Baby Bun is here! The experience of giving birth via C-Section in Toronto
BABY BUN IS HERE!
And it’s a BOY!!
This is me right now:
Super healthy, just a little over 6 pounds, he’s a munchkin and everyone can’t believe how tiny he is (he’s pretty much the size of my childhood teddybear).
WANT TO READ ABOUT HOW IT ALL HAPPENED?
If you are not interested in any of this, skip this post and come back another day, but I’ve had a lot of readers writing to me telling me they’ve appreciated reading a (real) account of what it’s like to give birth or be pregnant, and I figured I’d continue for people who are interested.
HE CAME A DAY EARLY.. OR DID HE?
When I say “a day early”, I wonder if I really mean “on time” because my original ultrasound said that he would be born on the day my waters broke, but then for some reason they changed my expected due date to be 2 days after that.
Anyway, he came just about the time he should have, and we can quibble that it was either 39 weeks and 5 days or 40 weeks exactly, but he decided to come out pretty much on time.
I WAS SCHEDULED FOR A C-SECTION IN 2 DAYS
I had my heart set on a normal delivery and cried a few times when I was told he was in breech (frank breech position, for anyone who cares).
My doctor told me it was very unlikely he would turn this late in the game, but my mom said that when I was inside her, I was the same way — I didn’t turn until the HOUR before she gave birth, and I was in breech as well.
At any rate, he scheduled me in for a C-Section 2 days after my expected due date and told me some women opt for elective C-sections because vaginal deliveries are horribly painful.
Kudos to anyone who did that, WITHOUT epidurals, because.. yeah.. I’ll explain later on in this post how painful it was.
Anyway, I came to peace with the idea that I would have a C-Section and tried not to worry about it (it is major abdominal surgery, which is why I did not want to do it.)
MY WATERS BROKE, AND THIS WAS NOT A TRICKLE, IT WAS A HUGE GUSH OF FLUID..
I was just about to lie down to sleep at night when I felt this huge gush of liquid. It was like friggin’ Niagara Falls. I couldn’t stop gushing, and I needed help to get up and run to the bathroom. Luckily, I had put down a garbage bag and a towel weeks in advance, so I didn’t ruin our futon.
I got to the bathroom, soaked through about 5 maternity pads in a matter of minutes before I just decided to *ahem* sit there and wait it out until the taxi arrived because I was really, REALLY losing a lot of the waters.
My mother called the taxi, everyone got ready, I grabbed my emergency bag to go and got into the cab with a garbage bag underneath me (what?! I wanted to make sure I didn’t soil the poor man’s seats).
All the way to the hospital, I kept leaking so much that I soaked my entire outfit, I think I even leaked into my boots (thank goodness they were the cheap $30 winter rubber boots I bought), and all I could think was: I’m glad it is only -10C /14F outside and not any colder. It was cool / cold, but not snowing, not freezing, no ice, and completely fine.
NO CONTRACTIONS AT ALL UNTIL I GOT TO THE HOSPITAL
I felt absolutely NO painful contractions or pain at all until I got to the hospital. What I did feel, was a little cramping here and there about 2 hours before my water broke, but nothing that made me want to scream like a stuck pig.
Actually, thinking back to the day, I was feeling contractions all day but didn’t know it.
I thought it was attributed to my pregnancy where he was kicking me and making me feel a bit of cramping or pain, but it turns out I was already in early stages of labour the whole day I just didn’t know it.
I even mentioned it to my mom about an hour before I went to sleep, saying:
Look, I think I’m having Braxton-Hicks contractions (false labour)!
I had an instinct or a feeling (my mom did too) that the baby could come at any time, but I thought:
Nah.. he’ll show up in 2 days when I have my scheduled C-Section.
When I got to the hospital, I was walking fine, gushing fluid allllll the way up to the maternity ward and it wasn’t until I reached the ward doors that I felt one really strong, medium-pain kind of contraction that made me stop and breathe hard.
Someone in the hallway told me with great alarm:
You should be in a wheelchair!
Me: Meh. I can walk, no pain yet. *gush gush, slosh*
The next one was about 15 – 20 minutes apart, as I was talking to the nurse to sign myself in.
I sat in the waiting room (no one expects any woman, even one that broke her waters right away to give birth within a few hours), and felt no pain except just gushing and gushing fluid.
I feel like I gushed at least 4 liters of fluid between the time my waters broke to the time I was put on the hospital bed to wait for active labour to start — I was soaking through everything like you wouldn’t believe and even the doctor was a bit surprised at how much fluid I was gushing, saying to me:
Wow, you really soaked through everything, even the back of your dress, I can see that..
I WAS INFORMED THAT I HAD PUPPPS
So that super itchy belly and stretch marks that appeared only in the last month of my pregnancy? It was not eczema or “normal”, but a specific pregnancy rash called PUPPPS or Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy.
No one told me this before!! How can this be!?
Anyway, when I heard “PUPPPS”, I was thinking of little tiny baby dogs, and I said:
But.. I am not near any puppies… or giving birth to one O_o
The doctor informed me it was an acronym for a pregnancy rash that I had, which now that I google it, explains why my stomach was SO red, itchy and totally inflamed. I have serious stretch marks in front and I doubt they’ll go away…
My skin is also super tight, dry and it feels like it needs to be exfoliated, which I might do to help slough off those dead skin cells.
I also lost a lot of nerve sensation in the middle of my belly due to the skin stretching out so far that blood couldn’t reach that area and it turned completely white and feels numb to the touch.
Even today after the baby is out, I still can’t really feel 100% of my front stomach, the sensation is slightly numb.
IT WAS A SUPER FAST LABOUR
An hour later, I started feeling the pain.
My god it was horrible.
I don’t care what anyone tells you about forgetting the pain and it being a beautiful, wondrous, magical experience to be in active labour because IT WAS NOT.
I wish we laid eggs instead and sat on them for 9 months!!
I told my mom this as I was labouring and even though I was in some serious pain and squeezing the hell out of the bed (I didn’t want to break her bones), she burst out laughing but tried to keep it in because it was a serious moment as I was about to give birth to a grandchild.
Anyway, I felt like a thousand knives were jabbing my abdomen all at once for at least 20 times, and you tense up / feel totally intense pain beyond anything you have experienced for a good 20 seconds.
No endorphins in the world could have saved me from feeling this pain and I am sure my body was pumping it out like crazy in response.
My mother also said in an attempt to try and comfort me:
At least you aren’t in Africa where you have to walk for 3 days while in labour to give birth!!!
You are in a clean, modern hospital, and there are people to take care of you.
It’s not that bad.
It could be much worse!
Yeah.. not really any help when you’re feeling like you want to die instead of live with this pain, but I saw her point.
My mother was a fast labourer and I was no exception.
Within an hour and a half reaching the hospital, answering questions and getting set up on the hospital bed, my contractions increased to 5 minutes apart, changing from 15 – 30 minutes just an hour and a half ago.
My baby turned into a footling breech (the worst where one leg sticks out rather than both legs tucked in), and a C-Section became mandatory because otherwise I was told by a nurse later that she saw a woman who vaginally gave birth to a footling breech and it was the worst tearing she had ever seen in her nursing career.
She was uhh…torn, literally TORN from front to back.. *cough* *cough*
There would be no chance that any doctor would let me deliver a footling breech baby normally or try, because it is too dangerous and the umbilical cord might come out before the baby, and once it’s exposed to oxygen it tells the baby’s lungs to start working and he might literally drown in my womb. It also slows down the supply of oxygen and blood to the baby as the cord gets squeezed out first before the baby’s head.
At least, this is what I recall from watching National Geographic: In the Womb.
Anyway, my point is that it scared my doctors so much that I was progressing so quickly (but still only dilated 3 cm), that they quickly put me in to an emergency C-section about 2 hours ahead of time.
I WAS NOT DRUGGED UP UNTIL A MINUTE BEFORE I GAVE BIRTH
Keep in mind that I am STILL not drugged at all because I had progressed so fast that they didn’t expect to have to drug me until about an hour later or so. By the time they were about to wheel me into the operating room (OR), the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me about the risks of drugging me (I would have signed away my soul at that point to get my hands on some sweet sweet painkillers), and she was told she couldn’t talk to me because I had to get to the OR like.. NOW.
She too, was surprised but came along and talked to me while I was being wheeled to the room, fighting massive, painful contractions. They ask you about your pain on a scale of 1-10, and all I could say was:
But what is 10 really? It’s so subjective.
I mean, I am feeling like what I have is a 6 or a 7 but maybe it’s a 10 because how can it get worse than this!?
Is this a 10?
Can I take more pain than this? I am not sure!
1 to 10 doesn’t cut it as a scale, how about ELEVENTY-BILLION!?
Literally. I was literally saying this, trying to gauge my pain accurately while screaming and moaning like a cow.
The pain for me, was beyond anything imaginable, my entire body was tense, cramping 1000x worse than I had ever felt in my life, and each time I had a contraction I wished I was dead instead, it felt like something was ripping/stabbing my womb or uterus apart for 10 seconds (that’s how long the intense cramping lasted for me), then I had sudden relief when the contractions stopped for about 4 minutes before it all started up all over again.
I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it through another half hour of contractions every 5 minutes, let alone every HOUR..
The risk at this point for me that I was in SO MUCH PAIN they may not be able to administer an epidural to help me deal with the pain, and I was fearing I’d have to give birth with a C-section without any painkillers at all (OH MY GOD).
I was put onto a table, and asked to arch my back as much as possible so they could try and get that epidural into my spine ASAP. They did not expect me to progress so fast even though my doctor had specifically written: FAST LABOUR!!! on my sheet.
It felt like a nasty bee sting as they tried to poke and poke and poke at my spine to get in between the spaces, but she kept hitting bone because I wasn’t arching my back enough while dealing with the feeling of a massive knife slicing through my abdomen for 20 seconds.
They were begging me to arch my back even more to get the needle in there but I was having some seriously painful contractions and couldn’t relax enough to bend, not to mention that my bump was in the way of this bending I was supposed to be doing.
Overall, that was the absolute WORST part of the entire active labour, trying to stay and keep still so they don’t paralyze me permanently with the epidural needle, and trying to arch my back with a bump in front, contracting and making me scream like a stuck pig.
After they finally gave me the epidural, the sweet, sweet, cold sensation of the drug coursed through my body and I could finally relax. The nurse looked at me and realized I was straining so hard against the reflexes of my body to tense up while I was getting the epidural, that I was completely drenched in sweat in front from the sheer exertion to fight against my body to stay still.
I think they gave me the hard stuff because about 10 seconds after they got the drug to flow directly into my spine, my entire bottom half went numb like my lower half had fallen asleep and I was on pins and needles, you know like when your foot goes to sleep?
AFTER THE DRUGS, IT WAS ALL GOOD FOR ME
After I was drugged in my lower half, I felt a cold sensation of the drug working, and I finally relaxed. I felt so good and pain-free, I didn’t care what happened next and I wanted to live again.
They put up a little blue tent to hide the cutting of my belly (I didn’t want to watch anyway), and I only felt pressure and them massaging my stomach to basically manually push the baby out with their hands to take him out of the incision they made just below my belly (above my bikini hair line, it is about 4 – 6 cm in length).
NO PAIN. I just felt a pressure but there was no pain.
It went on for about half an hour, and the only pain I felt was that stupid blood pressure thing strapped to my arm. They put it on so tight that it broke blood vessels and left nasty NASTY bruises for 2 weeks afterwards, and it scared even the nurses when they checked on me later on — they kept asking me if I had scratched myself HARD or something.
That was the only pain I felt after the sweet sweet sensation of pain-numbing drugs kicked in.
Once the baby was out, I could hear him scream and wail, and they all told me he was a healthy baby boy. They also told me there were NO problems with my uterus or my baby as far as they could see, the baby was in breech just because he wanted to be in breech, and he happened to turn into a footling breech because.. he wanted to come out with a foot first.
A lot of breech births pose problems because the baby might have a defect or something that prevented him from turning around, but he had none of those problems, thank goodness.
I was wheeled into a private recovery room and I didn’t get to hold or to touch him until he was cleaned up and presented to me. This is common for C-section deliveries but not for vaginal ones.
With normal deliveries they plop the bloody, mucus-y baby right onto your chest immediately after delivery.
For the next hour or two, I was asked to try and wiggle my toes and move my legs, which made me think of the scene in Kill Bill where Uma Thurman is in the back, trying to force her big toe to wiggle.
HOW BABY BUN IS DOING NOW
He was born very tiny so his blood sugar was very low and I couldn’t produce enough colostrum to feed him, and he wouldn’t latch to suck, which is now the reason why I am chained to a breast pump, pumping every 2 hours to feed him because I cannot do it directly.
Anyway, he was put on formula for the next 3 days and now I am feeding him exclusively with breast milk (as much as I can), and boosting my milk production by eating oats, drinking soups, drinking fenugreek tea.. you name it, I am doing it because I am desperate and determined to feed him without formula.
He just won’t latch, I don’t want to fight with him and I am doing my best while trying not to feel like a failure.
HOW I AM DOING NOW POST C-SECTION
Having gone through active labour for about an hour and a half without any drugs (up to 2 hours), I am going to opt for an elective C-section the next time around. I cannot imagine giving birth normally because it was so painful and so incredibly horrible that having experienced both sides of this coin with Baby Bun, I am going to ask for surgery.
At least, I will know when he is coming out and what to expect.
The stitches look kind of freaky when you first see them, and I can see the edges of the scar peeking out above my bikini line. It’s kind of strange.
PAIN ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN: 1-3 FOR ME
The pain after a C-section was not that bad.
There were about 3-4 spots or times when I felt some serious throbbing, dull aching pain on the left or right side of my scar, and I begged for morphine those times. Otherwise, I was fine.
I discharged 3 days later and received a list of medication to take (painkillers and the like) but I didn’t fill the prescriptions and didn’t feel much pain except for cramping and twinges here and there, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
I also took it easy for the first 2 weeks (very important) and refused to carry anything heavier than even 6 pounds. I went slowly up and down the stairs, and so on.
What was painful for me, was sitting for long periods of time and then trying to get up (you feel a serious, painful stretch or cramp), and the first few days are the absolute worst when you are trying to get up and walk as much as possible to heal. You also have to avoid putting pressure on your stomach where the scar is, and you can’t really sleep on your side (back is the best, which was fine for me).
I had to take extra care not to use my abs when I got up, and used my legs squatting or my hands and elbows as much as possible to push myself up.
I also try not to lift anything or carry anything, keeping in mind that I have to be careful to not tear my stitches open. I know a woman who had a C-Section and had her belly button torn open, so they had to surgically reconstruct it for her (she doesn’t have one any more).
There are a lot of complications with a C-Section I am just lucky I did not have any so far.
IT HURTS TO COUGH, SNEEZE OR DO ANYTHING YOU NORMALLY TAKE FOR GRANTED
When I cough or sneeze, it isn’t satisfying. I can’t do it the way I normally do because it strains my abdominal muscles and hurts my scar.
I tried holding a pillow over the scar and then coughing but the pain scared me from making a serious cough or a sneeze (keep in mind, I went off all painkillers the day I was discharged..)
GOING TO THE BATHROOM AFTER THE CATHETER WAS TOUGH
You also can’t really go to the bathroom afterwards because of the catheter. I REALLY wanted to go to the bathroom (felt the urge) but when I sat down, nothing came out. It took me about 24 hours after trying, to go to the bathroom.
Once I was able to go to the bathroom, even just a little (literally 6 drops), I kept drinking more and more water to force my bladder to remember how to work again.
All the nurses were so pleased when I could finally pee, pass gas and they all eagerly anticipated my bowel movement (although that did not happen for at least 4 days).
Basically, they were thrilled that my body could get back to normal and they didn’t accidentally slice any important organs or guts inside.
SLIGHT TWINGES OF PAIN HERE AND THERE
During the first two weeks, I felt slight twinges of pain and I can see my belly going down in size as my uterus contracts.
I’m mourning the loss of my beautiful-skinned belly because of the PUPPPS situation and stretch marks going across it, but this is the price you pay to get a cute Baby Bun.
Once in a while when I sit too long, I feel pain. This was more prevalent in the first few days after the C-section, and it got better by about Day 5, even without painkillers.
YOU BLEED A LOT TO GET RID OF THE LOCHIA AFTER GIVING BIRTH
I know they tell you that you bleed, but no one tells you how much you’re bleeding after you give birth. You’re basically having a serious period where (for me) it stinks to high hell.
It is not an infection (I have no fever, it isn’t bleeding excessively), it just smells HORRIBLE to me. I don’t even want to know what it would smell if I was infected down there because it can’t get worse than this.
“Clean and fresh smelling like new blood”?
No. Not clean and fresh to me.
It’s old blood from inside your uterus and when you breastfeed, your uterus contracts and gets rid of lochia (the name for this post-birth menstrual “period” that lasts for weeks and stinks).
Anyway, when you see fresh (bright red) blood it means you need to rest. I saw this a few times and had to lie down / sleep more because I knew I was bleeding more because I wasn’t resting enough.
NEARING THE END OF WEEK TWO IT GETS BETTER
The first week is horrific after a C-section (and a normal delivery too, I’d assume).. but by the second week, I was able to get up and down (my legs have strengthened from all the squats), and while I had slight back pain from trying not to use my abs to get up and down or to lift Baby Bun, that has disappeared from resting more and sleeping on my back (when I can, that is).
I felt no real pain near the end of week two after my C-section (sans painkillers, I didn’t even buy any Tylenol to take) and the only pain I feel right now is sleep deprivation from taking care of a newborn for the first time, and to try and figure out how to do it.
I feel my arms getting stronger from carrying and lifting him and while I avoid putting any pressure or anything on my scar / belly, I don’t feel as I did the first few days after surgery.
WOULD I DO A C-SECTION AGAIN?
Yes. I am not scared of it as I was before.
The first week is horrible, but so is every other birth, and quite honestly, having gone through a bit of the original way to deliver, I am not certain I want to see it through.
The only caveat is you NEED someone to help you around the house for 3 weeks, lifting the baby for you, or making food for you and so on. You simply can’t give birth via C-section and go home to take care of a child all alone.
I will probably consider a regular birth later on just because I haven’t done one, but I am not excited about being sliced open if need be or all the other things that come with it, although the recovery is much better and faster with a regular birth.