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I would love to hear from other C-section mamas who had general anesthesia and have been having a difficult time processing their experience. I continue to struggle with the events surrounding the birth of my son, now 16 months old. I am enormously thankful that in the end, we were both ok, but I can't shake what happened and still have so many questions.

My preg/birth story- sorry if this is long. I should start by saying that my partner and I attended a birth class series with every intention of delivering naturally. At 29 weeks, I was hospitalized for 1 week with sudden onset bleeding diagnosed as a marginal placental tear. Sent home on bedrest- bleeding resolved and I continued with a normal pregnancy. I began leaking amniotic fluid at 41w3d with mild contractions and early the next morning my water fully broke. Because I was closing in on the 42w mark and had been leaking for over 24 h , my OB convinced me to go to the hospital and start cervadil. After several hours, the cervadil finally kicked my body into a pattern of regular contractions. I had intense, unrelenting back labor throughout the day- no one realized at the time my baby was posterior (I wish I had had a doula- one of my biggest regrets). I labored in the shower and on the birth ball with my partner by my side but found little relief. 12 hours after my water broke, I was still 2cm and pitocin was started. Things snowballed from there as they usually do and I got an epidural (which I did not want, but consented to out of sheer exhaustion after being up for almost 36 hours straight). The epidural did allow me to relax and I dilated slowly but steadily, finally reaching 10cm and ready to push at 7am the following morning. After about 2 hours of good pushing there was no progress- the baby's head was not coming down. I could 'feel' the contractions, so I don't think the epidural was to blame. OB tried to rotate my son to no avail- and still too high up for forceps/vacuum. After about 2.5 hours of pushing, things became a blur. My epidural stopped working and I was suddenly in agony- it was at that point that I felt like I lost complete control of my birth experience. I continued to push but was making absolutely no progress- I tried pushing on both sides and sitting up in the bed (not a full squat, but as much as they would let me with an epidural line still in). Everyone around me started talking c-section. I started getting very anxious and panicking and the anesthesiologist told me that my anxiety was the cause of my pain, and that the epidural was working just fine (umm.. sure- that's why I could now move my legs, right?). Then at about the 3 hour mark, I felt like my partner gave up too- he was tired, scared and he wanted it to be over. Finally, after about 3.5 hours of pushing, I consented to a c-section. There was some delay in starting due to a C/S already in progress so I continued to push even though they told me not to- by then I had a full blown, uncontrollable urge to push with each contraction and it was the only thing that eased the pain. Finally at 12pm (5 hours after pushing began) I went in for the C/S. Spinal anesthesia was given, but as they began the surgery, I could feel the first incision being made. Not excruciating pain, but enough for me to yell out "ow, ow, this hurts- I can feel this". I saw my OB shoot a very sharp look at the anesthesiologist and the next thing I know, very quickly my partner gets kicked out of the OR and I have a mask put over my face. Next thing after that, I am in recovery, calling out for my baby who thankfully was in the arms of my partner. He had a massive bruise on his forehead from the failed vaginal birth but other than that he was beautiful.

I learned later from the pediatrician and my partner (who was waiting outside the OR and saw the commotion) that my son was not breathing at birth and had to be resuscitated- I was told this is common after a gen anesthesia birth. Apgar 3/9. I developed a fever, tachycardia and a uterine infection after birth possibly due to prolonged rupture of membranes- my son also had an elevated white count and so next thing I know, still in the blur of general anesthesia and fever, he was whisked off to the NICU for a spinal tap, urinary catheter (for urine culture) and more bloodwork to rule out meningitis. He also had an IV placed in his head for IV antibiotics because they blew the veins in his arms. My husband and I were scared to death and basically consented to everything the pediatrician suggested- I still wonder if this was all necessary and my heart absolutely breaks when I think about him having these procedures when only a few hours old. His cultures checked out ok but the 2 days of waiting was awful. We had some breastfeeding challenges initially due to all of these complications (lots of thrush and pain due to antibiotics we both were on), but thankfully I was in a very, very pro-bf hospital and had terrific support. I had a very slow recovery from the c-section because I was not allowed out of bed for over 48h after the birth- this was really hard on my body.

We are still nursing at 16 months and that has been incredibly healing for me- something my body did "get right". I do think my son has had some lasting effects from his traumatic birth, however. He was a *very* high needs baby who cried all the time (literally, hours on end) despite on demand nursing and had incredible difficulty sleeping and getting comfortable. We have gotten past most of this and now he is a very spirited toddler, but I still think the birth traumatized him.

I feel like no one understand the emotional pain of a traumatic birth and gen anesthesia C-section, unless you've been through it. It was so emotionally painful for my partner and me to miss out on the birth of our child. But at the same time, I know there are others who have gone through far worse than we have, which makes me feel guilty for even having these lingering thoughts.

Thank you for listening.
 

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I also had a General Anesthesia C-section - and of all the scenarios I thought might occur during the birth of my son, that was something that we did not expect. I live in Lima, Peru and although my OB said he was very much in favor of natural birth, he clearly was not truly in favor of doing all that was necessary (mostly being patient) to make sure that happened.

I can´t go into all the details, but it was a forced labor from the beginning and didn´t progress the way it should have. Although I was dilating steadily at first, after 15 hours, I caved and took the epidural, which basically slowed everything down and the baby just wasn´t descending- OB didn´t wait long at all to call for the C-section and by the time I got down to the OR, I was so sensitive to the pain (they had let my epidural run out just beforehand) that I could also feel the incision - I know the exact look you wrote about - the OB to the anesthesiologist - the mask being slapped on my face and knowing they were putting me out - my husband never made it in, but could look through the OR window, at least...

We, thankfully, had no complications, but I woke up in the recovery room not having any idea as to what had happened - I didn´t even trust everything was o.k. until they brought me up to the room and I saw my husband - and then within a few minutes, my baby, who I nursed within what I guessed was about 2 hours after the birth.

It was, and is, very sad for me to think I was not able to see my own son being born - and I will never know if that C-section should have ever occured - in my situation, a lot of it was cultural difference and lack of communication and understanding. At first, I though I would never get past it, but I think I have...

the more time goes on and the more I am able to enjoy my son growing, the easier it is to think about it - it´s not nearly as painful or angering as it used to be. Nothing about my son´s birth was anything that I wanted, but now that he´s almost 3 years old, it just doesn´t have the same negative resonance that it did before - I think I was also still feeling very down about it at 16 months - i also think it had to do with the time it took to heal physically - it took me a LONG time - a couple years, I think, to really feel like my body was back (more or less).

And we are still nursing, through many difficulties at the beginning - i think i was more determined to persevere with the nursing because I didn´t want that to be "taken away" from me/us too (the same OB suggested I stop after a month-and-a-half).

It was a BIG learning experience for me/us - one I probably could have done without, but as you said - and I think even more for me - it wasn´t nearly as bad as it could have been (I never had any hospitalizations or complications at all)- but that doesn´t make it any easier for you when you´ve been through it and you have every right to feel the way you do.
 

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I had a general anesthesia c-section almost 14 years ago. I think what helped in my case is that it was my second child and my first was a pretty uncomplicated hospital birth with no drugs. I think what was the hardest for me to process for years were the flashbacks of watching my ds's (did not know gender at the time) heart rate plummet to the 20's and really not going up much, a resident constantly telling me "if I would just push we could end it all now" and the last thing I remember is hearing my OB saying "we don't have time to count the instruments". He screamed as soon as he came out and had great APGAR scores though. There were no further complications with him or me. And I had an awesome RN at night who gave back massages with a trult healing touch.

Now almost 14 years later while still a pretty scary experience if we are having a particular noxious teenager day we tell him that we're not absolutely sure he's ours since neither one of us was "there" when he was born. And he just gives us his evil grin. He has bright red hair just like his older sister and younger brother and neither parent
 

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i had an epidural with my 1st csec, almost got put out bc one side didnt take too fast. 7 yrs later i was a vbac'er who got birthraped (pardon the term). i was told i needed a general bc the ob didtn "trust me to behave on the table". a$$hole. just my btdt, the actual experience was less stressful for me bc i wasnt really present to be stressed, but later on, after it was over, i really wished i had been awake. the pp made me smile...i was expecting a white-haired baby, but he came out with fire red hair. i happen to LOVE red hair, but i was still surprised and we all made jokes about checking the other rooms to look for a redheaded mama holding a blonde baby, so we could switch back.
 

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i had an epi with my c/s. my story isn't as traumatic as some of yours, but it was pretty traumatic to me, especially when i go over and over and over it in my head as i mentally prepare for the next one.

we started off with a complicated start to the pregnancy. by DH's and my calculations, we were due the middle-end of April 09, after our first prenatal visit the MW gave us April 15 and EDD, but still wanted an ultrasound to be sure. THAT said we were due March 31, not April 15. our mw warned us that even though the u/s says March 31, it could very well be April 15, and then the doctors/nurses would push us to get induced, etc before the baby's actually ready. and low-and-behold, 9 months later thats exactly what happened.

by April 9th we were scheduled to get induced in the hospital. started with cervital overnight, then woke up april 10th and started pitocin. we were (and still are) very very pro-natural birth, anti c/s. after 7-8 hours, the pit made my contractions rough, but not yet unbearable. while the mw was doing internal exams she was unhappy with the way the baby was positioned. after a lot of very painful internal exams, they broke the water and determined she was presenting face-first. they wanted the surgon on call to check and make sure, but they started preparing us for a c/s, since it was hospital policy that a baby born in this position would have to be c/s, no more laboring. the suregon came in, did the exam and immeadily said "yep, she's getting surgery." no bargining, no if's and's or but's, we had to get a c/s. the surgery itself was fine, they were wonderful about respecting our wishes and there were no complications. recovery was a breeze, and DD nursed right away with no problem.

reflecting on all of that, i'm still quite a bit bitter. we should have fought the due date, we never should have gotten induced, we shouldn't of had them break my water to allow her to turn more... all these things run through my head. i'm so paranoid that something will go wrong with the next pregnancy, too, and the same thing will result. i canNOT have another c/s. i desire so passionatly to have a V-birth i would do anything to make it come true. i so wish things hadn't happend the way they did, and i am so MAD at myself for just letting the medical professionals tell us what to do and how things were going to be. but i guess it all happened for a reason, and now i am wiser. and i still have the most beauitful little girl in the world. i guess that's good enough.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Sadie's Mom View Post
I feel like no one understand the emotional pain of a traumatic birth and gen anesthesia C-section, unless you've been through it. It was so emotionally painful for my partner and me to miss out on the birth of our child. But at the same time, I know there are others who have gone through far worse than we have, which makes me feel guilty for even having these lingering thoughts.
I hear you. Our son was born at 31 weeks in a crash c-section due to a placental abruption. DH was there but no one spoke to him. Not even a quick "Its a boy!"
I joke that "I had a baby like in the 50's...knocked out cold" just to make others feel better when they ask what Izaac's birth was like. I figure no one wants to hear a horror story, right?
I also understand the feelings of guilt when I get sad about his birth. Because, in the end, we are here and healthy. But what I wouldn't give to have those 5 minutes back...*sigh*
 

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I think after having gone through the experience, I/we will definitely be wiser about my choices if and when we have another child...

I think the whole thing would have been a lot easier to take if I had simply been treated better throughout the whole process...I probably wouldn´t have needed the general anesthesia if i hadn´t been so stressed out and felt so alone and frightened...and because the labor - and health of me and the baby were really fine all the way through - and it was just a question of things not progressing (supposedly), there was no need for me to be in such a state...

but as I mentioned, that had a lot to do with my being naive and in another country where a lot of the norms are just not the same...but I had to come to terms with the fact that I couldn´t find out things I didn´t know I needed to find out beforehand...

if there is a next time, I will have more conviction in my choices and know I need to be much more careful about choosing a birth practitioner who is on the same page and who I can trust to follow a birth plan - and if a C-section is truly necessary, hopefully it won´t be so traumatic
 

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Mama. You had a rough time. When was your son born? My CS baby is 16 months too.

My 3rd baby was delivered by c-section under general anesthesia. I'd had two uncomplicated vaginal deliveries and was planning another one. But at 38 weeks, I got up in the night to use the bathroom and my water broke and there was just too much blood. We rushed to the hospital. I had a hypteronic (contracted with no let-up) uterus and baby had a 'flat' strip (not much heart rate variability, sort of a pre-distress). They took me back and knocked me out. When they got in there, they found a 50% abruption.

My situation was so sudden. I had no risk factors, no symptoms that I recognized (looking back I had a few minor things that I attributed to 'late pregnancy discomfort'--nothing I even considered calling the doc about though). So I don't really look back and think, "What if I'd done X instead of Y."

I'm also SO grateful that my husband was allowed to be there for the delivery. He's a physician, so they let him come in and stand outside the sterile field. My daughter went to him and stayed with him. He went with her to the nursery (per my request before they put me under) and stayed with her until they brought her to me in recovery. That's always been such a comfort to me--how heartbreaking for you and your DH that you had to miss your baby's entry into the world.

I had sort of a post-traumatic stress response about two weeks after she was born where I just freaked out and cried for a few days. The whole weight of what had happened and what a big, scary situation it all was just came crashing down on me. For the most part, I really feel like I'm past it now, but every once in a while I'll hear or see something that triggers a memory that I'd forgotten about and all those feelings come rushing back. We'd like to have a 4th baby and I'm pretty concerned about what will happen next time.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Sadie's Mom View Post
We are still nursing at 16 months and that has been incredibly healing for me- something my body did "get right". I do think my son has had some lasting effects from his traumatic birth, however. He was a *very* high needs baby who cried all the time (literally, hours on end) despite on demand nursing and had incredible difficulty sleeping and getting comfortable. We have gotten past most of this and now he is a very spirited toddler, but I still think the birth traumatized him.
Some kids are just high needs.

I had a general with my emergency c-section with my second child. He also had pyloric stenosis and surgery at 3 weeks. Despite that, he was a super mellow baby.

I had an all natural, vaginal birth with my first child, and he was a super high needs baby who was very demanding and didn't sleep for 17 months.
 

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I had my son at 33 weeks: I had, basically, out-of-nowhere eclampsia. I remember waking up with blurry vision, and then nothing for two days. I had gone into tonic-clonic seizures and had to have a crash c-section. My husband wasn't there (they thought I might die), which really bothered me at first, that nobody in our family had witnessed our son's entrance into the world. And it was completely bizarre to wake up in the ICU un-pregnant two days later. I didn't understand what had happened for some time. When they took me to the NICU to meet my boy, I kind of thought they were pulling my leg- I was so totally out of it that I didn't really remember having been pregnant.

My son is totally healthy. He was born at under 4 pounds and now, three months later, is 13 pounds+. He nurses like a champ and is developing very nearly on par with his actual age. I know we are all very lucky. Like many of you, I feel kind of guilty for sometimes dwelling on what happened. Because the outcome was a living mom and a living baby, it seems petty to still feel cheated.

I have somewhat consciously not started to process this yet. In the first few weeks it was all I could think about, and I feel like it was literally driving me nuts. So I put it away so I could be a healthy mama for my little one. I think my husband and I will deal with it in little bits as we go. We've just started to talk a tiny bit about if we ever want to think about having another baby: at first, I was like "Yes, of course, I MUST HAVE A BIRTH EXPERIENCE I CAN REMEMBER!" (which honestly felt kind of compulsive and weird), whereas my husband was like "I almost lost you. We're absolutely not risking this happening again. No more babies ever."

Therapy has been really helpful to me in the past, so in future I may want to talk about this with someone. I'm not sure yet.
 

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I had a general anesthesia with my 31 weeker, who will be 5 next month. I still struggle with it, although it's definitely gotten easier over time.

I needed a c-section, and due to the fact that I had some sort of infection the anesthesiologist didn't want to do a spinal (his explanation was for fear of introducing bacteria into my spine). I remember being rolled into the OR, strapped to the table and the nurses inserting a catheter. THAT was hard, I think I almost broke the nurse's finger I was holding onto it so tightly. I distinctly remember my heart rate going up really high and the nurse mentioning it to the anesthetist, while telling me the "Breathe deeply, it's good for you, good for your baby" - she had the O2 mask on me at that point.

I remember waking up in a daze, with the resident in the room and my husband telling me that "it's a girl"...he kept going back and forth between the recovery room and the NICU, and every single time he came in to see me I asked the same questions: "Are you sure it's a girl?" and "What were her Apgars?"

The answers were always "Yes, I'm sure it's a girl", and " 9 and 9".

I remember the pain - I had a really hard time with pain control, the narcotics gave me really bad constipations so my incision was being pressed on from the inside.


The biggest thing for me was that I missed the birth of my child. DH was very lucky and was allowed into the OR, so we did have video of it. I always say that I was glad someone was there for it, because I certainly wasn't.

I"m there with you. I don't know what to say as far as how things get better, but for me they just did slightly. I could cry about it every day if I let myself, and have had counseling but it's really something that will always be there.

The trauma for me was so bad that the fear of having to have another emergency c-section under general anesthesia made me go for an elective repeat the second time around. I wanted a trial of labour up until 36 weeks, but the fear inside me was so intense and the feelings I had afterwards came back so severely that I felt that I had to book my c-section. It makes me sad that my previous experience affected me to the point where I needed to have yet another surgery.


I also have to add that I had a really hard time last week when someone somewhere else had said that a "c-section with a general really isn't that bad, and I'd never tell anyone it's the end of the world". I had a visceral reaction to that.

I'm sorry you've had to go through what you did. Please know that there really are other women out there who have gone through a similar thing and have felt the same feelings as you.
 

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We've just started to talk a tiny bit about if we ever want to think about having another baby: at first, I was like "Yes, of course, I MUST HAVE A BIRTH EXPERIENCE I CAN REMEMBER!" (which honestly felt kind of compulsive and weird)

As horribly difficult and painful as my recovery was from the C-section (I, too, had a really horrific time with pain afterward - coupled with not being able to tolerate much medication - not a great combo.) - and as sensitive our situation is at home (my husband has Parkinson´s) - we found ourselves to be having that conversation around 4 months...I think it´s a natural reaction - like, "we can do it better next time" - but we both quickly came to the conclusion that that, alone, was not a good enough reason to bring another child into the world and that we needed a good amount of time before we would be able to decide if we wanted to have another - and because we want to bring another child into the family - not to try to correct a previous birth experience...and now, almost 3 years later, the jury´s still out - but thankfully it doesn´t have anything to do with the C-section

but everybody´s situation is unique - I can´t imagine someone saying "having a general isn´t that bad"- it seems incredibly insensitive and unappreciative of what the effect an experience like that could have on another person...
 

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I just had a c-section under general anesthesia 2 weeks ago. Birth story is here:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1191205

Am typing 1 handed (gassy baby in arms), but I am struggling with so many emotions. I will say I felt very cared for and I do think the c-section was necessary, but I am so sad not to have the memories of his birth, and I never had the hormone rush I had with my 1st.

I don't know if we'll have a 3rd baby or not. Can't even think about that yet.
 

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Just wanted to lend my support...... I am not entirely sure if I went under general or not (the surgical report makes no mention of it, and it even said epidural anesthesia was adequate) but I also went through a rough labor with my first that ended up in a birth center transfer/c-section. My epidural didn't take on one side and at the first cut I too was yelling about it. After numerous attempts to explain to them that i was feeling all the tests they were doing on me to make sure that the epi worked.


I woke up in recovery very dazed with a baby nursing on me. And all I have are pictures to fill in the gap between labor and this moment. Its hard. Nobody can really understand it if they haven't been through it. Especially someone who doesn't have that desire to have a natural birth. I just wanted to tell you that time does heal in a way. I hardly think about my ds1's birth anymore. (It has been replaced by my failed homebirth and second c/s unfortunately....but thats another story)


I guess I don't have much advice for you except for a virtual
. Sometimes it just helps to know that you're not alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
These stories are all very helpful to read- thank you! I agree that sometimes it's just nice to know that you are not alone in your experiences.

Like some of the other posters, we also struggle with the idea of trying for #2. At first, I thought "no way" because of the overwhelming fear of another complicated delivery (or worse). Then I went to "maybe, but it would have to be a scheduled C-section because at least then I'll be able to remember it". More recently, I've been thinking "yes! and I want to try for a VBAC!". The jury's still out- we are not TTC anytime soon- and I think I have a little more healing to do (emotionally) before we get to that point.
 

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Saidie's mom, thank you so much for posting this thread. I'll admit, I'm terrified to actually read your post. I have such a hard time even thinking about my section.

But it helps to know that it happened to someone else, and that they are not ok with it!

I also think so much, that next time I"ll have a scheduled c-section. At least I"ll be able to see my baby being born.
 

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I had a general anesthesia c-sec for occult cord prolapse. It was very traumatic, more-so for my DH because he was shoved out of the room then harassed by the nurses. (it was a homebirth transfer in a homebirth unfriendly state) The worst for me was that i was not the first or second or third person to hold my baby. I wish our families would have realized that it would have an impact on me to not only not be the first to see my baby, but also the last to hold him.

Over time the trauma fades and you stop thinking about it every day. Just remember that although it wasn't the outcome you wanted, it sounds as though it was necessary and that can bring some consolation. C-secs are miracles for those rare situations when they are really needed.
 

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Sadie's mom, you are definitely not alone! Thanks, mamas, for all you've had to share.

I had my general anes. cs 13 mo ago with ds, my first. I really felt that I had "done everything right": midwife in an in-hospital birth center that has a 6% cs rate, hypnobirthing, yoga during pregnancy, educated about natural birth up to my eyeballs, believing in birth, and truly, really looking forward to the whole labor and delivery experience. Ours was a kind of perfect storm, prodromal labor for about 22 hours, got stuck at 5 cm, I spiked a fever, mec in his water, his heartrate became unresponsive, then was elevated, still no further dilation. So, there we were. They couldn't find the right spot for the spinal, so under I went. I remember being so out of it, that I happily agreed to the general, not realizing at the moment what that was going to mean.

Not being "present" for my son's birth was a very difficult thing, for me and my husband. Have you considered birth trauma counseling? It helped me tremendously. i think I'll probably even go back once I'm pregnant again wtih number 2, just to work through any residual stuff.

One other thing that has helped: in his baby book, when I write about his birth, I talk about him being a "very brave boy to be born all on his own!" It's helped to kind of reframe it, and put it in a way that is positive, even if that's not completely the way I feel about it. Obviously, I'm sad that he was born that way, but I don't want all of his story to be about sadness and loss.

I think all your feelings are very, very normal. Especially the breastfeeding stuff, I feel the same way - so thankful that we've been able to do it.

Anyway, just wanted to send a
and tell you that I get it.
 

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Hi,
I just came on to this forum to write about the birth exp. I just had on 3/5, which was NOT how I hoped it to be...and then I saw your post. Five years ago, I also had an emergency c-section using general, and I felt so much of the same agony (emotionally) as you express in your post. I just wanted to quick write to you and let you knowyou're not alone. That birth was my 2nd baby, following a great natural birth for my first baby. I expected evrything was going to be great for labor #2- great doula, water birth planned, etc. But as I was pushing, my son suddenly went into sharp fetal distress- like no heart rate. I had a 2nd bag of water that explosively broke and jammed him into the face presentation position, kinking his neck and cutting off O2. There was no time to decide what I wanted- I saw the staff code blue us and w/in seconds we were in the OR and I was also pushing like you said- involuntarily and I was frantic! My son also had huge bruising, but thankfully no other problems. I'm so sorry you had to suffer through all of that. I can also add that my last birth, the one I was going to write about here (baby #4) resulted in another cesarean and terrible interventions afterwards. I'm not so sure this c-section was warranted and my heart breaks every day thinking about it, esp. what happened afterwards- the IV's, meds, etc for this little guy. I agree- it just kills me to wonder if it was all necessary and the amount of pain and separation from me after this last birth. So although my gen. c-section was scarier from 5 years ago, the after part was better. I feel like this c-section delivery was far worse in terms of how we were handled postpartum. I am so thankful I also have had 2 natural births and I hope you are able to come to peace soon with your experience. Have you talked to anyone at your dr/midwife/hospital office for some closure?
Heather D
 
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