...purple condoms. That is what I think of when I think about my C-section and how odd it was to observe mostly everything from a lying down position on the operating table. No matter how much they tried to prepare me about what would happen... it was all pretty unexpected. I've never really read about anyone's C-section experience or heard from friends in detail.. so here's my attempt at recapping the operation.
The room was cold, literally and figuratively. There were tools everywhere and it didn't look very friendly or inviting. I was actually shocked that it was indeed the operating room, somehow I imagined a much smaller space but this room was huge and equipment was here and there. I was just in the middle of the spacious room, on my back, staring up at huge bright lights and purple rubbers over funny looking protruding handles. I was so curious I asked one of the docs what those were for. "To keep things sterile when we move 'em" she told me matter of factly. Ohhhh, I see. Glad they were purple at least. So funny looking...!
First they wheeled me in, with my surgical blue bonnet on and my styling open back hospital gown. The anesthesia team of two kept asking me questions about my husband and me in an attempt to calm me down. It didn't work. I stared around at the cold operating room, saw tools of all sorts, steel gray trays and equipment, and it felt stark and eery. Like I was in some type of action movie where the operation is really a conspiracy and whatever they wanted to do to my body, they could! I'd have to fight them off with skills I knew not how I acquired, but a distant memory would creep up and I'd have these amazing ninja fighting skills to thwart their deceptive motives.
Instead, the nurse held my head against her shoulder, I con caved my stomach to poke my back out towards the anesthesia assistant who poked and prodded my back, telling me in detail when it'd be cold, then a poke, then some burning while the anesthesia doctor kept talking and semi-asking me questions. The nurse reassured me to relax and lean against her as she held onto my shoulders to support me towards her weight. She then told me to tell them if I felt anything from here on out as the anesthesia assistant kept working on the spinal. A few moments I would yell out "poking on the right!" and then the nurse still holding me tightly would echo me louder, and then some adjustments would be made and I'd feel nothing from my back. It was an odd sensation to be comforted by a stranger and poked by another, but what happened next was even more routine to them and abnormal to me that I just let it be and let the professionals do their job as I wondered when Andy would finally come into the room. There were two nurses, two doctors, four anesthesia people (while they switched gigs or something, it eventually was just two and then just one), and lil ol' me on the operating bed. They somehow maneuvered me into lying on my back and then I stared at the bright lights while everyone scurried around me to get things in place. Some flaps came out and my arms were extended at 90 degrees from my legs, forming the perfect airplane. On my right, they strapped on a blood pressure wrap, on my left middle finger, they put a little tab of a thing that was supposed to measure my heart rate, and on my nose, they put in a little tube that was supposed to help me with oxygen flow. It felt like someone was constantly picking my nose while I lay there.
The nurse told me she was going to scrub my tummy to prep for the operation and the anesthesia doctor kept rubbing a piece of cold alcohol wipe, telling me this was normal (above where I'd be numb) and then would touch it against various parts of my body moving up from my ribs to down by my feet, asking me to say if it was normal or different. We did that exercise about three times total and each time, there'd be gradually more "different" sections as the medicine started to work.
After the nurse cleaned my stomach, they put some sticky sheets over my stomach and then all I could feel was people touching my stomach without really feeling it. It was the oddest sensation. At one point, I tried to wiggle my toes, couldn't, and freaked out, then had to remind myself NOT TO WIGGLE YOUR TOES OR EVEN TRY because the attempt itself would continue to freak me out. At times, they tilted me right, then left, really putting my airplane position into use, and would shout out about the time or something with numbers.
Then one nurse came close to my face, told me they had to talk about how they were going to do this (what? didn't they already talk?!) and then I heard ramblings as I wondered if something was wrong. I think they were just coordinating what they already knew but the fact that she said "we have to talk about how we're going to do this" really did scare me.
My doctor came over at one point, standing over me, and asked me if I was ready. I'm not sure what I said, but I think I just stared at him in awe and fear and did not say much. I knew they were waiting for the medicine to kick in before Andy was allowed in, but they pulled out the huge blue paper curtain, put it up in front of me so I couldn't see anything but a blue wall, and at that point, I was unashamed to ask the nearest person - the anesthesia guy, where my husband was. Someone said I was ready, the doctor said he was doing a test and then asked me if I could feel it. "No," I responded, "but I can feel something between my legs" because the catheter was seriously bugging me out. "I highly doubt you can feel the catheter but not the pinching I just did with a really sharp tool to your stomach" he told me. "Okay," I replied. "So we're ready?" I asked. "Yes, all ready." he told me. *gulp Where is Andy?!
Everyone sort of looked the same with the men in surgical caps, same colored scrubs, mouth covers, and the women with the only difference being their surgical bonnets instead. A man walked towards me, took off his mouth piece really quickly and leaned over to kiss me as he told me "I'm here now" or "you'll do great" or something like that - I was confused for a brief nanosecond before I realized it was Andy, my sweet dear husband, coming to be by my side and yes.. now we were ready for action.
Andy talked to me, the anesthesia guy was also in back of me near Andy, constantly asking me to let him know if I felt anything at any given point. I kept asking if they got it, when the baby would come out, if he'd be crying, and if everything was okay. Andy and the anesthesia guy would look over the blue curtain while I lay there. I tried to pass what felt like forever by asking Andy questions, and he obliged by answering them to the best of his ability. It must have been an hour later when I heard a baby crying, and they took him out, all I could see was the blue screen, and Andy and the anesthesia guy were both looking at the baby. He kept screaming which made me feel good that he was alive and about, even at 34 weeks and 4 day only.
I heard the doctor tell his assistant doctor that the cord was below the legs which were crossed and I know he breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing this was indeed the best course of action given we could easily have been in the emergency c-section scenario with a prolapsed cord. Then they told me it only took four minutes from point of first incision to baby out. FOUR MINUTES? It felt like an eternity!!!! Wow. The really long part was them sewing me back up because I was all alone for this part since Andy had gone up to the NICU with our newborn. I stared at the purple condoms above me, the bright lights, the blue curtain, and every now and then tilted my head back to see the anesthesia guy who would ask me again if I felt okay. It felt assured that he was continually monitoring me in case sensation in my body all of a sudden came back. I realized that this was all very routine for the doctors as they chatted about their lives and I eavesdropped, as if we were all hanging out in the breakroom. I wished so badly I could have gone up to the NICU with Andy and baby but felt good that Andy had gone with him. Before they left, the nurse brought my newborn over to me as I lay there. I gave his tiny swollen face a little kiss before they whisked him away to the NICU.
More pulling. Tugging. Talking amongst the medical professionals as I lay there... wondering how bad recovery would be. Then, just like that - they were done. They brought in another bed, had me roll to my left, then right, then left, and somehow got me from one bed to another. As I lay in the new bed, my eyes drifted to the old bed, where I saw spots of blood on the bed and a big clear bin full of what looked like paper towels soaked in blood. Ewww. Blood scares me. I was repulsed. I felt grateful for the blue curtain and that I was not able to see any of it. And then... they wheeled me out.
And just like that... I had a baby by doing absolutely nothing but cooperating and lying still while everyone did the rest.
And that is what it felt like to have a Cesarean, the operating part at least. The recovery... now that is an entirely different and equally long and dull story for another day.