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Graysen's Birth--Planned Cesarean due to Previa

2550 Views 16 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  AnaNicole
June 4th, 2004

I think you hung that moon, the morning you were born, in its dusky grays and blues, fringed with clouds. When your father and I walked out into the dawn light with you still rounding out my belly, I thought about how I would soon be seeing your face.

I had seen you before, a golden-brown visage on the ultrasound screen. Your brows were furrowed, and your face looked distorted, like the Peat Bog Man.

"What a handsome boy," the doctor said, as she printed up a picture for me to take home.

That day, I took home more than just the first three-dimensional image of you-I also carried with me a relief that was tempered by the fact that we were not out of the woods just yet.

For three weeks I had been walking around with the vision of a web spiraling inside me, spun out of blood and life. This web I had never heard of-vasa previa-but I was told that it was woven directly over my cervix, blocking your entrance into this world and worse. I stared hard at the computer for hours after learning those two words and felt the panic rise moment by moment. The web was fragile, the vessels could burst and I would feel a gush of blood. Your blood. And when that happened I would know to rush to the hospital, to listen for your heartbeat. I also knew that a gush of blood could signal your death and I shook with the possibility of that loss. For three weeks I walked slowly, feeling my belly with my hands, listening inside myself and pausing every time I had a contraction. Fear became my constant companion. One night I sat with the fear for two hours, feeling waves ride over me that I knew were not real labor…and yet. I also knew that the slightest dilation could rip that web that held you to me and so I picked up the phone and set the wheels in motion for a run to the hospital. When I hung up my body was racked with sobs.

A short time later, I lay beneath the fluorescent lights in the labor and delivery unit listening to the tidal rhythm of your heart. The nurse who tended to me, to us, never smiled. She checked your "strip" now and then, running the paper through her hands with disinterest.

"Perfect," she finally said, and I heard in the undertone of her words a different message: why did you even bother coming in? When we returned to the car, I leaned into your father and he held me as I cried. Do you think I'm an alarmist? I asked, as we left the hospital parking lot. No. You aren't. I crossed my arms over my belly and nodded in the darkness. Thank you.

The three weeks of panic ended when we saw you again, and heard that the web I had been imagining wasn't there after all. "It's a previa," the doctor said as she scrutinized the screen, "but not a vasa previa." The mental picture I had been living with shifted and changed, and after more questions I could see the truth inside myself. The lower edge of my placenta dipped across my cervix, completely. Complete. The door was closed, and would remain closed, "unless by some miracle," said the doctor.

Our miracle was bound up in you-in those bones we saw as ghost images on the ultrasound screen, in your face that danced past, as you tried to avoid the probe that was pressed to my belly. But the birth we had envisioned was not to be. After each appointment I hugged my midwife, Tanja, and we slowly came to accept the inevitable. In the evenings, as your growing form rolled beneath my ribs and your three older siblings cuddled into me to hear stories, I contemplated the fact that I had had three births that empowered me. Three births that strengthened my belief in who I am, and what I am capable of doing. I am thankful for those, and sad still that you would be born beneath the harsh glare of the operating room and delivered not into my arms but into the studied grasp of a nurse.

But you hung that moon as if to say, the rhythms persist. There is meaning to every act, every accident. And so, on the morning of your birth I rose and showered, dressed and gathered my things. We drove down a deserted highway, the sun just beginning to tint the jagged line of mountains to the east. When we arrived at the hospital Tanja was already there. "Ready to meet this little guy?" she asked, and I felt strong as I walked up to receive my hospital bracelet and folder full of information that I would never read. I felt sure of myself as we rose in the elevator to the third floor, and then passed through the double doors of labor and delivery.

Then, suddenly, I was a patient. I stripped and donned the hospital gown, which I would later be complimented on by my three-year-old daughter, your sister. "Nice dress," she would tell me upon seeing me for the first time after your birth. But when I first put it on I fought with it to get the snaps right. Then, I was relegated to bed and the grip of the fetal monitor across my belly. A flurry of activity, questions, the inevitable stick of the IV line. I swallowed pills to relieve pain I was not yet feeling, then in a haze battled against receiving more drugs on the operating table that would make me relax, possibly sleep. And forget. Forget the sequence of events after the first sounds of your beautiful voice. I didn't want to swoon, didn't want to drift from surgery to recovery in a haze. I wanted everything to be crisp, with finely delineated edges. I wanted, in short, to be there. Be there for your birth, for the repair of my body. For being there, I had decided-and remembering the nuances-was the key to the repair of my psyche. I won that battle but lost something within myself at the same time. For ultimately, it was not me the anesthetist listened to ("Sweetheart, you are going to be cut from here to here, trust me, you will need something to relax," said she) but rather my obstetrician ("she doesn't want the drugs, don't force them on her," he told her in the hall). All the while I lay in my loop, my head cloudy from the pills I had swallowed, saying only, and in a small voice, but I don't want them.

Then the tempo increased. I saw the clock-7:46-and felt, at the same time, how everything shifted. They bustled your father away to change into his scrubs. I signed paperwork I didn't understand, and nodded the whole time I did so. They shaved me, and I averted my own eyes. Then, my last upright walk with you still in my unscarred womb. I ran my fingers over the taut skin of my belly as I walked toward the double doors and you squirmed. Your father kissed me and said he'd see me shortly-they wouldn't allow him in the room while they were giving me the anesthesia.

I pulled a flowered cap over my head and then…I saw the table, how remarkably similar it was to a lethal injection table…And a cross. I was injected, a needle in my back, then spread out on the table, my arms splayed out on boards. I felt warmth, starting in my toes and moving slowly up my legs, as I watched myself in the mirror positioned on the opposite wall. Robed figures, whose faces I never saw, moved in and out of the room tending instruments, and me. Soon I felt nothing, not the catheter, nor the sponge they used to scrub my belly with Betadine.

Then, they blocked my view of everything and all I could do was lie there and breathe into a mask that smelled of plastic. Voices spoke to me, and around me, but I was removed from it all, my world reduced to a swath of green in front of my face. Your father came in and sat next to me, I think he held my hand, and he watched what I couldn't see.

How long it took I don't recall. I lay there, opening my eyes and closing them, slowly, and considered the idea that they were cutting my flesh. I heard the doctor say something about clear fluid and thought, oh good. Then, a head with hair on it, they said, and I knew you were almost here. That's when it felt as though the earth opened up and shook. My bones quaked and I closed my eyes, feeling like I was falling into myself and away.

And then, I heard you. I rushed back into myself and my vision blurred with tears. Your voice, my son. And I cried too….

I wondered later, as I examined the design of your face, what the sky looked like the moment you first breathed. I wondered where your moon was, in the heavens, and how those gray and blue clouds had rearranged themselves in color and position. These things I will never know but can imagine-that the sky was never more blue, the moon never more clear in the sunlight.
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Wow... what an amazing story.

Congratulations & welcome sweet baby!
Thanks Rachelle!

One detail I didn't include in the story is that Graysen's cord was wrapped three times around his neck. I imagine that would have been an issue in trying to have a HB--regardless of the previa.
I had to read your thread - Grayson is the name I had chosen for my son,~I love that name!~ but alas, my husband veto'd it, and we settled on Joshua instead.

Beautiful story!!
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Ana, after Chiara's birth and the cord issues, I am no longer able to make assumptions about what is ok and what is not. I've had a baby born with four wraps - and then I've had babies with one wrap and a short cord that posed some sweating.

This was a beautiful story. I am so glad that you were treated with respect and that all went well. I was thinking about you alot that day.

Love to you and yours!
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I know what you mean, Pam. I have spent so much time wondering what if. What if we hadn't caught the previa? What if there had been a cord wrap with no previa? What if I did have a vasa previa, and why on earth was I misdiagnosed?

It's hard, somehow, not to right brain these things. Ultimately, what I have is a birth that was different, and gave me gifts I haven't fully realized.

Playdate here, gotta run!
I am so glad that you are the type to LISTEN to your mama intuition. Without it, who knows what would have happened? {{{hugs}}} - I loved your birth story. I hope you're nurturing yourself! xxxooo
This is an amazing and beautiful piece! I am so happy you have your baby with you. By own baby died because of undiagnosed vasa previa in 1996. I've since learned a LOT about this heartbreaking condition. My story is on page But mostly I'd like to invite you to visit the International Vasa Previa Foundation (IVPF) at Your story is wonderful!
what a beautiful and emotional story! happy babymoon! (btw I love the name Graysen!)
Beautiful, just beautiful. I am so glad your baby arrived safely and is healthy! You are a wonderful writer.
Wow. Beautifully written, AnaNicole! Thank you for sharing your story with us.
I am moved to tears by your beautiful birth story.
Beautiful depiction of a cesarean birth!!! Congrats on your son, mama!!!
ananicole, thank you sharing the birth story of graysen. your poetic writing transported me to that time and place, and i could not help but weep in happiness for his life and sadness for the necessity of his birth by cesarean. i wish you peace and ongoing healing of your body and your spirit.

What a beautiully written account. I had chills while reading your story.
I am glad that you found beauty and meaning in the face of having to have a cesarean. Our children must come out the way their karma dictates, yet it is often hard to understand this. You seem to have embraced your experience as much as you could. I am glad that you were strong and refused to be unconsious for your child's birth!
It can be hard standing up to medical personel. Many blessings to you and your new family, may you enjoy every day with your little babe.
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Wow, how wonderful to return to this thread and see a whole slew of recent replies! Thank you all!
My beautiful Graysen is nine months old today and a real sweetie. He's over 20 pounds and crawling like a stinkbug! I
him so very much, and so do my other three sweeties. He has quite a fan club.

Thank you again!
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P.S. That's Graysen on the Mothering home page--the Babies in the Boardroom pic on the bottom left. When he was about 5 months old, that is.
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