Seven weeks ago, my third baby was born. His name is Dominick. He is amazing.
I was more anxious during this pregnancy than when I was pregnant with either of my two girls. I hadn't had a very positive labor and delivery story with either of them. My pregnancy with Mercedes lasted 21 days past my due date, and I was in active labor with her for 53 hours. My labor with Emerald went just fine, but her shoulder ended up getting stuck in my pelvic bone while I was pushing her out (a condition called "shoulder dystocia") and she was in distress when she was born. For the first few minutes after her birth (it felt like forever), several doctors surrounded my little girl trying to get her to breathe. Nobody told me if she was okay or not or if she was going to die...because nobody knew. Besides several bruises and 2 cones on her head, she ended up just fine, but spending several minutes trying to prepare myself for the possibility that my baby might not be alive took a toll on my emotions and I hate looking back on her birth experience and feeling those emotions every time I look at her hospital pictures. After two not so pleasant labor and delivery experiences, it was very hard for me to even consider the possibility of a third child.
When I got pregnant with Dominick and my new midwife reviewed Emerald's hospital records, she told me we might need to consider a c-section. Emerald was 9 lbs 4 oz and Dominick's ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy showed that he would be a bigger than average baby as well. We got several opinions from other doctors and midwives at the hospital and they agreed that a c- section, in my situation, would be less risky than a vaginal birth.
Ever since I started getting pregnant and having babies, c-sections have been a worst nightmare for me. I'd heard dozens of c-section horror stories from people I know personally and from random internet forums. I'm a very natural minded person when it comes to health care, and there is nothing natural about giving birth by surgery. It terrified me. My anxiety through Dominick's pregnancy was horrible. I had nightmares about my upcoming surgery almost every night during the last trimester. It's all I could think about during the day. And I could not keep myself off the internet reading c- section stories, trying to find positive ones. Positive c-section stories are almost non existent online.
Then 3 weeks before my c-section, I ran into a friend I hadn't talked to for a while and told her I was having a c-section. She shocked me by saying "Oh I LOVED my scheduled c-section! I'm so excited for you!" 2 days before my c-section I was talking to her again. She said, "Are you remembering that I loved my c-section? It was amazing."I held onto those words as I anxiously awaited the last few hours until I had to go into the hospital for my surgery.
I had a HUGE list of things I was anxious about. Most of my fears came from stories about other people's nightmarish experiences. But those stories and my fears ended up the exact opposite of what I actually experienced.
Fear #1: Not being able to eat or drink for several hours before surgery would make me sick to the point of vomiting.
Reality: I was so excited the morning of my surgery, eating and drinking was the last thing on my mind. I rinsed my mouth out a couple times that morning so it wasn't so dry, but other than that I barely noticed any discomfort. And my stomach was just fine! Thank God for adrenaline.
Fear #2: They would not be able to get my IV in before surgery. This fear was actually legit because I have small veins and most nurses have to try multiple times to get the IV to stick.
Reality: My nurse was fantastic and got the IV needle to stick on her first try!
Fear #3: The notoriously nasty oral antacid (Bicitra) that they give you on an empty stomach at the hospital would make me vomit...a common story on c-section forums.
Reality: They gave me an antacid through my IV and it wasn't even an issue!
Fear #4: The spinal would make me nauseous and vomit on the operating table, another common c-section thread story. I have a bit of a vomit phobia if you haven't noticed yet.
Reality: The spinal DID make me nauseous and at first I did feel like vomiting, but as soon as I mentioned it to my anesthesiologist, he adjusted my meds through my IV and it took about 10 seconds for my stomach to feel completely normal.
Fear #5: My baby would be taken away from me for hours and I wouldn't get to meet him or bond with him. Or just that I wouldn't get to hold and feed him right away like I did with my girls, which might affect our bonding process.
Reality: As soon as Dominick was born they gave him to my husband who placed him right by my head. I got to kiss him and touch him and smell him, just like I wanted. When I was ready, they cleaned him and weighed him right next to me so I could watch. Then they gave him right back to my husband, who walked next to me as they wheeled me to my recovery room. Once in recovery I got to breastfeed my baby immediately. It all happened so fast and honestly, I was pretty drugged up and happy which probably made the time go by faster. I didn't have an ounce of separation anxiety. It was perfect.
Fear #6 My recovery would prevent me from bonding with or taking care of my baby.
Reality: I had no problem feeding, holding or cuddling my baby even the day of my surgery. My husband and the nurses were amazing and completely accommodating. Someone was always around to help me lift him, change him, swaddle him, or help me to cuddle him in a more comfortable position.
Fear #7: When I got back home, I would not feel well enough to take care of my baby and other two children.
Reality: My husband stayed home for a week and a half after my surgery. By the time he went back to work, I was completely capable of doing what I needed to take care of my kids. Yes, I was sore. Yes, I had to take it easy and let go of my perfectionist tendencies to have a clean house and keep the kids busy/happy/entertained/doing something productive every second of the day. I took a lot of naps with the baby. The girls watched way too much TV. We ate a lot of sandwiches and cold cereal. The girls learned how to fix themselves their own snacks. But it wasn't impossible. It was good. Way easier than I expected.
Having a c-section was a huge blessing for me. My 9 lb 3 oz baby most definitely would have gotten stuck like Emerald did, with possibly a worse outcome...I heard my doctor telling my midwife during the surgery, "This baby is trying to be a shoulder dystocia baby even with a c-section!" because, apparently Dominick's shoulder was stuck in my pelvic bone already and they had to work extra hard and give me a bigger incision than normal to get him out safely. I no longer believe that having a c-section means having a nightmarish birth story. For me, it was the opposite. It was my best birth story. So I want to give the internet a positive c-section story for nervous, anxious mamas to stumble upon as they await their dreaded c-section. I can say with 100% honesty that I LOVED my c-section. It was perfect. And the outcome was a perfectly healthy baby. Which, in the end, is all that really matters.