Having a Planned Caesarean Section – My Experience and Birth Story
Hey there and welcome to me and b. It isn’t just me and b anymore though. Me, b and l. Doesn’t have the same ring to it. I’m thinking a blog rebrand?! So today I want to share my birth story. I need to write it all down and get it out of my head. It was in no way traumatic but I think it’s all taken a mental toll on my mind. I haven’t really been able to think about it without feeling “funny”. I had a planned section with B, and again with L. But this time around it was different. I was hyper-aware of what was going on. I want to write it down so I can reflect on it later and remember everything. When I think back to B’s birth, I feel the memories blur into my memories from two weeks ago. I also want to write my story down to help other mums-to-be with planned c-sections. And mums going through this as well as emetophobia. I write about being a mum with a vomit phobia here. There were things I worried about, even second time around. And it really helped me to read positive stories. So here goes…
The Big Day
Thursday 31st January. My day started at 2am. Yep. I woke up after a few hours light sleep and that was that. I couldn’t nod back off again. The adrenaline had kicked in and I was firmly awake. And my baby was awake too, packing in those final punches and kicks before birth. I felt sorry for the little one – all snuggled in mama’s tum and then swiftly cut out into the light of day.
I managed to toss and turn until 5am and then decided to get up, pack a final few bits and jump in the shower. Around sixish, we got the little man up. Fortunately we have amazing friends who’d offered to take B to school that morning. Drop off at their house was half six. We wanted to be up in Bristol early just in case there was traffic. You just never know with the the roads from Weston to Bristol.
After dropping B off, we got going. And we got to St Michael’s hospital super early! As in 7am early! We had an hour! And I didn’t want to spend that in the car as it was bloody freezing. As with all sods law type things, it was due to snow. I predicted this back in summer 2018. I should probably give up my day job and get into fortune telling.
We decided to wait out the hour in the hospital entrance. There’s a little cafe and a few chairs. I just felt sick with anxiety to be honest. As we walked into the hospital I kept telling myself I was just going through the motions, it was going to happen, I needed to stay calm and just go with. It was out of my control.
In my mind I’d broken down the stages of the operation into three parts. And then I’d mentally tackled each part alone. Part 1 – the cannula. Now I’d had cannulas as part of the iron infusions. This would be the easy part. Part 2 – the spinal. Now with B, this caused me a bit of stress as they couldn’t get it in. I knew the needled went in when I sat up, hunched over a pillow. That’s what we’d discussed at the pre-op and what we’d try today. Part 3 – the op. Once the spinal was in and all good, I wasn’t going anywhere so I’d just have to focus on breathing and talking. Keep my mind busy.
At quarter to eight we went to the Central Delivery Suite and checked in. There was another couple there for a planned section too. They got taken off to a bay before us and I felt anxious that we’d probably be sat around waiting for a good part of the day. I know with planned sections you can’t stress the times as there could be emergencies that take priority. Basically go into it open minded in terms of timings.
It wasn’t more than five minutes or so before we were greeted by one of the nurses, also an Emma. We got taken to a room with two beds and a bathroom and were told to make ourselves comfy. At this point I was just shaking with anxiety and semi-crying. So that real “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry” type whimpering. Not my best moment but if you’re a reader and you’ve read through any of my emetophobia posts then you’ll know that this wasn’t easy for me. I’d tried really hard all through the pregnancy to keep this part in perspective – it’s over very quickly, you get to meet your baby, they are looking after you, they will give you anti-emetics. These were all the things I kept trying to keep in mind.
After a few minutes, the doctor came in to speak with us. She was really lovely and took us through a few things we needed to know. I got changed into my beautiful hospital gown too. Next up, the anesthetist came to talk to us. He was brilliant and again, went through my notes and chatted through my worries and anxieties. I had a LOT of worries.
We were then told that the staff would have a meeting at half 8 and then come and let us know what time we’d be going down. Argh. I felt so sick and anxious. I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours and that gnawing hunger nausea had set in too. It was around 8.20am at this point so I knew it wouldn’t be long until we’d find out what was going on. Around 8.45am the midwife came back in and told us we were going down to theatre! I was absolutely crapping it, and at the same time, relieved. Relieved to just crack on with things and not have time to sit and overthink everything.
Part 1 – The Cannula
It’s a strange feeling walking down to theatre. I was half naked in the hospital gown, and my legs were covered to the knee in those sexy stockings. Far sexier than deep vein thrombosis ey. As we walked down to the theatre, it felt surreal, like I was dreaming it all and I was watching it from above. I passed the little room on the left where we’d been stationed with Brandon. Bay 1 and 2. And then at the end of the corridor was the theatre. It was bright, shiny. Lots of metal. Lots of machines. They got me to sit on the operating table. It’s very narrow.
First things first – the cannula. Now I had put some Emla cream on but it hadn’t been on long and I know from when I had B that it hadn’t worked. I was prepared though and this was the easy bit. Or so I’d had worked out in my head. It turns out my veins were wriggly that Thursday morning. Wriggly! Of all the things to be, I did not need wriggly veins. Every time the anesthetist tried getting this bloody needle in, it kept coming back out. And it started to stress me. I focused on deep breathing and tried to keep calm but it panicked me. What if it didn’t go in? What if they couldn’t do the op because of my wriggly veins. Our anesthetist reassured me that he “always wins”. He got up to get some more medical bits and bobs and returned to try a vein down the side of my hand. Bluergh just thinking about it makes me feel weak at the knees. Fortunately this worked and the cannula was in. Phew! I breathed a sigh of relief and so did the anesthetist. First part, done.
This photo was taken on the evening while I was trying to keep busy in the early hours!
At this point too, they gave me some anti-emetics. Ondansetron. I’d read about this in the past – too much time spent googling anti-emetic drugs and what was available over the counter. I knew this one was a good one! The anesthetist popped it through the cannula.
Part 2 – The Spinal
Now when we had B, the spinal caused a lot of stress. Basically because it took them multiple attempts to get it in. It didn’t overly hurt but it was uncomfortable and it stressed me. I started “what-iffing” again – what if they don’t get it in? What if they can’t do the op? What if, what if, what if?
So this time I was a bit more prepared. And I knew that lying on my side last time hadn’t worked so well. Sitting up, crouched over a cushion felt like a better position. We decided to try that way first. I was still sat on the side of the bed and they gave me a pillow. The midwife or nurse held me still from my left side, Jon was sat on my right side.
They first inject a local anesthetic to numb the area. This felt like a small scratch. Nothing awful. And then they do the actual spinal. It feels like a kind of pressure. It isn’t overly painful. You’ll know when it is in as your legs start to feel very heavy and flushed with pins and needles. It’s a very odd sensation. I think they got the spinal in either first or second attempt. It was very fast this time and I felt so relieved. As soon as it’s in, they get you to lie down. Although the bed is super narrow, you’re all fine and won’t roll off. They popped my left arm out onto a holder, just to keep all the wires and tubes out of the way really.
The anesthetist kept checking where the numbness had reached on my body. They use a cold spray. I always feel anxious about saying yes or no as to whether I can feel it – like my level of feeling – can i feel it strongly or not? The numbness and tingling reached right up to my chest. I didn’t feel breathless though. Just tingly.
Part 3 – Let’s Have a Baby
I knew they were close to starting because they put the blue drapes up in front of me. I couldn’t see anything. I heard them run through details and confirm what they were doing before they started too. I guess some sort of official “this is what we’re doing – are we all on the same page?” briefing.
This time around I was far more anxious than I was when we had B. Maybe it was because I knew what would happen. I felt hyper-aware. Aware to everything and everyone around me. I could also feel a lot more this time. Not any cutting and certainly no pain but I could feel certain things going on. So when they wiped the scrub stuff across my bump. I could feel this. I then just felt tugging and rummaging for around ten minutes. While this was all going on, Jon and the anesthetist were chatting 80s music and random stuff. I found it hard to focus on conversation as I was so focused on what they were doing behind the screen.
I knew that our baby would be born soon as I could hear fluid being suctioned. I then felt a lot of pressure on my abdomen. Again, this didn’t hurt at all. It just felt odd. It was a good feeling though as I knew we were literally seconds away from meeting our baby. While this was going on, I’d been watching a digital clock over on the wall. It was around 9.28am and I thought to myself, this baby will be born a similar time to B. B made his appearance at 9.32am. And this baby? 9.32am! The exact same time!
And he is a he!! Another boy! I’ve been so boy broody and when we were told we had a baby boy I was just so excited and happy. To be honest all you want is a healthy baby. I’d have been super happy with a girl, and super happy with a boy. Either way made no difference to me. And we got a beautiful baby boy. He was born to Pink Floyd’s Wish you were here. Fitting ey. And we hadn’t planned it that way. In fact this time around we took no cd’s, no music. I’d said to just pop the radio on. The anesthetist popped an 80s playlist on amazon on. It just so happened that Pink Floyd were playing as Lewis was born.
The music really helped me actually. Listening to songs I like. Before Pink Floyd, we’d had a bit of Fleetwood Mac – The Chain. So I’d hummed along to that while laying there with my eyes closed. For some reason, this time, I just wanted to close my eyes and zone out from the operating theatre. It’s hard to though when you can hear the sounds, and you know what’s going on.
Stitching me back up took the longest. Around twenty minutes or so. I remember clock watching throughout. Ten minutes had past. Twelve minutes, fifteen. I kept telling myself to stop watching the red digital clock!
There were plenty of beeps going on too. I think this was my blood pressure. I had a cuff on my right arm throughout which monitors blood pressure. If there is a dip, the anesthetist administers some sort of drug to bring it back up. A dip in blood pressure can bring on nausea. This was the last thing I wanted.
To Be Sick or Not to Be Sick
In terms of nausea and feeling and being sick, I’m glad to report that it all went just fine. Even after Lewis was born, I didn’t feel sick this time. The only time I did feel sick and thought I might be was the day after. For some reason my blood pressure dipped really low. I think it was tiredness, anxiety and stress. This has happened in the past when I’ve had really bad panic attacks. The midwife on duty took my blood pressure and said it was super low. I find bunching up my hands into tight fists can help raise it and stop me from having a full on “moment”. I call these moments pre-faints. from what I’ve read, the feelings I experience are the same as when someone faints.
To be honest, after L was born, the next most stressful thing was being on the ward. I asked if we could have a private room, based solely on my emetophobia, but I’m not special and I know there are more important reasons to have a room. Again, they were really busy and put me on one of the main wards. It was all fine apart from around 3am or so when they brought a mum who’d just given birth in. She had a large bleed and I could hear everything. The doctors talking about blood, surgery and whatnot. And I’m pretty sure she was sick too. I felt so stressed with all this as I just couldn’t get up and walk out. I put my headphones on but it’s hard to drown out hospital noise. So yeah, this caused a lot of anxiety for me and I sat there crying for a while. I was also stressed and anxious because it was snowing outside and I worried Jon wouldn’t get back to Bristol. I had visions of being stuck there, alone, for hours before he was able to get back.
Another thing that really stressed me was getting up out of bed. With B, they had me up and walking around on the evening after the section. This time i did stand on the evening but i felt so fragile and broken. The thought of walking anywhere was just awful. I literally felt I’d never walk again. And well, my catastrophizing brain works really well at convincing me of these non-truths. My brain basically likes to feed me a lot of fake news. Once Jon was at the hospital, and once the most amazing midwife started work again, they had me walking to the window to look at the snow.
At the start of our second day, I didn’t think I’d be able to leave for home but after lunch, I started to feel so much better. I’d even managed a shower and a change of clothes. It’s amazing how simple things like this lift your spirits and change your mindset.
We were able to leave St Michael’s around half 5 on that Friday. I had to take it really slow with walking down to the car but I was determined to get home! The thought of another night on the ward wasn’t appealing. Jon took L and got him in the car. I waited for him to drive round and pick me up. The journey home wasn’t as bad as I remember with B. Although every pothole, manhole and dip in the road caused me to flinch! Just seeing them approach made me tense up! Fortunately the snow had thawed so getting back wasn’t too bad really.
And here we are, an hour or so after getting home. I was so happy to be back in familiar surroundings.
So there we are. Our birth story. Little L is here now and it’s all over. As much as I hated being pregnant, I now feel sad that it’s all over. I’ll write about those feelings next. Feel like I have a lot to get out of my mind.