Don't Have a C-Section. Just. Don't.

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pouty baby
You want to shave WHERE?
Cesareans are not simple procedures. They are MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERIES. With c-sections on the rise in the US, I was determined during my pregnancy not to be a statistic. I did natural childbirth with my first son and although I had placenta abruptia, I still delivered vaginally. I assumed I'd be fine with my second. Boy was I wrong! Caesarean! Not in the plan!

But when faced with pregnancy complications, what choice do women have? There are reasons for them: multiple births, complications (like abruptia!), maternal infection (had that, too), health concerns for mother or baby, abnormal birth positions (sounds familiar). The World Health Organization recommends no more than a 15 percent c-section rate. In the US? It was estimated to be 32 percent in 2007. THIRTY. TWO. That's one-third, for those of you not good at math.

When I labored with #2, I was two weeks overdue and began having symptoms of abruptia. Again. And then I was septic. Then they couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. And on top of that fact he turned and was presenting shoulder first. Lucky me! That's when they decided to do a c-section. Immediately or sooner. Through my fever-induced delirium I thought, "C-section? Me? NO. I'm doing it naturally! No drugs! It'll be fun!" Yeah, about that.

I had to have a cesarean. As in, NECESSARY. They called up the anesthesiologist and I got a very quick epidural (and now I know what heaven feels like. I'd still do natural all over again, though). Then, a nurse who apparently never shaved her carpet got a disposable razor out and hacked away at the hair to make room for the incision (Note: If you KNOW you are having a C? Do this yourself ahead of time. TRUST ME ON THIS). This itches like a MOFO later when it grows in.

Then they had me drink antacid so you don't puke during the cesarean. Except it made me puke immediately. SCORE! After I was "prepped" they took me to the OR across the hall and hooked me up to machines. All the while they told me NOT TO PUSH. Now, I was there for natural childbirth and had been laboring for hours and was fully dilated. Not pushing is kinda hard at that point.

When they got me situated on the table they let my husband come in. At least, I think it was him. Hard to tell, with the gown and mask and whatnot. First, they make an incision the lower abdomen, pull out your uterus (I think that's what it was), and open it up to take out your baby. Sort of. Mine was kinda down in the canal a bit and they had to go in the other end (as in, through my vagina) and push him back in. That was fun. By the way, It kinda looks like spaghetti. For the record, I wasn't supposed to be watching, but they didn't realize I could see the reflection of everything they were doing on the baby warmer (until I opened my mouth and said, "Hey! I can see what you're doing!" Then they moved it. Joy killers).

When they pulled the baby out, it was really anticlimactic for me. It was almost right out of Monty Python's Meaning of Life, complete with the machine that says, "BING." They showed me baby over the drape and took him to the nursery while I was stitched up (I had dermabond and steri strips. Much easier healing!). I couldn't even hold him, my arms were strapped down with IVs. That sucked a little. OK, it sucked a lot.

Once in Recovery, I got to see my little man. Or not-so-little man, as he was eight pounds fifteen ounces AFTER the first bowel movement. When I got to our room, I could nurse and have privacy. They got me right up to start walking around and I could eat almost immediately. I stayed for seven days, due to the hemorrhaging, but most women I know stay three after The Big C. THREE DAYS. After major abdominal surgery. I never ended up taking the narcotic pain killers they prescribed because I didn't like the idea of baby being drugged along with me and also because I wasn't coherent enough to take care of my kids. The pain? Not so bad, but I have a high tolerance (remember, I'm one of those wackadoos that does natural childbirth).

The hardest part? Not resuming normal activity for a few weeks. You know, because of the MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY. Cleaning up the dog stuff in the yard a week later? NOT ALLOWED.

Honestly? It wasn't the worst experience of my life (except for the hospital food) and the end result was a healthy baby, which is more important than how he got here. In my case, it was necessary.  But my own opinion (and some will, no doubt, disagree with me) is that no one should have a cesarean unless there is an underlying medical condition or a complication that warrants one. They aren't easy. They aren't hard, either. But they aren't fun. And c-sections are not convenient. I can't figure out why for the life of me any one would CHOOSE to have one, if it wasn't needed.

This was just my experience. Your mileage might vary. My advice? Read up on all options long before you are due. Make sure you know the risks involved in having a cesarean. Regardless of your decision, realize it is yours to make, between you and your practitioner.

 

Image via Marj Hatzell

c-sections, complications, labor & delivery, tests & procedures