“The look of disappointment could be seen in their faces”

After the birth of our first baby, when I told people I had him by C-section the look of disappointment could be seen in their faces and it was usually followed by a comment such as “Ah, what a shame, maybe next time you’ll be able to have a natural”. This really is not what you want to hear when you already feel like you’ve failed mother nature. What people don’t know is what I had to go through before having a section and safely delivering our baby into this world.

Leading up to full term, it came apparent that baby was an unstable lie, changing from transverse lie, breach, head down, basically daily summersaults. So I was booked in for a section at 39 weeks. On the morning of the section I was scanned and told baby was head down, section was cancelled and I was sent home. Five days later I was called in for a presentation assessment as babies movements were crazy. Within half an hour the baby had gone from head engaged to transverse, so I was kept in and they followed with two rounds of inducing both finishing with an “unfavourable cervix” (just what a girl wants to hear). So I waited on the ward for next step.

I remember that day like yesterday. I was on a ward with five other girls waiting to be induced when a lady who was 40+10 came in to be induced. She was shown her bed and midwife came to scan her and take babies heart rate. I remember the curtain being drawn around her, doctors arrive at her bedside and there they told her her, her baby had died. Me and the other girls all could but sit and listen to the screaming cry of this heartbroken expecting mother being told the words no one ever wants hear. They didn’t even take her off the ward to tell her or let her have some privacy. I remember the call to her mother and telling her the heart breaking news. “Mum the baby has died”. I couldn’t take it, I called my husband and told him what had happened and said “I want a second opinion, there must be a reason why induction isn’t working and I want our baby out now, I don’t want to wait any longer”.

We made excuses and I managed to leave the hospital much to their discouragement due to babies’ head being down and risking baby moving again, but I had to get out. We made an appointment with the private birth company who we had seen early on in our pregnancy due to a previous miscarriage. After he scanned me he told me and my husband “This baby will only be able to be brought safely into this world via section, you have polyhydramnios (an excess of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac) and I am shocked that the hospital are even risking inductions, as this can cause cord prolapse and potentially strangle your baby”. We were horrified. I had been scanned numerous amounts of times by the hospital and never once was this picked up. The high amount of fluid was causing the baby to turn freely.

We went back to the hospital the next morning after speaking with our midwife, armed with a letter from the doctor and doing a lot of research, we requested a section. After the consultants reading through the all the documentations and scan results they agreed. I was booked in 4 hours later. The section itself was incredibly frightening. From not sleeping, witnessing another mother loose her child and then getting my head around now being cut open, there wasn’t enough time to process it all. I asked what it would feel like and they described it as you rummaging in a big handbag. I had the spinal, laid down and before I knew it our 8lb 10oz surprise baby boy was here and they were right, it was an awkward rummaging and pressure sensation around my lower abdomen.

I was given a quick glance of his face before he was taken for obvs and then he was passed to my husband. All I wished was for me to hold him straight away. I had to wait about 20 minutes until they had finished stitching up the section wound and then he was passed to me.

The next couple days that passed were a blur. I wanted to breast feed, but due to the section (no one pre warned me this) my colostrum and hormones hadn’t been kick started like it is usually would from a labour and naturally delivering. These hormones naturally help kick start your body for recovery and feeding. So there I was a first time mum, crying her eyes out, desperately trying to feed a very empty boob to a hungry, screaming baby. I couldn’t get up and rock him as the pain was so severe and the medication given for pain relief made everything fuzzy. Luckily, an angel midwife came to my rescue and cup fed him a few mouthfuls of formula. I remember his first poo and the midwife having to change him for me as I couldn’t lean to get him, all these “firsts” you want to do and you can’t. I made myself get up and get showered the next day. As I stood up I felt like my stomach was going to fall out the incision. I also had the start of a week’s worth of injections and very fetching compression socks to wear for at least 10 days. Three days later I was so glad to be home.  I could rest, but was extremely immobile so spent a good few days in bed recovering. Around a week after the c section my midwife came to remove the bead and stiches, the scar was roughly 6 inches long and thankfully not infected. You can get real cabin fever not being able to drive and having to rely on others to drive you around. Luckily the bus stop was just outside our house so I could always get that, but I am not one to ask for help so would try my best to engage my core before lifting the buggy.  My husband worked away a lot and I had no family around to help me so the 6 weeks of no driving dragged like a bitch.

 

When I got pregnant with my second child, I was consultant led (but chose to go to another hospital) due to previous pregnancy complications. I was worried the section scar would cause added pain but thankfully it didn’t. I asked about having a natural birth and I was told all going well, I don’t develop polyhydramnios and babies head engages they would do their best to help me birth naturally. I had a presentation assessment around 38 weeks and the consultant told us the baby was an unstable lie and would be best to book in for a C-section as they wouldn’t risk inducing me. This time round I was a lot more mentally and physically prepared. I only stopped going to the gym a week before the C-section. I needed my body to be as fit and strong as it could be so the recovery wouldn’t be as bad as last time. I was booked in at 39 weeks it was a lot calmer this time round, the spinal went in well and before I knew it our second baby was out screaming. The doctor said to my husband “Have you seen the sex”? He said “yes”. I was lying there with nothing but a view of a large blue screen and said “Does anyone want to tell me?” We had had our second son safely delivered.

All was going well and then I remember feeling really shaky, sick and faint. The anaesthetist told the surgeon to hurry the closing. My husbands face, when he looked at me said it all. My blood pressure had dropped to below average hypo-tension level. I don’t remember much after that but felt a lot better once I was stitched up and had my baby in my arms, low blood pressure and surgery isn’t a great mix. This time round once feeling had returned to my legs, no time was wasted, they got me up and about. It was horrendous to say the least. I was cleaned up by the midwife (wasn’t my finest hour) and then my catheter was removed. An hour or so had passed and the feeling to “go to loo” had completely gone and I could feel my bladder getting more full. I told the midwife and she said I would be fine and to keep trying. I did, another hour went past, nothing. I begged to have the catheter back in and the midwife said not until someone had come to see me first. I was in so much pain. I ended up bursting into tears and finally another catheter was inserted and the midwife said “Oh you were quite full”. I had completely lost the sensation due to the anesthetic. I had to keep the catheter in for 3 days. Trust me, I was a vision, bunched over in pain, compression socks and a catheter hanging out, ha! The things we do for our babies and I wouldn’t change it in a heartbeat. Recovery was unfortunately taking pain killers and hitting the ground running. I had an almost 3 year old and was again on my own due to my husband being away for work. One night that really sticks in my mind was my 3 year old catching a vomiting bug and I was trying to hold the baby to my boob while comforting my toddler throwing up, whilst gritting my teeth through the pain ripping through my stomach. What else was I supposed to do? You just get on with these challenges. Like they say, whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I did recover quicker, possibly having a toddler kept my mind off.

So now in April 2018 I am truly blessed to be nearing the end of my third pregnancy, 5 years on from my second son. Again consultant led. The pregnancy has been probably the hardest. I have had to really focus on rehabbing my body through Pilates based exercise. It has completely strengthened my inner stomach muscles that were cut through and damaged. However, my two previous section scars have made the baby bump rest against the tight scar tissue so it’s quite a high bump. I have an anterior placenta (which If you had a caesarean section in the previous pregnancy, it is likely that the placenta grows on the site of the scar and the uterine walls), so I will be scanned morning of my section to assess positioning of the placenta. I also have a slipped disc L4/L5 which someone asked me “could that be due to your spinals creating a weakness in your spine?” Really, I don’t know, but back issues do seem to be common problem amongst my friends who have also had

C-sections. So at the moment the C-section could either go smoothly with the spinal or if they can’t get a successful spinal I will be put to sleep, which really isn’t what I want. I did ask the question, what if I go into labour naturally? The response was, “If head is down and almost out there is nothing to say you can’t give it a go, just statistically we don’t have enough evidence of the success rates after two previous sections”. So for now I think I will go ahead with the mindset that I am booked in for a section and if my waters break I will more than likely request a section. I don’t really fancy being a “test run”.

I know some people may presume a C-section is an easy way out or cheating mother nature, but what I have learnt from my first is it does not matter how your child is brought into this life. There is enough competition, judgments, point of views, ways things should be done, highs and lows in parenting, it really shouldn’t begin with the birthing of your child. I’m over the moon and yes possibly a little envious of woman who have had successful natural births. I admire all who do it pain free, all that ask for pain relief, all that have assistance/intervention during birth, all who have to have blood transfusions after birth, all woman who do it solo and to people like me who like me have major surgery. We all have the same goal, to bring our babies safely into this world.

In every new baby card I write “Congratulations on the safe arrival of…” because it really does not matter how your baby is brought into this world, it’s the fact they arrived safely. The real test is how you bring them up and mold them into incredible, bright, polite, strong, happy, friendly little humans who will live and love and hopefully one day bring another little life of their own into this world.

My 5 top tips for C-section.

If you are booked in for a planned section here are my top 5 tips:

  • Make a play list to listen to during the birth.
  • Ask someone from your medical team before hand to take photos, there is more than enough for you and your partner to deal with, than worry about a last minute photo.
  • Strengthen your core in preparation – Pilates of all forms.
  • Once your scar is healed, see someone about “stripping” the scar. This will help break the scar tissue down and remove bumps and result in a smoother scar line. It will hurt, but has massive benefits.
  • Except as much help during your stay at hospital to kick start your recover you’ve had major surgery, don’t play it down. You rock!

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