Some of you may or may not recall that I was pregnant.
I was scheduled for my third c-section on Thursday September, 26th.
Little Miss Clementine had other plans.
I awoke at 5:30 am on Tuesday September, 24th with stronger than normal contractions and they were coming irregularly, but around every 15 to 20 minutes. As I was ironing Mike’s work clothes I told Mike he should probably stay home with me until things settled. I had a warm bath because that had stopped contractions earlier in the week a couple times (I had a feeling I was going to go early). Instead they started becoming more frequent at about every 8 minutes and I found myself wanting to hold my breath as they came; they were getting stronger. We called the midwife and they told us to come in to be assessed and to bring our hospital bags.
By 9 am I was at 2 centimeters and we were on our way to the Orillia Hospital an hour and a half away. I was having one or two lighter contractions and then one hard one about every 5 minutes all the way there. By the time I was taken into triage I was 4 centimeters. I saw nurse after nurse, was hooked up to the monitor, IV placed, blood and urine samples taken. I was told I would be having my c-section that day, but they didn’t have a time yet.
I continued to go through my contractions alone and quietly (so as not to disturb the two other women in the room) on a rather uncomfortable exam table. Mike tried to come in and hold my hand, but the kids’ were too antsy and the loudness made the contractions worse. The contractions were getting more intense and frequent and they still didn’t have a time for the OR.
A nurse checked me again around 11:30 or 12:00 and I was 7 centimeters. I remember she said it was time to get the lead out now and the surgeon finally came to check me. He said, with very wide eyes, that I was more like 8 centimeters. He asked me if I wanted to do this naturally. This was the point I lost all composure and became terrified. I had no idea what to do. I was still frightened I would rupture. I was terrified of the pain. I wasn’t prepared for any of this. The contractions were on top of each other now. People were asking if I wanted to have Mike in the OR with me or the midwife. I couldn’t think straight.
As they rolled me to the OR, they stopped in a room to check me again and I was still 8 centimeters. By the time I got to the OR doors, my water broke. They moved me to the metal table and turned on the huge lights above me. The urge to push was crushing me as they attempted to place a catheter, and strap me to the table flat on my back which made the contractions unbearable. I begged them to make the pain stop. I was sobbing and so frightened. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Then they placed the mask over my mouth and told me to take deep breaths. One breath. Two breaths. Three breaths. Darkness. No dreams or visions, just blackness. I found out later that I was fully dilated by that point.
I awoke in the recovery room to someone asking if I knew what I had and I recall apologizing to the anesthesiologist who was standing beside me. He smiled and said it was ok, that I did a great job considering the circumstances. It was a slow climb out of grogginess as the pain settled in and I kept waking thinking I was still in labour.
I was finally able to hold her and nurse her once I was rolled to our room, but it was all a bit foggy. Mike left to take the kids home where my mom and step dad were waiting. Our midwife sat with me and we chatted. She asked if she could drink my tea if I didn’t want it and fed me ice chips and jello. Then I found out they were going to keep Clementine in the nursery overnight due to her needing a couple artificial breaths to get her started again. There were two different stories of what happened in the OR and they ended up calling a “code pink” (pediatric emergency), but looking back we figure someone jumped the gun.
I awoke from broken sleep around 8pm and was frustrated. Where was Mike? Where was my baby? I needed to nurse her again. Then Mike walked through the door and a nurse arrived with a wheel chair to take me to the nursery. We spent a lot of time sitting in the nursery holding and nursing her that night.
She was finally allowed to stay in our room at noon the next day and all was right again. We were discharged from the hospital on Thursday, the 26th. The day she was supposed to be born.
I have had time to process all that happened and how it happened. It is interesting that with my first birth, I wanted a natural birth with midwives, but ended up with a c-section after pushing for nearly 3 hours. With my second birth, I went back and forth between wanting a VBAC and scheduling a c-section still feeling like a bit of a failure for not having the natural birth we all hear so much about. Just a week or two before the birth day, we decided we were most comfortable with the planned c-section. After that, I was at peace with the way it all went down. I was prepared and at peace with having a baby this way.
I am well aware that c-sections are happening far too often and are not the ideal, but I am also grateful for the surgery. I became very aware of the subtle ways women shame each other about their birth experiences and choices. I hated every article I read about how c-sections hinder bonding and breastfeeding and ridiculous birth imprinting. It is all bull shit. I became annoyed when hippies would assume I had a home birth and looked at me with pity and perhaps even a little arrogance as I told them I had c-sections. One guy even said “Oh, sorry to hear that.” when I told him I was scheduled for the surgery the next week.
There was a time I felt robbed of that one womanly experience. It felt like such a foreign concept that babies could be born naturally. I read Ina May, and Dr. Sears and wished things had gone differently. But then I got over it. I healed. I accepted that it was just not in the cards and scheduled my third c- section. So yes, this brought up some old hurts, but I moved through them quickly. I wasn’t mentally prepared for this kind of birth. There were still risks to trying for a natural birth such as rupturing and the cord was around her neck (not always an issue, but a possibility). We could have tried for a natural birth, let things progress even further, and then have worse complications. There is no way of knowing, but when it comes right down to it, it would have been a traumatic birth regardless. I was on a metal table, panicked, under bright lights, separated from Mike who was in the hall listening and waiting feeling powerless.
It just wasn’t in the cards.
All that to say, she is here and she is perfect in every way. She looks a lot like both Poppy and Silas when they were born. She never really cries, and sleeps and eats like a champ. She spends her awake time in quiet alertness and has been sleeping in 4 hour increments. She has an incredible amount of hair (it looks as though it might be curly like Poppy’s) that is nearly two inches long at the nape of her neck and a red mark on her inner left eyelid that I assume is some sort of birth mark. A calm and gentle soul.
The kids have dealt with the change with incredible ease. Poppy didn’t skip a beat and fell instantly in love. She is obsessed with her dark hair and constantly asks if her eyes are open or closed. When she first saw me feed her she got very worried and gasped “Why is she eating yours boobies?!”. Silas was a little more reserved and tried to be stoic about someone taking over his role as baby, but he brings her his beloved toys to play with and kisses her often.
So yeah, we’re good and blissed out.
go gently + be wonderful