normal”?! Surely you would prefer to leave it in the category of “a miracle of grace”. 🙂

  • Praising Him with you. You are blessed to have your beautiful daughter and He will move in His time – if you a family of three or more.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • I think that you are making a good choice for you and your family…who need you healthy and to live a long, long time so that you can see Caroline’s babies! 🙂 You have a dear family. As for those who will tell you to put it in God’s hands I say that your common sense is also God given. It reminds me about the man who drowns in the flood. His neighbors come by in boats and ask him if he wants to go with them and he says that no…God will save him. When he is on his roof a helicopter comes to take him and he says no…that God will save him. Finally, he drowns. When he gets to heaven he asks God why He did not save him. God says I tried to send you all that help, but you just wouldn’t go!

  • I am so thankful that you had worked out the breastfeeding issue beforehand. It was very stressful to have to deal with that decision making while we were in the hospital and newly home. With all of the other factors that you had to deal with with the birth of your daughter, I’m so grateful that you had the foresight to spare yourself this wrenching decision.
    I am sorry that your birth experience, but so thankful that you felt the presence of our God throughout it.

    May God bless the three of you.

  • Thanks for sharing–isn’t the Lord good to help us work through things ahead of time? I was diabetic with both of my babies, but very healthy, exercising. I had an emergency c-section with my first and S was in the NICU for 20 days. But, miraculously, he is fine. With my 2nd I had my heart set on a VBAC, but a few days before my scheduled c-section (E was small, they were concerned, couldn’t induce bc of previous c) I got alone with the Lord and He allowed me to come to terms with what was probably in store. SO thankful–I was able to rejoice in a healthy baby and not cry over what might have been. I’m glad you are doing well now. Aren’t children so wonderful?!

  • I LOVE to get together with other moms (even through blogs) and share birth stories!

    Each one is so miraculous in its own way.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • I’m so sorry to hear of your suffering. I went through something very similar in my last delivery–the first half of the incision (C-Section) I only felt pressure, but the second half was so much pain that I couldn’t see. I heard my voice begging to be knocked out, and my husband’s voice ordering the doctor to stop. Then I heard my husband saying that our daughter was beautiful but I couldn’t see her. Mercifully, I went out. I thank God that baby and I were safe. Again, I feel terrible that you went through it.

  • First of all, congratulations on your beautiful daughter. I could relate to many parts of your birth story! I had
    C-sections with both of my children, and my epidural failed with BOTH of them. I had to be placed under general anesthesia both times, and did not get to see either of my children be born. I also had the “sore throat thing” going on! Yuk. My memory from the births is very fuzzy. I remember waking up in the recovery room both times, but things are very hazy. I don’t even really remember the first time I saw my firstborn. Of course, I was disappointed with how things went, but each time I look at our beautiful kids (ages 3 and 1), I know that it was all worth it, and that it truly does not matter. The disappointment fades, and I feel so fortunate (as I know you do) to have been blessed with them! Keep enjoying your precious new gift!

  • Thank you so much for sharing that. It was the first post I read since coming back on-line. May God bless the three of you as you walk the path He has set before you. although very different to yours, my birth did not go according to plan, and yet as you experienced there were many small tokens of grace along the way which made the experience easier. My little boy is nearly two andwe are thinking about another baby. Enjoy your time.There is, God willing, plenty of time to think about adding to the number in the days ahead and He will lead you in the right paths. Thank you for your continued faithful witness and quiet patience and faith in God.

  • Sallie,

    This is such a beautiful and honest post. Thank you for sharing the entire thing. I think you guys are incredible! I am so glad you have little Caroline to love. And I know God has big plans for you and your family…even if it’s a little family! 😛

    Take care of yourself and that beautiful little girl. Enjoy every moment!

  • You have made wise and considered decisions re. things like family size and breastfeeding. You will clearly be a wonderful and wise mother, as you think with your heart, soul and mind–all things God has given us for discernment–and you focus on what’s truly important–your health, and that of your baby and, by extension, your entire family. God bless.

  • Wow! This is the only time I’ve heard a story similar to mine. I had a scheduled c-section after learning my son was breech at the very end of my difficult pregnancy. My spinal didn’t take well either but I could tell right away so I was put under general anesthesia at the beginning and “missed” the whole delivery. The hours after were a painful in and out blur. Later I found out I was having a hemorage complication and during recovery I developed intense nerve pain in my shoulders from the csection.   I also had pre-decided to formula feed and while I’ve gotten a lot of judgement about it I know it was the right choice! My baby was a hungry little guy from the start and I was a mess! For many reasons we are considering our son being our one and only 🙂 I love my son and family so much the way we are….. The thought of going through “everything” again when we’re so happy already just doesn’t sit well. Our stories definitely aren’t fun, but it is encouraging to feel not so alone in having such a unique birth story. Thank you for sharing! God bless and rock on mama!

    ps-  just noticed you’re a teacher. Me too! Kindred spirits 🙂

    • Wow, Jil, you did go through a lot with your delivery and after! I’m glad you and your son are well and have a happy little family. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a bigger family, but we’re content with the choice we made. And, yes, I was so glad I had made the decision to formula feed beforehand. I don’t even remember much of the first 36 hours I was so out of it and all. Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

  • Sallie, as I am just getting to “know” you in the past year I came across this post.
    In my fear, I turned a blind eye to everything possible including C-section. I was adamant I’d breastfeed, go unmedicated, have no problems. Not so. That said, I was not walking w/ the Lord but He used the birth of my first child to work deeply in me. Three days of labor culminating in a C-section w/ meds that made me lose my voice and not hold myself up. No memory of Maddie’s birth (I see now the blessing in that) only pictures—but the place I was brought to as the medication took hold was a cry in my mind of “God please don’t let me die.”
    After Maddie I was sure she’d be it. I could not go through that again… but after I was saved my heart softened and we had 2 more—-but not w/o significant consequences (me nearly losing my life again). It was not my OB who advised me (pleaded w/ me) to not having another child- but my husband. It was so hard for him to even ask it, and yet he was right. What is the point of another child w/o a mother there? We can now look back and see that I had undiagnosed MCAS that made the anesthesia a nightmare; the pregnancies awful, the post partum depression so deep and more I can’t even begin to get into. I think that while we never want to scare moms to be about what could happen, there is a necessity of sharing that things don’t always go as you’d like and that there are real struggles, mournings, and losses in the midst of great joy.


Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

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