Here’s how I pictured the birth of my son, Benjamin: I’d be in a nice delivery room (you know, the ones with a whirlpool and flat screen). Labour would hurt a little, sure, but everyone in the room would tell me what a great job I was doing, and then I’d scream for the drugs, and they’d give me the drugs. My hair would hang in adorable wet curly tendrils and then — poof! — Ben would slide into the world to cheers all around. My husband, Jason, and I would clasp hands with tears in our eyes, and say something movie-of-the-week-ish, like: “Isn’t he beautiful?” Jason would kiss my head and whisper, “Thank you,” as Ben’s little hand wrapped perfectly around his finger. Also, I ‘d be wearing waterproof mascara and look beautiful in the photos we immediately posted on Facebook.
Here’s what actually happened. I had a planned C-section because Ben was breech, with no chance of turning, thanks to a large uterine fibroid. (Not that it kept him from trying to turn many, many times before his due date. All that head banging was like a Def Leppard concert under my ribs).
As it turned out, I wasn’t that broken up about losing the chance for a “natural” birth. A planned C seemed rather civilized. No running for the go bag in the middle of the night, no 24 hours of labour before finding out I needed a C-section anyway, no torn hoo-ha. My parents took the day off, Jason’s dad booked a flight to be there in time, I finished work on a Friday and showed up the following Tuesday for Operation Baby Extraction. I’m a Virgo, so I appreciate this kind of order. Also, I liked the idea of the whole business being over and done with in an hour, with my baby neatly delivered into my arms like a burrito at a takeout joint. See? Order.
What I didn’t count on was missing the entire first day of Ben’s life thanks to a bad reaction to the anaesthetic in the spinal block. Instead of gazing lovingly into Jason’s eyes as our baby came into the world, I started dry heaving on the table, and they had to pump me full of so much Gravol that the rest of the day is a blurry haze. I remember hearing Ben’s first cry. I remember blearily opening my eyes in the recovery room to see Jason staring in wonder at something somewhere to my left. I remember my sister arriving and giving me a hand massage. But mostly, I remember a lot of throwing up and moaning into the sheets while my parents read the newspaper. I didn’t actually snap out of my nauseated fog until almost 18 hours after the operation. But you know what happened then? I woke up, and there was a baby — just like magic! Plus, I got to take the Facebook photos the next day. When I had some mascara on, of course.
This article originally appeared in the Today’s Parent Pregnancy spring/summer 2013 edition with the headline “Labours of love: My planned C-section”, p.43.