Arlo’s Birth story – A natural Caesarean section. You can read why I chose to have a 2nd C section here.
After having our original C-section date postponed by four days (the longest days of my life, seemingly) we arrived at hospital at 7am only to be sat waiting until half past eight to be taken onto the ward to be prepared! The midwife double checked that I had taken the anti sickness tablets, the antacids and had been nil by mouth since the night before. I was then fitted with a lovely pair of green compression stockings (which I didn’t get in my first C section!) and then it was just a case of waiting… and waiting. The doctor popped in around 11am to check that I was okay to use the same consent form from a few days ago, and got me to re sign it. We were then told we were first out of the two scheduled operations, hurrah! A little bit later we heard the other couple get told the same thing by someone else! I quietly seethed, had a little nap and then woke up to a lovely midwife asking if we were ready to be taken to the operating theatre, as we were first!
Sam took our bags into the recovery room, and dug out the first vest/sleepsuit/hat and a nappy, and got into some scrubs, whilst I was taken through into the theatre to be introduced to the anaesthetist and the other people present (six in all, a lot less than the 12 or so at Athenas birth!)
A cannula was popped into my left hand and attached to a drip, along with some anti sickness medication as I was quite sick after my last C section. Because of this they monitored my blood pressure throughout the operation and topped this up a couple of times. Having the spinal block was fairly painless, I was asked to curl forward hugging a pillow and felt a small scratch which was the local anaesthetic, and then the main injection happened but obviously I didn’t feel that at all. After that had been done I had ECG sticky things attached to my upper chest but quite far to the sides, and on my back too. My gown was loosened and I was helped to lay back onto the bed with a pillow under my head. The table was then tilted to the left, and I remembered to ask why this time! It’s to take the pressure off your main something or others… to help blood flow, much like it is recommended to sleep on your left when you’re pregnant! A catheter was popped in too at this point, again I didn’t feel this and they had put a screen up too.
Sam was brought into the room sat at my head so he couldn’t see too much of what was going on. Once the anaesthetist was certain I was numb enough by using the cold spray up and down my body to check I was numb from the boobs down the lights were lowered, the overhead surgeons light turned on and off they went! It really didn’t take long for him to appear, probably around 15 minutes. The surgeon made the incision just along my previous scar and then we were told shortly after that we were about to hear the waters break as they cut through. Very soon after that a tiny little human was held up and passed up from the gory end and under my gown for immediate skin to skin. This was something that was really important to me as with Athena she had her cord cut and was taken and wrapped up in a towel first before being given to me for a cuddle.
Arlo had an Apgar score of 9 at 1 minute and 10 at 5 minutes. The two songs that were playing as he arrived were ‘Buffalo Soldier’ one of my favourite Bob Marley songs ever, and that blimming John Legend song that’s in the charts (All of me I think it’s called) but at least when I hear it I’ll have good memories! I wasn’t fussed about having my own music so it was just the radio that played. We were all chatting throughout the procedure anyway so it was more background music than anything I was relying on to keep me calm.
I was so lucky to get a midwife who knew what a ‘natural’ caesarean was, and also was happy to delay the cord cutting and to use a cord tie rather than the annoying plastic ‘sandwich bag’ type clip. I had actually met her a couple of times at my local Attachment Parenting group, and she understood how important it was for me to get skin to skin and for my baby to root for his first feed whilst still in the theatre.
You can see the cord tie in the photo below, you can buy them ready made but I made them myself from embroidery thread. It was tied round the cord once cut, and made skin to skin and nappy changes a lot easier, and then fell off after 5 days with no oozing or anything either.
Once Arlo had latched on for his feed the time went so fast, I honestly can’t tell you how long it was from being given him to being wheeled out of the theatre, but probably around the 30 minute mark I’d estimate. Once I was stitched up and had a pessary popped where the sun doesn’t shine for more pain relief Arlo was given to Sam to take through into recovery to get a nappy and some clothes on, and I was transferred onto a bed and wheeled through too.
In recovery I had obs taken hourly (blood pressure/temp etc and still had the ECG whatsits attached) and was also sick once, but as I expected this to happen as it had last time I was more prepared and had a little sick bowl to hand! After a couple of hours I was able to scoff some toast and yoghurt and had a cup of tea. Now normally I would have been taken back to the ward after four hours but the hospital was actually having some sort of major baby-explosion and there were no beds! We were told that some labouring mums were being sent to other hospitals too!
At around 10pm I was taken to the maternity ward, given some oral painkillers and had my drip removed. Sam had gone home to relieve my mum from Athena duty at around 9pm so Arlo and I settled down for a night of feeding (him) listening to podcasts, eating mini eggs and being paranoid that I was leaking onto the bedsheets (those last two were me!) as contrary to popular belief you still have the same blood loss from a C section than you do with a vaginal delivery.
There was a very chatty couple in the bed next to me with a very waily baby who didn’t want to feed, and though I felt for them I really wanted to get some sleep! Arlo slept fairly well though, and I managed about three hours on and off. At 7am the next morning I asked to have my catheter removed so I could get up and about, and being able to stand up and move about freely was bliss! I stood up as straight as possible and really didn’t feel that bad around the incision, the worst pain I felt was at the back of my right shoulder were I had a constant sharp pain, but the midwife and the physiotherapist that came round that day to discuss the post op movement I could do explained that often a spinal block will leave you achey around the shoulders and it had gone by the next morning anyway! I was advised to keep the support stockings on for a week although I’ll be honest and say after a shower on day five I just couldn’t face trying to get the buggers back on again so they stayed off! Once I was allowed home I took paracetamol and Ibruprofen together to keep the pain under control for five days and since then have felt okay!
He looks like a chunk in the photo above but he actually has the skinniest little legs and loves to stretch them out and tense them so you can’t get them into the legs of sleepsuits! He’s still not filling out newborn sized outfits yet, but had only lost about 5% of his birth weight (7lbs 13oz, so an ounce less than his sister!) at his 5 day check.
If you have any other questions at all about the procedure (sounds so clinical!) then do please ask, I’m happy to help if I can!