I’ve had two c-section births but before I had my first baby, I wanted to know what the actual operation was going to feel like – and more to the point, would it hurt? Despite watching a caesarean birth on YouTube (not as gross as I feared, thank goodness!), I still went into that operating room wondering, and full of nerves.
If you are also staring down the barrel of a planned c-section (for whatever reason), here are some of the things that might happen to you on the day. But remember, each birth story is unique.
An early start
We arrive at the hospital as the sun rises and it feels surreal knowing today is the day we’ll meet our baby. There was no, ‘guess the baby’s birthday’ at my shower – we’ve known for a while when it will be – and now it’s here! After some initial paperwork at admissions, we’re ushered into a waiting room full of other expectant parents. There’s an air of excitement and fear in the room as we make small talk.
The waiting game
As I watch the two couples before us on the surgery list scrub up and head off to theatre, I relax a little. I’ve been fasting since the night before and am hungry, but that’s OK. It won’t be long now, right?
Is it my turn yet?
After a few more hours waiting, I start to get anxious. I’m told that we’ve been bumped due to some emergency births which, of course, take precedence. Then, as lunch time rolls past (and my tummy starts rumbling louder), we’re told to get changed into our scrubs. It’s go time.
After being wheeled down to theatre, my bed is parked in a waiting bay. Nurses, doctors and other people in scrubs, scurry around us like ants. After lots of different people check my wrist ID, I’m taken to a little room, and my husband is told to wait outside.
Curl over like a cat
A friendly anaesthetist comes over and tells me it’s time for my epidural. I want my husband, I think, why did you send him away? But I say nothing. I’m embarrassed for him to know I’m actually sh*t scared (seriously, this is nothing compared to what’s about to happen! I tell myself). I’m told to sit up on the edge of the bed and ‘curl over like a cat’. I want my husband now like a child afraid of the dark wants his mummy. There’s a sting as the local goes in and then a painless pressure feeling as the epidural needle and catheter are inserted into my spine. It doesn’t take long, maybe a few minutes. When it’s done, I’m told to lay back and my legs start to tingle and get heavier. Phew, it’s working, I think. Relieved that I can no longer feel anything from my waist down, a nurse then shaves my pubic hair.
My husband is back by my side when I’m taken to the operating room. There’s a huge circular light with smaller lights all around it above where I’ll be lying, our obstetrician and her team are standing nearby. We exchange pleasantries as a big blue privacy curtain is placed between us and the staff at the ‘business end’ of the bed. I brace myself, it’s time.
When the operation starts, I do feel a light pulling sensation, but it isn’t painful. I try not to picture what I think is happening. I must grimace at the thought of it though because my husband worriedly asks me what’s wrong. “Nothing,” I squeak. “It’s just not pleasant”. He nods, his face full of love and squeezes my hand. Then, after a while, I start to feel more pressure and some tugging. When it starts to get stronger and more full on, I worry that something is wrong. Is my baby stuck? Can they get him out? I feel like it’s taking ages. Then, as if to answer my question, I’m told our son is about to be delivered. A few seconds later his distinctive newborn cry fills the room, and my eyes with tears.
I’m lying flat on my back and can’t really see him when my baby is placed next to me. I want to hold him. I want to cuddle and soothe him, but instead his tiny face is placed next to mine for a kiss. Next, he’s whisked away and I can overhear my husband chatting to the midwife as the cord is cut and his plump little body is placed on the weight scales. I shift from feeling present – knowing I am in the process of being stitched up (yuck) – to an out of body feeling as I imagine myself hovering over my baby in the other room.
Wheeled to recovery
Immediately after the operation my baby and I are taken to recovery. A midwife places his tiny pink body on mine and his mouth instinctively searches for my nipple. As he suckles colostrum, I stroke his soft peach fuzz hair. He’s here and I no longer care how he got here. We’re together now – in more ways than one.