C-Section: Was it that bad?

“Don’t you want a natural birth?

“Are you disappointed you can’t have a real birth?

“I can’t believe you want to have c-section?!”

“Why can’t you have a vaginal birth? Cats and dogs delivery multiple babies without needing a c-section?

C-sections are a breeze. It’s not even like having a baby? Way easier than a vaginal birth!

I could go on and on, but, those a few of the favorite things that were said to me prior to having the babies. For the love of it all, don’t say any of those things to someone who is having a c-section or has the possibility of having a c-section or to anyone who is pregnant. They say there are no dumb questions, but, my friends, those are dumb questions.

For me, I have no feelings of sadness towards having a c-section. I don’t feel robbed of anything. I don’t feel like I “didn’t really give birth.” I don’t feel like I was pressured into a c-section. The only thing I feel is PROUD AF. I carried and birthed THREE PERFECT HUMANS who were safely brought into this world by a BADASS female doctor.

Okay, with that all out of the way….I’ve answered the questions that I get most frequently! If you have more questions, I am an open book, send me a message and I will answer it for you. Also, I am still piecing together my birth story blog (drug fogged brain. yes, I had drugs during and after my c-section), which will more than likely answer a few of these questions in better detail.

Was it scheduled?

I was scheduled for 35 weeks, which would have been December 12th. When I went in for one of my routine MFM (maternal fetal medicine) appointments at 32 weeks, 6 days – they mentioned possibly going the following week. I assured the doctor (who I had never met before) that I was going to 35 weeks and was already scheduled.

Next morning, I get a message from my doctor saying that it looks like we’re going to have a birthday party the following week. They had moved my c-section up to 34 weeks! Well, Miss Harper had different plans. At 33 weeks, 1 day – my water broke and I headed to the hospital.

Funny thing. I thought I was going to bypass all of the “labor” because I was having a scheduled c-section. Ya know, where I would shower and put a little make-up on. Get my Kate Middleton moment post having a baby. Nope! Water broke. Contractions started. I did it all! Later on, I heard that it is actually good to have constractions before your c-section because it gets things moving around the right way. Not sure if that is true, but, it made me feel better!

What were you doing during the c-section?

It was a surreal feeling. You’re in this room, surrounded by 20+ strangers, naked and there is a sheet 5 inches from your face. I was there, but, I wasn’t there in a way. Thinking back, almost felt like an out of body experience? I could hear everything that was going on, but, I couldn’t see anything or anyone but Stephen and the anesthesiologist. I focused on what I could to stay calm, which was my vitals. Yes, I monitored my vitals while having the c-section. I do not recommend doing this. Ha. It is slightly freighting when you watch your blood pressure go to 104/40 and 90/82 at different points. I remember looking up at her and saying, “That isn’t normal. My blood pressure is really good. Doesn’t seem good.”

Other than that, I was just patiently waiting to see my babies and make sure they were okay!

PS – One thing people told me prior is that I would be strapped down like Jesus on the cross. This wasn’t true. My arms were not strapped down. That would have stressed me out! I was laying flat on a table and had a block type of thing underneath my head. However, I can’t exactly remember where my arms were or what they were doing….I just know I wasn’t strapped down!

One of the things I had during pregnancy was a stuffy nose. My oxygen did not serve me well during my c-section! I kept getting stuffed up and with having that shoved in my nose, it was hard to breathe out of it! Open mouth breather the entire time.

Did you have an epidural? Was it bad?

I had a spinal tap/block. From what I have heard/read (don’t quote me), that is the most popular option when going in for a scheduled/non-emergency c-section. Prior to my c-section, I only heard horror stories about the spinal block. Maybe you’ve heard them too and you’re a bit worried? I am here to tell you not to worry. It was not bad AT ALL (for me).

When it was time to get it, I swung my legs over the table – acting as if I had no fear. Inside, I was dying. So scared, I thought I might puke! However, my very awesome and very supportive OB (Dr.L) was right there with me the entire time. Literally, right there. She held my hands and maybe hugged me during it? It starts to get a bit blurry here (yep, all those drugs I had during my c-section). She quietly explained what was going to happen right before it did, which was helpful for me. I am the type of person who needs to know what is happening. I don’t want things sugar coated. Just tell me and we will handle it. So, her describing what was about to happened eased my nerves.

Honestly, it was SO QUICK. The only thing that I can tell you that was uncomfortable was the 5 seconds of burn from the numbing pain. I mean, it BURNED! Like I said, it was seriously 5 seconds. When they put the spinal block in, I felt nothing at all.

After they deemed it successful, I laid back down on the table. A few minutes later, they said they were checking if it was working. I asked, “Uhm. Are you going to cut me to test it?!” Rest assure, they don’t. Apparently they did some pretty gnarly pinches to the belly. I felt nothing.

I will say, one of the weirdest parts of the spinal block was trying to move my legs! In my mind, I was moving them. In real life, they weren’t budging. Oh, and don’t worry. It slowly tapers off pain wise. It doesn’t abruptly stop working later in the day. It’s transitional thing and I had motrin (aka ibuprofen) in me to help that transition. So, if you’re thinking that you’re going to go from feeling nothing to everything, don’t worry. I didn’t! It was all very managed (responsible drug use).

How long did surgery take? What order were girls born in?

Okay, I am not sure on how long it actually took. However, going back to pictures and looking at the time stamps – I’ve sort of put a timeline together.

8:54am – Wheeled into hospital 

9:17 – Checked into room, where I was having major contractions!

11:20 – Stephen is officially in the operating room with me. He had to sit out in the hallway for maybe 15 minutes while they prepped me.

11:26 – Harper was born.

11:29 – Riley was born. I think it’s cool she was born at 11:29 on 11/29!

11:32 – Emerson was born.

1:09 – He was back up in recovery with me, after I sent him to the NICU to be with girls. Also, I had a fear they would get stolen on the way to the NICU or something crazy would happen!! Too many lifetime movies, I guess?

Post-delivery glow……More like post-delivery swole. LOL

*If you remember in utero, Harper was Baby, Emerson was Baby B and Riley was Baby C. Well, things got changed up in delivery! Riley came out before Emerson, which swapped Riley to be Baby B and Emerson to be Baby C. Yes, it did get as confusing as it sounds! Rest assured, we are all squared away on who is who. Well, until they’re in matching outfits. After that, its triplet roulette. (I kid, I kid)

Was it hard to move around and for how long?

The advice I got before having the c-section always circled back to, “Make sure you get up and walk ASAP!” I took that to heart and it was my plan to get up ASAP. I’m talking, day 1. I was going to make it my mission to get up and walk proudly to the bathroom. Nope, nope, nope. Didn’t happen! I don’t think I got out of bed until noon the next day (picture time stamp) and I didn’t walk really anywhere. Stephen wheeled me down to the NICU.

If you’re thinking, “Why didn’t she get up to go to the bathroom?” Don’t worry. Apparently, at some point while in surgery, they put a catheter in. After getting up to go to the bathroom 15 times per night while pregnant, the catheter was my BFF. I think I may have even told them they could leave it in an extra day. *Things you never thought you would say.*

I can’t recall the exact moment that I started moving around, but, it was decently difficult. I couldn’t stand up straight to walk for maybe three days? I would slowly walk, bent over to the bathroom – which was only a few feet from my bed. It took all the energy I didn’t have to get there. When I would finally get to the toilet, it felt like such a victory. The pain wasn’t a stabbing or a severe pain. More of a super dull, ache with pressure pain. More of an annoying, uncomfortable pain vs. excruciating pain.

I think it was probably around the end of day 3 or maybe day 4 that I felt comfortable walking and could stand up straight – just sore. Keep in mind, the girls were on a different floor. In a way, I was sort of forced to get up if I wanted to see them.

How to recover? Healing tips?

My recovery was different than someone who doesn’t have a baby in the NICU. In order to see my babies, I had to be wheeled down to a completely different floor. When I got to that floor, I stood up to wash my hands at the sink. Go back in my chair, wheeled in. Got up and transferred into another chair, where a nurse would bring my baby to me. (plus, a few other steps in between). I didn’t have the opportunity to rest in bed, with the baby next to me. I was forced to move.

Even when the pain was awful. If I wanted to see my babies, I had to push through it. Same goes five days later. I didn’t get to recover nicely at home. I was driving back and forth to the NICU four times a day, where I would sit for hours in a nice, yet uncomfortable chair. My resting recovery was in that chair. Luckily, I did have the night to sleep as I wasn’t up with a newborn every few hours.

With that said, my advice, if possible, would be to REST, REST, REST, REST. Stay in bed. Don’t drive. Don’t walk up stairs 20 times a day (guilty). Don’t make your own lunches. Don’t do laundry because it’s stressing you out. Don’t do all the things that I did! Ha. I will say. Among the chaos, I did listen to my body. When I was done, I was done! Same goes for you. When you feel like you’re doing too much, you need to stop. A c-section is a MAJOR abdominal surgery – keep that in mind!

Oh, a tip that I got and have to share with you — whenever you have to sneeze, laugh or cough, make sure you have something close by to hold your abdomen! I would press a pillow in when I knew one of the three were coming. If not, it was pretty painful and felt like my incision was busting open!

Another thing, keep up with your meds, even if it’s just the motrin they give you in the hospital. When I got home, I wasn’t as diligent as they were in the hospital. I thought I wasn’t that sore, until I got off of my every six hour schedule for medicine (motrin). Better to stay ahead of the pain than fall behind and have to play catch up.

**I didn’t wear a binder after and I still don’t. I thought I wanted to but never got around to it. I heard they’re great stabilizers and can help with recovery, but, I am not sure on that! Also, I haven’t used any creams/lotions/potions for anything.

Are you back to 100%?

I am not sure? My body won’t ever be what it was before I carried three babies for 33 weeks and 1 days and my body won’t be back to the way it was before my c-section. I have a new body that I am getting to know! However, do I feel good? I feel really good! After not being able to breathe for so long or sleep or bend over – I feel like a million bucks! When they say its instant relief when it comes to breathing, I would say that is true. It was the best feeling to be able to take a full breath!

TMI stuff ya wanna know: I still bleed daily. Yep. I was excited because with breastfeeding, I heard you don’t have a period? Well, it feels like I have been on my period since I delivered. Cool. If I could get sponsored by Poise or Always, that would be awesome. Not painful, just bleeding. My incision? Looks fabulous. Super low. You won’t even be able to see it if I brave a two piece bathing suit. It is light pink in color and you really can’t see it. My doctor was incredible.

Any specific questions? Let me know! Trying to think of all the TMI things that I would want to know….

Was the c-section better or worse than you thought it was going to be?

I would say MUCH BETTER. Why? Because I had the BIGGEST (and I mean BIGGEST) fear that I was going die during the c-section. I wasn’t nervous for the pain, maybe because I was overwhelmed with the fear of dying. This fear didn’t come while I was in the operating room, it came a few weeks before. I was terrified every day of what was going to happen. Luckily, I am here writing this – meaning I didn’t die.

I don’t know if I really had an expectation of what it was going to be like. Something I did, which people recommended not to do, was watch c-sections via the internet. Not the gruesome scenes from low-budget films, but, actual medical grade videos. I found a few nursing school videos and random tutorials. Thanks YouTube. People say that I was crazy for watching, but, it made me feel a bit better (and empowered) knowing exactly what was happening. How they were going to do it. What it would sound like, who would be in the room, etc. While everyone introduced themselves (I think?), it’s not like we went around and gave three facts about ourselves and got to know each other. So, it was nice to know why there were 20 people in the room and that it was normal.

This is where everyone who thinks “c-sections aren’t real births” are going to be thinking “see, I told her it wasn’t magical and real and amazing….” During the entire thing, I was sort of out of it, as in, it almost didn’t feel like I was there (it wasn’t the drugs…well, not all of this feeling was the drugs). Almost like I had a seat in a movie, where there was a tall man in front of me – sort of blocking my view. I felt like maybe I needed one of those fidget spinners because I didn’t know what to do while waiting for the babies to come out. I think maybe it was a combination of fear, excitedness (not a word, but, you get it), helplessness (like, what can I do to help them), nervousness (omg, three babies are about to come…am I ready?) and about 10928312908 other emotions. Maybe it was just an overload?

With that being said, the best moments were when they held each baby up AS SOON AS THEY CAME OUT and when they brought them over for me to see/touch. As soon as those moments happened, I snapped right back into reality and felt like the luckiest mama in the world.

Okay, I think that answers most of the questions I get? I am an open book and if I can help ease your fear of a c-section or you just want to know something, by all means, ask away!