My Cesarean Delivery Stories
April is Cesarean Awareness Month. For expectant mothers, the possibility of a C-section is not something to which they typically want to be made aware. But according to finalized 2013 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of births in the US are Cesarean. That is a significant number. And that is why women need to be educated before the doctor walks into the labor and delivery room and makes that dreaded announcement, "We've got to go in now and get the baby. We need to do a Cesarean."
When I had my oldest son, my pregnancy was relatively easy. About six weeks before he was due, I went into labor. The doctor had me come into his office because I was a first-time mother who was probably experiencing gas or Braxton Hicks contractions. Three minutes into my exam, I was hooked up to a monitor. I was indeed in labor. But the doctor said it was too early. He gave me medication to stop the contractions and put me on bed rest. His regimen worked. It actually worked too well. I never went into labor again. Rather, nearly two weeks past my due date, my water broke. Once at the hospital, I did not progress. They gave me Pitocin to induce contractions. After 18 hours, I was bloated and in terrible pain. But the baby was no closer to his arrival. The doctor decided a Cesarean was the best course of action to keep both my baby and me safe from infection. Everything happened so fast after the decision was made that I did not have time to worry.
His brother arrived 14 months later. My second delivery was a planned VBAC. In addition to my doctor, I had a nurse midwife. A couple of weeks before my due date, the doctor decided to induce labor. I checked into the hospital the night before my schedule induction and promptly went into labor naturally. But after 23 hours of slowly but surely progressing labor, the heart monitor detected a problem. The baby's heart rate kept dipping dangerously low. They decided to perform an emergency Cesarean. As he was being delivered, the doctors discovered that the cord was snugly wrapped around his neck. But delivery and recovery went well. We had another healthy baby boy.
Four years later, long after having made the decision that two children and the two deliveries that got them here were more than enough, we were blessed with one more pregnancy. This time, my pregnancy was considered high risk. My doctor made the decision at my first appointment that the delivery would be Cesarean. I had eight long months to think about the procedure. And even though I'd been through it twice before, I was terrified. It was a major operation. There were all sorts of risks. The last thing I told my doctor at my last appointment was, "No drinking tonight and go to bed early." When I saw him the next morning, I asked, "Did you get to bed early?" He replied that he had and that there was no drinking. For some reason, that put my mind at ease. So did the carefully chosen pain medications and spinal block. For my third son, I was in the hospital a total of 90 minutes before he arrived. Since we had so much planning time, my parents and in-laws were at the hospital. My two older boys still recall their Poppy walking them to Hardee's for lunch after they'd met their new baby brother.
And while I had had a lot of practice recovering from Cesareans, there was a lot I did not know. That's why I posted Ann Vernon's article, C-Section Recovery: No More Learning Curve. Even if you have no reason to expect anything other than a complication-free vaginal delivery, it's worth the read. For moms that are among the 67 percent who do not delivery by Cesarean, the information can help you provide support to fellow moms who do.