As most of you know thanks to my last post, last week I had my elective caesarean surgery. A full week has passed since the day, and I finally feel coherent enough to put my post together – life with a new born is a whole new experience and while I’m enjoying every second of it.. The lack of sleep is a killer.
Obviously this post is way out of my usual comfort zone – but one I want to write and treasure as the years go on. I may have had no makeup on and some serious bed hair by the end of the day, but I also had a little man in my arms and I haven’t fully let him go just yet!
I arrived at the hospital at 7.45am – we had been told to arrive for 8am so that the scheduled caesareans could be put into order. On arrival, we were informed that there would be three planned C-sections that day – as it turned out, I would be the last one and I’d be going down for surgery just before lunchtime.
As we waited, it was all a little surreal.
I could hear women all around me who were either anxiously awaiting the same as myself, or the women who had just been through the procedure settling their new babies and recovering. None of us made eye contact with one another at first – because we had arrived before 8am, some new Mothers were still sleeping and it was a little awkward sitting in the ward as they came around from the night before when we were all somewhat bright eye’d and bushy tailed compared.
As I mentioned on my last post, I had to take some medication before coming in too – one tablet at 10pm the night before which I openly admit made me trump like crazy.. Then another of the same at 6am. I had a separate one to take at 6am too, but I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink at all from 12am the night before so I was enviously watching people drink the coffee that was offered around.
After a few hours had passed, I was given my gown and stockings to wear. The stockings were a two-woman job, a friendly midwife helping me get into them as I’d never had stood a chance alone. I was next. This was at around 11am, and she told me I should be in before lunchtime – easing my mind a little as I wanted time after to recover with my son and family who were waiting outside the ward just as anxious as I was.
It didn’t go to plan however.
As 3pm rolled round, I was given a drip as I was dehydrating – something was happening in surgery and mine had been pushed back. While I don’t begrudge anyone going in for emergency surgery, I remember feeling sick at this point – I’d had so many hours to think about the procedure and I’d seen so many women come onto the ward sore – what happened down there? The fear of the ‘unknown’ was real and I struggled internally for another hour before I was approached by two orderlies. It was time.
Mike had to go get himself scrubbed up so I nervously wandered to the operating theatre (carrying my drip!) and met the team who would be looking after me. As I sat on the edge of the bed, I remember a female nurse taking off my knickers – I’d left them on! – and gently poking fun at how I really shouldn’t be prude. They’d seen a lot. One nurse was explaining what would be happening over the next few moments, as I’d be having a ‘spinal’ – when Mike reappeared, I held onto him and listened.
The Spinal Block
I was told to lean forward over my bump, and push my back bones out as much as I could. Being pregnant, this wasn’t the most comfortable but I did as I was told – I felt a scratch on my back as a general anaesthetic was injected into the area that the spinal block would be inserted, but with Mike taking the brunt of my nerves on his hand and the kind nurse hugging me incredibly hard while talking me through what was happening – I simply felt a pushing on my spine before my legs began to feel like I was getting into a nice warm bath.
It was an incredibly bizarre feeling.
My bum began to warm up and feel the same, and I was told to lie back on the bed – something I couldn’t do as my legs weren’t working! Thankfully, that had been part of the plan and I was assisted into getting into position as a catheter was inserted. I remember my arms being straight out either side of me – one arm had a blood pressure cuff on, and the other my drip was attached. Mike was over one shoulder, holding my head as the anxiety surrounding the situation kicked in – I was going to be sliced open!
One of the doctors began testing what I could, and what I couldn’t feel by using something very cold. He dripped it on my arm and I physically recoiled as it was so cold – then he did the same on my stomach and I felt nothing. That was the green light for things to get underway.
The Caesarean Procedure
Another team arrived at this point, introducing themselves in a haze of my own nerves. As they lifted my gown and covered my dignity with a towel, people were being so professional and calm – it helped me center myself a little although it did nothing for the terror I felt in my chest. As they finished painting my baby bump bright orange (“do you like our brand of fake tan?”) a screen was lifted and my view obscured.
I could feel people moving around my bump, but I couldn’t work out what was happening.. No pain, just the pressure of people moving or leaning over me. At one point, someone asked if we wanted to see our baby arrive and we agreed, the screen then dropping. I couldn’t see anything as my bump was still there, but within a few seconds something purple was brought into view and I heard Mike telling me it was our boy.
He was then laid on my chest as we both welcomed him – a tiny little boy, barely bigger than my own head as he shivered against my chest. The screen was back up then, and Mike was told to head to the ‘recovery room’ so he didn’t have to watch me getting sewn back together – my little boy taken to go get weighed.
It all happened so fast, I had done so much reading on what happened in the operating theatre but honestly? Nothing really prepared me for the overwhelming realisation that this was me on the table, and my son was being brought into the world. While it was the scariest moment of my life so far, I’ll treasure that moment he was placed on me.
As I was wheeled into recovery, Mike was waiting alongside our little bundle of joy. I can’t remember a lot of the recovery room in all honesty as it seems to be a whirlwind of pain relief and complete shock. The feeling of relief was incredible – I had done it. He was here, he was in my arms and perfect – and we were all together.
I did find out the day afterward that a suppository for pain relief had been inserted, so that probably explains my hazy fog post-surgery. We had some time in recovery where I was given a little lesson in breast feeding, before I went back up to the ward.. Time had gone at that point so Mike had barely a few moments with us before he had to go. Then I was alone, with this tiny little being that was dependent on me. He was comfortably curled up on my chest as nurses came to change pads underneath me, give me morphine and some dinner.
It was a really overwhelming feeling, and one I didn’t enjoy so much.. I remember it being 2am and I was alone on a ward with my first baby. What did I do? Nobody came to tell me what to do, there was no little handbook that came out with him and I couldn’t google things. I was on my own.
As 6am came round, someone came and kindly gave me a bed bath – I was still in my gown from surgery so they redressed me in one of the nighties I had brought and assured me someone would be there to bathe the baby in the morning. Nobody came, so I did my best with some wipes as I knew he would be having visitors that day – with the head of hair he came out with he really needed a bit of a tidy up. My surgery scar was hot and painful – I could drag myself up the bed but it was a slow affair and it just wasn’t comfortable. More morphine was given to me at around 10am, and I spent a lot of the day trying to feed baby and get my head around everything.
I was taken for a shower that morning, walking incredibly slowly and feeling every movement around the incision – but I was so desperate to feel a bit more human and less grimy I knew a shower was the only option. The catheter had been removed at that point, so with the help of some massive knickers and a giant maternity pad, I was able to put some clean pyjamas and feel a bit fresher.
Mike came to see us just after lunchtime, and thankfully he was an expert at feeding the little one and I learned a lot from just watching him. After the shock of the previous night it was nice to spend time with my little family without worrying if I had done something wrong or if I would break the baby.. Winding him terrified me previously but I was reassured I was doing as well as I could be. Again, while I was so in love with my little one.. The lack of direction given after birth was really tough. I hadn’t done this before, I had no idea what I was doing and I was terrified I was doing something wrong, especially with a lot of confusion surrounding blood sugars and baby being whisked off every hour or two to have his bloods checked.
The rest of that afternoon, family came to see us and my little one stole the show – he didn’t have to have his bloods checked nearly as often after that first night which was a relief. I was simply counting the hours down at that point – as much as staff had been friendly, I wanted to go home. The next day rolled around, and as I packed up my things (very slowly) the midwife signing me off approached me and asked if I’d been prescribed any regular painkillers.. No. No wonder my scar had been so painful, I’d been on paracetamol since the morphine had worn off. That was the last straw for me, and I just needed to be out of there – thankfully, at 12pm Mike was pushing baby out in a pushchair and I was gingerly following with a bag of medication.
While my aftercare experience was abysmal, I’m glad that I endured the two days – now we are home we can adjust to family life and I can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for us all!