I don't think there are many people who cross their fingers and wish upon a star for a cesarean birth. Well, except maybe for the folks who choose a c-section for convenience rather than medical reasons, but—correct me if I'm wrong, now—I'm guessing there are far more moms-to-be who hope for a picture-perfect labor and birth process.
I know I did. I wanted the whole Hollywood deal: my water breaking, me turning to my husband and saying that it was time, our excited drive to the hospital, and of course my subsequent bravery in the delivery room. "You were amazing," everyone would murmur afterwards, as I snuggled my adorable newborn.
Instead, what I got the first time around was a surprise trip to the hospital with skyrocketing blood pressure, a metric crap-ton of magnesium sulfate, and eventually, surgery.
Still, it wasn't as bad as people tend to think. I didn't want a c-section, but I got one, and then I had another when my second son was born. It wasn't quite what I'd imagined, but they were perfectly fine, and I discovered that most of the horror stories I'd heard about cesareans simply didn't happen . . . at least during my births.
I wouldn't go so far as to say there are myths about c-sections, but some things just seem like accepted facts. Here's where the common beliefs and my own experiences diverge:
I didn't puke during surgery. I was convinced this was going to happen, because I heard everyone turbo-barfs during their c-section. I won't lie, it was a close call during my first birth, but I blame that more on the unpleasant effect of the magnesium. The second time around I talked with the medical team ahead of time and they assured me they'd do their best to mitigate any nausea. (The anesthesiologist said they'd try and keep my uterus inside my body if that was possible. “Sometimes they just have to take it out for a while,” he said, shrugging. “The manipulation can make people sick.” I nodded sagely, like I totally knew what he was talking about, while trying desperately to keep a dramatically gory mental picture at bay.) I remember feeling a little ooky at one point during the second birth, but nothing too bad.
The needle didn't hurt. You know: the blessed epidural needle that they dial up to 11 to remove all sensation below the waist. I was super freaked out about the idea of a needle going IN MY SPINAL MEMBRANE, but it was fine. The worst part was how I had to sit on the side of a table with my surgical gown wide open in the back while they did their business, which exposed my (giant) (dimply) (fishbelly-white) ass. I do remember a cold sensation of running water that slid down my back from the inside, which wasn't painful at all, just really weird.
They didn't strap both my arms down like Jesus. One of my arms was lightly strapped to the table, the other was free so my husband would hold my hand. He also nervously rubbed my head until I finally told him I felt like he was Lenny and I was one of the puppies.
I got to see my baby right away. I always heard they take your baby away after a c-section for HOURS in order to . . . well, I don't even know, perform medical experiments? Make fun of how goopy and squashed they are? However, in my case they brought my babies to me as as soon as they were out. I remember a brief period while the nurses took the baby to the other side of the room to suction him clean and check him over, but a couple minutes later he was wrapped up and in my husband's arms. As soon as the surgery was done and they were wheeling me back to a recovery room, I was holding a tiny, slightly pissed-off baby on my chest.
All in all, both of my c-sections went as well as I could have hoped. Easy enough procedure, not too hard of a recovery, and each time, a perfect, perfect outcome. What more could I ask for, really?
Did you have a c-section? Was it better than you thought it was going to be—or worse?
Image via Linda Sharps (that's me! And my mildly terrified husband!)