Did you know that April is Caesarean Awareness Month? I didn’t until tonight – in fact, I’m still not even sure if this is just an American thing… Anyway, while my kids were tearing around the McDonalds playground (don’t judge me) and I was making use of the free wifi I stumbled across a post on the website Cordmama called ‘Three Truths about C-section Mamas‘, and being a so-called ‘C-section Mama’ I was intrigued – what were these truths this person knew about me, which they supposedly knew just because I didn’t birth my children ‘the way nature intended’?
I don’t really have much to say about the three truths the author mentions. Am I brave? I know I was so terrified at the thought of having an epidural that my husband struggled to hold my sobbing, rocking body still so the poor anaesthetist could get the needle in safely. How about strong? Well, my poor husband also had to get up through the night to pass me the baby for the first few weeks after having my first ceasarean because I was so sore, and then he had to go to work for 12 hours each day. Ok, let’s try beautiful? Love, ain’t nobody’s beautiful after being 10 days overdue, followed by 39 hours of labour and a c-section!
I don’t know why I couldn’t birth my children naturally. I don’t know why my body took so long to progress. I’ve wracked my brain trying to find the one reason that will let me put this to rest once and for all. That one elusive reason that will finally be the death of that darn undermining question that pops into my head every now and then (mostly when I’m pregnant, which just happens to be now).
Maybe it was that their round little heads just didn’t fit my hips… Maybe the relaxin in my body wasn’t enough to make my tendons stretch enough… Maybe I didn’t do enough yoga beforehand… Maybe I should have read that birthing book just one more time… Maybe it was this. Maybe it was that.
All I know for sure is that sometimes God has other plans…
With my first, complications arose towards the end of the pregnancy. My fluid levels were low due to a failing and calcifying placenta and my baby’s growth rate was declining instead of the usual growth explosion they go through just before birth. So, fully aware that things might not go as hoped during labour my Obstetrician decided he didn’t want me to go more than four days over, and as first babies don’t often come on time, I was induced. After 18 hours, with many of those spent attached to a drip pumping me full of what is commonly called Syntocinon (but which I have henceforth renamed ‘the torture drug’), my baby’s heart rate dropped. I have never seen nurses move so fast (except when I fainted post-caesarean, boy did that nurse move fast!). There was no mucking around. The decision was made. Emergency caesarean.
With my second, I went into labour spontaneously, which is what I had hoped for. I woke up at 6am on a Wednesday morning feeling uncomfortable and achey (remembering I didn’t experience spontaneous labour for the first one, this was all knew to me!). After a couple of hours of timing contractions, I called the hospital to see what they thought and after speaking with my Obstetrician the midwife told me to come straight in. As I was attempting a VBAC there were certain precautions that needed to be taken, so off I waddled to the hospital where I spent the next 35 or so hours working very hard to have a natural birth.
The week leading up to the birth my daughter had been quite ill with a virus, and I remember lying in bed one night holding a feverish child and wondering what would happen if I got sick during labour. Little did I know, I was about to find out.
The morning of the second day of labour I knew I didn’t feel right. I hadn’t eaten properly for a while because I’d been vomiting (not unusual during labour), but I also felt fluey. And then, after taking my temperature, my Obstetrician started to quiz me on whether I felt ok because my temperature was up. Determined to have the baby naturally, I told him I felt fine (I do not recommend doing this by the way – labour makes you do stupid things). By about 1pm that afternoon I asked for an epidural because I was completely spent. I felt absolutely horrendous. But being as stubborn as I am, I was still keen to keep trying, so once the epidural was in, the midwife turned the Syntocinon up to ‘Ludicrous Speed’ and I slept, letting the drugs do their thing. At about 5pm that night I attempted to push, until it was decided I needed another hour or so to be really ready. Halfway through that hour I told my Obstetrician I couldn’t do anymore. I had had enough. There was nothing left in me. I felt so, so sick and I knew there was no way I was going to be able to find the strength to push this baby out. So, it was another caesarean. Not emergency, but definitely not elective. Unfortunately, this was only the start of a two month stint in hospital with a very, very ill baby that I never ever want to repeat again. But that’s another story.
At times, when I have thought back to my second labour I have questioned my decision to end it. Did I give up too quickly? (If you can call 39 hours too quick!) Maybe I could have pushed him out if I’d only given it another half hour…? Because that would mean that I’d be able to have another natural birth this time, instead of bizarrely knowing already when I will most likely be meeting this new member of our family. In the end though, I just have to trust the decision that past Xanthe made (that Xanthe knew fully what was going on back then, unlike present Xanthe who struggles to remember). I also have to trust that wonderful, knowledgeable and very experienced midwife (whose name escapes me right now!) who was there at the end, and who, when asked if I’d made the right decision, told me very matter-of-factly and without a flicker of doubt that there was no way I was going to push that baby out. And finally, I have to trust my Obstetrician (who I do still trust implicitly, by the way!), who could obviously see how sick I was, because he didn’t try to talk me into giving it a bit more time.
And I’m realising more and more that it just doesn’t matter. It is what it is.
I have two healthy kids and another on the way. Hallelujah! Just because they didn’t leave my body the way its been done for thousands of years doesn’t mean anything. In fact, thank God I had the choice. Thank God me and my children didn’t become statistics of death in childbirth. And thank God I had a wonderful and attentive Obstetrician and team of midwives who were with me the whole time, were completely on the ball and didn’t let anything slip. For this I am forever thankful and eternally grateful.
(Gold Coast mums-to-be, if you want to know the name of a great obstetrician and private hospital, send me an email!).