Because our darling Matthew flipped breech right before 37 weeks we made the tough decision to go for a scheduled c-section at 7:30 am at Overlake Hospital. We had to be there two hours early for prep and paperwork. Though we were supposed to be better rested because the surgery was scheduled we were far too excited the night before and didn’t sleep a wink but talked and prayed all night long.
Since we didn’t sleep a wink, we got out of bed really early and made it to the hospital so fast that we had to wait in the waiting room before being called back. The only thing was Dr. Phil playing, SO NOT what I can handle well at 5:30 am! Finally, we were called back and started prep. The nurses were very kind and informative but I was really nervous at this point. I think it was mostly because the prep was mostly questions and paperwork and gave me a lot of time to psych myself out. Once the anesthesiologist and my OB came in things started moving faster and I had less time to work myself into a worry.
They had to stick me three times to get the IV to work and then even afterwards I was a positional case and had to hold my hand at a certain angle to get it to work. They warmed me with a warm air blanket (awesome) because the OR is cold, checked baby’s heartrate, saw that I had no contractions, shaved me, and gave me anti-nausea medication (to help with the epidural/morphine mixture I got). Robert got dressed in his scrubs and it was funny because the staff couldn’t tell if he was my husband or one of them! Time started moving faster and just after 7;30 am I was wheeled into the operating room.
Now, I am not a private person as you may be able to tell from these posts. But it was a bit awkward to be sat up in the OR and have my gown immediately removed as the anesthesiologist started cleaning my back for the epidural. Iodine was running down my butt crack as I was completely naked in a room full of people I had just met. TLC’s Baby Story tv show always shows c-section moms fully clothed (which now makes sense since it’s a tv show) so I did not expect the full nudity. Of course all the staff is completely professional and treat you as if you’re fully dressed. Spinal is inserted and the only part that hurt was the very first needle, the rest was fine. Numbness took about ten minutes to settle in and seemed to move down bit by bit but I was numb from chest down before any cutting started. My arms are pulled out at each side to make sure I don’t try and reach down mid-surgery, so I felt a bit like a Jesus statue. Really quickly I started shivering and shaking from the anesthesia. This doesn’t happen to everyone but I shook for a few hours total. Anytime during surgery that I felt nauseous or light headed I was just supposed to let the anesthesiologist know and he would adjust some of the levels of medicines so I felt better within seconds.
Besides seeing my son arrive this was my favorite part…I was able to watch the whole surgery. I was a biology major in college and a tropical medicine/parasitology major in grad school so I am not bothered by blood/guts/gross things, even my own. I had asked my OB in advance if I could watch them cut and then pull Matthew out. She said that the hospital wouldn’t let the traditional curtain down between my chest and belly but that the OR had giant new lights that were reflective and I could watch the whole surgery in reflection…which I did! So cool to see them cut layer by layer, separate the muscles, and then finally pull Matthew out before the doctors heads blocked the reflection but Matthew was in clear sight for me!!!
Robert watched the surgery too and I was very proud of him, we weren’t sure how he’d do watching his wife be cut open. He did great and snapped some amazing initial photos of Matthew entering the world like this one.
We had planned to donate the cord blood and cord to the Puget Sound Blood Center and the blood was donated but my doctor made a snap decision to take care of some extra bleeding I was experiencing after Matthew was extracted instead of preserving the cord for donation. I appreciate this but am glad some blood made it to the Center at least and hope it can help someone. And she took care of me really quickly and I had no further issues in surgery.
Matthew was out very quickly and they held him up for me to see for a few seconds before handing him to the pediatric nurse for check up. His Apgar scores were 8 and 9, great scores! He weighed 7 lbs, 5 oz much smaller than we had been told but a completely healthy weight and was 19 inches. About 15 minutes later the nurse said he was grunting and she was slightly concerned that he had some extra fluid in his lungs that needed to come out. This is normal in breech babies, since they usually haven’t undergone contractions which work to squeeze fluid out of babies lungs just as much as working to push babies out of their mothers. So Matthew was sent to a sort of NICU where he was cleaned up and just put under watch by nurses and placed on his tummy to move that fluid out. As Robert and I had planned, just in case of something like this, he went with Matthew while I was being stitched and stapled up.
Everyone was very reassuring and everything turned out fine, but that time was hard for me. Especially when I was wheeled back to my recovery room without my baby or my husband. Despite having to undergo a c-section unlike my ideal natural childbirth, I had so hoped and prayed for being handed my baby as soon as the staples were in for kangaroo skin to skin care and immediate breastfeeding. I didn’t get to hold my baby until over two hours later which made my heart ache. My recovery nurse was very kind and Robert did his best to come back and forth and update me on Matthew’s status (always stable, but still grunting for those two hours) but there I was cold, shaking still from the meds and now itching all over from the morphine, exhausted, and without my baby.
The frustrating thing was that even at the two hour mark the NICU nurses weren’t sure whether to keep him or bring him to me for mom-baby time because the grunting continued but his breathing had always been stable. They called the on-call pediatricians and just after two hours were given permission to bring him to me! A few hours later the grunting had completely disappeared without us even noticing. And my baby was safely and happily in my arms!
I did have a somewhat heavier post-birth bleeding than the nurses liked to see. It wasn’t terribly concerning but left me feeling quite cold and the nurses doing a lot of checks till bleeding slowed. Within a few hours all of my stats looked great.
With the few weeks we had between hearing we may need a c-section and the actual delivery date I had read as much as I could about c-section recovery. I had determined a few things that would lead to the best recovery possible…
- Get up and move as soon as possible, as safely as possible
- Keep moving
- Get the catheter out as soon as possible to avoid infection
- Have the IV removed as soon as possible to avoid swelling from all the saline solution
Luckily, with Robert and my nurses’ help I was able to accomplish all four. Six hours after surgery my nurse asked if I would like to get up and move around and I surprised her by saying yes! The numbness had wore off gradually within a few hours after surgery and I was actually feeling the need to twitch and move my muscles again. With her help I was able to get up and walk around the room even before Matthew’s first guests (my family) arrived! The next two days after that with her help or Robert’s I got up and walked the room or the halls as much as possible. I could never go far but every movement felt better and made me feel on the road to recovery.
I had been nervous about the catheter insertion from what I had read in advance of surgery. It turned out to be fine since it was inserted after I was numb. And as some other mothers had noted, not having to get up to use the restroom for 24 hours is fantastic after being pregnant for 9 months and using the restroom up to 10 times a night! But I knew that I didn’t want a catheter in forever, so I had it removed as early the next morning as possible. I think it was five am when I asked the nurse to take it out and Robert slept through it. It did not hurt to have it removed. And it was nice to now be able to get up and keep moving, even if it was just to the bathroom.
I knew that most women experienced some swelling post-birth regardless of c-section or vaginal. So the idea of having a saline (salt water solution) added via IV for an extended period was not pleasing to me so as soon as I could prove that I was drinking and excreting water well on my own I asked for the IV to be removed. That came out the same time as the catheter for me and I think it helped me not experience any noticeable swelling post-birth.
We stayed in the hospital for two full days, plus one last free hospital lunch and Matthew had a lot of great visitors during our stay which we appreciated since hospital life can get a little boring. Robert was an amazing dad from the first minute and did all the diapers for the first two days since I wasn’t as mobile as usual. He was also a fantastic partner from surgery all the way through grabbing me ice water at any hour of the night and holding Matthew as they both slept. I couldn’t have done as well as I did without him! I am really blessed by him and now by our son.
We love being a family of three!