I knew from the start that I was going to have to have a c-section. Just months before I became pregnant, I was diagnosed with a chiari malformation after a recent car accident, which meant that any pushing I did could worsen the herniation of brain tissue into my spinal cord. In addition to that, it had to be done under general anesthesia because of the increase in intracranial pressure that would have been caused by the spinal block. It was anything but ideal.
My c-section was scheduled for 39 weeks and 1 day into my pregnancy. We had to arrive at the hospital at a ridiculously early hour to get prepped. Right before I was taken to the operating room, the anesthesiologist came in the room to ask my if I had considered going the spinal block route.
My hopes soared. Doing the spinal block would mean that my husband could be in the room with me and that I would be able to see my baby as soon as she came out. When he asked about the symptoms I had been having and I gave him the list, he told me that general anesthesia was the better option. My excitement crashed back down.
I kissed my husband and he was taken to a special waiting room while they ushered me to the operating room. It was a teaching hospital, so my legs were spread in front of about 10 doctors, nurses and med students as they catheterized me and began getting me ready for surgery. The room was freezing cold, but I was so nervous that I hardly noticed.
Finally they were ready to begin. They told me to take deep breaths. I fixated on the light above me and decided to count my breaths before I passed out. I got to 2.
I woke up under that same light and started screaming. Though my screams sounded more like moans, because that's all that I could get out. I was in incredible, horrible pain. One of the nurses told me my moans were just going to make it worse. Tears started running down my face.
My OB told me, "your daughter is healthy and doing good." That was the first pang of guilt I felt. I hadn't bothered asking anyone if she was okay. In my defense, the pain was so incredible that my mind could hardly comprehend anything else. "That's good." I weakly replied.
They lifted me to move me from the operating table to the stretcher and I thought the pain would kill me. Finally, someone asked me what was wrong. "Pain! I'm in pain!" was what I managed to wheeze out, raspy from being intubated. That's when both the doctors and I realized no one had given me any pain medication at all before or after waking me from the anesthesia.
"When do I get to see my baby?" I asked the nurse.
"When we get your pain under control we will bring her in."
The next time the nurse checked on me and asked me my pain level I said it was a 2, even though it was probably still a 6 or 7. I just wanted to see my baby. Finally my husband and baby came into the recovery room to see me and I couldn't hold back my tears of joy.
I still feel guilt for so many reasons:
- I do not know what labor feels like. Besides a few Braxton Hicks, I didn't have any of the contractions or pushing.
- I feel like I missed out on such a huge part of pregnancy. It's like watching the most incredible movie, but going to the bathroom and missing the climax.
- I wasn't the first one to see or hold my baby. I had a strict 'only my husband gets to hold her before I do' rule, but all of my family got to see her before I was even awake.
Many try to say that all that matters is that you have a healthy baby in the end, but c-section guilt is a struggle.