After something of a blog hiatus, what better way to make a return than to introduce the newest member of our family who has been something of a distraction over recent months. Thomas Walter Peters was born on 30th June 2017 by c-section. This pregnancy had been pretty uneventful compared to my first which was somewhat complicated by preeclampsia and a breach baby. Having had a 2 week stay before the birth last time, it was my mission to try and stay out of hospital for as long as absolutely possible this time around……..because that’s really within my control, right?!
Due to the issues we had with my eldest, growth scans had been scheduled by my Consultant pretty early on and by 34 weeks it was clear that Thomas had stopped growing. The doctors couldn’t really explain why but with no symptoms of preeclampsia like last time (an asprin a day really did keep the doctor away, for the most part) it just seemed that my placenta was starting to stop functioning. I had scans every other day to check it was still working and told to monitor the babys movements closely as we were at a higher risk of stillbirth (no pressure then!) so I was very much relieved when one Wednesday morning I was told that our baby would be delivered on the Friday of the same week. As baby was already looking to be on the small side at around 5lbs (my eldest was 5lb 15oz), off I trotted for the first of two steroid injections. For anyone who may have to have these, there really is nothing to fear (apart from the slight indignity of revealing your granny pants for the needle in the posterior) but they do really smart in a toe curdling way!
It was all systems go as I was back at the hospital on the Thursday for more blood tests and another not-so-lovely steroid injection but I had managed to stay out of hospital until the delivery date this time, hurrah!. As I said a teary goodbye to my big boy I realised it was that last time he would have Mummy all to himself and next time he saw me I certainly would not be up to any rough and tumble play time. I also had that completely irrational ‘What if something goes wrong’ moment which I’m sure everyone has.
But of we trotted to hospital where we ‘checked in’ and were advised that we were the first on the list due to being a priority case. The Paediatrician would be in the theatre to check baby over as soon as he arrived and a neonatal bed was ready just in case it would be required. My biggest fear about the whole situation was baby being taken away from me and the only way I could calm myself was to insist that my husband stayed with the baby if he/she needed to be whisked away.
After waiting outside theatre and meeting the surgeon, I trotted through to the theatre and perched on the operating table whilst attempts were made to insert the cannula into my hand. Definitely the worst part of the whole process believe it or not, but 4 attempts (and 2 bruised wrists later) we had success. Temporarily. From my lofty view on the table I could see the theatre assistants covering the instrument trays. An emergency case was coming in so down I hopped ready to wait a little longer for our turn. As great as the NHS is, at that moment the ridiculousness of having one theatre available for c-sections in a reasonably large city was moderately irritating. But, after the emergency case was successfully dealt with, it was our turn once more.
For anyone worried about how the spinal feels, the only sensation is the small scratch of the local anaesthetic being administered. I have no idea how big the spinal needle is (and after 2 c-sections have no desire to know) but can happily confirm I couldn’t feel a thing either time – only the sensation of my legs becoming soothingly warm and heavy as I was spun around and positioned on the table. The glamourous process of inserting a catheter (there’s no dignity when it comes to having babies) was swift and discreet before the anaesthetist sprayed a cold spray down my side to check what sensation I had.
It’s worth noting that you do have some sensation of something occurring down there behind the screen but absolutely no pain. My best advice at this point is to remember treat the anaesthetist as your best friend – tell them everything about how you’re feeling and they will have something in their bag of tricks to see you through the process without being uncomfortable at all.
Now it would appear that they prefer to tell you that they have started the operation quite some time after they actually have started, usually just as you begin to feel someone starting to push on the top of your abdomen, just below your chest. With my first, he was well and truly wedged up in my ribs the wrong way around so it felt like the surgeon was pretty much wrestling him out. This time, pressure was definitely felt but not quite so intensely.
Oh, I must also mention that you may start to shake/tremble. Alot. Apparently,a side effect of the medication and I suspect, of the nervous reality of actually being operated on whilst awake! I actually had a further episode of the tremors at home about 3 days later which was rather odd but I kept calm and after a few minutes the crazy shaking stopped.
These rather odd sensations during the procedure really don’t last long though as within about 7 minutes of the surgeon starting (a little longer if you’ve had a c-section before) your little bundle of joy will be lifted over the screen for you to see in all their birthday suited glory before being whisked to the side of the room for some initial checks. Happily, Thomas weighed in at a mighty 5lbs 11oz and in good health so was able to stay with us throughout.
My husband stayed by his side whilst the surgeon put me back together. That part unfortunately does take a little longer than the aforementioned 7 minutes but in the giddy realisation that an actual human has emerged from your tummy, you really don’t notice. And, whilst everyone’s different, I certainly never have felt cheated out of giving birth ‘naturally’ nor has it made me love my children any less. And for anyone who tells you you’re ‘too posh to push’ or taking an easy option, let me tell you, the recovery is no walk in the park. You’ve just had major surgery after all, but we’ll cover that off another time.
We were really fortunate once again to have the support of a great surgical team and midwife who made the process of an elective c-section an entirely positive one for us. As we’d had some minor complications both times during pregnancy, the whole situation could have been entirely overwhelming had it not been for the relaxed, friendly and wholehearted professionalism of the team who put our minds completely at rest.
I’ll be honest though, whilst my experience of an elective c-section is entirely positive both times, the recovery really sucks. But I’ll talk about that in my next post. Right now, I just want to reflect on my positive birth experience which resulted in the arrival of my beautiful gorgeous son. We truly are blessed with two lovely boys x