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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Jensen's Birth Story - An Elective C-Section Birth Story

My Elective C-Section Birth Story - Australian Private Hospital

I wasn't going to share Jensen's birth story.

To be honest, I've always found them a strange thing to share. Something so intimately personal and special, shared with the world to read - but whilst pregnant, I realised that my birth story might be a powerful tool for someone in similar shoes.

And it may have taken me 10 weeks to finally finish writing and posting it - but I still wanted to share.

You see, for many women, a c-section is a last resort.

It's what comes as an emergency procedure after a long labour that doesn't progress. 
It's the last mentioned on the birth plan "just in case". 
It's "major abdominal surgery" and to be avoided at all costs.

But for me, it was the only way.... and now I can tell you that for me, it was also the best way.

So let me share my story >> 

Elective Caesarean Birth Story

Whilst pregnant, whenever someone found out I was having a c-section, I got three standard responses:
  1. "Oh.... what went wrong?" 
  2. "My sister/friend/cousin/colleague's niece had a c-section and.... -insert horror story here-" 
  3. "You do know that's major surgery, right?" 
It was rare that I ever got a positive story - and I had many, many people think they could try to "talk me out of it" (stupid when it was also medically necessary). 

I was told to expect weeks and weeks spent in bed, not being able to move, not being able to hold my baby properly - insert misery here.

But for me, that could have been any further from the truth. 

Elective c-section birth story Australia Private Hospital

The big question? 

Why did I choose to have an elective c-section? 

The answer? Because of my own birth experience - and in the end, because it was the only way my son could have been born safely.

When I was born, my Mum should never have been allowed to birth me naturally. I was a big baby and with my Mum having a similar body shape and build to me, I was just too big.

During the birthing process, I became stuck and when the doctor manually moved my shoulders to get me out, he did serious damage.

I have erb's palsy as a result of a brachial plexus injury from my birth. Essentially, during birth, the nerves in my right shoulder were torn/damaged in a way that my body (or surgery) could not fully repair. 

Until 2 1/2 I had little to no movement in that arm - and for the rest of my life I've had limited movement in my right arm and almost no rotation. It meant that as a kid I couldn't join the dance team at school (I tried out and was rejected because I couldn't do "the same as the other girls" - that definitely wouldn't happen now!), I couldn't play sports and I never wore anything that didn't cover my shoulders because I was embarrassed by my winged scapula. 

In high school I "forgot my uniform" for P.E more often than not because I didn't want to be made to do things I couldn't (especially when I failed flexibility tests and strength tests because the teachers would only take the results from my weak arm). 

Even when searching for a wedding dress, I spent hours scouring the internet for a high backed dress so I could cover it up. 

Whilst over the years, I've been able to do more and more with my arm - to the point where most people wouldn't even know I had a disability - it's something that impacts my daily life. It's why we chose specific handles and knobs for our kitchen, why I do almost everything with my left hand, why I hold Jensen in particular ways and so much more.

At my first obstetrician appointment, I told my doctor that I wanted a c-section, explained my reasonings and he agreed - a c-section was going to be the only way we could ensure that history didn't repeat itself. As Jensen grew, he ended up choosing a c-section for himself - but a natural birth was never on the cards. 

Was I scared of having a c-section? Absolutely. 

As an adult, I hadn't had a single surgery - and I was being fed horror stories left, right and centre - but I knew it was what had to be done. Thankfully I had my Mum who had a c-section with my sister and put my mind at ease, but I still worried about the experience as it got closer.

Elective C-Section Birth Story - What Happens when you get to the hospital

The day of my elective c-section

But then very quickly, the big day arrived. 

With a c-section scheduled for 2pm, I got up early, ate breakfast and had a coffee (I could eat and drink before 8am but not afterwards) and my Mum and sister came around. 

To distract me from getting nervous, my sister straightened my hair to make it easier to keep up with post c-section (SO many people asked me why my curly hair looked straight - this was why). With knotty curly hair, I knew that having it straightened would mean I could keep it tangle free and easier to brush even if I was in a lot of pain/had limited movement. 

Preparing for an elective c-section in private hospital

At 1pm, we arrived at the hospital and got settled in our "home" for the next 6 days. We unpacked our bags, making sure to get out everything I'd need for that night/the next morning so that Jesse could easily grab it for me whilst I couldn't move around. This saved him rummaging around in bags and me trying to remember where things were. 

Jesse made up his "bed" and we sat and talked whilst we waited to be taken down to theatre.

Elective c-section birth story private hospital

With my gown and compression socks on and Jesse in his scrubs, it was 2pm and time to be taken down to the theatre rooms!

We waited in the anaesthetic bay for the anaesthetist and then discussed my allergies and what would happen in the surgery and then I walked into the operating room (usually they wheel you but I was fine to walk in and it made it easier for everyone). 

What an elective c-section is like for the husband or partner

What it is like to have an elective c-section

Jesse stayed in the anaesthetic bay and looked on from the windows whilst they put in the spinal block and laid me down on the table. 

The spinal block I was SO worried about because, again, I'd been fed horror stories, but other than the tiniest sting from the local anaesthetic, I felt nothing. No pain, no drama - nothing. 

They then had me lay down on the table and I started to feel tingling in my legs and bottom and then started to feel a little bit woozy. As the anaesthetist explained, often your blood pressure drops when they put the spinal block in and that's exactly what happened to me. 

The anaesthetist gave me something to push my blood pressure up and pushed Jensen up off my side so he wasn't putting pressure on my organs or arteries. I could feel Jensen wriggling around and everyone laughed at how active he was and how big he was compared to my tiny frame.

With me completely numb and the catheter in, they brought Jesse in and he sat right next to me whilst they got started.

The whole experience was strangely so calm and relaxed. The room was full of people moving around and doing things but it didn't feel stressful. As they cut me open, I could feel hands and movement and pressure but zero pain. It was a little bit like when you rummage around in your handbag for the lipgloss that always sinks to the bottom. 

Elective c-section birth photos - baby pulled from womb

The next five minutes were so quick. I heard my obstetrician ask for forceps and more assistance and I felt pushing as they pushed down on my stomach to free Jensen (he was seriously wedged in there - forceps are not normal for a c-section!) and then they were dropping the curtain so we could see him come out. 

With his chin just out, he let out a cry for the first time and we saw what we thought was a full head of ginger hair (everyone in the operating room was surprised at this ginger baby - including us!) and a minute later he was placed on my chest and we were meeting our son.

Elective c-section birth photos - first family photo

The rest of the procedure? I have no idea about. 

With Jensen on my chest, it felt like the "closing up" process took just a few seconds and then Jesse was cutting the cord and carrying him as they wheeled me to the recovery room. 

What it is like to have an elective c-section birth

I just could not stop looking at my sweet boy. Or kissing him. Or telling him how much I loved him or how excited we were that he was here. I don't even remember if my obstetrician or the anaesthetist said goodbye or congratulations or anything else.

The only thing I remember other than soaking Jensen up was how strange it felt when I was numb from the chest down and they rolled me completely on my side to remove the spinal block. I had two people holding me as I looked straight down at the floor below and hoped they wouldn't drop me 😅

What happens after a baby is born via c-section

In the recovery room, Jesse held Jensen as they weighed him, gave him his vitamin K and hepatitis injections and got all of his measurements whilst the other nurses took my blood pressure (it had dropped really low so they were a bit worried) and gave me some water and the first dose of pain medication.

I was shaking/shivering a bit from the drugs used (a very common side effect) but that settled really quickly.

Too distracted by my son, I only paid a little attention to what was happening but couldn't really tell you what they were doing as I was too busy watching Jensen and Jesse. At one point they asked me if I could lift my legs (I couldn't at the time) and then pulled my knees up which was the strangest most confusing experience as I could see my knees up and knew they were my knees, but because they were numb my brain was totally disassociating from them and they seemed like someone else's legs in the bed (that or I was drugged off my head as I'm the girl who can only take one panadol and not two 😅).

What happens after an elective c-section - breastfeeding for the first time

A few minutes later, they got Jesse to bring Jensen over and they placed him on my chest to feed for the first time where he happily ate for the next hour as they monitored me and then wheeled us back up to our room.

Meeting her grandson for the first time

The rest of the evening went by so quickly as we snuggled our son and then visiting hours came along and my Mum was able to come and meet her grandson for the first time. 

Whilst my Mum was there and snuggling Jensen, they brought in dinner and food has never tasted so good 😅 After not eating since breakfast, I was starving - and with my big baby removed and my constant heartburn gone, I had so much room for food 😛

Thankfully the hospital had delicious gluten free food and I quickly demolished dinner and ate some of the snacks I'd brought with us to the hospital.

What the first night is like after an elective c-section

The first night after an elective c-section

That first night, I wasn't able to get out of bed and that was possibly the most difficult thing for me. 

With a catheter in, a drip running and circulation cuffs on my legs constantly puffing air it was a very noisy night and I didn't get much sleep - but I was still on a high from meeting our son and sleep was the last of my worries. 

The next morning, the midwife came in to check my blood pressure at 6am and I asked her when I could get up out of bed. A little taken aback by my eagerness to get out of bed, she said there was no reason why I couldn't get up and have a shower now so she headed off to get everything to take out the catheter and free me from my bed jail. 

What the first day is like after an elective c-section

The first day after an elective c-section

Getting up the first time was awkward. I didn't really know how to get up or how it would feel and the hospital bed made it kind of difficult to find an easy way to sit up. 

It wasn't painful, just strange but I was soon sitting up on the side of the bed and Jesse was getting all of my clothes and bits and pieces ready so I could have a shower.

I walked into the shower and the midwife stayed close by as I showered (sitting down) and then got dried and dressed.

As I was getting dressed, I started to feel slightly woozy and knowing what it feels like to faint, I quickly picked up my pace and walked back to the bed to sit down. 

I think it was a combination of low blood pressure, pain, medication, not enough food and the heat from the shower but the faint feeling quickly dissipated and I was back to feeling normal.

Meeting his grandson for the first time

The first day post-surgery was the most painful and awkward for me. Moving around just felt odd and I wore my belly band to make it easier to navigate getting in and out of bed, picking up and feeding Jensen etc - but we were glad to see my Dad that morning and then my Mum again later that evening as we took advantage of both visiting hours.

I felt so much better than expected though and was walking (albeit slowly) around our room and getting out of the bed as much as I could. The hardest part was working out how to comfortably sit down and get up from the toilet or into and out of bed.

By that evening, however, I was in a fair bit of pain. As someone with a high pain tolerance I was taking the minimal pain killers (mainly panadol and voltaren) but after walking around and moving more all day, I asked the midwife for one dose of the stronger painkillers around 4pm to get the pain under control.

After that one dose and a bit of a cry (I was worried the pain was going to be way worse as people kept telling me the next day was the hardest) I was back to feeling good and that single dose was the only one I needed.

Jesse snuggling his newborn son

The next few days were full of snuggles, feedings, visits from my family (one at a time for one hour at a time because of COVID restrictions) and catching sleep wherever we could.

When does a baby cluster feed to bring your milk in
On day two Jensen cluster fed all night and by day three, I felt like someone had given me a boob job whilst I slept because my milk had come in. 

I had been so worried I wouldn't be able to breastfeed as my entire pregnancy I never had any leaks or major changes like other friends who were pregnant - but my body was clearly just waiting for Jensen!

Enjoying our hospital newborn bubble

Jensen had his hearing test, visits by the paediatrician, blood tests, a photo shoot and jaundice tests (he was slightly jaundiced but we just kept him in front of the windows during the day) and his first bath and so many snuggles from us and my family. 

Jesse and I had minimal sleep but so many snuggles and ended up loving the hospital food we were so worried about (there were only 2 meals I wasn't a fan of, but my family brought in some food for me instead) and it was so nice to be in a little bubble with just the three of us.

Leaving the hospital to go home - baby yoda going home outfit

By day five, I was SO ready to go home and counting down the minutes until 10am on Monday when we'd be discharged. With Jensen dressed (not in the outfit we planned on putting him in as he was so tiny and didn't fit newborn clothes!) we buckled him into the car seat and Jesse packed the car. After having my dressing taken off and a final check done, Jesse picked up the car seat and we were off! 

Enjoying life with a newborn

We were so glad to be at home and so glad to be able to have my whole family over at once to spend time with Jensen as visits had been so short and only one person at a time. 

I was also so glad to be back to my coffee machine and good coffees and was soaking up every second on our comfy lounge. 

Recovery wise, by the time we got home on day 6, I was feeling totally back to normal. Easily walking and moving around, climbing the stairs at home and not taking any painkillers (I was supposed to continue taking them but I had zero pain and totally forgot about taking them by the second day at home).

The hardest part was stopping myself from doing too much and remembering to have Jesse do things like pick up the washing baskets or vacuum the house. Luckily I have an incredible husband who is more than willing to help out and had taken time off work to be home with me and Jensen. 

What life is like with a newborn baby

From there, we settled into life at home and really enjoyed life with our sweet, chilled little dude.

But then the wheels started falling off the bus a little.

Jensen had a bit of a slow start with weight gain, losing more weight after we left hospital and not yet being back at birth weight by two weeks - but at his three week appointment he had gained 420g in a week and was back on track with weight gain so we were incredibly relieved! 

Little did we know, however, that our poor babe had lactose overload as the nurse had me switch back to feeding him on both sides each feed - so week 3-5 we had a very unhappy Jensen. 

When do babies start smiling

At five weeks, the real smiles started and it seemed like Jensen's little tummy was finally getting better - but then around week 6, the screaming started and did not stop. 

Little did we know, our sweet non-spewy, seemingly thriving babe had silent reflux. From week 6-9 we listened to our poor boy scream for hours, unable to be settled by anything and only ever happy if sleeping on us on his tummy. 

We were exhausted, heartbroken and desperate to fix our poor boy - but thankfully his paediatrician recommended trialling reflux medication and within just a few doses, we were back to enjoying our smiley, happy boy. 

Happy Jensen after a nap

Now at ten weeks old, we can't get enough of this silly smiley boy - and I can't wait to share more of him with you. If you're not following us on Instagram already, go and follow us there for daily Jensen updates. Trust me - you don't want to miss this cutie 🥰 


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1 comment:

  1. I am so happy for you! He is beautiful and so alert! And the hospital served you gluten free food! One problem eliminated to have to deal with. I wish you and your sweet family years filled with joy, good health, and much happiness all the time. Congratulations!


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