I really wanted to have my first baby. I knew for my first pregnancy that I wanted to eat healthy and make a salad for dinner every night. I expected to be sick every single day because of all the stories I had heard from women as I grew up. I thought of my husband making late night runs to the grocery store (or any store that was open) so I could have my cravings satisfied during my 9 months of pregnancy.
But then, I got pregnant and all of those things I envisioned, I let go one by one.
First was eating healthy, Pizza Pops were definatly my best friend. I think I downed a box within 20 minutes once. I knew I should be watching my calories and drinking lots of water but, all the baby wanted was something warm and cheesy (it actually wasn't the baby, shhhhhh!) I would eat candy DAY OR NIGHT and it helped that my husband loves candy and had a massive stash for me to raid at my convenience. It was a miracle that I gained 40 pounds because if you had seen me eat, you would have bet that I'd put on 150 pounds (for all those wondering, I did not get gestational diabletes with this pregnancy!)
I did not get sick, which I was rather happy about because I did not want to spend my days running to the bathroom or throwing up on the table (although, I did do that once after eating LOTS of french toast!) I was hearing my friends, who were also expecting, spending months vomiting everything they ate and I would be repulsed by the smell of chicken and toast but that's as bad as it got for me. When I wasn't showing yet, I was really disappointed because I really wanted to feel pregnant, not just looking like I was getting kinda chubby.
My husband, did not go get me whatever my tummy desired at any hour of the day or night. This sounds like I'm making him out to be a bad guy. TOTALLY not, he's heaven sent and such an amazing man. He knew I didn't need Chinese Food at 2 AM or a Kinder Bueno while I searched Varagesale for cheap baby items. He would go get me something from the kitchen and make me a snack but most certainly not at the wee hours of the morning. He rubbed my feet every night and occasionally, my back too. I let go the thought of having my cravings met because I had something so much better and I was so thankful for it.
We took labour prep classes to get ourselves ready for the big day. This was something I expected we would do before we got pregnant. It was informative, a great way for us to connect and plan for what we wanted to do and how the birth would go. We had a wonderful teacher who listened to our concerns and laughed our worries away with us. Before I had walked in for the first class, I knew what I wanted for my labour day: no drugs, husband at my side, walking up and down the hallways having contractions and a natural birth. Once we got to the third week of our classes, we discussed our birth plans. By then, we had already learned about the long list of pain medications and ways of assisting the mother to endure through the stress and pains of giving birth. I still felt the same about my intial plans. However, after our teacher had asked us to open our hearts to the notion that we cannot control what happens and sometimes our birth plan needs to be changed. She described many scenarios and sometimes they ended in a cesarean. Sometimes this would end up in the best result because the mother and baby were healthy and well. After that class, I made sure that I was more open to whatever happened but I still wanted to have a natural birth and be drug free.
It was a Tuesday morning, we had our hospital tour the night before and I woke up needing to use the bathroom. Being 38 weeks pregnant, this was a very normal thing for me. Getting up to go to the bathroom almost made me feel like a robot because it was like clockwork and at times, I felt like I was just barely awake to get it done. That morning, I got up and realized my pee was pink. I went back to bed and then, 2 minutes later, felt I had to go pee again. This time, I hadn't made it to the toilet yet and pink pee trickled down my leg. I called my Mom and she told me I was probably going into labour. So, as you probably guessed, I woke up my husband and told him and we laboured at home for awhile. My contractions started rather quickly and after a few hours they HURT BAD. Like, not a little bit bad, like REALLY, REALLY BAD. I describe contractions as the worst period cramps you've ever had. It was hard to walk when I had contractions because I felt like my legs were turning to jelly. When we got to the hospital, I walked down the long corridor to get to the nurse check in and I could barely get a few steps down before I was clutching the railing and telling my husband I couldn't walk anymore. Once we got to check in, to my surprise, I blurted out, "I need a room with a gas mask!" and once I was in said room, "Can I have morphine!?" The nurse told me I couldn't have morphine and my brain brought out the list of pain meds from our labour class and I immediatly asked the nurse one by one, which one I could have. I let go of one of the birth plan ideas. My husband asked me quite a few times if it was what I wanted but I was firm and stubborn. I HAD to have these drugs. I was put on a fentanyl drip (the IV drip was because I had a fibroid growth in the uterine wall) and had the "laughing gas" mask to hold on my face for contractions. I didn't want to walk around or try different positions because I just couldn't move around on my wobbly legs. Another thing I had to let go, walking up and down the hallways to get this baby out.
After, 9 hours of contractions, I was nearing the point of no return, to epidural or not epidural, that was my question. I was at the point where I needed to start pushing and "we believe this baby will be born in a couple of hours" said the doctor. I was EXHAUSTED. There was no way I wanted to push and deal with the worst pain I had ever experienced. The gas mask and fentanyl were just taking the edge off and I wanted this feeling to go away. I looked to my husband and he looked back at me sympathetically. I chose to have the epidural. And, another one bites the dust and I crossed the next thing off the list.
It wasn't long before the anethetist came and shoved the hugest needle ever into my back during some of my hardest contractions. It was so nerve racking because I couldn't move because if I did while the needle was going in, I could possibly be paralyzed. So....that was scary. It wasn't so scary after I couldn't feel a contraction a few minutes later. In fact, it was GLORIOUS! Once I started pushing, I hoped that we would meet our sweet boy or girl in the next couple of hours. This was not the case. The doctor checked every hour and the baby had not decended further down the birth canal. After 4 hours of pushing and almost every minute for the last hour, I had enough. I was extremly exhausted and was wanting to just bawl my eyes out. The doctor recommended a cesarean because the baby wasn't going anywhere but it was ultimately up to me because there was no distress but they were getting concerned. I had heard that doctors like to get things over with quickly which usually ended things with a cesarean. At this point, I was so tired of pushing and the desire to see my child was far greater than my birth plan. I asked for them to get me prepped for the OR. My husband asked me a few times to make sure this was what I wanted and I was fine. So was he, he knew I was ready to be over with labouring and was proud of what I had done. Finally, there she was, at 6:42 pm on August 27th, that wonderful Tuesday evening, our daughter was born. The recovery was hard and it was indeed 6 weeks before I really felt better. And my husband was a fantastic support and jumped into fatherhood like a 8 year old doing cannonballs into a pool.
It wasn't until later on that a family member gave birth naturally and I heard people saying how relieved they were that she didn't have a cesarean. I started to feel shame, had I not had my baby the right way? Was I less of a woman because I didn't give birth naturally? All the feelings I thought that I would feel shortly after the surgery, came to me all of a sudden. Then more people I knew were giving birth naturally and AT HOME. I talked about how I'd do all over again and try to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean.) It was challening but I kept telling myself that my baby and I were healthy but I still had a dark cloud looming over me.
Then, I got preganant again, we were so excited!!! It was a surprise and ov
er the next 12 weeks I had no expectations of how anything would go. I ate better this time around, not intentionally but I did say buh-bye to those Pizza Pops. Once we hit the ultrasound mark, we were looking forward to seeing our little one on the screen. My Mom was watching our toddler so we had a good half hour to just sit in the exam room and get some photos taken. Once the tech started going, she had a look on her face. "You are having TWINS!!" She showed us on the screen, it was indeed twins!!! We were overjoyed and our half hour appointment became one hour because they had to measure where the twins were and the seperate sacks and membrane lines. Over the coming months, we had many appointments and different doctors and ultrasound techs. The common thing that was talked about most was how these babies would arrive in this world. Now, I know that's what maternity doctors and obsetricians talk about most but more so with twins. Also, much LONGER conversations. My obsterican supported a VBAC but he also wanted me to be ok if that didn't happen for me. He was quite positive with the way things were going that I would have these babies naturally. For months, I let myself have that plan in place and be ready for that day when I had to labour again and seeing these two baby girls for the first time.
I was 35 weeks pregnant when a doctor told me he thought that one of the twins was growing faster than the other. They wanted to do a cesarean THAT DAY. I was shocked and felt robbed. I couldn't be induced because I had just met the 2 year mark for having a natural birth after a cearean and the doctors were worried that my uterus would explode. They ended giving me a few extra days to get things ready and my obsetrician would be available to perform the surgery. I went home and we prepared the house to have the babies come home and get childcare for our daughter. I felt defeated and sad those few days at home between that last appointment and the day the babies were born. I was excited to meet them so the day my husband and I were admitted, I was full of joy and happiness. It wasn't until I started to feel the shame of having another cesarean did I go back to those questions I had after my first baby was born. It was more common to have this surgery with twins and I knew that. But I worried that people might have thought less of me or than I hadn't really given true birth. I wanted and craved the experience to feel what my body was meant to do. I was the cesearen mother.
It's been almost 4 years since I had the twins and it's taken me a long time to get to where I am today. I still think that maybe I'll have another baby and that it would be nice to finally have a natural birth. I no longer feel shame for having a cesarean because I did give birth to these three amazing little girls and my body did something incredible. There is beauty in birth, doesn't matter if it was natural or having your baby in the OR. Having a baby is a really wonderful thing and such a great blessing, people will have opinions but the one that matters most is yours. Knowing that you and your baby are safe is so important. Everyone will have different experiences because we are different people.
After my first cesarean, we discovered that my fibroid was in the way of my daughter coming down the canal, so even if I had trudged on and continued with pushing, I would have ended up with a cesarean. Before the twins were born, we were told to expect them at 3lbs each, they were born 4lbs 9oz and 5lbs 2oz. You cannot prepare for some things but you can make a plan and be okay with crossing things off your list if it doesn't work at that time. I realized this can be applied to so many things in life. Maybe I will give birth again, maybe I won't. I know that I won't feel shame in however that child is brought into this world and be so thankful for the miracle of birth and the joy of family.
So make a list, be prepared and if you have to choose to cross one off, go for the laughing gas because that really didn't do anything. :p