After having an emergency c-section to deliver my daughter and experiencing a serious infection afterwards, I was adamant that I would never have another c-section. I fell pregnant nine months later and I immediately wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). I told my consultant during our first appointment that I didn’t want an elective c-section and I know he was pleased about this as they like to encourage vaginal births if appropriate. Anyway, all was looking good until a late scan which showed that the baby was breech… bugger. They gave me until almost 38 weeks for him to turn. Which he did. Brilliant. Everything was going as planned, now I just needed to go into labour naturally. Erm, I don’t know whether I am just awkward as arse or what, but my body doesn’t seem to ever want to go into labour naturally. I was induced the first time and this one seemed to be headed the same way as well. At my term appointment with the consultant she examined me and performed a quick scan. All of a sudden my VBAC was off the table. He was too big, I was too small, and he was too high. I was booked in for my c-section for the next working day and I was left to sulk. It really didn’t help that we were having very warm summer weather at the time, so combine a pregnant woman with a heatwave and it’s not pretty.
Off we went on the Monday morning for my last minute elective c-section, already drenched in sweat before leaving the house, leaving my daughter with my friend, and trying not to be scared. This was all a false start, however, as we were sent home later that day and told to return the next. Too many c-sections booked in for the same day and I was the last one booked so the first one moved. Tuesday morning stank of déjà vu but once we got to the hospital things were better as I was first on the list this time. This was such a different build up compared to my previous experience. The first time round, with my daughter, I was taken from the labour suite, exhausted and drained from the induction and long labour straight into the operating theatre and barely had any idea what was going on – I was only pushing a second ago, wasn’t I? This time I was totally ‘sober’. I was happy that I would be meeting my son that day, but I was terrified of the surgery. And after going through all the admin involved and then walking to the operating theatre, I burst into tears while having my spinal done. Not because it was painful, but because reality was hitting and I was frightened. The procedure and the aftermath were weighing heavy on my brain. Still, it felt bloody embarrassing.
I don’t know if everyone experiences the blood pressure drop after the spinal at the start of surgery, but I do and I swear it makes me feel like I’m dying. And then comes the nausea and vomiting, continued dizziness, etc. But otherwise I was ok and just trying to focus on the baby, not the procedure. My son was born, safe, well, and crying – although had to be dragged out with the aid of forceps. I had a quick glance at him before looking on as my husband and the midwife took him over to be checked and weighed and all that stuff. Watching my husband’s pure happiness was quite magical. He came over to tell me that our son was 10lb 6.5oz, and I thought he was joking. Our boy was brought over and held in front of me and I kissed his cheek. He immediately stopped crying. Truly a wonderful moment that I will never forget. There’s nothing quite like the first time you see/hold your baby. Suddenly the tiny human that you’ve spent nine months growing and imagining is presented to you and your whole being just floods with love. He was super cute, but not chubby, just long and generally big. My husband held him for the rest of the surgery. Which was going on a long time now. Apparently there was a lot of scar tissue and damage from the infection last time to tidy up. But it was going on so long that I started to feel the pain of it all. Yeah, not great. Apparently my placenta was ‘ragged’ so I was having IV antibiotics because of that (during surgery and over the next couple of days).
I held him as we were taken back to the ward, which was wonderful because I didn’t get to hold my daughter for a long while after she was born. Then I threw up everywhere. Twice.
I will say that the aftermath this time (recovery period is probably a better term) has been better, but I don’t think that would be difficult to achieve considering how bad it was last time. I managed to get some odd swelling and an infection which needed five different courses of antibiotics to kick (oh yes, I want to try all the varieties, please), but otherwise I am ok (five weeks postpartum today). Oh and anaemia from blood loss, but that’s neither here nor there. And my postpartum aura migraines, but let’s not talk about those.
I’ll still never understand why people think c-sections are an easy option because in my experience they are bloody hard (maybe I’m just crap at c-sections?). I don’t think there is such a thing as an easy birth. Pregnancy and childbirth are not easy. I was so desperate to avoid a further c-section because aside from my previous experience, I was conscious of the other issues as well – not being able to drive for a while and not being able to lift my toddler during the recovery period, making caring for a baby and a toddler quite challenging. And if I’m totally honest, I do feel a little bit gutted that I will never experience a vaginal birth, but I there is zero point in dwelling on this. The method of delivery is irrelevant, the baby at the end of it all is what counts, and the baby is worth everything.
Welcome to the world, Dominic. You’re so amazing and so loved.
I’ve written about my experience of infertility and everything that led up to the birth of my two children in my book Little Something: From Infertility & IVF to Marathons & Motherhood – if you’d like to read more, it is available on Amazon and in bookshops everywhere.