For anyone who doesn't follow me regularly or know my story, I am a mother to 3 sons...all of whom have been born by planned elective C-section.
I've discussed the reasons for this before on my blog, but to give a quick recap - I have struggled with extreme panic disorder and thanatophobia (fear of death) for as long as I can remember, and one of my big triggers was giving birth. This was such an enormous trigger for my anxieties that I put off having children until I was 30, as I felt unable to cope with the prospect of giving birth.
Once pregnant with my first child, I discussed the option of an elective C-section with my Dr as I felt that this option gave me the least amount of anxiety - I felt the situation would be more controlled by medical professionals and after reading some stories online about possible fatal complications of my thyroid disease and labour, I was convinced that I would die in childbirth if it went ahead naturally - I know this is an irrational fear but that is how phobias work, there is nothing rational or logical about them.
After some months of debating and being sent for counselling to try and change my mind, my c section birth with my first son was agreed and went ahead as planned - it was a calm and relaxed experience and I have only very happy memories of it.
Because my first delivery had been by c section I didn't have to fight for the option the second time around as it was automatically offered to me, and I accepted it.
My second birth was not quite so smooth, and the recovery process was longer and much more difficult due to a wound infection.
So third time around I was feeling quite conflicted and scared - but because my last c section was only 11 months previously, it was considered dangerous to give birth naturally due to the previous c section scar being so new and weakened due to infection - so it was agreed that I would deliver by c section at 39 weeks, on 19th February.
However as the date got closer, my pregnancy became more difficult - I was struggling to walk unaided due to SPD and previous scar tissue pain, and it was having an impact on my mental health as well as leaving me unable to care for my existing children - and so the c section was brought forward.
I was told I would need to turn up at the hospital ready to go in on 3 separate dates, and that they would fit me in as early as they could.
We arrived on the morning of the first date - 12th February - a little late as we'd overslept! We were supposed to be at the hospital for 7.30 am and instead arrived closer to 8.30.
We were greeted by the midwife and shown to a private room to wait, she told us we were last on the list and there was a question mark over whether it would be going ahead so not to bother changing into surgical gowns yet.
We were left in the room for a few hours, we chatted and everything was pretty relaxed as to be honest we fully expected to be sent home without a baby that day.
Later on the anaesthetist came to meet with us - he was absolutely lovely, so funny and laid back and really made me feel at ease.
I discussed my anxieties with him, and he joked about it with me...saying a fear of dying on the table was actually quite an understandable thing to be frightened of and he has much more understanding of that than the fear of needles he usually deals with in patients! He said he would be happy to play music in the theatre to relax me as I mentioned that the silence last time had made my anxiety worse - he discussed the classical music he liked and he and Jon bonded over some classical track they both loved, and had a joke about it which was nice and eased my tension!
I hoped desperately that our c section would be done that day as he made me feel so very relaxed but even he was saying "IF the operation goes ahead today..." which made me think there was little hope. But he did come back a few minutes and fitted my cannula which made me think perhaps there was a chance it would be today, after all.
However, at 11.45 am the midwife came in to tell us we were next in and asked me to gown up! I was suddenly hit with all of the nerves that I'd staved off all morning by convincing myself it wouldn't be today - suddenly it WAS going to happen, right now!!
My stomach was absolutely in pieces.
My stomach was absolutely in pieces.
At 12.05 pm they came to collect us and walked us in to the theatre which was right next door to our room - I was struck by how tiny the room seemed, I remembered it being so much bigger when I had Noah there....they sat me up on the table, and the anaesthetist got started with a numbing spray on my back.
I got a bit upset as I sat waiting for it to take effect as I knew the spinal would be next and that's the part I hate most - I looked at Jon with tears in my eyes and he mouthed "It's ok"...the next thing the anaesthetist was telling me he was doing the spinal block, and to my amazement it was done within seconds and I didn't feel a thing other than a pinch - I swear it hurt a lot more with my previous two sections!
Almost instantly I felt my feet going very warm - they had me lay down on my side for a few moments and then asked me to turn to the other side...this was difficult as already the spinal block was taking effect so turning over was hard, but with a bit of assistance I managed it...after a few moments laying on that side, they turned me to my back.
I told the anaesthetist I was already numb and expressed my shock at how quickly it had worked this time - he said the way he does it means it works very quickly, and said something about using a little more than required and the turning from side to side helping it to block more fully and faster!
The nurse rubbed an ice cube on me to check I was numb - I was right up to my neck!
They then put up the curtains and got started. Jon had no sooner come over and started chatting to me, and I heard a gurgling sound - I assumed it was some kind of suction device but the nurse popped her head over and said "That's baby!"...I gasped thinking surely it couldn't be here that quickly, it had been about four minutes since the curtain went up - but then we heard the loudest cry!
They dropped the curtains, and there was our tiny baby - I remember seeing his masses of dark hair and thinking how tiny he looked - I looked at his bits but the dr had his fingers over them! I thought I could see boy bits though, and when the anaesthetist asked the surgeon to move his fingers...sure enough, he was a bouncing baby boy!
Sailor was taken away and wrapped up but wasn't cleaned which is what I'd requested, he was handed straight to me which made a lovely change as Tyne and Noah had been handed straight to Jon - I couldn't believe how tiny and beautiful he was.
The rest of the operation seemed to take moments to finish, and all of a sudden the curtains were down and I was being put on my bed with Sailor...the drs and nurses were wishing Sailor a happy birth day and congratulating me, and we were back in our room for recovery!
We were both shocked that the whole thing had taken under 40 minutes as I had fully expected a third c section to be much more complicated.
I honestly didn't feel panicky or nervous at all throughout the experience, I think I got so lucky with such a comforting and competent anaesthetist and he himself was full of compliments for how wonderful and experienced the surgeon was which also made me relax - apart from the 30 seconds of nerves I had before the spinal block was done, I felt completely and utterly at ease and relaxed.
It was by far the best birth experience I have ever had and could ever have hoped for.
The recovery process was great too - the spinal block did take longer to wear off than usual, I can usually move my toes within half an hour but this time was closer to two hours.
I did get a bit miffed that I was left to bed bath myself and change into my nighty without any help from the midwives considering I was completely unable to move from the neck down - the midwives did seem far less helpful this time than with previous births.
We also had a bit of an issue with the cord ties we had asked to be used as our midwife had never seen them before and said she wasn't comfortable using them. She went to ask the ward sister about them and came back stating she'd been told we weren't to use them. I asked if they could cut the cord long and we would attach them ourselves, but she said we couldn't as they didn't have cord clamp cutters to remove the plastic clamp they'd use in theatre - this didn't make sense to me as they would be cutting the cord, not the clamp but she didn't seem to understand. She did ask for the cord to be cut long though.
However after half an hour or so, another midwife came in who was familiar with the cord ties and said it wasn't a big deal at all - she attached them and let Jon cut the remainder of the cord which he loved as he's never been able to do it before. So we got to use our ties in the end which I was very happy with and it's been far easier with nappy changes and clothes changes with no big plastic clamp to catch on things!
We were taken up to the ward at around 5.30 pm - Tyne and Noah came to visit that evening, as did my Mum and Dad, and my sister later on.
We had a 3 day stay in hospital due to Sailor's tongue tie and jaundice, as he is really struggling to latch so I've been expressing and syringe feeding him - we're hoping to have the tongue tie resolved this week as he is losing weight quickly (He's down to 6lbs 5 now) and his jaundice is worsening, so I really want to get him feeding directly from the breast as soon as possible.
I didn't mind our 3 day stay though as it was nice to have some bonding time alone with Sailor, and I think the longer stay may have helped my recovery - it has been SO easy this time, I have had no pain at all in the scar, I had my catheter removed around 11pm the evening of the section and was up and about - the next morning I had a shower, and felt right as rain!
I have been expecting the pain to hit ever since, but we're now on Day 7 and it hasn't yet - I've even had a bad cough since the operation and it doesn't actually hurt to cough which is very odd as usually its agony after a section! I think I got very lucky with a very skilled surgeon!
My scar is healing really well and already looks almost healed! My only problem is I'm still feeling tired quickly, some back spams which I was having before the birth anyway, and some painful wind in my shoulder area which I've read is very common after any surgical procedure.
We've been home from 3 days now and we're feeling settled and amazed that the whole thing is over, and our lovely littlest boy is here!
Thank you to everyone who has sent messages, tweets etc to congratulate us - I'm trying my best to reply to them all but we really appreciate it!
If you'd like to see the build up to the birth and the day itself, have a watch of our little video below which includes a couple of sneaked seconds of the c section (naughty Jon, wasn't supposed to film!), the moments after Sailor arrived and the first meeting with his big brothers!
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