I purposely did not have a birth plan during my pregnancy after seeing so many new moms distraught after their child's birth. The miracle of a new life seemed overshadowed by their disappointment because it wasn't what they had planned. But life doesn't always go according to plan.
I had a great midwife and supportive husband, so I was confident that ultimately I would follow whatever birth plan was best for the baby. After 32 hours of horrendous back labor with no progress, we had to make the safest decision and an emergency cesarean was the outcome. I'm not disappointed or upset because in the end I had a healthy and happy little boy. But in case a C-section is in your cards... here's what I wish I knew in advance.
Myth #1: The epidural doesn't hurt.
Actually, they were somewhat accurate. The epidural needle itself may not hurt... but going through a contraction while a stranger is strategically trying to place a harpoon in your spine isn't exactly enjoyable. And while your contractions are causing your body to involuntarily distort into a multitude of unknown yoga poses... they pleasantly remind you not to move so the needle doesn't
paralyze poke you.
Myth #2: The operating room is a little chilly.
I initially thought the freezing from the epidural had spread to my other limbs since I was losing feeling in them but turns out it was just the fact that the thermometer was set to -40. I wasn't sure if I was in the operating room or the morgue at this point. You should be able to trade in your tissue paper hospital gown for your choice of leather or sheepskin before entering this room. Who needs freezing medication?! A few more minutes in there and they would have needed an ice pick to get my baby out.
Myth #3: Getting mild shakes from the drugs is normal.
I think I fractured a molar from my teeth chattering so much -- or maybe that was hypothermia setting in from the sub-zero temperatures. Either way, I could have put Miley Cyrus and her twerking to shame with my effortless convulsions. I see why those beds have straps now...
Myth #4: You might feel a slight tugging sensation as we get the baby out.
A slight tugging sensation?!?! This wasn't removing a hair elastic, people... this was forcefully removing a small human from the depth of my internal organs. If after 32 hours of labor my eight-pound son couldn't get out on his own, he wasn't gonna come jumping out like a jack-in-the-box with a little "tug." I can't say I was a big fan of someone crocheting with my intestines.
Myth #5: Movement in your lower body will be limited until the freezing wears off.
Limited... hahaha, that is quite the understatement. I was paralyzed to the point that when they rolled me from the operating table onto the stretcher I actually asked if my lower body came with me or not. I was sure they accidentally removed my legs along with my child, and was contemplating whether or not there was still a Freak Show Circus in need of a torso.
Myth #6: As the morphine leaves your system, you might notice an itchy sensation.
I probably looked like a candidate for an exorcism the way I was ravaging at my own skin in the recovery room. For the next 48 hours I was convinced that the IV was dripping microscopic centipedes into my body and not medication. When my breakfast came I strongly contemplated using the toast as a loofah, and it didn't help that the hospital blanket was a fabric blend of 50 percent cotton, 50 percent hay. I have never been so happy to see Benadryl in my life.
Myth #7: The electric compression stockings help with circulation.
No... the compression stockings help with keeping your itchy legs completely unreachable for your fingers to get at. I felt like I was playing a live game of Operation trying to quickly get my hands down the cuffs before the next electric squeeze severed off my fingers. Thank goodness for the catheter... or else I probably would have peed in my empty yogurt cup before attempting a game of Twister trying to free myself of the bags, wires, IVs and electric cords. Not to mention that the bed had more buttons than the elevator at the CN Tower.
Myth #8: You may have less feeling and be swollen around the incision area for a while.
I was so swollen on either side of my 24 staples that it looked like I had a hot dog bun attached to my stomach. If it's not already enough to have an abdomen that better resembles the mouth of a platypus, it's even worse not to have any feeling in it. It may sound good not to have feeling after a surgery -- except for the fact that it was only the top 2 cm of my skin that I couldn't feel. Just enough so that if I did up my jeans I probably could have zipped half of my stomach flesh into the zipper before noticing. But don't worry... the incision past the first few skin layers had plenty of feeling. Similar to Bruce Lee kicking you in the stomach with stilettos on.
Myth #9: Your stomach will feel tender when you move around.
A tender stomach is what you feel after you eat one too many burritos.... horrendous pain is what you feel after a knife slices through your midsection to pry a child from your loins. Getting out of bed was a 53-step process that involved grunts similar to what you hear in a professional tennis match. The first time I stood up in the hospital I felt like my insides were starting to become my outsides, so I held my stomach each step to ensure that I didn't come apart in case the doctor forgot to tie a double knot.
Myth #10: Holding a pillow over your incision when you sneeze or cough stops the pain.
I could have held a memory foam posturepedic mattress against my stomach and still would have felt like my guts were going to start coming out. Holding a pillow does nothing... holding your breath for dear life is more accurate. My first mistake was that I started to watch a comedy movie with my hubby after getting home from the hospital, but after the first chuckle I think I saw the white lights. I see where the saying "laughing until you're in stitches" comes from. I was sure I might need a few more after that, so I switched to a drama movie.
Myth #11: You might not feel the same connection to your baby (as opposed to a natural birth).
I don't know about you, but I don't think that the bond of mother and child is solely dependent on which body part the baby exited from. The moment they placed my beautiful son on my chest, I couldn't have been more filled with love and absolute awe. I was in love the instant I heard his cry. Nature does what nature needs to do, and if a Cesarean surgery was what ended up happening in your case, then be thankful for the miracle of a happy and healthy baby. If anyone tries to make you feel bad about how your birth proceeded, I can think of one place they can shove that epidural needle....
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