The first few weeks after I gave birth I recall constantly being asked about my birth story, and I didn’t really think much to put together a cohesive story and just told my ‘story’ in bits and pieces. But as the birth of A becomes increasingly a thing in the past, I’ve decided to take all the bits and pieces I jotted down and turn it into my complete birth story. This is extremely long, so if you just want to know my thoughts on having a c-section (spoiler!!), I’ll be writing about that later, so check a future entry!
My birth story actually starts a couple weeks before my actual labor starts, well, technically I guess you could say my birth story began as soon as we found out I was pregnant, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll start at my 37 week appointment when my doctor said my weight gain was surprisingly low so she wanted to do an ultrasound to make sure baby was growing nicely. To our surprise, at that ultrasound baby was estimated to be already 7 pounds, pretty large, but my doctor didn’t seem too concerned. But then at the 38 week appointment my doctor wanted another ultrasound which estimated baby to be about 8 pounds and at the rate of growth, given another 2 weeks baby could be close to 10 pounds at birth. I almost had a heart attack when she told me! I’m not super tiny or anything, but I couldn’t imagine pushing out a 10 pound baby! My doctor then was super honest with me and said that at this rate and if baby was that big, given the structure of my pelvic area, I would probably have to have a c-section, but she suggested if I wanted to, to get induced at 39 weeks to try for a vaginal birth, in which case I would have a 40/60 chance of being able to have a vaginal birth.
Before this I hadn’t considered c-section at all, after all in my mind everything had been progressing smoothly. Being induced also wasn’t on my mind since in birthing class, we learned that babies are still in the womb past 40 weeks and even then aren’t induced immediately. Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed at this point and cried (typical…) – the thought of not being able to go into labor naturally scared me, and in some ways also made me feel like a failure. And the thought of having a c-section wasn’t disappointing to me, but just scary. But… there was still hope! I had one week before my appointment.
The morning before my appointment, I woke up feeling funny and went pee and discovered a large amount of blood in the toilet. I freaked out since I didn’t really recall the birthing classes mentioning this happening, so we called the hospital and the nurse suggested that we come in to get checked. So off we went! I thought to myself, it’s happening, Praise the Lord! But when we got to the hospital and they hooked me up to measure my contractions and did a cervix check, I was only 2 cm dilated and not having regular contractions so we got sent home. Boo. I was starving at this point, so on the one hand I was disappointed that we got sent home, but on the other hand so excited to be able to eat something. So off we went to brunch, and then it really started happening…the contractions that all month I’ve been asking people what they would feel like. Honestly to me they were similar to the Braxton Hicks I’ve been feeling for a couple months already but just stronger and more often. I thought I would be more scared, but I was pretty excited since all week, I had walked and walked and bounced on an exercise ball in hopes of going into labor naturally, and I ate pasta (since the hostess at Magianno’s told me that apparently super pregnant women come there to eat sometimes because pasta helps bring about labor…). Anyways, I was thrilled to not have to be induced.
That night, we were actually supposed to go out for dinner with my family to celebrate my brother’s birthday, but by 4 in the afternoon, the contractions were increasingly closer together but we were still waiting for 5-1-1. I was sad we missed the dinner, but everyone came over afterwards for cake, and I remember trying to eat cake through the contractions (of course, I still managed to!). By bedtime, the contractions were starting to be about 5 minutes apart, but some wouldn’t last that long, and I thought it was bearable, so we got ready to sleep. I think Kp managed to fall asleep, but I was starting to struggle to fight through the contractions in peace and by 2am, I wasn’t having it, so off to the hospital we went! I remember thinking that this would be the worst drive of my life, since it was a 30-minute (no traffic) drive to the hospital. Thankfully it being 2am, there wasn’t any traffic and we made it in record time… a few contractions later.
Once at the hospital, labor progressed quickly for me, going from 4cm to 7cm in the span of a couple hours, and at 7cm I chose to get an epidural. The pain was tolerable, but I was really tense from each contraction, which the nurses noted were happening extremely frequently for someone at 7cm. It was probably around 5 or 6am when I got the epidural, and I was hoping baby would be born in the next few hours. Everything was going well after the epidural, but all of a sudden a bunch of nurses walked into my room and told me to breath into an oxygen mask. I had no idea what was going on, and was kind of scared to find out, so I just tried to stay calm and continue breathing. Finally the doctor came in and I heard the nurse tell him that the baby’s heart rate was dropping, but thankfully after he checked on me the baby’s heart rate it returned to normal. He joked that the baby must have missed him, because just 15 minutes before this happened he had come in to check on her. All that mattered to me though was that baby was still okay, and I was still okay. Definitely after I got the epidural, I felt a lot more at ease. But things definitely slowed down. It took me another 7/8 hours to get to 10 centimeters but it seemed like I would be able to have a vaginal birth!
That is… until I started pushing. After 2 hours of pushing in a bunch of different positions, the nurse said baby hadn’t budged an inch down the birth canal and not for lack of trying. Baby just didn’t want to leave my womb and with every push would just slide back up. To make it worse, during all the pushing, baby’s head managed to turn sideways, and even after changing to pushing on my hands and knees (super difficult with an epidural!!), she wasn’t turning back. The doctor came in to check up on me and at this point and asked how I felt about having a c-section. She said it could be that I push for another 2 hours and be at the same cross road. At this point, I had already been in labor for almost 24 hours including the time I labored at home and had pushed for 2 hrs. The nurses were so nice and all willing to continue trying if I wanted to, but I decided at this point to get a c-section.
The actual cutting me up wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But what I didn’t realize was because of all the pushing I had been doing to get baby lower, now we had to get baby a bit higher, since the doctor would have to get the baby’s head from the incision, which is about an inch below a typical panty line. I’m not sure how the doctor pushed the head back up, but it hurt a whole lot… I’m guessing she had to stick her hand up and push? Okay. Let’s try not to think about that anymore. Anyways, back to the surgery. I got wheeled into the operation room where they put up a drape so I wouldn’t see the operation itself. I got some heavier anesthetics and 15 minutes later and a bunch of pressure later, which honestly felt like someone was sitting on me trying to kill me through squashing me, baby was born! The doctors cleaned her up a little bit and passed her over to me as they finished putting me back together. At this point, I think I was still in shock of what was happening and it seemed so surreal that the baby that I had been carrying around inside for 9 months was the same baby I was holding in my arms. I thought to myself, c-section isn’t too bad!
One hour later, as the anesthetics wore off, I started to feel it; a burning sensation in my lower right abdomen. The nurse earlier had said, let me know when you want pain medicine, which up until then I thought I wouldn’t need, but boy did I want it now. I’m typically not one to take pain medicine, but throughout the next 24 hours, anytime anyone offered me pain medicine I didn’t hesitate for a second. Sometimes I even asked them if I could receive my next dose, to which the reply was often, it hasn’t been 4 hours since your last one yet. Bummer.
After spending a few hours in the recovery room, they wheeled me up to the mother and baby unit where I would be spending the next few days. Up till this point, I hadn’t had to move at all, but when we got there, they asked me to lift myself and sort of crab walk over from the bed I was on to the bed in the room. I realized at that point, I had no control of my abdominal muscles and crab crawling over took a good 5 minutes, to move 3 steps over.
The nurse told me that 6 hours from when I had my surgery, she would come back and help me stand up. I thought to myself, how hard can it be to stand up? 6 hours rolled around and I realized this standing up was way easier said than done… and in another 6 hours I was supposed to stand up and take a few steps. I’ve definitely taken being able to walk for granted… The next couple days I slowly improved, and was told to walk around the corridors. A normally 2 minute walk turned into a 15-minute walk. No one had told me this was the aftermath of having a c-section. Even after I got discharged from the hospital, the next few days were painful. I was given two different pain medicines, one I could take every 4 hours and one every 6 hours. I religiously wrote down the time I had each one so immediately when time was up I could take it again.
People say that the recovery to a c-section is like labor for a vaginal birth. Lucky me, I got to experience the best of both worlds… In hindsight though, the whole experience wasn’t as terrifying as most people make it out to be. It’s true that everyone has their unique birth story, and different bumps along the way, but for my own story, I was surprised at how different it was to what I thought it would be, in a good way. A few months later as I write my birth story, I still sometimes struggle with the fact that I had a c-section. I hear about other people successfully pushing out large babies, and I sometimes let it get to me. It’s funny how we’re never 100% satisfied with our own experiences, or maybe that’s just me… But then I remind myself that I’m grateful that I was safe and A was safe through the whole labor and delivery. And who knows, someday we might have another baby and maybe I’ll have a VBAC!