For the love of…
My C-Section Birth
Two of my dear friends recently gave birth – on the same day – due three weeks apart. One had a vaginal birth and the other a C-Section. Indisputably, the Mama who had the C-section is finding her healing process much more challenging.
As a fellow C-Section Mama, I can relate to the post birth experience – it’s painful, tender, raw and difficult to manoeuvre at any pace. This gradually subsides but it took my abdominal area a good amount of time to completely heal. Despite this, I took short and slow walks the week I got home as the fresh air did wonders.
The experience of my Mama friends had me thinking about women opting for a C-Section to avoid the pain of labour. Not entirely sure pain can be avoided in any delivery but the joy that comes from having a child far out ways any pain.
In recognition of C-Section Awareness Month in April, this is my birth story.
During pregnancy I searched for the gory details about birth, including the stories of tearing from yay to nay. Some say why put fear into a soon to be Mama with all of the unnecessary detail but I believe this helped with my preparation.
About twenty weeks in, I had a curious conversation with my Obstetrician about childbirth. I was intrigued that convenience and availability of obstetrician are influential reasons for caesareans. I still didn’t understand the fondness of a C-section – until I had one. We spoke of my Mum’s birthing experiences and how she had all four of us kids via C-Section as she didn’t dialate. This didn’t necessarily mean I would inherit the same complications.
The second half of my pregnancy continued with no issue. I really enjoyed being pregnant and felt quite blessed that it was smooth sailing for the duration. My due date of Friday 17 July 2015 came to a close but only 5% of babies are reportedly born on their due date so I had no reason to be alarmed.
I was booked in for an Induction at 40 +5, they occur in Australia to around one in every four women. As a first time Mama, I was mostly happy to be guided by the professionals and my friends who had similar experiences with an Induction.
On Saturday 18 July, I went to hospital for Cardiotocography (CTG), which is fetal monitoring of the heart. I was on the monitor for over an hour because a specific reading needs to be recorded. It was then back home in the hope labour would arrive. I tried all the natural remedies and wonder whether they have actually worked for anyone? Drove over speed humps, had sex, ate spicy food, climbed stairs, walked, got acupuncture, ate dates and bananas, drank raspberry leaf tea and licorice tea and every herbal tea there is, did squats and had warm baths. Is there anything else I should have tried?
All of these natural methods didn’t bring on labour but they brought me to my Induction date of 6pm Tuesday 21 July. I was excited about meeting my baby but somewhat anxious because I’d browsed way too much Google. This was a silly thing to do because everyone’s pain threshold is different but Google can’t distinguish that.
We arrived at the hospital and given a room with a picturesque view overlooking the city and the bay. If nothing else was certain the amazing view definitely was. I was put on the monitor again and the midwife explained it was still early days and suggested I could go into labour naturally if I left it a few more days. Despite this, I followed the advice of my Obstetrician and proceeded with the Induction.
The gel was inserted quite high in an effort to bring on contractions. This process was uncomfortable but it wasn’t as painful as I had read it would be. It’s probably more awkward than anything else, having a stranger (who is rather handsome) carry out his medical insertion duties with my own audience. I quickly learnt during the miracle of creating a child that your dignity goes for a short time but as cliché as it sounds, it’s all worth it.
That night at home, I had slight cramping with minimal indication of contractions; apparently it can take a while for the cervix to soften with gel. As other Mamas would agree those final days of pregnancy can be difficult to sleep and this night was no different. We returned to the hospital at 6am and the monitor identified a slight change in contractions but an internal suggested otherwise. Another two lots of gel was inserted; women can go into labour after one so hopefully three was going to work for me.
With the advice to get active, Anton and I walked to the Royal Children’s Hospital and checked out the Aquarium and Meerkats – weirdly, this was on my bucket list. Who would have thought ticking off an item from the bucket list would happen at 41 weeks pregnant.
My abdominal area was starting to really cramp so we returned to the hospital and I was put on the monitor again but still no sign of labour so we were able to go home. Over the next two days the cramping got stronger and peaked every fifteen minutes or so. It was an achy and uncomfortable few days that got more intense as time past.
By Saturday, I was set on a C-Section – no way I was going home pregnant again. We arrived at the hospital at 6am, my Ob tried to break my waters but was unable to because of a gap between my pelvis and cervix. The gap was a couple of centimetres but this in medical terms is equivalent to miles. Like mum, I wasn’t going to dialate.
It was confirmed I would be having an emergency C-Section. I was relieved with this decision and glad I had a few days prior to process the possibility of this occurring. I knew all options had been exhausted for a vaginal birth.
A midwife assisted me for theatre and talked through the process of what to expect. For those ladies unshaven downstairs, the midwife will shave you. I’m sure it isn’t all that invasive having the midwife sort you out but if you can organise yourself beforehand then why not. It’s all these tips that need their own little black book exclusively for pregnant women.
Excitedly, I walked myself to the operating theatre. My Ob offered his iPod and I chose a few tunes for us to listen to during the operation – it was shaping up to be happy days.
The anaesthetist gave his recited spiel on the risk of epidurals before inserting the needle into my spine. I also googled too much about this process and was lead to believe it would really hurt but I didn’t feel any pain at all. I felt a warm rush spread through my body and within a couple of minutes I was numb from the chest down. There were a couple of other injections to prepare me for the C-section but in the pecking order of needles, they were harmless compared to the spinal block.
So there I laid listening to One Direction, naked on an operating table. I was a dead weight by that stage so the heavy body spread was doubly attractive. I watched the scrubbed up medical staff manoeuvre around me while a catheter was inserted.
The anaesthetist spent the entire time talking me through what was happening and making me laugh throughout the operation. We had a good chuckle about prams and the demographic each pram is supposedly suited to. I’m not sure whether the standard role of the anaesthetist is to keep the patient entertained but he constantly reassured me throughout the operation and was bloody funny too.
I felt pressure and pulling from my stomach so I knew meeting our baby wasn’t too far away. We had plans for a birthing photographer but it was decided against due to the uncertainty of how my birth was unfolding. Anton was invited over the curtain to take photos of our baby getting pulled out of my stomach. Anton’s face beamed with amazement but looked slightly overwhelmed too, as he captured lots of memories to treasure.
I was busting to know the gender and was delighted when Anton eagerly shared the news of a baby girl; in an instant she had brought so much joy to us. All 9.1 pounds of Raffaella was placed on my chest. That moment is something that can never be replaced.
So here I am in the 31% of Australian women who had a C Section or out of the sunroof as my witty friend hilariously describes it. I couldn’t believe how quick and straightforward the operation was despite my initial reservations. Within half an hour of entering the theatre I’d given birth, although it was in a different way than I first imagined it would be. It’s this moment that made me understand why women opt for C Sections.. x
How did you birth story unfold?