Friday, August 10, 2012

The ABCs of a C-Section

A guest post by a mother whom I trust, love, and admire-- my sister, Sarah Quezada.

Some people plan to have C-sections, but most of us don’t. Most of us have different ideas about how our birth experience will play out.

For me, I had planned to enter into peaceful labor in the comfort of my own home. Then, once I realized the contractions warranted a trip to the hospital, I planned to spin in panicked circles in my living room, repeating, “It’s time! It’s time!” I would chastise myself for procrastinating packing my bag and hop in my car overwhelmed with tingling excitement.

But when I needed to be induced, my story began very differently. And eight hours later, when the doctor pulled a chair up by my bed and said I needed a C-section, it continued down an unexpected path.

Here are somethings I learned in the process:

A – Action
A quiet nurse leaned over me and said, “Now that the decision’s been made, everything will happen quickly. It doesn’t mean there’s an emergency or your baby is in danger. It’s just how we do it.” As teams of strangers poured into the room, skipping introductions and wheeling me away, I was so appreciative of her assurance not to worry.

B – Boldness
Once, while getting a bridesmaid dress altered, I felt the seamstress had pinned it too short. When she asked me, though, I said, “That’s fine.” I similarly struggled with boldness with my anesthesiologist. When they ask you what you can feel, be honest! Trust me. I ended up having some unfortunate problems when my epidural wasn’t working properly.

C – Section
My husband sat by my head, whispering encouragement to me, which was such a comfort. My doctors talked about their daughters’ basketball games, which was a strangely wonderful distraction. It was not at all the natural childbirth I had learned about in my birthing classes, but we were having a baby!

D – Drugs
Drugs are good. One nurse after surgery made me feel like I was a drug addict whenever I requested pain medication. She made me so nervous I tried to stop asking! Looking back, I would’ve had my husband stay on top of my medication and never felt bad asking for the strongest ones available. I have sometimes wondered how much my pain limited my capacity to deal with some difficult circumstances early in my daughter’s life.

E – Expectations
People have asked me if I felt like I failed because I had a C-section, but I don’t think so. I know there’s controversy about legitimate need for many C-sections, but in the moment, I made the best decision that I could for my daughter under pressure and with the given information. Still, I later did need to mourn the loss of my expectations. I never got to shout, “It’s time!” I never chewed ice chips or executed funky breathing rhythms. Because of my anesthesia issue, I wasn’t even really awake when my daughter entered the world, and I didn’t get to hold her. These expectations all changed, and I think it’s okay to mourn those losses.

My daughter is almost two years old now! And at the end of the day, her birth story was only about five days of all that we’ve experienced together. Was it exactly what I planned? Nope. But I’m so grateful for her presence and life. The entrance was simply details.

I hope our experience helps you if you ever find yourself in the midst of the unexpected.    

Sarah Quezada lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Billy and daughter Gabriella. She blogs about their multicultural family life at A Life with Subtitles. She also works with Mission Year, a year-long volunteer program. You can find her on Twitter @SarahQuezada.

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