Before I was pregnant I knew my “birth plan” would be… laissez-faire.
I considered gas, TENS, epidurals, narcotics, standing up, kneeling down, lying back, standing in showers, baths… No wait, I was drawing the line at baths. That wasn’t for me.
I had no idea what to expect and therefore found it less anxiety inducing if I just left it to the experts. Let me tell you though – not once, not even slightly, not even at all, did I ever consider a caesarean.
I waddled in to the obstetrician’s rooms at 39 weeks aware (and annoyed) that my baby hadn’t “dropped” yet. It was still sitting very high. But who cares right? My first-time-mum naivety told me that I was obviously just going to “drop”, engage and go into labour all at once, or at least very close together.
So you can imagine my surprise when my doctor suggested that at that stage, my likelihood of giving birth vaginally was 10%, and with every day that passed without me “dropping” the likelihood would decrease further still. Of course, we could wait it out and see what happened naturally, but there was a significant chance that I could go into labour before baby engaged, which could result in cord prolapse and more complications still. Fabulous.
I was in utter shock. I wanted to back away slowly. I remember just gaping at her like an idiot. But no matter which way I looked at it, I knew that the best bet for this baby was to come out in the safest and most controlled way possible. I had the usual feelings of disappointment that I wouldn’t labour naturally. I felt the burden of judgment from the hypothetical masses. I had concerns about recovery, fear of the surgery itself, worries that I wouldn’t get to be as close to the baby for as long straight after the birth to “bond”. All of these issues, though, revolved around me and not the bub. As far as this little nugget was concerned, a c-section was their best bet by far. I needed to grab this motherhood thing by the balls and start making the tough decisions: I was booked in for a c-section to be performed less than 48 hours later.
Adding to these worries was the fact that OH (Other Half) is a fainter. Once upon a time, he diligently tried three times to donate blood. There are only so many times they’ll let you give it a go, turn white, pass out and, nekminnit, you have your feet elevated higher than your head in the middle of the donor centre. After that they just encourage you to “help in other ways”. Bless.
Anyway, as if an epidural wasn’t going to be bad enough (he was definitely going to step outside for that bit), this was the whole hog – scrubs, blood, gore, needles, monitors. This was going to be touch and go.
We were admitted and shown to our room in the hospital, and I got changed into a stunning powder blue number. Then we waited. Joe and mum discussed Pokemon Go gyms. I sat and tried not to panic. While twiddling my thumbs and trying not to psych myself out of the whole thing, mum tentatively offered me some lippy. Why not?! In for a penny, in for a pound. May as well do this thing looking good.
I’ve always thought it was a bit melodramatic having to lie down in a bed all the way from your room, into a lift and down into theatre. Guys, seriously. I could have just walked here with my dignity in tact. But then I soon realised of course that dignity was about to go out the window.
In no time I was sat up on the operating table, bent over a pillow, shaking and wobbling all over the place like a Jesus on a dashboard. I felt the distinct sensation of my back being coated in antiseptic, and the male nurse, who was obviously straight out of the fifth grade, stood in front of me and said “You’re going to want to stay really still now. You can hold my hand if you like.” He quickly regretted that decision as my hormone-enhanced, strong and healthy tallons dug into his palm.
I was told the rest* was over and I would start to feel my legs and feet go warm. At this point, all I could think about was my dear friend, who had recently had a somewhat-unsuccessful spinal block during her caesarean. No wait – a somewhat-unsuccessful spinal block is not a thing. It’s either successful, or it’s hell. And she went through hell.
So naturally I was vocal about still being able to feel my legs. “I can still feel my legs…..Yep still feel them…..Please don’t cut me yet I can still feel my legs….I can still feel my –"
“Yes it’s ok! We’ll make sure to run tests before we start, to make sure you’re numb to the pain!” the anaesthetist replies with the air of a guy who was on his fourth caesarean for the day. This was probably because he was on his fourth caesarean for the day.
“Yes we’ll do some pretty nasty things to make sure you don’t feel anything…. Oh great you passed!”
“How do you know I passed?”
“Because you’re still talking and not in pain.”
So, once the doctors and nurses had had their voodoo-doll stabby fun for the afternoon, and I had confirmed that I couldn’t feel any pain, they got on with it…
Part 2 to follow.
(I'm trying to decide whether or not to include the gory photos - votes please!)