You can read all of my previous pregnancy posts here.
Last Tuesday I was booked in for a Caesarean section. My baby had been breech at every single doctor’s appointment, no matter how much ball bouncing, floor scrubbing and every other turning technique I dedicated time to over the past few months.
The idea of having a Caesarean really scared me. For someone who likes to be in control of things, you would think that a Caesarean would be a more appealing option; I would know exactly when I would be having my baby, almost able to pinpoint it to the nearest hour. However, I felt that a C-section would remove my control of the situation and place everything in the hands of the doctors, anaesthetist, nurses and midwives in the theatre. I wouldn’t be doing any of the work!
There was no way round it though. My baby was very much breech, with bum stuck down and legs up high. He was too risky for the hospital to allow an attempt at a natural birth, for fear that it would result in complications and an unplanned emergency section anyway.
Dan and I arrived a little after 7:15am on the morning of Tuesday 27th September and managed to find someone to buzz us in to the otherwise silent Fetal Health Unit. One final scan was made to ensure baby was still upside down. Of course he was. Looked like this C-section was going ahead! My details were confirmed and then I was branded with a tag displaying my name, DOB and hospital number. I was issued with a hospital theatre gown to change into and the tightest stockings to wear which Dan fought to get over my stocky calves.
Over the course of the next hour each of the people who would be present in the theatre for the operation came and introduced themselves to Dan and I, explaining their role in the procedure and asking us a series of questions. Amongst other questions, each one asked if I would consent to a blood transfusion if necessary, and later on I also had to sign to this effect as well. In total there would be about seven people present for the operation, each one with a slightly different role.
There were two of us who had scheduled sections planned for Tuesday. Once both Mums-to-be had been visited by all staff involved, the core team stood outside our beds and discussed the order in which we were going to go in. As they listed the complications involved in the other pregnancy, I knew that we would be second in line and this was confirmed a few minutes later when a doctor told us to expect to head down to theatre about the middle of the morning. Along with the other woman we were then walked through to the Maternity ward, and allocated the beds we would be staying in for our time at the hospital. I was due to stay in Bay 3, Bed 2. The bay contained four beds in total and I was thankful to have been given the one next to the window. It was super hot up there and it was nice to get a slight breeze from outside.
From here we waited. The other lady was due to head in for her section at 9am and perhaps rather naively, knowing that the procedure wouldn’t take more than an hour, we expected to be in by perhaps 10:30. 10:30 came and went though and still nobody came to see us. Dan started to get hungry so picked through some of the snacks in my hospital bag. I was still unable to eat so I napped on and off for a while, having struggled to get much sleep at all the night before.
A friend’s Aunt worked on the ward so stopped by to see how I was getting on which was really nice of her. I was getting nervous by this point and was doing anything I could think of on my phone to distract me from what was to come.
At 12:05, Alice, the midwife who would be present for the procedure came to collect us and walk us down to the theatre. All of a sudden things got very real and my legs began to shake. As we were walking down the final corridor, a guy popped out from behind us in the corridor and led Dan off to get his scrubs and special shoes on so that he was able to join us in the theatre for the operation. Alice pushed open the doors to the theatre and I followed behind, only to discover nothing like I was expecting at all.
The theatre was a massive room filled with all of the people we had met that morning, now all scrubbed up and busy bustling around with charts and equipment. The room was perhaps even larger than the downstairs of my house and everywhere painted a clinical white. Everything in that room seemed to glow under the incredibly bright lights beaming down from the ceiling. In the middle of the room was what appeared to be a very small operating table and coming from this trailed leads and cables headed off to portable trolleys at the far end of the room. I’m pretty sure the examination table at the vets I take Bella to is larger than the one I was due to get onto in a few minutes time!
Dan still wasn’t there and I rather tentatively followed Alice around the bottom end of the table and allowed her to help me clamber up. All of a sudden I became the main focus and everybody clustered around me, both in front and behind the table I was sat on. Not knowing what was going on and still unable to see any sign of Dan I became rather upset and somebody brought me a tissue and held my hand. Dan arrived at this point and began earnestly talking to me about running and races and everything I would be able to go ahead and enter after the day was over. He did a fantastic job of distracting me from the cannula going in to the back of my left hand, and kept me calm when the anaesthetist insisted that I stay sat upright on the bed to have my spinal administered. I am not very good with needles on a normal basis, but knowing the size of the needle that they were to place between the vertebrae on my back and the consequences if I was to move or they were to not get it in quite the right place were terrifying. I was barely aware that it was happening though and Dan, along with a female doctor, a midwife and nurse kept me talking the whole way through. I had worked myself up much more than I needed to and it honestly wasn’t as bad as I was making it out in my head to be.
Once administered, they helped me to lay down on the table (I did fit!) and got to work putting up a blue screen to shield my view. Everybody had a role now and the hustle and bustle began to increase as instruments were gathered and the operation discussed. We were asked whether I wanted them to hold the baby up above the screen once it had been delivered or to take it off to be weighed and checked before being brought over. I said that I would prefer the baby to be taken off and checked over and Dan would then be able to see the baby and know that things were OK. It had been in my original birth plan for Dan to announce the gender of the baby, and this way it meant that he would still be able to do this.
Dan stayed by my right side as they were getting everything in place and allowing the drugs to take effect. On my left a doctor repeatedly questioned me on what I could feel. He got me to pinch my hand, and then my stomach to the same degree and report back. He asked what I could feel as he moved his hand lower across my stomach and the last point I was aware that he was still touching. A catheter was inserted and this was probably the most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure. Eventually the doctor told us that they were then going to do a cut test and if I could not feel that, they would then begin the procedure and work on getting our baby out.
Alice was with Dan again now on my right side and I asked her how long it would take after cutting me open before our baby would be here. We were told no more than 15 minutes. It can’t have been more than 3 minutes though before we heard the loud cries coming from behind the screen. Dan, to take my mind off things had been rattling on about going for gait analysis at Peterborough to buy some new road trainers for next season. He didn’t even change his tone or lift his head and instead continued talking about Advance Performance and how often you needed to buy new shoes! I couldn’t concentrate on him anymore though and, vaguely aware that they were taking our baby round to the blind spot in the corner of the room over my right shoulder, I urged Dan to go and see. Alice led Dan over and Dan tells me everyone around was pointing down at the baby to show what gender it was! Dan said he hoped that he would have been able to work out on his own! He came straight over to tell me that we had a boy – a son (still sounds weird!) and reappeared a few minutes later with said son so that I could see.
He had so much hair. Bright, blonde hair and he was tiny. He came over sucking his fingers and it’s something he’s still yet to stop doing!
I can remember Alice holding him up to my face so that I may kiss him, but I wasn’t ready for that yet, so just shook my head and stared at him in amazement instead. We announced his name, so that they may add bands to his arms and legs. Oscar Daniel Pearson. He was born at 12:48pm and weighed 6lbs 13, – more than they had predicted based on the scan we had been shown the previous week.
Dan continued to sit with me and chatter. I could no longer respond though. There was a very tight feeling on my chest and although I could communicate by forcing my mouth to make the shapes and breathe out the air, no real sound was coming out and it was very draining trying to communicate in this way. I was content being nattered to though and listened to Dan nattering away whilst not taking my eyes away from Oscar.
The anaesthetist appeared at my left shoulder again and asked if I could feel what was happening below the screen. I tried to mouth that it was uncomfortable but that I couldn’t feel pain. He told me that he couldn’t hear me and Dan tried to explain that the amount of pressure meant that I hadn’t been able to talk for a while now. The anaesthetist tried to get me to talk again, which I still could not do. He then administered something through the cannula in my left hand and disappeared briefly. Although I couldn’t see the people in the theatre I could sense the urgency in their voices now and grasped from snatches of conversation going on that I was badly bleeding and that I would have to be put right out so that Dan would have to leave. They came to collect Dan and Oscar who were quickly ushered away. I remember somebody holding on to my throat and then I remember nothing.
I came round a couple of hours later in a bed placed inside an individual monitored recovery bay in a high dependency unit, where somebody had remained at my side tracking my stats whilst I was out of things. A drip was attached to the cannula in my left hand and I was aware of a bag of blood hanging from the side of the bed. I immediately asked for Dan and Oscar and somebody was sent to get them.
Whilst I had been in the operating theatre Dan had been sat with Alice in a small room and had the chance to have skin-to-skin with Oscar, as Oscar was yet to spend any time with me. Oscar was apparently very thumb sucky, causing people to think that he had perhaps been thumb sucking for a while when he had been inside me. I was too weak to hold Oscar and my stomach and just generally, my whole body was too swollen and sore to have him near to me with his kicking legs and punching arms. The midwife tried to help me feed him, but when this didn’t happen straight away, it was deemed more urgent to get some colostrum into him by any means, rather than get hung up over breastfeeding, as he had been delivered several hours ago now. I was shown how to massage my breasts so that milk appeared, which was then suctioned off with a syringe and fed to Oscar in small doses. I was told that it was common for breastfeeding to take a little longer due to not having had any skin-to-skin time yet and having not spent the first few hours of his short little life with Oscar.
Over the next hour or so they drip fed me pieces of information about the surgery. As they were stitching me back up my uterus had torn and bled badly, resulting in blood loss of more than a litre. They had had to undo stitches and repair me, before sewing me back up again. Not knowing how much blood the body contains, this didn’t mean a huge amount to me at the time, but on Googling later to discover that there are only about 5 litres of blood in an adult body, I realised just how much this was!
Once I was awake I needed to have bloods taken, which seemed bizarre to me. I’d just lost a ridiculous amount of blood and they wanted to take more for testing?! The veins in my right side are rubbish for needles and so I always have to advise using the left side when I go for blood tests. They couldn’t use my left side now though, as the bag of fluids was dripping through my veins so any test results would be skewed. A nurse tried twice before calling for a doctor and then even he took two attempts before being able to get any from me, leaving four cotton wool balls strapped to the inside of my elbow and side of my wrist.
Having lost so much blood, my iron levels were now declared very low and I did indeed feel very weak. It wasn’t until we were here and all obs taken that we finally had a second to call our parents and let them know that Oscar had arrived. Dan’s Mum had rung and texted several times over the past few hours and I knew that my own parents would be worried by now, knowing what time we were due to go in that morning. It was nearly 8pm. Having not eaten for more than 24 hours by this point, my stomach started to rumble and I was glad when I was brought two slices of toast which Dan buttered for me to devour.
They brought Oscar over and handed him to me in bed, – the first time that I had gotten a chance to see or touch him. He was tiny. A porter arrived and between her and a midwife, they wheeled my bed through to the bay we had been in that morning, with Oscar by my side and with Dan following closely behind. Crossing the threshold into the lift was absolute agony as the wheels bumped over the edge and I whimpered in pain.
We were left for a little while and so quickly called or messaged the few people that had known we were due to go in that morning as there was a good chance they would be worried by now having not heard from us for so long. Everyone else could wait until at least the following day. It was gone 9:30pm that evening before Dan left for home. We had made the decision that he would begin his maternity leave once I left hospital, as I would need much more help around the home than if we were able to have a natural birth. This meant that he would have to be up and off to work at 6:30am the following morning, and he intended on coming straight through to the hospital from work in the evenings to visit me.
Recovery post C-section was much harder than I thought it would ever be, but I shall save that for another post…
For the time being, Dan and I have made the decision not to publicly share any images of Oscar on social media or the blog.