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Our rainbow: The birth of Gracen C-Section

Our rainbow: The birth of Gracen

"From the second I saw my son, I was in awe at how perfect he was."

Gracen’s birth was healing to say the very least. There could not have been more of a contrast between the light of the day he was born versus the darkness on the day Xander silently entered the world. We went to the hospital at 7 a.m. on April 1st.  It was raining on the way; it felt a bit depressing. I was overwhelmed with emotions, partly knowing that the clock was ticking and I was running out of my pregnancy, another part was the overwhelming fear of getting so close to the end to have it all come crashing down, and then, deep down, was excitement for the possibility that I might get to hold my live, healthy, baby boy. I held my breath as the nurse showed us down the hall to our room.

My heart skipped a beat as we slowed by the room Xander was delivered in almost a year before. My nurse for Gracen was the same nurse who cared for me with Xander. It gave me a strange sense of comfort and familiarity. I could tell she recognized me, but neither of us spoke of how we knew each other. Not until later. It felt surreal to be there, delivering Gracen such a short time later. I paused and looked in the room where I saw my son for the first and last time. I don’t think I could ever walk by it without looking in, or without having a flashback to Xander’s birth. The nurse put me a few doors down. She began to hook me up to the monitors I had become so familiar with during the non-stress tests-the contraction monitor, and Gracen’s heartbeat monitor. Then the nurse put in my IV, and began talking about the procedure.

I held it together until my doctor came in. Then the waterworks began. I let go of the fear, the anxiety, the sadness, the mourning—all of it poured out with my tears. He confirmed that he would be there while I got the spinal, as well as our other plan to drop the curtain so I would watch Gracen’s birth. With a spring in his step and a smile on his face (the usual), he left the room. Next the anesthesiologist came in. He looked like a giant teddy bear. I had tears fall down once more as I told him how terrified I was, and that I might need something for my anxiety.  He told me, “the bar is open”. Knowing that I had drugs at my expense to tame my growing anxiety if I needed them somehow calmed me I never did need them.

My surgery time was 9:00 a.m. Soon, it was go time. I walked across the hall to the operating room, where I met my doctor. He walked me in through the doors, and to the table. I wanted to put the brakes on. I wanted to run away from that door, but there was no turning back. I asked my doctor jokingly if there was any other way. He said if there was he would be out of a job. The brief laughter helped lighten the mood. He walked me to the operating table where I sat down, back and rear exposed to the world. There were about five other people in there. Now was not the time for modesty, they were all about to see my insides.  So I tried to ignore the feeling of exposure. The room was terrifying.  It was full of medical apparatuses lining the walls. It felt cold, and intimidating. My doctor knew me well enough to know I was losing it. He tried to lighten me up by talking about our kids (they are roughly the same age). The anesthesiologist came in, and there was no turning back. My doctor grabbed my hand as the anesthesiologist began prepping my back. As he got ready for the needle, he switched to two fingers (smart man, he knew he needed his hand for surgery). I felt the familiar needle in my spine, and the pressure.  I was gearing up for “the bad part” when I was told to lay down. Somehow, I had remembered it worse in my head than it actually was, because it was over just as I was bracing myself for more. Then the fear kicked in again.

Things just got real. There was no turning back (not that there really was before), I was about to be cut open. My doctor told me he needed to leave me to go scrub in, and that he would be back. I began to shake violently. I felt so cold. They put blankets on top of my chest, on my arms, and when that still wasn’t enough, around my head too. I looked a bit like an Eskimo.

I finally settled down and stopped shaking. My doctor asked me if I had felt anything, and I didn’t, in fact, I didn’t even know he was testing me to see if I was numb, nor did I realize he walked back into the operating room. Daniel was brought in, and they quickly began the surgery. I felt the tugging, and pushing, and before I knew it, they told me they were going to lower the drapes, he was coming out. Immediately I felt that pain and pressure under my ribs leave, and I took a deep breath. I didn’t realize how constricted my breathing was until Gracen was moved out from under my ribs on the right side. I couldn’t see, so they had to lower the drapes further. And there he was, grey, perfect, and absolutely beautiful.

I expected him to be covered in blood and look weird, but he didn’t. From the second I saw my son, I was in awe at how perfect he was. He made one sound, and then the drape was back up and he was taken to the side for his stats. I began to panic when I didn’t hear him cry. Everyone else in the room was able to see why, but my view was blocked, all I could hear was silence, something no mother wants to hear after her child is born, especially after a stillbirth. I asked three times why he wasn’t crying, with no one answering me, even Daniel, each time I asked the panic surged more. It was my doctor who answered me, told me he was OK, and within moments I heard Gracen cry. Tears stung my eyes, and I told my doctor, “He’s here, he’s really here!” It felt like such an accomplishment. All those months of worry, fear, doubt culminated to that moment, he was here!  It felt like such an accomplishment to finally reach that distant finish line.

Gracen Kyler was born at 9:40 a.m., 21 inches long, weighing 8 pounds 7 ounces. He had an Apgar score of 9 out of 10.  He was perfect.  It was a moment I’m sure all of us throughout my pregnancy with Gracen were not so sure we would reach. But we did. It was the most surreal feeling. Before I knew it, my bundled up baby was brought to my chest. I gave him a kiss and expected him to leave with Daniel as he had with Asher and Diaae. But he didn’t. They let him stay with me as they finished my surgery. Gracen stopped crying when he was on my chest. He began to look into my eyes. At first it felt uncomfortable with him so close just staring at me. Then it felt wonderful. It hit me, this is my baby. He’s here, he’s alive.

We made it! They unstrapped my arms and allowed me to hold him with Daniel’s hand on top for support.  I continued to kiss my baby. He smelled so wonderful. I listened to his breath, he was breathing, he was alive, and he was perfect. I felt this overwhelming joy.  This was definitely one of the happiest moments of my life. All of the pain, the doubt, and the fears washed away to this moment of pure bliss.
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When they finished with me, they took Gracen away for a few minutes while they got me situated in recovery. Then they brought him right to me to do skin to skin.  This was another thing that was new to me. I never had a chance to see Asher or Diaae (my first two children) until they were a few hours old. It was the best feeling having my baby right there with me. They helped me into a football hold on the left side, and Gracen nursed for 40 minutes. When he was done they took him to the nursery to do his bath, put in the eye drops, and finish all the things that were usually done to my babies before I got a chance to see them.

It was then that I was alone with my nurse, and we began to talk. I told her that she was my nurse the year before when we delivered Xander, and that she was so kind and compassionate to us, and was there for the sadness, I wanted her to be there for the happy ending.

About a half an hour later, Gracen came back with Daniel, and we left to our room where Asher and Diaae anxiously waited to meet their little brother.  I watched as the darkness and clouds lifted. The fears and anxiety of the whole family seemed to dissipate. I didn’t realize until I sat there watching everyone holding and loving on Gracen, that everyone was holding their breath.  They all were able to finally take that deep inhale and exhale.  In the midst of darkness and clouds, a rainbow appeared.

“It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of any storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope” –Unknown

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!

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