Emergency C-Section is Only the Beginning

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If you haven’t read “Do You Really Need a Birth Plan,” you will want to start there. This is the second part in a three-part series.

Once I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia our plans for the night drastically changed.

I have never seen movement that fast.  We went from a calm, quiet labor and delivery room where we watched TV to Grand Central Station. Someone asked Brian if he had a camera. He ran to the car to get our hospital bag, which we didn’t think we’d need. While he ran to the car and called our families, I was signing paperwork and getting an IV put in all at once. Those nurses and doctors move fast when they have to.

We have no pictures in the “cute” hospital gown during labor, no final pictures of us as a family of two. The only picture before Cassidy’s birth is an empty labor and delivery room. The aftermath after they quickly rolled me into surgery.

hosptial room
Brian snapped this picture minutes after I was wheeled out for surgery.


It still gives me chills to remember that day and those moments. The fear I had when the doctor said I was so sick, and the baby was coming. I was alone with nurses prepping me, the anesthesiologist talking to me and explaining things, shivering while they did the epidural. Brian was busy getting our stuff and putting on scrubs.

I know how afraid I was, I can only imagine the fear he had for both me and Cassidy at that moment.

Like I said, good thing we didn’t have a birth plan.

Our doctor didn’t lie, Cassidy Isabel, all 7 pounds of her was born within 1 hour of the doctor telling us she’d have her out in an hour. It was only 4 hours since I had left the doctor’s office from my “routine” appointment.

Mom and Baby- first picture

I later learned that my bloodwork was pretty bad and my doctor said that if my appointment had been even a day later, the outcome could have been much different. She said if my numbers had been even slightly worse I wouldn’t have even been able to be awake for the birth. Fortunately, I was able to get an epidural and avoid full anesthesia.  I guess you know it was an emergency when they bump the other C-sections to do yours. I heard the woman waiting for hers who had been in labor for over 24 hours wasn’t happy to hear she had to wait for mine to get done. Trust me; I wish I hadn’t needed to bump her.

It would be nice if you could say the adventure stopped there and that after the C-section Cassidy, Brian and I bonded as we welcomed visitors with open arms for the rest of our stay. It’s normal after a C-section to stay two nights; we had to stay four nights due to complications.

If you know anyone who had pre-eclampsia all you have to say is mag-sulfate (the drug used to prevent seizures in pre-eclamptic patients) and they will experience a bit of PTSD.

I have yet to meet someone who had to be on it who doesn’t remember.

The best quote from me while on that was,

“it just feels like I have no bones. I think someone stole my bones and sold them on the black market.”

It was a horrible feeling. I felt like I had no control over my limbs and couldn’t even hold them up. I was afraid to hold my new baby because my limbs didn’t work. They laid her on me, and I would look at her, but that was the extent of things that first 24 hours. There goes that wonderful bonding that everyone talks about being so important in the hours after the baby is born.

On top of the mag sulfate, I suffered from spinal headaches. This is a rare side effect that can occur from an epidural. It happens when the epidural nicks the spinal cord slightly and allows fluid to travel up to the head. It causes the most excruciating headache you have ever experienced when you go from laying down to sitting up. I spent one entire day in a dark hospital room laying nearly flat. Visitors were only allowed to whisper, and many just spent time in the visiting room with Brian and Cassidy. I had to undergo a CAT scan as a precaution. That trip in the wheelchair to the CAT scan area was rough, and I can only imagine what people who saw me must have been thinking.

On the third day in the hospital, with Brian at home sleeping, our pediatrician came in to talk to me.

I was still feeling horrible, but none of that matters when you are a mom and have to focus on the health of your child. I was informed that Cassidy was very jaundiced and that she needed to be under the lights. The doctor ordered strict incubator time.

Cassidy in incubator due to Jaundice
This is where Cassidy spent most of her first four days of life.

She was allowed to “visit” us for feedings, but then had to go back to her “sunbathing.”

walking baby back
Brian returns Cassidy to the incubator after a feeding.

I’m glad I didn’t have that wonderful birth plan that so many moms do. I would have just been disappointed.

We missed out on the initial bonding because I was sick and then bonding was limited because she was sick. I would feed her and Brian would burp her. It was the only way we both got to spend any time with her.

On day five we both were cleared to go home, finally. The C-section recovery was right on track, my headaches were still there, but I was finding ways to manage –good drugs, and the bilirubin numbers on Cassidy were good enough that we didn’t even have to bring a glow blanket home with us.

I am still sad at the circumstances of Cassidy’s birth.

We are both here, we are both well, and for that I am thankful. I just missed out on that initial bonding.

By the way, the stories you hear about a child’s growth and development being negatively impacted if they don’t have skin to skin contact and breastfeeding right away are not true.

I’m not saying those things aren’t great and beneficial, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do them for whatever reason. Cassidy did not receive skin to skin contact right away and her first feeding was from a bottle. I went on to successfully bond with her and breastfeed her for six months –no bottle needed.

first bottle
Cassidy’s first feeding was with Daddy.

If you are preparing for a new baby in your life, creating a birth plan isn’t a bad idea, but don’t stress too much about it. Everything will work out whether you have one or not. Sometimes too much information and preparation can be a bad thing.

going home
Finally going home!


Be sure to check out the third part in this series “Epidural? Yes, please,” which is the birth story of our second child which is very different from the first.

Part 1: “Do You Really Need a Birth Plan”

Part 2: “Emergency C-Section is Only the Beginning”

Part 3: “Epidural? Yes, Please”

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