My girlie-friend Amy is having a baby. She and I have history and oh-wowweee-kazoweee do we have history. We have matching tattoos. I’ll just leave it at that. Anyway – she lives far away in Utahland, and I haven’t seen her in years but here we are, having babies at essentially the same time. So I got an email from her last night asking what it was like to have a C-Section, as she’s scheduled to have one next week.
And since nobody in my life escapes this site, I’m answering her here. Honestly – it’s mostly because before I went in for my own C-Section, I had the same questions as her. And one doesn’t want to find out the answers on the internet because lets face it people. The internet is full of salacious and fantastic lies. So this is from me to Amy, and the rest of the world. The nuts and bolts of a C-Section, not anonymously written, but from me to you. A friend’s account.
Ok so first of all congratulations on being an old mom like me. HA! Second, I have some great information from my readers, here, describing their experiences with C-Sections. But let me tell you about mine. Yes, me me me. Let’s talk about ME! This is how it went down for me – and maybe it will be similar for you. But my biggest piece of wisdom is this – regardless of your experience, it is YOURS. You will be telling it to your baby-to-be. You will be relating it to friends and then sometimes strangers. So just try to sit back and enjoy the story that unfolds. It’s yours.
First, when you get to the hospital they will get you ready for the Operating Room. This includes shaving your pubic area, or at least part of it. I dove right into that didn’t I? Well, it’s true so there you go. It’s really no big deal but it surprised me that they go in that low. I was glad though. No scar showing for when I am wearing my belly shirts! [Note: Um….actually there are no belly shirts in my future. That is my gift to the world.] Also they ask for a urine sample which for some reason always gives me problems. Stage fright or what have you – just don’t go for a while before you’re admitted so you don’t have to sit in the can for like 1/2 hour like yours truly waiting and praying to be able to pee. Sheesh.
The hospital staff will get you into the OR, and it’s totally big and bright and cold. This is when the spinal epidural is done, and let’s be honest, it’s not that awesome. However, it’s not all that bad. Remember when we got our tattoos? How at first it sucked a lot and then it actually wasn’t that bad? Same deal. Except the insertion only takes a few seconds and if you just breathe deep and relax, it’s dunzo quick as can be. After that’s done, they lay you down and prep you for the procedure. You’re numb so you can’t feel anything and that’s when a catheter is inserted. Too much info? Naw, it’s best to know. Keep reading.
After you’re prepped, that’s when your baby-daddy comes in and stands next to your head. A few anesthesiologists and nurses will be there as well, and the surgical team. It’s a full house. They’ll put a sheet up at about mid-ribcage so you don’t have to watch the procedure. This is nice of them. Then, it all begins.
I don’t know what they do. I’ve never wanted to know how they go in or what they’re doing with my organs. So this part is just the blind faith that a surgeon is doing what a surgeon does. You’ll feel some tugging, and no pain. It’s kind of like you’re on a rollercoaster. Your body will be feeling a bit of movement, but it’s thrilling and then…what? That fast?? Suddenly the pressure that’s been squashing all your insides for the past 9 months is relieved, you can breathe and it feels really good, and then…crying! For me it happened just a few minutes into the whole deal. I was shocked how fast they got the babies out. Seriously like 5 minutes into it. When you hear your baby cry, it is indescribable. You may cry, I did. And everyone around you celebrates and says congratulations, and at this point, your baby-daddy can go over to where they’re checking the baby out, take pictures, and come show you. The rest of the time, they’re putting you back together – I don’t know for how long. Maybe 1/2 hour or 45 minutes? Time is weird then….you can hear your baby, you can see the pictures, you’re so happy and have no feeling in your legs. It’s just surreal.
As soon as I got into the recovery room, they brought my babies in, and I was able to breast feed them and hold them. I was sleepy like crazy (the spinal has a long-acting morphine-like drug. It lasts for around 24 hours which is lovely because for real, for that time you don’t feel bad at all. Very little pain, very relaxed. I mean, what can I say? I’m a fan of morphine as it turns out.) But even sleepy and drugged, holding the babies for the first time is electrifying. They know what to do when you put them up to your breast, and just start sucking. They are tiny and vulnerable and beautiful and kind of ugly and just….yours.
In the following few days in the hospital, your doctor and the nurses will be asking you if you’ve “passed gas from below” until you answer yes. It’s an odd thing to have conversations about, but it is an indicator that your intestines are waking up and functioning, so they want to be in the loop. Just go with it.
My only complaint with the experience was that here in NYC unless you’re super lucky or super smart enough to get a private room, you have roommates. They come and go, usually at like 3 in the morning and for some reason they all snore. Get a private room so you get some sleep. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep the entire time I was in the hospital. That sucked the most. It did motivate me to get home though – I had the babies on Tuesday and went home Friday. I could have stayed longer but seriously? I wanted out of there.
So. Healing. I’ve had two birthing experiences. Roan was born vaginally, the twins via C-section. I don’t think one way trumps the other. My biggest fear with the C-Section was that I’d not be able to lift my babies or that I would have pain while breastfeeding them. Turns out neither of those things were the case. I could hold them and carry them from day one, and they were so tiny, they didn’t touch my incision. It is absolutely terrifying to move. You won’t want to. You will want to stay in bed because you have an incision that is about 5 inches long on your body. But move you must! After the first day, the best thing you can do is slowly get out of bed, slowly stand up and slowly walk laps around the hospital floor. Did I mention you won’t want to? You won’t. I didn’t want to. But as you move, you feel better. And that is the truth. So do it!
The only thing that tripped me up was that I had a nerve that got cut or tied up in my stitches. This delivered white-hot-searing and blinding pain. But it resolved within a few days, and it’s not a common thing to happen. It won’t happen to you. You are luckier than me.
And one last thing: hospitals and nurses and friends and family will all urge you to “room-in” with your newborns. Having them in your hospital room is awesome. You will not want to stop looking at your newborn. You will want to smell your baby, hold your baby, even lick you baby. (Do that in private). But for me – and for the record, this is just me – I loved being able to send them to the nursery to sleep for the night. The intent was for me to rest which I’ve mentioned I was unable to do as there was much snoring and roommate musical chairs happening. But – seriously. You will be rooming with your baby plenty when you get home – and if you want or need to send him to the nursery, so you can rest, do it sister. Do it without guilt or regret.
Ok. So there’s my play-by-play. Take pain medication, drink lots of fluids, get rest, and bask in the light of being a mama. It is truly the most magical of times, regardless of the path they take to get out of your body. Somehow the pain and discomfort don’t end up being all the important because you will just be mesmerized by that wrinkly-faced squishy little sweetheart of a baby that just entered your life. It will get so big, so fast, and turn from this:
…….so super fast that you don’t even need to sweat the small stuff. It’s one day – their birthday. And you have so so so many great days ahead. Relax. Enjoy. Fall in love.
I am so happy and excited for you my friend.
PS – If any readers have anything to add, please do! Questions? Comments? Outrage that I got it wrong? Leave it here…