*This post was originally written in 2019.
I had about 15 minutes to mentally prepare for my emergency c-section. It’s a lot to process. I was about to meet my daughter – yay! I was minutes away from not being pregnant anymore – hallelujah! I was going to give birth through my abdominal wall and I was going to be awake for that major surgery – um, what?
I had exactly zero idea what to expect. I was even googling “c section recovery” as the nurses prepped me for the OR. Not my proudest moment, but there you have it.
Here is what I wish I’d known. Some of the funny, quirky, wonderful things that happen when you have a c-section.
1. This is another day at the office for everyone in the OR.
You are getting wheeled in, perhaps under frightening circumstances, and the CALM in the room feels odd. There will be conversations about what they had for breakfast, or what sounds good for lunch, or something from a TV show the night before. This is okay. Let this comfort you, they do this ALL the time.
2. The sheet to keep you from seeing things you can’t un-see is RIGHT THERE.
Like, inches from your face. It’s practically neck level. I don’t know why, but I was stunned by how close it seemed to me. In pictures I’d seen it looks much further away. But I assure you that it is up close and personal.
3. It is very strange to not be able to see OR feel your entire lower body.
I definitely had a moment where I felt like a floating head & arms and it was very unnerving.
4. Speaking of arms, they’re going to momentarily strap yours down.
Not to worry, they’ll release you just as soon as that baby is out and you probably won’t even realize that they’ve done that. See #2 re: sheet in yo’ face.
5. You better hope your OB has good taste in music.
Like I said, it’s another day in the office. And why wouldn’t you be rocking out to your favorite pandora station while doing a little c-section action? My daughter was born to these sweet words from the Eagles “Hotel California.”
(I still have mixed feelings about that one.)
6. The anesthesiologist is your BFF.
If you have the opportunity to meet him or her pre-op then I suggest just laying on the compliments right away. “Those scrubs are really your color!” is always a good start. And why start the kiss-up fest early? Because when you are laying prone and cannot feel your body or move your arms, this is the person you have on your team. This person is basically part doctor, part life coach once you enter the OR. Case in point, this was the actual conversation I had with mine:
Anesthesiologist tells the nurse I’m hot. Immediately a cool compress is laid upon my forehead.
“I hate the towel you just put on me.”
Cold compress removed.
Woosh. Immediate medicine for that.
Woosh. More meds.
“I can’t breathe.”
“Kelly, you’re talking, that means you can breathe.”
7. The Pinch Test.
This is a biggie. I was super-duper paranoid that I was going to feel something during surgery. So when my doctor pinched some skin and asked me if I could feel it, my knee jerk reaction was to say yes. So they upped the medicine (Anesthesiologist BFF coming in handy again). She waited a few moments then asked again if I could feel it. I said yes. More meds. Finally she asked a THIRD TIME and I said yes and she just said “No, you can’t.” Because I guess whatever she was doing would have been incredibly painful and I really was just feeling the pressure, not the pain.
8. “You’ll Feel A Lot of Pressure.”
This is the understatement of the century. Again, the fact that you can’t actually FEEL your lower body but CAN feel the pressure is so bizarre. Even if my daughter hadn’t been crying as she was born, I would have known instantly the moment she was out. Because I could exhale again.
9. You have to wear a hair net.
Yes. You’ll give birth feeling just a little bit like a lunch lady. It’s all very glamorous and lovely.
10. You Still Gave Birth.
That matters. And if you had a c-section – I want you to remind yourself of that. So I’m going to say it again. You. Still. Gave. Birth. For a really long time after G was born, I said, “When I had her” or “When she was born”. I didn’t take ownership of the fact that my body had birthed a baby. No, it wasn’t done the good ol’ fashioned way. No, nothing immediately following her birth went as I would have liked. But yes. Yes, I still gave birth.
What do you wish you’d known about a c-section?