Friday, February 4, 2011

My Birth Story - a planned C-section

FYI - this includes details of what my C-section felt like and may not be for everyone. I thought it may be helpful to people who are expecting and may have to have one. Consider yourself warned.
We knew early on that a C-section may be necessary to bring Charlotte safely into the world. I found out at my second ultrasound I have a heart shaped uterus - essentially, my uterus is misshaped, causing there to be less room for Charlie to grow and move in. It wasn't severe, so while I was labelled "high risk", the odds of her suffering from it were very low. But, it did mean that once she settled into her upright position, she probably wasn't going to be turning around any time soon. Or, as it turns out, at all. She was completely breach, with her upper body in one side, or horn, of my uterus, and her legs in the other. So, with many many many ultrasounds performed to check for unbreaching (for lack of a better word), we planned for a C-section on September 29th (my doctor was leaving for Italy that night, so she fit us in when I was 39 weeks exactly).

The week prior to her coming, Tim and I frantically tried to get everything ready. The night before we were vacuuming, organizing, packing, etc. We ended up staying up really late, despite the fact that we had to be at the hospital at 5:30 the next morning. When we woke up the morning of, (around 4:30), I showered, put on mascara (so necessary before surgery), dressed in yoga pants and my "I'm so crafty, I make people" t-shirt, and headed out the door with our empty car seat and jam packed diaper bag. I felt vaguely anxious, but the coming surgery, and ultimately the arrival of this little baby we'd been loving, and praying for, for so long seemed somewhat abstract. We got to the hospital, then drove around for awhile to find the birthing center. Once we got in, I changed into the hospital gown, got my IV, had blood drawn, a last ultrasound to confirm she was still breach, and then was checked for contractions, which, it so happens, I was having. I had just thought she was moving around a lot, so I was surprised to hear that. Then, my doctor came in, looking like a model despite her scrubs and pumas in place of her usual designer clothes. (I won't lie, as I got increasingly rounder and my wardrobe got more limited, I also was increasingly more jealous of her tiny body and adorable clothing.)

They took Tim and me to the C-section room and introduced me to the anesthesiologist. He then proceeded with the spinal block, starting with a shot to numb me (PS - this isn't bad. And I hate shots.) then the block itself. It felt warm, and similar to yolk or, I now know, spit up, running down my back. Then I was numb. Beyond numb, I couldn't have moved the lower half of my body if my life depended on it. I was told that the second I felt any nausea I had to tell him so he could give me something to stop it. That's when the shakes came in. Ugh. Some people experience shaking from the spinal block, and I was one of the lucky ones. I was shuddering violently, and felt extremely cold. In the meantime, they had laid me down and were prepping for the incision.
My wonderful doctor kept me informed of everything that was going on, so I knew when the surgery started. Nausea came immediately, and I was given drugs through my IV to help. Tim was alternating between trying to calm me down - the shaking was really upsetting me - and watching what was happening, when he suddenly got sick. He says it was the smell of the iodine, not the blood and guts, but either way, he was throwing up. I started feeling a lot of pressure - no pain - but pushing and pulling, and the intensity of it made me sick. The anesthesiologist gave me a bed pan and I dry heaved into it for a while. Then, suddenly we were told to look up, and above the little curtain separating the whole me from the cut up me were two purple little feet, and then a piercing wail. I immediately teared up, knowing that Charlie was here, and I was listening to the world's most beautiful cry. I was handed a wad of gauze to wipe my face with, and then Tim was told to go with the nurse to the corner of the room where they cleaned Charlie and swaddled her.

In the meantime, I was feeling very faint, and very sick. It took less time for them to get Charlie out then it did to put me back together. I could feel every tug and shove as, I can only assume, my insides were rearranged, and I was eventually sutchered together (I was scared of staples, so my doctor opted for sutchers). In the midst of this, Tim brought Charlotte to me. It was a strange moment for me. I think it must be true that the act of labor helps you bond with your child, because when he brought her to me, I thought, "I don't recognize her." She wasn't what I'd imagined and it threw me for a loop. Not to say I didn't love her, or think she was amazing, I just didn't expect her to have dark hair, no eyebrows, and her lower lip firmly tucked under her upper lip. It doesn't help that I was exhausted in every way at this point, and very close to passing out.

Finally they finished with me and wheeled me (on the bed, I don't remember how I got there) back to my room. My dad and mother in law were in there, stocking it with snacks, so they got to meet Charlie briefly and learn her name. I still hadn't held her, due to the shaking, and was eager to breast feed her, so they were shooed out pretty quickly. She was given a quick sponge bath, and shots, and then given to me to feed. That was when the bond formed for me. She latched quickly and wonderfully, and then fell asleep in my arms. The things I thought were odd when I first saw her weren't any more. Brown hair because her dad has brown hair. No eyebrows because I have fair pale eyebrows. Her lower lip had been hidden because she had been sucking on it, something she still does. She was beautiful, perfect, and mine.

I won't tell you my hospital experience, because it was, in many ways, really terrible and no one has that kind of time to commit to reading a blog. But, to finish the story of the C-section...because of the spinal block combined with my inability to move, they put compression sleeves on my legs, that squeezed them continually to keep blood clots from forming, 12 hours after my c-section (7:30 pm) they made me get up. I was not given the drugs I had been told I would get, so this experience was extremely difficult, and so painful the wind was knocked out of me. I fell back to my bed three times. My recovery was slower than I had anticipated, it took several weeks for me to get up or down without wincing. Thank goodness Tim was off work for two week and could do a lot of the physical work. By six weeks I was back to normal, only experiencing the smallest pangs now and then, just above my incision.

So, the moral of the story is:

C-sections are rough. If I don't have to have one for any future children, I won't. But, remember, if you do have to have one, they are the most commonly performed surgery for women in America, and though uncomfortable, they are extremely safe and relatively quick.

If you don't bond immediately with your baby, don't panic, don't feel guilty, just give it a little time. You will be more bonded, connected, and in love with your baby than you could ever have imagined so soon.

Utilize your spouse to help. Bending is not an option after a C-section, so Tim changed every single diaper for at least a week. He also did all the burping, and was on crib duty, checking on her every sound.

No matter the means you have to go through to bring your baby into this world, it's so worth it. Charlotte has brought us so much joy, I can't imagine my life without her.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I appreciate how you honestly describe everything and give a little "moral" at the end. Congratulations!