Owen’s birth story – My C-section

As promised, here’s birth story #1.  This is how I wrote it, in the week after his birth.  It’s interesting reading it with my childbirth educator eyes.  I’ll comment on the birth story at the end of it.

Looks like today is the day!  April 16, 2005

My water broke at 8:30 this morning. So, why you ask is she posting and not on her way to the birth center? No contractions yet. I’m in the minority of women who’s water breaks before labor starts. So, now we sit at home and wait to see what happens. According to the midwife, I should start labor within 12 hrs – regardless I should give her a call this evening to see where we’re at.

So, to start my birth story – I got up about 8:10 to go pee.  Then about 10-15 mins later I needed to poop.  So, I got back on the toilet.  I (sorry if TMI) pushed because I’m a wee bit constipated and I felt a POP on my right side towards the back.  Then there was this HUGE gush of water.  I knew it wasn’t pee since I had just peed 10 mins before.  It kept leaking (is still leaking now).

By 10:30 am, my contractions started.  They were irregular and mild for a long time.  I did laundry and dishes, while Dan did other house maintenance stuff.

2:00 pm – the contractions were bad enough to make me control my breathing and bend over onto the arm of the couch.

3:00 pm – Dan’s parents arrive.  Contractions 2 mins apart, but for short (30 sec) duration.  We notified the Midwife on call (Laura) again.  She said to come in around 4:45.

4:45 pm – arrive at the birth center.  I am 5-6 cms dialated and almost fully effaced.  Dan and I got changed and I got in the tub.  It seemed to help the pain.  However, since the pain was getting progressively worse, it was hard to tell.  I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees in the tub.  It was hard on my knees, but it was the only somewhat comfortable position.  All the pain was in the front pf my belly, below my navel.

Periodically, the MW would check Owen’s heart beat.  He was dealing with labor just fine the whole time

At some point we got out of the tub and moved to the bed.  I was then 10 cms with an anterior lip.  I knew there was pressure “down there”, but I couldn’t feel an urge to push.  It felt like I had to poop.  I think, partially, that’s what was holding me back – I didn’t want to poop in front of people.

10:00 pm – I got a shot of Nubain (narcotic) to take the edge off.  The intended purpose was to get me to push effectively.  This was not to be the case.  All I could do was focus on the pain, not pushing.

11:30 pm – We left the birth center to go to AGH (hospital).  That was the worst car ride ever!  We made it upstairs by midnight.  By 1:00 am I had my epidural and I slept till about 3:00 am.  At some point they gave me pitocin to augment the contractions.  Owen was starting to have decelerations in his heartbeat, but nothing serious.

3:00 am – After having slept for a bit, I felt ready to push again.  So I did, for another hour or so.  The MW was sitting on the end of the bed with a funny look on her face.  I knew he just wasn’t coming out that way.   We all agreed a c-section was the best option.  So, we prepped for it.  I got more drugs, Dan and the MW got dressed.  They wheeled me into the OR.

5:08 am – Owen was born.  He started crying with only his head out.  His apgar scores were 9 and 9.  Big and healthy.  I only got to see him very briefly.  I sent Dan with him to the nursery.  While they were stitching me up, both the MW and the OB told me that if I have another baby, and I don’t go early, they are scheduling me for a c-section.  I think that’s best.

Owen, 8 lbs 9.5 oz, 21 ½ in long – April 17, 2005

Owen, 5 mins oldHmmm…  So, that last paragraph stuck out to me.  Wow, even my Midwife told me to expect a second c-section.  I didn’t remember that till I read it.  I didn’t realize they didn’t have faith in me.  Makes me a bit sad, actually.  Good thing I knew better by the time I got pregnant with Elaine!

Part of my inability to push Owen out was the fear of pooping – Ina May talks about that quite a bit.  Part of the reason he didn’t come out is that he’s just damn stubborn, and at almost 6, still is.  I think if I had given him permission to be born, he would have.  But I didn’t know how to talk to him effectively.

Breastfeeding took 36 long and frustrating hours to establish.  I was too drugged from the morphine to try effectively.  He was too sleepy when they brought him to me 2.5 hours after birth.  My first thought was “This isn’t my baby!  My baby can’t possibly be blonde and blue-eyed!”  Then I fell back asleep.  By the time I ditched the morphine in favor of ibuprophen, he was hungry and cranky.  All the nurses tried something different.  I even had one try an SNS (supplemental nursing system) with formula in it(!) because he might starve to death and die…  When I finally saw a lactation consultant, she did magic, got him to latch and he didn’t let go for 2 and half years.  After that first 36 hours, breastfeeding was a breeze.

My recovery from my c-section was arduous.  I had 3 numb toes on my left foot for 5 weeks postpartum due to the epidural.  I could barely stand upright for a month.  I had to have help doing daily activities and I’m very grateful to my mother in-law for moving in with us for 3 weeks and helping out postpartum.

My c-section recovery was the biggest reason I wanted a VBAC with baby #2.  I did *not* want to do that again.  Next post – I get my VBAC!

Comments

  1. I still remember that drive to the hospital, trying (and failing) to avoid every bump and pothole on the way.

    It was only a mile or two, but it seemed to last forever…

  2. Margaret says:

    As someone who still has childbirth as a far (far far!!!) away coming attraction in her life, what an amazing essay to read! It struck me as sad that the most exciting part of his birth (and the part that you waited so many months and hours for!) went by in such a blur because of the operation. How wonderful that a) a big healthy beautiful (!!) Owen was the result of a tough situation and b) you got to be so much more present and a bigger participant for birth #2. I’m sure having the 2 very different experiences will enhance the way you relate to your clients. Thanks for writing this, Deen.

  3. Reposting (with some more specifics) from FB:

    I did not have the particular fear of pooping you did (thanks in part to reading some of the stuff you recommended–I went in to labor with a very “stuff happens, the nurses don’t care, Jason doesn’t care, it’ll hurt and then it will be over” attitude). My intent was an unmedicated labor and delivery (hospital, because I have blood pressure issues that would have probably risked me out of homebirth and I didn’t want to have to change care mid-stream), one night stay in the hospital, and a hasty exit. The pregnancy had been uneventful–GBS+ was it, and I did consent to the IV antibiotics (rather than subject Ellison to a longer hospital stay and possible testing). I still have a visceral reaction to seeing post-partum photos of friends: They’re all smiling, holding their babies, with a borg-like tangle of IV tubes taped to their hands. When did we decide this was necessary for all laboring women?

    Anyhow.

    I was in Stage 1 labor for less than 8 hours (a bit after 4 a.m. to 11:40), and had Ellison been properly positioned, I would have had him before 1, maybe before noon. I thought I would have had more early-labor time, but contractions went from 12 minutes apart initially to 4 minutes apart by 6:30, I knew things were progressing very quickly. (Jason, who had also assumed a long early labor stage: “Do I have time to take the dog for a walk in the woods?” Me: “NO!”) When I got to the hospital at 8 or so, I was already 6-7 centimeters. The nurses were amazed at my demeanor–I was almost in transition but seemed very calm. I even read the consent forms! (My doctor still laughs about that.)

    Surprisingly, it didn’t really hurt that much–it was more disorienting than painful, if that makes sense (though he never crowned, so I can’t say that wouldn’t have hurt) and according to all sources, I was pushing effectively (it felt effective, too, and yes, there was some poop), but he just wasn’t going to budge anyway.

    I’d been pushing for 4 hours and it was the same repeating motion–he’d slip a little then slip right back to where he was. He was acynclitic and the usual methods–knees to chest, moving around, actual attempted manual manipulation (which stung a bit but wasn’t bad), time–weren’t helping.

    Then, my heart rate decided to come to a rest in the 130s (stayed there for a day in spite of drugs, too), and while Ellison had some decels, they were more worried about me. I got an epidural at that point (I say it was to buy me time to breathe, rest, and maybe get the pulse to slow, but I think I saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want to face an emergency where I’d be unconscious for the birth. They also raised–and pretty quickly dismissed–the idea of forceps, which spooked me a bit; the idea of an unmedicated instrument delivery was not pleasant.)

    Since there hadn’t been much progress in those 4 hours, the decision was made to go for the section, and I was (and am) mostly OK with it. If my heart had behaved, or if it seemed like all that pushing was doing a lick of good, we would have continued–I have a great, pro-NCB doctor who I trust. She never played the dead-baby card, or even the dead-me card–she just explained what was going on and why the section was the best option at that point.

    Yeah, if I’d been in the woods, hours away from medical care, we probably would have figured out a way to get him out, and I probably would be OK. If I’d been having a homebirth (10 minutes to the hospital), we almost surely would have transferred. Modern medicine makes the absolute-worst-case scenario a whole lot less likely, but it also makes the most natural-case scenario a whole lot less likely if there’s even an inkling of something wrong.

    My recovery sucked similarly. Narcotics made me hallucinate. I took one percoset every 6 hours in the hospital (“you can take 2 every 4 hours, why aren’t you?” “because I’d rather have some pain and be lucid”) and weaned myself off them as soon as I could once home. I “bounced back” too quickly because I was going nuts–went for a walk to the cleaners 3 blocks away 12 days postpartum–and was rewarded with more pain and acute mastitis, which I would not wish on anyone. 7 months later and I’m still numb right above the scar.

    Ellison had some pretty good jaundice (coombs-positive, something I’d never heard of in spite of all my reading) and was too sleepy to nurse, which is how you get rid of the jaundice (in addition to the billi lights). It’s a vicious cycle. We did have to syringe-feed formula for a couple of days–by then, he’d lost almost a pound, he was dehydrated and hungry, my milk hadn’t shown any signs of arriving soon. Once it came in, I was able to pump enough milk to supplement him after he tried to feed, and after a few days, we got the hang of it, and then only pumped to build up a bit of a stash for when I had job interviews and eventually returned to work.

    In the extremely unlikely event I have another, barring some legitimate medical reason (and age >35 is NOT one), I will be VBACing. Happily, I have a supportive doctor, and, even if she isn’t available, a supportive hospital.

  4. Wow! Its amazing how time and knowledge can change oure perspective. I also used the SNS system are my c-section birth for my twins. It was awful, I was delirious from the c-section meds, and the other narcotics. Kaitlyn lost like… 10% of her body weight in the first week and was horribly jaundiced. Somehow, with a lot of determination and support from my husband and friends I was able to successfully breast feed both girls. Breastfeeding after a c-section is much harder than a vaginal delivery, or was in my case. I wonder if you had the same midwife for your section that I had for my vbac…

    Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Three and a half weeks ago we had our son by unplanned c-section as well. We shared the whole, daunting and detailed First Birth Story – Not According to Plan. Although everything was different than expected and overwhelming at the time, we are a stronger family from it and are simply happy to have our baby boy in the world :)

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