This Is My Story
Let me just put your worst pregnancy nightmares to rest. It was not like in ‘Alien’ with Sigourney Weaver pulling cords from her stomach while she was awake, bleeding and scared. I still cried but I was excited and at peace with my decision to have an assisted delivery this time.
My Previous Caesareans:
This was my Third Caesarean. My first was an elective caesarean which I now know I was bullied into because of my ‘small frame.’ Don’t get me started on what set me up for the rest of my birthing journey. Second baby I had a failed VBAC attempt which I was so proud of myself for giving it my everything, but I almost ruptured and my baby’s blood pressure would sky rocket and fall dangerously low. I was grateful to have a caesarean at the end of that one. At the end of March 2019, I had my 3rd Caesarean Assisted Delivery.
Leading Up To My 3rd Caesarean
I cried.. a lot.. I knew it would have to be an Elective Caesarean if I wanted an Assisted Delivery Birth. I had finished up teaching my Baby Brain Connections infant classes and events at 32 weeks pregnant and paperwork for our other business, Lloyd Courtney Pest Control at 37 weeks. I really didn’t have much time to prepare and usually one of us in the family was sick.
I had a gender neutral nursery ready and a pink and blue container washed and ready. Teddy was a surprise gender which was an exciting first for us and boy was I wrong about thinking he was a girl. I’ll admit I still tried to go another attempted VBA2C and bring on labour naturally but in the end I was at peace about my decision.
In the morning, we got up early and got Tom ready for Prep and headed off to our favourite local coffee shop for breakfast. We all celebrated Teddy’s birthday before he had arrived. We spent time for the last time as a family of 4 and walked Tom into his classroom and had lots of cuddles and kissing before going home to finish packing my hospital bag. I wasn’t allowed to eat from now on till dinner time after the caesarean.
Before we left home, I had a shower, shaved my scar area, packed my toiletries and my Mum arrived at lunch time. We put Lucy to bed and gave her lots of cuddles and kisses and reminded her that I wouldn’t be home for a few days but Grandma was here and would take care of her. I kissed her forehead and we left.
Driving in I cried and cried… I was scared and I’d been holding it all in like my intraverted personality does. I didn’t really want to talk about the great big needle that was about to go into my back. I didn’t want to talk about the recovery. I didn’t want to talk at all. I just wanted to listen to Coldplay and close my eyes.
Just before we got to Toowoomba we had to talk about baby names. Now remember when I said I thought I was having a girl we had 6 girl names we couldn’t decide well we started to fight about narrowing that list down. In the end, Theodore wasn’t even on our list of boys names either.
When we arrived at the hospital, we went up to the Maternity Ward and around to the Birthing Suite. I had my own room where the midwife helped me get the theatre gown, dressing down and stockings. I was still crying lots and waiting around didn’t help. I was scheduled for 2pm and it was 4pm by the time I was in the pre-operation room.
Purgatory: ‘The Room Before Theatre’
I actually hate this place more than anything. It’s kind of my way of thinking of purgatory without being a Catholic. It’s the ‘place’ your in just before they take you into theatre. You can hear all the instruments and machines being set up. You can hear nurses laughing like its just another day in the office. This is the next room they move you to that’s attached to the threatre.
They talk you through what’s going to happen. Go through any problems and make you sign the insurance paperwork. I always feel like getting to this room and chickening out!!
I’ll admit that spinal is what always what worries me during the whole pregnancy and ends up being the least of my concerns. Lloyd has to leave me and go wash his hands and get his theatre gown on. I get taken into the freezing cold threatre room and take off my robe. Then I sit up on the bed with my gown undone at the back and have to lean as far forward as I can to stretch out my spine and not move while the Anesthetist does his work.
The spinal starts off like a cold circle that slowly spreads across my back and then into my butt and legs. Next thing I can’t feel my feet and then I can’t feel my knees, hips then stomach. I’m slowly laid onto my back I only have a few seconds to lie down before I couldn’t feel anything below my breasts. Lloyd comes in and sits on a stool at my right shoulder.
Then it’s like all systems go. They start to put the curtain up and sheets go over me. Catheter in and surgery prep. I remember the Anesthetist asking me a bunch of questions I think because my blood pressure dropped and my temperature went cold and I do remember feeling faint but once he worked out what medication I was more awake.
I can hear arguing. I think this is the time when my Obstetrician explains to the nurses that I’m having an Assisted Delivery. The paediatrician already knows and they are both happy with this so long as the baby looks healthy. They continue to argue and I know I just have to have faith in my OBGYN because she said this would happen during theatre. The nurses are worried about the ‘bacteria’ that I might contaminate open surgery but then..
I hear the first cry.
Every time I hear it I let out a big sigh of relief and my own tears start to stream down my face again. I see my baby’s face and my Obstetrician lifts him up to show me his testicles and she says: “See!” Then Lloyd starts laughing and says “It’s a boy!” and I’m crying happy tears and laughing that I was so wrong. Literally as that happens the curtain is being lifted I can pull my baby up onto my chest (without putting my hands too far down my stomach or down under the curtain). I could only lift from the curtain level.
The paediatrician stands next to Lloyd and watches my baby boy while I hold him. Its all very bloody and he wees on me and he’s breathing well and then after nine months of waiting… I get to have the first cuddle. In my previous caesareans, my babies were shipped off straight away to be checked, measured, weighed and wrapped. I was always jealous of how many people got to hold my baby before I did. I had done all the hard work of growing them and how sad it feels for all the mums especially NICU mums who can’t get that first cuddle. It’s gut wrenching.
This time I got to have the first cuddle! All the gory bits and happy hormones.
Being the first to hold my baby was honestly the best experience. All that I was scared of melts away. All my fears and worries disappeared. I thanked God for a healthy baby and his peace.
If you’re scared of an assisted delivery please can I reassure you that it was an amazing experience. Recovery is recovery and it will always be the hardest part afterwards but that moment of pure joy when you meet your child for the first time and see their beautiful face stays with you for life! Soak it all up. Laugh and cry. All your stress and fears melt away.
Well eventually they weighed him, checked his APGAR score and height. Then wrapped him up for me to hold again. Then Lloyd took him and put him in his bassinet and I was lifted onto a trolley recovery bed and wheeled into recovery for skin on skin cuddles under that amazing hot air blanket.
While I was dealing with afterbirth pains, Lloyd had skin on skin too and we talked about names for him.
The next day Lucy and Tom meet their new sibling.
His Name is Theodore Bruce Courtney. We are now a family of 5! Outnumbered and unorganised.
If you have any questions feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Sarah Courtney
Wife of 13 years, Mum of 3, Early Childhood Teacher and Blogger.