An Emergency C Section Birth Story – 3 Tips for Caesarean Sections. C Sections are long and complicated topics – this is the start of my story. Lately, my C Section scar has been giving me grief. It’s not so much sore as it is irritating. I’m blaming the awkward humidity we’ve been having lately but really I’ve no idea what’s causing the gentle numbing tingling. More often than not though I forget that the scar is there. It healed well and I remember my obstetrician saying that she was very pleased with the four inch straight line as I lay on the operating table.
A was born by Emergency C Section on a damp and dreary Wednesday in October, in 2013. This was clearly not in my birth plan! In fact, a C Section was something I blatantly refused to imagine would ever be a possibility. Either through fear or ignorance I decided that I simply was not having a C Section so I didn’t prepare for one at all. At all! I’m not exactly Mother Nature.
You would imagine that working as a senior library assistant in a maternity hospital would mean I have a wealth of knowledge on obstetrical and gynaecological conditions. Yes, while I know and claim to understand a fair amount of issues, everything went out the window once that stick screamed pregnant. Everything I knew melted away and I claimed ignorance. Pregnancy and child birth is frightening and I really didn’t need to remember complications and conditions that could make my pregnancy difficult or dangerous. After all, being pregnant is the most dangerous state a woman can be in. I didn’t need the reminder.
Small Baby? Big Baby? Questions, Questions
Throughout my pregnancy A was classed as a small baby. I had very little to complain about being wonderfully neat and glowing. I had crappy morning sickness that only gave me a two week break in the July but I suffered through it, learning how to discreetly retch or vomit into my handbag on the bus to work at 7:45am – gross I know, but what can you do when you’ve forgotten a plastic carrier bag and all you have is your handbag or the hoodie of the guy in front of you! I lost three handbags and a mug over that pregnancy! Despite the usual kidney infections, morning sickness and regular aches and pains and troubles of pregnancy, I managed well. Especially when I developed a craving for BBQ Rib Doritos, I was a happy lass on my first pregnancy.
Rotunda Hospital, Dublin
Every appointment was a dream in the Rotunda Hospital as I visited my obstetrician in the Private Clinics. I realise that as I work in the Rotunda, you may consider me to be a little biased to what I consider the wonder of the Rotunda but I enjoyed my experience there regardless of how the actual birth went down. Everyone has issues with hospitals, and the choice you make of which maternity hospital you go to is a big decision.
For me, there was no decision. I worked there, it was beyond convenient and I trusted the staff. I know my colleagues to a certain level (although there are 600+ staff so obviously I don’t know everyone) but if you’ve read my post on Insecurities you’ll know that I’m not the most talkative or social person (in fact, I have, for the 9th year running, skipped the annual staff BBQ – apologies but I’m sure you didn’t miss me again!) And while they are my colleagues, I tend to keep myself to myself and am relatively private – until I started writing this blog that is!
I chose my obstetrician much like everyone else, I googled their name and read recommendations on forums from unknown internet strangers. Of course, I had my short list but ultimately was very happy with my choice of consultant. So being a Rotunda staff member, didn’t necessarily have any impact on my decision to stay in the Rotunda. I was, after all, new to the arena as a patient, new to being pregnant for the very first time, and everyone and everything in the building had a new and different slant for me.
I had never stepped foot inside the private clinic and to this day I still get lost around the wards (the building is a maze.) But most importantly to my story, I was scared and nervous and decided to know little. A Cesarean Section was never really mentioned throughout my pregnancy. Everything was going OK but things don’t always go to plan.
Regardless, a section wasn’t in my mind at all. I was however booked in for an induction on my due date as A was a small baby and my obstetrician didn’t want me to go any further. That’s grand, I thought, we’re almost there. A million women have done this before me, it’ll all work out.
My Induction was Not Nice
The induction … sucked. I’ll be honest I hope I never have to go through that again. Awkward, uncomfortable and painful. I was attached to the trace machine for hours, small break, back on it again, small break, back on it again. Of course, you’re attached to this machine and you’re worrying because no one else in the ward is on it as long as you. You’re listening to this rhythmic beating and just hoping that it’s meant to sound like that. No one gives you information because answers will stress you and baby out, regardless of the answer.
I started bleeding at midnight and was told that it can happen from the induction, not to worry and just keep an eye on it. But to me there was just a bit too much blood to causally toss it to the side like that. I worried and worried and worried. Stage two of the induction occurred at 8am and I was still bleeding. It was unusual I was told but that was why I was still on the trace machine. I went through pad after pad after pad – apologies to the squeamish.
Despite it all, I failed to progress and developed clots. I was frightened because I was bleeding so much and was praying that my consultant would arrive and deliver our baby. B was incredible, he arrived back in at 8am having been asked to leave at 11pm the night before. He kept me calm and supported me even though he was just as nervous and scared and knew just as little as me. At 2pm my consultant arrived, suggested that B wait outside as we had a giggle over his fears of childbirth (as all man have!) and blood, blood, blood. So B stepped out, examination took place and she simply said, “its going to be an emergency C Section.” And now.
My face dropped, I’m sure I turned a hellish grey and I simply cried. This wasn’t how I wanted my first baby to be born. I feared the complications, the surgery, the pain, and everything that was unknown to me about c sections. If only I educated myself. If only I had left my ignorance at the door and prepared myself for what could be a possibility for my safety and the safe arrival of our child.
At 2:10pm B came back (he ran to shop and bought a sandwich – clever lad! Turns out he would have needed that extra jolt of energy to get him through the next bit). I was talking to the anesthetist and was being prepped for lines (of course this was complicated due to a knot in my veins which I now often rub in memory of that day). By 2:30pm I was brought to theatre, given tablets and water, which I obligingly took because you do what your told in these situations and don’t ask questions – or at least I don’t.
Time for a C Section
The team in theatre, my obstetrician, the anesthetist were all simply incredible. In fact, they had me laughing at various points as they prepped me for surgery and my obstetrician was teasing B for being “the colour of the walls” as he waited outside – the walls are white FYI 🙂
I had zero time to think about what was actually happening and I remember gently shaking as I sat on the table as the epidural was administered. A theatre nurse came over to me and held my hands and told me not to worry. Her poor hands were white by the time I let go, I held on to her that hard. The staff danced around me – at one point a staff member noticed who I was and said “Oh look, it’s our librarian,” I felt a little on show then! – they seemed to effortlessly glide with instruments and ice cubes as they tested if I could feel anything in my legs and abdomen (a trick I was confused about and then realised what was happening – I was oddly impressed with the ingenuity of using an ice cube. I thought they’d use pins!) The anesthetist said as she was handed three ice cubes, “three, I only need one, don’t you know we’re in a recession!” which made me laugh.
And suddenly, they ushered B in and he was sitting by my side, holding my hand, asking me was I OK. The tears and worry he had seen before I entered theater were gone and I said “Jesus epidurals are amazing” and laughed. Everything was over in seven minutes. A was born at 3:03pm, a time we will never forget. She was perfect and beautiful. She still is. I had a slight hiccup with vomiting on the table after the surgery but as far as I know they simply lowered the dosage of whatever drug I was on and I was hunky dory again.
The Doting Dad – A Daddy’s Girl from the very first second. If you’re interested in reading about B’s side of the story, he worked with Claire from The Pramshed who runs a series on her blog called The Partners Experience. Check it out, if you want to know what the man gets up to while the woman produces a human being and expunges it from her body!
A devastating part of my C Section experience happened that evening when I was offered Tea and Toast – ahhh the golden chalice of tea and toast after having a baby. I had heard so much about it and I had been lusting after it. I had, after all, eaten nothing since 5pm the day before. However, three sips of tea and a bit of toast and I was vomiting again – Pooey!
Having not prepared brought so many complications to my first few months as a mother – pain, bonding, feeding and emotional upheaval. I often wonder, if I had prepared better for all eventualities of A’s birth would I have been more prepared to deal with the day to day life and consequences of the birth? I admire those women who have birth plans and know exactly how they would like the birth to go and if it doesn’t, how their plan B keeps them prepared and focused at such a momentous time.
If it were to happen again though there are three things I would do – plus a million others so this wont be my last post on C Sections. But these three are near enough essential for those first few weeks during recovery. Next time, I’ll listen to myself.
You’re not supermom and those stitches could easily burst open. Two weeks after the section I was lugging the baby’s car seat and buggy from door to door. I got a right telling off from my Mum who caught me one day. Of course I said “Ah sure, I’m grand.” In hindsight, the risk is just not worth it. I was lucky to not cause myself any damage. Don’t be an idiot like me and just don’t lift any heavy loads. Which leads me on to my next point.
Ask for Help
Having a baby is tremendously hard on your body. They say it takes up to a year for your body to fully recover from the trauma and experience of it all. Throw abdominal surgery into the mix and you’ll do well to ask a friend or two for help. I was lucky that after B went back to work my mum came to our house and helped me get some much needed rest from exhaustion and to recuperate from the c section and those first few exhausting weeks. She would arrive about 9am or 10am and with a hug and a smile she’d hop back into the car and drive home just before B came home from work. Those two weeks were immeasurable. Not only did my mum help with caring for A and teaching me a thing or two about babies, she also gave me a confidence. By the middle of week two she would come to my house and simply kept me company. I failed to notice but she had gently stopped caring for A as I took over and she looked after her own daughter instead. She made me realise that, yes, I could do this. I can be a good Momma Bear.
Once those two weeks were up, my folks jetted off to Spain, followed by Christmas and then they were gone again to visit my brother in Australia. They had four very busy months. I didn’t realise how much I relied on my parents and as my maternity leave moved on, I didn’t ask anyone else for help when I desperately needed it. By the January I was suffering from mild postnatal depression and still I didn’t ask for help when I needed it.
It does you no good to suffer on your own. Just ask.
And the one thing I did do:
Take your Meds
My obstetrician sat on my bed after surgery and said “take everything they throw at you.” And I second that. You can’t do it without medication. If you know you’ve missed a dose, ask for it. It helps. I managed relatively ok with the pain after about day three or four but those first few days are painful, plain old painful. Take those happy popping pills and you’ll be ok.
Low Mood turning into Mild Post Natal Depression
Lack of Bonding with A
Failure to Breastfeed
Emotional Distress at the idea of having not given birth
Feeling of Failure
Post Traumatic Stress
However despite these experiences I would have another C Section. I would just prepare myself more. C Sections are long and complicated topics so for now I’ll sign off this post and I’ll attach any new links to this post when I have my thoughts focused and my experiences clear on the page for you. Sign up to follow my blog if you’d like to read more in the future.
I would love to hear your experiences of ECS’s or CS’s. How did you feel after and would you have another section?
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