Caroline – caesarean section

Caroline is sat cross legged on her sofa which is covered in a crocheted blanket.  Avery is sat on a cushion on her lap breastfeeding.  Her hair is up in a high ponytail and on the wall behind them family photos link them to where they have come from.
Caroline and Avery

I was twelve days late with my daughter when I realised I was leaking fluid.  There wasn’t a big pop but just a dribble every now and then – I actually thought I was wetting myself!   At 11pm I was with my husband and I went to the hospital as the wetness was just coming more regularly and as I was booked in to be induced two days later they decided to start then.  Once the IV induction began then my plans to have a water birth went out the window as you can’t be in the birthing pool and be on a drip. My husband Sam and my twin sister stayed with me which was so nice for me and also they had the support in each other. The contractions were pretty intense, I just couldn’t seem to get on top of the pain and at 7am I managed to get an epidural.  After that I felt so much better – the pain had gone, it was such a relief, it was euphoric feeling and I then became quite emotional.  Later on the doctor came and my water was broken to see if that would speed anything up as I had only progressed 4cm in 12 hours. Yet when the amniotic fluid came out it was completely green and they realised that Penny had pooed inside me and I would need a caesarean section.  I was taken to theatre and one of my other sisters who happens to be a midwife at that hospital was there as was my husband whilst my twin waited outside and it was so amazing to have my loved ones so near.  The doctor delivered Penny and gave her straight to Heidi to weigh and check and then she gave her to my husband Sam.  I remember her being amazed that I had produced this 9.6lb (4.35kg) baby girl – no wonder I was so big! Even though it was a caesarean it was so calm and we had Penny with us pretty much straightaway so we could do lots of skin to skin and get the breastfeeding going.

I will admit that I was pretty upset to have had a caesarean.  It hadn’t been covered in the ante natal classes I attended and I felt it was only used in life or death situations.  I just wasn’t prepared for the physical enormity of it I was knocked off my feet.  I wish I had been more prepared for the fact that changing her first nappy would have been really difficult for me to do. I felt it was my worst case scenario.  I think it affected me mentally for a few months afterwards.  It hurt afterwards and I felt the effects for a good week.  

I had moved to Bahrain when I fell pregnant with our son Avery.  I was here, pregnant over the summer and it was so hot and humid.  I couldn’t go anywhere as the heat really bothered me it was so horrible that when the doctor offered me the chance of another caesarean I took it.   The doctor also had concerns about his size as he was showing to be another big baby.  I had no evidence of gestational diabetes and had not gained an excessive amount of weight in the pregnancy – my argument that my first baby was big and maybe I produced big babies was not really listened to. Having had one in the UK I felt that I knew what the procedure was so I was quite surprised when I was told that I would need to be completely shaved and would have an enema.  I refused to have either done and I must admit that there were certain things that made the whole thing feel more stressful then it needed to be.  Firstly the hospital insisted that Avery be taken to the nursery after he was delivered to allow me time to rest.  I did not want that as I wanted skin to skin and to give him the same breastfeeding experience that his sister had.  Luckily I produced colostrum from about two weeks before his delivery date and I caught the droplets of that precious milk and put them in feeding syringes which I then froze so my husband could give him my milk if I was unable to (remember a newborn babys stomach holds only 5-7ml of fluid which is roughly a teaspoon so this is something well worth doing if you are not sure that you will be able to feed your child straight away.) Sam was also not allowed in the delivery suite with me and no matter how much I argued that he would be the best person to calm me down if I got anxious there was no budging on that that.

So on the day I went into theatre and delivered my baby without my husband or anyone else there to support me.  There was a big clock at the end of the operating table and I could see just how long everything took.  They strapped me to the bed (common practice in the Middle East as an insurance measure to prevent the mother from falling out the bed) which I found really claustrophobic and really stressful. I also felt that I had no voice as Sam was not allowed in with me and this proved to be the case when Avery was delivered and the nurses took him to clean up.  Ten minutes later (courtesy of the big clock at the end of the bed ) they still hadn’t shown him to me, no one spoke to me, they just cleaned him, weighed him and took their time so for ten minutes I did not see my son.  In the end the anaesthetist shouted for ‘someone give this woman her baby NOW!’ as I was getting really upset that I hadn’t seen him, that no one had communicated to me that he was ok.  I wanted that contact, the skin on skin to promote breastfeeding, to check he was ok with my own eyes and I was so cross that they did not give me that.  The nurses then announced that they were taking him to the nursery – I didn’t want that either! If Avery was ok then we wanted him to be with one of us.  They eventually took him to Sam who was starting to feel sick with nerves as we had been in theatre for so long he had been pacing the floor outside, anxiously waiting for news and he held him until I was out from recovery.  I have been pretty lucky in that both my child have been good feeders so breastfeeding, once established was not really an issue. 

I do look back on both my births as being positive – after all I have beautiful son and daughter! I do wish that the staff at the hospital in Bahrain had listened to me which would have prevented me from having unnecessary stress on the day.  Even actually explaining why things were being done would have been better then ignoring me! Treat people how you wish to be treated – its quite simple.