[Editor’s Note: Today we’re running a two-post series on c-sections and how they affected two moms differently. First up we have Contributing Writer Carrie London. Her c-section wasn’t planned and left her feeling all kinds of things. -Jenna]
I never thought I would have a large baby. I am not even five feet tall and my husband weighs 165 lbs soaking wet.
Even when I became pregnant and my belly swelled and swelled, I was told by my OBGYN that everything looked fine—my daughter was measuring average. I believed her. I kept thinking to myself, “You can do this. You can push this child out like you were meant to do.”
By the time I was six months pregnant, I looked nine months pregnant.
The week before my water broke, I was not able to fit shirts over my stomach. I developed a PUPPS rash and felt absolutely miserable. The doctor still insisted that everything looked normal, even after I repeatedly asked if a scheduled C-Section would be necessary due to my size.
No one said anything to me about the possibility of a C-Section.
My water broke and I went into labor two days before my due date. I dilated slowly and painfully.
I had two epidurals placed into my spine, neither worked. I had bag after bag of pitocin pumped into my body because I was not progressing as fast as they wanted me to do. I labored for 22 hours, pushing for two of those hours. I was running a fever. I lost bladder control. I tore myself. She was there, she was in the birth canal but could not make the final turn through my pelvis bone. As we approached the last hour, I was blacking out between pushes. I was weak and defeated.
Then, and only then, did my OBGYN lean over to me and say, quietly, we may want to start considering a C-Section.
Before she could even finish the sentence I yelled, “YES.” I removed all of my jewelry, my family filed into my labor room as if to say goodbye to me. The nurses gave me the awful syrup to drink so I wouldn’t get heartburn during the surgery. I almost threw it up and they yelled at me that if I threw it up, I would have to take it again.
Within 10 minutes of the initial consideration for the surgery, I was wheeled into an operating room. I was placed onto a small slab of plastic. I was sitting up, barely conscious, when the anesthesiologist came into the room. He took one look at my back and asked, “Did any of these epidurals work for you?” I shook my head. He put his hand on my shoulder, “I am going to do it correctly. Don’t worry.”
What was incorrect about the two other ones I had been given and, later, billed for?!
When the tubing in my back was in place, I was laid down on the cold plastic. I was draped, my arms began to shake uncontrollably so my arms were tied down in the shape of Christ on the cross. A small woman sat up above my head, holding my cheeks gently.
“You won’t feel anything. It will just feel like they are pushing on your stomach.” I nodded, only comprehending some of what she was saying.
Then, before I was even cut, there was commotion behind my curtain.
The catheter wouldn’t go in. My baby’s head was blocking where it should go up into. A nurse was instructed to quickly go get a child’s size one. While none of this hurt, the sensation of multiple attempts of a catheter being strung up into you is not pleasant, to say the least.
The children’s size was small enough to snake it around her head and put it in place. Once this was accomplished it felt like 14 hours had passed. It was probably only about 3 minutes.
They cut. Two definite cuts; one to my belly and then one to my uterus. It felt like a cat kneading on my belly to get comfortable. People were talking to me the whole time. It was like when you’re in the dentist with your mouth full of metal and your dentist wants to hear about your vacation from a few months ago; I’M KIND OF INDISPOSED RIGHT NOW, DUDE.
After a few more seconds of pulling, I was fully flayed open. I feel her let loose of my body. I felt her spill out of me.
As this happened, the crowd behind my curtain gasped in shock. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy my stomach had become extremely swollen and pointed. No amount of ultrasounds could figure out what that point was because you couldn’t really make anything out at that point because she was so squished inside of me.
As my child was released from me, my OBGYN yelled, “It was her knees! Those were knees!”
And then, as they pulled her free of me, another gasp. They held her over the curtain for me to see immediately.
She was a giant alien baby.
She looked like an 18 month old.
And she was mad.
Even before suctioning, she was screaming a gargled sound that I could only think to myself, “Me too, girl. Me too.”
They swiftly took her to the room across the hall to clean and measure. My husband trailed behind her procession, dumbfounded and well aware that I was probably going to blame this on him, somehow.
When they brought her back in quickly to hold against my face, my arms being strapped down still, my husband said quietly, “She’s 8 lbs…1oz….21 inches long. Jesus, Carrie.”
They took her away then, to be put in the little plastic baby box that all newborns arrive in.
Out there, in the hall, my entire family stood, gaping at the window and waiting to see the newest precious thing to enter our family. A few moments before my daughter was brought out, another baby was placed in a box.
It was small, docile, fell immediately asleep. Everyone cooed and shed tears, assuming that must have been my child. My husband rounded the corner, saw the scene and shook his head at them all. They brought my giant, pink, screaming child into the room and he smiled and pointed to her.
All the while, I was in the OR being stitched up. I was becoming drowsy. Before I passed out, I remember my OBGYN telling me that there was no way that child was ever going to come out of me naturally. Why was I forced to even try, then? Perhaps she had measured normally for an average size woman, but I’m no average sized woman. I was irritated.
When I woke up, I was in a hallway. I was alone. The lights were dimmed. I was disoriented and for a moment wondered if I had dreamed the whole thing all along. Then my husband appeared, and a nurse. I was wheeled up to my room. My family was all in there, waiting for me. It was past midnight at this point and none of them had slept either. I was made a fuss over for a little while, then they wheeled in my baby. She was almost too long for her little observation box. Her cheeks were so big, they made her eyes slant. Her little mouth tied up in the most precious way.
When they handed my daughter to me for the first time, as some stories go, I felt nothing. I didn’t feel love, excitement, fear, sadness. I felt numb. I held her long enough to take some pictures, then handed her back; told them to wheel her back to the nursery so I could sleep.
As my ridiculous labor and surgery ended, the period of Postpartum Depression begun.