April is C-Section Awareness Month
I never planned a c-section, just a healthy baby. I read this the other day and it sums up exactly how I feel. Both my babies were born via c-section, Brae, the first was technically an emergency caesarean - not that dramatic at all but I'll get to that in a mo, and my second Penny, was a planned or elective c-section. Apparently in the UK 1 in 4 pregnant women have a c-section so I thought what better time to share my c-section stories.
When I wrote my birthing plan for Brae I was really open minded. Simply put, I said I'd like it as natural as possible, hopefully a water-birth but would be open to any help, drugs etc if the hospital thought that was best for us. My thinking was that they've done this a few more times than me so I should listen to the pro's. Also, after spending a lot of time in and out of hospitals and Dr's to conceive Brae through IVF I was kind of 'over' medical procedures so an elective c-section didn't really appeal.
Fast forward a few months and nature had another plan. After days of back and forth to hospital for monitoring as Brae wasn't moving anymore, I was advised to have an induction. Naively I thought that meant he'd be here in a few hours....few days more like! Remember the scene in Friends where Rachel sees about a million mums come in deliver their baby, get discharged and she's still waiting? Yep, that was me. Labour started, contractions came...and went but he wasn't budging. By now, to say I was a tad exhausted is putting it politely.... The TENS machine was amazing but still didn't help disguise that I was trying to deliver a baby that had no intention of showing his face yet. We'd been through every local takeaway option, Dan had slept on the floor for yet another night in hospital and we were still no closer to meeting our baby. The Dr in charge suggested a c-section would be safest for baby and me as we were now prone to infection as my waters had broken way over 24 hours ago so that's what we agreed to. Technically it's classed as an emergency but it didn't feel like that at all. It was all very calm and serene as they explained what would happen next. Dan got gowned up, we signed 'that' piece of paper and off we went to surgery.
The thing about not planning a c-section is that there's no time to prepare for it. Yes, I knew roughly what would happen but how long would it take? What would happen after? I went down to theatre and they put 'the' blue screen up but I started to panic as Dan wasn't there yet. He was on his way and there was no rush as they were just getting theatre ready...counting in the tools is weird right for anyone who's had a c-section?? Dan appeared, closely followed by my sister who was trying to sneak in which they were obviously having none of, nice try Jen.
The whole procedure once they started was so quick, under 10 minutes quick. They put Brae on me immediately for cuddles and to announce he was a boy then whisked him off to be checked and weighed. Throughout the whole thing you can definitely feel what is going on although it doesn't hurt. I felt like I was being pulled around and tugged at a lot. I guess they cut through 6 layers of abdominal wall and make a 15cm opening to get the baby out so it would be impossible to feel nothing. Same goes for when they are stitching you back up. I definitely knew what was happening, which, let's just acknowledge is weird. Take a knee surgery/replacement for example, you're almost definitely going to be put out completely for that...not a c-section mumma! Anyway, then you go off to recovery, with your baby where they make sure you're all good for about 20-30 mins and then back to the ward.
Dan was waiting and literally had to do everything, put him on the boob, feed me, pass me things, everything. You don't realise how strong your core is until you don't have it. Dan went home that night and the team in hospital were amazing considering they're literally at your beck and call. When I wasn't feeding him, I was catching up on TV shows on my iPad, I just couldn't sleep weirdly.
Looking back at photos, I look exhausted. Hardly surprising and probably the same for most new mums but in total we were in for 4 nights and I couldn't wait to get home.
The recovery is intense after a c-section. Unlike any other surgery, you're not able to rest and recover, you're a new mum and as any new mum knows, that's full on, full of sleep deprivation and crazy hormones. Day by day it got slightly easier and it was a matter of listening to my body and doing as much as I thought I could, or as little. In hindsight it was a lovely time being made to sit and cuddle my newborn but at the time it felt alien, not being able to do much. As I got better the only thing that frustrated me was not being able to drive. Driving to me means independence but like all things, it's not forever. Dan works away a lot so literally had to leave the country after a week or so so the pressure to recover and provide for Brae felt even more real. Add in to this that my mum was really ill in ITU at the same time and all I wanted to do was see her, my motivation to get moving was off the scale!! I remember getting two trains with Brae in the buggy or Uber's to see her...amazing what love and determination does isn't it? I'd just become a mum and all I wanted to do was be with my mum.
Second time round, I was advised, not told, to have a planned c-section. It was mid pandemic and my midwife pointed out that all they had to go on was how my body dealt with labour previously and suggested c-section would be best bearing in mind that I'd recovered well too so that's what we decided on and this time nature played ball.
This time was so different though. We planned so much more, the music, what we'd do the day before, made plans for Brae to be with my sister and his cousins, it was weirdly satisfying to be in control, well, as in control as you can be when you're pregnant. I even had a spray tan and did my nails as I knew that would make me feel better on the days after. Each to their own mumma!
I was nil by mouth on the morning of the birth and remember being starving. I was one of the last ones to go down that day and it was mid Covid so being kept in our bay whilst we waited all day was claustrophobic but I was just grateful that Dan could be there as only weeks before some hospitals still weren't allowing partners.
I remember all of the theatre and team so much more clearly than the first birth and taking so much more in - probably because I'd had more sleep than the first time round too. Dan had decided he wanted to cut the cord this time, as he didn't really get asked the rush with Brae so he did that and after Penny was born they whisked her off for checks and stitched me back up. That part seemed to take ages this time and I can remember feeling jealous of Dan who was holding her, getting all the cuddles and first moments in. Crazy looking back as she'd be attached to me for weeks and months after but that's where my head went. Off we went to recovery again but soon enough we were back up in my room in no time. We had a side room this time which was amazing as I wanted to get as much sleep and rest as possible as my goal was to get home the next day which we luckily managed. One of the only pro's of Covid to be fair was that they wanted as few people in the hospital and on maternity wards as possible. Fine by us! We couldn't wait to take Penny home to meet her brother.
I look at the photos of me in hospital before and after I had Penny and I look so much more relaxed - and I knew exactly what my first meal would be, ha. I wouldn't change either or my births as they are how my babies arrived into this world safely but did I think I'd have two c-sections? Nope.
I can still taste that food now! Ky x