Disclaimer – if you are squeamish, you have been warned!
It’s strange writing ‘Birth’. At times, I’ve wrongly felt that I didn’t give ‘birth’ owing to having had a planned c section. But, when I really think it through, I’m just as much of a badass mother for having been cut open as I would have been had I had a natural birth. And most importantly, our son arrived safe and sound.
As I mentioned in my pregnancy post, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at 26 weeks. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the implications, GD usually means that your baby is bigger than they should be. Hormones from your placenta interfere with your bodies ability to regulate insulin levels, your blood sugar levels rise, and this results in your baby taking in elevated levels of glucose.
Maxon was measuring ahead even as early as 20 weeks. We laughed it off, ‘oh hes going to be chunky’, but when I got the GD diagnosis, we realised that his size was the result of my condition. After reading up on birth complications that were more common in babies of GD mothers such as shoulder dytocia, (where the head is born but the babies shoulder becomes stuck behind the pubic bone), and discussing it with our consultant, we agreed that it was sensible to have a planned caesarian to avoid any such risks.
We were given the date of my section at our 36 week appointment and it felt surreal being told the exact day we’d meet our boy. As I neared the date, I became panicky that I would go into labour and lose control, but apart from the odd Braxton hicks, we made it to 39 weeks.
The night before the section I’d envisaged having some sort of last supper where we’d relax and enjoy our last night as a twosome, but my anxiety was through the roof and I was awful to be around. I spent a good few hours screaming and ranting at my husband and totally lost my shit. I barely slept and woke up at 5 and started rechecking all the bags for the millionth time.
We arrived at the hospital just before 7 and were told that there was myself and one other lady in for a planned section, and we’d be told who was going first after the team held their morning brief. Luckily, we went first and our consultant (who we really liked) would be doing the op.
Walking into theatre I started to feel a little panicked. The surgical team however, were fantastic; they chatted to me none stop and made every effort to keep me calm. Their positivity and excitement started to rub off a little and I began to feel excited more than fearful. It felt bizarre knowing in as little as an hour I’d be holding our son.
The spinal was administered and nowhere near as painful as I’d imagined, the hardest part was leaning forward over my giant bump to get into the right position for them to do it! Once I was laid down, they started testing my levels of sensation with ice cubes. 10 minutes had passed and I still had sensation in my left side…so the bed was tilted down to the left to try and even me out. another 15 minutes passed and I still had some sensation. The Anaesthatist started to discuss ‘options’ and the potential of a general if they could not get me numb, but luckily after another 5 minutes, I’d lost enough sensation for them to go ahead.
Once they’d started cutting (again, don’t read on if you have a sensitive disposition), I could feel lots of pressure. If I had to describe what it felt like, I’d say almost like that strange twisting sensation that you get in your stomach when you go upside down on a rollercoaster. I alternated between staring at the ceiling and looking nervously at my husband (Who, for the record, was insanely calm and watched behind the screen…but he is a surgeon himself so I guess peoples insides are much of a muchness!). Our consultant talked me through each step and the Anaesthetic team at my head repeatedly asked me how I was feeling.
At 10:43AM, I heard the words, ‘Oh he’s a big boy and he’s got a lot of hair’ as Maxon was lifted up and briefly shown to me before being whisked to a table nearby for checks. I burst into tears and felt relief like no other when I heard him cry out. All I could say was ‘Is he ok, is he ok’ over and over. Tracey Chapman’s ‘Baby can I hold you tonight’ was coincidentally playing on the radio in the background. My husband cut the cord and held him close to my head while they started the process of closing me up.
The next part was where things started to go slightly wrong. I started to feel more than just pressure and felt an overwhelming wave of nausea from the pain. Apparently I cried out but I don’t really remember this, and was given anti-sickness meds to help. They suspect that my spinal had started to wear off owing to the delayed start. I asked for my husband to hold Maxon away from me as I was terrified I was going to be sick on him! I have very little recollection of the final 20 minutes in theatre, and I suspect that’s my heads way of protecting me from an unpleasant memory.
Once back in recovery, Maxon was weighed and given a second set of checks. At 8lb 2oz he was nowhere near the forecasted 9lb+ that had been estimated on the growth scans. I still wonder to this day if I’d have managed to deliver him safely naturally. Within an hour, I’d regained full sensation in my legs (further confirming that the spinal hadn’t been as effective as it should have been). I’ll be doing a separate post on recovery from a section, as it’s something I get asked about a lot.
All in all, I would say my birth experience was positive for the most part. The environment was calm, I had confidence in everyone around me, and the regaining of some sensation was an unfortunate end to things. Do I feel like I missed out on a traditional ‘birth’ experience? In some ways I think I do. I wonder how I would have coped; would I have managed it on gas and air? Would I have begged for an epidural? Most probably the latter. But what I do know, is that post op, laid with Maxon in my arms, that it all kind of melted away and reinforced to me that the feeling of missing out ‘on an experience’ was nowhere near as monumental to me as the feeling of having him safe and well.