C-Section Stories: Jen Clark
1. Briefly, please share the circumstances that led to your c-section birth(s):
This was my third pregnancy. My first two were very routine with no complications and I delivered vaginally with an epidural. I assumed this one would go the same way but unfortunately that wasn't the case. I was scheduled to be induced a week before my due date because I had a low platelet count, which can be serious during delivery due to the possibility of bleeding out.
The Pitocin was started around 9am and by 3pm there was no real progress. The doctor came in to break my water and tried several times but it wouldn't break. She called it ‘the bag of steel’. She let me rest for a little while and then came back to try again. She warned me that she was just going to do it this time. Which meant, ‘prepare yourself, Jen’. In that moment I had no idea how bad it could hurt to have your water broken but I learned really fast! It was very painful and brought me to tears. I believe I was only 2 centimeters dilated at this point.
I requested an epidural so the anesthesiologist made her way in. The epidural itself was challenging due to having to sit very, very still while having contractions. But this time around it was even more of a challenge since it wouldn't take. After about 40 minutes and 3 different pokes with no result, the anesthesiologist said we should give it 20 minutes to see if it will ‘sink in’. Unfortunately, it never did, so I continued to feel the contractions. In most cases, this wouldn't have mattered. I had already decided after the third poke that if it didn't work that time, I was done trying and would just deliver without medication. I have always said getting the epidural is the worst part of labor but the result is worth it! But in this instance, it wasn't anymore. However, if it would have worked it would have spared me the excruciating pain that I was about to endure.
While we were waiting to see if the epidural would sink in, the baby's blood pressure kept dropping and I was having to turn on my side, which ultimately resulted in getting oxygen. Nothing was helping, so my nurse paged my doctor. She came in along with three other nurses. My doctor told me she was going to check me to see what was going on. As soon as she did, she yelled out, ‘All I feel is cord!’. Immediately, she called for an emergency c-section, jumped on my bed, and forced her hand up into me to push the baby's head up off of my cervix. We found out later that when my water was broken, the rush of fluids had pulled part of the cord through my cervix and was being kinked like a hose. This is called a prolapsed cord.
They sped me out of the room and down the hall to the operating room, leaving my husband behind. He wasn’t able to be in the room until after, due to everything happening so quickly. It was very scary for both of us. As soon as they got me into the OR, everything seemed to happen in fast forward. I was transferred to a different bed, a nurse took over pushing the baby's head up so that the doctor's hands were freed up for surgery, a curtain went up in front of me, and my arms were strapped down. There were 13 doctors and nurses running around the room in what seemed to be pure chaos. I remember the doctor yelling out, ‘Jen! If you feel any pain, tell us now!’ and then she began cutting. Unfortunately, because of the epidural not working, I felt every bit of the scalpel cut into my abdomen and then into my uterus for all 6 1/2 inches. I screamed out that I could feel everything and I remember the pain was so unbearable that I started screaming nonsense. If I could guess, I only felt the pain for around 10 seconds because they sedated me as fast as they could with a general anesthetic. As soon as it kicked in, I felt nothing. It was almost as if I was looking down on myself because I knew what was happening, but I couldn't feel anything and couldn't say anything.
The baby was delivered 12 minutes after the doctor yelled out in my room for an emergency c-section. That gives you an idea of how fast all of this happened. The baby was delivered with no complications and he was perfectly healthy. My husband was able to come into the OR just a few minutes after he was delivered and held him until I ‘woke up’ about an hour later. It was all very surreal.
2. What surprised you the most about having a c-section?:
I think what surprised me the most about my experience with a c-section is how fast the baby can be delivered. With my other two pregnancies, labor and delivery was such a long, painful process. Now of course, that's how I think it should be and how I would prefer. Delivering via c-section was definitely not at all what I would have expected. I think if it was a scheduled c-section and I would have been able to prepare myself, I may feel differently.
3. What kind of support do you feel you received (from friends, family, healthcare team) after your c-section(s)?:
I had a wonderful support system ranging from family, friends, and my church who provided us with meals for 8 weeks! It was really helpful to not have to worry about what I was going to make for dinner every night for my family. Everyone was willing to come over and play with my older kids or just hold the baby and hang out. But even with all the support that was offered, I didn't take advantage of it like I should have. I was in a lot of pain for weeks and did way more than I should I have been doing. That probably resulted in me not healing as fast as I could have.
4. What’s your #1 piece of advice/encouragement for a new c-section mom?:
My number one piece of advice is to rest when you can and let your body heal. It takes time. Give it the time it needs. In my case, I needed not only physical healing but also healing that only comes from talking about my experience and writing it down. So talk to your family or friends. Let yourself feel the emotions.
5. How do you believe having a c-section birth(s) made you stronger?:
The amount of pain I had to endure was extraordinary and not something I ever thought I could handle. But I've learned that God created a woman's body to do what it takes to bring a baby into the world. No matter the pain or any other circumstances, we are stronger than we can even imagine - not only our bodies but also our minds.
Name: Jen Clark
How to Connect With You on Social Media: facebook.com/jenniclark83