When I first got pregnant, I was so terrified by the idea of having to have a c-section. It seemed like a worst-case-scenario – what happened when your planned birth “went wrong.” I’d heard of so many women who had planned vaginal births and were devastated when they ended up having a c-section. I’d heard horror stories of how awful the procedure was, and how grueling the recovery was. So by the time my doctor started asking me about my birth plan, the words “c-section” had gotten such a stigma that I was afraid to even think about it.
That changed when my pregnancy complications became apparent. Alexander and Nathan weren’t evenly sharing the nutrients from my placenta, and Nathan was dangerously undersized. I had put off the conversation about birth plans for as long as I could, before my OB got more real with me than I had anticipated. She told me I could try to have a vaginal birth, but since they would be premature and Nathan was so small, it may be “too stressful” for him. She didn’t have to elaborate on what “too stressful” meant. Frankly, I didn’t want to hear her say it. From there, it was a no-brainer. No matter how scary a c-section sounded to me, I was too afraid of the alternative to consider anything else. When I told others that I had a c-section scheduled, I got nothing but more horror stories.
I scheduled my c-section for Tuesday, March 7th, 2017, at 5 AM. I was 34 weeks pregnant. When I got to the hospital, I was directed to my room, where a team of nurses moved like a well-oiled machine, preparing me for surgery. I had to wait for another mom who was in labor with her twins to give birth, so my 5 AM birth ended up happening at 1 PM. A bundle of fear and nerves, they wheeled me back to the operating room with James by my side. The most painful part of the procedure was getting the spinal block to numb the pain – which honestly wasn’t too much worse than getting a shot (just with a really big needle.) After that, everything from my belly down went numb, but I was fully awake, totally lucid and completely aware that I was about to have two humans taken out of me. The doctor inserted a catheter, but I was totally numb when she did it and didn’t feel a thing.
The sheet was up, so I had no idea what was going on behind it, until I heard the doctor say that they were about to “start working,” and that I’d feel some pressure and pulling. The idea that I was about to be operated on while awake freaked me out, so I turned to James and asked him to tell me a funny story. He held my hand and told me a story about him and his friends that I’d heard a hundred times before. I laughed in all the places I usually laughed, feeling no pain, just a little tugging sensation. Before he could finish the story, I heard the magic words: “Here’s your baby!” I couldn’t believe it. In less than the time it took for James to tell me a quick anecdote, my baby A was out. Before he could start the story from where he left off, Baby B was out too. “Go take pictures!” I demanded, and he walked around the operating room, trying to avoid looking at all the blood to take pictures of our brand new babies. And that was it – that quickly, our babies were here.
Still numb from the abdomen down, I was stitched up and wheeled back to my room to recover. Once I regained feeling, I was pumped full of pain medicine as I began my recovery process. What made my recovery a little more difficult – and this was a common thing even after I got home – was that my babies weren’t with me. I couldn’t lie in bed, snuggling my baby, nursing, and convalescing. I was more eager to get up and at ‘em because I wanted to be at the twins’ bedsides in the NICU. Once I was discharged, my recovery was challenging, but thanks to the heavy duty pain meds I was sent home with, it could’ve been much worse. The only debilitatingly painful aspect was sneezing or coughing without bracing my incision with a pillow. Other than that, while it wasn’t a cake walk, it wasn’t as close to those awful stories as I’d heard.
All things considered, if I were to ever get pregnant again (knock on wood), I wouldn’t be opposed to nor afraid of having another c-section. The procedure itself was, dare I say, easy – the whole thing took about thirty minutes from start to finish. The recovery wasn’t fun, but it was manageable, and the pain didn’t last forever. Though I’m sure there are some women who had less positive c-section experiences, truthfully, I feel my fear was misplaced. I totally understand the trauma of planning a vaginal birth and having it change, but my very much planned and scheduled c-section was definitely not the worst thing in the world.