Pregnancy, child birth, babies and children…they are all truly unpredictable from start to finish. If you followed my pregnancy journey then you would know that there were many aspects of it that were very unforeseeable, unplanned and downright surprising. With my pregnancy being that way, I should have expected the same for my birth story. But once again, I was completely caught off guard and surprised.
In the third trimester we went to a birth and labour class as well as got a tour of the maternity ward at the hospital I was delivering at. During both, they mentioned that just under 30% of the woman attending the class would be undergoing an unplanned c-section. This number shocked me, but also didn’t phase me. My naive self just sat there silently listening, thinking whoa! 9 of these woman around me are going to have a c-section then I proceeded to try and guess which ones they would be. A game that I would never get an answer to and obviously looking back at it made me seem very clueless.
I scoured through Pinterest on labour recovery. Read up on the benefits of each of the recovery products and learned about all of the things I would need for the first couple weeks of my postpartum recovery. My bathrooms were stocked!
From witch hazel, to herbal bath sitz salts, too pads, diapers and peri bottles. I had it all right at arms length from my toilet seat.
1 week before Huntly’s Birth
As you near your due date you begin to visit your doctor once a week. On the Wednesday of the 40th week I was frustrated to be having to waddle in, for yet, another check-up. Although this may sound very dramatic, I honestly felt like I was going to be pregnant forever. I had done everything suggested to start labour including a membrane sweep.
A membrane sweep is a short and simple procedure you can get between weeks 38-40 where a doctor will take a gloved hand and sweep in a circular motion inside the woman’s cervix. This is one way they can help induce labour in a more natural way. It’s aimed to separate the amniotic sac and fine fetal membranes from the uterine wall. The separation triggers the release of natural chemicals call prostaglandins which help soften the cervix and stimulate contractions.
Unfortunately for myself, this membrane sweep did not cause any sort of labour induction. Once again at week 40 on Wednesday August 21, I got a secondary membrane sweep. This did cause a little something soemthing… I started to get contractions on that day. Although they were very random and not very strong. Thursday my mucus plug came out, which can be another sign early labour is starting. My contractions continued throughout the weekend getting stronger and closer together as each hour & day went by.
1 day before Huntly’s arrival
Finally Tuesday morning (around 3 am ) I was awoken from the pain of these contractions and couldn’t sleep. I started timing them… they got quite strong and so close together. The pain got so bad and the contractions were so close together that I eventually went to the hospital around 7PM on Tuesday night. At that time my contractions were lasting about 1 minute and were 5 minutes apart.
When the nurses checked me I hadn’t dilated anymore since that previous Wednesday and told me I most likely still had a few more days ahead of me. I took my shot of morphine so I could sleep through the night and we were sent on our way. We ironically had scheduled appointments the following day on Wednesday at 1PM.
day of Huntly’s birth
40 weeks is your last standard check up and at 41 weeks you go for a NST (non stress test) and an ultrasound. This is to ensure that your baby and body are still able to go through a natural vaginal birth. It was at this point that we discovered our sweet baby boy had failed both of these tests and the uterus was no longer a healthy enough environment for him. At about 4PM they told us that I was going to get induced that day and would be holding our son that night. We were in complete shock. Less than 24 hours ago we were told we had at least a few more days. Now here we were, just expecting to be at the hospital for a quick check up but to then be told that we aren’t leaving.
Before they induced labour they had to make sure that Huntly could handle the stress of natural labour. To do this, they administer an IV that has a small amount of oxytocin in it. The small amount of oxytocin creates “fake” contractions. During these contractions they monitor the baby’s heart rate along with momma’s. Again, our baby boy failed the test as his heart rate kept dropping. At around 4:45 we were told that they are going to send me in for an emergency c-section. They planned to wheel me into surgery at 5:30.
I wish I could explain the whirlwind I was in at that moment. Walking into the hospital at 1PM that day I was expecting to be out of there by 2. Now I’m going to have a baby by 7?! Less than 5 hours later. It felt completely surreal. Not too mention I hadn’t thought for even a second about a caesarean. I was completely oblivious to what to expect from the surgery, recovery, and everything else in between. What could I do though? It was happening whether I freaked out or not.
Next thing you know, it’s go time! They made my husband wait outside the operating room until I was ready to go. They gave me an epidural, lied me down, put the sheet up so I couldn’t see past my neck, then cut through my abdomen and then the uterus. At this time my husband was ushered into the room and brought up to sit by my head. About 5 minutes of tugging (and yes you can most definitely feel them tugging the baby out of you!) And we hear Huntly’s first little cry. At this point my husband goes with the paediatrician to go over the baby. They weigh and measure him. Check to make sure he’s got two eyes, ears hands and feet. All his fingers and toes and to ensure he is a healthy baby. My husband was also able to cut part of the umbilical cord.
Once all that was done the nurse brought Huntly over so I could meet him. She placed him by my head for a few minutes before Huntly and my husband were ushered off to the recovery room while they finished stiching me up.
Once the doctors were done, I was brought to the recovery room. This is where nurses check over to ensure the epidural/freezing is wearing down properly and all of your vitals are in check after the surgery. It’s a pretty relaxed, quiet and calm room. I was able to breastfeed Huntly for the first time and spend some quiet minutes taking it all in and getting to know our little man with my husband. Although, one thing to note is that as the freezing wore off I became extremely itchy!
After an hour I was brought back up to our hospital room. I was unable to leave my hospital bed for about 12 hours (although it ended up being longer than that because my surgery was in the evening so the nurses and I decided to wait until the morning time when I was awake). I had a catheter in, so I didn’t have to worry about going to the bathroom.
My short term recovery all in all was pretty seamless. I was up and walking around the very next morning and never really felt much pain around my incision. The hospital likes to keep you there for 3 nights but because my recovery was so good I was able to get discharged after 2. Although I was discharged Huntly ended up needing to stay an extra night in the NICU for some tests as he had a slower resting heart rate. Because of this we stayed our 3 full nights.
The recovery time for a c-section is 6 weeks; your recommended to not participate in any physical activity, to not lift anything heavier than your baby and are not allowed to drive. Essentially you are expected to just chill and hang out with your new baby…I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to recover from surgery.
The journey was far from what I had expected or planned (even though I intentionally didn’t plan any aspect). You need to remember to just have faith in the system and know that the outcome is the exact same; in a months time it will all be a blur that you hardly have time to reflect back. No matter how you have your child; at home birth, natural, with drugs, in a bath, in the hospital, by c-section or any other ways – it’s a beautiful journey that brings you the best joy in life.