Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's not that bad, really

My pregnant friend has been driving me crazy with questions about my C-section.

Did it hurt?

Did I feel a lot of pain?

Did it hurt?

Normally I'd plead the Fifth (it's practically law that women don't share their labor stories with about-to-labor women) and leave her imagination to its own devices, but I figured since it's a surgical procedure, it falls under a different category. You'd tell your friend what to expect from a root canal, right?


So, for my dear friend, here is a step-by-step guide to a C-section, by Mrs. Mullet.

Let's get right to business. The first thing that happens at the hospital, after you've settled into your bed and donned your hospital robe, is that a nurse shoves a catheter into your she-cave. This is actually one of the more painful procedures of the C-section. Insertion is a bitch. The tube snaking out of your crotch will make you feel like you have to jump up and empty your bladder immediately. You can't, of course, because you're now tethered to your bed.

Next comes the IV. It'll make your hand and arm feel cold, but that's about it.

Somewhere between 10-20 doctors will come in to ask you questions about everything under the sun. You'll start to get really nervous because it's clear there's no going back, but listen, before you have a chance to really freak out, they'll wheel you into the OR (or ER, depending on the conditions of your section). This is when you say goodbye to your partner. Not in the forever sense, silly, but in the see-you-after-the-anesthesiologist-has-shot-me-up-with-meds sense.

If you're lucky like me, your anesthesiologist will be really hot and serve as a nice distraction from your impending knife slice. After you've hauled your butt from the hospital bed to the operating table (it's no easy feat, what with all the tubes dangling from you), the nurse will sit you up and bend you over so the anesthesiologist can poke your back with some needles. This will feel like a smattering of big-ass bee stings.

There, you're now numb from the rib cage down. Your arms will be spread to either side. The drape will go up in front of your face so you don't get splattered with your own innards, and your partner can come back into the room. He/she will stand next to the anesthesiologist, who will sit with his crotch near your head and adjust the meds so you don't vomit. If you do vomit, don't worry. You won't be able to push it up because you can't feel your ribs, but a nurse will suction it out of your mouth if turn your head.

So nice of her!

If you thought you'd get away with not showing your goods to the world, this is where all decency goes out the window. The doctors whisk up your robe; bam, you're negged. If you gave yourself a blind Brazilian shave job pre-surgery, you'll probably cringe as you imagine everyone gawking at your hacked pubes.

Don't worry, in about three seconds you're going to be distracted. When the doctors really get to work it's going to feel like a 200-pound dog is using your body as a chew toy. There will be lots of shaking and tugging. Pulling and shoving. If you're like me, you'll yell out "Gross!" and "This is so gross!" as you feel all the tugging. A nurse might tell you it's worth it; you might shoot back with "I feel like road kill."

The good news is that you're almost out of the woods. As soon as the doctors move your organs around, they'll scoop out your baby. To me, this is where the C-section, which has thus far been tolerable, sucks major ass. You'll hear your baby. You'll see your baby. You'll be dying to hold your baby. But they'll hand your baby to your partner.

After nine months of morning sickness, bloating, hemorrhoids, weight gain, sleeplessness, emotional instability, feeling like a house, and surgery, this feels incredibly and unjustifiably cruel. You've been conditioned to believe that the labor process concludes with you holding your slimy baby to your bosom and breastfeeding then and there. To see someone else cuddling something extracted from your body just plain hurts.

But look, you're done. Your baby will go to the nursery and you'll go back to your room to recover. As you wait to see your baby, go on and touch your rubbery legs. You'll feel like a jellyfish. Unfortunately, the numbness takes time to shake so you'll be bedridden until the next day, but hey, you won't be able to feel the catheter anymore.

And you've got a baby! A beautiful baby.

Any questions?


Anonymous said...

Or you could be like me and have the epidural fail and have to be put under

I liked that way..go to sleep pregnant wake up to a baby and a morphine drip!

Keely said...

Wow, am I ever fucking glad I didn't end up having a c-section.

Leanne said...

Blah. That makes my natural birth sound kinda good. Glad the baby is beautiful!

Frogs in my formula said...

But it's not that bad...shoot, did I blow it?

Whitney said...

WOW. That makes me really excited to have a baby. LOL. And I thought having my tonsils out, 2 months ago was horrible...

After my sister had her daughter last year, my Mom kept saying, "I saw the doctor sew up your uterus...then he stapled your stomach". For future reference, she's not allowed anywhere near my delivery room.. Got it? k.

Sparkling said...

wow, I think I would prefer that to vaginal. So quick, efficient. Love the whole idea. Did you feel the "hot knife" that my friend said it felt like to her? I think that was the afterburn, not the knife actually going in. Plus, no smooshed head from going down the birth canal. That sure is a plus. You do plead a good case for the scheduled delivery. My mother did that with all 3 of us and I think maybe she thought childbirth was a breeze!

Pricilla said...

Makes me glad I'm a goat

Jenni said...

Ditto Keely.

Also, doesn't the slicing/dicing take like 20 minutes? I kind of remember the nurse telling me that when I was in the hospital to get the C-section for Miles that was not to be.

When I was talking to the nurse I was OBSESSED with how long things would take and I remember thinking that all the cutting and sewing up were going to take longer than I anticipated. Twenty minutes just seemed like a lot of cutting, and longer to close, right?

Lori said...

The beauty is that you sort of forget just how awful it is as time goes by. That is until you read this blog post and the "smattering of bee stings" and your spine has horrendous flashbacks.

Oh, and did the nurses freak you out with threatening, "if you can't pee on your own after we take the catheter out we'll put it back in for a few days". I may have had the nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Dysfunctional Mom said...

Oooh, oooh, can the chick who had had 3 c-sections chime in?
The catheter was seriously the worst part for me, I have issues with those particular body parts already. So the 3rd time I was SO dreading it...and they put it in AFTER I was numb. So, I advise anyone to make them do that!
Also, there are two different methods of numbing you for the surgery, an epidural or a spinal block. I've had both, and the spinal block is much better and less painful.
I wish I could remember the time better, but it seems like maybe 30 minutes from being cut open until it was over, and I had big chunky babies that were hard to remove (they even had to use suction for one of them).
No hot knife thing going on here. No pain during the procedure, just the pulling & tugging.
OK this is turning into a separate post now, thanks Mrs Mullet for letting me borrow your blog. Ha!

SmartBear said...

I was TERRIFIED of the catheter. My doc did not insert it until I was on the table and numb. I had a spinal block instead of an epidural which was SO much more painful than I thought but my doc let my husband stay with me through the whole thing. You were brave...I don't think I could have done the spinal alone. I know what you mean by the tugging and pulling. Road kill is a great analogy. I was so obsessed with the catheter that I kept asking for them to take it out within a couple hours of having my baby. The nurse finally said "honey, you realize that you will have to get up to go to the bathroom once I take that out?" That shut me up.
Did they make you fart before you could eat? I was so freakin hungry and I couldn't fart!
Great post as usual...did you end up finding a blog nickname you like?

Elizabeth said...

OK...I feel kind of like a freak every time this subject comes up. And believe me, it's NOT because I'm the stoic, admit to no pain, suck it up type, nor do I have any interest in acting like I'm a better mom than others. I'm unfortunately both a crappy mom and a big whiner with a low pain threshold! But my 2 c-sections just kinda didn't bother me at all. I was strolling down the hall to the nursery unassisted within 2 hours of leaving the OR, literally feeling no pain. I had no idea at the time how weird that apparently is. I think my OB probably did a great job with my surgeries, thankfully, and I THINK I had spinals. Is that the difference? My dad, who had seen my mom through two bad c-sections in the 70s, was at the hospital right after my kids were born and kept acting like he'd just seen Lazarus rise from the dead or something! I would definitely agree the catheter was the worst part--especially the time it got kinked up and I almost exploded.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

This is totally accurate. Only mine started with me geting induced, laboring for almost 2 days, pushing for 3.5 hours and then being asked to sign forms for a c-section they hesitated to call "emergency" but be told specificlaly you have an hour to keep pushing with no production and then it would be an emergency.

Knowing what to face the 2nd time around is comforting in some ways, and terrifying in many more ways.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Also, they don't have great senses of humor in general. While they were stitching me all up they were talking about the Coutnry Music Awards and I was like "hey, while you guys are chatting down there, want to suck some fat out, too?" I guess I'm not original.

Raija said...

Okay I'm decidedly glad that I went natural, though I never thought I'd say that. I have IV issues so it takes 4 or 5 tries to get the job done. That's just a slice of heaven if you're afraid of needles like I am. Honestly, after everything- that may still be the worst part. I didn't have to worry about the conehead thing either- The boy's head would not be moved, it was nice and round and beautiful. That should have been a hint to me that we were in for some interesting times. Glad to know I was justified in my C-section phobia...eep. Glad you and Diddly came through it okay though.

Mama Badger said...

Being able to compare, I'd take natural again in seconds. It wasn't the c-section that got me, it was the 3 weeks to be able to sit upright comfortably. Yucko.

Suzi said...

Do you mean to tell me that they put the catheter in before they numbed you up with an epidural or spinal block? Ouch! I have to say I had 3 C-sections and they were kind enough to give me said drugs before the catheter was inserted. No pain at all.

FoN said...

That sounds horrible. I am really glad I didn't have a c-section, and MORE glad I will never have to grow one of those little suckers ever again.

Frogs in my formula said...

Mama Badger, I was up and moving around pain-free after about a week and a half. I think recovery time varies a lot b/t women.

Anonymous said...

EXACTLY why I refused catheter until numb from waste down for my subsequent C's!! and learn!

Lorry said...

So interesting how much can vary. My catheter was put in after I was numb, my daughter never went to the nursery, I don't remember anything remotely resembling bee stings….

My recovery was pretty good (you're right, it varies TONS!) but it didn't hold a candle to my VBAC. I felt like a million bucks after 3 days. Still, if I needed a c/s again, it's not that bad, really! ;)

Busy Mom in Iowa said...

Ths is awesome. I couldn't have described it better myself!!! My cath was done post numbing though. And I believe it is a law that anesthesiologists have to be hot...I've had 10 surgeries, and all the ones I can remember came with a hot anesthesiologist.

But I agree, it really wasn't that bad...I've had it done twice :)

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