I was made aware of the fact that April is caesarean section awareness month, and because I have been promising to share my birth stories with you, I figured – what better time than now? I say “now”, yet it has honestly taken me at least 40 attempts of sitting at my computer for any length of time longer than 7 minutes before being interupted by my life of 3 beautiful c/section-born babies! It has taken me 3 days to get to this point in the writing…
This is a 3 part post, starting at the beginning, of course – our first-born son; Jackson.
With this being my first pregnancy, and being the Type A personality I am who needs to approach everything with some sense of knowing what I am in for, I ensured we attended antenatal classes as a couple. The knowledge I gained from these classes, as well as the various books I read, allowed me to understand the benefits of a natural/vaginal birth over a c/section, and I wrote up my birth plan. My wish was to have a natural birth, without drugs if possible. I actually found my birth plan the other day;
Reading it brought back all of those feelings and more. I had a deep desire for a natural birth. I yearned to prove to myself that I could do it. I hoped to have my baby the way women had been doing it for centuries before me – the way ‘God intended’!
After a long and difficult pregnancy, (a story for another post), I got to 40 weeks and there was no sign of this little boy’s appearance. I tried every SINGLE trick there was in the book of Old Wives’ Tales on “how to bring on labour”, including walking up and down stairs, inserting Evening Primrose capsules up my you know what and drinking Castor oil!! None of which helped even a little bit. Not even one sign of labour. Devos.
Just two days before I went got to 41 weeks, and only just before I almost exploded from unbelievable water retention (everything was swollen!!), my gynae asked me to come in to be induced. This was not part of my perfect birth plan, but it was something I had prepared myself for mentally. I really dreamt of a smooth, drug-free labour, complete with muic to calm me, and my hubby catching my baby…
Oh boy! My experience couldn’t have been more diferent!
05 September 2012: Justin and I made our way to the hospital. We arrived at 10pm.
We could not be more excited to be parents:
We settled in and by midnight I had recieved part one of induction process: “Propess”. “A pessary containing the active ingredient dinoprostone, which is a naturally occuring female hormone also known as prostaglandin E2” (source).
We were told to try and get some sleep. I started having mild contractions not long after the pessary was inserted, but tried to sleep though them. I probably got 2 hours max. Justin made himself ‘comfortable’ and managed about 4hours.
By 7am the pain had intensified somewhat, but was still manageable. I was comfortable knowing that if I required induction that I was open to recieving pain meds as I was aware that it intensified the pain in most cases. I told you – I did my research! 🙂 For the time-being though, I was okay. It wasn’t until an hour later when my gynae came by, checked my dilation (which was non existent), and broke my waters, that I really felt like I was actually experiencing labour!!
The breaking of the waters itself was both uncomfortable and excruciating. Having someone shove their arm that far up inside you is one thing, but seeing what looks like a knitting needle go in there too… well… pretty scary. The gush that followed was crazy! felt like the dam wall broke and all while I was lying in it. Not the best feeling, but I was hopeful that this would speed along the natural birth of our boy!
The contractions slowly but surely became more and more intense, until I got to a stage where the pain was so unbareable that I pushed my arms into the wall and needed Justin to stand behind me pushing onto my lower back to release some of the intense pressure I was feeling while the contraction lasted. By 2.30pm I was unable to take any more and requested the pain medication. By 3.30pm I was given a spinal and it was absolute bliss.
All my previous notions of being hopeful that I would have a medication-free birth went out the window, and I felt ridiculous for trying to be a martyr and endure that kind of pain, all while God had given us the gift of pain-relief. What was I trying to prove, and to who? I wasn’t even sure, but I was so so relieved to be out of pain.
17 hours in and I had only dilated 1cm.
I know that by now you are wondering why on earth I was left to go this long? My gynae knew how much I wanted a normal birth, and is very pro-normal birth herself. Jackson’s heart rate was still perfectly normal and I was doing just fine. There was no urgency and we didn’t want to give up just yet.
22 hours into labour my gynae came in looking like it was over. She asked me if I was ready to go into theatre as it just did not look like this was happening for us. I wasn’t. I asked her to please check me again as I just knew that I was almost there. 4cm.
Are you effing kidding me?! All that time and all that pain and I was only 4cm??
She offered one last option – Oxytocin. “Oxytocin is a hormone that causes contractions of the uterus. It can be used to start labor or to speed up labor that began on its own. Contractions usually start in about 30 minutes after oxytocin is given.” (source). Watching the CTG and seeing how my contractions peaked after the oxytocin was administered, and just did not come down again was incredible, and again I was just so thankful for the meds, but this gave me false hope that this was it! In my mind there was NO WAY that my uterus could be contracting like this and not dilating my cervix. I was adamant that this was it! We sent out a final prayer request to family and friends and had all the faith in the world that it was happening.
The whole time I was talking to my body. Following birthing principles that I was taught, I told my cervix that it was ripening and softening and it was fully dilating. I was telling my body that it was doing what it was made to do. But… it wasn’t. It was trying to, but it just couldn’t get it right.
By the 24th hour I was still only 4.5cm dilated and my gynae called it. She gently but lovingly and symphathetically told us that we had given my body every opportunity, and now it was time to meet our little boy. By this point I can quite honestly say I was in 100% agreement. I was physically and emotionally shattered. I couldn’t do anymore.
We went into theatre and from this point on my memory is blurry. I was given a spinal and I lay back. I could not care less that I was in theatre. I did not even really register that my naked body lay out for all to see while being cleaned and prepped for surgery. My body and mind were exhausted and all that mattered was that this was the means to an end. A happy end.
10.20pm my c/section commenced and my abdomen was sliced open. 3 minutes later my little boy was outside my body, making that most beautiful sound – his first cry. This completely blows my mind. It took my gynae 3 minutes to cut through my skin, underlain by subcutaneous tissues, connective tissue and muscles. Then through the lining of the abdominal cavity, (called the peritoneum), which encloses all the abdominal contents. Then uterine wall, which itself is made up of 3 muscles (source). It blows my mind that I went through 24 hours of the most tiring experience of my life (well, my life up to that point of pre-motherhood existence), only for this little nunu to be taken out in 3 short minutes.
I was completely in awe. My baby was here. He was real. He was everything I wished and prayed for and here he was in front of me. He had been squished and squashed against an unopened cervix for so many hours and so he looked like an old wrinkled man with a buldge on his head from the pressure of being up against the 4cm wide hole, so much so that Justin got a fright and his first thought was to worry about what I was going to think… but all I saw was LOVE.
Justin cut the cord – which is the next best thing to catching him, right??
The paed did a quick but thorough check of him, giving him an Apgar of 9, and then 10.
10:26pm They wanted to give him to me but I couldn’t take him. I didn’t feel myself so the paed kept him a little longer.
10:33pm He was placed on my chest.
All I had wanted was to hold him. And then all of a sudden
I felt very ill.
I felt like I was going to faint and throw up all at once.
They took him off me and gave him to Justin.
The mood in the room changed. The chatter that was previously so subconsciously comforting ceased, and all that was left was silence.
I had a bleed.
They worked quietly to fix it.
It is quite scary watching this back on the video. There was so.much.blood. Especially compared to my second and third birth videos.
10 minutes later I felt human again. I was able to ask for my baby to come back to me, and in the best moment ever they placed him back on my chest – skin-on-skin.
I was closed up and taken to recovery where Jackson latched immediatley. He stayed on my skin for the next 3 hours. It would have been longer, but the night staff insisted on bathing him, and being a first-time (and already exhausted) mom I didn’t know any better. I wish I had left him for at least 24 hours, which is recommended as they find comfort in still smelling like they are in the womb.
We learnt that I have a fibrous ring around my cervix, and so there was no way that that little hole was ever getting any larger than 4cm. We also saw that Jackson was looking up, in a posteria position (which was a large contributing factor to the incredible back-pain I had in early labour), and the cord was around his neck twice. My body was just not going to let my baby boy out that way. Nope.
Despite starting our parenting journey on the back-foot being thoroughly exhausted before our first moments with our baby boy, and feeling a little disappointed that my body let me down, the excitement of his arrival kept us going. Was it one of the worst birth stories? Definitely not! But it wasn’t smooth either. It was part of our journey into parenthood that tested our characters, faith and strength. We endured a tough pregnancy (yes WE: it was hard on both of us), birth and then first 5 months of Jackson’s life too!! Let’s just say that parenthood was a massive eye opener for us, and a giant leap in toughening up! Subjects of another post though!
Back to birth story; In all honesty, I have to say that I crashed badly on the afternoon of day 1 visits in hospital. My pain meds wore down and I was completely shattered. I barely got through those first evening visitors with much personality at all. I also struggled with an enormous amount of pain post c/section. We were also a little unlucky with the timing of his birth, because we were back in the ward before midnight so that counted as our first night and only had two more before we headed home, in comparison to having an elective c/section in the morning and having that full day and night, followed by three more days and two more nights to recover, but we didn’t have other babies at home yet – he was our number 1, and so going home wasn’t all bad news… until Justin realised he had to start learning how to cook dinners cos this post c/sec mama was struggling! (Thank the Lord for kind friends who brought us meals for three weeks!)
My first labour was nothing like like I had imagined it to be, but I am so grateful for every moment I experienced of it. I learnt that I could endure 12 hours of minor contractions, 5 hours of intense and unforgettable pain, and 25hours total of eventful labour. I managed to allow my first baby to be ‘prepared’ for birth through the contractions. I know that I tried to follow what I believed to be the best option for my baby, but rested peacefully in the fact that in the end, no matter how he arrived, as long as he was healthy it didn’t matter whether his portal into the world was natural or man-made. Best of all though, was that in going through this stressful and eventful labour, Justin was allowed the chance to bond with Jackson from the word go. It’s beautiful to watch the videos taken by the Paed (while he was trying to distract Justin from what was going on with me on the table), because when Jackson would start to cry hysterically Justin would go close to him and speak to him gently, and immediately he would calm. Too special.
Our chubby, healthy boy was born at 22:23 on the 06/09/2012 at 3.515kg.
A tiny little bundle of perfection that took us from two selfish and clueless individuals, and grew us into loving and ever-learning parents.
I can hardly believes he turns 6 in less than half a year.
Always my baby boy xxx
*** It was my intention to have posted all 3 birth stories in April, but with all the time it took me in diving down memory lane and watching all the videos of this event again, processing all the feels and putting it down in words, not to mention life as a mom to three, it has taken me much longer than I anticipated, but my second and third birth stories will follow.
Thanks for reading, please share your stories with me
I have added my c/section video in here after requests from readers. Please note it is graphic and do not watch if you are sensitive to the sight of blood – I had a bleed so there is quite a lot of blood…
Also, Justin got a bit queasy when they were pulling his head out so we lose that bit a little 😉
Did you film your c/section? If not why not?
Did you think it looked like this or how had you imagined it?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments: