My oldest child recently turned 6 and that, my friends, is one of the weirdest sentences I can possibly utter. Because his birth feels like it happened six months ago (six weeks ago some days) and many days there are still questions I want to ask myself about my C-section, because boy was that a trip.
After 18 hours of labor, my son was born via emergency cesarean. He was great, I was great, and, despite the fact that it was technically an emergency, the experience was great, too. I don't regret that he wasn't born vaginally. Truthfully, I'd always sort of suspected he would need little help coming out — call it motherly intuition — so I was mentally prepped for the possibility.
I'm a naturally curious person. Whenever I go to a doctor or have a repair person or specialist come to my house, I always take a peek at what they're doing and ask questions. "So how does this work?" and "How can you tell there's something wrong here?" and "What are the mechanisms at play here?" I'm basically like a small, precocious child trapped in a 34-year-old woman's body. But in the case of my son's birth, because it was an emergency situation, unplanned, and not officially expected, I was too full of adrenaline and jitters (good and bad) to ask what was going on. So now I'm left wondering the following:
"Could I Have Avoided It?"
Ultimately, I don't especially care because I was perfectly at peace with how I gave birth. Still, I often wonder if something I did or didn't do caused dilation to stall and/or my son's heart rate to go wonky, which were the two main reasons for the procedure. Could it have been remedied with a simple tweak to my behavior? One altered decision? I don't know, I'll never know, but I'll always sort of wonder. Not so much from a wistful perspective, but from a place of scientific curiosity.
"Would One Of Us Have Died Without It?"
So I have no doubt that my C-section (which was classified as an emergency C-section) was the right move. It provided the safest, least complicated outcome given all present risk factors. Still, I do sort of wonder how dire it would have gotten if I had persisted in trying to delivery vaginally. After delivery, my OB-GYN assured me that, in a best case scenario, birth would have been tremendously painful due to my son's "sunny-side up" positioning. In a worst case scenario, his heart rate could have continued to drop as labor and delivery progressed to a point that might have killed him.
Yes, it's a macabre thought to linger on (so I don't), but I wonder, in my darker moments, just how bad things reasonably could have gotten.
"How Did My Enormous Baby Come Out Of Such A Tiny Incision?!"
Six years later I'm a tinfoil hat away from going full-blown conspiracy theory. Because an eight pound, four ounce, 20 and 3/4 inches-long baby should not be able to fit out of an incision approximately four inches long. It makes precisely zero sense to my non-medically trained, mortal mind.
I'm not saying it was aliens... but it was aliens.
"How Did I Luck Out With My Recovery?"
I'm not saying that I was prancing through sun-dappled meadows during my recovery, but compared to other C-section moms I've talked to about recovery (especially emergency C-section moms), I feel like I was really, really lucky. My recovery was swift and smooth. Even in the hospital, the nurses were surprised by how easily and nimbly I could maneuver myself immediately after. I don't know why, though. I don't think my procedure was wildly different than anyone else's, and I don't think I did anything special to prepare. I don't know if it was genes or a particularly careful surgeon or what but, hey, whatever it was I'll take it.
"Was My Uterus Ever Outside My Body?"
While intestines tend to stay in the abdomen during a C-section (despite urban legend and likely mistaken accounts from partners who were in the room) the uterus is often taken at least part-way out to give the OB-GYN a clearer view of what they're doing. Not always, but it happens.
And that makes me all whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Like... were my insides outside? That's insane! How tell me what happened!
"What Did It Look Like?"
My husband saw behind the curtain, and will only say "I saw inside of you." He's not squeamish, but he prefers not to get detailed and doesn't like to discuss exactly what he saw... which, of course, only makes me more curious. I've seen videos of C-section deliveries (I highly recommend checking some out, especially if you're pregnant because you should know basically what goes down during all kinds of different deliveries), but what did mine look like?
"Could I Have Asked To See Behind The Curtain?"
I was so jazzed up on hormones (but also so tired from being in labor for 18 hours) that it didn't even strike me to ask if I could have the medical curtain lowered at any point during delivery. I don't know if the hospital had a policy against it or anything, but I sort of wish I had asked because I'd have liked to have seen what was happening. Would that have been possible? Too late to know now! (Though it would appear that the option is becoming more common and more discussed.)
"Why Wasn't I Dilating?"
Because for the love of God, people! Again, failure to dilate was a big reason for my C-section. My labor wasn't stalled: I was steadily contracting every two minutes (or less) for hours — and none of those "It felt like a really right hug around my belly!" contractions — they were strong. Still, I only ever made it to five centimeters.
Look, what's done is done... but why did it go down like that? It's not like my body wasn't sending messages to my cervix to open the eff up. It's like the cervix had read none of the books I had. Slacker.
"Why Were So Many People There?"
This question isn't an indictment of their process or asking anyone to justify their presence. I trust they were all fulfilling a vital role in the delivery of my child or the maintenance of my wellbeing. But, like, what were they all doing? Because there were no fewer than six people there, and that's more than I in my ignorance would presume would be there. So I still wonder what each person's job was.
"How Long Did It Take?"
According to my research, a C-section takes between two and 15 minutes, with up to 45 minutes of additional time at the end for delivery of the placenta and closing the incision. That's a pretty broad range, and if I were to guess I'd say, start to finish, everything took maybe 30 minutes, but I honestly have no clue.
After all, this C-section happened six years ago and it feels like it was maybe six months, so I'm clearly not the best judge of time.
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