Like many women, I had hoped for a vaginal delivery. I didn't want to get a c-section. In our culture, there's so much negativity and shame associated with c-sections that I was just terrified of getting one. So I never read anything about them, because I was convinced they were something that happened to other women, not to me. So when I did end up having a c-section, I didn't expect the task I would be forced to confront after surgery — the dreaded post c-section fart.
Even though I had my heart set on a vaginal birth, my doctor told me week after week that my daughter was breech. Instead of positioning herself head-down and ready for delivery, she was literally in a sitting position with her head by my chest and her legs by my pelvis. I tried every technique to get her to turn, because my doctor informed me that there were risks associated with the vaginal delivery of a breeched baby. He told me delivery could be delayed, or that my baby could go in distress. But I just didn't want to have a c-section.
Eventually, my doctor broke the news to me that I needed to schedule a c-section. So I did. But I was devastated about it.
My doctor's office gave me a pamphlet that explained the procedure, the risks, and what I could expect during recovery. I skimmed through the pamphlet, and my doctor went over the basics with me. I thought I had a few days to research my c-section, but I ended up going into labor a few days before it was scheduled, so I didn't have much time to read up on it. Luckily, everything went according to plan.
Shortly after the procedure, I was given ice chips. I was told that I couldn't have any water or food. I was exhausted and starving. The last thing I ate was at 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday, and I had my daughter at around 2:30 a.m. on Monday morning. But I still had to muster up the energy to try and breastfeed.
"So you mean to tell me I have to make a big announcement when I pass gas in order to get food?," I wanted to scream at the nurse. "Um, OK, cool."
A few nurses came in to check on me and they kept asking me if I had passed gas. I was embarrassed. I had no idea passing gas after a c-section is important, because air is often trapped in your body when you're sewn up during surgery. I was told that passing gas was a good sign that everything was OK, and that my body was functioning normally.
Eventually, one of the nurses informed me that I couldn't eat until I farted. I was appalled. "So you mean to tell me I have to make a big announcement when I pass gas in order to get food?," I wanted to scream. "Um, OK, cool."
Needless to say, I was annoyed, embarrassed, and kind of in shock. I chomped on those stupid ice chips for hours. Eventually, my husband couldn't wait to eat any longer, and he went down to the cafeteria and got himself dinner. I was incredibly hangry, and I'm sure if looks could kill, he would've died on the spot. He wasn't the only one who was satiated: my daughter had been fed at least six times already. But I still had not passed gas, so I hadn't eaten any food. Time was ticking away, and my stomach was growling.
Everyone kept asking me if I had "done the deed" yet.
Everyone kept asking me if I had "done the deed" yet — nurses, doctors, even my husband. Every time someone asked if I had passed gas, I just gave them a look of disgust. I was tempted to force myself to pass gas, but I was terrified that I would cause myself harm in some way. Hours passed and I thought I would pass out at any given moment from starvation. I will never eat another ice chip again, I thought. Whose idea was it to offer a women ice chips after delivery anyway? I tried to imagine they were potato chips or cookies, but it just made me more hungry and more cranky.
Then, finally, a little toot escaped. It was so quiet I almost missed it, but I was thrilled. I never thought I would have been so excited to announce to the world that I had farted. Finally I could eat! Needless to say, I ate every single thing I was offered. I wish I could remember what my first postpartum meal was, but honestly, I ate so fast it was all a blur.
Waiting to eat after a c-section was the worst, and I don't know why no one warned me about the post-surgery fart beforehand. But it could've been worse: shortly after my torture was over, a nurse informed me that in the past, women who had c-sections were required to have a bowel movement before they were allowed to go home. If I had been pressured to have a bowel movement as well as pass gas, I think I would've died. Not being able to eat and having to announce to the world that I farted in order to get something to eat was bad enough — and it's an experience I will never forget.