It’s coming round quick…
Well here’s a crazy thought – this time next month it’s *very* possible that we’ll have a new wee baby in our lives. A brand new (hopefully cute) sleep thief…
In preparation for seeing our Consultant this week to discuss our birth choices, I’ve been thinking a lot about my previous positive birth experience of having had a elective c-section with Oscar (along with the inevitable off hand comments that often follow such a birth *eye roll*) and I’m looking ahead to doing it all over again…
Bum Down Baby
For my entire pregnancy Oscar was always head up, bum down, the wrong way, breech. We were always assured he’d “probably correct himself” but as the weeks drew in towards his due date it was become less and less likely, especially as he started to run out of room. Regardless, we followed the advice and I spent a lot of my spare time at home in the downward dog position craning my head up to see the telly – very dignified, and it didn’t work.
Having been consultant led throughout my pregnancy, we were sat down once more at around 36ish weeks to discuss our options. We were offered an External Cephalic Version (ECV), this is when pressure is applied on your abdomen in an attempt to assist the baby in a somersault in the womb to lie head down. We declined this procedure based on a number of factors, including it’s rather low success rate.
The next option posed was “wait and see, we never know what he might do” but plan for a c-section. As a first time mum I’ll admit that up until this point I hadn’t made any great plans for what I wanted my birth to be like, but in my head I had always pictured it as being as natural as possible and we had decided we wouldn’t rule any pain relief out, but would take it as it comes and see. However, I knew I was terrified of having to have a c-section. More so, I was gutted that the choice was being taken away from me, but ultimately I wanted what was best for Oscar and I was advised that that was a c-section.
I did very little research, maybe I was thinking ignorance was bliss, but when I voiced my concerns and nerves to my midwife she assured me that I’d be surprised at how positive an experience an elective section could be. Having spent a lot of time in hospital in my early 20’s I am beyond used to needles, local anesthetics, procedures and the likes, but this was the first time I’d ever had major surgery and I couldn’t help but worry about the epidural, the procedure and the recovery.
Positive Births come in all shapes and sizes…
The day rolled around, I was 39weeks +1, and after a long night of Edinburgh Fringe shows the night before, we were up and at the hospital for 8am when I found out I was second on the list that morning so should be going down sometime before 11am. As we walked down to pre-theatre the nerves were really kicking in and we were left in a room to gown up and prepare – these would be our last few minutes alone, just the two of us and we were buzzing!
Just before 11 I was taken through to theatre alone to get my epidural, I was introduced to what felt like 100 people and to be honest, it’s still a bit of a blur, by this point I was running entirely on nerves and adrenaline and I remember asking when they were going to start… only to be told it was in! I was laid back on the bed and Robin was brought in to be with me. From here things are a bit sketchy as I was so ridiculously nervous, but I do remember how calm and collected everything was as I was talked through the epidural taking affect and the sensations I was likely to feel (pressure, but not pain). The only side effect I started to feel at this point was slight itching in my face… what felt like an ever so slightly tickly nose turned into an all over itchy face, which isn’t overly attractive!
The anesthetist talked me through exactly what the surgeon was doing and it wasn’t too long before they were telling me that baby was nearly here, maybe only 10 minutes or so from starting and just like that I was we heard them all let out a wee gasp and an “aww” and he was shown to us straight away over the low curtain in front, we heard his wee cry and they took him and Robin off quickly to be weighed and checked over. Now, if I’m honest, I have no idea how long this was, looking back it feels like no time at all, because just like that both Robin and our beautiful newborn were back at my side, Oscar wrapped up and held by Robin down next to me so I could stroke his little face. The next stage was longer – putting me back together, but even this felt like nothing as we were too busy staring at our new baby, but still, everything was explained to me as they went and we were told what would be happening next when I went into the post theatre recovery room. I was wheeled through and sat up in the bed and almost immediately Oscar was unwrapped and placed on me for skin to skin, where he began rooting. My whole ‘birth experience’ from start to finish had been the most calm and positive experience and we were both beaming form ear to ear, it maybe hadn’t been what I’d envisioned a month before, but in that moment it was perfect. I can’t say I even thought about the fact I’d just had major surgery and any worry I had had before hand about recovery was, for now, gone, because we had our baby safely in our arms.
Turns out I needn’t have worried about recovery. I was very lucky in this respect. The next morning, 24hrs after my section, the midwife on the ward came and removed my catheter, this was quick and painless and I honestly didn’t feel a thing, within five minutes of this I was up and going for a shower… I was desperate for a shower! It felt so good to be back on my feet and able to move around freely with Oscar. It was later that afternoon I was told that as long as my pain was under control and feeding was going well – both were fine – I could go home! So that was it, we were home by dinner time as a family of three!
People love an opinion, eh?
Since then, I’ve spoken of about my elective cesarean birth to people and there are sometimes mixed responses. Have I been asked “Oh, are you too posh to push?!” – yes. Do I believe I am ‘too posh to push’ – no, of course not, it’s a ridiculous phrase. I know how lucky I was in having such a speedy recovery, I left hospital after 30 hours and took paracetamol for a few days but it was major surgery and it could have been a different recovery altogether – it’s certainly not a decision I’ve taken lightly this time round. People have suggested that I may have ‘missed out’ on the full experience having never even felt a contraction and I’ll admit I can completely understand why someone might feel that way, but I myself didn’t. The best one I’ve heard is “Oscar doesn’t really have a birthday because he technically wasn’t born…” – yeah, I’m not even responding to that one!
I know that I have nothing to compare my experience to (yet) but I am confident it was the most positive birth I could have had and I think that is key – although it’s not the birth I thought I’d be having in those early months of pregnancy, I embraced the experience and looking back the first thing I always comment on is how calm and amazing it was, even two years down the line.
It certainly makes me no less of a mother, I have a mammoth scar and some sort of ungodly kangaroo pouch on my bikini line to prove it…
Birth: Take Two
Since having Oscar, I’ve read a lot more about various options available for c-section mamas including ‘Gentle Cesareans’ which I have found really interesting (The Positive Birth Book has been a great resource and I’d highly recommend it!) and there are definitely elements of this I will be discussing with our consultant when we meet this week having decided to opt for another elective section.
This time around I love the idea of immediate skin to skin to mimic a ‘natural’ birth and my midwife assures me that all being well, this is considered standard practice now with c-sections – just shows you how much can change in a two short years. I’m also really keen to explore the idea of delayed cord clamping, again, this is something I just didn’t consider last time as I wasn’t aware I had the option during a section.
I suppose, even though I am still nervous about what’s to come, I’m feeling empowered. I feel positive that I’ve got a whole host of options available to me. Although, part of me can’t heIp but worry that having had such a positive experience first time, something is bound to go wrong this time round – but maybe that’s just human nature. In reality, there’s no reason that I can’t have another brilliant experience, and that’s quite exciting.
I’d love to know if anyone else gone down the route of a Gentle Section and hear about your experiences! Please get in touch!