As promised, to start off this series I will be explaining step by step what a Caesarean is, and then later explain what it felt like from my point of view. Please keep in mind that every Caesarean is different and my experience might not mirror what others have gone through or what other moms might go through in the future. Just like every birth, every Caesarean experience is unique to the family going through it.
If you are going in for a planned Caesarean birth this is generally the order that things occur… 1. They put an IV in your hand or forearm 2. They give you a spinal 3. They insert catheter 4. They lay you down and put up the curtain. Partner is brought in and the baby is out within 5 minutes. 5. They let you see the baby. Then, they wheel you into recovery where you'll stay for an hour or two while they monitor your blood pressure, take your temperature, and wait for you to start to move your legs as medicine wears off. . For the next twelve hours, you will keep the IV and catheter until you are able to get up and walk for the first time in your room. . My tips for a successful recovery: A. Get up and walk 12 hours after surgery. Then, walk as often as possible in short spurts to help your recovery. B. Stay on top of your pain meds, especially before getting out of bed to move around. C. Eating raisin bran, lots of fruit, and drinking hot water with lemon will help you go to the bathroom easily. . My experience with River. .
It was 1am when the OB came in to check me again. River wasn’t tolerating the oxytocin drip and I had been stuck at 7 cm dilated for what felt like forever at that point. They had to stop the drip and hope that now that the epidural was in place, my body would relax enough dilate the last few centimetres required to start pushing. When the OB checked, she mentioned that my cervix was starting to swell and told me to try to get some sleep. She said baby was doing fine, but that if there was no change when she came back at 3am, we would need to start considering the option of having a Caesarean. When I asked her how long she would be willing to wait, she responded with “If at 3am you still want to wait and baby is doing well, I am ok to wait until 4am if the swelling has gone down some. Any change is good change.” . My stomach was in knots. This was so far from what I had envisioned for myself. I tried to get some sleep but was having a hard time. I called my mom to let her know what was going on and because I was scared and wanted to talk to her. I was born by Caesarean so I knew my mom would understand the whirlwind I was going through emotionally. After we talked, my husband asked me what he could do and I mentioned that I wanted him to message his family and our pastor to get some support through prayer. We are a Christian family and this really helped me feel better emotionally while we waited to see if any change would happen. We tried to keep positive and spoke with our midwife for a while (she had been sleeping but was woken up when we got the news of potential Caesarean). She was offering as much emotional preparation as she could, but I’d be lying if I said i was truly listening to anything she was saying. I was still convinced that there would be change. This wasn’t really happening! I was in denial and that was the worst thing I could of done to myself! 3 am came but the OB was delivering another baby. I was confident this was a sign that God was giving my body more time to relax and prepare to push my baby girl out!. 4 am came and went as well. Finally 5 am came and the OB came into the room. She checked and there was no change. If anything, my cervix had swelled more. “It would be best to go for a Caesarean at this point since your baby is still very high up, your cervix is swollen, and we wouldn’t want to wait until the point that she went into distress.” Of course we didn’t want to wait for our baby girl to go into distress so we agreed to go for our Caesarean. . Being wheeled down the hall felt like time was standing still. I felt numb. My husband was given a pair of scrubs and told to wait in recovery until they finished setting me up in the OR. The anesthesiologist was very nice and was trying to keep me focused and relaxed while they were getting me set up. I already had the IV because I received the epidural at 1am, so they just needed to top up the medication through my IV before proceeding. I remember being told to breathe by my midwife. I was so happy she was there. Even though Joel was just outside the waiting room, having that familiar face next to me really helped me voice concerns before things started. “If anything happens, make sure you help her first.” Those words actually came out of my mouth. I was afraid I was going to die! My midwife looked at me, shocked that I would even say something like that since I appeared so calm under the circumstances. “You will be fine, we are all right here, you aren’t in this alone.” At this point, she went to get Joel and he sat beside me and held my hand. Laying down flat was causing a lot of heartburn so I asked if they could give me something for that, the anesthesiologist said he would work something through the IV. A million thoughts were going through my head.. “It’s so cold in here.” “I hate that my arms are tied down.” “It smells funny in here.” I remember the being told again “You need to remember to keep breathing.” The oxygen mask was placed on me as I was being told “Your baby needs you to give her oxygen. Try giving me some nice deep breaths.” Again, this was from the anesthesiologist. I took some deep breaths as I was asked if i could feel anything. I said no, and then suddenly felt very shaky. My midwife said “It’s ok, she’s almost here.” I felt someone pushing down hard and felt some tugging. It wasn’t painful but it was uncomfortable. Before I could say “Hey, that hurts!”, (it didn’t exactly hurt but I had no idea what was going on) I heard her first cry. My baby was here. I didn’t know how much I could love a noise like that! I started shaking even more, and was assured that was normal. I tried to tense to relax the shaking but had I absolutely no control over it. Hearing her cry and not being able to comfort her was torture. I turned to Joel and asked him to go and be with her. He didn’t want to leave my side but I insisted. I asked the midwife to take a picture of the two of them together when she had a chance. Joel brought me the camera to show me a picture of our beautiful baby girl once he snapped one. She was perfect. Our daughter, River was born 5:52 am weighing 8lbs 5 oz and 20.5 inches long. It felt so surreal that she was finally here The other things didn’t bother me anymore. I couldn’t smell anything weird, I didn’t notice how cold it was. My arms were very sore from all the shaking that was going on, but aside from that I was just anxious to get into recovery so I could meet my baby girl that I worked so hard to keep safe for 9 months! . From start to finish, the surgery took about an hour. Stitching me up was the longest part. Once we were in recovery, the nurses washed me up. That felt really weird. I didn’t realize that my legs would feel numb for so long. I could barely feel them moving me and I hardly had any energy to move from side to side to help them at all while they were cleaning me up. I also wasn’t aware that a catheter was put in and would be sticking with me for the next 24 hours.
Finally the moment I had been waiting for was happening! I was able to hold my baby!! My arms were still feeling a bit weak and my shoulders were pretty sore because of the tensing my muscles were trying to do while I was shaking in the OR, so I asked my midwife for help to establish breastfeeding. She held my baby girl to my breast for me for as long as she wanted to feed with no hesitation (have I mentioned yet that I love my midwives?). She educated Joel as well so he knew how he could help me when we got home with getting comfortable to breastfeed. I asked for someone to send for my mom who was waiting in the waiting room, and someone escorted her to recovery so she could meet her first granddaughter. . Once we were moved into our room, we were both exhausted. We tried to sleep a little but River was wide awake. A nurse came and offered to take her for a little while so we could rest, but we declined and just kept to ourselves for a little while to enjoy our baby. I remember being really hungry around lunch time but was told i’d have to wait until supper time before I could have something to eat. We had a few visitors come during visiting hours and were on our own for the evening. Joel went home at some point since he didn’t have a change of clothes. I rang for the nurse a few times to help me make sure I was latching River properly since I really didn’t know what I was doing. The staff were great at giving this support. We slept that night and I’d have to wake Joel up whenever River was fussing because I couldn’t get to her myself. I happened to be up around 5 in the morning with her and remember watching the clock to ring the nurse when 6am came so I could get the catheter out! That felt like a huge relief. The IV was taken out as well which I was extremely appreciative of. That morning when the shift change happened, we had the same nurse we had the day before. She offered to take River for a few hours, or until she was hungry, since she was so content and quiet. We accepted the help this time and got a few extra hours of sleep. I was encouraged to walk around once the catheter was out. That was an extremely weird feeling. I felt like I needed to learn how to get out of bed all over again, learning how to support my incision while I got up. You really don’t know how much you engage your core until you can’t use it. I took a shower (which felt amazing) and got myself ready for our second day stay at the hospital. A few things that surprised me were: - Each time I got up was just as difficult as the time before - If i didn’t properly support my incision with a little bit of pressure before coughing, laughing, or sneezing, it was painful. - I had to be reminded to take my medication. I honestly wasn’t feeling like I just had major surgery. - I was a bit nervous about my first poop. They were giving me stool softeners since I just had abdominal surgery, but if it weren’t for having to take those meds, I probably wouldn’t have even thought about it as being something to worry about. - We had company visit at one point and I remember feeling like I had to fart… I held that in and it was a mistake I strongly regretted. DO NOT HOLD IN YOUR GAS!! It hurts!! . My recovery was pretty straight forward once we got home but stay tuned for the helpful tips and advice from other mothers who have had Caesarean births! If you have any questions about anything mentioned above feel free to contact me.