We interrupt the vacation stuff to celebrate E1's 9th Birthday. Her family shindig was on Saturday, and tonight we'll be celebrating...ahem, we celebrated over burgers, fries, and leftover ice cream cake!
I posted this on a message board in December ’98 in response to someone asking what to expect with a c-section because she had just learned that she'd be having one the following week. I cleaned it up somewhat to protect the innocent, also because there were lots of LOL's and I referred to Rob as Dh throughout (because I was all cool with abbreviations and stuff), and because it was a very choppy account of events. It's still a bit choppy, really, and has mistakes, but that's how it's staying. HARUMPH!
E1's Birth Story:
This is the nutshell version of what I experienced. My section was due to E1 being breech and my BP was up - I delivered 3 weeks early.I went to my regular appt on Jan 26th or thereabouts, and figured it would be quick as usual…although, I did have some swelling in my left ankle that weekend to report.
My blood pressure was up. Dr M felt my belly – baby was still breech. He had been keeping an eye on baby’s position and had decided there was too much amniotic fluid to do a version – he couldn’t get a grip on baby’s head. He had the nurse check my BP again – sometimes it can be high if you’re rushing to the appt, etc. Still high. Things were not looking good – he wanted to send me over to the hospital for a Non-Stress Test.
“Have you been resting as much as possible?” he asked.
“Well,” I said, “I pretty much just go to and from work. When I’m at work I can sit as much as I want and get up whenever.”
“You just saw your last day of work.”
BUT, BUT, BUT…I still had 3 weeks of things to get into place for my maternity leave! He agreed to make his final decision after the NST, but even then I would only be allowed to go to work for one day – in and out as quickly as I could, and TAKE IT EASY!
Then he dropped me with, “Worst case scenario, we may need to do a c-section tomorrow.” WHAT???????
I was stunned. I walked out the medical building and started to cross the street to the hospital, but then I stopped and walked back through the building to the parking lot. I called Rob from the car and told him that I'd been sent to the hospital for some tests and that Dr M said we might be having the baby the next day. It was a tearful phone call, because it was starting to hit me and I was scared, but he said he was on his way over and would find me at the hospital. I went back up to the Dr office because I forgot to get some papers at the desk on my way out, and then I headed over to the hospital.
The Dr's office told me to go straight to the LD floor – didn’t need to stop at admitting. Once at LD, I was told I should have stopped at admitting. Over the years, I’ve found this is a very common occurrence! The nurse that would be doing my NST spoted me in the hall and called me down –she told the nurse at the desk she would call down and take care of things with admitting. I think she could see the fear on my face; she was very calm and reassuring. The Non-stress test results were okay. BP was MUCH better when I was lying down. Rob made it to the hospital and hung out with me for the rest of the test. He had called both our parents on his way over.
On departure, I was assigned a 24-hour urine specimen – which means I had to collect my urine in a jug for 24 hours, keep it refrigerated, and bring it in to the lab. I also got permission for the one day, quick-as-possible, visit to work.
I called my boss at home, and filled him in. He was a super great guy, who had recently become a dad, so he was very understanding. Because of the urine collection I'd been assigned, I decided to stay home the next day, and go in to work the following day. On that day, Rob called regularly to check on me at work and even had the receptionist hounding me to get out of there.
We sent out a mass e-mail to family and a few friends so they would all know what’s up.
Friday, I had a biophysical profile done in the Dr's office to check and see if baby was cooked enough. My BP was still up, so I went for another NST. The c-section was tentatively scheduled for the following Thursday, and an amniocentesis was scheduled for Wednesday to check the development of baby’s lungs.
After a weekend filled with getting things in order, Wednesday rolled around. The amnio went okay – Dr M would call with the results later that evening. My next stop was up to L&D to have another NST to make sure the amnio didn’t send me into labor. Chris – the nurse from the first NST was there again, and told me that if the c-section was a go the next day she’d be one of the nurses in the room!
While there, I had some blood drawn …pre-lab work for surgery, including a rhogam test to check for antibodies since they pierced the amniotic sac. They send me down to x-ray to have some pre-surgery x-rays done…my lungs, I think. We had to wait for the rhogam blood work, so we left to find some lunch. When we returned, I got a rhogam shot, and we were done. We had no idea going in that morning that it would be an almost all-day affair. Rob had to go into work to take care of some things, so he went to work and I went home.
Dr M called that night. Baby’s lungs were mature; c-section would happen as scheduled at 7am the next morning. I got all the 'don’t eat and drink' instructions. As I was packing my hospital bag that night I commented that I'd be glad to get the waterproof pad off the bed because it was causing me to sweat at night. Rob suggested we throw caution to the wind and just take it off - woo!
Rob's sister Christine moved in to dog-sit.
The next morning I checked in at 5am. Then it was undress and put gown on... Wait... IV in place... Wait... Catheter in and tummy shaved... Wait... My stomach was growling – I had been fasting since 7pm the night before.
Next was a wheelchair ride down to the OR - and a dandy hairnet before entering (it was a very cold and breezy trip!). The anestesiologist introduced herself and asked if this was my first C-birth. YES - She assured me she would explain everything that was happening (and she did).
I hopped up on the OR table and took my arms out of the gown for BP cuff, heart monitor, etc. Everything was ready for the insertion of the spinal block...BUT where was the doc? DOC WAS 20 MINUTES LATE!!!!! Good thing I think he's awesome.
Chris tucked my head under her armpit telling me to 'think poor posture' while they worked on the spinal. This was high on the creep factor scale - I think it took them a few tries - I felt a ZING!!! down one leg or the other a few times and they wanted to know about it, but they didn’t want me to move, and THAT was difficult. Therefore, it was very helpful to have my head in that nurse's armpit :o) If I had known, I could have practiced that position at home - Sit on the floor and basically hunch forward like you're trying to get your head between your knees and then concentrate on relaxing. I just took deep breaths and tried to stay relaxed all the while thinking 'once this part is over there will be no pain until it wears off'. Dr M walked in (finally!) and took the nurse's ‘armpit’ position with me and talked gently telling me to relax, etc. Nurse Chris took a 'Mom' tone with Dr M and was calling him by his first name - heh!
Once the spinal was done I laid back and they tied my arms down. Barbaric - YES - but apparently, some women feel the need to 'help out'. Sometime around there, Rob was let in wearing a lovely paper ensemble and they gave him a stool by my left shoulder. I remember telling him that I was able to focus on his face – I had been trying to focus on some rivets in the ceiling, but the room kept spinning.The numbing of the spinal made me feel nice and toasty warm, but I couldn’t feel myself breathing. They had Rob hold his hand over my mouth and nose so that my breath would hit my face - which helped a lot. From what I’ve learned since, I think I may have been overmedicated with the spinal – I was numb up to my NOSE!
The assisting doc came in and introduced himself. They put a paper curtain up so Rob and I wouldn't see anything. Dr M decided to do one last u/s to check baby’s position. I remember thinking that I was going to pitch a fit if they decided that she had turned and we didn’t need the section, lol. I guess they wanted to know what to expect when they got in there.
More waiting, they spread iodine on my belly (but I couldn't feel it), and then surgery began. Since I couldn’t feel anything it seemed like nothing was happening. Rob did look at one point, and said, “You won’t believe the tools they use for this!” Later he told me it reminded him of pig slaughters he’d seen on his grandfather’s farm. LOL
"Look Robert, I have feet!" (Rob said Dr M was wiggling E1's feet back and forth while her body was still inside) "It's definitely a girl!" from the doc. (YES - my doc is a cut up!). Then they pulled her out and Rob said, "she has lots of dark hair!" He was expecting her hair to be blonde (the tech had seen hair on the u/s).
I went in to surgery at 7am (doc was 20 min late) E1 was born at 8:03am. The nurse took her over to the warming table and, once she checked out okay, they wrapped her up and brought her to us. She was crying, but stopped as soon as we started talking to her – VERY COOL! Then Rob went with E1 and the nurse to the nursery while they stitched and stapled me back together.
Once they were done, I had to stay there an hour while they monitored my vitals and repeatedly asked if I could move my toes. I had LOTS of CHILLS and they gave me some warm blankets. I was VERY tired and tried dozing, but they kept interrupting with questions. Then they 'cleaned me up' down there. One nurse informed me that my Dr is REALLY good about ‘cleaning you out’ and I probably wouldn’t have discharge for very long. Um, great...thanks.
Eventually they wheeled me to the nursery and brought E1 out for a short visit, before continuing on to my room (about 11am). They kept E1 in the nursery until about noon or 12:30, I think.
I had a morphine drip with the button I could press to get more- but it rations how much you get. I would say the first 2 - 3 hours I was back in my room were the worst because the incision hurt. At one point I asked for an ice pack because the incision area felt hot. The nurse told me it wouldn’t help. Once E1 was brought in and Rob put her in bed by me the pain didn't seem so bad. :o) After that, things get fuzzy - the morphine affects you more than you realize at the time! Oh, and I was HUNGRY again!
The nurse asked if I was ready to try nursing, but I was just too out of it, and didn’t feel up to it. So, Rob got to feed her formula until the next morning. I’m not sure, but I think I insisted on him feeding her since I would be doing it once I was breastfeeding – thus, he wouldn’t have a chance again for a while. However, he was quick to share that task with his parents when they arrived later and I remember feeling resentful. Looking back, I guess the nurses may have given her formula while in the nursery as well…I’m not sure. Luckily, she had no problem latching on the next morning.
My catheter, BP monitor, and IV came out the next am - although they left the IV stump there in case they would need to start one again for any reason. My incision dressing was removed and I was helped up and to the shower. Wicked chills here too. I didn't sit in the shower even though there was a place to sit - mine had a hand-held showerhead, so I just leaned on the rail and moved the showerhead where it needed to go. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get back up if I sat! This whole process was very long and drawn out - I moved very slowly and had a lot of assistance from a nurse. Once I had my hair dried and I was back in bed I felt 80% better though - being clean was nice. I was exhausted.
They wanted me to keep turning - not stay in the same position for more than an hour or so. This was a bit painful, so I tried to time it in conjunction with the pain meds, and adjust the bed as needed, and use those bedrails. It also helped to have Rob arrange support pillows, etc. – except the one time he gave me a BIG PUSH - OUCH!
I brought two pillows from home - the hospital's are crummy. My cousin, recently having had her own c-section advised me to bring slippers with no back...so I wouldn't have to bend down to get my foot in it.
Getting the gas out was a BIG issue for those nurses. They would not let me eat solid foods until I had had a bowel movement – no soft foods until I passed gas. I was SO HUNGRY and they would only give me liquids – including coffee with every meal. BLECH! Walking was supposed to help with the gas, so I walked as much as I could. I was also given stool softeners. They finally gave me soft foods my last day there (I begged!) after trying to convince me to have an enema. I was convinced one nurse in particular was stalking me with that enema box. Later, when relating the enema part to my parents, I told them my response was “Isn’t there something else I can do?” Rob QUICKLY corrected me and said, “Oh no, you said, ‘GOOD GOD! Isn’t there something else I can do?!’” I realized he was right and laughing about it was very painful! They gave in on the meal issue, allowing me some scrambled eggs, because once I was home I would be eating whatever I wanted to anyway. I didn't have a bowel movement until a week after E1 was born.
I KNOW I don't remember the discomfort as clearly as it was. One thing that I experienced - and I've only heard of the same thing from one of my friends who had a vaginal birth - was flashbacks. When I would try to relax and fall asleep - no matter what I was thinking about - my mind would always wander back to the whole c-section process and would focus on the painful things. It was pretty vivid too. That lasted about 3months...I even told Rob that I thought I was experiencing PostTraumatic Stress. Months later, if I concentrated I could still give myself a chill.
E1 was born on a Thursday, and by Saturday night, DH was stir-crazy in our hospital room. He’d spent every night at the hospital – at my request – and had only been home for a short time one day. The nurses kept trying to go over education stuff with us, and visitors would arrive and interrupt us. Rob kept asking the nurses to come back later and I was feeling peeved, because they were just trying to do their job and give us an opportunity to ask questions. In hindsight, I think I was also feeling a little ‘un-bonded’ with E1 and there he was being SUPERDAD. I didn’t change a single diaper in the hospital – Rob changed them all. He kept very detailed notes for the nurses regarding the diaper changes, feedings, and cord care. He would go and ask them any questions I had, buy them sodas and chat. He was GREAT! Unfortunately, I was starting to hate him for it!
On Saturday night, my parents were there and Rob left to get some dinner. I told them that he was “getting on my nerves”!
The second day we were home, I confessed to Rob about the getting on my nerves comment. I wanted him to hear it from me, and not as a passing comment from my parents. I bawled my eyes out while telling him because I felt sooo bad. I think I was a BIT hormonal. He was very understanding, but it was months before he could tease me about it without me bursting into tears.
E1 - four days old