Caesarean Awareness Month – Word from the Mr

I asked Dave to write about his experience of C Sections: 

Apparently it’s Caesarean Awareness Month?!  You might be thinking this means they promote C sections over natural birth during the month of April! Or offer great deals on surgery accessories, “A free pair of compression socks with every C Section!” or “Now comes with a free rope so you can sit yourself up in bed!”.  Of course maybe that’s just me and my foolish mind.

I know a little about C Sections.  Colette gave birth to all three of our kids through this operation and I was there for every one of them.  One was an emergency affair, and the others were more controlled with the last being planned from quite a few months out. My experience can only be described as great, if a little worrying!  My confidence comes purely from the staff at North Manchester General Hospital.  Where Col had all her op’s.  The staff there are amazing, extremely efficient people who did an amazing job of looking after Colette and me.  Sometimes I think they paid me more attention than I was due to be honest.  During one protracted stint in there a kind midwife brought me a second armchair in the middle of the night so I could put my feet up and get my head down!  All while Col was in labour!  That’s a result right there!

Caesarean Awareness Month - awaiting surgery
Ready for C-Section number 3

Now as I said above I found every one of the C Sections a bit scary.  Nothing ever went wrong and I’m sure if you spoke to anyone who knows what they’re talking about they would have described them as completely routine operations with no complications.  It’s just that when someone is cutting up the woman you love your mind wanders.  The places my mind wanders at times like that can be quite dark.

The first C Section was after many many hours of Colette going through labour without reaching the magical 10 cm of dilation.  After all that time trying, Ben was struggling a bit, not to mention Col, so the doctors decided that now was the time to get him out. I’d been with Col throughout the process up until this point but when they did the Spinal I wasn’t allowed in the room with her.  I’m not entirely sure why.  I know it’s a very delicate procedure and maybe they were worried I would distract Col, or the anaesthetist, and make her move when she needed to be very still.  To be fair, I am quite distracting!  I know Col didn’t like being on her own and would have preferred me to be there but you can’t have everything, and as I don’t know enough to argue I kept my mouth shut.

So while she was being made numb, I was sent off to get changed into ‘scrubs’.  Once dressed, I resisted the urge to walk into an operating theatre and get involved.  Instead I sat around for a few minutes, which felt considerably longer than that, waiting to be called into the operating theatre with my mind wandering.  Trying to beat back thoughts of the worst possible scenarios.  When I got into theatre Col was already on the table hooked up to various machines with a sheet put up to obscure her view of what was going on further down her body.  Even though she was clearly not in the best state I remember being so glad to see her there.  My main job throughout the process was to hold her hand and to try and keep her mind off things.  Luckily for her, I am an expert hand holder.

In all three C Sections the sheet arrangement set up below Col’s neck to obscure her view has been different.  In the first one the sheet was set at its lowest and narrowest.  Almost suggesting I lean out and have a peek round.  Being a curious chap I did a few times.  I’m not squeamish so I didn’t think I was risking anything by having a look, and it is interesting.  I won’t go into all the gory details but I must say I was surprised by all the layers that had to be cut through before Ben came into the world via the sunroof.   She’s very much like a lasagne my wife!  Or an onion!  Whichever analogy works best for you!

When Ben was pulled out into the world I was watching.  I’m glad I was sitting down.  My eyes widened and I felt a little light headed as I watched a surgeon put his hands into my wife and pull out a person!  (I’m sure Col will point out that she wasn’t my wife at the time of Ben’s birth!  To which I say good things came to those who waited my love!)

Now, I’m sure you’ve all watched ‘One Born Every Minute’ or something of that ilk and felt the terror as the baby doesn’t make a sound for what feels like an age.  Or maybe that’s happened to you in which case I can only offer my sympathy that you had to go through such a gut wrenching experience.  Luckily for us, ours have all been quick to scream and shout as soon as they were removed from Col’s comfy tummy!  A fact for which I shall be eternally grateful.

Once they’d cleaned Ben up a little and weighed him I was presented with our first born.  We’d talked about wanting skin to skin contact to help with bonding immediately.  As Col was otherwise indisposed having her insides put back on the inside I whipped my top off and held him to my chest.  He was crying right up until I held him and looked into his eyes. Then he stopped and we looked at each other.  I can still see it now vividly. It is one of the most magical moments of my life.  I’m sure it’s the most normal thing in the world but I don’t care.  It was magic to me and gave me a lot confidence that I could actually do this massive job of parenting.

Caesarean Awareness Month - Daddy and newborn son
Daddy & Ben

I was so caught up in looking at Ben that I neglected to let Colette see her first born!  The one she’d been growing and carrying for nine months!  She probably deserved a look!  I’m not sure how many times she asked me before I realised and let her have a peek at him.  Top relationship skills right there!

The other two C Sections have been good too.  From my perspective anyway.  I suppose when you know what to expect it becomes less worrying but I must admit I always worried about what could happen while I smiled and held Col’s hand.  In each operation it has always been caring people looking after us and doing what they do.  I know Colette’s favourite surgery (if you can have one!) was the second.  The surgeon came and spoke to her before and after the operation as well as talking to her throughout.  She really listened to what Col had to say and tailored things to suit her.  One of the things Col really wanted was for Chloe to be delivered onto her chest for skin to skin contact.  Given that she’d missed out with Ben and I’d forgotten/refused to let her have a look at her son in the Operating Theatre!  So when the time came and they’d removed Chloe.  Hey Presto!  They gave her to Colette and she held her for a few minutes before Chloe was given to me and they finished sewing Col back together.  Throughout this operation the surgeon kept popping round the sheet and telling Colette what was happening and how things were going.  She was amazing.  The surgeon (you might have noticed I keep calling her ‘The surgeon’ as I can’t remember her name to my shame!) even ended up cutting out Colette’s old scar because of how lumpy it was.  It was definitely the neatest and smoothest feeling scar once it was healed.  She was brilliant to be honest.  I know she’d said she was going to go to Africa to help out over there very soon after her stint at North Manchester had finished.  All I can say is, it’s our loss and their gain.  I hope she’s doing well.

After the surgeries Col has been pretty good each time.  No massive problems, although her blood pressure was stubbornly high for a while.  The worst thing I think is the long recovery.  How little you are allowed to do is only beaten by how little you are actually able to do.  When they cut through your abdominal they cut through one of the major stabilising muscles in your body.  You use your core for everything and when it’s not there you have to be very careful to let it heal properly or there will be lasting damage.  As I understand it you don’t actually feel that bad given all the painkillers they give you.  So overdoing it and lifting too much or moving too much is common once you are home.  The important thing to remember if you are ever in that situation is that you have been sliced in two!  No matter how good the stitches are if you overdo it you will split yourself open and that is no way to spend your time.  Take it easy and get the people in your life to take care of you, it’s what they’re there for.

So that covers my experience of Caesarean Sections.  In the end it doesn’t matter how the baby comes out.  Just so long as you and they are healthy. The wonders of the NHS make it seems so easy!

What are your thoughts and experiences?

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4 Comments

    • April 25, 2016 / 9:39 pm

      Of course not Lisa, I'm sure Dave will be thrilled 🙂 x

  1. April 29, 2016 / 5:07 pm

    Ah, such a lovely post, written with feeling – could almost imagine being there with you! I was taken into theatre after an equally long time not dilating very much, and had the screen up and everything, but luckily for me they managed to pull my first born out without too much damage to anyone. Am not sure my husband would have stayed on his feet at the cutting part, so top marks to you! 🙂

  2. April 30, 2016 / 11:20 am

    Ah I love this! Its always so wonderful to get a dad's perspective and now I'm wondering what Paul would have to say if he were to write about mine. Thanks for sharing this x

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