Smug. That’s what I was in my post about how enjoyable pregnancy was for me. How easy it was for me. Ha. That’ll teach me. Trust me, Universe, I have learned my lesson!
Let me tell you about the birth of my wee one…
Ok I’ll get to that in a second. First I need to let you in on something that my closest friends and family have known about me for a long time: If I was ever going to have a baby (and that was a big if), that child would arrive in the world via an incision in my lower abdomen. I was as pro-c-section as a person could be, and not because I ever considered myself ‘too posh to push’. No, for me it had something to do with the light headedness I always seemed to experience when I saw a pregnant belly, or the black spots that appeared in my vision when friends shared their experiences of giving birth. (Personally I think it should be illegal to share birth stories with women who have yet to experience pregnancy/labour…it could result in the extinction of the human race.)
To further illustrate my point, a little anecdote: In 2001 I lived in Australia. One day I was at Pacific Fair mall looking in a shop window. A woman with a baby carriage stopped beside me to look in the window, and I noticed how tiny her baby was. We’re talking a bit bigger than a sweet potato. Being super smart, I immediately made the connection that this baby had been born very recently. When I looked at the mom, I noticed she was wearing a crop top. A crop top! And her tummy was doing that waffly, loose skin thing. A very brave fashion choice. Rather than make polite conversation about her newborn, or offer my congratulations, I had to find a bench to sit down on so I could put my head between my legs. If I had had a paper bag, I would have been breathing into it. Just knowing that that wee sweet potato person had recently come out of some part of that woman was more than I could handle. See? Prime candidate for a c-section. I don’t think they allow you to breathe into a paper bag when you are in labour.
So when we learned I was pregnant, my husband and I spoke to my OB about an elective c-section. She didn’t shut me down exactly, but she didn’t make any promises, either. Basically she put a pin in the conversation and encouraged me to do more research and to speak with women who have had c-sections. So I did. The majority of them discouraged me from going the c-section route because of the recovery and how long and sometimes brutal it can be. In the end, I saw reason: a day or so of extreme discomfort and pain won out over 6 weeks of healing and possible complications from major surgery. I put the c-section delivery firmly in the ‘nope’ file and started to mentally prepare myself to give birth the way nature intended (with drugs though, ha!).
So…the big event…
My mom had been staying with us for a couple days, and decided to head home for the weekend as it seemed like my baby had decided to never come out. I was scheduled to be induced on the Monday, so my mom planned to return Monday afternoon. Can you predict what happened next? She made the 2 hour drive home on Friday, only to have to come right back early on Saturday morning because it was SHOW TIME! Friday evening was very uncomfortable for me. My contractions went from 14 minutes apart to 7 very quickly. My husband took me to triage to see what was happening, and after a very uncomfortable drive followed by an extremely uncomfortable exam during which I threw up, it was determined that I was only 2cm dilated and should go home to continue labouring there. Not the news I wanted. Another uncomfortable car ride – you really notice the bumps in the road when you are trying to breathe through contractions – and we were home. I had a bath, threw up a few more times, and went to bed in the guest room (my husband snores a wee bit and in the state I was in, everything made me want to punch him).
Sleep was not in the cards for me, unfortunately. My contractions were coming 5 minutes apart, and I had intense lower back pain. In between contractions, I texted my husband to come and rub my back and help me through the pain. Four text messages later, still no husband. I rolled myself off the bed and waddled into the master bedroom. Didn’t the man have his phone on silent! I may have uttered some choice expletives. Back in the guest room, my husband dozed and I punched, pushed, and pinched him whenever I needed a back rub (approximately every 4 minutes).
By 5:30am, I was exhausted and in such discomfort that I told my husband we needed to head back to the hospital. If they wouldn’t admit me yet, we would just wander the hospital halls until I was dilated enough. The triage nurse took pity on me and put me in a room with a morphine drip in my arm. They weren’t admitting me – this was just to help me rest up for the impending action. The morphine was niiiice. It didn’t stop my pain, but it put me in a bit of a floaty place where the pain didn’t hurt quite as much. After a couple hours in that lovely floaty place, my water broke. I felt a little pop and then wondered if I had relaxed so much that I peed the bed. The attending nurse told me there was meconium in my waters, which meant my sweet baby had decided to take his first poop on the inside. If I hadn’t been drugged I might have needed a paper bag.
I was admitted.
To make a very long story even longer…I was still only 3cm dilated, but my water had broken and baby had possibly inhaled his own poop, so the nurses needed to speed things up. They wanted to start me on a pitocin drip to help the dilation process. I knew this would cause my contractions to come harder and faster, so there was NO way this was getting my 2 thumbs up until I had a big ass epidural needle in my spine pumping me full of the good stuff. Luckily the anesthesiologist was nearby and hooked me up within minutes of my request.
Ahhhh….epidurals are seriously awesome. Suddenly my sense of humour returned, I didn’t want to kill my husband anymore, and it no longer bothered me (much) to have random women (nurses!) getting up in my business.
I had 3 problems though:
- My baby was turned the wrong way – facing my bellybutton instead of my back. The way he was engaged in my pelvis was causing some serious pressure in my nether region with every contraction, and all I wanted to do was push.
- Epidurals take care of contraction pain, but do nothing to ease pressure.
- I was still only 5cm dilated, and pushing would cause some damage.
With every contraction, Baby’s heart rate dropped. I was never without a nurse, whose eyes were glued to the monitor for the majority of the day. I knew I was in good hands, but I was starting to worry. Several hours of pitocin and still nowhere near 10cm dilated? Baby’s heart rate dropping to the point that constant monitoring was required? On top of those worries, the pressure in my pelvis was becoming really difficult to manage. It is quite exhausting to not push, believe it or not! At this point, I appealed for a c-section. I said I was getting really tired and couldn’t bear several more hours of this. By now it was about 6pm. I had been labouring for 24 hours. My doctor was hopeful that I would dilate to 10cm with just a little more patience. Unfortunately, the effects of the epidural had diminished, despite 2 top-ups. It was getting harder and harder to stay relaxed. And I was getting really bitchy. Screw patience.
Around 10pm, my doctor tried to turn Baby to face the right way. THE WORST. All memories of the epidural were gone after that experience.
Just after 11pm, my doctor informed me that Baby’s heart rate was a concern and they were going to do a c-section. Hallelujah! I would have run to the operating room myself, clicking my heels as I went, had I not still been partially frozen from the epidural.
It really impressed my husband, mom, and me how quickly the team of doctors and nurses came together to make the c-section happen. I was in the operating room not 5 minutes after learning that we needed the surgery. I had minimal fear and maximum excitement – it was almost over and we would be meeting our son or daughter! Finally!
The c-section went smoothly – I felt pressure but no pain. Actually the most uncomfortable part for me was how cold the OR was! We’re talking baltic cold, people! Polar bears would have felt at home in there. A very kind nurse wrapped my shoulders and head in heated blankets. She was probably worried I was going to bite my tongue off for how hard my teeth were chattering.
At 11:43pm,the doctor announced that we had a son. A son! I had a son! 100% surreal.
While our boy was suctioned to remove meconium from his little lungs, my doctor explained that she was going to have the folks from x-ray come in to (duh) x-ray my abdomen to make sure no surgical utensils had been left inside when she stitched me up. Ha ha Dr.! You’re funny! But she wasn’t kidding. Apparently they had had to move so quickly with starting the c-section that she hadn’t had an opportunity to count her instruments. Oh my. Well, at least they have a procedure to make sure sponges and scalpels aren’t left inside a woman’s uterus!
By 3am, my husband, son, and I were settled into our new room in the recovery wing. Baby and I still had a lot of tests and poking and prodding to endure before we were released, but the nursing staff was absolutely phenomenal and made it all bearable. We shared a lot of laughs and my respect for nurses – which was already very high because my mom is a retired nurse – shot through the roof.
We were released from the hospital on Monday, to head home and begin our lives with our precious wee one.
That was 2 months ago now…so hard to believe that much time has already passed. I was blessed with a quick recovery from my surgery, but got hit with the baby blues for a solid 4 weeks. My poor husband was probably afraid to come home from work every day…would his wife be sitting in a puddle of her own tears again? Luckily, that hormonal rollercoaster is behind me now. While I owe that partly to time and hormones levelling out, I think a big part of my emotional recovery is owed to my amazing mom friends, who supported and cheerleaded me, and kept soothing me with the phrase “This is totally normal.” My mom and husband also deserve huge props for their part in carrying me through the hardest parts of my post partum blues. To my support system…Terri, Mel, Court, Rachel, Jill, Sarah, Kirstie, Jenn, Mom, and S…I don’t know if you realize just how much you did for me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
And now here we are. My son had his 2 month birthday yesterday. He amazes me every single day. It is such a privilege to have this front row seat to his life…watching him grow and develop and become aware of his world. Every day is different, which takes some getting used to for a structured, routine-loving, control-freak like myself. I’m still working on the adjustment, but every day I’m relaxing into it more and more. If you ever want a lesson in letting go of control, spend time with a baby! More on the adjustment another time.
For now, I am off to watch my little boy as he naps. That sweet face is the most peaceful picture.
And the big lesson here: a smooth pregnancy does not an easy delivery make! Don’t write smug blog posts about your easy, enjoyable pregnancy or the Universe might give you your comeuppance…