Baby Sister’s Birth Story | Elective Caesarean

(Warning: Graphic images of surgery)

I wrote a post during my pregnancy about my birth options.  I had the option of an elective caesarean or having a VBAC.  And I remember saying that I wish the choice was taken out of my hands.

And it was.

My baby girl decided to make herself comfortable in my womb in the breech position, meaning the VBAC was ruled out.  Only once it had been ruled out did I realise just how much I wanted to try to naturally give birth (with drugs of course- I’m no sadist).  My sister had not long had her baby and a friend had not long had hers either, and both of them had unproblematic vaginal births that required some stitching but nothing more.  Both were up on their feet not long after their births and my Instagram and Facebook pages were filled with happy family outings.  I realised that I wanted to birth that way too.  I wanted to be able to get back on my feet and return to normality as quickly as I could after having the baby.

But it wasn’t to be.  Even on the morning of my surgery during a check to see how my baby was lying, she was still bottom down.  And the chance of her turning was very slim.  Given the gestational diabetes too they didn’t want to leave me to see if some miracle might happen where by she’d turn last-minute.

I remember feeling a mixture of emotions when they told me she was still breech.

On the one hand it meant the surgery was definitely going ahead and I’d soon be meeting my little girl, but on the other hand it meant *shock face* the surgery was definitely going ahead.  Two very different ways to look at the prospect of the coming hours.

For anyone that knows me, I’m petrified of needles.  Beyond petrified really.  And any form of surgery means needles.  And for the next couple of hours all I could think about was when they were going to start sticking needles into me, in fact I was so scared it did take away the reality that I would soon be holding my little girl.

I was one of three ladies due for an elective on the morning on the 15th May.  The order in which the surgery would happen depended on each of our circumstances and the risk factors.  One lady didn’t turn up.  And the other lady I could hear talking to her midwife as she was in the bed opposite to mine- both of us screened off by a curtain.  I started to eavesdrop in to see why she was having an elective caesarean.  They had her on fetal monitoring because her baby’s heart rate kept dropping.  She would obviously go first I thought, meaning I had a bit longer needle free.

Once we’d both met our respective midwives and we’d been stockinged up (you know those sexy compression stockings), we sat outside the fetal monitoring room in the waiting room just waiting for the theatre to be prepped.

I’ve sat in that room a million times throughout this pregnancy.  It’s where all the pregnancy scans are done.  The room started to slowly fill up with other women excited to see their baby’s on the ultrasound machine for the first time, or to tell them what gender they’d be having.

To them the two of use sat there must have been quite a sight.  Two heavily pregnant women obviously ready to end our pregnancy journeys.

My midwife walked into the room with a big smile on her face and told me after a discussion with the surgical team I was going to have my caesarean first.  I was the higher risk case.

I won’t lie, panic set in then.  I don’t even remember what she said when I asked her why, because all I was thinking was “shit, this is happening.  And I can’t get out of it.”  Yes, my initial thought was to leg it and refuse to admit I had to get the baby out somehow!

I’m guessing because I’d been nil by mouth since midnight and I had gestational diabetes they needed to just get the baby out because not eating can increase sugar production and cause issues for both the baby and myself.

Because the theatres for some reason had all been changed in our hospital last minute we walked up to the main theatre area and I got undressed and put on a gown while Mr London Mum was led away to kit himself up in some scrubs.  I clutched a newborn nappy and a baby hat to my chest- the only objects I was told to bring up with me and I tried my hardest to not let the fear show on my face.

I can’t speak more highly about the midwife I had, she tried to calm me as best as she could and her presence really helped keep me grounded.  Without her my fears would have escalated to levels where they would have found it really hard to deal with me.

But I walked into the theatre room with her on one side of me, and she helped me up onto the theatre bed.  I clocked my surgeon straight away, a lovely kind faced gentleman- in fact the only male on the whole surgical team.  He had such a warm personality that I felt confident in his ability. In my mind I thought a happy, relaxed surgeon wasn’t going to mess this up.  His positive vibe passed on to me.

The anaesthetist however was a different matter, she was in charge of the needles which immediately meant I was on edge meeting her.

She came over, chatted to me (bless her, she was kind and lovely and told me how much she loved my hair… but she was still the evil one in my eyes) and put a cannula in my hand.  With Mr London Mum still not in the room I just clutched onto my midwife as it was done.

Cannula’s are probably my most hated needle.  Mainly because the tube stays in your hand and serves as a visual reminder until it’s removed.

The spinal block was next, and by this point Mr London Mum was by my side.  He was holding one hand while my midwife was practically hugging me and whispering anything to me to keep me still and relaxed.

I expected the spinal to be like the epidural.  For some reason I thought they were inserting a tube.  But it’s just a needle.  I say just a needle but after a local anaesthetic was injected into the area the anaesthetist put the spinal in, and it shocked me quite a bit feeling how far in it was going that I jerked my body and practically leapt off the bed.  Not exactly a smart move with a needle near my spine.

I was in tears by this point.  The needle phobia took over.  Mr London Mum tried to appeal to my competitive side by trying to make out it was all a game where I had to stay still.  God knows why but it worked.  That alongside my midwife stroking my hair and thoughts of paralysis if I moved again.

And if memory serves me right I was either biting down on Mr London Mum’s hand or else I was digging my nails into his hand.  Either way being able to release the tension while trying to keep my body relaxed (for the anaesthetist) meant he took the brunt of my fears through pain.

With needles all done I lay down on the table.

Very quickly the spinal started to take effect.  They put two massaging machines around my legs to help prevent DVT, and I couldn’t feel them working at all.  They popped a catheter in (thank you spinal for allowing me not to feel that) and they tested me with cold spray and when they were confident the spinal had taken full effect they started the surgery.

My gown was used as the curtain between my eyes and the surgeons work.  He’d already asked if I wanted to watch the baby being born and have the curtain lowered at the moment of birth.  To which I immediately said yes.  I’m not squeamish at all… I’m just a hater of needles.

In fact watching her being born was so important for me.  With Little London I wasn’t part of his birth.  I had an emergency caesarean with him and I was out of it on a cocktail of drugs by the time I got into theatre.  Piecing his birth together after the event was really difficult for me and contributed a lot to my post natal depression.

This time, even though it was another caesarean it was under different circumstances and I was able to be part of the process and understand what was going on which was further cemented by the fact we could watch her birth and take photos of the surgery.

Psychologically I needed that.

I remember the surgery starting and the fear setting in just incase I could feel it.  But I felt no pain.  Although what I will say is that you feel a lot more during an elective caesarean than you do during an emergency caesarean.  Probably because mentally you’re more with it.  I’d go as far as to say you can feel everything.  Every tug and every pull.  And although it doesn’t hurt there were occasions I’d wince because it was uncomfortable.  The thing is your head knows what’s happening, and that can’t be turned off.

Plus when you hear the surgeon request a knife after lots of tugging, reality sets in that they’re cutting away and that’s quite a grim thought… not painful.  Just odd.

I’ll remember the moment she was born forever.  I told Mr London Mum to get ready with the camera because judging by the tugging I knew it wouldn’t be too long until she was here.  And sure enough the surgeon told us they’d be lowering the curtain soon because she was ready to be born.  From the start of surgery to the point of her being ready to come out, probably only 15 minutes had lapsed.

Her birth was such a surreal moment.  The curtain was lowered and my daughter was lifted up out of my womb and shown to me.

She didn’t cry immediately, but I didn’t worry at all because the faces around me told me she was fine.  The team were congratulating us, letting us know she was born at 10.15am on the dot.

Mr London Mum just kept saying how beautiful she was over and over.  And they held her there of long enough for me to really get a good glimpse of her.  I know I didn’t actively give birth, but I actually felt like I had.  Tears streamed down my face.

The midwife took her off to a side room which was in my eyeline.  The door was left open and I could see her rubbing her down and doing all the checks.  Things I never got to witness with Little London.

I watched Mr London Mum soak up those precious first few moments and report things back to me.  The theatre team also kept me informed with any details.

It was the birth I needed.  I felt included.

As soon as her checks were over, my 6lb daughter was placed straight on my chest to feed.

And once the surgeon had finished the stitching and popped a pain relieving suppository up my bum (yes really, and yes you can feel it although it’s an odd sensation because it doesn’t feel like it’s being put anywhere near your bum it feels like it’s going into your back!) I was wheeled to into the recovery room until a bed was found on the post natal ward for me.

Once a bed was found I was wheeled out on my bed with my daughter clutched to my chest.  As we passed people in the hospital corridors I could see them trying to glimpse this little tiny newborn- and that’s when it hit home.  The moment of pride that she was ours.

We were now a family of four.

thelondonmum

40 Comments

  1. Due to a health condition, I’ll only be able to have a C-Section and the idea terrifies me. Thanks for sharing this story. It helps. Maybe the idea of having children isn’t so scary any more.

    • AS long as you aren’t so horrifically needle phobic like me you’ll be fine. The surgery itself is nothing to be scared of. The recovery is tough but I’ll write a separate post not hat with some tips. x

  2. Oh wow amazing photos Donna! Glad it all went well. Brings back memories of my section with Sophia, whilst they were cutting me open I all of a sudden was sweating rivers, feeling faint and my heart rate plummeted I thought I was dying! My partner (now ex) told the surgeon and realised that whilst he was holding my hand he had had accidently knocked a needle out of my hand as soon as the surgeon out it back into place I felt normal again. Scared the life out of me tho!
    Congratulations again she’s beautiful xxx

    • Is that why they use the cannula? Makes sense! god that would have been horrific though not like you can even move to deal with feeling grim.

  3. wow those pictures – just amazing! Both of mine were caesareans but we were pretty rubbish at getting pictures during it and I kind of regret it. Sorry to hear that you had a hard time with the needles – you feel like a pin cushion by the end of it don’t you? Then you have to do more injections at home – gah! Congratulations again, though, your daughter is adorable! x

    • You do feel like a pin cushion lol. I’m already freaking out about my diabetes double blood test due in a few weeks… eurrgghhh.

    • It’s a tough decision to make, and I think if she wasn’t breech I’d have picked the VBAC even though the chances of ending up in theatre are increased anyway.

  4. Wow thank you so much for sharing your story, I am sure it will help a lot of people who are feeling worried about going through a cesarean.

  5. Wow those pictures are incredible! I can only imagine how terrifying the idea of a c-section can be when you are needle phobic. Glad you felt included this time around – she’s absolutely beautiful

    • I’m surprised I managed to actually get some sleep the night before- I was petrified!

  6. Aww bless you Donna, I really feel your needle fear, the thought of a spinal or epidural scares the hell out of me!
    So please it was such a different experience for you this time, the team sounded lovely! I’ve got all teary eyed seeing the birth photos…such a magical moment when they’re born! Congratulations again xxx
    Lucinda Turner recently posted…10 Names I Love But (probably) Won’t Use For Baby 2My Profile

    • I had an epidural with Little London and it was great- but I guess at that point I was in quite a bit of pain from the drip induction so the needle didn’t bother me one bit lol. They can stick needles into me when I’m past the point of caring haha. x

  7. Oh my goodness I’m in tears, what a beautiful story and incredible photos. I didn’t think you would be able to feel anything but it makes sense that you can feel the tugs as you are aware of what is going on x

    • It’s just so surreal- the feeling of what’s going on is always there, but just without the pain. It’s odd!

  8. oh wow those photographs are amazing! I had a c section with my second and then went on to have 4 vaginal births and dont have pictures of any 🙁

    • I think because of the way my first was born and not being able to really understand it, I really needed pictures this time around in case I had the same problem and felt really distant from he whole birth process.

  9. Congrats on your new bundle of joy! I don’t blame you for hating needles- I’m the same way.

  10. These are amazing photos to have!! Whilst pregnant both times with my children my biggest fear was having to have a c section, I actually didn’t have one either time but I can imagine the panic you felt as the nurse told you their decision! Well done mumma!

    • Many mums fear having a section. It’s all I’ve known unfortunately.. It’s the recovery that’s the worst part I’d say.

  11. Congratulations, she is gorgeous! I hope you’re recovered from the section now and all settling in.

    • Slowly getting there. I’m on 6 week recovery. But I’m a thousand times better than I was that first couple of weeks.

  12. I think that it’s great to share stories like this so people can be prepared for what will happen.

    • My midwife was a saint. They just disappear at the end once you’re on the post natal ward, so I wasn’t able to see her again which was a shame because she was literally an angel to me throughout.

  13. You’re such a brave woman!
    I was told my baby is head up and if she doesn’t turn until the 36th week, they will need to schedule me a c-section. I was so sad and frightened of his idea. Luckily, the little girl inside grew enough to actually switch her position right before my scan in that week.
    I’m still anxious and expecting. Being my first pregnancy, I have no idea what to expect, even from a vaginal birth.
    Reading how it all went for you, you’ve been very brave. Especially with all of the needles, etc.

    • Don’t worry, if you manage to go into natural labour you’ll be surprised how much instinct takes over. And because the pain gradually increases you’ll manage it much better. -don’t force yourself to be brave though, I highly recommend the drugs they have! I had an epidural with my first (yes even though I hate needles) and it was the best decision I made and not painful at all in comparison to the contractions (which were due to induction on the drip- so very strong… normal contractions will be different). Good luck!

  14. This is such a story and I understand why you were afraid of putting needles in you, I’m sure most people have seconds thoughts. I’m glad it all went well and you got to meet your precious girl – cecilia x

  15. Forgive me while I wipe Dorset-ian misty eyes LondonMumX2… not only incredible – ‘HELLO MUM, I’M HERE NOW’ – ‘photos for you all to look back on (through misty-eyes yourselves?) but also, (hope you won’t mind me saying?) – AN OUTSTANDINGLY & SO BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN post LondonMum!! Your honorary membership to the Shakespearian Society must surely be on its way along with a welcoming parchment-n-quill … (& a complimentary fresh warm & autographed ‘appy nappy from Shakespeare himself I should think?) If the LondonMums “Mum & Dads Adventures with their Little Prince & Princess” / “Big Sister’s Birth Story” chapters are as descriptively & outstandingly brilliant as her prologue, so eloquently ‘quilled,’ subsequent posts will surely never ever be the same – which’ll be totally wasted on me … you know me LondonMum, … shoe size & I.Q. both the same … always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time!! Seriously LondonMum, L&I hope you’re recovering well & all’s going well for you all. 2 fabulous little super-stars now eh? … you’ll have to keep up ha! – However, I think it’s only fair that I should warn you little ‘Princess’ – your courageous Mum’s got a rather un-usual creative avant-garde experimental slant re. your dreaded very first … ‘YOU HOLD THE BAISIN & SCISSORS MUM – I’LL SPIN THE CHAIR’ … haircut – just ask your Big Bros … he’s only just recovered from the shock his haha. B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T post!! … (wish ‘I cud rit az gud az like wot youzz duz.’) Onwards LondonMum.

    • Finally found the time to get online and read this! I did it and I’m still alive!!! WWOOOOOOO. No more babies now. That ship has sailed and is not returning! lol.

      I did underestimate how much time I’d have to myself… as you know it’s my bday today so I finally have three seconds while the baby is asleep and the toddler is watching probably something very inappropriate on the phone on youtube!

      Happy birthday to you too!!!!

  16. ‘Eagle’ airlines are pleased to announce the arrival of flight 483 (direct from the brand-new B+WC studio Midland admin. office.) HAVE A GREAT WEDNESDAY. Onwards LondonMum.

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