The birthing process is intense – no matter which way you go about it. I mean, you’re bringing a human into the world. I had two experiences, one – a Cesarean section and another, a vaginal birth.
These experiences couldn’t be any more different.
My first experience was a Cesarean section and it was elective. I was pregnant with twins and as someone who had never birthed a child (let alone two children), I was terrified that going through with a vaginal birth would require that I do both. For example, if Baby A came out vaginally, there was always the possibility that Baby B would be positioned incorrectly for a vaginal birth and I’d have to go through with a Cesarean Section anyway. So, I elected to have a Cesarean section so I wouldn’t have to recover from both deliveries separately.
The Cesarean was very impersonal. I walked to the surgical room where everyone was suited up in medical garb ready to deliver the babies. I was given a shot of spinal anesthesia, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was expecting the worst, but it really didn’t hurt, it just freaked me out, as shots normally do.
I felt it was rushed, even though it wasn’t an emergency surgery. As I laid down, they started cutting into my abdomen and within minutes, the babies were out. They were taken to a table to be assessed after birth so I didn’t really get to see them right away – I just heard their cries.
I was then sent into the recovery room where we finally were able to bond. I was pretty drowsy from the anesthesia so I didn’t really get to experience what was really happening. I had just had two babies but I was out of it enough that I was unable to fully appreciate the moment.
Recovery was rough. What I didn’t realize is I would still bleed like I had a vaginal delivery. I couldn’t get up and move right away because of the numbness, but even when it wore off, I still didn’t get up and walk right away because of the pain. My husband at the time had to do a lot of the diaper changing while also taking care of me.
I couldn’t drive for many weeks after the delivery and moving around was tough until about the second week. I had and still have a scar across my lower abdomen that was numb for a long time. While a scar isn’t much fun to have, it is a reminder that I brought life into the world.
My vaginal birth was much different as I went into labor on my own.
My contractions started during the evening and I labored throughout the night into the next morning. Then we went to the hospital where I had a nice laboring room – and of course, a delivery music playlist. At first, I did not have an epidural so I could move around the hospital, laboring while walking and sometimes dancing.
I spent most of the day laboring and finally, at 7 centimeters, I opted for an epidural. This slowed down the process significantly. I stayed at 7 centimeters for hours and they even put me in a position with a ball to speed up the delivery process like it had been before the epidural. I had anxiety during this time – more time to think about what was happening to me.
Finally, that night, I started to push. Pushing was exhausting and I was very thirsty. After I pushed him through the birth canal, I realized I had to deliver the placenta – which I didn’t know beofre. I also didn’t realize how much I would tear and how long it would take to be sewn up. Just after he was born, I was able to bring him to my chest and bond with him right away, which I liked and was very different from the Cesarean section.
Recovery was better than my previous experience. Though I was numb for a little while post-delivery from the epidural, I was able to get up and move pretty quickly after the birth. I felt I was more active in the post-delivery process by changing diapers, etc.
After we left the hospital, recovery was harder for me than most. I had to go under a surgical procedure because I was still torn from the birth. I knew something wasn’t right, but we didn’t know what it was until a year later when I had the surgery.
Overall, my birth experiences couldn’t be any more different; however, I wouldn’t do it any other way because today, I have three healthy, thriving children. And that is all that matters.