I went into labor on the morning of Memorial Day and was admitted to the hospital that afternoon. I was slow to progress and it didn't look like I'd be having the baby until sometime the next day. I opted to have the epidural that night so that I could get some sleep before the big event. (Because you can totally sleep with nurses coming in and IV alarms going off every couple hours.)
Sometime around one o'clock in the afternoon, I finally made it to ten centimeters. I started pushing, and it didn't seem like it was all that bad. I felt like I could do it, and I could definitely tell that the baby was moving lower. However, the nurse became a little concerned about something on the monitors and had me push for a contraction, then sit out the next contraction. She gave me oxygen to wear in between pushes, too. When the doctor came in to check me out, she explained that every time I pushed, the baby's heart rate dipped. She had me push a few more times in different positions and then finally broke the news that the baby's head just wasn't making it into my pelvis. She told me that I could either continue to push, or that I could go in for an emergency C-section. She said that if I opted to push, I could push for a few more hours and still not get anywhere and would end up needing a C-section anyway, or I could have the C-section and the baby would be spared any more possible distress.
I asked her how long it would take. I meant the actual surgery. She told me that there was an OR open, and that we could be in there in about ten minutes.
That wasn't what I meant, and that kind of scared the crap out of me.
She then clarified that they would have the baby out within three minutes, and that it would take about twenty-five minutes to stitch me up.
She gave us a few minutes to talk about it. Relieved to be able to do something to keep the baby safe and healthy, and awed at the fact that we'd have him in our arms in like half an hour, we decided to go for the C-section.
I had a weird sense of "Whew! I guess my part is over!" but of course, I still had a long way to go. On one hand, I was relieved. No kidding... the thought "YES! No episiotomy!" crossed my mind. On the other hand, I was terrified at the thought of being wide awake while I was sliced open and having a baby pulled out of me.
It didn't help that I'd just finished reading a book where the main character was threatened with surgery without anesthesia.
As they wheeled me into the OR and transferred me to the table, I kind of felt like I was being laid out on a crucifix, with my arms stretched out to my sides. The radio was on, and Rihanna was playing. The drape went up so that I couldn't see the doctors or nurses getting ready, and the anesthesiologist shot something into my epidural line that flooded my veins with icy cold liquid. The doctor said she was going to poke me to test the anesthesia and make sure I was numb.
Except I wasn't. I felt every single pinch and poke, and "ow!"ed to let them know it. That book I'd read really didn't help. I like to think I can handle some pain, but this didn't seem like the time to play tough girl, so I told the anesthesiologist and doctor that I felt everything. The anesthesiologist looked down at me in disbelief. "Really? Did you feel the pokes or just pressure?"
"The pokes. Metal pokes. It pinched."
"Like... On a scale of 1-10?"
"Probably a 4 or 5."
The doctor leaned around the drape. "So it felt like getting a shot?"
"Uh, yeah. Kinda."
She looked at the anesthesiologist and told him to give me another dose of meds. One of the nurses said my husband was outside, but the anesthesiologist told her to wait to make sure I didn't need to be put to sleep.
That was comforting to hear.
Thankfully, the drugs worked and my husband was brought in to be by my side. The anesthesiologist peered over the drape and told us that they'd already started cutting. All I could think was, "Good... I didn't feel a thing."
Now, friends told me, and I'd read that during a C-section, you really don't feel any pain, but you feel pressure. Holy cow, the pressure. I could feel them yanking my lower body around like crazy. I could hear metal instruments clanging together. I heard them say something about my muscles and my bladder. I squeezed my eyes shut, reminding myself that the doctor said it only took three minutes to get the baby out. It seemed like THE LONGEST THREE MINUTES EVER.
A couple times, my husband got up to peer over the drape. I didn't want him on the receiving end of a normal delivery, and I definitely didn't want him to see my insides laid out on the table, but he wanted to see what was taking so long. Apparently, they had a tough time getting through my muscles and my bladder was swollen so they were trying to be extra careful. He kept asking if it hurt, and I kept squeezing my eyes shut.
I have no idea how long it took them to get the baby out, but time just seemed like it crawled. Finally, I felt a strange pulling sensation in my middle - like a ton of suction. "Is that him? That was him, right? That had to be him." I said.
I heard our son cry, and finally, I relaxed. As much as you can relax knowing that there's a team of people sopping up your blood and stitching you back together. They called out his birth at 2:28 p.m. He weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 21 inches long. He looked HUGE when the nurse held him up for us to see. I cried when I saw his full head of hair.
They handed him to my husband, who lowered him down to my face so that I could "cuddle" with him while they stitched me up. It probably took 45 minutes to an hour for them to put me back together. And then, when it was over, it was over. They whisked the drape away, transferred me back to the bed, sat me up, handed me the baby, and we were headed back to the room. Just like that.
What was your C-section experience like?