Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A family centered C-section

When I had my daughter I posted my very detailed and slightly dramatic birth story, complete with a sequel!  To recap, I had complications that led to a failed induction and ultimately a c-section. Clearly the entire experience was a far cry from what I had expected and left me slightly embittered. Thankfully it didn't take long for me to realize how blessed I truly was to have a safe delivery and healthy baby despite all the complications.  This time around my son's birth experience couldn't have been more different and true to my promise, here is his birth story.

From the moment I discovered I was pregnant with him, I knew I did not want to repeat the c-section experience, I hated it the first time around and I was pretty darn sure I would hate it again. The only other option was a vbac (vaginal birth after c-section) but stories of uterine ruptures just filled me with terror. I researched for months the risks of a repeat c-section versus the risk of a vbac and I wished somehow I could have a third option!! Based on additional complications that came up during the pregnancy I grudgingly concluded that the repeat c-section was the lesser of two evils. I was assured that this time around the experience would be much better for several reasons.

Reason #1 Because of the intense itching I had last time, I spoke to my doctors at length and they assured me in advance that the anesthesiologist would be able to do something about it.  So imagine my disappointment when on the day of the surgery the anesthesiologist explained to me in great detail how there wasn't much he could do because the interaction of the spinal with morphine causes that itchy reaction in over 80% of women. He told me that without the morphine I would be in unbearable pain and they wouldn't even consider doing the procedure without it or a similar opioid. Instead he assured me that immediately after the surgery I could request an anti-itch drug from the nurses that would largely control the itching. This turned out not to be true at all. I could literally cry from how itchy I was later; I'll post in more detail about that separately.

Reason # 2 It would be a shorter hospital stay since we were not attempting to induce like last time.

Reason # 3 Scheduling in advance allowed me to be mentally prepared for it.

Reason # 4 Since I had already been through a c-section, there would be no surprises.

We moved out of state during the pregnancy so I was forced to switch to a new doctor.  I was heartbroken leaving my old doctor behind but the new practice turned out to be great as well.  Leading up to the scheduled c-section date they told me about their 'family centered' c-section option. This is an attempt to make the birth experience less clinical by allowing immediate bonding after birth. I was skeptical but of course I said yes. I googled it and came up with pictures like this that attempt to show what the clear drapes would look like.
Of course in reality it doesn't look quite like that because there are so many people around and you are hooked up to multiple monitors. Additionally they keep blue drapes until the last minute when the baby is coming out.

The c-section was scheduled for 2.30pm on a Monday and I was told not to eat or drink anything from midnight the day before. For a pregnant person that's about the same as telling me not to eat for a month. I questioned them about this and they told me the real rule is no food or water 8 hours before surgery but they like to say midnight since most people won't be eating through the night anyway. I did continue to drink some water til about 2am and then began my excruciating fast.

We were told to arrive at noon so we could be prepped for surgery. It definitely felt weird knowing exactly when I would have the baby, but even then, the anxiety was palpable.  I thought arriving 2.5 hours early would be way too much time and I was sure we would be bored to death but surprisingly it went by fast. We had to go through all the motions of consent forms, speaking with multiple nurses, doctors and anesthesiologists. A plethora of information was thrown at us all at once and everyone kept reminding me of all the possible things that could go wrong. I'm sure they are legally obligated to that but I was sweating intensely by the time I was all prepped to head into surgery. I had to remind myself that I had been through this before and everything was going to be just fine.

Just like the first time, they brought in a sterile outfit for my husband to wear over his clothes and then they took me away to get the spinal placed. Just like last time I had to hunch my back over and get stabbed in the back repeatedly. Once the spinal was placed I was told to lie down really quickly and felt warm all over. Unlike last time there was no wet wipe test but my legs immediately felt numb. A nurse told me that I was being pinched and poked really hard on my legs and belly but I couldn't feel a thing.I tried to stay really calm but once again the dizzying nausea, extreme thirst and breathlessness built up in waves. I also felt extremely hot and thought I would burst into flames, the anesthesiologists were great one of them began manually fanning me until my temperature regulated itself. Unlike my first time around I was not place on oxygen. Once I was stable, my husband was brought in looking like an astronaut! Our first hospital had him wear scrubs over his clothes but this hospital had a one piece overall type outfit very reminiscent of a space suit!

True to their word they put up clear drapes behind the blue drapes so that once our baby was born we would be able to see him immediately. Once the surgery began there was nothing to do but wait and pray for the best. Once again I thought to myself that it felt like such a passive way to bring a baby into the world and yet I was thankful that modern medicine provides such a life saving option when needed. Before long they told us they would be taking him out any minute, my husband and I looked at each other anxiously and then we heard his precious cries! Right away they dropped the blue drapes and we could see them holding my precious son!!! He looked much bigger than I imagined he would be and his crying was once again the most beautiful sound in the world, no words can explain the feeling. The nurse had to prop my head up to see all this. I watched them cut the cord and then they immediately placed him on my chest.

Can I pause and say that this experience was a major improvement on  my first c-section where my daughter was whisked away immediately after she was born. Having said that it was still difficult to really hold him when I was still in the middle of surgery and had to remain completely flat on the narrow operating table. I also had my right hand strapped to a billion things so I was only able to move my left hand. So I was holding him but in a really awkward position. I couldn't even see him properly but despite all that, it was the absolute best moment; cradling him on my chest as he cried his heart out and my husband and I tried to soothe him. After a while they came to take him to be weighed, measured and tagged right there in the operating room. Then he was wrapped up so he wouldn't get cold. They asked if we were okay with him having a bath and then he was taken away.  By the time all this was done the surgery was basically done I was transferred to a bed and wheeled over to the recovery room where I patiently waited from him to be brought to me. It was only at that point that it really hit me; after months of worrying and waiting our son was finally here and we were now parents of two!


  1. Its not easy reading for someone squeamish as me but I'm glad you were better prepared this time, a shame it was with a new Dr in a new state and what did they do about the itching in end? Sounds excruciating! Maz