I gave birth at a teaching hospital. Which means my C-section was conducted in front of a small audience of well-intentioned students. How I love those good intentions. As they prepped me for the epidural, I was trying to breathe and to commune with my unborn child, to let her know that everything was going to be ok. That even though she could feel my stress, anxiety, apprehension and so on, I couldn’t wait to meet her, to see her, to hold her. But instead I was being bombarded with those lovely good intentioned students asking me questions and reassuring me that this kind of surgery was really no big deal, nothing to worry about. Shut. Up. Please.
So they did the epidural, which was not nearly as bad as I had convinced myself it was going to be. I couldn’t feel it except for a teeny tiny twinge at the end. It was over before I could even open my mouth to say I’d felt something. Then they VERY quickly lay you down, before you fall over, and strap your arms down and out like you’re on a cross. I’m crying. My nerves are completely undone. Enter the lovely anesthesiologist.
“Why are you crying? You can’t feel anything right? Women get this done everyday. You’ll be out of here in an hour and on your way.” (Is he talking about me or himself here?) “Celebrities always get C-sections. You think Angelina Jolie gave birth? No way, she went in for a schedule C-section and was back on the big screen the next day.” Someone hit him for me. I couldn’t care less about Angelina Jolie or any other damn celebrity. Not to mention the obvious falsehood of the rest of his statements.
Finally! Shawn comes in. He’d been waiting. He was afraid they forgot about him because no one had told him what to do. “just put these on.” He holds my hand and I have to keep staring at him otherwise I’m going to throw up. You can’t feel any pain but having someone dig around inside you is no picnic anyway. The tugging and the pressure and… oh god I get nauseous just thinking about it. And what do I do if I do throw-up!? I’m strapped down, I can’t exactly lean over the side!
Just as I’m beginning to have a complete meltdown, I hear her. Then, I see her. She’s red from the hips up and white from the hips down. Her feet are still up by her ears. She is pissed. She scored a perfect 10 on the Apgar test. Shawn brings her over to me and I’m so relieved she’s absolutely perfect. I wanted to hold her but was glad that I couldn’t. I felt so out of it between the drugs and my own ongoing anxiety attack, I didn’t think I had control over my limbs my arms were shaking so bad. He held her onto my chest for a moment but I was just so afraid of dropping her. They took her to the nursery then and I sent Shawn with her. I wish I would have sent them back to recovery, but we didn’t know for sure what the procedure was and where I would end up.
They sewed me up and took me back to triage where the pain started in too soon. They gave me pain meds but it wasn’t enough so they gave me more. This time it was too much, I could barely keep my eyes open. I had no concept of time by now. After awhile, Shawn came back to check on me since he hadn’t heard from me. I was so groggy and out of it but they wanted to get us into a room. They brought Emma up and I just stared at her. She was so tiny! So beautiful. So unreal. I was still afraid to hold her, didn’t know what to do in regards to breastfeeding since I had gobs of pain killers swimming in my blood and in my head. I loved her like crazy, but we got off to a rough start.
The recovery was long and hard. I was in a lot of pain and I felt very isolated. Breastfeeding was a huge challenge. I cried every day for weeks on end. I wanted to give her everything, to do everything right for her, but I didn’t know what that was most of the time. You get so much conflicting information. But I’d go through it all, all over again, to have this beautiful, amazing little girl, smiling up at me everyday since the day she was born.
My daughter turns 2 at the end of this month. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I would like to differently if I ever have another child or what knowledge I would like to share with other women, especially my little sister, about what I learned. So I have begun my journey to become a doula. To learn more about what I could have done to have had a more fulfilling birth experience, a day I could look back on with pride and joy instead of anxiety.