It took me a lot of time and in my mind an unnecessarily high amount of stress and effort to get the NHS to let me have an elective C section, it only being agreed 3 weeks before m(y due date, and being scheduled for the day before, and finally happening on the day after, as we were put back due to emergencies, which of course I completely understand. You can read more about why I wanted one here and the process here, I’m just thankful I had a supportive midwife and GP.
When we arrived at the hospital at 8am we were put into a room and told we were first that day, due to being sent home 2 days before, hurrah! I was given a gown that opened at the back to put on, & Sam some scrubs… (They just about fit him in an xxl, but his clog things were at least 2 sizes too small!) I was asked if I had taken the pills that they had given me to minimise stomach acid, and when I last ate or drank anything (no food after midnight and no water after 6am!)
Various people came in to introduce themselves, first the head surgeon with about 5 students. He had a feel of my bump (leaving my foo-foo on display to all!) and looked through my notes then said the head still hadn’t engaged (so lord knows how much longer I would’ve waited if I’d not had my section that day!) then the anaesthesiologist guy came in, with a student and someone observing from another hospital… He explained how the spinal block would work, and gave me the opportunity to ask any questions. Then along came Pauline to say hi, she would be looking after me after the op, checking blood pressure and giving painkillers etc. Our midwife was Badil (I think she was Swedish?) who stuck a canular in my hand (after being reminded she should give me a local anaesthetic first!) for the various things that needed to be dripped in to me, and taped over my wedding rings as I couldn’t get them over my swollen sausage fingers by that point! I’d taken out/off all my other jewellery, but managed to sneak in with waterproof mascara and filled in eyebrows!
At about 9.25 they came to get us, and just as we walked into the theatre I decided I needed a pee, so toddled back out again, then Sam decided he needed one so he went out… then with relieved bladders we were ready to go!
The spinal wasn’t half as bad as I expected, there was some cold spray (lots of it!) that made me jump, then a local, then the actual needle to administer the block… I was asked to hunch over with a curved spine and push backwards against the anaesthesiologists thumb, which is no mean feat when you’ve got a large bump in the way! Sam watched all this from the front so he didn’t have to see anything sharp, they said husbands often faint so just don’t give people the option anymore! I should mention at this point that I could see out of the window to the Marina, and watched a boat slowly work its way out to sea when I wasn’t hunched over! It helped that it was gloriously sunny too! Once that needle was in and had done its business, I was spun onto my back and laid flat, my gown whipped up to form the screen so I couldn’t see my lower half, and then a catheter was put in so I didn’t piddle all over the operating table. Then the table was tilted slightly to the left, I forgot to ask why though! I thought I’d find someone inserting a catheter awkward, but it happened so fast and I didn’t feel it anyway!
Looking slightly nervous pre-spinal
Some more cold spray was used to determine if I was numb enough in the right places, I was, so it was all systems go! Sam was seated next to my head on the left, Marc the anaesthesiologist just behind me and his assistant next to him. They did a role call (12 people including us! Students and onlookers etc) and then got to it! Sam and I chatted to Marc about amusing stories from working in hotels, some of which he couldn’t believe, but it kept my mind off the strange tugging sensation I could feel… And then before we knew it the surgeons assistant (her first assist apparently!) said ‘okay we’re almost there, do you want us to hold baby up so you can see?’ YES obviously I’d been waiting 40 weeks and a day to know what gender this baby was! We heard a sucking noise, which at first I thought was the baby crying but was them suctioning blood/amniotic fluid out, THEN the unmistakable cry of a new-born who’d been dramatically whipped out into the real world! A few seconds later they lowered the screen a little and showed us this waxy baby, a girl with a full head of dark hair! (I may have got watery eyed at this point!) She looked pretty angry to be whipped out of her comfy space to be honest! She was taken to be wrapped up, and Sam went round to cut the cord and take a look at her!
About 3 minutes before she arrived, judging my the clock! (Plus 8 of the 12 people in the theatre!)
Less than two minutes later Sam was back with her all wrapped in a towel, and oh my god she was amazing! Thick dark hair and long legs! After a minute or two the midwife asked if I wanted her on my chest, so she was carefully placed there so I could hold her (not skin to skin as I was still in a gown and she was in a towel) but we literally just sat and stared and got a bit teary with each other! I seem to remember saying ‘its a girl, a GIRL’ a fair amount, as 95% of people had predicted that she would be a he! We were asked what we were going to call her, and everyone said what a lovely name, and made predictions for her future (an investigative journalist!?)
After about 25 minutes (of stitching up time!) someone apparently shoved a painkiller up my behind (I have no recollection of this, and didn’t feel it obviously) and then we were wheeled into recovery. The next hour is a bit of a blur of cuddles, skin to skin contact and attaching Athena to start to feed, which was painful, but so worth it! I was allowed to try and eat some bread and tea after a little bit, which I promptly brought back up, and the same thing happened when I tried again, only this time there was nobody with me to give me the sick bowl (I was napping), and I spectacularly vomited fountain style whilst lying on my back, so it went all over me, the pillows, the floor… LUCKILY I wasn’t holding Athena, she was safely in her crib thing out of harms way! Sam and the nurse arrived back at the same time to find me covered and looking very sorry for myself! The nurse helped to change me and I was given an anti sickness something or other in my cannula as well as the drip, and a liquid oral painkiller as by this point I’d vommed up 4 paracetomol!
Latching on and skin to skin
We were told we would be taken downstairs to the post-natal wards once a bed was ready, which was at about half past two, so by 3pm we were downstairs in a bed on a ward of 4 other new mothers. Every so often someone came to check out my blood pressure and temperature, and changed my catheter bag. It was SO AMAZING not to feel like I needed to pee every 12 minutes, as I had for the last 4 months of my pregnancy due to her head being practically IN my bladder for so long. Sam went to find some hot food as he was starving, and I napped a little with Athena on my chest… when he came back we took lots of pictures to send to various relatives and friends, and just sat and gawped at her/each other with complete shock!
That night was spent with her mainly on my chest alternative between feeding and sleeping, but I really didn’t get much rest because of all the various noises, the lady next door had a baby that spent most of the night crying, and the other two women snored. Long story short, I was ‘released’ at about 7pm the next day, so only spend 36 hours in hospital. They just wanted to know that I was passing urine okay once my catheter was out and that I was mobile (I had a shower and stood up straight the moment I felt I could, as my stitches didn’t really hurt much at all!) and gave me a load of various painkillers to take home, along with 7 little needles with something or other in to inject myself in the belly with to help prevent blood clots, which wasn’t an issue for me as I’m fine with needles. Sam had headed off home with most of my bags (obviously I had packed as if I would be in for 3+ days as I was told 3 is about average after a C section) and had comeback with the car seat, so once I was dressed (I wore the clothes I had worn in the day before) we called a taxi and headed home! Sitting in our living room, only the day after but with a brand new baby was surreal, I’ll tell you that for nothing!
So there you have it, the story of how Athena arrived in our lives on June 6th 2013!