I always have loved reading birth stories. Even many years back when having kids was the furthest thing in my mind, I always was fascinated by reading the stories of how those sweet babes came to be in this world. Little did I know that I’d be writing my own birth story—especially a positive c-section story! There are so little planned c-section birth stories online and after googling “positive c-section stories” in a near panic the night before giving birth, I swore to myself I would write a tell-all post about my c-section exeprience—good, bad and the ugly. Also, this is probably the longest post I’ve ever written! :O
SOOOO all that to say, if you don’t want all the details about Lily’s birth, or about C-section recovery, click away!
To start with, we got pregnant literally the first time we said, “hey, let’s just see what happens!”. While finding out we were pregnant was definitely surprising, we felt so lucky that we had it so easy in the conception department after walking with so many close friends through the pain of infertility. In some weird way, I thought to myself, “okay, conception was super easy, I guess I’ll have to make up for it by having a horrible birth experience”.
Finding Out we Would Have a Cesserian
This was magnified during my first OB appointment when my doctor told me I would definitely need to have a c-section. I had a pretty massive fibroid removed from my uterus in September of 2015, and, as the surgeon had put it, my uterus was compromised. Meaning they didn’t think my uterus could withstand going through contractions that are necessary for labor since it had been cut and stitched back together in several places.
Of course, having a planned c-section wasn’t what I always had imagined birthing my first child would be, but in all honesty, there was also something so freeing about it. I didn’t have to deal with the uncertainty of labor, or feel the pain of contractions, or feel like less of a woman for taking an epidural instead of all natural because THANK GOODNESS no one expects you to have major surgery without some help. We could all do with a little less pressure when it comes to labor, I think!
All I had heard prior to then were negative c-section stories. When people had talked about c-sections it was always after a “failed labor” or as a “last resort”. When I would google trying to find a positive c-section story, there was inevitably a snarky comment or two about it being major surgery and something that no one in their right mind would actually want.
And you better FORGET any pregnancy book having a positive c-section story of any kind! Each one I picked up only had ways to avoid having a c-section, and why they were terrible. Online forums obsessed about how to make sure a c-section didn’t happen and traded stats about which hospital (or doctor) have the lowest c-section rates, etc.
It was a punch in the gut (uterus?) to say the least.
I was officially terrified that I was going to be carelessly sliced open, with my arms tied down, puking into my hair. I was going to never get to hold my baby (at least not for several hours after everyone else has had their turn) and I wouldn’t be able to walk upright again for months. My scar would be ugly and obvious and my husband would be disgusted and I would feel so ashamed and unwomanly and that was only IF I survived because mortality rates for c-section patients are so much higher and I would never get to see my daughter’s face and my guts wouldn’t even be in my body for the funeral because they will have pulled them all out and heaped them on the operating table and on and on and on the crazy train went.
I am THRILLED to report that not one bit of that was accurate.
So, I’m happy to tell you one of many happy c-section stories! Here’s how it really was.
Scheduling the Date
Scheduling the date was one of the most difficult parts. How do you decide a Christmas baby’s fate? My doctor wanted to do the C-section at 38 weeks or at the very beginning of 39 weeks since there was a risk of uterine rupture (wheeee isn’t that fun!?). BUT 38 weeks was on 12/22 and my doctor was going away for Christmas, so if I had Lily between 12/23-12/30, my doctor would be gone. I REALLY love my doctor and am really grateful for her wisdom with my uterine surgery—she had already proved herself trustworthy and capable. So, we went with 12/22 as the date. Sorry, Lily, I hope you love Christmas week! 😜
So, with my eye on the prize at 12/22, I was able to navigate the last trimester fairly easy (outside of moving and remodeling a kitchen, sigh). I got to skip the last several weeks of pregnancy, which I have been assured are quite miserable—so there’s a positive c-section story right there! 😉
Choosing a Gentle C-Section
I am also very fortunate that my doctor delivers at Baylor Dallas, which a gentle c-section hospital. I hadn’t heard of the term “gentle c-section” but it’s definitely a key component to why I have a positive c-section story, so if you are an expecting mom I highly encourage you to research this (even if you are planning an all-natural labor…you never know!). You can read more about gentle c-sections here, but to summarize, during a gentle c-section:
- You can ask for a clear drape if you would like to watch the process
- You can ask for the IV to be in your non-dominant hand
- Your baby is handed to you immediately after delivery or just minutes later for skin to skin
- Your doctor will explain the process to you as it is happening
- Your hands are not tied down
- You can breastfeed immediately after delivery
- You can request delayed cord clamping and take your placenta home if you choose
Basically, the premise is it’s more like a birth and less like a sterile surgery. Which is really how it should be since it is birth!
Writing Our Birth Plan
Since I knew I was having a c-section, I wrote out a very detailed birth plan with everything my doctor and I had discussed. I did this mainly so that Scott and I would remember everything we wanted (and to share with Lily later), but also just in case there was an emergency and my doctor couldn’t be there. I made multiple copies so the L & D nurses and my post-care nurses could read our wishes.
I highly recommend this book if you are having a C-section…or even if you aren’t! You never know…birth is unpredictable.
Preparing with a Semi-Liquid Diet
Three days leading up to the c-section, I started easing towards a liquid diet. I know plenty of people who ate whatever they wanted and were fine, and my doctor told me I could do that, but I hate throwing up and I had read it was a way to prevent getting sick during the process. I ate soup, bananas, pudding, smoothies, etc.
The Night Before
The night before I was nervous but ready. Mainly ready to get it over with and stop being so nervous (and pregnant!). I googled “positive C-section stories” and devoured each one I could find. I packed my hospital bag…nothing like waiting until the last minute, right? 😂 My parents, Scott’s parents and two friends all stopped by to drop off gifts. It was so great to see them all because their excitement was tangible (especially the soon-to-be grandparents haha!).
I snacked up until midnight and drank the biggest glass of water I could since I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink after midnight. Scott gave me the sweetest card he wrote, and we prayed together and cuddled. It was one of the sweetest memories—I’ll cherish it forever!
The Morning Of
I actually slept great (uncommon during the last trimester for me!) and we got up around 6:30 am to head to the hospital. We had to be there at 7:30 for prep. I had already pre-filled out all my paperwork (I recommend doing this!), but there were still a few forms to fill out. There was one with some scary-looking disclaimers on it, which I chose to sign without reading. I’m not saying anyone else should do this, just what I did to calm my nerves.
I changed into my lovely fashionable hospital gown (jk) and they put a heart rate monitor on Lily. My blood pressure was being continually monitored. I got an IV put in my arm with fluids. Our families came to say hello and wish me luck. Our doctor stopped by to see how I was doing and assure me she felt well-rested and able-bodied.
Meeting the Anesthesiologist
The anesthesiologist came by to introduce himself and talk about what he was going to do. Per our plan, he would give me something in my IV that would, as he put it, make it feel like I had a few glasses of wine. He would then roll me on my side, numb the application site and insert an epidural.
I was ADAMANT about not seeing the epidural. I had heard it was giant and scary and while he assured me it wasn’t THAT bad, he agreed to not have it brought over until I was on my side and couldn’t see it.
Once he left, it was go time. Scott had scrubbed in and was ready to go. I walked myself into the surgery room, wheeling my IV tower with me. I climbed onto the bed they had waiting, and they covered me with a nice warm blanket. Scott was seated by my head on my right side.
The anesthesiologist told me he was starting the “feel good” medicine into my IV, then rolled me on my side and put the epidural in without me seeing, just as we planned. Within 30 seconds I went from feeling really happy and floaty to feeling extremely nauseous. I just remember saying over and over that I was going to throw up and looking around feeling like no one was paying attention to me. Scott assured me later that they were, that my doctor had looked very concerned and the nurses were rushing to get me more comfortable while the anesthesiologist gave me anti-nausea medication. One of the nurses handed me a tube that I could vomit into—it was kind of like those suction tubes they use at the dentist.
This was probably the lowest point of the entire experience. I felt SO nauseous and kept trying to throw up, but I was already numb from my chest down. I remember thinking my lungs had stopped working and didn’t have the power to help me get sick. Within 30 seconds (it felt like forever!) the nausea went away completely. I never did get sick, thankfully!
I then laid my hands out on boards that were provided. They were never tied down or anything, I just rested them there. The blue curtain went up—I had no desire to watch the process. The made sure I was numb by poking various parts, inserted a catheter and started the cesarian.
I spent the next 10 minutes or so chatting with Scott while my doctor was working on me. One of the nurses was kind enough to take photos of the whole process on Scott’s phone—and she got everything! There are some graphic images that I’ll spare you all from, but I am so thankful that Lily’s birth was documented!
Our doctor called out, “okay, getting close, she’s about to come out” and Scott and I squeezed each other’s hands. The room was silent for about 5 seconds when a baby wail pierced the air. She was here! The screen was lowered so we could see her—the VERY first thing I thought was, “she looks JUST like Scott!”
Immediately After Birth
My doctor held her up for a few minutes to do delayed cord clamping while the nurses did her APGAR. She had some fluid in her lungs so they took her to a warmer to suction out the excess fluid and do her second APGAR (she got an 8 and 9 respectively!). She was measured and weighed as she was suctioned as well—they worked SO FAST!
Lily was born at 7 pounds, 3 ounces and just under 18 inches long. A total cutie!
While she was under the warmer Scott took some videos—within 5 minutes of her leaving the womb she was brought back over to me for skin to skin. She was snuggled under a blanket on my chest and it was amazing. I was able to hold her on my own with no problems.
The Recovery Room
We were wheeled into the recovery room together with her still on my chest. We tried to get Lily to latch, but she was too sleepy. They told me to start hand expressions to get colostrum going, but I didn’t know exactly how—reading about it and watching videos is very different from actually trying! A nurse asked if I wanted her to do it for me and I said sure—nothing like having your boob squeezed for minutes by a stranger haha! We spoon fed her the colostrum, which she took fine. We then had our parents come in to meet her briefly before we were transferred up to the room we were staying in.
The Almost NICU Scare
Lily kept making a gurgiling, grunting sound over and over every 5 seconds or so. The nurses said it was because she still had fluid in her lungs. They forewarned us that most of the time a baby’s oxygen levels will drop in that situation and that a NICU stay might be necessary. By the grace of God, her oxygen levels stayed high the entire day, even though she kept making that sad sound for hours! Finally she stopped and the oxygen monitor was taken off. Phew.
The one thing I had read over and over was walking as soon as possible was essential to recovery…and I took that advice seriously. I fully attribute getting out of bed as soon as I had full feeling back in my legs with why I have a positive C-section story. The first time getting out of bed was fine because I had been given some sort of morphine mixture in my IV to help with pain and to encourage me to walk. The day of the c-section, I mainly walked around my room.
By the next morning, I was walking the hallways. I was a little sore, especially when laughing (and I laugh a lot!), but nothing like the guts-falling-out feeling I had been told about. It just felt like I had done too many situps or something! Uncomfortable but not at all excruciating.
We stayed in the hospital 3 nights—we had to stay one extra because Lily was having trouble gaining weight and they wanted to monitor it. I was feeling almost 100% back to normal (minus the sleep deprivation!) by day 3, and was pretty bored, so I just kept walking around the hospital unit.
By the time we were released, the nurses (who were all amazing, btw!) were making fun of me and calling me a speed mall walker. Although there were at least a dozen other couples in the maternity ward, I never saw anyone else walking. Seriously, you guys, if you do one thing, get up and walk as much as possible as soon as possible.
Finally, on Christmas Day at around noon, we were cleared to leave the hospital. Going home on Christmas was really sweet—it was the best Christmas gift possible! And THAT is my positive c-section story! 🙂
I’m currently 8 weeks postpartum and fully cleared by my doctor. My scar is visible, of course, but very faint and surprisingly small. I really think in time it will be barely noticeable. Even so, I love it since it’s what safely brought my baby to me. Our bodies really are amazing, ladies! Cheers to you. Remember, in the end, all us mamas want is for our babes to get to us safe and sound, and even if the birth isn’t perfect, it’s SUCH a small part of the baby journey!
Have you had a baby? What was your experience like? I love hearing birth stories, so please share them!