C Section – a birth story.

I am sorry to say that I was one of those people who thought that a C Section birth was not a ‘real’ birth or a ‘natural’ birth.  I remember rolling my eyes at women who were ‘too posh to push’.

Not to say that I didn’t have respect for the existence of C Section as a practice.  Of course I realized that it was a necessary and life saving procedure.  I just didn’t feel like it should be the ‘go to’ for so many people.

There are so many things that I have sat in judgement of merely because I hadn’t experienced them and therefore didn’t truly understand.  Infertility is an equalizer and an educator.  It really does make you think about things in ways that you didn’t realize you were capable of thinking.  It has also made me a better, less judgmental person in all aspects of life.

As I have mentioned before, I was diagnosed with having a Unicornuate Uterus and therefore I spent a lot of my pregnancy concerned that I was going to run out of space and go into labor prematurely.  I joined a wonderful Facebook group and soon saw that the success rate of carrying to term was very good.  It made me feel a lot better but didn’t change the fact that once my LO reached a certain size the chance of his being able to go head down went to virtually zero.

Sure enough my son lounged in my uterus with his feet in his face and his bottom on my bladder for almost all of my pregnancy.  A very stubborn  breach baby!

Scheduled C Section it was.  And I did feel cheated out of the birth experience I had dreamed of.  I wanted the water birth, the doula and the self hypnosis, not the blue cloth, surgeons knife and spinal block.  Knowing that birth doesn’t often go according to plan, I resigned myself to my fate, learned a lesson about my prior judgey self and set about making an alternate birth plan.

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Day before C section with my first baby.

There is nothing more surreal than going to bed knowing that the next day you will be a Mother.  After all the pain, the procedures, the heartbreak and the longing, I was going to be a Mum!!  Of course I barely got a wink of sleep.

 

I remember the car journey to the hospital at 5.30am vividly.  It was a hot summer day and the sun was rising.  I was terrified of the surgery but so joyful that I would meet my son in a few short hours.

Prep for a C Section is intense.  Showers with disinfecting soap, IV line (which they couldn’t get in due to my tiny veins – ouch!), ultrasound to check baby was still breach then off to the OR where they did the Spinal.  Nobody is allowed in the room with you until after the spinal so that was scary for me.  The anesthesiologist was amazing and talked me through everything.  My surgeon (whom I had hand selected based on his reputation for being a perfectionist) was also wonderful and talked me through what was about to happen.  He even sang me a song!

Once the spinal was done my Mother was brought in.  The sensation of losing your legs is horrible.  I’m not gonna lie… I found the whole thing terrifying.  The tugging and pulling, each second felt like 5 minutes.  I had no idea how much sensation there would be.  There was no pain but I felt like a corpse.  My Mother talked me down and my anesthesiologist talked me through it.  Finally after what felt like 3 hours my son emerged and his high pitched screams filled the room!  He had what is known as a ‘gentle c section’ which means that he had pushed himself out of the incision rather than being tugged.  The cord clamping was slightly delayed too and my placenta was saved for me and encapsulated later that day.

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My Newborn Son, a few minutes old. Cutest Squish!

Unfortunately both of our temperatures had dropped significantly during the birth and he had to be placed under the heat lamp for a few minutes whilst we were both warmed up.  They held him up for a moment so I could see him under the heat lamp but I didn’t see his face again for an hour.  Once they put him on me, under blankets, I wasn’t allowed to look at him as we had to be kept warm.  I didn’t mind.  My son was on my chest and I could feel his little movements from the outside.  He was so familiar to me.  I was filled with endorphins and overwhelming, completing love.

It took a while to stitch me up, I went through the shakes (before my son was brought to me) but it was finally over and I left the OR one blissfully happy Mother!

 

On the craziness that is pregnancy

When you are trying to get pregnant and are in the dreaded two week wait it’s impossible not to symptom spot:  Are my boobs more sore than usual?  Am I feeling extra tired?  Is that an implantation cramp that I just felt?  And then of course you google pregnancy symptoms as though the internet may hold the key to giving you a positive result before any pee stick stands a chance.

On the two occasions that I turned out to be pregnant the biggest symptom that I had was a complete lack of symptoms.  I felt totally and utterly normal.  It felt like my period was just around the corner.  I felt slightly crampy and my boobs felt exactly the same as they always do – indifferent to the prods they were receiving.

And that’s when I started to realize that pregnancy is different for everyone and that I was one of those oddities who would get more of the bizarre symptoms and none of the ones you hear about all the time.

I never had morning sickness!

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About 7.5 months pregnant before my foot got too fat.


When you’ve invested so much in having a baby you expect to feel sick.  I never did and whilst I was grateful I was also a little disappointed that I didn’t experience it!  The only thing remotely similar to this was my myriad of food aversions.  If it weren’t for Jarlsberg cheese and Granny Smith apples, I don’t know how I would have survived!

I work in a restaurant and it smelled like a sewage farm to me when I was in my first trimester.  It didn’t make me feel sick, just repulsed.  It was hard to be chirpy when the horror that people could actually eat there was constantly lurking!!

I wasn’t tired.
My energy levels didn’t shift at all during my first trimester.  Maybe I was running on the adrenaline of finally being pregnant… who knows.  I kept waiting for the waves of fatigue to overcome me but it didn’t happen until the last 6 weeks or so and I blame that more on the searing heat of our Summer that year.

Pregnancy Rhinitis.
Imagine having a cold for 6 months with post nasal drip constantly.  That was me.  It was gross.  I was so horrified in myself as I became a secret spitter.  It was the only way to expel the copious excess fluids rolling around in my sinuses.

Photosensitivity
Ever been sunburned at the beginning of April?  I ate my lunch outside on a beautiful (rare) sunny day.  I was out there maybe 30 minutes.  I got so sunburned!!!  I was peeling a week later.  Under normal circumstances this would never have happened.  Lesson learned – I stayed in the shade for the rest of my pregnancy.

Goddess.

2 weeks before birth. Guilded in gold and feeling like a Greek goddess!

I didn’t love feeling the baby move
I was one of those anomalies who felt their babies super early.  In fact I first felt him move at 11 weeks.  I felt crazy so didn’t tell anyone but I can remember it vividly.  I was having my flu shot when I felt an intense tickly sensation down my side in two movements.  It wasn’t until 3 weeks later when that sensation became constant that I realized it had been my baby.

There is something wonderfully reassuring when you feel the life you’ve created moving around inside of you.  I also found it scary.  Plus I’m very ticklish so I didn’t love it.  When he was really active I would silently tell him “thanks for letting me know you’re safe, do you mind keeping still now?”

Fat Foot
Some women blow up like a tick when they’re near the end of their pregnancies.  Water retention is no joke.  Apparently the only part of my body that wanted to participate in this rite of passage was my left foot.  I only have half a uterus and it’s the left half.  Maybe that means that I carried more weight on the left and that’s why I swelled on that side?  It was very painful.  Flip flops were my friend.  Work became tough and I ended up stopping when I was 34 weeks pregnant as I just couldn’t be on my feet anymore.

And that was it.  Being pregnant felt remarkably like not being pregnant except I had crazy alien movements going on in my belly.  I was really lucky!  But then I’d been very unlucky for the past couple of years so I deserved some luck finally.

Experiencing Infertility PTSD (part 1 – pregnancy)

You would think that the joy of being pregnant would erase the traumatic ordeal that had been infertility.

It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  I was overwhelmed with happiness that I was finally pregnant, but I was also consumed by fear.  I’m aware that most women experience fear of loss. Pregnancy is scary.   However, I truly believe fear is compounded when you’ve had a loss or gone through infertility (or worse, both).

The desire to be a Mother was so encompassing that I couldn’t imagine living without realizing this dream.  Every ounce of my future happiness was dependent upon the growing life inside of me.  It was hard to shake the thought of something happening to my baby.  I feared what I might become if I experienced another loss.  I was out of funds, energy and hope.  If I lost this pregnancy I knew that I’d become bitter, hopeless and depressed.

There is a weird limbo to being pregnant after you’ve fought an infertility diagnosis.  You have a foot tentatively in both worlds.  Until there’s a baby in arms, it’s hard to get your mind out of the world you’ve just left.  You’re so used to being entrenched in it.

In spite of this, I LOVED being pregnant.  I embraced my changing shape.  I documented each month by going to a local photographer.  I wore the most figure hugging clothes.  I embraced the light whilst silencing the black fear that lurked beneath the surface.  I was conscious of being as positive as possible to infuse my future son with as much bright energy as I could.  And I was genuinely happy.

I didn’t equate being pregnant with having a baby though.  I know this sounds insane.  It felt like it was happening to someone else, not me.  Ultrasounds were an out of body experience.  That baby was actually inside of me?  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  And while I loved being pregnant and was beyond excited to be a Mother, I didn’t believe it was going to happen until I was on the operating table waiting for him to be born.  There is nothing like a surgeons knife to give me a reality check!

Before that flesh and blood boy was placed on my chest I had fully pictured him only as a cartoon character.  A Pinocchio of sorts.  Like I was the Geppetto wishing for my real boy and never computing he was there all along.

Once my son was in my sight I knew him.  It was him all along.  I knew who he was and I loved him beyond anything I felt possible.  The relief… now I could see him, touch him and hold him it felt like I finally had control.  Infertility was behind me.

It’s one of the hardest things to explain to anyone other than a person who has lived through it.   I named it infertility PTSD but have since discovered that its a recognized syndrome.  I was never diagnosed with having it but there’s no other way to describe how it felt than this.

I thought these feelings would disappear once my son was born but in a strange way they actually just changed shape.  I think they’ll always be with me in some form.

I’d love to hear from others who have had these feelings.  How long did they last for you and did you feel like they changed once the baby was born?