Cassidy Williams

a blog, or whatever

My c-section experience

I had a baby a couple weeks ago! Ahh! She’s an absolute delight and we love her deeply, but also… this has been the hardest two weeks of my life by far. It’s so mind-shattering how much life has changed. Everyone says that it’s the most intense thing you’ll ever experience, but those words don’t really explain it enough. It’s extreme moments of joy and extreme moments of sadness back and forth, all the time.

But anyway, I am writing down what happened with my c-section and hospital experience for anyone who doesn’t know how these things go, who might benefit from the knowledge, and who might be going through it themselves.

Content warning: I’m gonna be talking about surgery, babies, bodies, fluids, shots, the works. If you get queasy reading such things, you should probably stop reading now.

Prepping for the day of

In the days before your c-section, you’ll have to do some kind of bloodwork to make sure everything looks good. The results for that last 72 hours, and I recommend doing that as early as you can so that the needle prick can heal a bit. You’re going to have a lot more of those in the next fews days. You’ll also wanna… groom the downstairs area. If you don’t, they’ll shave you. You don’t want that.

On the day of, you can’t eat for 8 hours beforehand. If you’re going to have a planned c-section, plan it for the morning so that you can eat the night before and go straight to the hospital in the morning.

My c-section was scheduled for 7:30am, and we had to get there by 5:30am to be monitored and prepped. That involved getting in a gown, having things strapped to me, some light blood work, an IV added to the arm, and answering lots of questions about home life and health.

Side note: why did I get a c-section?

My baby was breech, aka upside down. I had actually tried to do the external cephalic version (ECV) procedure to flip her around, and that was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.

If I were to give advice to anyone experiencing a breech baby: don’t do the ECV. It’s only successful about 50-60% of the time in flipping the baby, and it was more painful than the actual birth itself. I’m very happy to share my experience with you in more detail if you want, but just know that it’s multiple adult doctors physically pushing your baby while you feel your organs being crushed. Just get the c-section.

The build-up to the actual procedure

After the initial prep, a bunch of nurses and doctors come in to tell you all what to expect. They’ll say which rooms you’ll be wheeled into, they’ll give you some initial meds, they’ll tell you what key words to listen for, and they give your designated support person a bunny suit (my lovely husband Joe was my support person, and he did not know that a bunny suit was an actual surgical outfit, and thought he was going to actually be dressed as a rabbit for the birth of our child).

They gave me a super bitter, sour drink called bicitra before going in for the epidural. It was nasty. But, it’s supposed to help you not throw up when you’re strapped to the table. Throw it back like a shot and try not to taste it if you can.

When it was time for the epidural, they rolled me into the operating room. That room is COLD. I was so shaky from both the cold and the nerves that a nurse had to hold my arms and legs still while I curled up like a shrimp. The needle they put in your back is not comfortable. On the plus side, it’s the last time you’ll feel pain until after the baby’s born.

The c-section

Okay, it’s c-section time, and it’s like you’re a race car and all of the doctors and nurses are the pit crew. A lot happens really, really fast.

You are positioned to lay out on the table like a cross, and you’re strapped down. At any point if you’re feeling nauseous, you have to say it loudly because otherwise they will miss it. They pull up a curtain so you can’t see anything below your chest, and they start poking you with something spiky in your arm, and then in your leg, to see how fast the epidural is taking effect.

I was getting particularly nervous at this point, because as you’re losing the feeling of pain, you can still feel them prodding you and positioning you for a while. It was really uncomfortable.

They brought my husband Joe in at this point, and he was on my side of the curtain holding my hand. I had him find a bunch of animal facts earlier to tell me to try and distract me, which was incredibly helpful and I highly recommend you do.

I was nervously crying as he was telling me the facts and I was trying to focus on that, and the anesthesiologist leaned in to say, “hey, I know you’re nervous, but if it helps, they actually cut you open already, they already started, and you felt nothing.” Which did help! But then the PRESSURE began.

You don’t feel pain, but whew, you feel a WEIGHT on your chest like no other. It felt like someone was sitting on me and shaking me, and I was struggling to breathe. The doctors said it was because the muscles around my lungs were numb, so I had to do extra work there. All I could really see were blood splatters (wee) on the curtain, and I was just focusing on breathing as much as I could while Joe talked to me.

The procedure’s total time was pretty fast, I think it was less than a half hour from epidural to baby exit, but it felt way longer. There was a point where I heard the baby cry behind the curtain, but I was still feeling pressure, and the doctors then gave me valium which knocked me out. Joe at that point was able to take pictures of the baby and hold her (he said he accidentally took a quick glance and saw way too many of my organs out as they were about to stitch me back up, be careful of that), and the next thing I knew I was being wheeled into the post-op room seeing him give the baby to me. I admit I was fairly loopy from the drugs for a couple hours after that, so I don’t fully remember what happened besides skin-to-skin time and being hooked up to some machines for monitoring.

The aftermath

And then… our baby was here. We were wheeled into the recovery room, and were there until Tuesday morning (the baby was born on Friday).

In that time we were in the room, the baby and I were checked every two hours for blood pressure and temperature (which does not make for very restful sleep). The nurses and technicians were all very kind though. They have lactation consultants who help with breastfeeding (and by the way, if you don’t want to breastfeed, be firm on that, because they are going to very heavily encourage otherwise), and the doctors come in twice a day to check the scar and bleeding.

Things I didn’t expect that you should be ready for:

Okay. Whew. I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Overall, obviously, we got a healthy baby out of it, so the c-section experience was positive. I think a lot of this is not talked about enough and I hope this can be a useful resource for anyone who wants/needs to know more about the procedures and what it’s actually like!

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