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To say I failed to plan for the birth of my first child is a giant understatement. I gave zero thought to how I planned to get a watermelon-sized baby out of a grape-sized space. Some might say my failure to “visualize the birth plan” was the reason it didn’t go according to said non-existent plan, but I tend to think my body never had any intentions of getting that baby out the old-fashioned way.
After being induced at just past 41 weeks, I spent roughly 36 hours in labor, only to advance about four inches. Baby’s heart rate started to become erratic, and my doctor came in and said with great compassion, “It looks like the little guy is starting to have a hard time; I think it’s wise to do a Cesarean within the next 30 minutes. I can give you two a moment to discuss privately if you like.” My response? “Why? We don’t need to discuss it. Get the kid out now. Let’s do this!”
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Right or wrong, or perhaps just a highly personal and individual decision, I have no emotional or moral attachment to how my babies are delivered. For our second son, I schedule a Cesarean section at 39 weeks, and let me tell you — I’ll take that option over and over again.
Emergency Cesareans Aren’t the Same
My first C-section was technically an emergency surgery. The medication required was pushed rapidly, and my body didn’t react well. I began shaking and shivering uncontrollably and was extremely nauseous. I threw up several times, and that, combined with being in labor for so long, not eating, and the lack of sleep, left me extremely weak. I couldn’t hold my first son after birth.
It was hospital policy for the mother to hold the baby as she is wheeled out of the surgical room, and they had to place my son between my legs. It took almost 40 minutes to muster the strength to hold and nurse our baby for the first time.
Our wise and attentive delivery nurse noticed he had become lethargic by that time. She leaped into action, and ultimately our newborn baby spent eight days in the NICU. It was hardly how we expected to live the first week of our new lives as parents.
Schedule Birth like a Nail Appointment
When my doctor suggested scheduling the birth of our second son becuase it was so close to the first, I agreed immediately. It just made sense. Why take on extra risk when I cared so little about my delivery type?
We looked at the calendar and chose the date. I chose a Monday because I wanted to ensure I had a weekday care team.
My first delivery fell on a weekend, and the nursing staff operated on a skeleton crew. I learned later there were lots of comfort services I should have been offered, but they were overlooked. Things like pain medication for my incision or a heating pad for the air that inevitably gets trapped in the body and works its way up into the shoulders, causing extreme pain, for example.
The Friday before delivery day, I went to the hospital and filled out all my paperwork. I received a detailed cost breakdown and knew exactly how much the surgery would cost and what my insurance would pay ahead of time. The nurses asked me lots of questions about how I wanted my birth to go.
Did I want to do skin-to-skin? Yes. Did I want the baby cleaned off or handed to me immediately? Ew, clean him off, please. Did I want the goop spread all over his eyes? Sure, I’m not a doctor. Would I like a clear curtain and a mirror to see the surgical process? Umm, no. My husband will be all up in there taking photos anyways. Most important, I spoke with the anesthesiologist about my concerns.
He took the time to explain why my body reacted the way it did the first time and the measures he would take this time to make sure that didn’t happen again. I felt feeling confident, informed, and in control of the experience.
That weekend I got my nails done, and I attended a wedding. I went on a date with my husband and spent one-on-one time with my 18-month-old. I let family members know who could come to the hospital and let friends know who should bring the champagne and sushi.
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That Monday morning, I walked into the hospital with confidence. There was a brief moment of panic when I realized I didn’t have the pain level required to actually look forward to a needle the size of a Slurpee straw stuck in my back, but I managed just fine. My husband and I laughed and joked with our doctor, and best of all, I was alert and strong enough to be in the moment and experience our son’s birth. I held him, he nursed right way, and he stayed with us in the room until I was discharged the next afternoon.
The Goal Is a Healthy Baby
I don’t value one delivery method over another, but that doesn’t mean I don’t prefer one experience over another. Both my sons were born via Cesarean, and if the goal of delivery is a healthy baby — and it is — then the goal was ultimately met for both deliveries. However, the experience of an emergency C-section compared to a scheduled C-section was very different. I prefer the latter.