My Unplanned C-Section


This post is part of an editorial series, Birth Stories, is brought to you by UnityPoint Health and Des Moines Mom. All 5 original articles from the Birth Stories series can be found here.

Becoming a mom wasn’t on my to-do list as a kid. I had friends who couldn’t wait to have children and be a mom. Not me. I saw travel and independence. Plans change and dreams become new ones. Here is our birth story with our first born, Will. 

I became a stepmom in August 2016. We experienced a miscarriage in October 2016. And then a Thanksgiving blessing when we found out we were pregnant again. 

The Journey Begins

It was a tough pregnancy with morning sickness and daily blood thinner shots. Looking back, I wish I kept all the syringes to make a cute Pinterest photo once Will was born. That wasn’t on my radar as I stuck myself each morning causing another bruise. 

I was working at a summer camp thinking I had plenty of time. My due date was the end of August. I planned to keep working until I had the baby. I like to be very busy and always moving. 

August 10 I came home from a day of camp (the previous day was Adventureland in 103* heat). I flip on the television, and feel a small trickle down my shorts. I thought I must’ve just spilled my drink. When I got up out gushed more liquid. Oh my goodness! Did my water just break?! Am I having a baby today?! I am only 37 weeks today. And here starts the beginning of Will’s birth story. 

My first thought was I ruined my favorite running shorts. Second, it’s too early. I haven’t even packed a bag or installed the car seat. Third, I better call my parents because they are traveling to Oklahoma today. Finally, I realized I needed to call my husband. He was supposed to be in downtown Des Moines working and the hospital was 5 minutes from him. Well he was in Boone. And not able to get me to the hospital. I debated driving myself. But a friend convinced me to let her drive me.


I started having contractions about an hour after arriving at the hospital. In true Elizabeth fashion, I thought no big deal. These are easy to handle! I’ll still take that epidural though. Because why feel pain if I don’t have to. Seems logical enough.  But I forgot if you get an epidural it means a catheter. And that was the beginning of the madness for me. 

My contractions were coming more intensely and each one was pushing on the catheter. I begged the nurses to take it out because the pain was so intense where it was placed. I was throwing objects at my husband who was sleeping soundly on the couch, not knowing I was in such pain and discomfort. There were many choice words being yelled in his direction. 

Finally about 4am after being in labor for almost 12 hours, they conceded to my pleas. As soon as the catheter was out, I was 9 centimeters. Figuring the baby was coming soon I mentally started prepping. I started pushing at about 6am and felt I was making good progress! He felt really low, but being a first time mom, I had no idea what that actually meant. 

An hour into pushing and no progress was made. I started getting frustrated with myself because I was failing. How was I going to be able to push this baby out? In my no quit fashion I was back to pushing. Two hours into pushing my heart rate dropped as I spiked a fever. Oxygen and a command from the doctor. “You have two pushes to get him out!” 

Will’s heart rate started to drop with those two pushes. I was wheeled directly to an emergency c-section where I had to have a t-incision. It was then discovered that Will had corkscrewed his head into the birth canal. So each push was twisting his head tighter. This helped later in recovery with the mental load I was carrying. Feeling like a failure about not having a vaginal birth. 

Due to all the pressure and pulling the doctors and nurses were having to do, they quickly made the decision to put me under general anesthesia. My husband says everyone in that operating room feared for their safety as I was screaming and thrashing around from the pressure and discomfort. When they got Will out, he was having breathing difficulties. He went to the NICU for further evaluation. Due to my fever and possible infection, we were both put on iv antibiotics for a possible Corio infection. 

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This is not the birth story I thought I would have. I was devastated when I woke up from the anesthesia and my baby was not there. Immediately my thoughts went to the worst situation. Thankfully my dad was in the recovery room with me while my husband was with Will. I was updated quickly to understand what had happened. When I was wheeled up to the NICU I told the nurses that wasn’t my baby. He had no hair. With all my heartburn he should have a huge head of hair! 

Will and I were in the hospital for 5 days and then discharged. He was a little fighter and made all the benchmarks quickly. I didn’t understand until after we were discharged how dangerous his labor and delivery were. I am extremely thankful for the medical team we had and their quick action to get our baby out. 

My birth story with Will was not an easy, smooth delivery. It is our unique story. One that shaped me as a parent. I never take a moment for granted and appreciate the small victories that we see each day. He’s been a fighter since he was born!


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