This post has been 15 years in the making. The birth story I’m finally sharing happened in 2005. It’s a story I’ve told all of our family and friends over the years and realized it’s one that I should share with you all as well. This is not only for those of you that are contemplating a c-section, but also for the ones that are planning on a natural birth. Because, in this birth story, my plan didn’t matter and I wasn’t really given an option. The doctor scared me into having a c-section.
When I got pregnant, I was a very healthy weight. I had a hard first three months. I was nauseous all day long. I couldn’t stand to be around anything dairy and even the thought of meat made my stomach turn. I survived the first few weeks on garlic stuffed olives because that’s one of the only things I could keep down, as strange as that sounds. As the time passed, my all-day sickness continued, but I was so used to it that I was able to start eating more, though definitely not healthier. I ate ice cream, caffeine free cola and all of the high sodium, salty foods I could find. I ultimately gained over 70 pounds.
I was heavy and tired and uncomfortable and I remember going in to the hospital that morning and stepping on the scale and breaking down into tears. I was well over 215 lbs (at 5’3″). I was embarrassed and hoping I was about to give birth to a 70 pound baby so I could just go back to my pre-pregnancy weight.
They brought me into my room at around 8am. It was a private, decent sized room. I wasn’t having contractions yet though I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months. Once they got me hooked up and settled in, my Doctor came in to talk about what was going to happen. I had chosen this particular Doctor because he had incredible bedside manner. He was able to take away my nerves in minutes with his humor and kind spirit.
He proceeded to break my water with a small hook. It wasn’t painful at all, just a bit uncomfortable. My doctor hoped that breaking my water would start my labor and told me he would be back in a few hours to check on me. I believe they also started me on Pitocin at that point.
It wasn’t long before I started feeling the contractions. They were stronger than the Braxton-Hicks and made me noticeably uncomfortable. The nurse asked if I wanted the epidural and I didn’t hesitate. When the anesthesiologist walked in, she immediately commented on the show we were watching, “My Super Sweet 16”. At first, talking about it took my mind off of the fact that she was sticking a giant needle into my back, but eventually I realized that she was much more interested in the show and not paying attention to what she was supposed to be doing. The pain from the epidural was unlike anything I have ever felt. The only way I could describe it is as though someone was pulling the nerves out of my lower back, one by one.
An hour or two later, I was in even more pain. My contractions got stronger and closer together and I could feel every single one of them. I remember crying hysterically and telling my husband and my Mom that I changed my mind about child birth. I wanted to go home. My nurse immediately called for someone because she said I shouldn’t be feeling any of it and the epidural should have kicked in already. The head of the anesthesiology department came in and noticed that the epidural was put in incorrectly. The idea of having to go through that pain again made me even more anxious but she was so gentle and walked me through it all and I barely felt it. During my next contraction, the nurse waited for me to show signs of discomfort and when I didn’t even flinch, she confirmed that my epidural was finally working.
My doctor had been in and out of my room a number of times throughout the day. It was around 3pm in the afternoon when he told me that he was leaving the hospital and that the doctor on call would be coming in to introduce himself, because he would most likely be the one to deliver our daughter. While I didn’t like the idea of a complete stranger coming in, I understood and knew that my doctor would leave me in good hands.
At around 6:30, when I was fully dilated, a new nurse came into the room and asked me if I was ready to start pushing. She said the doctor was on his way in. I didn’t feel anything different. But I trusted that she knew what she was doing. Plus, I was ready to meet my daughter. She pulled my legs up and asked my husband to hold one leg and she held the other.
After 25 minutes of pushing, I realized that nothing was happening. The nurse kept telling me to push like I was going to the bathroom, but everything from my waist down was completely numb and I couldn’t feel if I was pushing or not. By the look on her face, I knew that I probably wasn’t. She left the room briefly and came back with the doctor.
The doctor walked in, introduced himself, though I didn’t hear his name, examined me and immediately started talking about the likelihood of my having to have a c-section. I guess I looked confused because he asked,
“Didn’t your doctor tell you that you would need a c-section?”
No. We had never discussed it as an option. But this particular doctor started telling me that my daughter’s head was on the larger side and that posed a huge risk. He said that pushing could fracture her shoulder or collar bone or could do irreparable damage to my pelvic bone. The more dangers he shared, the more scared I became. I started to question why my own doctor never told me any of these things. I was exhausted and trusted the Doctor because, well, he’s a doctor. He seemed convinced that a c-section was the safest option for both me and the baby.
Before I knew it, they were prepping me for surgery. I was terrified but tried to focus my energy on finally meeting my daughter. They gave me a small bottle and told me to drink it. It had a very strong lemon flavor and was supposed to prevent me from throwing up. They laid me down, told me to put my arms straight out, strapped them to the table and hung up a medical sheet so that I wouldn’t see them cut me open.
The next 20 minutes or so was a complete blur. I remember my husband behind me, taking pictures as they pulled our daughter out. I remember them wheeling her into the other room and telling my husband to go with them. I remember them stapling me up. But most of all, I remember yelling,
I’m going to be sick!
A nurse ran over to me, turned my head to the side and I vomited into, what looked like, a metal bed pan. So much for that awful lemon concoction but thank goodness for that nurse or I may have choked. They wheeled me down the hall to a recovery room, where a nurse was waiting. I asked about seeing my daughter but she said they had to make sure I was okay first and that I should rest.
When I woke up, there was no one in the room with me. About an hour had passed. I was more anxious than ever to see my daughter. My husband walked in the room shortly after, showing me photos of our daughter, on our digital camera. It was the first time I had ever seen my daughter. I was so anxious to hold her. He went and got the nurse who told me to wiggle my toes but I couldn’t do it. I started shivering so badly that my teeth were chattering. She covered me in warm blankets and explained that this was the results of my meds wearing off. Again, she told me to rest and she would be back to see me in another hour.
When I was finally able to wiggle my toes, they wheeled me back to my room. I remember waiting patiently for my daughter to be brought in from the nursery. The nurse made small talk, asking how I was feeling and which Doctor wound up delivering my daughter. When I told her she said,
“Oh, they call him Dr. C-Section.”
Dr. C-Section? Apparently he prefers to do c-sections. Maybe for the money? Maybe because he’s too impatient to wait for someone to push, but that night, they had 3 back to back c-sections, all with the same doctor. I couldn’t believe I just had major surgery and was separated from my daughter for hours because of his “preference”. I felt betrayed. I felt angry. I had no idea how that surgery (and the two following) would affect and damage my body forever.
When they finally wheeled our daughter into the room I finally understood what love at first sight was. She was perfect, with a full head of hair and the tiniest fingers I had ever seen. Every single pain I felt and every single stretch mark on my body, was worth it.
Recovery from the c-section was probably the hardest part. They made me stand up and walk around just an hour or so after I got back to my room. I couldn’t stand up straight. The pain was intense. My husband had to help me to and from the bathroom, help me pull on those awful mesh underwear and help me wipe myself. It was humiliating and also solidified that I had chosen the right man. He never complained. He never even made a face. He just did everything he could to make sure I was comfortable and that included changing all of our daughter’s diapers while we were in the hospital and taking care of her so I could rest.
The reason why I’m sharing this (and I should have done it so many years ago), is to encourage you to ask questions. We tend to lean on the professionals for the best advice, but in some situations, they may not be looking out for what’s best for you. There are definitely emergency situations where you have to have a c-section to save your life or your baby’s life, but in cases like mine, it wasn’t necessary. When I went to see my OBGYN for a check up, he confirmed it. Had I gotten any other doctor, or had the nurse encouraged me to continue pushing just a little bit longer, I might have had a vaginal birth as I planned.
Although I will always wonder what it would have been like had things been different, I am incredibly grateful that we had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. A baby girl that will be driving next year and who gets her attitude from her Mama and her big beautiful brown eyes from her Dad.
Thank you for taking the time to read our birth story. Stay tuned for the birth story of our 2nd daughter.