When I first found out I was pregnant, it was a bit of a shock, and I spent the first few weeks in a daze, coming to terms with the fact we were really (all being well) about to be parents all over again. Once I’d got my head around things, I started to think ahead to the birth and after my first experience (read about it here) I was clear on two things: one, I didn’t want to go two weeks overdue, and two, I DID NOT want to be induced.
I visited the VBAC clinic during my pregnancy, found out that second time around after a c-section already, they don’t advise you go more than one week overdue nor are they able to medically induce you – all to do with possible risk of scar rupture (gross, has me imagining something akin to Sigourney Weaver in Alien 3) – both of which I was reassured to hear. So I decided my birth plan would be to see if I went into labour naturally and if so, try for a natural birth, and if not then I would go ahead with an elective c-section.
Fast forward to one week before my due date and there I was, 0.5cm dilated, not showing any signs of going into labour naturally and VBAC seeming increasingly unlikely, so I was booked in for a c-section one week post due date. In the few days running up to that date, I did start to get some cramps and twinges (which really were quite painful, so I was starting to regret my plans for VBAC at that point!) and I’d also started to lose a lot of the mucous plug (sorry, TMI!), so I thought maybe, just maybe, my body might go into labour naturally this time around.
But no… the 31st of January arrived and I still hadn’t gone into labour, so Richmond Daddy and I dropped Allegra off at nursery, then made our way into the hospital that morning, ready for my planned c-section. It did feel quite strange in contrast to last time, going into hospital and knowing that all being well, our new baby girl would be with us within a few hours, but I felt calm and excited and not a bit nervous, which was great.
On arrival, we were then brought onto a ward and an obstetrician came to examine me and talk things through. After she’d had a poke about, she confirmed that she wouldn’t be able to break my waters (in a final bid to see if I might be able to have a natural birth), but that she did think I was probably about two or three days away from going into labour naturally. So my options at that point were either to go home and wait and see, or to go ahead there and then with the c-section.
Lying there on the hospital bed, thinking we could have our baby girl within the next few hours, my desire for a natural birth wasn’t strong enough to out-weigh my desire and excitement of having our new baby with us sooner rather than later. We were there, we were ready, to pack up and go home again just didn’t feel like the right thing to do, so we opted to progress with the c-section and then things got moving.
I got gowned-up, the anaesthetist came by to talk through how the anaesthetic would be administered, how it would be slightly different to what I’d experienced with the emergency section, and to answer any questions. Then I met the midwives that would be with me during the surgery. Then after a short wait, during which Richmond Daddy got into his scrubs, we were then called up to go into theatre.
It felt very strange walking into the OR (sorry, went a bit Grey’s Anatomy then…), clutching a newborn nappy and a little hat, oh and an Amy Winehouse CD (we were allowed to bring our own music in!) and hopping (well, heaving) up onto the operating table and it was at that point the reality of what was about to happen really hit me. I was about to be cut open, awake – okay, numbed, but still awake – and our baby girl was about to come into the world, we were moments away from meeting her.
At that point I started to get a bit panicky, about myself, about the baby, would everything be okay, would we both be fine, would she be healthy and arrive safe and sound? My mind was racing with questions, fears, and my heart felt like it was pounding in my chest, I tried my hardest to stay calm, but I’ll admit, I really did feel scared at this point. Richmond Daddy may have been scared and worried but he didn’t show it, he was a reassuring calming presence, but then he wasn’t about to be sliced open, so…
It took a little while to get the anaesthetic administered and then there were lots of tests to make sure that it was fully working as and where it needed to, during which point I felt quite nauseous and was then struck with a raging thirst and overwhelming desire to drink Diet Coke – strange but true. Then eventually, when I was fully numb, the surgeons were called in and got to work.
Unlike last time, this time around I really did feel much more. I don’t remember feeling a single thing when they were pulling Allegra out, but this time around I felt like an elephant was sitting on me and then I felt a lot of pulling and tugging. It wasn’t painful, but it was a very odd sensation and I remember thinking I’ll be glad when this is over! Amy Winehouse continued to sing over the sound system and I tried to focus on that as everything was happening to and around me.
Finally, to the sound of Amy’s version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, baby Claudia Rose was pulled into the world and lifted into the air, where I saw her little scrunched up face above me, seeing her for the first time after what felt like an eternity of waiting. She quite quickly started crying, a sound that was music to our ears, then the midwives took her to one side to check her over and make sure everything was ok. Thankfully, all was assessed to be well, and then she was brought back to me for our first cuddle and for us to properly meet for the first time. Magical.
After we’d enjoyed some cuddles, Richmond Daddy and our gorgeous baby girl were then bundled off to stand in the corridor outside the operating theatre (I know, weird!) while they cleaned and closed me up. It was at this point that the anaesthetist gave me the smallest thimble of sterilised water to drink, as I’d been complaining about how thirsty I was throughout, and honestly it felt like the most refreshing elixir ever! Once I was all done in theatre, the three of us were brought back to the ward for monitoring and baby’s first feed.
So there it was, all in all about an hour and a half from start to finish, and there I was lying in bed with our new baby. Surreal but exciting. So relieved that all was well and she was finally here with us, meeting baby Claudia for the first time and yet feeling like we already knew her.
I never felt desperate to have a natural birth, for me the priority was always making sure that baby had the best and safest arrival into the world as possible in whatever circumstances I found myself and as it turned out, a c-section was the way for us. When I read my friend and fellow blogger’s account of her recent home birth which sounded truly amazing (you must read it if you like reading birth stories) I did feel a bit sad that my own experience was much more a medicalised affair. But you know what, there’s no point dwelling on that, the main thing is that Claudia arrived safe and well and is happy and healthy, so yes it’s a shame I didn’t get the whole natural birth experience I might have liked (although I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to pain, so maybe I’m just looking at things through rose-tinted glasses?!), but actually the elective c-section was a positive experience and more than that, it brought my baby girl safe and sound into the world and for that I’m truly thankful.
Welcome to the world Claudia Rose: born 11.45am, 31-1-13.