I had an unplanned cesarean with my first child. Even though I had read up on cesarean delivery, the material was delivered in a very matter-of-fact, clinical manner. But, like most things, reading and doing are not the same. So allow me to apprise you of some of the experiences that I had – which no one told me about – and which you may or may not encounter.
I Can’t Feel My Legs When I’m With You…
After fourteen hours of unsuccessful labor, I was wheeled away to an operating room to birth my daughter in essentially the same manner as that guy in the movie, Aliens, did.
I know some women feel disappointed that they do not get to feel that sense of accomplishment that comes with expelling their prodigy from their vagina, but at this point, I had been induced, had my water broken with a yarn needle, and was on all kinds of pain medication. Having the most unnatural birth on record was my accomplishment.
I had an epidural during labor, whereas most women who have planned c-sections are given a Spinal Block.
There is a difference and the difference that will matter to you goes like this.
Epidural: You have no legs. For some reason, you are able to feel some small random part of your uterus. There’s a scientific reason for this, but you don’t give a shit. The silver lining is that you don’t care.
Spinal Block: You have no legs and no body; you are a floating head. This also means you can’t feel yourself breathing (temporarily). It is perfectly okay to yell at the doctors that you cannot breathe. Likewise, there is no need to feel stupid when they calmly point out that if you can scream, you are breathing.
Off to the operating room I went. It takes five men to fling you over from your hospital bed to the operating table. They seem to fling you pretty forcefully for an object that’s only six inches away. You will pray that they don’t overshoot their landing.
You will also dubiously eye this ‘table’ they are transferring you to. Operating tables are narrow. Quickly doing the math, you deduce that it’s about a 2ft width for a body that’s about 4ft fat. If you’ve had an epidural, you’re pretty sure your upper body made it, but you have no idea if your legs did.
Someone will ask you ‘if you feel this’. They are poking at you with something (which you will assume is a fork) to see if you can feel where they are about to cut.
You will take a good 15 seconds trying to decide if you do.
The Blue Tarp of Claustrophobia
Your vision is blocked by the blue tarp they hang in front of your face while prepping you for your c-section. So, you can’t feel and now you can’t see.
I want to take just a brief minute to say a few things about this little curtain. This curtain’s purpose is to prevent the woman in labor from being able to see anything that is happening on the other side….which starts just below your chin.
The drape is also made out of thin, tissue-like paper – which gets stuck to your face every time you breathe in. So, you’ll push it back out with your tongue. Annnd, it will just come right back. Out with tongue, in with breath. Out, in, out in. Just turn your head to the side.
I assume the tarp also serves another purpose, in which it provides a sterile barrier. If you sneeze or puke (which is common), your open body cavity will be safe.
You may not be able to feel or see anything happening at Ground Zero…..but you can still hear. It doesn’t sound good. You can try to ask your significant other what’s going on, but since he gets no drape, he gets a mask. And you can’t hear a damn thing he’s saying.
C-Section Peek-a-Boo: The First Time You (Sort Of) See Your Baby
FINALLY, the moment arrives and you hear the beautiful cries of your baby.
The doctor will take pity on you and briefly raise him/her up high enough for you to see. But that’s all you get.
Nurses take your baby to a separate area – which is conveniently located behind your head. After what seems like an eternity, your significant other will bring your tightly swaddled baby over to you.
The only visible part is their tiny face – which you can’t see. Your significant other will be too nervous to either bend down or turn the baby far enough over so you can see what has come from your womb.
After your insides are secured back into your body, you are wheeled out of the operating room.
At last, someone will want to hand you your baby. Only now you have the shakes. And you’re nauseous. And probably ready for a twelve hour nap.
At some point, a nurse will want to wrap this huge-ass support belt around your belly. Even though you are still numb, your brain knows this should hurt like a muthaf!@#$%. Hours later, the last of your epidural – or sooner if you had a Spinal- will wear completely off.
Your nurse somehow knows the exact minute this happens because she will be in your room and tell you that you need to get up and try walking. This is her way of getting you used to the fact that once you are a mother, people no longer care if you are ill. Suck it up.
Your nurse will also want to press on your uterus and make you cough. This helps firm up your uterus. You don’t give one rat’s ass about the firmness of your uterus. What you care about is timing these lovely massage sessions with the delivery of your pain medication.
After any abdominal surgery, your digestive system is sluggish, and a c-section is no different.
While your nurse is rubbing your uterus, air in your intestines uses this distraction to hurriedly escape your butthole……while bent over in close proximity of others in the area…..annnnnd usually when your co-workers are there for a visit.
The doctor will also send you home with a ‘stool softener’ to help those first few bowel movements.
The good news is that since nothing passed through your vagina, you do not have to overly worry about pain in your lady bits when you go to the bathroom.
The bad news is that thanks to uterine contractions caused from breastfeeding and your ‘gentle’ stool softener, you will have to book-it to the bathroom before you have explosive diarrhea.
Because women recovering from abdominal surgery can hurriedly pop up and sprint to the toilet and everything.
Barely There and Hidden In Your Pubic Hair – Your C-Section Scar
Lastly….the incision. Never mind the stretch marks, droopy boobs, and jiggly gut; let us worry about the tiny 5 inch line that is literally directly above your vagina.
It’s truly not scary looking – not that you can see it over your distended abdomen at this point anyway.
I will say that I did not take it easy enough in the first week or so after my c-section and my incision came open a tiny bit. A little bit of clear fluid oozed out which I interpreted to mean that my guts were about to explode out of my stomach. Not the case. You have multiple layers of incisions.
Don’t worry; call your doctor and let them know and then TAKE IT EASY!
The good news is that it’s typically small enough and low enough that you can still wear a bikini. And if not, that weird flap of skin that used to be your abs will totally hang down and hide it. Huzzah!
Our next recos: A Gentle Cesarean