It’s a very odd feeling, walking along a hospital corridor, gowned up, knowing you will meet your baby within the hour. I wanted to shout ‘I’m having a baby!’ at people as they passed me without a second glance, on their way to appointments or scans, oblivious to the life changing happenings that lay behind the doors of labour ward.
It took us a little while to navigate through, with contractions making me stop every so often, but eventually we arrived at our destination – the ominous double doors of the theatre suite.
The midwife waited with me while my husband (D) went to get changed in to a rather fetching set of theatre greens. With him all George Clooney-ed up, we made our way in. Usually in our hospital, Dad’s aren’t allowed to be present in theatre during the preperation stage, but as agreed in my birth plan, he was able to hold my hand every step of the way. (since M was born, this policy has changed and now Dad’s can be present for elective caesareans as standard at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital)
We had an all female theatre team (theatre sister, 2 x theatre nurse, midwife, anaesthetist, 2 x doctor) and having a room full of women all there for us made me feel really supported – they couldn’t have been kinder. I popped up on to the table and waited while various leads were attached to me for monitoring. I had asked for no leads to be placed on my chest to allow clear access for skin to skin, so they were placed on my back and ribcage instead. The clip that usually goes on a finger to measure pulse and O2 saturation was popped on a toe. I’d requested to have my gown on backwards, but in the end I wore it the right way round, and slipped an arm out so it could be lifted easily for skin to skin.
Unfortunately due to having rather pathetic veins, I had to be cannulated in my dominant hand but it wasn’t a problem thankfully. We’d left home without our playlists, but we were content with the radio playing quietly in the background, and to be honest I didn’t notice it all once we got started.
Then it was time to get my spinal. With the theatre sister holding one hand, and D the other, I hunched over a pillow and thought happy thoughts as a local anaesthetic was administered. This nipped for all of 10 seconds, and then I felt nothing other than a little pressure. Soon after, my legs started to feel warm and tingly and I was asked to lie down and swing my legs on to the table before they got too numb!
It was all go down at the bottom of the bed, with the midwife popping in a catheter, and the anaesthetist checking how numb I was. Once she was happy I couldn’t feel anything, the bed was tilted to the left, my stomach washed and sterile drapes placed over me. I had asked for the drapes to be lowered when the head was delivered, but they didn’t put them up properly so I could see as soon as I wanted too.
And then it was time to begin. Lots of people report feeling like someone is doing the washing up inside you, but I really felt very little other than some pressure a few times. My husband held my hand and the atmosphere in theatre was lovely – light hearted but very respectful at the same time. It what seemed like only seconds since they had begun, I was being held up a little by the shoulders so I could see our daughter coming in to the world. Seeing her come out of me made me feel instantly connected and she was passed – covered in vernix and shouting with great vigour – to me for immediate skin to skin.
I took every bit of her in as she roared about her entrance in to the world. We had a little cry and introduced ourselves to our beautiful daughter. She felt and looked tiny in comparison to her big brother when he was born, and smelt delicious. We were covered in towels, and the drapes were popped up so we didn’t see any more of the surgery. At that moment it could have been just us three in the theatre – I was so completely oblivious to everything else going on around me. Our little girl was here, perfect and whole, instant love filling us once again.
In under half an hour I was through in recovery. Other than a brief 5 minute cuddle with her Dad, we’d been skin to skin since delivery, and continued to be so. We were able to tie off the cord with our cord ties, and he cut the cord. We were checked regularly, but were mainly left to bond as a family, take pictures and phone family. He’d had been with me every step of the way, and we were able to enjoy baby gazing over our daughter and spreading the news together. Last time we had been separated for hours and he’d had to leave me soon after I returned from having my tear repaired. I felt high, elated, and so happy – we’d had the birth experience I’d longed for. Calm, respectful, with my husband and baby with me at all times. I couldn’t thank the midwife looking after me enough – I think I may have been close to gushing!
M had no difficulties in getting herself acquainted with the ‘milk bar’ and she fed well in recovery. After a few hours, and a strip wash, we were off to the postnatal ward. Unfortunately there were no private rooms, so I was put in a 4 bedded bay. Luckily there was only one other mama in the bay, so it was pretty peaceful. D stayed with me till 630 before heading home to put the toddler to bed. We had both missed him a lot but he’d had a wonderful time with his granny. My mum came in from 730 till 9 before tucking us in to bed. Our first night together had begun.
I have more to write about my birth, which I’m saving for another post, but suffice to say, my natural caesarean was the healing experience I desperately needed it to be. I’m sure my fast recovery is down to how smoothly it all went and I feel very happy with my decision to go down the elective caesarean route.
You can read the first part of my birth story here.