The C Word…
Not the word I was expecting to use to describe the birth of my baby boy. A caesarean.
I had some apprehension about my labour anyways because being pregnant in a pandemic has meant that birth partners (in my case my partner Joe) are unable to attend appointments or be with you until you are in active labour. I feared that Joe might miss the arrival of our baby since he might not make it to the labour room on time. I was concerned my dream of a water birth might not go ahead, but an emergency c-section? Never.
Yes, of course the thought that it could be a possibility crossed my mind but I never paid it much attention.
But low and behold, an emergency c-section is what was in store for me and my bub. Is it strange that if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change it for the world? Despite all the complications, birth plan detours and long labour I know this was the safest and best way to bring my little baby into this world.
(Whilst you read this please know that it was without a doubt the most magical, amazing time I have experienced in my life to date.)
Sure, I may have missed out on that longed for ‘Golden Hour’ with Cassidy because I was recovering from severe shakes and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel ‘with it’. I felt physically incapable of holding my own baby that I had just carried in my belly for 9 months. How crazy is that?
Throughout the 40 weeks of my pregnancy I had focussed my energy on Hypnobirthing, practicing breathing techniques and putting together a ‘Labour Playlist’. My ‘happy’ songs ranged from Country Western classics to 90s pop which I'd listen to on repeat almost every mid-afternoon bath I had in the lead up to my labour. As I listened to my favourites from Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston I would imagine how my baby's birth would be...
I pictured my waters breaking naturally, the contractions coming on strong but being more than capable to breathe through them without much pain. I would wonder “can breathing alone assist with the pain that supposedly comes with contractions?” But nonetheless, I had faith that despite any pain my body and my baby would know what to do. I imagined my partner spritzing the labour room with lavender spray followed by stroking my arm and cheering me on saying “you’re doing great, he’s nearly here”. I heard my tiny baby’s sweet cries as he entered the world and me crying with utter joy that he’d made it earthside safely. But lastly, I dreamed of the moment the midwives would pass my little bundle of joy to me where we’d have our first ever epic cuddle together.
I didn’t envision that I’d arrive at my midwife appointment on my due date in September for the midwife to tell me she was concerned with the protein levels in my urine to then order me to go to the hospital immediately. I didn’t hear the words “you might have to be induced and prepare for a caesarean”. I didn’t think after a stretch & sweep and my waters breaking almost instantaneously that I’d have another 68 hours ahead of me until I met my little lovebug. I didn’t imagine that I’d have 3 trips to the hospital (each time 100% convinced Cassidy was a minute away from popping out), be put on antibiotics to avoid infection or that I’d experience a lonely night in the pre-labour ward without my keeper of the cave (hypnobirthing term) AKA Joe (bloody COVID!!), 8 screaming women, 2 inductions, 2 blood clots, zero reassuring nurses, and 40 hours before I finally made it to the labour room where my keeper of the cave could finally join me.
One of my happiest moments in life (until I met Cassidy for the first time) was when I was told I could finally go through to the labour room. I thought ‘yay, this is it.. It’s happening.. Cassidy must be close’ (wrong…)
Despite my delight at finally being reunited with my keeper of the cave after 40-odd hours of labour, I was still 40-odd hours into labour which meant i’d been experiencing contractions for over 2 days.
Joe had his checklist and was excited to take on his duties as the keeper of the cave: lavender spray, my favourite tracks, fluffy socks, massage oil, reassuring affirmations and of course tasty snacks but by this point i’d already accepted my labour wasn’t what I had dreamt of during all my pregnant mid-afternoon baths.
I knew it was time to accept an unwanted but very needed epidural… (I think Joe was secretly pretty happy that he would no longer need to massage my big swollen feet).
Several epidural top-ups later, a disgusting amount of lucozade sports, and an obscene amount of fluids through an IV I began feeling pain in my back and I was no longer filling up the catheter (very concerning considering how much fluid I was taking in). A number of midwives and doctors agreed that Cassidy’s positioning had caused me a kidney infection… HELLO more antibiotics. Not only that but they also confirmed he was “huuuge”, I wasn’t dilating and that I’d struggle to deliver him without the use of forceps. Not what any mum-to-be wants to hear.
Nonetheless, they insisted on waiting it out a few more hours till eventually they became increasingly concerned. As soon as they mentioned the C word I said “let’s do it”. No hesitation. If this was the utmost safe way for Cassidy to come join the world then there’s no question about it.
A few signatures later and a speedy journey to theatre I was watching the midwives, anathesitgolist and surgeons prep me and everything for surgery. My keeper of the cave had the role of reassuring me everything was going to be ok. He encouraged me to imagine we were at a festival, in a tent listening to our favourite DJs, having the time of our life. I may have imagined it a tad too much as it wasn’t long until the surgeons had to pause surgery whilst I retched for a good 10 minutes before eventually passing out. When I came to and saw the 8 surgeons, midwives and anesthesiologists all working like a well-oiled machine I truly thought I had partied too hard and was in the medical tent at a festival…
Let’s just say I got a real shock when Joe presented Cassidy to me.. Some festival that was! I quickly realised that I hadn’t gone too hard at a festival and that I’d given birth to an amazing little guy, safely albeit through the sunroof! Key words: given birth & safely. Ok it might not have been the ‘natural’ way of giving birth but a caesarean is still giving birth, and for us it was the SAFEST and best way for Cassidy to leave his home in my belly and join us.
Not quite the calm “breath my baby out” blissful hypnobirthing I’d hoped for but things change.
Once I had recovered from the uncontrollable shakes and started to regain feeling in my body Joe handed me the best thing that has ever happened to me and we began our breastfeeding journey together.
My biggest fear was that we wouldn’t bond because I was unable to have that ‘Golden Hour’ that I'd read so much about. But really it doesn’t matter WHEN you have that time together because whenever it does happen it will be just as magical and I’m sure our bond is no different because of it.
The recovery was harder than I predicted, mostly due to a number of infections I had. Sleeping (not that I got much of that being a new-mum anyways) was uncomfortable, getting in and out the shower was a struggle, walking was hard but most of all, even just holding my baby was difficult. I hated that I couldn’t just pick him up and comfort him without assistance. I was disappointed and frustrated with myself. I had to keep reminding myself that I was recovering from major abdominal surgery, surgery that brought Cassidy into this world. I eventually learned that I needed to be patient with myself and my body.
When my body was ready, it healed. And Cassidy held no grudge for it taking its sweet time.
I was lucky enough to have so many people with so much love and support around me to help my body recover.
Some people reassuringly would tell me “your scar isn’t that big”, “don’t worry you won’t even see it, it’s below your pant line” or “don’t stress, it will fade” and I thought they were sweet for thinking that’s what I wanted to hear. However, I do not care if my scar is red, if it never fades or you can see it when i’m in a bikini. Because I am proud of it. That small red line is how Cassidy was born, so to me it is beyond special.
Despite COVD restrictions, birth plan detours, kidney infections, sepsis, becoming anaemic, a stay in the hospital longer than I wanted, issues with my milk supply post surgery and Cassidy being jaundice I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. The. Exact. Same. Way.
Why? Because it is mine and Cassidy’s unique story of how he entered the world safely. An exciting experience only him and I share. It might have been scary at times but it worked out.
A caesarean is no less of a birth. And it should be celebrated. Our bodies work in mysterious ways and sometimes a c-section is the only or a better way to meet our baby. But the ending is the same.