A Boy is Born Through the Sunroof
MY POSITIVE CESAREAN EXPERIENCE
I looked at the clock and realised in an hour I’d be a Mum. Just as I had planned it, just as I imagined it, I walked into theatre and soon after, my gorgeous Boo was born. Of course any woman who has been cut knows there’s more to it – but hand on scar, I can say it was amazing.
In the days and weeks before birth, I looked everywhere for advice on what to expect. NCT would only discuss natural birth, and the little they did talk about c-sections was offputting. Online a lot of women were kind to share their stories, but most of them had emergency sections, which I imagine aren’t the same. I figured, not too many women have elective c-sections, but since I’m one, I would share my happy story with others.
I’m no Earth Mother, I’ve never been one of these ‘au-natural’ types. I believe in medicine, and pain relief and solutions! My childbirth fear is borne of genuine reasons, I’ve known friends who have been traumatised from birth – girls who have been paralysed, ripped to shreds and one who nearly died. Likewise, I also know some that got through it just fine. But they are chilled types, not anxious wrecks like me.
My inspiration came from Fee – my first boss, who decided to go private and have it ‘through the sunroof’. She described it as “checking in to a hotel, and coming out with a baby.” She had the experience I knew I wanted. She was my hero.
So when the time came, I explored all birth options, but knew deep down a cesarean was my preference. As it turned out, it was meant to be – prior gynecological problems led my consultant to believe that a c-section would be safest for my baby.
I took comfort in my planned c-section. We knew when he was coming, how he was coming and who was doing the job. There were no surprises, I was never overdue, my in-laws could book a hotel in good time, my husband knew when he was going on maternity leave. It was the ultimate in planning.
The night before, I went to hospital for final bloods, before returning home and trying to salvage some sleep. Before I knew it 6am happened, and we were back.
Arriving calmly at the hospital for the first cesarean of the day was a good place to be. I was now in the NHS wing, but with my private healthcare team. I looked around to see women screaming, crying, breathing and panting through labour. Despite my fears of going through major surgery, I was never more convinced of my decision.
My husband and I walked in to theatre, and put on our music playlist to keep me upbeat. The cannula went in (horrible), the spinal drip was inserted (actually fine) and the catheter was in. A team of about seven arrived, all very professional but ‘human’ with it.
The checks were done and the curtain went up, I laughed at my husband in scrubs and prayed to St Gerard (the patron saint of mothers). We sat there chatting, as the medical team danced around to my music. It was a surreal time.
Numb and paralysed from the waist down, I felt nothing apart from some severe shaking – a normal reaction to the drugs. About 15 minutes in to surgery Boo was on the way. I felt like a giant tube of toothpaste with a baby being squeezed out. It wasn’t painful or uncomfortable – just odd.
HERE HE IS, shouted the midwife and presented me with my little cherub, he looked like the last chicken in Tescos! But it was done. He had arrived safely and I had made it through without any pain or trauma whatsoever – it was over.
In the days after the birth, I was more mobile than I had expected. I didn’t dare bend over for weeks, but found ways around it. My husband was incredible and had to take more of the responsibility, which he did amazingly. Then there was seven days of injections to prevent clotting, which stung. DVT socks and unsexy granny pants were also part of the package, but I didn’t mind. That’s as bad as it got, and I’ll take that any day over giving birth to something the size of my head!
It took about three days for the drugs to clear out, I know because the itching stopped (part of the heroin comedown) and breastfeeding suddenly became painful, as my son’s tongue-tie prevented him from latching properly. I hadn’t enjoyed the experience anyway, so combination feeding was a relief. Read more here – Bottling It
For me, it took two weeks to return to normal, and about a month until I could start doing everything again. My scar is tiny, and hidden very well – however I have lost some sensation around it, which I doubt will return.
This however is all a small price to pay, when I compare my recovery and experience to my NCT friends who braved natural birth. Half of them had a ‘traumatic birth’, while two of them are on their third course of antibiotics for their infected episiotomies. Only two out of the six had the births they wanted – using a birthing pool, which they swore by and said was a good experience. For those of you planning natural birth – I have to say I have heard good things about water births.
For me, the telling moment was when the health visitor came over. She sat my down, put on her best sympathetic face and said “OK, lets talk about the birth. How are you recovering, how difficult was it?” when I told her it was actually brilliant, she had to stop and ask me again. She was dumbfounded that I could have had such a positive experience, because it was so rare to hear. And that made me sad. In today’s day and age, when medicine is so advanced, why should women have to suffer.
It’s interesting that in the UK, where most women don’t get to choose – only 30% of births are cesarean, while in Brazil where women do (but have to pay for it), the c-rate is 80%. Go figure..
Just a caveat to add – every woman is different, and what is right for one person is not for another. I undertook months of research and saw top consultants before making this decision. I know women who have had excellent natural births, and some who haven’t. The moral of the story is – you know what works for you, and don’t let anything stop you. And if you are even marginally thinking about a c-section, I can’t recommend it enough.