I can’t believe it’s been just over a month since Layla was born. We are taking in all the newborn snuggles while we can because holy moly, does time fly! As some of you may have watched my entire pregnancy and birth unfold on Instagram, I still wanted to share a little bit about her birth story, plus a little vlog of the day she was born and the first few weeks after.
A Little Back Story
Let’s back up to the beginning of my pregnancy and give you a quick little synopsis of what all happened. If you haven’t read my First Trimester Update – it talks all about my Subchorionic Hematoma and all of the struggles and craziness of the first trimester. I am happy to report that once the placenta and baby grew larger than the hematoma, it was no longer a concern for the doctors, however there were other issues that did arise.
We found out at our 20 week appointment that baby girl had a VSD (ventricular septal defect) in her heart – which basically meant she had a hole in her heart, but for the time being, it was fine since she was getting her blood/oxygen from me, but needed to go in for a fetal echo. A few weeks later, I went in to AFCH (American Family Children’s Hospital) for the fetal echo and found that the VSD was small and they were hopeful for it to close on it’s own before birth, but that we would need to do another echo within 24 hours of birth.
In addition to the VSD, I also had a velamentous cord insertion – which basically means the cord was inserted on the side of the placenta instead of the middle, which could cause issues with her growth in the womb. My placenta was also bi-lobed (in 2 parts), so because of those 2 things, we had to go in once a month to the hospital for growth scans (an ultrasound that measures her growth – not only her size and weight, but watching the heart and other organs as well).
Throughout the pregnancy, the growth looked great at each ultrasound and we were grateful that the growth scans meant we got to see baby much more often. At each ultrasound during the last 4 months, baby girl was breech, but we were hopeful she would turn before her due date. At our last ultrasound during week 36, she was still breech so we went over our options with the doctors. An aversion was mentioned (where they go in and try to turn her), but after going over the risks and knowing that my velamentous cord insertion posed an even higher risk, we decided against it and scheduled a c-section for August 24th, still hopeful that she could turn and we could still have a vaginal delivery.
DAY OF DELIVERY
August 24th came, and we were set to arrive at the hospital at 5am for a 7:40 am delivery. Unfortunately, we didn’t get too much sleep the night before. I’m guessing it was the excitement, as well as being anxious. I was also making sure I didn’t forget to pack anything, which in hind sight, I did not need to care much about, but more on that later.
At the hospital, they did one final check to see if baby girl was still breech, and she definitely still was! She was nice and cozy in there! I was prepped for surgery and we went in right on time.
LET ME TELL YOU…what a CRAZY experience it is to have a c-section!! I heard some of the stories, but man, did it not prepare me for what was actually going to happen. It was nothing bad, just so crazy to be awake while being opened up. They started with the spinal, which made me all warm and tingly from the belly down. I was shaking before that, some from the cold OR, and some just from being nervous. Once they laid me down on the bed, I could feel where they were touching, but that was it. It was like an out of body experience…no control over what I was doing and just being moved about on this table.
Once I was hooked up, the curtain was pulled up to block me from seeing what was happening, and then Conor was finally able to come into the room. I didn’t “feel” anything other than tugging and pulling, but nothing painful. Conor said it looked like I was dealing with turbulence on a plane, rocking back and forth on the table from what he could see.
Once they opened me up, it was only about 5-10 minutes before baby girl would be out. They asked if Conor wanted to look over the curtain and at first he said no, but then changed his mind. He was so glad he did because he got to see her right as she was coming out.
It’s normal for c-section babies to not cry right away, and thankfully they warned us ahead of time, but she was pretty quick to sneeze, cough and cry after she came out. In the vlog, we recorded the sound from the delivery and you can hear where Conor peeks over the curtain and sees her coming out. Such a sweet moment caught on tape. They were able to drop the curtain for me to see her for a moment as well before they handed her off to the pediatricians to look at.
Conor was able to cut the cord and was with them as they measured and weighed her. To be honest, when Conor left my side to go with Layla, I was like “don’t mind me, I’ll just be here” haha, but seriously, it was a little sad not to be able to hold her in my arms right away, but once she was cleaned up, they brought her to me and I was able to at least put my cheek to her cheek and give her all the love.
Layla Rae measured at 7lbs 5oz and 19.5 in long at birth. She was absolutely perfect!
After some photos together, Conor and Layla went to the recovery room while I stayed in the OR to get sewn up. It was definitely lonely, but thankfully didn’t take as long as I had thought it would.
I later learned that I lost just over a liter of blood during surgery, but they said it wasn’t enough to need a transfusion, and that they needed to watch my recovery closely.
Once I was rolled out to the recovery room, we were all reunited and I got to squeeze my little family of 3! So crazy to say that!! So crazy to say MOM and DAD!! We’re parents now! (gosh I could cry right now writing this!)
After a little while, we were taken to our hospital room. We got super lucky and were in the corner unit, which was much larger than the other rooms and had a great view with large windows to let natural light in.
Because of the surgery, I was hardly able to move around in the hospital bed. I still had a catheter in when we got to the room. We worked on nursing a little and also found out that Layla’s blood sugar was low, so they had to give her a sugar gel solution and check her levels quite often over the next few hours. Poor girl got poked so many times right away.
A few hours later, the nurse came in and removed my catheter and had me stand for the first time. It was ROUGH!!! Peeing for the first time was also a challenge, but I finally did it. A c-section is a major abdominal surgery and you don’t realize how many abdominal muscles you use to get around, even just while laying in bed. Another thing that I can probably say was THE WORST thing about the c-section was that every hour they had to press on my abdomen and feel to make sure my uterus was shrinking. The pain was unbearable and I remember Conor looking away each time and he said it hurt him to watch and he felt so terrible that he couldn’t do anything to ease my pain. The pain was over quickly, but man oh man, did it hurt like HELL!!
Later on our first day, I noticed Layla’s skin was a little yellow. I asked if she was jaundice and they said they’d have someone look into it. Sure enough, her bilirubin levels were high, so they brought in a bili blanket. Basically, she looked like something out of Avatar and the levels made her super sleepy. The next day her levels were much better so they said we no longer needed the blanket. Thank goodness because I felt so bad for her and it was so hard to hold her with that.
For c-sections, the hospital recommends 3-4 nights stay for recovery. We ended up staying from Tuesday morning to Saturday morning. We wanted to go home on day 3, but took the extra day for more rest and help from the nurses. Honestly, it was the best decision because by that time, my milk was coming in more, I was able to meet with the lactation specialist another time and get all the tips, plus I had one extra day for my incision to heal.
The hospital offered donor milk or formula to supplement until my supply came in and we chose donor milk. It is so amazing that they offer that there!
Once I was finally able to get up out of bed and get my body moving, my recovery seemed to progress much quicker! If I could go back, I would maybe try to move around just a bit more without overdoing it.
The day we were set to go home, they checked Layla’s bilirubin levels again (more pokes sadly), and they were still not where they wanted, so we were sent home with the bili blanket and had to come back the next day to get her levels checked. The amount of times Layla had blood drawn in her first week was so heartbreaking. Hearing the cries after the poke made me cringe! 🙁 She was such a trooper though!
Our first night was not terrible, but having the bilirubin blanket made it difficult to feed and rock her as we would have liked to. The next morning we went in to get her levels checked and they cleared her for NO MORE blanket!! YAY!!
The days following went fairly well with Conor home and we got a good system down. Once Conor went back to work, it became a little more of a struggle, but we’re taking it one day at a time and trying to navigate this new parent life.
I’ve been sharing my experience on Instagram, including all things postpartum and updates on Layla. They’re all saved to the “Postpartum” and “Layla” highlights.
If you’re interested in a post or vlog on any specific topic, let me know in the comments here or on the vlog. Thanks for following along on this new journey and thanks so much for reading!