A Cesarean section is something that many woman wish to avoid when giving birth. For a long time, it has had quite a negative stigma associated with it where women have been labelled as taking the easy way out, 'too posh to push' and I've even heard people say that you haven't given birth if you have had a C-section.
When I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I knew that I wanted a C-section. Medically there was absolutely no reason for it, but my mental health was relying on it. You see, in 2017 I was sexually assaulted and mentally I was left in a very dark place. Whilst finding out I was pregnant gave my life a new purpose, at the same time there were still unresolved issues such as my anxiety around strangers. So whilst I did opt for a cesarean, I certainly didn't take the easy way out.
Pregnancy wasn't the easiest experience, as I was classed as high risk anyway due to an auto-immune disease I have. Alongside this, I suffered with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, SPD and later on in pregnancy, my baby would go hours without moving at all so I was in hospital pretty much every week for monitoring.
At my 24 week consultant appointment, my consultant started talking about the possibility of inducing me from 36 weeks. I swiftly shut this conversation down and told her I wanted a Cesarean and my reasons for it. She agreed to it under mental health grounds, but it still had to be signed off by one other medical professional and so I was booked a 'birth options' meeting with a consultant midwife. I arrived at this appointment eager at the thought I may find out my baby's birthday and be told more information regarding the surgery, but I was soon brought to tears. This lady was the most insensitive person I have ever come across. She could not fathom why I was unable to give birth vaginally seeing as 'millions of women manage to do it everyday'. She didn't take the time to listen to my reasons and as soon as I would start attempting to talk, she interrupted with what seemed like a pre-planned spiel of how I would be putting my baby at risk by having a cesarean. What she never took the time to understand was that for me, a cesarean was the safest option. I knew every risk, I had done extensive research and watched countless videos of the surgery itself, so I knew pretty much exactly what would happen and I felt like it was a calm and controlled environment. If I had been forced into having a vaginal birth, then not only do I feel that it would have severely effected my mental health, but I do believe that should there have been any complications, such as my baby being in distress, I would have seriously struggled letting anyone come near me to help. Something which could have had devastating consequences. It felt as though me and this midwife were going round in circles, but eventually she also signed off my request.
I then had another consultant appointment when I was around 34 weeks and my pre-op was booked for when I would be 38 weeks. My pre-op was a group meeting with about 10 other ladies and we were all given information on what medications would be used during the surgery, what we can expect to happen and any questions we had were answered. Upon leaving we were all given packs of information, a prescription for medication we needed to take the night before and morning of our c-section and a form to have a blood test.
After what seemed like an eternity of being pregnant, the 13th September 2018 arrived. I was taken into hospital for 7am and by 9am I was in theatre. Laying on an operating bed wide awake whilst being operated on was the most surreal moment of my life. The surgeons forgot to tell me before they started removing my baby so I panicked because the sensation felt as though they were trying to pull out a part of me that is attached. I can't really explain how it felt! But the Anaesthetist was amazing and saw that I was starting to get distressed, so he halted the surgery whilst they questioned me to see what exactly I was feeling. After they established I wasn't actually in any pain, they explained what was happening and I was happy for them to carry on. Moments later the curtain in front of me was pulled down and at 10:24am my baby daughter was lifted up in the air for me to see. As her cord was being cut I started to feel really ill - I could feel my chest getting tight and I didn't think I was breathing, so like a huge drama queen I started shouting that I was dying. I wasn't, but what actually had happened is some amniotic fluid had spilled into my chest, so I was loosing quite a lot of blood and my already low blood pressure had plummeted.
I am very fortunate in that my recovery was amazing. I was discharged the following evening and the only pain relief I required was Paracetamol. My scar also healed very quickly. It's now been 6 months since my surgery and the area where the scar is still numb, but that's the only issue I've had, and from what I've read it is very common to have a numb patch for a while after.
The birth of my daughter was everything I ever expected it to be. The reasons behind my decision to have a Cesarean are quite complex, but I am so grateful that my wishes were followed and I am very fortunate to live in a country that made that possible. Overall, it does sadden me when I hear any of the negative stigma associated with a c-section mentioned, because I truly believe anyone who has given birth is absolutely amazing - regardless of how you did it. And that is something that should be celebrated and never looked down upon.
Author credit: Alex Saba