I found out around 35 weeks that Campbell was breech and that’s when the idea of me having to have a c section first came about. The option of having an ECV scared me because of the risks of placental abruption and intrauterine stroke, and then I found out at my 36 week ultrasound that I wasn’t a candidate for the procedure anyway because of her size (she was measuring 8 pounds 3 ounces at that point). I thought because of her measuring so large at 36 weeks, my doctor would go ahead and schedule my c section for sometime around 37 weeks, but because I didn’t have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes or any “medical reason” to do it that early, it was scheduled for July 14th, at 39 weeks.
The night before my scheduled c section, we took Landon and Harper to stay with Grayson’s mom and dad. It was so hard leaving them, not because I worried that they wouldn’t have a great time with their MiMi and Papa (because they always do), but because I knew things would never be the same again, and that their little lives would change forever when we were all back together again as a family of five. Change is hard, even if it’s a change you’re so, so excited about. I thought back to when we dropped Landon off the night before Harper was born and how I cried and cried… but their relationship is sweeter than I could have ever imagined and I am so glad they have each other. We really did give Landon the gift of a lifetime by giving him sisters, and I know that in time, they will all have a sweet, special bond.
Since I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink after midnight, Grayson and I went to Waffle House at 11:00 the night before. Everyone we told this little plan to just laughed because, honestly, is there anything more “Katie and Grayson” to do? If you know us, you know! Two all-star specials, please.
The morning of my c section, Grayson went to football practice while I “slept” as late as I could (I am a morning person but I laid in the bed and drifted in and out of sleep and prayed and thought all the thoughts and felt all the feels as long as I could since I couldn’t get up and drink any coffee). I got up, took a shower, and when he came home, we left for the hospital. I had to be there at 11:45 and my surgery started at 1:45.
When we got checked in, they listened to the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor while they started my IV, did an ultrasound to make sure the baby was still breech, and then took me back for the spinal tap. Grayson was dressed in OR scrubs and my Mama and my aunt Rhonda were there to kiss me and we all prayed together before they rolled me into the OR.
I wasn’t prepared for how emotional I would be going into the OR. The last time I was in an OR was last September, when I had to have a D&C after our second miscarriage. I couldn’t have stopped the tears if I’d tried, because those feelings were accompanied by overwhelming gratitude for how the Lord has brought us through and given us the answer to so many prayers and also anxiety about the surgery and excitement about meeting Campbell and just all the things…
Nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen, no matter how much I’d read or tried to educate myself about what to expect when having a c section. The spinal tap didn’t set just right and I could feel more than I was supposed to be able to feel during the c section. They did the spinal tap and pinch test and made the initial incision before Grayson was allowed to come into the OR, and I was so relieved to see his face beside me when he came in. I was telling the nurses that I could feel certain things and they were telling me I shouldn’t be able to and asking me if I wanted to go to sleep and I was begging them not to put me to sleep because I wanted to be there and see her right when she was born and not miss anything. But, because she was so big and because of her positioning, she went up towards my rib cage when the doctor was trying to pull her out and one of the nurses had to push with all her weight up at my chest and I couldn’t breathe and was completely suffocated by the pressure and I started crying and hyperventilating because I couldn’t even get my breath enough to tell the nurse sitting at my head that I couldn’t breathe. I finally was able to say, “she’s crushing me!” and that’s the last thing I remember before they put me to sleep.
When I woke up, Grayson was holding Campbell and she was ready to nurse, so she nursed for the first time and we did skin to skin until we were able to go back to my room. Mama and Rhonda were waiting and it was such a sweet moment. Campbell was so alert and looked right into my Mama’s eyes like she knew exactly who she was. The next several hours were a blur of happy tears and skin to skin and lots of nursing. We couldn’t get over what a great little nurser she was already or how much she looks like Grayson.
About 8 hours after my c section, when the nurse came in to remove my catheter and I was about to get up for the first time after surgery, I started hemorrhaging and they called the doctor back in and she determined that I needed a blood transfusion. She was having to mash on my stomach and try to manually remove the blood clots, which was excruciatingly painful. I was screaming and Grayson was holding Campbell and we were both so afraid. I hemorrhaged after I had Harper but they were able to get the bleeding under control with shots and I didn’t have to have a blood transfusion. After about half an hour of that, which felt like an eternity, my doctor decided that she wasn’t going to be able to get all the clots out like that and that I couldn’t endure any more of the pain, so I needed to go back to the OR and be put under anesthesia again for a D&C.
Grayson went out to the waiting area to tell my Mama and she came in and prayed over me right before they took me back. It took about three hours and by that point, it was the middle of the night. When I finally woke up and they brought me back to my room, I nursed the baby again. By then, I had already had two units of blood. While I was in the OR, they did both the D&C and inserted a bakari bulb into my uterus to put pressure on the blood vessels to prevent further clotting. This felt like the foley bulb I had when I was induced with Landon (so, so painful). The next 24 hours were excruciating because of the combination of my stomach being SO sore from the doctor having to mash on my belly while trying to manually remove the clots, the bakari bulb and medicine causing contractions, and the contractions were even stronger while nursing. It’s normal to experience contractions after delivery, especially while breastfeeding, but this was way more intense because of the bakari bulb and medicines I was on to stop the bleeding.
This whole experience was so traumatic and scary and just not at all what I pictured Campbell’s birth story to look like. I think there comes a point where you just have to let go of what could have been and what should have been and realize that things just go sideways sometimes and there’s nothing you can do except be grateful because they could have always been worse. I am thankful for doctors and medicine and that they were able to save my life, and that Jesus was with me every step of the way.
The day before we left the hospital, Campbell’s bilirubin went up and she had to lay on the bili blanket. When they checked it again, her bilirubin had still gone up, so they brought in the lamp, too and she had to lay under that. Landon was jaundice, too, so this was somewhat familiar to us, and honestly, the least traumatic part of our hospital stay. We’ve been back to the doctor twice since we got home to check her levels and she’s regaining weight (evidently c section babies lose more weight after delivery) and her bilirubin is at a safe level again!
When we got home, Mama was at our house and had everything so clean and smelling so good and had a pretty sign on the front door. She had a big pot of spaghetti going on the stove and we were just so happy to be home. Shortly after we got settled in, Grayson’s mom and dad and sister and brother in law came and brought Landon and Harper to meet their new sister. Their reactions to her were just precious – better than we could have ever hoped for – and I’ll remember it forever. It felt so surreal to be home, all five of us. Grayson said it best… “our hearts and our home (all 800 square feet of it) are SO FULL!”
Thank you SO MUCH to everyone for the sweet messages, calls, cards, and meals. We are so overwhelmed with gratitude and just forever grateful for our community and how loved we’ve felt during this season of transition. We’re still very much learning to adjust to life with a newborn, three year old, and five year old (and as soon as we find our groove Landon will start kindergarten and things will change again) so we appreciate the continued prayers!