So I know an elective CS birth story is a boring read for most but this birth was very special and healing for us and I needed to write it, and now want to share it
For anyone who reads, sorry for the length.
This elective was for our 3rd child. Our first was a traumatic VB with lots of complications – shoulder dystocia, 3rd degree tear, ventouse birth, DD requiring resus, retained placenta requiring MROP under GA, PPH of 3 litres requiring blood transfusions to name just a few . Our second was an emergency CS after labouring until 10cm, an epidural that failed during incision in the CS, was eventually done under GA and another PPH requiring blood transfusions. Needless to say we were very apprehensive about another birth experience and sought opinions before TTC on whether it was advisable (due to PPHs) and what plan we should have for a third birth, the outcome of which was that due to a history of shoulder dystocia a CS was the safest bet.
During my pregnancy my ob repeatedly said she thought I would be amazed by how ‘nice’ birth could be, having an elective after my previous experiences. I was hopeful but doubtful, however 3 weeks on the other side I know exactly what she means and can say for us, this time, an elective was an amazing and positive experience.
The whole process was very relaxed. From the moment we arrived in the anaesthetic bay the mood was light. I work where I was giving birth, so that definitely helped. I knew at least some of the faces at every stop – maternity, anaesthetic bay, theatre, recovery – it was like being in the hands of friends. Prior to starting, we handed our camera over to our fab anaesthetic nurse who proved himself to be an awesome photographer as well as nurse. The cannula was put in and IV started and I was positioned for the local for the spinal. I had been fortunate enough to choose my anaesthetist and when I had chosen him my ob mentioned she found him very skilled and quick at inserting spinals – he certainly proved that to be true, within seconds it was in and I felt the warm, electric shock like feeling I’d been told about. Straight away I was helped to lie down, betadine was being applied to my stomach, calf compressors put on and catheter inserted. All this time I was sure that I could still move my legs but each time I tried, I had less movement. I did have a few minutes of mild panic, where I worried that the spinal would fail as the epi had in my last section, and was aware of the rate of my pulse elevated through the monitor, but I concentrated on calming myself and it passed quickly. I actually found the spinal a surreal sensation – I could feel all touch but no pain.
My ob asked us if we wanted to watch the surgery, which we did so the drapes were left down. Within seconds she was in and attempting to get the baby. Her assistant put a lot of pressure on my upper abdo to push the baby out (the analogy that had been described to me of feeling like a washing machine in my stomach was apt) but due to the baby’s big size it was resisting! To pass the time the ob took last minute bets on gender. DH changed his mind at this point from boy to declaring with certainty it was a girl. As she furrowed around she also asked us if our others had been born with a shock of dark hair. DH and I looked at each other in surprise: our first two are redheads and we had presumed we only made them that way. She also commented that this one was looking to give its brother a run for his money with size (DS was 9lb 9oz). A few minutes passed where the ob struggled to free the baby’s head, eventually forceps were used and she was successful. As they lifted the baby out and brought it up for us to see I was shocked by both the size –the gorgeous face was amazingly chubby (probably enhanced by the its squashed and bruised appearance) and the generous amounts of dark hair. I kept saying ‘oh my god, it’s huge, oh my god look at it’s HAIR’ over and over. The ob said ‘Samshine are you going to look at what it is?!... she said to me ‘it’s a girl’ (DH later said due to swelling he thought it was a boy).
Our little girl was quickly taken over to be checked by the paed while the ob got on with the business side of things. She had a little difficulty removing the placenta and commented that it was huge. I heard her say to her assistant ‘this placenta is nearly as difficult to remove as the baby’… When she removed it she laughed to me it was so big they couldn’t fit it in the dish for the placenta. She remarked that between the baby, huge placenta, and lots of amniotic fluid she reckoned I had instantly lost well over 10kg and joked how much lighter I would be feeling when I next stood up. There was some post partum bleeding at this stage and the ob later told me my uterus was very vascular but overall I only lost a litre of blood– an above average amount but a far cry from our previous PPHs. By this stage, DD was back to me. I had chosen our paed as he was very pro skin to skin at Caesars so she was placed on my upper chest. The drapes were raised for closing the wound so I wasn’t able to fee d due to how high I had to hold her to allow this, much to DDs frustration as she angrily screamed for the breast for a full 30-40 minutes. Another nurse friend had told me if I wanted to watch them close that I would be able to see in the mirrors surrounding the theatre lights above me, so I did keep an eye on things up there, but mostly during this time I kept staring at her in wonder, she was beautiful but so different to the other two. DH and I kept laughing at her size and chubbiness and gender, and the ob had to ask me to stop laughing as it was making the stitching difficult!
Eventually we were out in recovery, where DD could finally – and enthusiastically did – feed. I was put on a syntocin infusion due to my history of PPH’s. DD and DH stayed with me for the entire recovery experience, where DH and I just kept looking in adoration at this person we had made. Half an hour later we were back on maternity. It had all seemed so civilised and quick. She was weighed and turned out to be only 5g smaller than her brother… but 4cm shorter probably explaining why she looked so chubby to us. We treasured some time just the 3 of us then rang family to let them know. DD1 and DS came to meet their little sister and were absolutely besotted by her, and still are 3 weeks later. Later that afternoon, DH and I were alone with her again and finally got around to the business of naming her. We had been thinking boy all along so hadn’t even been talking girls names for several months. As we disagree completely on names, we had told staff she might be nameless for days, however the moment we started discussing it one name we had thrown about much earlier in the pregnancy came to my mind and as soon as I suggested it DH said he had been thinking the exact same name. So Clara it was.
My recovery that day was painful, mostly due to the effects of the infusion which cause a lot of cramping/ contraction like pain similar to severe afterpains (speaking of which afterpains with a 3rd child are enough to veto a fourth!). That night there was talk of a blood transfusion, which Iuckily was able to avoid, and although I went home with a lower haemoglobin than with my previous two PPHs, I felt so much better this time. From Day 1, recovery was comfortable and rapid. Like with DS despite blood loss my milk came in early, on the night of Day 1 – within 36 hours - and DD has been feeding voraciously since!
Our experience was so fantastic. While in my ideal world I would not have given birth by elective C/Section it turned out my most wonderful ideal birth turned out to be this way, if that makes sense. It was a healing experience for us for birth and the ensuing days to be a time solely of happiness and elation and getting to know our baby rather than recovering both physically and mentally from a traumatic experience. Due to the positive nature of her birth, the ensuing days spent after getting to know Clara were anxiety free and blissful. I was on a bit of a high – and still am. She is the perfect final installment to our family.
So that’s the story of Clara, born 15th March 2012, 4.338kg (9lb 9oz), 52.5cm… Our amazing restorative birth, albeit by CS.