Introducing our son, Ayan! (And my birth story for Baby #2)
I’m thrilled to share that our baby boy, Ayan Ellison Shah, was born on Tuesday, August 1st at 5:45am. He weighed in at 6lbs 11oz, is 20.5 inches long, and has a head full of black hair, just like his sister when she was born! 🙂
Ayan’s birth was dramatically different from Layla’s birth, in the best way possible.
I had a c-section scheduled for August 2nd, but Ayan decided to come a little early 🙂 I lost my mucous plug and started having contractions on Monday, July 31st around 10:30am. But my contractions weren’t intense at all, they were 20-45 min apart and I could still do things, talk, etc. through them. I called triage but they told me that I had to wait until I was in somewhat active labor (contractions between 5-10 min apart lasting 60 seconds each), so I anxiously waited for that to happen, knowing I didn’t want a VBAC and I didn’t want to go through labor all over again.
In the meantime, the husband and I enjoyed our last day with Layla as just the three of us: we took her to ice cream, took some last family photos, and spent time outside — and I was having contractions the whole time (ha!)
Finally around midnight, my contractions began to get stronger, and by 3am I knew I was in active labor. The husband and I headed to the hospital, hoping that I’d be able to ask for a c-section when I got there. At the hospital, the midwife confirmed I was in active labor: 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. Hooray! We moved towards a c-section right away. Given that it had taken me all day (already 17 hours to get to 4cm), I didn’t have any reason to think that Ayan was going to be delivered vaginally faster and more easily than Layla was. Which made the decision to ask for a c-section easy!
I also had talked to my doctor about performing a “gentle” c-section — which essentially incorporates all of the elements of a vaginal birth possible, while still having the baby delivered surgically. For anyone having a c-section, I’d highly recommend advocating for the gentle version – it’s night and day different than a traditional c-section in the following ways:
1) You get to pick your own music in the operating room
2) The drape is clear, so you and your partner can see everything (all of the good stuff, none of the gross stuff), and your head is elevated slightly
3) They pull the baby out super slowly and let the baby hang a little bit while they cut the cord, so that you can see the entire baby being born through the clear drape just as if he or she was born vaginally
4) Your baby comes to you directly for skin to skin — no going to the warmer at all!
The gentle c-section for us was an absolutely incredible experience. It really felt like I got the things I missed with Layla’s birth. We got to the hospital at 4am on August 1st, and Ayan was born at 5:45am – it was so fast and easy I couldn’t believe it. Ayan was on my skin for a good 40 minutes until it was time to go to recovery, and then all they did was wipe him off (while he was still on me) and wrap him up for the husband to hold while we walked to the recovery area. Then I nursed him for the first time in recovery.
Leading up to Ayan’s birth, I was really anxious about going into labor early because I wasn’t sure what that would look like and whether I’d be able to get the birth I wanted. The last week before my scheduled c-section date was definitely stressful. And when I had early contractions on Monday, my first thought was “damn it. ” But once we got to the hospital and they confirmed I was in active labor, I was able to advocate for my needs and get the gentle c-section I wanted.
Once that happened I felt: in control, elated, joyful, relaxed, happy, fulfilled and I felt like Ayan’s birth erased some of the trauma from Layla’s birth. It’s like I got a “do-over.” Because I had a c-section before, I knew exactly what to expect with the recovery, so that didn’t feel scary or uncertain at all. A vaginal birth had more “unknowns” for me than a c-section did, and I’m so glad I didn’t try for a VBAC on the off-chance it failed and I ended up in a similar situation as Layla’s birth 30 hours later.
It’s only been 5 days since Ayan was born, but we are all adjusting to our new family-of-four status incredibly well. Post-partum hasn’t been as emotional or as hard as it was after Layla was born, because I have nothing but warm-and-fuzzy feelings about Ayan’s birth. I feel grateful that I was able to get a birth experience that I wanted and envisioned the second time around.
Ayan is the cutest little guy, super chill, and a good nurser so far (thankfully!) Layla has adjusted to her new role as big sister seamlessly, and she is doing quite well with Ayan. She loves caring for him, hugging him, and brings him toys constantly. It’s adorable to watch!
When Layla came to meet Ayan at the hospital for the first time, it was really moving. I had never seen her demonstrate such maturity, sensitivity, genuine care, and selflessness towards anything like that before. It was so sweet to watch, and it really felt like our family was complete. I still tear up (with happy tears!) just thinking about how much love was in the room in that visit.
While we are going through some of the typical newborn adjustments: e.g. Layla has a hard time when she wants us to do something for her but we have to tend to Ayan’s needs, or the fact that newborns eat all the time so we are tired! The rest has been so easy compared to our time at home after Layla’s birth.
I feel tired, but happy and whole. Recovery is a pain, but nothing compared to what I went through last time. In every way, this experience has been easier and better than the last and I couldn’t be happier about that. We even were able to make it out for a family dinner to our favorite Italian restaurant on August 5th — just 4 days after Ayan was born! Ayan slept the whole time and we had a really delicious dinner with Layla. Score!