I have had both. I’ve had 2 emergency c-sections and an elective. I now consider myself to be an expert in all things caesarean. I haven’t actually had any real medical training but I’m on a first name basis with Dr Google and I think that is just as good. Go ahead, you can ask me anything. In fact, I think I could even perform a caesarean because I took this tutorial.
Here are my comparisons between T’s section and H’s.
1. The lead up.
As you all know, T’s birth was an attempted VBAC, so the lead up to his birth was one of anticipation. Will I go overdue? Will I be on time? Will he come out of my VJJ? Will I tear from asshole to belly button? Or will it be magical and will everyone sing Kum Ba Yah when he slides out of my front bottom and takes his first breath?
K was 10 days overdue and as the days ticked past T’s due date I started to get impatient. In the end he came on the 5th day past, but that is one of the things that going for a vaginal birth is all about. Suspense. The unknown. You don’t know when it is going to happen.
But the lead up to an emergency section is more than waiting for your waters to break with baited breath or your contractions to start. Oh yes, that’s right, before you get cut open you have to endure hours upon hours of excruciating labour hell before it is decided for whatever reason you need to get the baby out ASAP. So how is that for a roller coaster ride of a lead up? Waiting, excitement, torture, surgery. Not my ideal way to spend a Sunday.
Now, on the other, the lead up to an elective c-section goes like this –
Dr: Your baby will be born on this day.
Dr: Here are your instructions. Do this, wash that. Be here at this time – zingity bing, it’s a 2 hour turn around!
Me: I love you.
Yes, as ‘the day’ approaches you are still filled with anticipation. Yes, it is still exciting. But you can (if you are able to) get a full night sleep and be as fresh as the daisies on your operation day. You can wear make-up even if you are not supposed to – just try to make it look natural so they don’t know, but you still look decent in the photos (no blue eye shadow please).
Best part about the lead up to an elective is that it doesn’t hurt.
2. The operation.
There was not a great deal of difference between the two operations. The main thing to note however was how much more laid back the elective was. Everyone was happy and smiling and we had cool music playing throughout. Hazel’s birth song is Boys Don’t Cry, by The Cure. I had already met my surgeons and my anaesthetist earlier that morning so they were familiar to me which was comforting in a scary situation. Doesn’t matter how much ‘better’ you pitch an elective it is still scary shit.
The administering of the epi/spinal was a big difference. With my emergencies I was given an epi during my labours so, as I mentioned during my birth story, these all just happened in between contractions without too much thought process. Getting the needle in the spine while alert, conscious and not on a multitude of drugs was pretty darn freaky, although truth be told, it didn’t really hurt as they do numb the area first.
I was warned that my 3rd section might take noticeably longer as they have to cut through more scar tissue but I honestly don’t think it did. It actually seemed quicker. This might have had something to do with the fact that T’s head was stuck in my pelvis and it took two surgeons a long time and a lot of pulling and pushing to free his boof head. This may well be another thing to consider when comparing the two c-sections – the further the head goes down into your vagiburger, the longer it will take to get out. That being said, H’s head was also pretty engaged and she required forceps.
The shakes. Got them something horrendous after T was born, and for freaking ages afterwards. Only got the shakes a little right after H was born and then only while they were stitching me back up, they were gone by the time we went to recovery. Why was this? NFI.
The itches. Got them something horrendous after all 3 c-sections, so no difference there and also no surprise considering I’m generally a pretty itchy person. I get itchy eyes, nose, throat, skin, ears on a daily basis and live on antihistamines. I was expecting this side effect.
In regards to the how H and I were treated following the birth I really cannot fault my hospital. I have read about how mothers and babies are separated after caesareans in other parts of the world and I was worried about how that part was going to go down here. When K was born via c-section a million years ago, I only saw him for a split second as they held him up over the sheet. He was then whisked away with my mother to the maternity ward where she had the first cuddles and gave him his first bath, while I was stitched up alone and sent to recovery. It was a lonely and sad experience. I was ecstatic to have just had a baby, yet devastated that I hadn’t the opportunity to hold him and look at him and breathe him in.
I was pretty apprehensive going into my emergency section with T that this was going to be the case again, but my hospital had changed the way they did things since then thank goodness. Both births with T and H were as natural and beautiful as they could be. I had almost immediate skin on skin (after a quick wipe over and check) and was able to nurse my babies as soon as they were ready. I was never parted from them. Thank you hospital for coming out of the dark ages.
4. The recovery.
I really am only comparing T and H’s births as they are both fresh in my mind. Also K’s was born when I was young and spritely. Recovery was pretty easy as far as I can remember. With T, recovery was a hard-faced bitch.
Horrible, terrible, nasty, bad pain for the first few days. Seriously unable to move for the first day, even raising and lowering the backrest on the bed was agony. I couldn’t do a thing for T for nearly a full 24 hours, it was not good. He was born around midnight and the following night after visiting hours had finished did they finally allow me to get up and shower.
It was HARD. I had never experienced anything like it. I felt like my stomach was going to split open. I couldn’t stand up straight, I am talking serious hunchback. I almost fainted in the shower and bled like a mother fucker. My insides were recovering from 20 hours of hard labour and my stomach was recovering from being cut open, uterus emptied and stitched back up again. I took all the pain killers available and almost completely lost my mind as a result.
Whether on not the following has to do with them being in more of a hurry to get inside or not, I am not sure but the healing of my incision was not great. Not so much the scar itself but more so the flesh/muscle/tissue surrounding was all hard and lumpy. I was left with a bit of a puffy overhang and no feeling in my stomach from under my belly button, down to the cut.
Awful, dreadful, horrible pain for the first day but I was able to get up and shower the first morning. It was hard to stand up but once I was up I was quite surprised to discover that I could stand up nearly straight. I was steady on my feet in the shower and while in pain, felt ok. I needed and took all my painkillers.
On the second night H was hard to settle and I subsequently didn’t get very much sleep. One of the painkillers I was taking was making me sooooo tired but because I couldn’t sleep I started to hallucinate. Those Endone do not agree with me at all. The next day, I was able to take myself off the Endone and just use the other painkillers available to me. I was in a bit of pain but at least I could think properly again. By the third night I was even able to get on and off the bed somewhat gracefully and lie slightly on my side. It took over a week to be able to do that after T.
Now, the most incredible part of my elective recovery is my incision healing. The hard and lumpy scar tissue was cut out and my scar now sits almost flat. While I still have a bit of an overhang, I don’t think that can be avoided after 3 caesareans it is LESS than it was after T was born! Also, and I do not know how this has happened – my stomach that was still numb and tingly has regained feeling! I now only have slight loss of feeling at the actual incision site. My good caesarean repaired the damage of my crap caesarean! Can you believe it!
5. My vagina.
My vagina is, was and will always be honeymoon fresh.
To conclude, my elective caesarean totally kicked my emergency caesarean’s flabby old butt.