Having a C-section was not apart of my birth plan. But, on August 1, 2021 I had to deliver my baby via C-section, and it was the hardest and most terrifying moment of my life.
I was scared to give birth. I don’t handle pain well, and the idea of giving birth did frighten me. But I far preferred it to a C-section because who the hell needs that? C-sections set back your recovery time, are terribly invasive and are likely the only surgery where you’re awake while the doctors perform it. I’ve had major surgery before, and I knew a C-section would be horrible to endure—both during the procedure and after, for recovery. But, alas, my little prince was having troubles of his own in the womb during labour and there was no choice.
Let me stress that. There was no choice. I’ve seen plenty of people say that C-sections are the “easy way out” of childbirth, and I gotta tell you, they have NO IDEA whatsoever what they are talking about because there was nothing easy about having a C-section at all. While in the end I have my baby safely in my arms, it was still the most traumatizing experience of my life, and I’ve been through three surgeries previously along with prolonged illness.
Events Leading Up to the C-Section
My water broke on a Friday night. I knew my water broke, but my husband and I checked Google and I guess that dissuaded us from going to the hospital right away. In the morning, I called and they said I had to come in to be checked. Once I got there, I was told they’d have to induce labour since my water was already broken. Funny enough, I had no pain although I have been told that if your water breaks, contractions are very painful. That’s not say I wasn’t having contractions, I just wasn’t feeling them. Which I was grateful for because I was afraid I couldn’t handle the pain.
I spent a bit of time in triage, and then when I finally got to the labour and delivery room, they were able to give me an early epidural, which had been recommended in order to make the birth experience less stressful on my body and safeguard me from the possibility of my blood ammonia spiking because of OTC deficiency. Now, I am going to be totally honest and tell you that just getting IVs into me was hell for me and the staff at the hospital. When I was in hospital in January, they took blood from me every four hours and it to the point where this was intolerable for me. I could feel the little butterfly needle going into me, feel it while it was in there and when it was removed. I have become so traumatized from enduring that for ten days that I cried and screamed as they inserted IVs (which needed to be done several times because my veins are difficult) and was already an emotional wreck before they had to put in the epidural. And honestly, I don’t know why but getting in those IVs was way more painful than ever before. I’ve been hospitalized tons of times, and always had an IV and never before has getting poked for an IV been so painful. It wasn’t just a poke. It was so much more intense and the needle felt twenty times larger than it really was.
And let me tell you, putting in the epidural next HURT. I mean, yes, they froze the area but I could still feel something as they worked to get it in place. And it was not a nice sensation at all. On top of that, the first attempt was not successful so they had to do it again.
Once the epidural was in, they started the meds for induction. I was a little dilated already, but no where near ten centimetres. And this was actually the easy part. I felt nothing as I contracted and continued to slowly dilate. They had to stop the meds for induction a few times however, because my baby’s heart rate kept dipping low. Finally, in the evening the doctor warned us that while we could keep waiting for me to dilate fully, that a C-section might be in order as things were not moving along as they should, and my baby was not enduring the contractions well and could go into distress. An hour later, we had to make the call for the C-section. I was still barely 8cm. So I signed the papers, and off we went to the OR.
Music was playing in the OR. Like, I’m about to be cut into, and they have music going as though we are about to sit down for a round of drinks. They laid me out on the table, froze me from the chest down—and don’t imagine I was exactly calm, I was in tears. Both of my arms were stretched out to either side of me, like Jesus on the cross and I was utterly unable to move. My husband sat next to me, behind the drape so we didn’t see anything. But the minute they adjusted the lights over me, I lost all sense of reason. I was convinced, 100% convinced, that I would feel the cut and die from the pain or blood loss. I kept telling my husband I would feel it, that I would die. There was a rational part of my mind that knew this wasn’t true, but I was gripped in fear and begged my husband not to let them do it.
You don’t feel the cut of course, but you do feel things moving around, a kind of pressure feeling, especially after they have the baby out and are completing the surgery. Which took longer than getting my baby out from my uterus. I was completely drugged up by this point—epidural meds, medication from being induced, some meds they gave me to calm me down—which I doubt worked at all—and I was not in any proper state of mind. I was, as my husband says, hysterical. But, I hardly think that’s surprising all things considered. And at this point, my teeth were violently chattering and my arms and shoulders were shaking uncontrollably. They said it was because of the medications and I have to tell you, that was as bad as anything else. It made the back of my head hurt and as much as I tried not to fight it, the shaking was so violent that it also hurt so that of course I found myself resisting it.
Not the Easy Way Out
After having experienced this, I can tell you, having a C-section is no walk in the park. Why anyone would request one is beyond me. Mine was done as an emergency because my baby couldn’t handle the contractions. And on top of the terror of surgery was the fact that they whisked my baby away to be checked over after birth because he didn’t immediately cry or move; he was stunned. He was perfectly fine and cried and moved a bit later, but that was scary too. And of course, I couldn’t even hold him right away because I was still on the OR table getting sewn back together. There was nothing about having a C-section that was easy. This is Jonah’s birth story. It wasn’t easy for him, or for me.
I spent months worrying about my baby because of the rare genetic condition I have. I was delighted in early July to learn that he does not have that gene. The weight that was lifted from my shoulders when I got the results was tremendous. My baby is healthy, and content and I’m so happy to have my baby, so in love with him. Pregnancy was difficult at times, while I do acknowledge that many have endured more trying pregnancies, and delivery was stressful, and the delivery is likely not something I’ll forget soon. I’m just grateful we are both healthy and that this wonderful new chapter of my life is beginning.
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This sounds like such a difficult experience – I think it was incredibly brave of you! My mum had a c section too and we’ve never really talked about what that must’ve been like so this has definitely helped me with understanding that too. Thanks for sharing x
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It was difficult! Glad it’s behind me.
I love that you have opened up to yourself in exploring the experience of your birth story in writing! Happy that your little fella is healthy and that you too are healing and growing!
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Lovely post. I have undergone 2 C-section and luckily have not had any problems. But I do agree that recovery time frame and overall pain is more than a normal delivery.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Thank you, I know all experiences are different.
Sharing your story in this way is going to make such a big difference for others as they face their own struggles. I find that many of the people who get c-sections didn’t want one setting out, and those that do want one often admit after that they didn’t know what they were getting into. I have never understood why honest and open conversations about procedures like this aren’t talked about more often. How are we going to be prepared to make the best possible decision for all involved if we aren’t properly informed about our options?
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Good point! It’s a major surgery and it’s not something you should go into without knowing how long recovery is and what recovery entails.
I’ve had two C-sections, so I know what you mean. I hated when they gave me the spinal with my second born, and I felt like I would pass out, and fall over dead. The recovery was horrible. So much pain. The next day I felt like my belly would fall out.. I’m terrified to have another C-section. My friend had 7 C-sections!
Your son is adorable. Congratulations.
Hugs to you. i know how this feels! .
7 c sections?! I couldn’t. Thank you for your kind words. It is quite the experience. It sounds very routine to have a c section, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.
I absolutely loved this post! SO insightful! I am currently pregnant with my first and I am planning on doing a natural birth, however I know there may be complications with my health. But reading this post makes me feel a bit better and more prepared in case I do Have to have a c-section. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story!
I’m glad it’s helped! Congrats on your pregnancy, it’s life changing.