As I was laying on my hospital bed in labor with my first baby, I closely watched the fetal heart monitor beside me. After every contraction my baby’s heart rate would dip down to the low 90’s. I am not in the medical field, but I know my baby’s heart rate should never be that low.
Cue intense fear and panic.
In a split second, before I could muster up the courage to ask my nurse if my baby is still okay, the doctor comes in.
“I don’t know how long your baby can last with the heart rate dropping, we need to do an emergency C-section. The major risks are bleeding and infection. Are you okay with this?”
I must have shook my head “yes” because before I knew it, the nurse hit a code button. Nurses came running (and I mean running) into my room. They began prepping me for surgery as I was on all fours on my hospital bed.
My healthy baby boy was born that day within 3-4 minutes after that code button was hit. That is how fast they prepped me for surgery.
The Aftermath of Recovery
Can I say recovery was rough? I mean really, really rough. After getting my catheter out 24 hours after surgery, they told me I should try to walk and take a shower. It was excruciating. As well it should be, right? I just went through MAJOR abdominal surgery. They gave me pain medicine and sent me home two days after giving birth.
Once at home, I ended up with an infection above my incision. I couldn’t lay in bed because 1) I had no strength in my abdominal muscles due to pregnancy, and 2) It hurt my incision to try to get up from the laying position. I basically lived in our recliner for the next three weeks as I recovered enough to finally be able to lay down in our bed.
Those six little words
After a few more weeks, family and friends stopped by to visit. A friend stopped by one afternoon and she asked how everything went during labor and delivery. I just skimmed over most of it and said how it ended in a C-section.
“Oh, you got the easy way out,” she said.
I was silent.
After she left, my eyes filled with tears. Easy?! It sure as heck has not seemed easy to me! Caring for a newborn and also trying to recover from major surgery, not being able to lay in my own bed due to extreme pain, and not being able to lift anything heavier than my newborn did NOT feel easy.
In that moment I felt like less. Less because I didn’t push my baby out how nature intended. Should I tell everyone that I had to have a C-section because my baby had a “true” knot in his cord? That every time I contracted it compressed on his cord? That if I would have tried to deliver naturally, my baby boy may not be here today?
As I was recovering, people would ask the question, “When are you going to have another?” Then it would instantly be followed by, “Are you going to try naturally next time?” I’m sure people didn’t mean to, but it made me feel shameful of my birth experience. It weighed on my mind constantly that I let everyone down because I didn’t give birth of how I should have.
Overcoming People’s Expectations
Nine months after I had my first, we found out we were pregnant again. As time got closer, my doctor laid out the facts for me. According to the guidelines at that time, if you had a previous C-section and are about to give birth within the first 18 months, they recommend having a repeat C-section due to the weakness of the prior incision in the uterus. She left it up to me with what I wanted, and didn’t force me into a decision or make me feel less in any way shape or form.
I chose the repeat C-section and have no regrets. Also, I chose to have another repeat C-section two years later with my third child. Still no regrets.
After having three C-sections in three and a half years, I have finally come to the conclusion that no matter how you gave birth- epidural, no epidural, naturally or a C-section – YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR. You grew a human, and the main goal is to have a healthy, happy baby AND mama. You instinctively know what is best for you and your baby, no matter what your sister, friend, co-worker, mother-in-law or someone on the internet thinks.
Repeat C-sections are nothing to be ashamed of.