I had my second child, Abi, Sunday morning. And I don’t remember it at all. I didn’t get to hold my baby at all when she came out, hear her first cry or even get a peek at her face.
While it’s rare nowdays for general anaesthetic to be used in delivery, sometimes it’s necessary, such as with emergency c-sections. Most c-sections use a spinal tap or epidural to numb the lower body and you can be awake to see your baby be born. In my case, and many others it’s not an option as the baby needs to be out asap and general is the fastest way to do that.
If you’re wondering what happened I’ll tell (may be a bit of blood involved) or you can skip past this paragraph to how it felt, and how to prepare/cope if you need some advice! I was in hospital 4 days before I gave birth, relatively short which is lucky, not so lucky when it’s because your baby makes an appearance at 33 weeks. I was on my way home from dinner with my partners parents and honestly thought I’d peed myself in my partners car. We got home and when I stood up I thought I’d peed again, though this time I did think “what if it’s my waters breaking?” Being me, I went and grabbed a pad and continued on for half and hour, where it became evident that something was wrong. I called the aus maternal help line and thanks to my stubbornness was told I should just go straight to emergency. (Putting the pad in saved them having me do it when I called) once I was there, they did their checks (which involve a very imposing dildo-esque device complete with lamp being inserted into.. well you know. Never have I wanted to hear that I peed myself more. Not the case, my waters had broken early, know as Premature Rupture of Membranes or PROM. It became clear I wasn’t going home. For the next few days they checked daily, had me on 24 hour obs and I got all of 4 hours sleep. They gave me two steroid shots to help bubs lungs if she came, and constant antibiotics, as the risk of infection once waters break is very high. I am stubborn. Bed rest is not my thing. I was walking around, bitching and moaning and the poor midwives took it in their stride. I was told i would be discharged Saturday (72 hours post water break) and the doctors changed their mind. I was pissed. But lucky they did change their mind. At 5.30 Sunday morning my midwife woke me up to give me antibiotics again. Thank God for that too. I decided to go to the toilet before I went back to bed and there was blood everywhere. I mean everywhere. Because my waters had been leaking I didn’t think anything of the wet feeling, but man this was bad. So I called the midwife back (thank you emergency button in the bathroom!) And was taken straight to Pregnancy Care Center (first stage labour room) where the basic drill is pants and undies off, lay on the bed. The obstetrician who was going to deliver came to do another check with the dildo-esque contraption and pretty much it was Go Go Go from there. The umbilical cord had prolapsed (started to come out before the baby) and if contractions started it was at risk of cutting off the supply to the baby. I was told to get on all fours (real nice in a room of strangers) and wheeled very quickly to an operation room with the obstetrician explaining I was about to have an emergency c-section. There was no time for my partner or anyone to be there and no time to prepare. The baby had to be out before I contracted, so an epidural was not an option. I would be under general anaesthetic with 5 minutes. In the operating room I was confronted with a good 20 people looking at me on my hands and knees in all my fabulous glory still. I stayed like that until anaesthetic was ready then was allowed to flip. It took about 20 seconds to be out like a light from there. I woke up at 6.45, and my partner had made it by then. I got told my baby had been born at 6.28am weighing 1.9kg and just shy of 40 cm long. I still had to recover from the anaesthetic and was there around half an hour. I did have at pretty rocking morphine drip button at my command so that’s something.
The thing is, I didn’t feel like I’d given birth, I didn’t have my baby, my stomach was sore but still pregnant looking, and I hadn’t even seen her little face. It took the nurse a bit of convincing but she got the orderlies to wheel me bed and all up to the special care nursery so I could finally see her. This was about 8am. An hour and a half after her birth. I got about 10 mins before I was rolled on up to maternity to recover. I didn’t see my baby again until that night at about 7.30-8pm. I was groggy, nauseous and just not all there. It was still surreal. The pain for me wasn’t too bad. After about midday I had stopped using the morphine and just took panadol/ ibuprofen every 4 hours. I was expecting worse from a c-section. It was the next day at midday before I was unhooked from bed and allowed in a wheelchair (didn’t last, I’m stubborn, I walked). Having been a smoker pre pregnancy I wasn’t planning on starting again but my God I needed one after this. So after again visit to my baby, where I was finally lucid enough to remember holding her tiny little self, she was taken for some tests and I caved in. After that I had to start pumping milk immediately to get a supply up, which was surprising easy for after a premature birth. I hated being on the maternity ward after that. They gave me my own room to make it easier but all i heard was other babys crying and families laughing together. It hurt to no end. I overheard one mum saying she wished she could get a break from her bub crying overnight and that pissed me off. I know how hard newborns can be (I’ve had one before!) But within 2 days youre saying that and there are people who cant hold their baby whenever they want. Some won’t get to hold their babies ever.
The biggest trial for me was being discharged. To have to leave my little girl behind and trust she would be ok was terrifying and depressing. I called immediately after getting home to check in and at least 4 more times that first night. It was bittersweet being in my own bed again. The c-section left me unable to do much (my partner wouldnt let me, I was meant to be resting) so I just had to sit and think. I cried for seemily no reason, i was angry and grumpy and a right mess. The best thing i did was wake up the next day and do my hair and makeup. I felt guilty (my baby isnt here and i can think of this?!) But it was good for me. I felt more human, more live than i would have. So theres ome advice. Do something you love. It doesnt have to take forever but you need to look after you! And don’t be ashamed. I was strong for my daughters and my partner but weak for me. I could see it did affect my partner but not to the same extent. Yes I wanted him to talk to me about how he felt, but I also needed him to listen. He didnt quite understand why I was so distraught. In the simplest terms possible I had carried this child for around 7 months, and now she was out and I didn’t have her. I couldn’t just look at her sleeping when I wanted, I couldn’t comfort her when she cried, or feed her when she was hungry. It is a hard feeling to grasp and don’t be hard on your partner if it takes a bit. They are also doing the best they can in a situation that is not ideal.
Hopefully this helps at least one person who is going through the same, or is facing the prospect. C-sections are hard to wrap your head around in general, if you can’t remember it at all its that bit harder. But it will come to you, and you will heal. And if, like me, your baby needs to stay behind for a while, ust remember it does get easier day by day, you wont feel “right” until you finally get your baby home, but you will make it, and it will be the best feeling you’ve ever known.