Hiedi Earwood is a pro C-section mama - having had 4 healthy baby births this way! She's been through it all, it seems, and is here to tell us all about it. THANK YOU, Hiedi, for sharing your experiences. And love these pictures, such a happy looking family!
All photos from Hiedi Earwood
What was your birth like that turned into a C-section?
After zero signs of labor approaching, my water broke around 8pm, 3 days before my due date. My doctor had me go to the hospital even though I wasn't having contractions yet, as they wanted to confirm that my water had broken. I wasn't at all unsure, because it was GUSHING, haha.
We stayed at the hospital for a few hours, and were sent home about midnight, because I still wasn't having regular contractions (this was in 2003). After a loooong night at home, I came back to the hospital around 1pm with regular contractions about 5 minutes or so apart. The nursing staff checked me and found I was about 3cm dilated. They hooked me up to a monitor, but didn't check me again because they didn't want to risk infection due to the time that had elapsed since my water broke. I just hung out and relaxed through contractions, and they didn't think I was in "active" labor, so they let me do my thing.
At about 7:30pm, my doctor came in to check me (again, no rush because I wasn't in active labor). He said, "Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, you're at 8cm. The bad news is...I felt her butt. She's breached." Now, for at least the last month at all of my check ups, she was head down. At 1:00 pm, 17hrs AFTER my water broke, she was head down. But this little stinker decided to turn around at the last minute apparently, and yes she is just as stubborn today. So my doctor said, "There's no time, and there's not enough fluid, for me to try to turn her around. We have to do an emergency cesarean." So, we did. And thus, my three subsequent births were c-sections as well.
2. What did it feel like to think your birth experience would be one way, and have it turn into another way?
I honestly have no real guilt or negative feelings about having c-sections. They all turned out well, and the end result was the most important thing to me.
The only thing I regret is not being able to labor or deliver in the birthing tub, due to the risk of infection because of the amount of time that had passed since my water broke.
3. What was going through your head as they said it had to be a C-section ?
I was very calm. My water broke almost 24hrs beforehand, so I understood that it was important to get our baby out in the most healthy way possible. My husband was right there with me, and he was a great support and calm as well. My big brother was a nervous wreck in the waiting room, though, haha.
4. What do you remember about the actual surgery and moments after?
The surgery is a bit of a blur. There was a lot of rushing because I was so close to "ready" and it had been 24hrs since my water broke. I don't remember anything at all about the prep. Once we were in the OR, I remember trying to stay still, arch my back like a cat, while having contractions, wall the anesthesiologist administered an epidural/spinal block. (until then I had gone au natural.) I remember some pressure during the surgery, and I recall feeling like the anesthesia was beginning to fade while they worked on the placenta afterward. I remember my husband and I crying when we saw our daughter. I remember asking the nurse if I remembered to wear waterproof mascara. And then I remember being wheeled down the hall to recovery, and passing my much-releaved brother.
5. What challenges did you experience with C-secion and/or recovery?
With my first c-section, they had me on IV pain meds, and the entire day after birth I have very limited memories of. I slept a LOT. I made sure to change that in future c-sections.
6. What things did you not like about a C-section?
I don't have anything else to compare it to, so I don't really feel like it was so much worse that a vaginal birth.
All 4 of my sections went according to plan, I recovered quickly, and I had 4 healthy babies. Couldn't really ask for more!
7. What did you find was a good thing about C-sections?
After my first, I absolutely loved the fact that I KNEW when our babies were arriving. But I'm a planner by nature.
8. What is your advice for someone going into a vaginal birth?
My best advice for someone going into a vaginal birth is to be open-minded to whatever may be NECESSARY to deliver a healthy baby to a healthy mommy. You can only plan so far.
I think some of the best advice in life in general is to pick your battles. What is your end desire? I'm betting it's a healthy baby. I know there is a lot of guilt that goes around for many moms who have unplanned c-sections, but there is NO SHAME in it. No matter how your baby is delivered, you are no less a mother to a little miracle.
9. What is your advice for someone having a planned C-section?
Be prepared for a little waiting around and a lot more awkwardness than you perhaps planned on, haha. There's a lot of "prep" that goes on before the actual surgery, including trimming of pubic hair if necessary, and the catheter. Relax as much as possible. REST as much as possible because you may not be getting any rest for quite a while! It can be scary...you're having major surgery AND worrying about your baby, but remember that millions of babies are born each year via c-section. Doctors are getting pretty good at it.
10. What is your advice for someone recovering from a C-section? What helped you the most?
When recovering, you have to slow down. Move slowly, and don't rush to be independent. It's ok to ask your partner to bring you something instead of getting up every time. Stay on top of your pain medications. The pain post surgery is VERY manageable as long as you don't let the meds wear off the first few days. Be kind to your body, it's been through a lot! And the best advice for all new moms, no matter how you deliver: SLEEP. Especially after a c-section. Your body needs so much rest to heal from the major surgery you just had. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask your partner/mother/sister/friend to spend some time with your sleeping newborn while you take a little nap in between feeding. There will be plenty of time to stare at your adorable sleeping baby, I promise. Most often, at 2am.
11. Will you have another C-section if you have more babies? IF so, what will you do to prepare yourself?
After 4, we closed up our baby factory for good.
12. Were your C-sections different?
Each section had it's own little story.
The first was so rushed and I was so heavily medicated afterward that I didn't dwell to much on it.
The second, I was so excited for our 2yr old daughter to meet her baby brother. We made sure to bring some small wrapped gifts to the hospital so each time she came to visit him, he had a gift for her. I had a morphine drip after that section, so I was in charge of my own pain management for a while, which was nice.
Our third section took place the morning after a huge and devastating tornado (Joplin, MO May 2011) about 45 minutes from us, so the hospital was a bit of a mad house. There was also some trouble for my anesthesiologist (and by default, me), because he was having trouble getting fluid return (barometric pressure?) and had to go into my spine TWICE to get it in properly. So that wasn't exciting.
And with my fourth and final, all went smoothly, but because I also had a tubal ligation at the same time, the recovery was a bit longer/harder.
All in all, I count myself very lucky and blessed to have had four c-sections with no complications, relatively easy recovery, and producing four beautiful healthy children!