Hi, I'm reading in here for the first time. I had a planned c-section two years ago with my daughter, after planning a natural Bradley birth from the get-go, but she was breech and wouldn't turn despite two external versions and all the other tricks I could find to try...and it's funny. I still feel the need to explain why I had a c-section - defend it, really - even now - and even though I know it was the right thing to do. It turned out she was wrapped up tight in the cord, which was why she couldn't turn, and she probably wouldn't have ever been able to come out vaginally if I had tried. (Which I seriously considered despite the advice of my doc.)
Anyway, I wanted to share a little bit of my experience, but first, I want to give big hugs to the women here who had horrible labours and vaginal deliveries as well as the ones who had awful c-section experiences. I can only try to imagine what you went through - and I know it's one of those dark places that we get to and live through only when we really have to. I'm sorry for your loss of the birth experience you'd hoped for, and for the precious first hours of enjoying your childrens' lives with joy.
So, anyway, back to my story. I had my heart set on a Bradley birth. I knew I wanted my baby with me 100% of the time we were in the hospital, that I didn't want them doing anything unapproved to her, that I wanted to hold her tight from the first minute and give us both the very best chances at a successful breastfeeding relationship (I had read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, so I kind of knew how important the first few hours after delivery can be in establishing latch and milk supply).
I worked with my doctor, who was very cool, by the way, and did a great job of actually discussing stuff with me - I would be using him again with my current pregnancy if he hadn't retired! I rewrote my birth plan for the c-section, and there was a lot that I got that I wouldn't have if I hadn't asked for it. Both my husband and my doula were in the delivery room. She ended up taking pictures as the baby came out, while my husband smoothed my hair and held my hand. I got to hold her on the operating table and even offered her a breast as they were sewing me up. The baby went with me into recovery, and then to the nursery briefly with my husband so they could check her out while I waited to be released to a room. He managed to avoid having them give her a bottle of glucose by telling them to hurry me up out of recovery so I could nurse her - it was a little parade down the hall as soon as they saw me coming, they wheeled her right behind me and I got her back within half an hour total. I swear, that was a LOOONG half hour, though! I was lucky - I did have some itching, and a little bit of shaking in recovery, but I had read up on the drugs (which cause both, btw) and knew to expect it - but my reaction was minimal.
We were lucky to be in a hospital that really encouraged rooming-in, and our birth plan made it super-clear that Julie was never to be taken out of our sight, or touched without our permission. We said it respectfully, but firmly, and I think the staff understood where we were coming from. My DH stayed in the room with us both nights, but I had Julie in bed with me the whole time. There was one night nurse who gave me a hard time about it and told me I could kill my baby that way, but I felt very safe, and there was a day nurse who supported me completely and agreed that I was doing the best to start off on the right foot.
I had a pretty easy recovery, I have to admit. I was sitting up within 12 hours, and briefly out of bed within 24. It was so scary to move around at first because I felt like my guts were going to fall out the incision (sorry for the TMI). I did have some pain while urinating for about two months after because they probably over-inflated the catheter. Also, I had a GIANT bruise on my belly that took a couple of months to go away - I guess they failed to entirely cut off one of the broken blood vessels while they were in there. It was scary to look at, and a bit sore, but is completely gone now, and my incision healed really well and is fading fast. My doc was really cool and spent a few extra minutes actually stitching me up with dissolveable thread instead of giving me staples that I would have to go back an have out. That's something to ask for - I didn't have to, but I would if I were having another c-section for sure. Once the epidural wore off, I managed not to use any additional IV drugs and stuck with heavy-duty Motrin. I was really worried about passing them along to my daughter through breast milk. By the time for the next dose, I was making sure not to move because it hurt, but otherwise it was fine, and I think I got to experience that first day with my daughter a little more clearly - and my body started functioning normally a little faster as well. I did have one of those pumps set up that first night with morphine and a button to push in case I needed it, but I guess I have a pretty high pain tolerance.
It is amazing what some silly people will say to you afterwards, even when they mean well. Everyone in our extended family knew I was devastated at not getting to give birth naturally, but my husband's aunt, who happens to be a nurse, showed up the next day and kept saying "You're lucky! You had the baby the easy way!" This, while I still had a catheter in and maybe still an IV attached and felt like I looked like death warmed over. After the second time, I gave her a look to kill and said "I wouldn't say that." in the coldest voice I could muster. I still want to smack her and give her a real piece of my mind when I think of it.
In a way, though - she was right. I had the best possible experience I can imagine given that it was a c-section. My baby and I were both healthy. I got to bond with her right away and continuously. We had a great nursing relationship. But - when I met with my midwives for my current pregnancy (they are a group that deliver in their own unit at the same hospital where my daughter was born) - I was thrilled when she said they have an 85% success rate for VBACs. I mean, that's higher than the national rate for first-time vaginal births! I am really looking forward to giving birth naturally this time, assuming the situation allows. I'm a little scared/nervous, the same way I was when I was pregnant with my daughter.
The thing that scares me most is what it would be like if I went through a long, hard labour and still ended up having a c-section. I really think that being well-rested (except I didn't sleep much the night before because I had horrible heartburn and was excited like the night before Christmas) and relaxed (heck, we stopped at Krispy Kreme on the way to the hospital and bought doughnuts for the staff!) really contributed to the positive experience I had. But, I'll write birth plans for all the possibilities I can think of, and I'll do my best to be prepared for what comes as I get it. For me, knowing I had to have a c-section a couple weeks ahead of time did give me a chance to adjust my attitude and grieve the loss of my chance at a natural birth ahead of time so that I *could* manage to be happy that day.
What a novel!