I am officially 29 weeks and 3 days pregnant today. That means in a mere 11 weeks (give or take) I will be welcoming another little one into the world. I don’t think I’ve fully grasped this yet! With my due date fast approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about my upcoming delivery, and reminiscing about Jackson’s. I never documented my experience with him, but I wanted to recap it now in case it helps anyone else who may be anxious about giving birth.
I was never one of those people who had a detailed written birth plan. I had preferences about how I wanted to deliver, but I’d read enough about how things often don’t go as planned, so I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. At the end of the day, I wanted to do whatever would ensure a safe and healthy delivery for my baby and myself, and ultimately, I trusted my doctor to make this determination. For me, this wound up being a scheduled c-section.
Although I tried not to get my hopes up with a specific birth plan, when I first found out that Jackson was breech and the strong recommendation was a c-section, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. To be honest, I was crushed. It’s not because I had my heart set on a natural labor experience. I hadn’t planned on delivering in a birthing center or anything like that and I was pretty sure I’d get an epidural. Nevertheless, I really wanted to deliver Jackson how nature intended, and the thought of being cut open was frankly terrifying. I’d never undergone surgery before and I was dreading how recovery would be from a c-section. How would I be able to care for a newborn after major surgery? How would my body recover when I’m not able to sleep and rest like normal? How long would it take to be back on my feet? Would I suffer any complications? All that and more swirled through my head as I dealt with the realization that I wouldn’t be having a normal delivery.
I also worried that Jackson wouldn’t be getting the so-called benefits that babies who deliver vaginally experience. I’d read about how beneficial the mother’s bacteria can be when babies are exposed to it when going through the birth canal. And on the flip side, I worried about whether Jackson would be more susceptible to certain things (like asthma) because he had a c-section, as I’d also read. Basically, I worried about everything!
Because I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs, I tried everything I could to get Jackson to turn. I even opted to do an external version, where a doctor tries to get the baby to flip by essentially pushing on it from the outside. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal but trust me when I say it was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced (granted, I haven’t gone through labor). There’s a reason they recommend an epidural when you get one! I turned down the epidural not realizing how bad it would be and man, oh man, was it excruciating. Aside from the pain, Jackson didn’t tolerate it well and it caused his heart rate to drop significantly. Fortunately it got back to normal relatively quickly but that was enough for me to throw in the towel and come to terms with a c-section.
Despite all my worrying, I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised with how smoothly Jackson’s delivery went. I made sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before the surgery since I wouldn’t be sleeping well again in the near future, and I went into the hospital with some nerves, but mostly feeling relaxed and excited. The whole prep procedure didn’t take all that long and I was in surgery within a couple of hours. The actual surgery was also quite quick, especially the delivery part. I couldn’t time it but I want to say that Jackson was out after no more than 20-30 minutes. It was a really surreal experience. It took a bit longer for them to stitch me back up, but at that point I was on such a high that I didn’t even care or notice what was going on. I wasn’t able to hold Jackson immediately after he was delivered, which was a bummer, but David got to hold him and it was a really special moment.
I was anxious about how much pain I’d be in once the pain meds started to wear off a bit, but honestly, the discomfort for me was very tolerable. I was actually up on my feet later that night, and by the next day, I was walking the halls. All the advice I heard was to get moving as soon as possible to ensure a quicker recovery, and I really took that to heart. I honestly think the worse thing was the IV and catheter! Because I was recovering so well, I was discharged after just two nights (the standard stay after a c-section is 3 to 4). Once I got home, I never even had to take the prescription pain meds they gave me. I just popped ibuprofen and that did the trick for me. I don’t want to minimize the fact that a c-section is a major surgery, and everyone’s experience is different, but for me, recovery was about as easy as it could be. I definitely had to take it easy and slow for a while, but I never felt like I couldn’t do what I needed to do to care for the baby. The one not so great result of the surgery is my scar, which developed into an ugly raised line because my skin doesn’t scar well. But if that’s the only downside, I’ll take it.
After all of my anxiety and feelings of disappointment going into my delivery, after Jackson arrived I can honestly say that all of those emotions went away. I was so overwhelmed with love and joy for my new baby that how he got here just didn’t matter anymore. With my second baby, it’s still uncertain how I’m going to deliver, but I’m much less anxious this time around. As long as the end result is the same, that’s all that matters to me!