Megan Ras

Dear Kate Hudson, having a C-section is not a lazy option!

When I read last week that Kate Hudson, October cover girl for Cosmopolitan US, had answered the Cosmo quiz prompt ‘laziest thing I have ever done’ with ‘Have a C-section!’, my blood boiled.

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Our doctor had assured us that all was in order for an uncomplicated, natural birth and therefore we could go with the option of having our little boy at Marapong Medi-Clinic just outside of Lephalale in the Marapong township.  This small private hospital was the old Matimba Mine hospital and literally had something like 30 beds.

At 3am on 7th August 2012, I woke up with my water having broken in bed, at least I hoped it was my water and I hadn’t just  peed on myself! I remembered reading in one of my antenatal books that urine and amniotic fluid smelt different from one another, one smelt a bit more acidic and one, almost odourless.  For the life of me I couldn’t remember which one was which.  And so, I did what most us do in the tech era – I Googled it! After getting the answer – yes, it was indeed my water – I calmly roused Dyl, told him what had just happened and suggested he go make himself a cup of coffee before we left for the hospital.

No one tells you how your amniotic fluid continually replenishes itself and you feel the constant urge to wee, whilst waddling around with a sodden maternity pad.  The nurses hooked me up to a foetal monitor and said that although my water had broken, I was not having any contractions yet and to ‘vas byt’ – as only an Afrikaans nurse in Lephalale will tell you (hold tight for those non-South Africans).  Feeling not even the slightest of contractions, at 7am Dr M arrived.  After the most uncomfortable internal exam, and checking my cervix, I wasn’t even one centimetre dilated.  The nurses brought me a bed pan to wee in to limit the chances of infection since my water had already ruptured, and two hours later I had another internal exam.  Still not dilating, with Oli’s heart beat slowing, and now 6 hours after my water having broken, Dr M said it was time for an emergency C-section.  My heart dropped.  This was not the birth plan I had in mind.  The hospital was so small they couldn’t have given me an epidural, so the options were natural or C-section – natural had been the obvious choice to me.  Hearing the faint beeps on the foetal monitor, however, I knew I couldn’t be a martyr and had to deliver this baby as soon, and as safely as possible.

Once again, I had the overwhelming urge to wee – at this stage my husband, fully scrubbed up, was in the nurses station enjoying a cup of coffee while I was parked midway between my room and the theatre.  The only option was to have the catheter put in there and then before receiving anaesthetic. Oh. My. Holy. Hell! The worst thing about the spinal block for me wasn’t the actually administering of it, but the feeling of being paralysed, I panicked and felt incredibly claustrophobic. I’ll never forget the look on Dyl’s face when they had made the incision – you see, this hospital didn’t have the conventional ‘tent’ over my abdomen – only a folded blanket on my chest,  he looked like he might pass out at any second, and couldn’t hide the horror on his face. I began feeling horribly ill and called for the assisting doctor to come help me be sick (more vomit, obviously, I had gone into this pregnancy vomiting and was going to go out the same way!) as I started choking on it.  They used the suction on me vomiting, instead of our healthy, screaming baby as they pulled him up to show us.

Ras, born 07/08/2012

My teeth chattered for two hours after having him from the drugs, my lips were purple and my jaw locked – a common reaction to the anaesthetic – but, our sweet Oli had arrived.  He didn’t arrive Earth-side in the way I had planned, but he was here, and he was safe and healthy – that was all that mattered.  I begged the nurses to keep the catheter in so I didn’t have to get out of bed, of which, they paid no attention.  Attempting to calm a crying baby in a crib after getting out of bed for the first time after a C-section is no mean feat.  I cried as I battled to shift weight onto my elbow instead of my now useless  stomach muscles as the wailing escalated across the room – nothing prepares you for this helpless feeling, as a first time mom.   After Oli’s birth, I was given Voltaren suppositories and Pethidine injections.  With Sophie, 3 years later in Johannesburg, I was able to self-administer (in controlled doses) morphine and took Tramacet orally.  I definitely was able to get up and about quicker after Sophie’s birth and the recovery was so much easier.  My second C-section was remarkably easier than my first, but it wasn’t by any means easy. It’s so important to stay ahead of the pain, take the pain medication as your doctor prescribes it – don’t be brave!  Take the help the nurses offer, to help you shower and dress, the smallest of tasks are seemingly impossible without the ability to bend.   With this being said, my baby bath on a stand was an absolute Godsend.

42 hours after having Oli, I was discharged from hospital, and I felt every bit like I had just had a scalpel slice and dice my abdomen and uterus.  With Sophie’s birth, I stayed the requisite 3 nights.  Stay your full stay – you need the recuperation time and will miss being doted on. Take the stool softener they offer you, between the pain meds, anaesthetic and weakened pelvic muscles, you’re going to need all the help you can get! The first ‘toilet’ experience after your operation will feel like you’re giving birth all over again, through the wrong orifice.  The recovery from major abdominal surgery isn’t easy, or quick.  You are going to shuffle around like a 90-year-old for the first day after the op.  With every cough or sneeze you will wince and pray your stomach doesn’t open up – keep a pillow handy, it really helps!  You won’t be able to drive or lift anything heavier than your newborn for the first two weeks.  Once your baby is safely delivered, you will still have at least 20-30 minutes in the operating theatre while your baby is whisked away to be examined – this was the longest 20-odd minutes of my life!

What Kate Hudson said couldn’t have been further from the truth.  A lot of us didn’t choose the ‘lazy’ way out, we chose the ONLY way out. I don’t feel like I failed because I had to give birth to my babies this way – it doesn’t make me any less of a woman or mother. People will  judge you for the way you give birth, and question you as to whether or not you feel like you missed out on the whole ‘birth experience’ – believe me, I saw they whole thing in the light above my operating table, I didn’t miss a thing! I went into labour with both of my babies naturally but they were delivered via C-section, and that’s okay, I’m okay with it.  Lying in the operating theatre, listening to the ‘thack, thack, thack’ of the surgical stapler closing up my abdomen, I didn’t feel like I took the lazy way out. No, I wasn’t lazy at all, Kate Hudson.

Thanks so much to Megan for sharing her blog post with us.  

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