Birth story: Aspyn Nova Johnson πŸ’˜

I’ve had 2 previous c-sections with my other two children but this last one went nothing like the others. This surgery was hands down one of the scariest & most intense things I’ve ever been through. Even my surgeon afterwards said my delivery was one of the toughest things she’d ever done (and she’d been in the field a long time). Regardless of the delivery being a complete mess I’m grateful that the outcome was nothing but blessings. The funniest part? I met my actual surgeon the day of Aspyn’s delivery, she was the one surgeon out of 3 I hadn’t met. One thing I’m confident in though was that she was destined to be the one to do this surgery. I don’t know how the outcome would’ve been otherwise.

My insurance required me to see a midwife even though I was going to need a surgeon for my c-section. I was rotated between 3 different midwives until 30 weeks and then started seeing my surgeon’s office along with my regular midwife visits. The midwives were good (I totally had a favorite) and for the most part they did an amazing job listening to me and my concerns. I liked that I had so much support in the operating room & it made me feel more comfortable with the surgery aspect of it all.

My pregnancy was the best & worst experience I’ve ever had. I had the most supportive partner in the world and he’s what made a lot of the bad days decent. I had morning sickness from 4 weeks until about 20 weeks. I couldn’t keep anything down for the life of me and I was even nauseous with movement (like car rides). I actually struggled to keep weight on for the first few months. Once I got into the last half of the second trimester I stopped being nauseous for maybe a week before the migraines hit me. My midwives said it was hormone related but I was having high blood pressure so I beg to differ. I had to suffer with these migraines for weeks off/on until I got to the third trimester. I would say from the last 2 weeks of my second trimester on I started to swell really bad. I was gaining weight from my metabolism being screwed but the swelling on top of it made me look HUGE. During all my physical side effects we found out at 21 weeks baby Aspyn might have some kidney issues. They found some fluid next to her kidney which was making the size abnormal. They also found what was called Persistent left superior vena cava (LSVC). We were monitored by a high risk specialist who did an ultrasound every month. The last ultrasound ended in us having a game plan with the doctors for Aspyn’s delivery regarding all these abnormalities. Baby Girl would get an echo of her heart before she left the hospital & an ultrasound to check the function of her kidney-we would go from there with whatever the results were. They also mentioned she would be extremely short, which turned out to be far from the truth.

The last few weeks were so mentally & physically exhausting. My blood pressure was high, I started getting nauseous randomly & I didn’t even have an appetite anymore. It wasn’t until I went in for my last weekly checkup (crying my eyes out I was so miserable) that my doctors decided to do a few more tests. My blood pressure was high so they kept checking my urine for protein & it always came back negative. This time they sent in some blood and more urine to the lab. While we waited for the results they sent me home to rest. Not even an hour later I got a call from one of the midwives telling me she was going to schedule my surgery today. She wasn’t happy with the results of my blood work along with my urine showing higher levels of protein-I was developing preeclampsia. She asked a few questions and not even 15 mins after hanging up called back telling me to head to the hospital now. I got the first phone call around 2 pm and was admitted in the hospital getting an IV by 3:45.

They did my typical intake questions along with more samples of my urine & blood. Even though it was a last minute thing the vibes were somewhat calm. My surgery was originally schedule for 6:30/7 pm. The results of my last urine sample showed super high levels of protein & my somewhat relaxed surgery time turned into chaos. My surgeon came in to introduce herself around 4 pm. She explained to me I had developed preeclampsia so my c-section time was going to be bumped up sooner. My midwife came in to meet with me and within minutes I was being wheeled into the operating room.

Even though I had done this 2 times before it honestly wasn’t any easier this time. It took them 5 times to get my spinal in a decent spot & that definitely was a foreshadowing of how the surgery was going to go. Before my spinal was even fully working I was draped and prepped for surgery. Seeing how fast & anxious the doctors/nurses were made my nerves skyrocket. I started dry heaving and becoming nauseous. My man was the only thing keeping me focused while they began cutting me open. It’s so weird when you have a c-section, you can’t feel the pain but the pressure is intense. It starts off with some light tugging but when they start doing work to get the baby out it starts to feel super uncomfortable. The past 2 c-sections I had were smooth sailing so to speak. I was cut open, felt some pressure, they told dad to stand up to watch & within minutes the baby was out. This surgery however went nothing like how the others had gone & I knew within minutes something was wrong. They cut me open and seemed to have some difficulty getting her positioned to come out. Eventually they were ready for Jesse to stand up and watch so they invited him to pull out his phone for pictures. He starts recording a video (he was taking still pictures while recording) & it seemed like forever waiting for them to pull Aspyn out. While we sat there and waited, we listened to them struggling to get her out. The surgeon couldn’t get a good angle, blood was splattering everywhere and Jesse kept recording while looking down at me every once in awhile. I knew something was wrong because it never took them this long to get the baby out once they cut me open. Not only was it taking forever to hear those precious baby cries but I could feel my blood pressure lowering/rising. And the way Jesse was looking at me, with such worry in his eyes, I knew something wasn’t okay. Jesse recorded them struggling to get her out for 4 minutes and 24 seconds before they made him stop and sit down. The second he sat down I started panicking. Soon the anestheolgist got up and started observing what was happening & I remember thinking “okay now THIS guy is standing up.. whats going on?!” I honestly thought I was going to die (and it felt like it too). After fighting with my uterus, intestines, & the size of Aspyn (who was fat AND tall) they finally got her out. Hearing those precious cries never relieved me more. She came out weighing 8 pounds 11.5 oz, 20.5 inches long. 

Jesse was afraid to leave my side when Aspyn came out because I was losing so much blood they were talking about if I needed a blood transfusion or not. I told him to go with her because if I sure as hell couldn’t hold/see her he needed to. After what seemed like the longest 15 mins ever they both were by my side and I got to meet my beautiful baby girl. She cried and cried until they put her right up against my cheek.

What happened after that seems like a blur. They finished everything and I was back in my room recovering. I faintly remember breast feeding Aspyn & when I woke up next it was the middle of the night. Jesse was amazing & helped the first night bringing her to/from me so I could breastfeed. Due to me being so miserable the night before we hadn’t gotten much sleep so when the nurses offered to take her for a little so we could take a nap we didn’t refuse. I’ve never felt better after a 3 hour nap but I remember that joyful feeling being short lived.

After we woke up the nurses let us know her glucose levels had been steadily decreasing (even with eating on time) and that they were going to have to possibly give her an IV with some sugar water. They spent an hour poking my poor baby trying to find an IV spot. They couldn’t find one so finally they needed to call in a NICU doctor who could put one in her belly button. Since they didn’t have a NICU at the hospital I delivered at they had to call in the doctor from another hospital. They also let me know that since her having a belly button IV was considered a surgical procedure she would need to be transferred to the other hospitals NICU. My baby wasn’t even 24 hours old yet and I was being told she was going to be separated from me?! I was heartbroken. They brought her in the room so I could spend some time with her before she needed to leave. I couldn’t stop crying. They called in a transport team and transported her to a hospital 40 mins away.

I made Jesse go with her because I didn’t want her to be alone. Plus I could get fast updates on what was happening. When they left the hospital I cried for hours. I remember being so sad that I couldn’t help my baby and freaking out because she needed to be monitored closely. The worst part? I had preeclampsia so my blood pressure was reading high & I couldn’t leave to go be with her until I was better. The typical discharge date is 2/3 days but since I had preeclampsia I was looking at 4+. That first night away from Aspyn & Jesse was one of the hardest. We spent majority of the night FaceTiming which was nice because when the nurses would update him on what was happening they would talk to me too. My surgeon was amazing at coming to check on me and she also was letting me know updates from the NICU doctor. She told me to just focus on getting better and that’s exactly what I did. One of the nurses told me later that night she overheard my surgeon saying that if my BP readings continued to be low that she would discharge me early under specific discharge instructions. They knew I wanted to be with my baby and not being able to even be in the same room as her was killing me. I made sure I was taking things slow & steady to get continuous low readings. I got discharged on day 3 at 1 pm & went straight to the other hospital. We spent the next 2 days there being able to go home as a family on my birthday πŸ’˜


My recovery was phenomenal especially for everything I went through on that operating table. I was up and walking that same night not even 6 hours later (which is crazy for a c-section). I had no negative side effects from the surgery except for my blood pressure being high (and that was from the preeclampsia). I ended up not needing a blood transfusion. My surgeon actually said she was impressed with my body being able to handle the blood loss because I lost about a Liter of blood. My abdomen was super bruised but that’s not a surprise considering they struggled to get her out. I was up and walking around longer distances only about a week after my surgery. This was by far the fastest I had ever recovered from a c-section.

Aspyn’s tests all came back fine (her kidney & LSVC) but they did notice her head seemed to be a little misshaped. They thought it could be from how they had to pull her out or from the vacuum but they recommend a pediatric neurologist anyways. We went down to Denver when she was a week old & she was diagnosed with metopic craniosynostosis, but that’s a blog story for another time.

It was so beautiful to be pregnant again and go through that experience. This time was different because instead of becoming filled with insecurities or worry I could actually enjoy everything in the moment and feel beautiful. I’m such a badass I created life and who cares if I have a little pooch from them cutting me open! I forgot just how tired you get when having a newborn. She’s pretty good sleeping 4/5 hours at a time (6 if we’re lucky) but some nights are longer than others. Breastfeeding with her has been the best it’s ever been for me. Aspyn seems to enjoy it and has found a comfort in it. I do too because I enjoy getting the quality time with her snuggled close while she’s so small. This is my last baby so I’m definitely soaking up every second of it. I just hope it doesn’t go that fast 😭

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