In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, we are featuring some great birth experiences from moms who ended up having a cesarean for different reasons and moms who have had vaginal births after a cesarean.
This is Karee’s Cesarean Birth Story…
When I got pregnant with my son in late 2012, I never entertained the idea of ever needing a c-section. I was very used to pregnancy, babies, and even birth when my mother had a home birth when I was 16 and my sister made me an aunt at 11 years old. My sisters and my mom never had any real birthing issues, so why would I? I also felt like I knew enough about pregnancy, labor, birth, etc (and saw The Business of Being Born like twice) before I even got pregnant. So I planned a home birth and also had check-ups at Carle Hospital as it was my first pregnancy and wanted to be sure everything was checking out. And it was. Until that 20 week anatomy scan.
Something was very wrong with my cervix. At barely 20 weeks along, I only had 1/2cm of cervix left when you’re supposed to have between 3-6cm. Up until this point my pregnancy was completely uneventful and nothing ever felt off or like it wasn’t a typical pregnancy symptom. It was a bit of a shock when the doctor told me I needed to go up to Labor and Delivery immediately and get a cerclage suture placed (to more or less sew up my cervix). I called my midwife first who confirmed I should get the cerclage placed and was confused as to why a perfectly healthy first-time pregnant 22-year old would have an Incompetent Cervix. She had seen the condition before, but only with women who had a large number of miscarriages and/or D&Cs.
The cerclage was placed and the next 4 weeks were spent on strict home bed rest. My cervix was almost non-existent and the internal cervix was starting to open, dropping baby right onto my paper thin cervix. By 23 weeks, I was 100% effaced. My OB had little hope I would continue to carry, and was surprised every week I came back in still pregnant. I was admitted onto hospital bed rest at 23 weeks and there I laid for the next 4 weeks wherein nothing happened. I never had a contraction, or bleeding or leaking fluids or any pain (except the aches that bed rest caused).
One night I went to bed unusually uncomfortable. (How much more uncomfortable can you get when you’ve been on strict hospital bed rest for almost 1 month?) I was just sore and achey everywhere. But I fell asleep around 11 p.m. and woke up at 5:30 a.m. to use the bathroom. I came back, got in bed and started having what could only be contractions. They didn’t really hurt much, but the pain came and went every 1-2 minutes. That’s when I started bleeding. Quite a bit. I finally convinced the nurse to get a doctor (like no really go get a doctor) and the doctor came in and did a manual exam. I was 26 weeks, 3 days. I was also 6cm dilated and she told me the baby was “right there.” Basically baby was “falling out” which is common with Incompetent Cervix.
Baby was breech though. He had been breech and happily dancing on top of my paper thin sewn up cervix since about 21 weeks. The doctor wanted to do an urgent c-section. I stopped her though and asked Why? My water hasn’t broken, shouldn’t we just wait? That was a no go. Baby was already coming and she was worried about his cord prolapsing. Plus, I guess it’s not the best way to birth a 26 weeker.
I was whisked away to a room in L&D, prepped, given shots and then taken into the OR. I was glad at that point that I had been on hospital bed rest! Looking back on my birth story, my c-section was the most insignificant part, and I guess that’s a good thing. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I had one. It was kind of a walk in the park, and the least of my worries.
I was given an epidural, and was awake for the c-section. I remember arguing with my husband over baby’s name. We didn’t know the gender and he wanted to name her Violet Lynn but I vetoed that multiple times saying it sounded too much like violin and that Violet Gwendolyn was better. Our arguing was in vain though, as to my extreme delight, we ended up with a boy just a few minutes later. I saw him distantly, briefly, before he was wheeled away to the NICU.
Recovery was excruciating. Of course I was out of it, and God bless nurses. Especially the ones who have to push down hard on recently c-sectioned abdomens. I’m sure I asked why they were doing it, and I’m sure they had a good reason. But Lord, I just had a kid and this was the worst pain in my life! Anyway. I was immediately given a breast pump, in the recovery room. They told me to get milk flowing, I had to start pumping immediately. I loved their sense of urgency! About an hour after being in recovery, I was wheeled up (in my bed) to the NICU to see my son. He was 2lbs 7ozs and breathing very well. I was worried that being born via c-section would decrease his chances of breathing well, but that was one thing he was always good at.
I pumped every 2-3 hours and my milk came in very quickly, though never at a huge volume. At any rate, during my son’s 15 week NICU stay, he was given my breastmilk the entire time barring the first week where he was additionally given a special human-based milk formula for micro-preemies.
I went home 2 days later and was incredibly happy to start walking again after 2 months on bed rest. They say walking is one of the best ways to heal up after a c-section, and boy, did I do a lot of it trekking back and forth from home to NICU. By 2 weeks post-surgery I felt great and by 3 weeks post-surgery I felt almost completely back to normal.
Today the scar is a reminder of my son’s awful but victorious birth. He will be 3 years old this summer and has never had a single medical issue after being released from NICU after 103 days. And we still nurse. 😉