So April is apparently Caesarean Awareness Month. I thought I’d check it out to see what it was all about considering that my birth experience resulted in a caesarean section.
What a total waste of my time.
Basically to cut a long story short, caesarean awareness month is a way in which to make women who have had caesareans feel like failures and like they ‘chose’ the easy option.
After all looking at their statistics, it seems 32% of births in the US now result in surgical delivery compared to 5% of US surgical births in the 1960’s. I wonder what the death rate was during those different periods for the Mothers and the babies. I wonder if more caesareans were offered in the 1960’s, if the statistics of birth related deaths would have been reduced?
Because that’s the thing they tend to not mention. Very few people opt for a caesarean birth. Usually a woman will be lying on that surgical table as a last resort, not a first choice. And let me tell you something, being in a situation where your life and your child’s life is in the hands of another person is not an easy feat. Our bodies were made to deliver babies safely in the natural way. But not all of us get that chance.
In my experience, after spending over 36 hours in induced labour and finally reaching a dilation of 9cm, I ended up with an infection. Irrelevant of antibiotics being pumped through my veins and my body increasingly worn out by the labour process it was hard for me to not succumb to the infection, my mind was becoming confused and my temperature was dangerously soaring.
My eyes were tired.
And so I shut them as a cold flannel was pressed against my forehead. Within seconds I had a medical team around my bed, anaesthetists, doctors and nurses came running in and pushed Mr London Mum away from my bed to access me and my bump. My baby’s heart rate was dramatically dropping. The commotion forced my eyes to open, and as they opened his heart rate went back up.
Feeling content the medical team left me to progress. After all I was only 1cm away from being able to push my baby out. The infection was still rife but it wasn’t going to be long hopefully. I shut my eyes again. Once more the red button was pushed and the team came running through. I was so exhausted. I knew my eyes closing was having an effect on my baby now. Not only was my body trying to still support the life growing inside me, it was also trying to deal with the infection I was dealing with, that was now obviously passing on to my Son.
There was no choice, the baby had to come out now. To keep him in longer would result in more of the infection passing over to him and could cause tragic consequences for both of us.
It was decided it would be best to wheel me into the operating theatre, firstly to still try to give me the natural birth but also if needs be the team could move quickly with a caesarean section.
With the cold metal steel bars being put up around my bed, and Mr London Mum having to change into surgical clothing I was wheeled alone into the theatre with a host of medical professionals. The only person I knew was the midwife who stayed by my side and tried to stop my body from uncontrollably shaking. With your life, and your baby’s life hanging in the balance it’s this team that you know will do their utmost to keep you both safe. You can’t see their faces due to their face masks but you trust them implicitly.
You have to.
Unable to stretch me an extra 1cm to progress with an immediate natural birth and with the baby in distress there was no choice. After receiving a spinal block and finally having Mr London Mum by my side the surgery began.
Lying there fighting an infection, exhausted from the trials of labour and listening to scalpel’s clashing together and mumbling between the surgical team you just wonder if it’s going to go ok. You don’t care about yourself. You don’t care about the pain that will result from having full on abdominal surgery. You don’t care about having a scar. You care about hearing your baby cry for the first time. Everything is out of your control and it’s the team in the room that’ll either get your baby out alive or dead.
Hearing suction machines and feeling hard pressure being pushed into my abdomen which was the hands of the surgeon trying to get my baby out, they eventually after a lifetime managed to pull him out.
For a long time I heard nothing.
Then eventually I heard my Son cry. I cried.
There I was lying on a surgical table, my abdomen sliced open, no doubt blood spilling out of me. The surgeon was still working on me, now attempting to close me up. Waves of nausea were washing over me. My body was going through one of the hardest experiences, labour, coupled with infection fighting and surgery. Being sick isn’t an option when major surgery is happening.
My Son was brought over to me. He wasn’t breathing right. I remember asking repeatedly if he was supposed to sound like that.
After a quick look at him and holding him for literally seconds he was taken away from me. He was sent straight to the neonatal intensive care unit. No skin to skin. No studying of his features, I hadn’t even seen his fingers and toes.
In fact my Son was kept away from me until the day after his birth. They had to get his infection under control and I was unable to move due to my surgery and all the drips and wires going into me.
Now going back to caesarean awareness month- perhaps that’s the awareness they need to look at promoting, real caesarean stories. And the fact that caesareans are perfectly acceptable as a form of birth. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it certainly isn’t any less of a birth than a natural birth. Birth is bringing a child into this world in the safest way you possibly can. We are lucky to be able to have caesareans as an option. Without the surgery there’s no doubt I would have died and my Son would have died during childbirth. Instead of trying to convince Mother’s of how awful caesareans are maybe they should be fighting hard against images such as these:
I’m sorry, but I feel superior that I managed to survive my childbirth. I’m not sure many natural birthing Mother’s would want to trade experiences with me if asked.
And yes I did catch a lucky break. I’m still alive to tell you my experience, and my son is a happy, healthy toddler.
There are many women and babies that still die in childbirth, let’s not take for granted the medical choices open to us.