I’m expecting my third baby in a few months, so naturally I’m starting to think about birth and the birth story! During my first two pregnancies, I loved reading other women’s birth stories and enjoyed the gory details, both positive and negative.
I strongly believe that the best way to prepare for birth is to have as much information as possible. You can get a lot of the information you need from midwives, NHS books and antenatal classes, but there’s nothing like talking to someone who’s been through it. Thanks to the Internet and blogs, you can “chat” and listen to thousands of mothers around the world. I can’t even imagine how terrifying it must have been for women who didn’t have anyone to talk to before giving birth all those years ago.
Many emergency C-sections can be a little scary and stressful, so I thought I’d share my C-section birth experience. However, in my case it was an elective experience, so it was a completely different experience. I had my first son, George, four years ago and my second son, Joseph, two and a half years ago, so not all the details are fresh in my memory, but here they are…) And you can tell from these stories that I was overly emotional and unnecessarily angry about everything! I’m not an angry person at all, so I read this. And it feels weird to know how stressed and anxious and angry the whole thing has made me!)
Let’s start with the number one question….
Why did I have caesareans with both my boys?
My first caesarean
Because George was breech, I had a C-section. That is, he was upside down and was supposed to come out of his feet, not his head. This can be dangerous and is something doctors don’t like, so if your baby is breech, a caesarean section is recommended.
However, doctors will never recommend a Caesarean section to anyone. Not so in the UK anyway. The doctors tried to convince me to allow them to “turn” the baby at 37 weeks by pushing on my stomach and manipulating the baby’s head down. Sometimes this is successful and works, but it is painful for the mother, can make the baby unstable, and sometimes it doesn’t work. So I declined the offer to turn the baby and scheduled a C-section on the due date.
To be honest, I was really relieved when they recommended a C-section. The thought of giving birth scared me, but I liked the idea of being able to book my surgery for a specific time on a specific date and having everything booked and prepared. The responsibility of bringing a baby safely into the world was completely out of my hands and I loved that feeling.
As soon as I made the decision, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I really enjoyed the last few weeks of my pregnancy.
I’ll talk about why I had a second C-section later. But first, let’s talk about how George came into this world!
Normally, C-section appointments are made 7 days before the due date, but apparently George’s due date was busy so I wasn’t able to make an appointment. Everyone kept saying he didn’t need to worry because first babies never come on time – and I didn’t. I never thought that labor would start so soon! But I did it!
My contractions started 4 days early.
I slept normally and didn’t feel any different than usual. However, I woke up at 2am with severe period pains, but the pains came and went, so I tried to go back to sleep. But by the 4th or 5th time I realized what was going on, so I downloaded an app to track the timing of the pain, and sure enough, the pain came back regularly and got even worse.
I woke Sam up and he was really confused. We both didn’t really prepare for it as we knew it wasn’t going to be a natural birth and I think Sam was also expecting a lot of screaming and sweating. (We watched One Born Every Minute, but he obviously only saw the dramatic parts!) But I calmed down and called the hospital downstairs as I started having contractions. I told him I was going to discuss what to do.
I knew it was definitely in the early stages and I held my breath with each contraction, but the pain wasn’t severe. The hospital told me to go right away, but I didn’t panic and went after taking a shower, washing my hair, and shaving my legs!
When I arrived at the hospital, I was placed on a machine for monitoring and testing. I wasn’t dilated at all, but the machine showed that I was in labor, so they decided to do an emergency C-section.
By this point it was already around 7am, so they decided it would be better to wait until 8am, when a new team of staff would arrive and the surgery would be performed by new people who had not come in from the night shift.
This was fine with me because I liked the idea of hiring shiny new staff over tired ones. It also didn’t feel rushed or scary, and although it was technically an emergency C-section, it really wasn’t, and felt just as gentle as a regular elective C-section. I meant it.
I had to continue to rely on monitoring machines, which was a bit of a hassle. Because the pain started and my instincts were telling me to move, walk, stretch, stand upright instead of lying on my back. But that didn’t last long, and at 8am the midwife came to pick me up in the room where I was waiting.
I took off all my clothes, put on a gown and walked to the operating room where my spinal cord paralyzed me from the waist down.
I was really scared at that time, but the midwife was wonderful and made me feel better. As I went numb Sam came into the room and the midwives continued to chat to us.
There were a lot of people in the room, but the curtains were closed so we couldn’t see who was there. I remember them raising my knee to insert the catheter. It was a very strange feeling because my leg was up but I couldn’t feel anything. I knew it was my foot and I could reach out and feel it, but I couldn’t feel it lift.
The surgery started at 9am, and of course I didn’t feel any pain, but it was a strange feeling. I’ve heard many people say that their stomach is like a washing machine, with things inside spinning around, and that’s exactly what it is. Not a very good thing, but it ended very quickly because four minutes later I heard a baby boy crying and George was born.
They held him above the curtain for us to see him and I saw a flash of pink skin and then he disappeared.
I don’t remember this part, but Sam cut the umbilical cord, which was unexpectedly gruesome and difficult to cut.
I remember crying and Sam crying and looking up at the anesthetist and he was crying too. I remember thinking that if he cried every time a baby was born, this poor guy must be mentally exhausted by the end of the day!
George was wrapped in a towel and placed on my chest for a moment, but I don’t remember feeling anything but relief. I was so relieved that he was okay. The outpouring of love didn’t come right away. When I think back to that moment now, I feel a flood of love and endorphins, but back then I didn’t feel any of it. I don’t think he had any room for any emotion other than relief because he was so happy that he was healthy.
George was taken away to be cleaned up while I was being stitched up. I think it took about 10-15 minutes, but I honestly don’t remember anything.
I have a bit of a gap in my memory, but I remember afterwards in the recovery room cradling George’s little body against my bare skin, and even though I didn’t remember putting him there, he was nursing.
I was feeling sick so the anesthetist gave me two pills to help with that. Afterwards, Sam and I were alone in the recovery room with our newborn baby.
If you have a C-section, you will not be allowed to sit for several hours afterwards as this can cause migraines and other complications. So this part was really a little tricky. I lay there with a pillow behind his head, awkwardly trying to hug George. I was completely paralyzed from the waist down and had a cannula in my hand, which felt awkward and uncomfortable.
After about an hour, I was cleaned up a bit and drove to the ward. The next four or five hours were both amazing and terrifying.
It was amazing because we held our perfect newborn son and everything went well.
But it was really scary because all I could do was lie down, when all I really wanted to do was sit up, get dressed, and put on my knickers to put on sanitary pads. It was blood. I wanted to see my newborn baby properly, hold her properly, and dress her properly. I wanted to give Sam a proper hug and kiss. I wanted to enjoy some tea and toast.
But all I could do was lie down.
After about 4 or 5 hours, I was allowed to sit down, had my famous tea and toast, and two nurses came to wash me and help me put on my nightgown. Ta.
At that moment, I loved those nurses more than words can express. They made me feel pure, human, and dignified again. Three great feelings you get after what is actually a very undignified process.
The nurses fanned our newborn baby and taught us how to properly diaper him (yes, we didn’t know!) My body was in great shape and I didn’t have an ounce of fat. (Lies, all lies)) and they brought me more tea and toast and changed the bed sheets. The 15 minutes they spent with me now brings tears to my eyes. Because it was after they left that I became a mother.
The midwife came several times to check on George’s breastfeeding status. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing, but I let her suck most of the time and the midwives told me I was doing a great job. One of the important things she taught me is how to have the baby removed in case it hurts you or you have to stop it for some reason. You put your little finger in the corner of their mouth, break their seal, and take them away.
I’ll never forget my mom and dad coming to see us and seeing my dad holding George for the first time. George looked small in his father’s big hands, but I couldn’t realize how small he was.
Sam’s mum and dad then came and Sam went to the hospital cafeteria and returned with a tray of curry and crisps and a chocolate bar. In that moment, I loved Sam more than ever.
The doctors were able to remove the catheter before I went to bed. I was forever grateful for this (more on that when I talk about my second c-section). Sam had to leave at 9pm, so he got little sleep that night. George cried every time I put him in his crib, and I ended up sleeping just a little bit with his little body on my chest. I kept the curtains tightly closed because I was scared that the nurses would see me sleeping with him and warn me.
PS: After that, I started sleeping with my baby on my chest all the time. I know the textbooks say you shouldn’t, but sometimes rest is the only way!
The next morning, I woke up with a severe fever in the car and wanted to go out. The first day in the hospital went very well, but the second day did not go so well.
- I didn’t realize that breakfast would be served so I could only eat rice krispies for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rice Krispies, but I don’t want this the day after serious surgery.
- As maintenance work was being carried out on the hospital’s toilets, the water supply was cut off and I was unable to take a shower or use a nearby toilet.
- When I asked for water, it took repeated requests and over 45 minutes to get it.
- George has poor eyesight and it took over three hours for someone to find us some cotton wool.
- It was hot and humid in the ward and I needed some fresh air.
- I had to wait an incredibly long time to be prescribed pain medication. When I called to ask for more pain relief, she promised to be back within 2 minutes, but over an hour has passed.
- George also had a heart murmur (it was nothing serious and quickly resolved), but a lot of medical students came to listen. Because they have never heard of a baby with a heart murmur before. I felt like he was a science project and I was sick and worried because I obviously didn’t know it wasn’t serious.
It was all little things, but at the end of the day it was mostly about the fact that I wanted to be home. I wanted to grab a glass of water, sit on my couch, open the window, and not have to rely on someone to take care of me all the time.
I was told I would be discharged from the hospital at noon…but I was discharged 6 hours later!
The midwife did nothing wrong. I wasn’t ignored, I wasn’t high risk, and I didn’t need much help. I know I wasn’t their priority. I’m not very good at sitting around and making people wait on me hand and foot…especially if they’re not very good at actually doing it! I just wanted to leave the house because I knew it would be okay to go home, and when I left, I was the happiest mom alive.
Actually, that’s a lie. I was crying, hormonal, sad and scared. But that’s a story for another time!
My second birth and an elective c-section
This is very similar to my first story, so much shorter.
Joseph was not breech, so we planned on having a natural birth.
However, if you have already had a C-section, you are much more likely to have one a second time. Another thing that increases your chances of having a C-section is if you are induced. So I said if the contractions came on their own then it would be a natural birth, but I didn’t want to induce it. I felt that if I did that, I would be twice as likely to have a C-section. If I had been 10 days past my due date, I would have been booked for a C-section.
I was really worried that I would be induced, go through painful and scary contractions, and end up having a c-section. To me, that seemed like the worst thing for both of us. I didn’t mind a difficult birth or a c-section, but I didn’t want to have them both.
As you can probably imagine, my labor didn’t come naturally, so Joseph was delivered by elective C-section.
Everything was very similar to the first one, only this time the surgery was booked for 11:30am, but there was a delay so I think we got into the theater around 1pm. It meant a long wait at the hospital in the morning, but it also meant I was starving. Before my c-section I was not allowed to eat and the hangers were real.
Another downside to having surgery later was having to keep the catheter in all night. By evening, feeling in the leg had returned, but the doctor had gone home, so there was no one to formally sign the papers and authorize the nurse to perform the removal. This may not be a problem for some people, but I really hated having a catheter inserted. I hated it when the catheter got stuck in my leg and I couldn’t get up to take it out of the crib when my baby cried. Throughout the night I had to call his midwife every time he cried. Sometimes it took 10 minutes for someone to come. So I had to lie there with him crying. So close, yet so far away. I didn’t even have knickers on, and I didn’t want to lie bleeding on a giant sanitary pad that looked like a puppy training pad. It keeps squirming between my sweaty legs (it’s so hot in the maternity ward) and I’m in the wrong place and have to ring the bell and ask the midwife to rearrange the sanitary pads and change the sheets. I felt it was very disrespectful. Bleeding everywhere.
The catheter felt very unnecessary and my comfort was compromised as the midwife wasn’t allowed to remove it until the doctor told me it could be removed. While it is understandable why this happens, it is not easy for the patient.
As you can probably tell, I don’t like having to rely on others for simple (personal) tasks. And when I’m an old man, it’s definitely going to be a nightmare for me.
There were a few other things I was concerned about this time…
- Also, because there was a bed next to the door and a sink in my property where doctors could wash their hands, there were always times when doctors and midwives would come behind the curtain and not close it, which was frustrating. Ta.
- The girl in the bed next to me was not a nice person to have next to. She kept opening my curtains and leaving trash on her bedside table. She kept swearing loudly, kept going outside to smoke, and left her baby crying. Also, about 10 people visit her at a time, but they don’t stick to her visiting hours, and none of her midwives say anything.
- Anyway, I just lay there, silently listening to her, frustrated. Because this was not how I wanted to spend my first day with my precious little baby.
- I was reassured that I would be able to go home soon, but once again it took a few hours to get discharged and the staff had changed by 6pm, so I was asked to stay the night again and wait for the next morning.
No, no, no, no. I didn’t stay another minute. I knew it would be several hours before I could be discharged the next morning, but by this point my blood pressure was rising oh dear.
My blood pressure increased and I was told that I couldn’t leave the house until it came down. But I knew it was only going up because I was mad at myself for staying there. It was so hot that I wanted to go home!
So…I basically had a twitching attack and was discharged from the hospital.
Wow, not my proudest moment.
This was not a wise move as high blood pressure can be very serious, but to be honest my blood pressure was only high because I wanted to leave so bad and the longer I stayed the higher it got. It felt like.
I was finally able to go out around 10pm and thankfully my blood pressure was back to normal by the time I got home. (My father has hypertension, so he has proper home monitoring equipment). I couldn’t have been happier to be home and knew I had made the right decision!
My plan for my third caesarean
If you have already had two caesarean sections, it is highly unlikely that your third birth will be natural. I think I could try to have a natural birth if I wanted to, but to be honest, I’ve had two successful C-sections and would happily give birth a third time.
But what’s different this time?
My main plan is basically to relax and not rush to get home.
I don’t even know why I wanted to go home from the hospital so badly. There must have been some sort of instinct to take my baby home!
If you need to stay for 2-3 nights, no problem at all. If you have to stay for a week, that’s okay.
That’s right, I relax and relax and let people take care of me.
I also plan to bring a tablet with a bunch of movies downloaded on it. It may sound strange, but anyone who doesn’t like sitting in bed all day will understand. Even when caring for a newborn baby, you can’t just sit there. Of course, Sam was with me during the day and the family came for visiting hours, but there was no place for anyone else to sit inside the ward, only separated by curtains.
Newborn babies sleep about 18 hours a day. So you’ll probably be staring at your baby in amazement and amazement for about 12 hours. But then, well, watching a good movie makes time go a little faster!
I also plan on bringing lots of snacks and a proper meal for Sam when he comes over. The hospital food was really delicious, but the quantity was not very large. I also ask Sam to bring me a large flask of tea and a large bottle of water. Because waiting an hour for a cup of tea and a glass of water is not what an overly emotional new mom needs!
I will also try my best to be the first to enter the operating room. At my hospital, they seem to schedule two C-sections a day, and it’s up to your luck whether you get the first C-section or the second. If the emergency section comes in, your slot will be pushed back and there’s nothing you can do about it, but I’ll try to get in first. This will hopefully stop any serious hangers-on and allow me to get the catheter out before I go to the hospital bed.
I would like to take photos even after giving birth. As you can see from this article, there are not many photos of the hospital. I have a few, but they’re all grainy, awful, and dark, so I’m going to get a proper camera and take more pictures!
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below!