by Rebecca Lee
My first born was delivered via emergency C-section 5.5 years ago. The 48hrs leading up to her birth were long and painful with regular contractions and a failed epidural (one side of me was numb and the other felt everything). Ultimately, my little girl wouldn’t fit down the canal and a Caesarean was the only option. The repercussions of her birth took a long time to recover from, both mentally and physically.
2 years later I fell pregnant for the 2nd time. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be and a little life was lost somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks gestation. Throughout that short pregnancy, I knew something wasn’t quite right, however, as we all know, in early pregnancy, the pendulum can swing either way and is mostly out of our hands. It’s one of the only times in life that you are well and truly helpless.
Then I fell pregnant for the 3rd time. Going into that pregnancy, for my own sanity, I wanted and needed to be in the driver’s seat as much as possible. I wanted an elective caesarean and thankfully, I was lucky enough to get one. At 39+ 3, at 8am, we would be meeting our baby.
The drive to the hospital was bizarre. I kept saying over and over “..we are having a baby today WHAT THE F&$@?!” Upon arriving, bloods were taken and I was asked to take a shower with a special solution to kill any bacteria. Hot tip- take care of “down there” in advance, unless you’re interested in a little hospital beauty salon tidy up. Thankfully I was able to keep the pretty pink polish I had forked out for the day before!
Before long I was being wheeled into the first waiting room with my husband alongside me. In the second waiting room, I met the anaesthetist who explained what to expect throughout the procedure and the potential side effects of the spinal block… And then it was time. My husband didn’t leave my side throughout the entire process. There was a little sting as the local anaesthetic was administered to numb my back, but from there on in, there was no pain. My body felt weird, heavy and fuzzy whilst they waited for the full dose to take effect. I had heard that having a repeat c-section, you are more in tune with the sensations so was quietly petrified that I would hear or feel something that would haunt me for life. The atmosphere was strange. Drs and nurses buzzed around the room, sharing stories and chatting about their day ahead, meanwhile I’m lying 90% naked on a table in front of them. What was another day in the office for them, would be life-changing for us, however, their complete sense of normality was strangely reassuring. I forgot all about the fact that my lady parts were out for all to see and even engaged in some small talk.
Throughout the procedure, my blood pressure was constantly monitored via an arm cuff. If I felt nauseous it meant my blood pressure was low, and the Dr would top up the meds. At one stage, I dipped too low and I found my chest spasming whilst liquid poured out of my mouth.
It was around 15 minutes before our beautiful son joined us in the room. The Obstetrician held him up so that my husband and I could find out for ourselves the sex and we could see his little face for the first time. He was then taken over to the crib for a few minutes to have vitals checked, cleaned up and wrapped before being passed to me for my husband and I to enjoy. From there he never left my side. I’d love to tell you what the Drs and nurses were doing to me at that time but I have no clue as I was completely consumed by our little boy. The Drs and midwives took bets on his measurements and any sceric of fear was replaced with that overwhelming feeling that your heart might actually burst from joy.
Physically, the next 24 hours were tough. I was bedridden, wearing only a hospital gown, and leaking bodily fluids which the midwives checked routinely. My skin was insanely itchy- a side effect of the anaesthetic and I was deliriously tired. Slowly, feeling returned to my legs and I became aware of the contraptions attached to them, massaging throughout the day and night to avoid clotting. Baby spent the night in the nursery and was brought to me for feeding. The midwives kept me well medicated, I never once felt pain, until the next morning when I was finally allowed out of bed for a shower. I hobbled into the bathroom like a nonagenarian, a shuffle at a time, wincing in pain as I inched along. A couple of bruises on my back were a reminder of the spinal block. It felt so damn good to be under that hot running water. I spent just a tad too long in there and started to get a bit woozy. Thankfully the midwife never left the bathroom door and escorted me back to bed tout suite.
All in all, I was in hospital 5 days, being medicated for pain around the clock if I needed it. Hot tip and overshare warning ahead- eat as much fibre as possible to get the “motions” happening. All those painkillers can really slow things. The first one is hard work but so, so, so rewarding! By the time we headed home, I was down to the odd panadol- mostly at night. The area around the incision started to regain feeling about 2 weeks later, and in patches. 12 weeks on there are still some patches with no feeling but it’s no trouble- and actually makes for a much less painful wax!
Post birth, you really do need to take it easy. Accept all help from anyone who will offer. Avoid heavy lifting (no more than your bouncing bundle of joy), and any activity that puts pressure or strain on the abdominal muscles. Even after those initial 6 weeks, try to be cautious. I meekly had to explain to my obstetrician that the stitches I busted were my own fault- after jumping on the trampoline.
I wrote this story to share my experience and to lift some of the mystery so if it happens to you, it’s not so scary. Ultimately, no matter how your baby arrives, there will be pain, there will be bodily fluids, and complete loss of dignity in front of a gallery of strangers, but you will absolutely fall head over heels for the new little person in your life and that’s the most important outcome of all.