Weekend Ramblings: My birth story

*I’ve always wondered why it’s not called my birthing story. “My birth story” sounds like you are talking about when you were born, not about giving birth. Anyway I know there’s a lot of birth stories already out there but here’s another one if you’re interested.

I remember back in my 20’s when my friends first started having kids I would read with horror their birth stories. Like that cliched train wreck, I couldn’t look away. I wanted to know but then didn’t want to know. When I got to my early 30’s and started contemplated having kids, I read even more birth stories so I could prepare myself. Then I read so many I got bored with them. Well I’m not sure how many people like to read this stuff, but I figured I would share my experience (while it’s still somewhat fresh in my mind but at the same time far enough away that I don’t exaggerate the pain and misery—lol just kidding, sorta).

Well since I have two large fibroids (at its peak one was the size of a mini watermelon, the other a grapefruit) blocking the birth canal, I was told I have to have a c-section from day one. All the doctors and technicians delivered this “bad” news as if they were really sorry that I couldn’t give birth naturally. But I was secretly thrilled since I didn’t have to worry about the unexpected water breaking, the hours of contraction pain, and the possibility of having my perineal tear (the horror!). Of course there’s pros and cons to everything.

Since I had several major bleeds throughout my pregnancy, I was already a pro at the hospital stays and had fine-tuned my hospital bag (though of course I still overpacked on D-day, the due date). I also had some procedures done ahead of time, like certain blood draws and this particular awful procedure where you bend over for a nurse and they run a stick between your vagina and anus (the indignity! lol) testing for strep B.

As for the actual C-section, there’s nothing like being fully conscious while your lower half is filleted like a fish. Oh and all the IVs they put in the pre-op room is no walk in the park either (one of the most painful experiences, though my anesthesiologist was the best—I can’t imagine what it would have been like with a crappy one). Walking in a room full of doctors and nurses scrubbed for surgery, walking past the table of surgical tools, getting the epidural with all the bright lights shining in my face made me want to cry from panic. I had to focus on my breathing and keep telling myself everything would be alright to prevent me from hyperventilating. If you’re getting a planned c-section (or even if you’re not) brush up on your mindful meditation skills because it really comes in handy!

Once the epidural kicked in, there was no actual pain. But I could smell my flesh burning (from the cauterization to minimize bleeding) and could feel them tugging at my lower body because it shook my whole upper half. When they were ready for the baby to come out, they did have to push on my sternum pretty hard and that was painful. Once the baby was out though, everything was just a blur. They take the baby, check her out, clean her up and then placed her on my shoulder to distract me from the rest of the surgery (which worked!).

The hardest part about a C-section is the recovery. The first day I couldn’t even get out of bed, though I made the effort to sit up and put my feet on the ground (even that was so painful). Good thing I had a urinary catheter so I didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom (I never had one before so I didn’t know how it worked, but basically you never feel like you have to urinate since the bladder is constantly being emptied by the catheter). But by the next day they want you to walk, so they can at least take out the catheter to prevent infections (but taking the catheter out was pretty traumatic and made urinating difficult and painful). I wanted to get out of the hospital asap so I pushed myself to walk despite the pain and by day 2 I could walk around the floor (enough so they would discharge me).

Once I got home I walked around the house but didn’t actually walk outside for at least a week. Oh, and that first night, the pain was so bad I couldn’t even lie down (and this was despite all the pain medications I was taking around the clock). I had to sleep upright for the first couple days actually. The pain was still pretty bad at 2 weeks, though it wasn’t constant. The worst pain was getting up from bed, and that lingered even after all other pain was gone. 8 weeks postpartum and I have no pain but I can feel the tightness in my abs and there’s still bruising and numbness of the skin around my belly. But I’m beginning to work out again and I feel more like myself because of that. Anyway it was scary, the recovery was tough, but in the end I didn’t really have a choice (the baby’s gotta come out one way or another). It was worth it (of course) and I’m stronger for it (I was getting a filling at the dentist just the other week and I felt it was a breeze when before I used to be such a wuss about it lol). Guess we are all tougher than we think we are.