Cesarean Birth Story

My birth plan went out of the window at 20 weeks.

During my 20 weeks scan they informed us that unfortunately my placenta was too low and that I would probably need a cesarean. When my husband asked what would happen if I had a natural birth, she replied, ‘the worst could happen. For mum and baby’.

The obstetrician confirmed this a few days later. Leaving our appointment, I wanted to cry. I really didn’t want to have a cesarean. My husband, always the optimist, saw the positives- at least I would stay intact ‘down there’! (He is lucky he stayed intact ‘down there’ after that comment!)

I knew very little about cesareans other than what I had heard at NCT classes, which was pretty much that they were awful and to avoid them at all costs! Luckily, this was not my experience at all. One of the great things about having a cesarean is that you know exactly when your baby is coming. This is great for control-freaks like me and helped me to feel prepared.

The weekend before,my husband and I had a lovely time just the two of us. The night before the big day, my mum traveled down from Wales to stay with us and we all went out for ‘the last supper’. The bags were packed. The cot and pram were assembled. Clothes were washed and neatly folded away in her wardrobe.

We left our house on the 24th July knowing that when we returned, we would be a family of three.On the big day we eagerly arrived at the hospital at 6:45 am. We were both handed gowns, and I was given sexy compression stockings to wear. My surgeon and anesthetist introduced themselves and went over some of the details of the operation. Once they had terrified me talking about hemorrhaging and hysterectomies, the forms were signed. I was told I would be the first to go in as my operation was slightly more complicated (my placenta was anterior so they knew they would need to cut through it to get to the baby which would result in more blood loss).It turned out to be one of the hottest days on record. Unfortunately, due to some emergency operations, my cesarean didn’t take place until around 2:15 pm. In the meantime, I was left to a boiling waiting room, nil-by-mouth for 7 hours. Not fun.On the positive side, by the time I was taken to the operating theater I was no longer scared; I was fed up with waiting and wanted to get it over with!

The team in theater were incredible at making me feel relaxed. Although it took a few attempts to successfully administer my spinal anesthetic, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and strangely,I quite enjoyed the numbness. Being extremely squeamish, I insisted that the curtain stayed up throughout the operation(sometimes they lower it when the baby comes out). I had to imagine what was happening was much less invasive than I knew it really was.

One of the positives of the cesarean is that the baby is born at the beginning of the operation. The rest of the time goes by quickly and you forget what is happening because you are so distracted by meeting your little one.Although I struggle to remember parts of what happened, I clearly remember the surgeon lifting our screaming, pink baby over the curtain- like Rafiki lifting Simba in the Lion King. With the ‘Circle of Life’ stuck in my head, and after a quick check-up, my little girl was plonked on my chest with our heads squished closely together. We were enjoying the skin-to-skin which was so important to me,but the way my husband placed her made it impossible for me to see her face. It wasn’t until we got back to the recovery room that I was able to look at her beautiful little face properly.

I learned when in recovery that the midwife had delayed cutting the cord for me (which I had requested) and that my husband had been the one to do it. He had said before the birth that he didn’t want to do this, but when asked in the moment, he changed his mind. I also learned that my daughter Ottilie had scored 10/10 on the first Apgar score. Go Ottie!

Despite being warned that I would lose a lot of blood, I didn’t need a blood transfusion and my hemoglobin levels were pretty much back to normal after a few hours (possibly due to the huge amounts of watercress I ate in preparation!). Although I remember our birth through rose-tinted glasses, there were a few difficult moments. Atone point during the operation I started to cough and felt a bit like I was choking due to the anesthetic. I started to panic. I had to remain calm by breathing in and out and concentrating on Ottilie.

The drugs also made me feel nauseous and I was sick a few times after the operation. I was in some pain, but not as much as I thought I would be in and it was easily managed with pain relief. I even surprised myself when I turned down morphine!I was also surprised with how quickly I recovered from the operation. It was nowhere near as awful as I had been told it was.

Although a cesarean was not my first choice, it turned out to be the perfect birth for me. I didn’t think I would feel this way, but I wouldn’t change anything (apart from maybe not wearing the compression socks 7 hours early in 38 degrees heat!).