As a pregnant woman, hearing that you may have to have a C-Section can cause some trepidation for the average person. When it is a last resort that happens unexpectedly during delivery, the anxiety over it can be even worse. I know because that is what happened to me.
The first seven months of my first pregnancy were difficult, but not to the extreme. However, at around 36 weeks, just shy of being full term, I developed a liver problem due to the stress that the pregnancy was causing on my body. What were the symptoms? Unceasing itching all over the body, but mostly in the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet. The problem was so persistent that I could hardly sleep. I was told that my liver was producing higher bilirubin levels than normal.
According to my doctor, this liver problem and subsequent itching is caused by a build-up of bile. I was told that the development of this liver problem (commonly referred to as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy) would only cause me discomfort, nothing more, but it could increase the chances of stillbirth for my unborn child due to fetal distress.
My husband and I were going to have to make a decision to either have the baby delivered immediately via C-section or we could try to make it to term (38 weeks) with daily fetal non-stress tests and then have labor induced. These fetal non-stress tests were completely non-invasive. They consisted of an elastic belt with a little plastic box attached to it placed over the belly, along with some wiring attached to a heart monitor that would help determine the level of stress the baby might be experiencing due to high stress levels caused by the increased toxins in my blood.
My husband and I chose the latter and I went to the doctor’s office daily for a little over a week. We were able to reach the 38 week mark with daily monitoring and were asked to come in for induction. A cream was placed on my cervix to soften it and get it ready for induction and within 24 hours my water bag broke. I was in Labor and Delivery that same morning, but although my water bag had broken, I had not yet started to feel any contractions. So, my labor was induced by Pitosin.
I went into labor and delivery at around 9:00 a.m. and by 6:00 p.m. my cervix had effaced and dialated 6 centimeters, but my body wasn’t reacting any further to the inducing medication. My baby was pushing against the cervix because of the increased contractions, but I hadn’t dialated enough for delivery. I had also developed a fever and the baby’s heart rate had sky rocketed. What I remember after that was being told to wake up, because an emergency C-section was necessary.
I’d like to say that I was so out of it that I didn’t know what was happening, but that was not the case. I remember being whisked away from my family and my comfort. My husband was making preparations to come into the OR with me. I think they called it “putting on scrubbs.” I arrived in the OR and was told to put my arms out on these arm tables, the position something like being on a cross.
I remember explaining to the anesthesiologist that I was claustrophobic and that I was uncomfortable with so many towels around my neck and the blanket used to block my view of the lower section of my body was too close. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. He moved it some, but I was still having problems breathing.
I felt like I was not being heard or that the anesthesiologist wasn’t taking my complaints seriously enough, so I became even more anxious than I had been when I first arrived. The anesthesiologist explained that the anesthesia (local) was causing my lungs to feel heavy, but that my oxygen levels were still fine and that he was monitoring everything. I didn’t believe him because I knew what I was feeling.
I started flailing my arms and thrashing about with my upper body since, at this point, I could not feel the lower part of my body. I have to say that experiencing no sensation in the lower part of my body is one of the scariest things I had experienced up to that point and even now. The anesthesiologist immediately strapped my arms to the arm tables and called for my husband who had been told to wait outside the OR until the doctors were finished with the preparatory tasks necessary to perform a C-section.
When I saw him, I calmed down substantially, but I still couldn’t breathe. I told the doctor I was feeling nauseous and he told me to go ahead and vomit if I had to. He said to just turn my head to the side and let it out onto the towel. I did and I remember staring into my husbands eyes just to get myself centered. I had never experienced such a scarey thing in my life and I felt like I was out of control.
The next thing I knew I was being told that I would be feeling an unusual pressure in my upper abdomen because they were taking the baby out. It felt like being suctioned by a vacuum cleaner, but it wasn’t painful, or if it was, I would not have known since the anesthesia was working its magic on me. The entire process took about 30 minutes, but it was the longest 30 minutes of my life!
At the end of it all, I heard my son’s voice and it was like time stood still. I forgot all about my feelings and focussed all of my energy on finding out if he was o.k., if he had ten fingers and ten toes, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, in short, was he o.k.? That became my biggest concern. I was at the end of the trauma and at the beginning of what I consider the most beautiful experience a woman can have. I was a certifiable mom.
My son was for all intents and purposes very healthy, but had a fever, and so it had to be ruled out that he had not developed any sort of infection. He was taken to intensive care so that he could be observed, but all turned out well and I was able to take him home after four days. The pain that I expected to experience during recuperation was far less painful than I had expected, but it took me a while to physically feel almost normal again. I’d say within 6 weeks I was walking normally again, but I was still very sensitive in the area I was cut for at least 6 months if not a year.
Since that experience I have had a daughter who was delivered by C-section as well. The second time around was drastically different than the first time because I was mentally prepared. It also helped that the doctors were more sympathetic to my needs the second time around and also, I already knew what to expect.
This is why I am writing this article. I hate that I had such a traumatic experience while trying to bring about such a wonderful result. I hope this article helps you who are curious about what having a C-section means from the perspective of a mommy lying on the operating table.