April is C-section awareness month. I found out about this through Internet at the beginning of the month. I had a C-section just 8 months ago with my second baby but this information only resonated with me for a split second before I came back to my crazy busy life.
Then last week it popped up on my radar again when I came across a blog that one of the moms in the PLN Facebook group posted. Reading it almost brought tears to my eyes. Not because I thought I was brave or strong to go through C-section but because reading through the author’s reasoning to support those truths brought back my own memories from 8 months ago.
I hope that by sharing my story I can contribute to spreading C-section awareness and maybe help another Mama out there. Overall, I feel very lucky to have gone through this experience and when you read through the story, you’ll know why.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, almost instantly I thought of a home birth.
My first pregnancy went quite well and under midwifery care I managed to deliver my daughter in a hospital through a vaginal birth without any pain medication. Don’t get me wrong, my labour was super painful but I’m that kind of person that a thought of needle put in my spine or an IV in my hand scares me enough to want to go through any pain to avoid that.
And since the worst part of my first delivery was actually the road to the hospital where the pain management in a car seat with a seat belt was anything but possible, I thought I would spare myself this part and just stay home this time around.
Well, I wasn’t bound to experience a home birth but something quite the opposite as it turned out after my 2nd pregnancy ultrasound.
The ultrasound discovered that I had placenta previa. Have you ever heard of that before? I hadn’t – but I quickly found out what it was. It’s when the placenta attaches itself in the wrong spot and partially or completely covers the cervix; making it difficult or impossible for the baby to come out vaginally.
Of course, lucky me, my case was hopeless; complete posterior placenta previa which meant that placenta attached at the back not at the belly side. This made it impossible for it to move as the belly grew (sometimes previas can “fix” themselves this way).
Even though my midwives and after the ob-gyn where slightly hopeful the placenta would eventually move, I knew from the day I was explained the issue that I would end up having to have a C-section. And the series of additional ultrasounds I was put throughout the pregnancy to monitor my condition, only confirmed my feeling.
Even though I consider myself someone who’s pretty adaptable to any change life throws at me, I have to say, taking in the news was not easy. Having to reset my mind from home birth plan to actually being operated on and having to stay in hospital for recovery after that made me cry my eyes out a few times.
And it wasn’t only that, it was also the risks that my condition would usually carry: potential pregnancy bleeding and with that possibility of being put on a prolonged bed rest or what’s worse – the risk of having premature delivery.
To mitigate all those risks demanded a very drastic change of lifestyle for the rest of the pregnancy. I am a busy hands-on working Mom. The thought of me being put on a bed rest or worse ending up in a hospital for a prolonged time, an my husband having to do it all … kids, home, work and then hospital visits was unbearable.
So here I was with the help of my wonderful husband, my Mom and then Mom in Law, trying to avoid any harder housework, heavy lifting (not easy when you have a 2 year old toddler attached to your hip most of the time) or even travelling – we had to cancel our pre-booked cottage vacation.
And of course, like any other self-respecting Momma, against the midwives and ob-gyn’s opinion, I was trying to go back through the first weeks of my pregnancy to see if there was any action or non-action on my part that could have caused the previa; blaming myself for all this trouble and additional work load on my loved ones. (Which OF COURSE wasn’t my fault.)
It’s true that you can’t feel any pain during the C-section but that’s only 30 mins.
The minutes before can be quite nerve-wracking (espescially when it’s the first time in your life going through any type of hospital procedure), and there is lots of pain for quite some time right after anesthetic wears off.
I was fortunate enough to be under the care of a great hospital with a brand new maternity unit. Although short lived, I still had a panic attack of sorts when frozen to the bone, alone in the operating room (my husband and midwife were getting ready to join me), with the anesthesia slowly immobilizing my legs, I was put on the operating table, with hands spread out, naked from waist down surrounded by not so familiar medical staff.
My husband and midwife were brought in just in time to help me calm down and focus on the most important thing, bringing my baby to this world. We all remember that moment, when the most precious and beautiful human being comes out and lets out their first cry – one of the happiest moments of our lives. And there he was, surprise surprise – gorgeous and healthy baby boy. One of the happiest moment of my life.
I left the hospital relatively fast as I was very determined to do so and baby’s and my condition allowed for it. Regardless, my postpartum recovery was much longer and more painful physically than after my first child. If it wasn’t for my husband and both Moms, I am not sure how I would have made through the first 6 weeks.
And yet I considered myself lucky at every stage of the whole experience as I know some Mommas out there who were not as fortunate as me:
- I was lucky finding out about my condition early – I had time to really prepare myself and my family for the C-section;
- I was lucky not having to go through any of the risks associated with placenta previa and bringing my baby safely to term;
- I was lucky to receive family help before and after my C-section which took a huge weight off my and especially my husband’s shoulders and allowed me to focus my energy on the baby and recovery;
- I was lucky to be under such a wonderful care and in the capable hands of my midwives, ob-gyn, anesthesiologist and all the nurses at the hospital who did their best to ensure me and my baby were healthy and safe and at the same time followed my birth plan and let me be with my baby at all times possible even when still on the operating table;
But most of all, I was lucky to be living in moderns times when standard ultrasound made it possible to discover my condition and standard C section made it possible for my otherwise super healthy baby and me to actually survive the labour. And my belly scar is just a beautiful reminder of this.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.