I'll be blunt: it was the worst experience of my life - it was the most painful and terrifying thing I have ever been through. It left me feeling violated, betrayed and abandoned and shattered my trust in my care providers and the health care system. At my follow up appointment with my doctor she made a comment to the effect that I had done so well, that I should have more children. I retorted that "I needed to get over this birth first".
The thing is that I never wanted to experience a conventional birth. I knew that there were two ways that babies made their way into this world, vaginal and cesarean and that neither method was risk free. I had carefully examined the risks of each delivery method and determined that I preferred the risks of an elective cesarean. From the first prenatal appointment on - I had done everything to avoid a conventional birth.
Despite that horrid experience, I determined that our family was not yet complete...but I was terrified of a repeat experience. I found a doctor and a hospital in the US that could facilitate my request...I even determined how much it would cost - a small fortune but likely worth it to avoid a repeat experience. Then a miracle happened. A friend let me know about an ObGyn in Vancouver who would do patient choice cesareans. I contacted the doctor - told him of my previous experience and he reassured me that I would be given a surgery date and time and that there was a 99 percent likelihood that I would not be bumped and that if I were it would be by no more than a half hour. I asked my family doctor for a referral as I wanted my prenatal care to be undertaken by the same doctor who would do the delivery.
Despite seeing a therapist and planning to deliver at a different hospital, in a different city, with a different doctor - my pregnancy was plagued with anxiety. My first birth experience continued to haunt me. Further, I was acutely aware that should I go into labour before the planned cesarean date, I would be forced to deliver at my local hospital and I dreaded the idea of another vaginal birth. A week before the scheduled surgery date - I relocated to Vancouver - where the planned delivery was to take place.
It was the day before delivery and we went to the hospital for the pre-surgical admission appointment. Everything was still a go for the next morning - and I was told to come back to the hospital at 6am as the delivery was slated for 8:00am.
That night, we slept knowing it might be the last good night of sleep in a long while and the next morning we checked into the hospital. I changed out of my street clothes into a hospital gown, cap and booties. My husband changed into scrubs. It was shortly before we were to go to the OR when I heard over the PA system "code pink" (a placental abruption, both mom and baby were fine, saved by an emergent cesarean) - shortly thereafter we were told that my surgery was going to be delayed. I reminded myself not to worry too much - different hospital, different doctor, it had to be different this time. The delay proved to be short (maybe 20 minutes) and before long I was wheeled into the OR and moved onto the table. The anesthesiologist told me what to expect with the spinal and I was hooked up to a variety of monitors. The spinal was placed and the lower half of my body went numb. A drape was positioned between me and the lower half of my body. My husband was in the OR with me. It was a relaxed environment. Then surgery began - my husband was invited to watch when my son was about to be delivered and asked to record the moment. Shortly after he was born, I heard the sweetest sound of my son crying - APGARS 9 and 9.5. He was checked out by the paediatrician and weighed 7 pounds 15 ounces - he was then brought over to me and the paediatrician took our picture as I was being sewn back up. I had a bit of nausea but the anesthesiologist was able to give something and it quickly abated. We were then wheeled to recovery where I spent some time snuggling my new born and getting him to suckle. Once feeling had returned to my legs we wheeled back to my room. I had a bit of nausea and some itchiness but it subsided in a few hours. Later that afternoon I was up out of bed. The next day I showered and the following afternoon we were discharged. I felt amazing - I kept on top of my pain medication (Tylenol and ibuprofen) but by the fourth day after surgery I was off of even that.
The whole experience was a night and day difference from my first birth experience - and has left me feeling incredibly grateful and proud - grateful to be able to make the choices that best met my needs and those of my child and proud of the healthcare providers who facilitated the safe arrival of my son and respected my right to make informed healthcare decisions. Beyond giving me a healthy baby, my sons birth went a long ways to healing the scars that had been left behind by the birth of my daughter.
My son's birth was what every birth should be - the result of informed choices that best meet the needs of both mother and child.