C-Section Day: Plus One makes Four



You’d think I’d know better, having been through newborn theatrics before, but nevertheless I really did anticipate updating this blog as soon as I was home from the hospital with Bump Two (renamed Daniel), and back with healthy hefty wi-fi access. Hope springs eternal, and all that. But it turned out that when the options were ‘Blog about c-section’ and ‘Drink coffee with your brain shut down’, coffee trumped writing every time. But now that I’m writing (although to be honest, I think my brain is shut down anyway — I hope I’m at least using a recognisable alphabet), let me cast my mind back…

Arriving calmly at the hospital on a sunny afternoon and being escorted to my warm and ready room had felt immensely better than arriving in the middle of the night and twice being crippled with contractions while trying to make my way across the car park in my pyjamas. This time I simply reported to the maternity unit reception … Good afternoon, I’m here to have a baby … This way please … Thank you very much… and it was only when I was lying on the crunchy mattress of a hospital bed, waiting for an orderly to wheel me off to theatre, that I could actually think about what was about to happen.

I’d spent so much time and effort just making sure that I could get to this point — birth by caesarean — that now I was here, I didn’t know what to think about. I was actually about to have a baby. Wonderment at that very fact should have been something I’d dwelt on months ago, but up to this point my mind had been so busied with ensuring the surgery, I hadn’t had time or inclination left over to think about the normal stuff impending mums are supposed to think about.

I ended up having hours to spend waiting for the trip to theatre. After I’d been appropriately scrubbed down and prepped, my surgery spot was taken by a patient requiring an emergency caesarean. Having a baby impatient to get out had been uncomfortable enough, but when pelvic space had to be shared with a catheter as well, it was even more so. Pelvic pains similar to electric shocks (or having your ‘funny bone’ hit) made those hours waiting into never-ending years. My tenant’s eviction couldn’t come a minute too soon!

Eventually though, I was being wheeled through corridors en route to an operating room. According to the shirt of the guy steering my bed, his name was ‘Orderly’. It keeps things uncomplicated, I suppose.

As I was met by an anaesthetist, he remarked that I must be very well connected — I know two of the hospital’s anaesthetists personally, and apparently they’d instructed that I get top-shelf drugs; ‘the very best stuff’. I didn’t imagine it would be any different than what a patient would normally be administered, but nevertheless, it felt nice to be so valued. One of my anaesthetist friends had been scheduled to be on my surgery, but the emergency surgery before me had claimed her instead. I didn’t mind. The fellow I got was pleasant company.

He said that these surgeries — the elective kind — were his favourite. There was no stress, no haste, and we could casually enjoy a conversation without the presence of panic, contractions, and things having gone wrong. I had to sit on the edge on the theatre bed with my feet on a chair, and torso hunkered over a pillow to allow him easy access to my spine. He was delighted at my ‘slight frame’. Apparently that made his job even easier than circumstances were already providing, so he was in a jovial mood. The spinal tap was much like I remembered getting when I was having a repair after Timmy’s birth. There’s not much pain to speak of, as horrifying and intimidating as ‘spinal tap’ sounds. The only part I felt was the injection of local anaesthetic before the spinal tap was to go in, and that just felt like a small mosquito bite. It barely even qualified as ‘pain’.

Then came my favourite part of the spinal tap experience. I’d been looking forward to it. As my legs started to tingle, and slowly numb, my whole body flushed with warmth. It was like slipping into a warm bath. (This was especially delightful last time, when the operating room had been an arctic environment at 5am.)

The drape blocking my view of the surgery site was higher up my torso than I’d expected. I had a shower curtain in my face. I turned my head to the side instead. Looked at machines, tubes, buttons and beeps … at monitors detailing my oxygen levels, pulse, blood pressure … and at my husband, dressed in surgery regalia, ready for the momentous mitosis where the person in front of him would become two.

A spinal tap removes feelings of pain, but not of pressure and movement. I’d been told that the procedure would feel like somebody was doing the dishes inside of me. As such, I’d been prepared for unnerving discomfort. But in actuality, it didn’t feel any different to me than the movements and pressures I’d regularly felt from Daniel as he’d shifted around in there, in previous months. The only alarming part of the procedure was when I heard a slurping growl from my abdomen, but my alarm lasted only as long as it took to remember that I’d hear the suction of my amniotic fluid being removed. I wasn’t actually birthing a mutant lion. A bleating cry moments later reassured me of this.

The surgeon asked me if I wanted to see my baby before he was handed over to other medical staff to be cleaned and checked. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Maybe it was just morbid curiosity. I knew he’d look messy and rather, well, yuck — covered in white slime. No baby in the world is cute when they’re fresh off the assembly line. But I wanted to see who’d been sharing my body for so long. As the surgeon began to lift him upward so I’d see him over the top of the in-my-face shower curtain, I heard sounds of concern. The ‘oops-this-isn’t-supposed-to-happen’ kind. Fortunately the anaesthetist narrated what had happened before I had time to start panicking: Daniel had grasped the surgical drapes lying around my incision, and was pulling them up with him. After they were extricated from his fists, he was finally lifted up for me to see.

Yep. Slimy white and gross. But…spectacular, at the same time. There’d been a baby in there. I have a baby.


I felt wetness slide down my cheeks, and my breathing became erratic as it pushed past sobs. I couldn’t control my body. I was shivering, but not cold. I was crying, but not distressed. Maybe that’s what intense emotion does. Especially when it’s unexpected.

When he was taken out of sight again and handed over to theatre nurses for cleaning and dressing, I was still reeling. I didn’t even notice my anaesthetist friend had come into the room until she was leaning over my head, saying something about ‘making it in time for the end’, and ‘congratulations’. I was still sobbing quietly, but smiling with exhilaration. I felt her dabbing my cheeks with a tissue. “Here you go, this is my contribution to your anaesthetic,” she joked. And then I was laughing. And crying. And shivering.

And no longer pregnant. And so, so happy about it.

The immediate post-operative period had less happiness though, largely because I felt filleted. As the spinal tap wore off, even though I was getting oral pain relief, it hurt to even twitch.

I’d never thought having a ‘slight’ frame would work against me, but apparently it was the reason. It had to do with the dosage of morphine tablets. My weight put me in the bracket of the lower dose, albeit at the top. It was still the lower dose. Which felt woefully inadequate. My nurse was giving me pain relief tablets as frequently as she was allowed, but the tablets were all placebos to me. I grew concerned that she would think I was a junkie, as every time she asked how I felt I replied with, ‘There’s no difference. I need more!’ When I shared this concern with her, she reassured me that wasn’t the case — that the most important thing was getting on top of the pain. Unfortunately, I needed a doctor to give approval, and amend my chart, before I could have the higher dosage. That meant waiting for a doctor to become available, which is an endurance sport.

I finally got the stronger dose about five hours after the surgery. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Not only could I not feel the pain of having been gutted, I couldn’t feel anything. I had to keep twitching my limbs just so my brain knew where they were! And if I wanted to move my head to the side, I had to do it slo-o-o-o-owly. So my brain had time to catch up. It felt like it was underwater. I was told later this was a symptom of excessive pain relief. But I can assert that too much pain relief is much better than too little, when you’ve had someone wrists-deep fishing around in your insides!

I realise I can’t make blanket statements about birthing methods, whether they be vaginal or surgical. Every experience is different, even if by the same method and to the same woman. All I can do is draw on my own experiences, comparing my caesarean birth of Daniel to the ‘natural’ birth of Timmy. My consensus is that for me, birth by Slice-n-Dice is the best method ever! It was so amazingly easy and wonderful in comparison, that it feels akin to cheating death.

I’ve had the feeling before. I had it when I finally chucked my anti-dummy stance and allowed Timmy to have one to quell his incessant colicky crying.

I had it when I finally stopped trying to fall in line behind the Breastapos, and started bottle-feeding Timmy with formula.

It’s a feeling that says, ‘This is so wonderful, I can’t even imagine regretting it.’



1 Comment

  • Mrs. W
    10 Sep 2013

    This is so wonderful and aside from the inadequate pain relief post op (mine was sufficient) – echo’d my experience with my second born.

    Many heart felt congrats to you and your family of now four!

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