Suddenly a C-Section -- My Birth Story

Cynthia Dermody

Photo by April Peveteaux

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My daughter was due on March 2, and it was the first of February when the OB/GYN told me she was breech. Optimistically (naively?), I signed up for the external cephalic version the following Monday. Luckily I hadn't done any reading on how incredibly painful the procedure is supposed to be, or my mood might have been dramatically different that morning.

My husband came with me, now I can't remember why, exactly, because he didn't come to all of my appointments. Maybe because this one was in the hospital and it seemed more serious. I also managed to ignore the nurse who asked me to schedule the version when my OB/GYN was on the floor. Now I know it's in case you need an emergency C-section -- at the time I didn't even give it a thought.

The appointment was early and my husband and I arrived carrying both of our lunches and work bags, thinking we would be on our way to work as soon as we flipped that little girl around. I was hooked up to a sonogram machine and the tech, a very dry but somehow hilarious Asian man (who had also told us, quite matter-of-factly, we were having a girl at our 16 week sono), started poking around.

He left the room without a word. He came back a few minutes later and said, "You have no fluid." I said, "Okay." I had no idea what that meant. He said, "You're going to have a C-section." I was like, um, what? But still thought since my due date was so far away there would be time for her to flip and I completely didn't get what the fluid had to do with it.

Finally my husband arrived from registration, where he had been waiting forever to finish my paperwork. I told him I had to have a C-section. We sat there trying to sort out what was happening when the tech came back in and asked me the last time I had eaten. I told him about an hour ago. "Oh." He left. It was at least 15 minutes later when I received all of the information. I was having a c-section TODAY. My baby was breech and there was no fluid, putting her in danger and this was an emergency.

Since I was hooked up to a monitor, I never really panicked about the emergency part. We could hear her heartbeat and they had to wait for surgery since I'd just eaten. We used the time to call our family and let them know things had accelerated a bit and our girl would be arriving that day. For the next eight hours I had a host of med students, doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses coming in to repeatedly ask me when my water broke. I always said, "It didn't" and they looked at me like they didn't believe me.

Other women with more dire situations kept getting scheduled in front of me so it wasn't until around 8 p.m. that evening that I was wheeled into the operating room. Looking back it was the strangest thing, how calm and happy I was. I was very anti-C-section and never thought I would be having one. I think I might have just been in shock at how fast it was all happening. We were still sitting there in the room with our backpacks and lunches watching daytime television and waiting for someone to tell us when our daughter would arrive.

After the spinal, I felt great. I couldn't feel them cutting into me and the operation also seemed to go so quickly. My husband was by my side and we made jokes and were having a grand old time. (Although he later admitted to being freaked out at what was happening to me below the sheet. He thinks he saw my internal organs and isn't sure how he didn't pass out at that point.)

When I heard my daughter cry, I looked at my husband as he jumped up to see her. "She has a lot of black hair," he told me as he came back to hold my strapped down hand.

At that point we were both crying and just waiting to get a look at our girl. He was able to get to her first, which seemed supremely unfair, but eventually she was also by my side and I got a good look. It was the most bizarre, beautiful and happiest moment I can remember.

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