Photos from Melanie Singer
What was your birth like that turned into a C-section? Since yours was planned, what was it like knowing the due date was definitely that day?
We had a planned C-section since our twin girls had to come out a little early due to placental insufficiency. Having a definite date in mind and knowing that I would meet my girls on that day was awesome. It allowed us to make plans with our family that was flying in to visit and it gave us a date to get everything ready by.
What did it feel like to think your birth experience would be one way, and have it turn into another way? When I first found out I was pregnant I wanted to do a water birth. I thought it would be less painful than the traditional way. When I found out I was having twins, I changed my mind. I didn't want to take any chances. I wasn't upset about it.
What was going through your head as they said it had to be a C-section? At that point I just wanted the babies to have as little stress as possible. I was willing to do anything to make that happen. We found out in the third trimester that Sofia was not growing at the same rate as her sister, so we knew a C-Section was on the table.
What do you remember about the actual surgery and moments after? I had a very good experience with my surgery. The doctors, anesthesiologist and nurses were all wonderful. I remember being very cold when I first went into surgery....it must have been 60 degrees. As soon as they put the epidural in and I laid down, I started getting a warm sensation in my legs. Then I couldn't move them at all. It was a little scary, but I knew it was temporary. I also remember when they lifted Alena out (baby A) I felt like a bowling ball had been removed. I felt so much lighter. I felt the same thing when they took out Sofia (baby B) but on a smaller scale.
What challenges did you experience with C-section and/or recovery?
Once the surgery was over, the girls were whisked away to the NICU and the room cleared out.
It was just me and two nurses for clean up. It's a little shocking because everything was such a whirlwind and then all of a sudden you're alone.
I had my phone in the recovery room so my husband was texting me video of the girls. After about four hours they brought Alena in and that was the best feeling in the world.
As for the physical aspect, I was surprised how difficult it was to get around. I spent 5 days in the hospital, mainly so I could see Sofia in the NICU, but it was very painful to walk/move around. Also, I couldn't drive for 2 weeks after the surgery which made our life very difficult. With one baby at home, one in the NICU and a husband at work....I had to heavily rely on friends to help me out. We had a friend staying with us to watch Alena during the day while I spent my days in the hospital with Sofia. Eventually I was spending 24hrs in the hospital.
What things did you not like about a C-section? I didn't like getting pitocin after the surgery and going through labor pains. No one told me they would be pushing on my stomach when I was withering in pain. If I had any energy someone would have been punched in the face.
What did you find was a good thing about C-sections? It was over very quickly. I think the whole procedure lasted 20 min.
What is your advice for someone having a planned C-section? Bring in your own robe/clothes/socks. The hospital issued wardrobe is cheap and flimsy and you want to be comfortable when people come to visit or if you have to leave your room. If you normally get waxed, DO IT BEFORE THE SURGERY! I really regretted shaving and not getting my normal Brazilian wax. It is easier to clean up down there if there is no hair in the way. Also all the bandages they put on have to come off sooner or later and it hurts that much more if it is caught up in hair.
What is your advice for someone recovering from a C-section? What helped you the most? Take your pain meds!
Sometimes we try to act tough and push through the pain, but if you are in a lot of pain you will not be able to enjoy the time you have with your newborn. It takes 6 weeks to recover, so follow the Doctors orders. Don't lift anything but the baby during that time. If you do too much it will take longer to recover and you could end up feeling miserable.
11. What did you not expect with a C-section that happened? I just found out two weeks ago that I can't do a single sit up. I used to be able to do 50 in one minute and now I can't do any at all. That was shocking. I am now taking an ab class 3 days a week to get back to normal.
What was it like having your babies in the NICU? What helped you get through that experience? What is your advice to anyone else who has a premature baby?
The whole experience was very frustrating. Sofia (baby was just over 3lbs at birth. In order to take her home she had to be over 4lbs and have continuous growth for 4 days in a row. She was breathing on her own and had no other issues. We just needed her to gain weight. She was hooked to an IV and I was only able to feed her 1.5oz to 2oz of donor breast milk (until mine came in) every couple hours. The problem was, she still seemed hungry. I felt like I should be able to feed her whatever she would take, but the doctors disagreed. They said she was getting everything she needed from the IV and the small amount she was being fed. That angered me because the whole idea was to get her to gain weight, so why were we limiting her intake?
The NICU nurses were awesome. They were heavy handed on her ounces and allowed me to breast feed in addition to bottle feed so she could have as much as she wanted. She did lose weight at first, but that is normal for all babies. Then she was on a steady climb.
After being in the NICU for 8 days she was transferred to the PICU (due to limited room in the NICU) and that ended up being a blessing. I was able to stay all day and sleep there at night too.
I was an emotional wreck because I was spending all my time with one daughter while the other one was at home without me. I could only provide enough milk for one and I felt Sofia needed it more. It was tearing me apart to have to choose between them, but one was healthy and safe and the other was in a hospital and needed to get fattened up. In the PICU, she was no longer hooked to an IV so the doctor put her on an ad lib schedule, which meant I could feed her whenever I wanted. She ended up spending a total of 13 days in the hospital and she came home the day before my birthday. It was the best present ever!
Everyone's experience with the NICU is different. I met a lot of parents who had babies in there for months. My heart aches for them. Having a good support system is key. My friends and family were amazing. They came to visit, gave me words of encouragement, and most importantly they took care of everything for me so I could focus on the task at hand.
13. What was it like leaving the hospital with one baby, one staying behind? What helped you while at home away from your second baby? I was an emotional basket case. Family and friend support helped the most.
Also envisioning the girls back together again helped a lot. I kept thinking "this shall pass". Now we are all happy at home and that experience is a distant memory