Earlier this month my baby girl turned one. It doesn’t seem like two minutes since we were planning for the day she would arrive. I honestly don’t quite know how we got here!
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about the last 12 months so I thought I would write a little bit about Grace’s birth as it’s not something I’ve really talked about on here. I’ve never written about Oliver’s birth either, I guess I should do that too some time!
Grace’s Birth Story
So, as you can probably guess from the title, I had an elective cesarean section with Grace. If you’ve had a c-section yourself, or heard about them, you would assume choosing to have one would make the arrival of your baby organised (as much as it can be anyway). Well Grace had other ideas.
When Oliver was born I had an emergency cesarean section, due to my labour not progressing as it should. At least that was the official reason. I personally believe part of it was due to him being a whopping 9lb 10.5oz and me being about 5ft 4.
I always said if I had another baby I would want another section. This was so I could know when the baby would arrive and I wouldn’t be in labour for hours worrying about Oliver. I know, of course, lots of people have more than one baby and have natural births, and some have their older child present during the birth, but I just wanted to know when it would happen and that he could be occupied somewhere else.
An Elective Cesarean Section
I have heard stories from people who, having had one section, then felt pressured to have another. I have to say I didn’t get this feeling from either the community midwives or my consultant. (Due to the fact I had a section with Oliver I was consultant led with this pregnancy.)
The midwives for this pregnancy didn’t know my history, so I discussed with them what happened when Oliver was born. They both understood why I preferred to go for the elective c-section this time around, but they never once pushed for it.
My consultant went through all the risks for both a second cesarean and a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) and left me to make my own decision. When it came to my final appointment with her, I actually felt she was trying to push me more into a natural birth rather than the elective c-section.
I was booked in for my c-section on 6th September 2016 and I had a “booking in” appointment on the afternoon of the 5th. This appointment was the give me a time for my section the following day, take bloods and give me some Ranitidine tablets to take, along with info about food and drinks.
Due to the dates of my consultant appointments (one of which was delayed because she had her summer holiday) I was last on the list for the surgeries. We weren’t scheduled until 12.30! I was GUTTED. When the nurse left me and Dan in the room I even did a little cry, pregnancy hormones at their finest!
I was upset for a few reasons, I think. My pregnancy felt like the longest pregnancy ever, we were so close to meeting our baby and we had to wait until the last appointment of the day! I wasn’t allowed to eat after 9pm that night too, and no water after 6am, so I was really concerned about the lack of food. I get really hangry, and when I’m hungry I feel really sick, so I didn’t want that on the day. The fact that we had to be at hospital at 7am then sit around for over 5 hours just made me so sad.
Dan tried to reassure me, tell me it would be ok, and on the way home from the hospital he suggested a Domino’s takeaway for tea (as I’d been recommended a carb heavy meal to keep me feeling fuller haha). I was still feeling a bit upset, but I do love a Domino’s!
Oliver had been waiting at home with my mum, and now we had a time and a plan, he was packed up to spend the night at their house where he would get ready for his first day back at school.
Now I know it’s irrational, but I wanted to be “prepared” for going into hospital so I headed to the shower to shave my legs while we waited for our pizza. This is where it all went wrong…
A Mind of Her Own
As I was stood in the shower, chatting to Dan whilst trying to shave my (first) leg around a giant 39 week bump still wearing my knickers and tshirt, I felt something. I wasn’t sure what it was so I panicked.
I asked Dan to turn round so he wasn’t looking at me. He kept asking why as I was acting a bit odd (and I knew it!), but I didn’t want to tell him.
I thought I had wet myself.
He turned back around as I was trying to determine how I could be soaked in so much wee, we looked at each other and I burst into tears. I said something along the lines of “I don’t know whats happening! I don’t know whether my waters have gone or if I wet myself!” To be honest, I don’t know if Dan knew whether to laugh at me or not, and we decided it had to be my waters.
As they didn’t go with Oliver I had no idea what to expect, and since I was having this elective section 4 days before my due date I never anticipated anything happening early.
We called the hospital and were told to keep an eye on things over the next hour to make sure it was definitely my waters then call them back. As gross as it is, there was so much we had to call them back after about 15 minutes and were told to get my things packed and go into the hospital. As if I wasn’t packed! My hospital bag had been packed for at least two weeks, so off we went.
Dan had got a new car a few months earlier, and I was scared of ruining his seats so I took a towel to sit on. How I thought of this in my blind panic I’ll never know. The journey was both hilarious and petrifying. Me and Dan laughed all the way there, I stressed about leaving a damp trail behind us all the way to the maternity unit, and I was worried what was going to happen to me and the baby.
Oh, also, our pizza arrived while we were on the phone to the hospital! No Domino’s for me that night!
I had visions of arriving at the hospital and being whisked into a room to get prepared for my cesarean, I thought everything would go as planned just a few hours earlier.
When we got there it was a bit of a ghost town. We saw a few midwives milling around, but there was no urgency for us. We were asked to sit in the waiting room, where I got more nervous and teary, before we got taken to a room for examination.
The midwife wanted to check my waters had definitely gone, and they wanted to check the baby was still doing okay so I had the foetal monitor put on.
It got to about 8pm and we realised we hadn’t let anyone know where we were or what was happening. I rang my mum and simply said “I’m in the hospital”. I think I maybe should have worded it better, as I bet her heart was in her throat, but I thought it would be a bit funny! It was a weird day.
Eventually a surgeon came to see us. We were told I needed to stay in overnight for monitoring and if things progressed then they would take me for an emergency c-section, otherwise they would go ahead with the plans for the following day.
Dan got all the bags from the car and helped me to the post natal ward where I was going to spend the night. By this time it was after visiting hours so he had to leave. It was so hard seeing him go, not knowing what was going to happen, and not having had anything to eat (I really do think with my stomach!). We only had cereal bars and Pringles in our “snack bag” and the hospital shop was closed. Luckily the midwives were round with some food and I got a plain, dry ham sandwich. Mixed with tears it wasn’t quite the tea I had been looking forward to but it did the job!
I Made It Through The Night
I had some contractions through the night, and very little sleep, as I was monitored every few hours. There were also other women in my room so midwives were coming for them too. But I made it through the night and Dan arrived before 7am to see what would happen next.
As I said earlier, I was last on the list, but due to Grace’s urgency we got bumped to the earliest slot! Our surgery time was now 8.30. By the time the midwife and surgeons had come to talk to us about all this, I changed into my gown and Dan into his scrubs, and it was pretty much time to go.
Even at this point it didn’t actually seem real. The whole experience had been so bizarre and unexpected, and although I had planned for a cesarean section, I don’t think I was mentally prepared for it. It wasn’t until we got to the waiting area for the theatre that the reality sunk in. I had to leave Dan while I was taken in first to get my spinal anesthetic and set up on the bed (table?), and it was at that moment that I got that little bit of fear.
The nurses and the anesthetist were amazing. They were so friendly, putting me at ease. I only wish I could remember any of their names, but I think I was just trying to focus on not loosing it!
By the time Dan was brought in everyone was ready, I was all set up for surgery, it was time.
Less than an hour from the “start time”, Grace was born at 9.22am weighing a substantial 9lb 4oz. I couldn’t believe our baby was here, and that she was a girl!
Dan said it was all a bit surreal. When she was brought out Grace was still in the amniotic sac, which is quite unusual and freaked him out a bit. He got to cut the umbilical cord like he had wanted to, and he said that was tougher than he thought it would be.
The midwife was great in the time after Grace’s birth. I couldn’t hold her myself as I was attached to drips and monitors, but the midwife held Grace to my chest so I could see her and have her close to me, as well as Dan having time to hold her. She also took a few photos of us all which I thought was really lovely.
After the c-section and recovery I was taken back to the post-natal ward where slowly the spinal wore off and I was able to move around a bit more. We called our mums to let them know Grace had arrived, and made arrangements for my mum and dad to bring Oliver after school. We wanted him to be the first person to meet his little sister!
He was in love. He had been so excited to finally have a brother or sister, and she was (and still is) so cute.
After Oliver had visited the midwife came to get me up for a shower. I was in quite a lot of pain now the anesthetic had worn off, but it wasn’t as bad as the pain from the emergency section, and being able to have a shower was great.
It’s a bit odd to have a verdict on a post like this, but I just wanted to give my opinion on an elective cesarean section. Although it didn’t go to the original plan (I mean what does), I had a much more positive experience this time around. As it wasn’t a true emergency I believe the surgery team were about to take a bit more time and care with what they were doing, causing less stress to my body.
After my emergency section, I walked hunched over for what felt like weeks as I was so sore and worried about bursting my stitches open. I was taking paracetamol, ibuprofen and codeine on a loop. After the elective section, although I hurt, I didn’t need to take as many painkillers (and I couldn’t have codeine due to breastfeeding), and I felt I was standing more normally a lot quicker. Grace was a nuisance the first night home and wouldn’t sleep so I spent the night on the settee and didn’t struggle too much with the pain.
If you are considering an elective cesarean section, you of course have to weigh up all the risks to yourself and your baby, many women have positive VBAC experiences. Ensure you make an informed decision which is best for you, your baby and your family.