As an expectant mom, I devoured everything online that was pregnancy related and as my pregnancies neared the end, I would read up on everything I could about the early days. Then eventually progressed to reading about baby and toddler stages and so on. I now have a preschooler and a school ager.
My fascination about pregnancy, labour, delivery, and early days have yet to cease. I continually read birth stories gone viral – the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. I must have been a doula or a midwife in a past life.
One viral post that touched me to the core was Raye Lee’s c-section post on Facebook. I too had c-sections and her post had me thinking of my post-delivery care and my interactions with family, friends, healthcare professionals, and even strangers.
During my pregnancy with my oldest daughter, I was considered high risk. Though I felt fine, my blood pressure was through the roof. I was extremely lucky that I was on modified bed rest versus strict bed rest. My work hours were reduced from 40 hours to a mere 12 hours. I stayed off my feet and had all the time in the world to prepare for my baby’s arrival. My pregnancy had been pretty hippy dippy – though I had an OB as I was high risk, my plan was to go au naturel, i.e. no pain meds. My plan was to check out of the hospital in under a day from birth, I was going to be a granola crunchy labouring mom.
My water broke on Mother’s Day night as I was typing an email to a friend saying ”Mother’s Day has passed and no sign of her.” As I was high risk, I was to go to the hospital if my water broke first – which it did. Fast forward 26 hours later (no pain meds) and my blood pressure was at its all time highest it had ever been, my health care professionals deemed it necessary for my health’s sake that I deliver my baby via caesarean. No other words to describe it other than I was heartbroken. At 10:36 pm on May 10, my beautiful baby girl was born at 8 pounds and 12 ounces.
Fast forward to pregnancy number 2 – two years later. I felt horrible the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. I was constantly nauseous and the porcelain throne and I were good friends but I had no blood pressure issues. I was on the road to having the type of birth I originally envisioned. I had a supportive OB who had a high success rate with natural births post caesarean births. My rules in order to have a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) were as follows: I had to go into labour on my own with no medical interventions, I had to go into labour before my due date, and the baby’s weight had to be average (8 pounds or less). My due date was on the May long weekend; my OB’s office had booked me an elective c-section for the Tuesday after the holiday weekend should baby not make her appearance.
In late April during a routine doctor’s appointment and after going to an ultrasound to track baby’s weight/size. My doctor indicated that the hospital had sent over my post-op reports for us to review to ensure I was a viable candidate for a VBAC. My baby was measuring size-wise larger than she should have been. My OB went through my post-op report that summed up the fact that my labour stalled due to a narrow pelvis. My doctor recommended that based on this new information and the fact that baby was measuring larger, I have a c-section but moved up from my original elective date. The doctor knew I was devastated, she checked in on me as I was leaving with a sympathetic arm rub and a “I know it isn’t the birth you want but the main thing is yours and your baby’s health.” My OB’s office called me later at work that day to indicate my new delivery date would be on May 9. A day before my oldest daughter’s birthday! At 12:33 pm on May 9, my beautiful baby girl was born at 7 pounds and 15 ounces. One-ounce shy of my capped baby’s size and 10 days earlier than my due date.
That being said, here is a list of things that I wished I knew about caesarean births and care during post delivery:
- You sign a waiver at the hospital in the event of your death, your family or estate cannot hold the hospital responsible.
- The common misconception is that you won’t feel anything during the operation. Completely, 100% false. While you are laying there, with a screen up in front of you and your arms strapped down you can feel every tug and snip while the doctors and nurses work to get baby out – the pain is significantly less than without a spinal but you are aware of every slice and snip. Even now, I shudder to think about the sounds and feels during my operation.
- Your partner will see you in a whole new way. While the screen is up, chances are, he or she will see your organs while you are open waiting for baby to make an appearance.
- The spinal that you are given during the procedure, makes you as cold as ice in recovery. I was violently shaking as I was so cold while the spinal was wearing off. Imagine having your newly sliced abdominal muscles protesting with every shake. When the shakes do wear off, you are exhausted and all you want to do is sleep.
- Your partner may not cut the cord. In emergency situations, the doctor will snip quickly to attend to the two patients in need of care. In both of my cases, the cord was cut by the doctor however my husband was able to do a ceremonial second cut.
- When you do finally hold your baby in the OR while the doctors are attending to closing you up, your arms are numb from the spinal. The nurses have to put the baby on your chest and they manually move your arms to hold baby in place. It is downright freaky!
- You have a catheter for 24 hours. Not much else to add to the embarrassment or loss of dignity as childbirth other than having a catheter.
- You dread having to sneeze, cough or laugh post birth. Hospitals are so damn dry! I drank so much water to prevent even a tickle in my throat because it was so painful to clear my throat never mind to cough. And my hospital visitors were on my bad list because they all made me laugh.
- Your incision site/scar tissue. My incision has very little feeling three years later. The nerve endings are likely never going to regain their feeling. My doctors have indicated that I have a nice, even pretty scar but for the rest of my life no matter how much ab exercises I will do, I will always have a bit of an overhang over my babies entrance to the world. Even though you are lacking feeling at your incision site, the scar tissue build up can make you feel like you recently had a c-section instead of three years ago if your toddler executes the right ninja move. Hoo boy, it is intense!
- People’s lack of knowledge about a section. Three weeks post section, some family members were over visiting with my newly expanded family, and a well intentioned family member noticed I grimaced as I moved funny stating “you are still in pain?” Well yeah, they sliced into my uterus, moved my organs around, my bladder came out momentarily, baby came out and then I was repacked and stitched up. Crazy, how I am still in pain right!?
Raye Lee’s post is important because in the age where mommy wars are rampant, it seems that the tone of birth turns to a negative turn when we discuss medical interventions during birth. Yes, there are unnecessary caesarean births that occur in this city, country and world however as a c-section mom of two, I can passionately tell you that I did them for the necessity of mine and my babies health.