I posted about my first c-section on Quora. But this post has been percolating since I had Kai. I figured I would spare them the rant and go straight to my own page with it. Because as it turns out, I have more to say about c-sections.
The first Cesarean was terrifyingly fast. In the space of an hour, I went from being numb and artificially contracting, surrounded by a room full of people making uncomfortable small talk while they waited for me to pop out a kid, to peering over my outstretched, IVed arm at my baby, who was howling indignantly across a bright, frigid room while the medical staff tossed my guts back in and stitched me up. If I’d had time to think about it, I’d have had a panic attack. But there was no time to think. Until later, that is, when I would laugh at the question, “When are you having another baby?” When they perfect that technique from Eternal Sunshine, sweetheart, I would think. I never want to go through that again.
Three years later, I’d forgotten enough to decide to try again.
I kept my cool until I was actually on the operating table, shivering in a hospital gown that, despite my hugely pregnant size, I was swimming in. They had me straddle the operating table to give me the anesthetic, and I just lost it. Shaking and crying uncontrollably. Because I knew, this time, what to expect. Having a needle jabbed in my spine. Being cut open, insides shoved aside, a baby removed, everything tossed back in like packing to return home after a 2-week vacation in paradise.
I knew what lay ahead: Weeks of pain, weakness, bleeding. Healing at the speed of frozen molasses. And I wanted more than anything to have an unmedicated vaginal birth. Sure, I’d heard horror stories about those, but I’d never had one. Sometimes the devil you know is scarier than the devil you don’t.
The nursing staff was great. They took a moment to calm me down, and kept their patience even though I’d turned into a huge, whiny baby. Finally, I was numbed and stretched out, R was brought in, and the hacking…ahem, surgical procedure commenced.
I don’t really remember much about the procedure. I remember fighting the anesthesiologist about the oxygen mask, because I felt like it was suffocating me.* I remember telling R that I loved him, but we were never doing this again.
And then I heard my son’s first tears.
Just like that, it was bearable. All of it. I’d do it all again, just to hear those tears.
I hate that it takes so long to touch the baby when having a c-section. I hear some hospitals bring the baby close, so the mom can see him or her while she is being stitched up. Mine didn’t. It’d have been easier for me if they had.
I tend to have a hard time recovering from c-sections. The first time, I was in agonizing pain for weeks.** The second time, I did much better; I shunned the compression wrap, so maybe that helped. But now I’m having pains that I can only assume are due to adhesions (because I am not letting them cut me back open to confirm, thankyouverymuch). It’s the only reason I can think of that doing cobra pose would cause a bolt of pain to shoot up just one side of my abdomen. I’m also having considerable sacroiliac joint pain. Which is probably from the pregnancy, not the Cesarean, but either way puts a damper on my yoga practice.
Despite all that, deep down I know I’d jump at the chance to do it all again if I were just a little younger. I like the age gap between Anya and Kai, but by the time Kai is 3 I will be nearly 44. Which is pushing it in terms of having children. So, reluctantly, I am done having babies.
Would I recommend an elective c-section? Oh my god, no. Hell no. Never in life. If the baby will come out the hole the baby was meant to come out of, let it. But if you need the procedure to protect your health, the baby’s health, or simply to get the baby out, by all means have it. It’s not as bad as you think. (Neither is formula, but that is a post for another time.) It will be awful, but you will forget in time just how awful. And when it’s all over, you get a cute baby.
And that is my c-section story.
*I am terrified of suffocating when I am pregnant. An oddly specific fear, I know.
**Yes, I took my all my medicine. Women who don’t boggle my mind. I was not in the least too doped up to enjoy my baby, and they just filleted you like a fish, for heaven’s sake. Take the drugs!