So I know there's a such thing as a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), but I've never heard too much about a CAVB- I don't know if that's a real term, but I'm assuming that would be a cesarean after vaginal birth. Well, having now been in that boat, I thought I'd write about my experience with it. It goes along the lines of a blog post I read called "10 Things I Wish Somebody Had Told Me About C-Sections." (I did not experience everything she mentioned.) You can google until your fingers fall off about what a c-section is like, but you're not likely to get the full picture. And I got feedback about them from several friends before mine so that I could have reassurance it wasn't going to be the worst thing ever.
Well... it was the worst thing ever! Let me preface by telling you again that this was a cesarean after having two children vaginally. Now, I know that many women tear and I've heard the horror stories of vaginal birth where women have torn an unGodly amount and couldn't walk or sit for weeks. I know many women have pushed for so long they ended up with a c-section in the end. So yes, I know there are a lot of horror stories with vaginal birth. I did not have that problem. Although my labor with my first two was extremely long, I didn't tear with either and the healing process was extremely fast. I was up an hour after birth. With my first, I took a bath and was excited at being able to shave my thighs because I could actually see them! With my second, I opted for a shower. Upon coming home, I was pretty much back to most normal activities right away. In fact, with my second, I was pulling up carpeting a week after birth.
Okay, so that's my preface. Vaginal birth doesn't scare me and I would never hesitate in my decision to have another child if it was solely based on the birth itself. Unfortunately, now that has completely changed.
The only part of the c-section that wasn't horrible was the surgery itself. I was told to arrive at the hospital at 5 am and they prep you, get your IV in, get you on fluids, fill out paperwork, have nurses talk to you about what's going to happen during the surgery and by the time 8am rolled around I was ready to go. You are given a spinal (like an epidural, but it's a one time injection instead of having you hooked up to a tube in your back.) Once the doctor establishes it has kicked in, he starts cutting. The whole process is very quick and boom, there's your baby! Of course my son was big and the doctor needed assistance getting him out by way of some guy pushing extremely hard on my ribs and stomach, but since I was numb it was just uncomfortable.
So boom, there's the surgery. They cut you open, sew you up, show you the baby and then you go to recovery for 20 minutes, then on to your room. That's when the hell begins. You are pretty much bound to that bed for the next 8-12 hours. You're hooked up to a pulse monitor, blood pressure monitor, catheter, pressure boots and IV. You can't move, you can't feel a lot from the chest down. So, every so often you have nurses come in and change your pad, press on your stomach to check your uterus and clean you down there- very humiliating if you don't like being completely helpless.
After about 8 hours I asked if I could try to get up. I got to enjoy a whole standing up, turning around and sitting in a chair two inches from my bed. At 2:15 am the catheter was removed (thank God.) At 8:30 the next day the IV was removed after I insisted they had promised it was only in for 24 hours. Next came the bp cuff, heart monitor and finally the boots- mainly because I kept kicking them off.
You can barely move, I couldn't stand up straight, the furniture and bed in the hospital room are so uncomfortable that there was nothing I could do to not be in pain. In fact, the pain in my rear from sitting on the hard furniture was at times worse than the c-section pain! The nurses are in and out all night, you can't sleep because of the discomfort... worse hospitalization ever.
Now fast forward to being home. You're not allowed to drive until you can successfully press the brake and gas pedal and turn your body to see behind you. You're not allowed to pick anything up over the weight of your baby. So pretty much, I'm bound to my house and can't even do much there. I'm a stomach sleeper, but I'm stuck sleeping on my back for at least 3 weeks. I'm constantly worried about my incision splitting, so I avoid doing too much. Although today is the sixth day after my surgery, I haven't had any pain medication since day 4 and that was only once. It is really hard to stand or get off my bed, but as long as you don't do it quickly, it's tolerable. Then there's the swelling!! Because of the 4 bags of fluids they give you (pitocin and something else), you swell from the knees down. And this isn't mild swelling, this is painful, I think I have elephantitis swelling. My feet hurt worse than the c-section area! It hurts to wiggle my toes and my legs feel like hard plastic that can't be budged.
Well, there you have it. If something else awful comes up, I'll be sure to share, but I think I've highlighted the things that I have been most upset to find out. Most doctors in smaller towns will not perform VBACs and I asked my doctor if it made a difference that I only had to have one because my son was breech. He said no, once you have one, that's it. So, if I ever decided I wanted another child, I'd have the option of going through another hellacious cesarean or driving 90 miles to have a doctor who will allow a VBAC. Of course, I'm not even close to making that decision anytime soon, it's just unfortunate that I'd have to.
Hopefully I haven't completely terrified you, but I feel honesty is what women want in medical situations!