Well, maybe not 48 different emotions, but the hours surrounding either side of my son’s birth were an absolute whirlwind of emotions; good, bad and some downright disturbing. I’ve never cried so much, both happy and sad tears. At one point I wondered if I had any tears left!
It started Tuesday morning, with annoyance when my alarm went off. I hadn’t slept well (for months) and the reason I had to get up was one I wasn’t interested in: my next appointment with the obstetrician, plus another growth scan. I was positive that they were going to bully me into have a caesarean.
While waiting for the scan I felt nervous. The last scan, two weeks earlier, had shown baby was over 9 pounds. While they were calculating the weight I felt dismayed. At a guessed weight of 11.9 pounds I knew what had to be done. I didn’t want to do it though.
The only way to describe the way I felt in the wait between the scan and my appointment was gutted, but by the time my name was called I was feeling defiant. In the 40 minute wait I’d decided that I knew better and that I could still go with my planned natural birth. But after a few minutes of being in the appointment and actually having my options explained to me and all the risks outlined, I felt defeated. I was scared and angry, but after hearing that they might have to break my babies collarbone on the way out to avoid brain damage, it was clear to me that I needed to have the c-section. Then when I asked when the surgery would be performed, only to be told some time the following week, I felt anxious. What if I went into labour before then and had to have an emergency c-section? Those are riskier and also a lot more traumatic!
I went home feeling deflated. My world had been turned upside down. I was petrified of having surgery, worried for my babies wellbeing and felt guilty that this was somehow my fault. Luckily I had a scheduled visit from my peer support worker who helped me process the emotions until I was feeling ‘normal’ again. Then I was shocked when I got a call to say that my situation had been deemed acute. My c-section would be the following day.
I picked Zombie up from work to let him know. He was excited, but I felt stressed, I had so many things to do before the baby came and suddenly I had less than 24 hours to do it (I was confused, I didn’t have much to do aside from pack a bag and take a pre-op blood test). The rest of the night was spent feeling distracted. I felt vulnerable and unprepared. I should have been excited but I was too frightened.
I slept solidly and woke up feeling grateful for a good nights sleep. I remember standing in the shower and feeling perplexed; I’d suddenly changed my mind from thinking we were having a girl to having a boy. Once out of the shower, I felt rushed as the clock ticked down until Mum arrived to take us to the hospital.
On the ride to the hospital I felt numb. It was really happening. I remained numb until it was time to get changed then felt embarrassed. I had to be shaved in front of several people and I was wearing a gown that didn’t have a back.
On the walk down to the theatre and I felt absolute fear. I concentrated on my breathing, deep breath in, long breath out. Once we were in the theatre I felt surprised that the room was so massive. Nervousness set in the second I sat down to get the spinal block injection as that was the part I was dreading the most. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, the worst part was the anaesthetist pushing on my spine to feel where to put the injection.
I continued my deep breathing exercises as they helped me lie down and set everything up to begin the surgery. I felt thankful when they put a sheet up so that I couldn’t see then alarmed and puzzled because I felt like I couldn’t breathe, yet I could hear my breaths coming out slow and steady and I was shivering even though the room was warm. The anaesthetist assured me that it was just a side effect of the spinal block and that my stats were fine and I began to feel calm.
While I couldn’t feel any pain, I could feel my body moving around with the surgeons activity. I was aware that I had feet and legs etc, but I couldn’t move them. I was paralysed. It was incredibly disconcerting. Zombie was by my side, talking to me soothingly, telling me how well I was doing and asking if it would be alright if he could have a look. I told him it was fine and my midwife came to sit with me while he moved round to check out my insides. It was at this point that I felt disgust as I could smell my skin burning as they cauterized it.
Zombie came back and I felt impatient. I was no longer upset or scared and I felt a sense of longing for my baby to arrive. Zombie stood up again to watch our baby make their appearance and caught his first glimpse just as baby was pulled out of me. He asked me if I wanted to know the sex and I cried tears of elation when he told me we had boy, although I maintain that he could said we had an elephant and I would have been just as happy.
I could hear our boy crying as the neo-natal team checked him over and Zombie took lots of photos. I felt spaced out, the whole situation didn’t feel real. Then they brought my son to me for the first time and I cried happy tears again. I was disappointed when they told me that I wouldn’t be able to have skin to skin with him as he was too heavy and I would struggle to breathe. I was still crying happy tears when they moved me onto another bed and on my side and wheeled me into the recovery room.
They then helped me feed my son for the first time and I was relieved when he latched on immediately. I was able to have skin to skin with him at this point as well but I felt a little deflated by it as I couldn’t feel my body to enjoy it. I was only allowed one visitor at a time in the recovery room so Zombie went back to the waiting area and let Mum come in to visit. As she walked in I asked if she wanted to meet her Grandson and her face just lit up with surprise; She also thought he was going to be a girl. I took some photos of Mum holding our boy before she left for Zombie to come back.
I was monitored for a while and felt proud that my stats were fine and that I was quickly regaining feeling in my legs. It wasn’t long before I was wheeled up to my room and I suddenly realised just how hungry I was and felt disappointed when I realised I’d missed lunch. Then I felt regret that I was more focused on myself than my son. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, Mum and Zombie took turns to cuddle my newborn, midwives came in and out to check on us and I felt comforted when both of our checks were always clear. I cried a lot of happy tears regularly for the rest of the day watching how beautiful Zombie and my boy were together.
I felt self-concious when the hospital aides got me up for a shower, but only because the shower seat gave way beneath me while I was sitting on it and my first thought was ‘I didn’t realise I was so heavy!’ Luckily I wasn’t hurt, the aide heard the seat falling and grabbed me before I could hit the ground and I was able to laugh about it right away.
After Mum and Zombie left, despite the fact that I had help at the touch of a button, I felt vulnerable. l lay on the bed, staring through the clear bassinet at this tiny human who was completely dependent on me and felt paranoid that I hadn’t bonded with him and concerned that I was going to do a terrible job. I was also starving, but they wouldn’t let me eat because I hadn’t been able to keep anything down after dinner. I wanted to sleep, but I was uneasy that he would stop breathing if I did.
After a while I nodded off but I slept so lightly that I woke up to every single noise he made. I was filled with awe at the how cute they were, but then I realised that he was choking. Absolute panic set in as I tried to move him onto his side, but I couldn’t move well and he was swaddled so tightly that I couldn’t move him either. I had a brief moment of clarity when I realised I needed to hit the panic button and almost instantly a bunch of midwives came rushing into the room. I sputtered out that he was choking and they quickly sorted him out, but I was so upset that I burst into the first lot of tears that wasn’t happy tears that day. I had been convinced that he was dying, but as it turned out it was just mucous in his lungs which c-section babies don’t get pushed out of them during the birthing process.
At this stage I was relieved again, because I realised how terrified I had been of losing him, that it absolutely meant that even if I hadn’t bonded with him yet, that I had fallen in love with him cared about him deeply and that was what was important. I didn’t sleep again that night, worried that he would end up vomiting again, but he didn’t until the next morning when Zombie was changing him and I found that I was a lot more level-headed the second time around.
In the last two weeks since the birth of my son, the rollercoaster of emotions has shown no sign of slowing down and I don’t expect it to any time soon, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have my little family and I couldn’t be happier.
Smiles and Sunshine