Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thoughts about C-sections

No one in my very large extended family has had severe complications during labor, had premature babies, or had to have a c-section. I was the first (and so far/hopefully, the only.) That kind of makes me feel like I lost the genetic lottery, though I know that's not what it's about.

Me and Builder Boy (2006)
My first emergency c-section was a complete surprise. It all happened very quickly and I only remember a few things about it. I remember that Builder Boy's head was bigger than they expected and the doctor had trouble getting him out so he pushed down on my rib cage/lungs for leverage which made me feel like I was being suffocated. I remember that they almost left the operating room without letting me see my baby, until I said something. And I remember waiting for what felt like forever, without my baby, in the recovery room alone while a nurse would come in every once in a while and push on my just cut opened and sewn closed abdomen and asked if it hurt. (It did!)

In my postpartum room there was another woman who had just had her 3rd c-section. She was very nice and talked to me, though I never saw her face or learned her name. She is how I learned that after you have one c-section you're more likely to have following births as c-sections, and that there are risks for attempting a vbac (vaginal birth after caesarean.)

When I became pregnant for the second time my husband and I researched vbacs and prayed about it. We decided that the best decision for us was to attempt a vbac. However, that's not how things turned out, and I required a second emergency c-section. I remember very little about that one, too. I remember the anesthesia they used to block feeling in my lower half didn't work, I could still fell the test pinches, so they kept giving me more and more of something; not sure what. Having had the previous experience (at a different hospital) I made sure ahead of time that they would remember to let me see my baby before they took off with him. And I am really glad I did, since I was so sick afterwards from all the extra anesthesia that I was too sick to get out of bed and see him in the NICU for over 36 hours. (And it felt MUCH longer than that.)

So when the time came around and my husband and I were deciding whether or not we wanted to have a third child, we knew we had to factor in that I would be having another c-section. We had decided before the 2nd one that we were willing to try a vbac then, but not a vba2c if that didn't turn out as planned. I had gotten through two c-sections, so I figured I could handle one more. I've heard about pregnancy hormones that give you amnesia about your birthing experience, so you're more likely to do it again, even if it was really painful and awful. This is the only thing I can think to explain why I thought a third c-section would not be a big deal; complete amnesia. Because this time around my mind felt like a video recorder. I still remember everything; those forgetting hormones didn't kick in this time. And if I hadn't been completely sure after this pregnancy that this would be my last time, going through that c-section would have convinced me.

Me and Lady Bug (2013)
I'm not trying to scare everyone away from c-sections. I really understand the importance of them. But as I was on the operating table in the cold, sterile room I felt I was living the definition of  the word "splayed." (The image of Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart comes to mind.) It was so impersonal and even though I'd done it before, this time I was afraid. I held my panic in but all I wanted at that moment was to call it all off and attempt a vba2c. Anything but be cut open, vulnerable. Maybe it was the hormones, maybe it was emotional exhaustion from being in the hospital on magnesium sulfate for a week. I just did not want to be there, doing that. But I did it, because I had to. At least this time around I got to watch my baby and hold her while I was in the recovery room before she started having problems and had to be moved to the NICU.

My recovery was even longer this time, partially because I had to stay on the magnesium. I also had some internal bleeding or something that required a transfusion two days after the surgery. Getting my tubes tied while I was already open may have also extended my recovery period. I couldn't have made it through the first week home if my mother-in-law haddn't come up to stay with us and help.

I wrote all that out for those who are researching caesarean sections and want to know what it's like on a personal rather than clinical perspective. I do NOT recommend an elective c-section if there is no medical reason to have it. I would much rather have pushed the kids out (though I am saying that having never done it.) I rather envy my friends who went in, had their baby, and were out the next day.

1 comment:

  1. This breaks my heart. Although I understand what you went through I by no means KNOW. I feel so blessed to have had a complication free/natural/" easy" birth with my 9 lb. Burrito <3 It is certainly good to remember and keep things in perspective. So glad you 4 are all well and that you don't have to do that again. xoxo


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