Disclaimer: This piece is not meant to discredit the need for C-sections, or disregard their extreme value. This is my personal experience of having one, and how I felt about it. Please do not take personal offense to this if you’ve had a c-section and you disagree with my statements. We are all entitled to our opinion when it comes to each of our experiences.
Hi all! It’s been some time since I’ve blogged about my personal life. As most of you know, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl back in June. It’s been an exhausting recovery for me! Andy Rose was breech, therefore, in America, I was only given the option of a C-section if I wanted to birth in hospital. I had a lot of issues with this, and I tried everything I could to turn the baby. I went to a chiropractor weekly, did all of the moves you’re supposed to do when trying to turn a baby, and even had a medical “version” performed by my Dr. in hospital which was unsuccessful. After my C-section, my Dr. told me that she was just comfortably cuddled up against my placenta, basically using it as a pillow, without any intentions of changing out of that position.
Leading up to my C-section I had SO much anxiety. I was the definition of a hot mess. I had no desire to be sliced open while I am STILL AWAKE, and was even more bummed over the expectation that I was supposed to be excited over greeting my newborn during this traumatic event. I had huge issues with the fact that I was going to have major abdominal surgery, and this was supposed to be, like, a “memorable” day. EW. I knew she was breech the whole third trimester, and she never went head down, not even once. I kept a positive outlook for a while, hoping that she could turn at the last minute, as I had a friend who’s baby recently went head down at the very last minute. I knew deep down that this would not be my luck, but I couldn’t help but feel like MAYBE it could happen. I also have a friend who had a breech birth at home with a doctor and a midwife, and that went really well for her. But, I am not as brave as she (or tough for that matter!). So, I reluctantly succumbed to the dreaded C-section.
I started to mentally prepare for a C-section at least a month before my due date. I felt like I couldn’t completely mentally prepare, because there still was a chance she could turn and I wouldn’t have to have the operation. I think it only really hit me that it was happening as I was laying on the table. Even the morning of the surgery, I still hoped that I would go in and they would check and she would miraculously have gone head down, as my doctor had even told me she’s seen this happen a few times. I was so worked up and anxious over the surgery for a month leading up to it, that when it finally was game day, I was literally SO chill. Not something I expected, but I went with it.
Walking into the OR was a very surreal feeling. When I had my tonsils out, I don’t remember going into the OR because they had already given me some IV drugs to chill me out beforehand. This time, I was completely coherent and alert. The spinal was the thing I was most worried about, but that ended up being the easiest part! If I had to describe the whole thing in one word, it would be: WEIRD…allow me to elaborate!
The sensation of being awake while having your abdomen and uterus cut open is not really like anything else I have experienced. The pulling and tugging feeling you experience the whole time is something that you will always remember. I can’t quite describe it with words, but I’ll try: your guts being yanked around and manhandled. It was quite unpleasant, and something I hope I never have to experience again. I’ve watched “A Baby Story” on TLC, and during the surgery, you always hear the Dr. say, “Ok, now, you’ll feel some pressure and a tug here,” and then the baby comes out. Let me be clear when I say THE ENTIRE PROCEDURE FROM THE TIME THEY ARE CLEANING THE BELLY BEFORE INCISION TO THE STITCHING UP FEELS LIKE TUGGING AND PULLING AND PRESSURE. There is no pain, but it doesn’t feel nice.
It feels just plain gross. I could also smell my flesh burning from the freaking laser torch they used to slice me with, so that made it extra lovely.
As the procedure happened, I felt myself becoming more and more out of it. The drugs they pump you with during a C-section must be pretty freaking good if they were able to keep my crazy ass chilled out during something like this. I didn’t feel high, per say, but I definitely felt out of it and weird. Sort of like I was dreaming. Looking back at the video Jack took of me during the surgery, I have this hella concerned look on my face the entire time. I’m pretty sure I was waiting to die. Around the time they finally pulled the baby out, I started feeling a lot of shoulder pain. Like, excruciating pain shooting through my entire neck and into both shoulders. So much so, that I couldn’t feel excited about the baby coming out or think about anything other than the brutal, stabby pains shooting through my upper arms. I started complaining to the anesthesiologist, and he said this was normal. Get this: he said it was GAS?! For real, bro? Apparently when your innards are exposed, lots of air goes into your body from being open. It then tries to find its way out when you’re all closed up. The catch is that the gas is not in your intestines, it’s actually in your body and usually moves up towards the shoulders and chest, thus causing excruciating pain! It hurt so badly that when I finally got to hold Andy, I could barely hold her due to the aching. As soon as I got in recovery, I got some anti-inflammatory meds that helped a lot. This was my first shitty side effect of the anesthesia.
It didn’t get better from there. I suddenly got SO hot it felt like I was in HELL. Literally, like someone slathered me in olive oil and put me on the grill. I was begging for them to dip me in a vat of ice water, STAT, but to my dismay, they handed me a slightly cool towel. As I suspected it would, it melted on contact with my neck. Just kidding. But, it felt like it. How I eventually cooled off is a blur, since the meds they give you tend to make you forget the whole thing, to which I say, “what’s the point of being awake if I’m not going to really remember it.” It kind of feels like trying to remember a dream when you wake up in the morning. You remember bits and pieces, but it doesn’t really make sense. You end up remembering weird things, such as your doctors talking about Groupon as you’re being stitched up.
I won’t go into the other gory details of my post surgery experience, but let’s just say it’s not pretty for a couple of weeks.
Something that I feel really helped me to bond with the baby was breastfeeding. Since we didn’t go through labor and natural delivery together, I felt like there was this energy missing between us. This was hard for me to deal with in the beginning, and I suffered with anxiety and depression for the first few weeks after the birth. Breastfeeding definitely helped bridge that gap. When you have a c-section, you don’t release the labor and delivery hormones that are necessary to help your hormones shift correctly. You can have a sort of delayed response. For instance, I didn’t feel like I had a baby for several weeks after the birth. With my first baby, I felt like I had given birth immediately, and I had my hormone drop-off that night, when I started sweating a lot and feeling all of the effects of a hormonal surge.
After my C-section, it was totally weird. I had no weird hormonal things that happened. I wasn’t emotional at all. I didn’t even cry when I heard her first cry, and that really upset me. I felt like the drugs they gave me made me emotionally numb. I felt like the C-section took the emotional high away from me that I wanted to experience again SO badly like I had with my first. It took three weeks before I felt any emotion or hormone surges. I’m convinced that when you have a C-section, your body doesn’t know it had a baby. Rates of postpartum depression are higher with C-sections, and I believe it is because of that reason. Your body thinks something traumatic happened to the baby, since you didn’t go through labor and delivery, and the baby didn’t come out where it was supposed to come out. Women release all kinds of good and necessary hormones during labor and delivery, that are essential for the baby, the mother, bonding, and kick starting all of the body’s other mechanisms like breast milk production, lochia flow, etc.
C-sections can be life saving, and they have their place. Lots of women NEED C-sections. My sister NEEDED a c-section that saved her baby’s life. I am very glad we have them. But, for me, it’s been hard to justify having one simply because my baby was breech. They deliver breech babies naturally all around the world every day. America is one of the few countries that doesn’t. That is probably because they can make much more money off of a surgery. There’s been a bit of a rise in the debate over wether or not surgery is necessary for breech presentation. I am on the fence. Statistics show that if a mother has had a baby fit through her pelvis before, and the baby is presenting a frank breech (not footling), it’s probably completely safe to have a vaginal delivery. However, if you have had no previous births, and the baby is footling breech, it’s probably safer to have a C-section. I don’t see why American medicine can’t compromise, here. If I had to do it over again, I think I would have seriously explored more options before making my decision, as I really did not enjoy the whole process and felt like it robbed me of things I wanted. I have friends who didn’t mind their C-section, so I guess everyone is different. But, for me, I would always choose a vaginal birth over surgery any day, having experienced both.
At the end of the day, I got a beautiful, healthy, baby girl, and I really didn’t have any complications from the surgery. For this, I am blessed!
Now: About Andy:
She’s great. Such a little ray of sunshine. She is a totally different baby than Pearl was, which is obvious because she’s a different person, but I guess I was surprised by how different their personalities can be even as infants. She is the cutest little button and has brought so much joy to our lives. I stare at her, and am amazed by how beautiful she is! Pearl is an amazing big sister, and she so obsessed with her. She always wants to share things with her and play with her. She talks in a high pitched voice to Andy when she is talking to her. She mimics everything I say to the baby, and it’s pretty dang cute. Pearl is a special kid, but she has really been shining since Andy’s birth. Breastfeeding was challenging in the beginning, but we have a great nursing relationship now & I finally figured out how to use my breast pump! Something I’ve found incredibly helpful is while Andy is nursing on one side, I pump the other out as she feeds. My milk flow has increased a lot & I have tons of milk stored already. Andy went from being in the 9th percentile in weight when she was born to the 75th percentile just a month later. She’s already doubled her birth weight. I guess you could say she’s eating pretty good ;).
Now that she is sleeping better, I will be posting and updating more. I can’t wait to get back into all of my DIY stuff, as I’ve been really missing doing projects!