People love nothing more, when they see you waddling towards them, with your rounded ready-to-pop belly, than to relay to you all the crazy, scary, bloody gooey details of any birth they have seen/experienced/heard about/seen on tv etc.
Birth, on the grand scale of things, is a very very small part of becoming a parent, at most, it is a few days of your journey, at best, just a few short hours, yet somehow is turned in to this overwhelming scary monster that “every woman must brave and overcome, every woman must have the perfect birth”
Of course, I extend my deepest sympathies and love to those women for whom birth hasn’t been simple, ladies who have suffered a birth trauma, sometimes so bad that they will never dare to have another child. To women and men that watched it all spiral out of control, and sometimes, regrettably go tragically wrong.
I am one of the lucky mothers. Sebastien’s birth was a wonderful experience. This may not be what you expect to hear from a woman who had no choice but to undergo a caesarian section. Surgery is scary, it seems to be the ultimate fear. Ladies don’t want to fail, they don’t want to go under the knife.
Well. This is my story. My journey “under the knife” and it was beautiful.
We knew, from the minute those two little lines appeared on a pee soaked stick, that Sebastien’s birth wouldn’t be doula’s and whale music, we knew that, because of my medical history, and potentially complex needs, we would be welcoming our son in to the world via c section. This didn’t phase Michael or I all that much, and at one point, doctors even needed to remind me that a c section is still major surgery, even if it is the shortest surgery I have ever undergone.
Sebastien was born at 12.03pm on the 27th May, I still have vivid memories of the car journey to Swindon hospital on the morning of the section, I still remember the trepidation as we were welcomed on to the delivery ward, and asked to change in to gowns, ready for our slot in theatre. In the weeks leading up to Sebastien’s birth-day the consultants and midwives met with my husband and I on a few occasions. It was detailed in my notes that delayed cord clamping was desired, (apgar score permitting) that I wanted to breastfeed, and that we wanted immediate skin to skin with daddy rather than swaddling once our little man was in the world. We also agreed to the vitamin k shot.
The atmosphere in the room before we went to theatre was very relaxed, staff let us know we were 3rd on the list, and I even had a good 90 minute nap, as well as touching up my make up ready for our adventure to theatre.
We met the anaesthetist, picked outfits out for little man, chatted with the midwife, took selfies, laughed at the ridiculous hospital gowns, signed consent forms, and just like that, at 11.47am, I waddled off to theatre with Mike holding my hand.
I was asked to sit on the theatre bed, with my feet on a little step, and drop my bump as far down as I could muster, so that I was leaning over, ready for my spinal. The spinal was administered in seconds. Swiftly, painlessly, effectively, and started to work almost immediately.
Theatre staff swung me round so that I was laying in my back on the bed, then tilted the bed at an angle, so that I was almost laying on my left hand side, before straightening the bed out and slathering my tummy in iodine. It was at this point that I began to feel very very faint, and awfully sick, I could feel myself wanting to panic, but before the panic set in, staff were there with a little kidney dish, making reassuring noises, and Mike was settled on a chair by my head, gripping my hand so tightly. Staff attached little monitors to my chest, then used an ice cube to test where I had feeling, if any, so that surgery could begin. The feeling of them opening up my tummy, wasn’t uncomfortable or unpleasant, but definitely a strange sensation, I remember the smell as they broke my waters,Mike looking at me smiling, whilst I set off alarm after alarm, as the anaesthetist that stood by my head repeatedly pushed fluids (I have no idea what, but the beeping would stop for a few seconds) through the cannula in my arm.
All of a sudden. There it was. This cry. This angry, powerful cry that filled our hearts with joy.
“Baby is out” they said. I lay there. Smiling at Michael, and catching a glimpse of our tiny infant over my bump (the screen was low enough for me to see over) Mike was told to cut the cord, and asked to stand still whilst the attending midwives weighed Sebastien, they then deftly shoved him up Mike’s theatre scrubs, before covering Mike in towels and making him return to his seat by my head. Sebastien’s head was a mass of blood and hair, with tiny little dark curls.
I reached out, and felt the top of Sebastien’s head, nestled in his daddy’s chest. Theatre staff were fabulous, and snapped picture after picture for us, whilst we sat there, staring at our little baby. At this point, I was still feeling very very woozy, and struggling to stay awake.
Not once, was there any panic from the dr’s or midwives or nurses, and no point did they tell my husband that they were struggling to keep me conscious, they just calmly ushered Mike back to the room with Sebastien, where the vitamin k shot was administered, and Mike was able to dress him, and call his mum to tell her she was now officially “Nainy”
Staff finished stitching me up, their voices telling me to stay with them, to keep talking, “it’s ok if you want to be sick”, that I was ok, and that I would be back with my boys very soon.
I was wheeled back to the room just before 1pm, and for the first time since he was born, I held Sebastien in my arms. The midwife helped me to position myself with pillows, so that Sebastien could have his first feed. As soon as his little nose came near my breast, he instinctively opened his mouth and latched on.
Just like that. Our son was born.
At no point were Mike or I worried, or scared, we weren’t made to feel like anything was going wrong despite at one point them struggling to keep me conscious, and no moment did we feel overwhelmed by the bright lights of theatre,(other than the overwhelming love when Sebastien was born).
A c section may not be a birth that many women want to undergo, but in my experience, it is empowering and gentle, it’s not rough, or panicked, it’s not rushed, even though it is efficient. You can still have your wishes met, you still get skin to skin, you can still breastfeed, and your husband can hold your hand.
A very good friend of mine recently blogged about her son’s birth. A beautiful, raw, honest and gentle Waterbirth. A complete opposite to Sebastien’s arrival, and probably more the image of birth that people have in their minds. Be warned. She writes beautifully, and it will make you cry.
Ps: to all the staff at Swindon hospital, that helped Mike and I welcome our son in to the world, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Thank you for making it beautiful.
Pps: our second child arrived on March the 22nd I’ve written about her birth too! X