And just like that our Giselle is 8 weeks old. Some of you remember my stories at 37 weeks of cartwheels, chiropractor visits, acupuncture and burning that special Chinese medicine by my pinky toe (I am not joking), I did it all to help this babe flip and avoid a c-section. God truly works in mysterious ways and all I need to do is surrender my birth story which at times is pretty challenging to do.
I couldn’t hide my surprise and confusion when most doctors Noah and I encountered would try and take control over my delivery and wanted to establish a strict time frame around our baby’s birth.
One of them said I needed to be induced by 37 weeks to avoid still birth, two others strongly insisted on scheduling a c-section to avoid complications. No-one wanted to allow me to be pregnant for 40 weeks and then see if those things still needed to happen.
I was pushed to not trust God to carry us through the process and I felt like all the medical workers were choosing our baby’s birthday instead of allowing God to decide on that. I suppose being a part of the medical field for decades exposes you to every case scenario when it comes to delivery, but to me it felt intrusive and not natural.
I am fully aware of the chasm between perception and reality, but what we say matters and can create indelible feelings in people. I was stunned when one of our doctors early on asked if Noah and I were related at our first appointment…
We have just met with her nurse filled out multiple forms, including some health history in the family. We are both blonde and were wearing masks, but I am still confused why that was a question she thought was relevant or appropriate…
Most of you know that I was born in Ukraine and have that slight lingering accent, especially when I say “February” and “birthday”, my Noah is from Roseau, Minnesota and our last names didn’t match on our insurance cards at the time…. No, ma’am, we are not related.
The relatedness question was just the beginning of the awkwardness, she proceeded with the list of diseases and the whole time implied we may have a sick baby. One of my friends told me that unfortunately in the US everything leads to liability and some doctors just strictly follow some sort of protocol and may appear quite matter-of-fact and unsympathetic.
For months, I was overthinking that interaction and second-guessing why we had to experience that. Some friends of mine thought that she was apprehensive and not ready for a foreign patient and made some unfortunate assumptions about us having a baby in our thirties.
Let’s just say we didn’t go back to that doctor.
We were fortunate to find a doctor we liked, who was kind and considerate and most of our pregnancy experience from May until September was pleasant. Conversations about scheduling a c-section before our due date did reappear in early October, as our baby remained breech.
Reluctantly, we scheduled the c-section because we were sick of fighting with the doctors and I remember being very uncomfortable and saying to our doctor that I could see myself just not showing up on the day of the surgery. Our doctor stared at me in shock when I told her this.
I wanted my baby to get fully cooked and give her enough time to flip ( like I did for my mom, since I was also breech) and my water would break on its own. Therefore, a few days after I left the hospital, I called in and canceled the cesarian appointment.
Because of my decision, the next time we met with our doctor we were informed we would be transferred to a doctor at Methodist Hospital that can handle an emergency c-section if needed. When we met with the surgeon, she agreed to wait until several days after my due date to take action, which I was grateful for.
It was Friday, October 28th, 60 degrees on a beautiful sunny day: a true Minnesota dream! My due date was October 29th or 30th and I decided to plan a fun weekend for our 11-year-old and make it all about her before the baby duties would take over our lives.
I baked cookies, made sandwiches, sliced apples and got our cooler ready for a picnic after school at Harriet Island Park. Noah went outside and started our jeep and we were slowly loading things in it.
Noah went back inside while I was coming out to put a blanket in when a light blue Honda Civic drove up to our jeep, a young guy in a white t-shirt with dreads jumped out, got into our car and started driving away.
I couldn’t believe my eyes and thought it would help if I start running after him… I didn’t make it very far. To make a long story short, we called 911 and several Minneapolis police officers responded immediately.
They found our jeep a mile away, nothing was broken but that young man clearly rummaged through our things in hopes of finding cash or valuables which luckily, we had none of in the car.
The key fob never left Noah’s pocket, but apparently you still can drive away without it if the car was physically started. Something Noah and I had to learn the hard way.
We made it to the park, had our picnic, took pictures and got ice-cream at our favorite Grand Ole Creamery on Grand Ave in St Paul.
Those unpleasant car events got me really nervous, and my water broke later that night. Just like I read in all the pregnancy books: my water breaking led to chills, shivering and trembling.
I felt relieved but scared. The day was finally here, but is she still breech? That I was about to find out.
Noah, Melrose and I grabbed our hospital bag, got dressed and rushed to the hospital at 11:30 pm. These were the instructions I had from a surgeon – don’t call the hospital, just come, if your water breaks.)
Once we got there we were told Melrose can’t come in with us and they were happy to babysit her at a front desk which didn’t sound very appealing. It was late and we couldn’t get a hold of Noah’s family and luckily my Minnesota parents were still awake and were able to run to the hospital and pick up our Melrose.
It was just Noah and I. I asked him to pray and he did and then just held my hand as they were taking my Covid test, my blood pressure and checking baby’s heart rate.
Things were unfolding fast. We met with the anesthesiolost and Giselle Rheya made her appearance at 2 am on October 29th. 7 lbs. 2 oz of blessing and joy.
She remained breech and it was too late to try and flip her, once most of the amniotic fluid left my body, so I had to have a c-section. We fought this route until the very end and God knows how much I didn’t want a major surgery, a huge scar, weeks of recovery and severe pains.
As some of my friends warned me, it IS a major surgery and recovery was slower than I thought and pain was rather severe. All of us heard, “those babies are so worth it!” before and I second that. This statement gained a whole new meaning for me.
I assumed that we would need to stay at the hospital for a while because of cesarian birth, but they discharged me after 48 hours. I know, I was surprised as well. I think I appeared to be doing extremely well or so I was told…
We enjoyed all the staff at Methodist Hospital: nurses were wonderful, it felt like they all loved their jobs and it meant a lot. Each nurse had something new to teach us and they were equipping us to care for this babe independently.
I couldn’t believe how little I knew about breastfeeding and how unprepared I was. I had many showers and no one said anything to me about how painful and difficult it is.
Some friends encouraged me to do it because it is cheap and convenient. “Breast milk is always available, you should do it.”
In the US we have mother-baby designated areas and you don’t always see women breastfeeding in public. I have traveled to multiple African countries and I vividly remember women breastfeeding left and right and I thought it was just this easy event, kind of like putting make-up on or making that pot of drip coffee.
Oh boy, was I SO wrong.
Not only was I dealing with excruciating pain of the surgery, but my nipples were bleeding and bruised on the first day of me trying to feed this tiny beauty. So, nipple creams, nipple shields and donor milk became very familiar and very desired instantaneously.
I probably asked over 100 women about their birth story in hopes of hearing mine, one I liked, but what I found out along the way is, every woman is unique and for that reason the birth story is going to be different every time. Of course, there’re tons of similarities, but in the end it’s always special and it’s yours. There is nothing else in this world that can be compared to having a baby with a man you love. It’s an indescribable blessing.