"I Never Wanted A C-section Scar On My Body" - Part 2
By Andrea Lane
I remember talking to a friend who was a midwife about getting pregnant again and she helped me realize that just because the first time around I had a traumatic experience it didn't mean that it would happen again as every pregnancy and birth is different. On my daughters 1st Birthday we discovered that we were pregnant again and expecting a baby in December.I tried hard not to think about the actual birth and focused on the pregnancy while busying myself with life as a mum, I was also working at the time and we were about to move our family of 3 up to the north island. So we had lots to focus our attention on.
I had found a midwife in the Waikato who would take me on – this was not an easy task as I lived in Dunedin for the first 20 weeks and I was hoping for a VBAC. At the time not many midwives were prepared to take on a mum who wanted a VBAC. I was lucky that my midwife for my first baby happily took me on for the first half of the pregnancy, so I was able to relax once I had found a great one up north who would see me through the second half.
All seemed to be going well, but this little bubba had other plans. We had just told everyone that I was pregnant and a few weeks later I started to bleed. Our midwife suggested we go to the emergency department and if needed she would come and visit as she was working on delivery that night. After a few hours of waiting and some tests and a scan they worked out that this little bubba was still happily hanging out. They did however find some blood floating around and a little unsure where it came from. Due to being under 20 weeks they couldn’t do much so suggested I go home to rest and come back if there was any further bleeding. Sure enough a few days later we were back…..This seemed to be a cycle for the following few weeks, I would rest and then get the all ok to go back to work then having a bleed. After a few visits to the hospital they decided that due to the complications from my previous C-Section the scaring was rather significant on the right-hand side and the placenta was trying to attach to the scar….. The scaring was causing the placenta to detach, which was the cause of the bleeding. I also had high blood pressure, so they gave me meads and put me on bed rest for the next month to see if the placenta would eventually move away from the scar. It was the longest month ever sitting at home on the couch or in bed not being able to work, pack the house or look after my toddler. My husband took her to day-care every day while he worked so I could rest.
At 20 weeks we had another scan to check all was ok before flying to Auckland. Baby was growing and the placenta had moved and had settled and found a safe place to stick. I had to stay on my medication, but they were happy for me to start doing a bit more.
From then on in, the pregnancy was rather uneventful as we counted down the days till bubs arrived.
December came and I was hanging out for any sign of this baby to come on his own. We had a C-Section date booked in for Monday the 14th of December – 11 days over due. The doctor decided that they would allow me time to go into labour naturally, as long as I was monitored well and saw my midwife regularly. Everything was calm and nothing much happened until the 10th of December. That night I woke up with contractions. I spent the night timing them and pacing up and down the lounge. Come 6am all stopped and settled with no contractions. This repeated for 2 nights, so as you could imagine I was exhausted. I rang my midwife in tears explaining what was happening, she reassured me it was a good thing, but to come in and get checked out. She decided to attempt a stretch and sweep, but I was only 1cm dilated. So it wouldn’t work. She then suggested I go have a nap as I was exhausted and she booked an appointment for me to see the obstetrician on Sunday morning. Friday and Saturday nights were a repeat of contractions and no sleep…. Come Sunday morning I was so tired I could hardly function, but just kept going in the hopes that this baby would be here soon.
We headed up to the hospital Sunday morning to see the obstetrician. She decided to check how things were going and on inspection said I had dilated to 3cm and the waters were leaking so to go home, have a bath and relax as this baby was on his way. They sent us home under instruction to come back by 9pm if things had not progressed further before then. I was excited that I would narrowly escape having a C-Section as I was booked in the next day at 9am for an elective. I left feeling hopeful and excited.
For the rest of the day I spend the day trying to rest, in the bath and pacing up and down the hallway. I remember being so tired that I had hardly any energy to move, but the contractions kept coming, giving me no time to actually rest.
Our awesome on call midwife came and checked in around 5pm to see how things were going. She suggested I stay home for a couple more hours then head to the hospital to have a baby.
Finally it was time to head to the hospital, The drive felt like it took forever. We arrived and were taken to a birthing room where they let me get in the shower to help manage the pain before hooking me up to the monitors.
The contractions kept coming and with every little bit of energy left in me I tried to ride them through. In the end the midwife suggested I have an epidural to see if that will help me get some rest before we pushed a baby out…..but again this little guy had other plans.
I remember heading off to sleep at some early hour of the morning to be woken by a doctor coming in to check out the baby's heartbeat. After some monitoring and a check the decision was made to do an emergency C-Section as the baby was in distress. I was rushed to the operating room where they quickly got to work. The doctor was great and had a chat with me about why this was important and what my hesitation towards another C-Section was. Once I explained that last time was so horrific and why they promised to give me extra medication to help keep me calm and more medication so I didn't feel anything (Last C-Section I could feel them cutting me open as the medication didn't work properly).
I lay in the theatre room feeling so deflated and like a failure. The room was full of staff, so many more than last time....turns out that they had students who were watching from the end of the bed. Since I was tired and the room was bustling with activity to get the baby out so fast I actually didn’t have it in me to ask why everyone was there. I started to tune out to what was happening in the room and looked out an opaque window that I could see the shadow of the trees and a streetlight shining in.
The staff in the operating room and midwife were trying to talk to me about what was happening, but The thought of it all started making me feel so ill. I remember saying to the poor anesthetist that I didn’t care what was happening and didn’t want to know. I felt the panic and the flashbacks of the last C-Section started creeping in. All I wanted to do was run….but I couldn’t move from my chin down so there was no way I was getting off that bed. I looked out the window and watched the streetlight turn off as the sun started to rise and I knew that it was a new day (I had lost complete sense of time by then).
Baby was born not breathing and my husband went to watch as the staff worked on him to get him breathing. His Apgar score was low and the atmosphere in the room started to change. Everyone was quiet. In time they got him breathing and he turned from blue to a very pale pink. Once he was stable, they attempted skin to skin as I had wished for in my birth plan. At the time I clearly remember not wanting to hold him or have him near me. I was shaking and had a migraine from the medication. After a brief skin to skin I asked if my husband could hold the baby and do skin to skin as I was scared I would drop him and just needed some sleep…In total I had about 8 hours sleep in the past 4 days.
I don’t remember much after that, but do remember the midwife coming in to say she was going home and that either herself or my midwife would be in to visit later in the day. She reassured me that I made the right decision and that someone would talk to me about why the C-Section was needed after I had some sleep. I was transferred up to the ward and into my own room where I slept so well. The midwife visited and filled me in. Apparently, I was 9cm dilated and bubs was trying his hardest to get out. He got stuck and needed the C-Section as his heart rate was dropping fast.
In theatre the midwife had to push him back up into the womb so the doctor could get him out the sunroof as he was well and truly stuck. Poor little guy had a cone head – flat on one side and pointy on the other from being in that position for a long time. I felt a little more reassured that it was the right decision, but I still remember feeling like a failure.
That same day I remember a midwife tucking the baby into his bed after his feed and leaving the room. At the time I was there alone as my husband had gone home to catch up on some sleep. I drifted off to sleep and woke to the sound of a text message on my phone....I looked at the baby before checking my message and the baby had gone blue again. I was in a panic, but unable to move. I buzzed the buzzer three times as they had put the baby's bassinet just out of arm's reach and I couldn't move to reach him. Once a midwife finally came in they cleared his airways and settled him down to sleep again. I never knew before, but apparently it is common for C-Section babies to get mucus stuck in their airways as they don't get it squeezed out like a baby who is delivered naturally.....lesson learned and I kept him very close from then on in and kept his cot on a slight lean so it would help drain the fluid.
We stayed at the hospital on the ward for two nights, then we were able to be transferred to one of the local birth units to continue to rest and recover. I only stayed one night and the following evening I discharged myself as I just wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed. I was still exhausted and needed my husband to help with a baby who disliked sleep. So I spoke to the midwife at the birth unit and spoke to my midwife and thankfully they agreed to let me go home.
Looking back I had postnatal depression as I struggled to bond with him and just had no joy. People would visit and I just sat vacant and expressionless. Recovery this time around with no post surgery complications was much faster. I was up and back to normality within 6 weeks. The low mood stuck around for a while longer as bubs hated to sleep and I struggled to shift the low mood. We spent the next 3 months with a baby who was unsettled and screamed from 5pm-3am every night. Unfortunately as no one saw him at his worst everyone thought we were young parents who didn’t know that it's not uncommon for babies to not sleep…..however we knew this was not right. We finally had a Doctor who listened to our concerns and suggested that he was unsettled due to having a sore head / shoulders from his birth. We took him to a chiropractor and before we knew it thankfully this stage passed and he quickly settled into being a mellow happy baby......he is now 11 and from a baby who disliked sleep it's now a struggle to get him out of bed in the morning...and over the months and years my love for him has grown stronger the ever. The moment in time that I felt so low and struggled to bond with my new baby did pass in time. It wasn't him that I couldn't bond well with, but it was the trauma from the event that brought him earth side, seeing him triggered a few memories that made it hard, but I was able to overcome this as he started to interact with us and my heart grew to love this little human being that filled our house with joy.
So you would think that two emergency C-Section would be enough and I'd be put off having any more babies......well I thought that as well, but there is part three and part four of my journey to motherhood...... So watch this space.