First C-Section Vs. Second (Gregory’s Birth)

First C-Section Vs Second: 10 Lessons from a C-Section Mom

One month ago, our lives completely changed (again). We welcomed our brand new baby boy, Gregory, coming in at 9lbs 3oz (just like his sister). I’m still learning how to wear this new skin as a mom of two. I barely figured out how to get the previous one to fit and now I’m wearing something entirely new. Despite absolute exhaustion and utter chaos that is life with a toddler and newborn, we are surviving. And while nothing can really prepare you for welcoming a new baby, there are a few perks to being around the block for the second time. A big one is knowing how to better survive your second C-Section. Here is Gregory’s Birth Story along with tips to help you survive your own C-Section.

Busy mom or mom-to-be and need tips? Skip ahead to “10 Things I’ve Learned as a C-Section Mom.”

Interest in seeing baby photos only? Skip on over to the photo section of this post!

Abby’s C-Section (First) Vs. Gregory’s (Second)

Leading up to delivery

First Pregnancy – March 2017

Because Abby is stubborn by nature and follows her own drum, she decided to make her appearance late. In addition, she was measuring 2 weeks larger. Being overdue with a large baby showing zero signs of labor, we scheduled a C-section as we neared 42 weeks. I spent the days leading up to delivery absolutely terrified, I barely slept and worried constantly. Was I rushing my baby girl? Did she need more time to develop? Would I survive major surgery?

In between the worries and fears, I’d remember another “important” item to put into my already over-stuffed hospital bag. It’s incredible how the human mind works, or at least how mine works, when you’re entering the unknown. I had zero idea what to expect – despite doing a hospital tour, despite researching for hours about packing tips, and despite even having a sister who delivers babies for a living!

Second Pregnancy – March 2019

Once again, Gregory was showing zero signs of actually wanting to come out, and measuring larger than his sister. While my doctor was open to a vaginal birth, I only had until my due date. We scheduled my repeat C-Section just 3 days before his due date. And while I had fears about the surgery, mostly recovery remembering to the last time, I was more overcome by fears for my first born. Would she understand that mommy wouldn’t be able to pick her up? How would she react to seeing mommy hooked up to an IV and stuck in a hospital bed? Would she understand that mommy and daddy still love her?

I spent the days leading up to Gregory’s arrival, attempting to prepare my two year old daughter for this life-altering change. And leading up to this, she couldn’t care one ounce. She wanted to play with her toys, read a book, and dance to crazy music. And despite pointing to my belly and saying “baby” she could in no way imagine what was about to happen. If I could go back, I would have thrown out the playbook and simply spent more time playing with her.

Delivery Day

First C-Section: March 8, 2017 – Midnight

It was right around midnight that the pain had reached the point that speaking through it was impossible. We had five and a half hours before we needed to leave for the hospital for surgery prep. All I wanted was one last night of sleep before we introduced a newborn into our lives, but the world had different plans. I tried every possible position to sleep through the pain. I felt the contractions getting stronger and coming faster. Finally, we called the doctor and decided to head to the hospital hours before the surgery.

I barely remember arriving at the hospital and talking to admitting, terrified about the next steps. And the journey to delivery is still a blur. My mind raced. Are we ready? Will she be okay? But, I still remember that car ride that brought us there. The pain each time a contraction came on. The terror knowing labor was upon us. The overwhelming anxiousness that we would be meeting our baby girl soon! And the worried, yet strong smile from John as he drove, holding my hand.

A few hours later, my water broke. A few more hours, I was pushing. And in between the pain, there was a sense of relief knowing that I hadn’t scheduled the surgery too early. This was the day she was meant to come. She was ready. And I was ready to push her out. But, once again, she had other plans. Despite my best efforts and my strong will, Abby was unable to arrive the “proper way” as I’ve had people tell me. As I was wheeled into the operating room, I felt defeated, alone and beyond exhausted. I remember crying and apologizing for my inability to deliver my baby.

In between contractions, they prepped me. Tears overcame me. As my limbs became immobile, I kept thinking about how I was failing at this mother-thing already. An eternity passed before John was allowed into the room. And I kept falling in and out of sleep from exhaustion. And being wrapped in so much self-doubt, I didn’t even hear her first cry. I can’t even remember what she looked like the first time I saw her. And as they took her out of the operating room, it would be another few hours before I even got to see her again.

Second C-Section: March 29, 2019 – Midnight

A few hours before, we had said our goodnights and goodbyes to Abby (and our pup), leaving them both at my parents’ house for the next few days. We reminded her of the sleepover she would be having at “Mama and Papa’s” but that she would see us soon. I remember the multiple kisses I gave her forehead, wishing to hold onto this moment for a just a minute longer. The last night she would ever be an only child.

As midnight approached, we rushed around our empty house to ensure each hospital bag was packed – my own, John’s, and Abby’s hospital entertainment bag. I found myself stuffing as much as possible into Abby’s bag, and completely ignoring my own. What does a two-year old need to be occupied in a hospital room? How can we best distract her from the constant attention her brother would be getting? But as we packed, we spoke about the baby boy we would be meeting in just a few hours. Would he have hair? Would he have a little yet wide nose like his sister? What would his first cry sound like? I barely slept that night in anticipation. In just a few hours, this little boy who had been spending months using my bladder as a punching bag would be in the world.

It was still pitch black out as we drove to the hospital at 6 am. It’s crazy to think how different this felt. I grabbed for John’s hand most of the way, with tear-filled joyous eyes, exclaiming “We’re going to meet him soon!” The admitting process was smooth, and we spent most of the pre-surgery hours joking with the nurses. Three other delivery rooms were already occupied by women in labor (all first-time moms, I would later find out). It was hard to admit that I’d never be able to experience delivery without recovering from major surgery. Based on my previous experience, I wouldn’t get to hold my baby right away. I would barely see him until hours later. Silently, I wished them good luck in their own journeys as the nurses started checking my vitals to prepare for my own.

I was in the operating room just a few hours later. The biggest improvement from last experience, besides not being completely drained from lack of sleep and laboring for hours, was the anesthesiologist. She talked me through everything I may feel this time around, as last time I could barely keep my eyes open so had no energy to fully experience what a C-section might entail. She spoke openly about her past births, her three children, and distracted me from what may be happening to my insides. John sat beside me as we waited anxiously. It felt like an eternity between my doctor’s “He’s almost here, Lisa” and the moment he cried the most powerful and beautiful cry I have ever heard.

I took a deep breath, begging John to rush over to snap a photo and show it to me. And then, the most amazing moment happened. The nurses handed him over to John, and laid him near my face. I couldn’t move my arms or legs. I couldn’t hold my new baby. And with every minute passing, I felt the intense pressure as my organs were being put back in place and any minute, I thought I might vomit from the intensity. But it didn’t matter. I could smell his sweet hair, kiss that warm cheek, and see his beautiful eyes staring back at me. And he was my baby boy.

For the remainder of the surgery, he was there, staring back at me. And as I entered my post-operation room, he was there again, in his daddy’s arms. And as I began to regain movement in my arms, they put him on my chest and helped me hold him. I will always remember the feeling of kissing his forehead, and the sweet smell of his peach fuzz hair. Even now, I tear up knowing I was given these moments that I was far too exhausted to take part in last time.

10 Things I’ve Learned as a C-Section Mom

People will judge you for your decision

Despite what people may say (and some will say it), a C-Section is not an “easy way out.” Being able to schedule your birth does have it’s benefits (ensuring your doctor will be there, having child care set up for your older child, not enduring painful labor, etc.) but it is major surgery. And people will tell you that you aren’t a real mom. Screw other people. You are a superhero! Anyone who rids the world of that much crap must be a superhero!

Advocate for yourself

You can have the skin-to-skin experience you’ve seen on television or heard about from your friends who delivered vaginally. You can have your baby in your post-op room. But you have to advocate that you want this (and that you select a hospital that allows this). And you have to be prepared that you’ll need help to support your new baby. But it is possible. Speak up. You got this!

Do not look up!

During the procedure, do not (and I repeat DO NOT) look at the light above you, unless you want to see a mirror image of the surgeons cutting you open. I made the mistake of glancing that way. It’s best to keep your eyes on your partner.

Stay positive

Spend the days leading up to your C-section enjoying the last of your pregnancy. If it’s not your first child, take time to enjoy your other children. Spend time with your partner. Yes, recovery will be hard. Yes, you may have some negative side-effects to the anesthesia, but keep in mind that at the end, you’ll have your baby.

Take time for you

Take the day off the day before and do things for you! If you’re working, take the day off. If you are a stay at home mom, get a babysitter. Take advantage of knowing your delivery date. Utilize the day before to do things for you. Get your hair done. Get a pedicure. Read a book in peace. Take yourself out for lunch. Treat yourself to a movie. Whatever will make you happy – do it!

Aim for the early surgery

Schedule your surgery for first thing in the morning. Depending on your doctor and hospital, you may not be permitted to eat or drink anything for 8 hours leading up to the surgery. And as a pregnant woman, it is much easier to withstand from eating or drinking, if you are sleeping.

Talk to your anesthesiologist

Tell your anesthesiologist EVERYTHING you are feeling. Do not try to “tough it out.” If you’re feeling nauseous, say something. If you’re feeling cold, say something. Feeling pain? Want to just talk about your baby? Say something! By the end of my surgery I was wrapped in about 10 heating blankets and being pumped full of anti-vomit medication, all while asking my anesthesiologist if she thought my baby looked like me. Talking made the procedure feel more human. I felt more apart of it. Talk! It’s okay!

Be wary of early visitors

Ask visitors to refrain from coming until you are a few hours out of surgery, if not for an entire day. With my first, I was out of surgery by 9 am, out of post-op by 11 am, and visitors arrived before noon. Between exhaustion from laboring all night and the effects of the pain medication, I honestly have no idea who actually visited that first day. All I remember is wanting to hold my baby and sleep. Neither happened. The second time around, we asked that no one show up until 3pm or later. That gave us almost 4 hours (after post-op) to simply enjoy Gregory (and for me to get some very important food).

Get out of bed as soon as you are medically allowed.

It WILL hurt. You may cry. You may wish to stop trying to stand. Push through that. And trust me, each time you stand it will be less painful than the last. But it will take time.

And that leads us to the most important one –

Recovery will hurt

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It is extremely painful.  Simple tasks, like sitting, standing, even laying down may hurt. It will be painful for a little while, but then it will get better. You may feel lost or discouraged or downright saddened by the fact that you need to lean on people to help you do the easiest tasks. Let your body recover. Forgive yourself for not being able to do things right away. Breathe. It will get better!

And most importantly, remember that you rock! You got this!

Just a few photos from Gregory’s first days

Thank you Valerie Lazzari Photography for this incredible images!

Gregory in mom's arms
That little kissable nose! It’s my favorite thing!
Close up on Gregory's Feet
He has the longest feet and toes! Nothing like his sister’s!
Abby meeting Gregory for the first time
Abby with Papa, meeting her baby brother!
Abby enjoying a cookie with Daddy
While I’m sure Abby loves her brother, she was much happier knowing there were free cookies at the Nurse’s Station. The staff fell in love with her smile!
Gregory with Daddy
John loves feeding him, and Gregory loves to eat. He fits in well with our family!
Mom and Gregory
My little man!
Gregory sleeping
He had an exhausting first day! Guess it’s tiring being that cute! I just love him so much!

Making (baby) eating easier – Parenting Hacks

Making Baby Feeding Easier

Now that I have survived a full year of parenting (how did this happen?!), I’ve been noticing more and more friends who are expecting or just had their newest addition ask Facebook land what are some key products that could make life easier when dealing with all things feeding related. After answering a few and hearing feedback from others, I thought I’d compile a list of some of the incredible things that made feeding time so much easier for me, and some that did not.

Let me preface this by saying, during Abby’s first year of life, she was formula fed. I started off exclusively breastfeeding but switched to formula. I’m completely for breastfeeding, formula feeding, or both. And I have no problem with a woman feeding her baby in public, as long as she doesn’t roll her eyes at me as I prepare a bottle of formula (yes, this has happened). Whatever works for you and your family is best! My choice to switch was difficult and there were important factors that led me to where I am today – but I have no regrets. And once she turned one, and we finished the last opened container, we switched to milk and haven’t looked back. We were really excited to save extra money from not buying formula, but apparently, we forgot to factor in that our daughter eats like her father. This grocery bill is out of control. Oh well, at least she’s cute. And at least he does the dishes.

On to the list because Abby is working on what sounds like a big poop so time is of the essence. (And enjoy some photos from the early days of motherhood. Look how tiny my baby girl was!)

Hands-free pumping bra (LIFESAVER):

Yes, this looks like something out of Madonna’s closet and it is somewhat intimidating when you first use it, but BELIEVE me, it’s a LIFESAVER. Aside from a stellar breast pump, this is a necessity for all pumping moms. Pumping is incredibly weird. This bra is also incredibly weird. But, it does give you the ability to have both hands free to do important things like sort bills, respond to a work email or, more realistically, drink coffee while surfing Facebook.

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Madonna aint got nothing on me

 Travel formula dispensers (LIFESAVER):

Measuring out formula while your baby screams for food is stressful in itself. Add in the factor that you aren’t home, so your attempting to scoop the right amount into the bottle while patrons at a crowded restaurant stare in judgement as you try to measure quickly to soothe your child. If you could do it any faster, you’re welcome to try! With these, scoop the amount you need at home, and when baby gets fussy, pour directly into the bottle. And before you say it’s a waste of money because you could just use any container to do this – that is so much harder than you think. Believe me! I tried! It usually ended up with precious powder scattered on the ground. The spout on the travel ones perfectly fits into your bottle. I’d rather spend the $7 now, to ultimately save money in the long wrong because as formula moms know, formula aint cheap! (Side note, once you’re over the formula stage, these come in handy for traveling with snacks – because sometimes you just need a car snack!)

Apparently that was a good meal

Infinity Scarf Nursing Cover (BLOWS):

I wanted so badly to love this – it had multiple functions to make my life easier. By definition, I should love it. It is a fashionable scarf that turns into a discreet nursing cover. But, wow, was it terrible. And maybe I just didn’t have the correct brand (though I did try different ones) but I hated it. Now if you are comfortable feeding without a cover, I applaud you. I honestly do! But, I just wasn’t that person. So back to the scarf. As a scarf it was cute, but somewhat thin (something I could deal with if it’s true purpose worked correctly). And it seemed that it should be easy enough, put baby on boob, cover with scarf. Due to the design, it covered Abby’s face so much that she would end up flushed and cranky, and attempting to readjust her was nearly impossible. It was a two person job to get her situated right in the first place. The scarf kept falling down, in some light you could actually see through it, and it just ended up falling to the ground in most cases. And there was my boob, just flopping around. And then there was the milk that eventually spewed all over it meaning you were then wearing a scarf that smelled like breast milk. Epic fail.

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Seriously, no idea how these things work

Peanut Butter (AMAZING):

Feedings, both breast and bottle can take time. And it usually happens when you’re stomach is begging for substance. This is especially true when breastfeeding. Add in recovering from birth and lack of sleep, I was STARVING constantly. Hence the mighty peanut butter. When breastfeeding, I always made sure to have a jar and spoon in arms reach. Now, if you are allergic to peanuts or just don’t like it, I’m not encouraging you to suffer. My favorite part of it was that it was a one handed snack – VERY IMPORTANT, especially during late night feedings. Find your own one handed snack – or get your own jar. Mine is sadly empty.

View More: http://valerielazzariphotography.pass.us/abigail-kaurich-fresh-48-part-two

Yes, my photographer got a photo of me eating PB at the hospital. Photo credit: Valerie Lazzari Photography

Alright, time to change a poop. Let me know what has been a lifesaver or opposite for you. And now that we are fully in the milk and food zone, look out for a blog post focusing on toddler eating hacks. I can’t believe she’s basically a toddler!

The first week of the rest of your life

First week with a newborn

The first few weeks with a newborn are the hardest weeks you will ever encounter. Neither of you know what to do. You’ll stare at wonderment at this thing you just created. And he or she will stare at you confused and unsure why they were expelled from their “happy place.” And you’ll tear up with joy, sadness, pride, anger – basically every emotion ever created because those hormones are ridiculous. And this newborn will tear up for hunger – always hunger.

Each day in the hospital is really a blur. I remember sleeping, eating, and a child on my boob. People visited, but I couldn’t tell you when, what we talked about (though apparently I was part of many conversations), or how long they were there. I also remember the recovery – and pain medication, so much pain medication. But not much outside of that. I do, however, remember that first week of Abby home.

Here are a few things that, if you are anything like me, will encounter during that first week:

You will worry about EVERYTHING.

Is the diaper too tight, too loose? Is she peeing too much, too little? Should she be sleeping this much? Is she sleeping enough? I can’t give you any advice on how not to worry, but I can let you know, you will make that diaper too loose one time and will end up with poop all over, if she’s going through a good amount of diapers then she’s doing well, and she will sleep unless she needs something. Newborns are slightly boring – adorable, but boring, sorry.

You will get pooped or peed on, even if you have a girl.

Abby has now peed on me three times, one of which was into my hand as I put a diaper under her. She has also rocket pooped, resulting in a massive cleanup, and she has soiled many sheets. And you will clean it up. You will wait to wash your own hands until she is completely clean, diapered, and back to sleep. Yep, poop is gross, but newborn poop (aside from the very first poop) is nothing compared to toddler poop. I’ve changed my 2-year-old niece’s diaper moments before changing my daughter’s. Think about this, you eat real food. So do toddlers. So toddlers poop like you do – yea, let that sink in.

You will put your hand in front of her nose to make sure she is still breathing.

This is especially true at 3 am when you are in a zombie like state and can’t remember if she last ate 30 minutes ago or 3 hours ago. I did this for a few weeks. And each time she made a slight noise, I jumped to my feet to make sure she hadn’t leaped out of her bassinet, casually strolled to the cat litter and start eating it. Fun fact – newborns cannot leap, and you know that logically this cannot happen, but that doesn’t matter because you will check and you will assume the worst. And also, we keep the cat litter in an area that is even difficult for us to reach but of course, I assumed she could also jump high at 2 days old. If you are super worried, I’ve heard only amazing things about the Owlet Monitor. I didn’t use this, but I have heard parents love them.

You will question everything you do.

She’s crying, which means you are failing at a parent. You are NOT a failure. Babies cry. And in the beginning, it’s usually because they are hungry or need a new diaper. Later on it’s a little more difficult to figure out, so enjoy the “ease” of this time. Ha, I just said “ease” in association with a baby – nope!

You will be late to her first doctor’s appointment.

We planned like crazy for this day. She came home on Saturday, her appointment was Monday at 9am. Perfect – we’ll take the two days to adjust to her schedule and make it work. Ha, yea right! We even set an alarm for 5 am to give ourselves 4 hours to prepare, and then five minutes before we had to leave, she had a massive poop. Then she needed to eat. Then, pooped again. In the end, we showed up 45 minutes late to the appointment. Apparently that was actually earlier than the receptionist expected, so there’s a parent win!

You will not sleep. In the last trimester of pregnancy, you will barely sleep.

You will get tired of people telling you to sleep now because once that baby comes, sleep with be completely foreign. How is one supposed to sleep when their back hurts, you can’t lie comfortably, and you have to pee every 40 minutes? I was looking forward to the newborn phase because newborns sleep ALL THE TIME. Guess what,  they do sleep all the time, but in 2-3 hour increments. Then, inevitably, they wake up with demands. Enter zombie state. It’s ok, eventually they sleep through the night – and eventually they move out.

You will experience a love you never knew existed.

I honestly cannot imagine a life without Abby. Even on her most cranky days (which there are many), I can’t remember what my days were before she was in it. I know I had a life, there are photos around the house to prove it. But, nothing compares to her. She’s this weird little baby that I want to snuggle and kiss all the time – even when she poops in her car seat (multiple times), or screams at 3 am because she just needs to be held, or has no idea why she is unhappy, even in her worst times, my heart melts for her.

Happy Father’s Day – Time is flying by

Father's Day

So this past week Abby has perfected the “lip quiver.” Yes, instead of rolling over she has found a way to make her tears look even more depressing and make our hearts break just a little bit more when she’s crying. How do they even learn these little mannerisms? Prior to this, her cries were screams of “wahhh,” and while I just started learning baby-talk, I’m pretty sure that translates to “Yo lady, get over here, I need food, now.” Of course, this is just a rough translation.  Now she’s like a little person with this quiver. And she KNOWS how it makes us run to her even faster.

I feel like everyday she learns another useless but irresistibly adorable ability, like grabbing her toes or sneezing and farting st the same time. I’m hoping she learns how to teleport soon. Flights are getting expensive.
Anyway, today we are celebrating Abby and John’s first Father’s Day. Sometimes I can’t believe she is here (and has been for almost 4 months)!! Babies R Us emailed me today about planning my baby’s first birthday – what?! I’m just coming to terms with the fact that she reacts when we enter a room instead of just demanding food. She still demands food but she is polite enough to smile at us first. Makes you feel like you’re doing something right when you see that toothless grin.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dad’s, grand dad’s, future dad’s, single parents assuming both roles, and everyone in between. And of course, Happy First Father’s Day to my husband. We’ve been through so much these past few months – late nights, early mornings, spit up, diapers (lots of diapers), and overcoming struggles. And there is no one else I’d rather pretend to understand how to handle this whole parenting thing with.

Even without the roll, do we still rock?

With thought we were raising a genius

I think with that cheesy pun, we can safely say, we do not now, nor have we ever (nor will we ever in the future) “rock.” Oh well, onto today’s topic – milestones. Oh the continuous battle to ensure your child is reaching (if not exceeding) milestones.

Here’s the scenario: You get a ping on one of your many “helpful” baby apps welcoming you to week (insert number) and politely telling you that by this point most babies are sleeping though the night, sitting up, smiling when they see you, all while doing their taxes. Panic sets in as you ask yourself, has my baby done that – oh no, we’re behind! We’ll never catch up. We’ll have to work on it day in and day out until it is mastered. You spend the rest of the week attempting to teach a 10 week old long division and crying in frustration as they are still stuck on simple addition. And you scream, “My child will never get into Harvard with this attitude. I’m a failure. She’s doomed.” All while your poop machine is blowing spit bubbles (which I’m hoping is a milestone to reach soon, cause she’s amazing at it). Then finally, after painful days and nights, you’ve done it. You’ve taught this little person how to master that skill (or at least how to perform it once and pretend he/she is now a master). And you finally feel peace. And you breath. And you pat yourself on your back for a job well done. Then your phone pings and welcomes you to the next week. Damnit!

Ok, so maybe I was a little over dramatic, but that week of long division really was stressful.

So the milestone my apps keep telling me my 14 week old should soon master – rolling over from stomach to back, thus entering the important activity of tummy time. For those not familiar with the concept, it’s basically placing your baby on his or her stomach (while awake and supervised) to help develop head, neck and shoulder muscles. An ultimate goal is for your baby to gain enough muscles to roll from front to back. And apparently babies hate this position and the only way to teach them is through torture? On a side note, I’ve also been told by my mother that they never did such ridiculous things in her time and it seems I turned out fine – fine was used loosely but still. I mean, I still don’t know how to do my own taxes and struggle with long division, but… damnit.

Anyway, we were excited that Abby was able to roll over at one month – yep, we thought we were raising a genius, little did we know she was really the evil kind of genius. She is the most stubborn child, which I’m sure is karma’s way of making it up to my own mother. The first time she rolled over, she followed it with a smirk, basically saying “Ah, so this is how I control your happiness, muhahah.” So, of course, now that we’re getting to the four month mark, she’ll only roll over on her own schedule, often resulting in her testing the water to see how much she can torture us while we’re basically begging her to roll over. And then she’ll just stare at us and smirk again before screaming for someone else to roll her over because why should she ever have to do it herself when we’ll do it for her. And just as we’re about to give up entirely, boom, she’s done it. So yes, we try to get her to repeat this action. Instead we get smirking followed by screaming. And if we try to push her to stay after a cry, she falls asleep, which means we have to turn her over, thus she wins. Oh, and then she’ll wake up moments later, smirking again. This kid. No wonder babies are made to be adorable. And, I might add, I told anyone who would listen that she rolled over in her first month, so when you come over and I attempt to wow you with her genius, she just lays there pretending she has no idea what we want. Oh she knows. She knows.

Here’s to hoping she’ll at least one day use her evil genius ways to hold the sun hostage, release it only after the government pays her handsomely, and that she shares this wealth with her parents so they can live in the lap of luxury and never speak of rolling over again. One can hope.