C-Section Stories: Lisa Calagna
1. Briefly, please share the circumstances that led to your c-section birth(s):
My water broke in my doctor’s office during a membrane sweep when I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant with my son. He was measuring big and with a big head so the idea of a c-section was briefly mentioned if there was any difficulty during labor. As a first time mom, it didn’t cross my mind too much though. I just expected to have a “regular” birth. Prior to my water breaking, I was experiencing extreme swelling in my legs and my blood pressure was starting to rise, so I was headed to the hospital anyway for monitoring. Once at the hospital, I had to be induced since I wasn’t naturally in labor. 12 hours later I was only 3 1/2 centimeters dilated but was able to get an epidural and move to the delivery room. The epidural was counteracting the Pitocin and then around the 24 hour mark, I got a fever and was only 6 centimeters. They let me rest but I was in a lot of pain. At 29 hours I was finally at 10 centimeters and pushed for two hours with the epidural turned off. But my little one’s head wasn’t descending and his heart rate was spiking so they decided on a c-section. I had to wait 30 minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive to turn the epidural back on and that was the worst 30 minutes! But then an hour and a half later my little boy arrived, at a whopping 10 pounds 3 ounces and 21 inches long!
2. What surprised you the most about having a c-section?:
I didn’t realize how scared I would be, to be wheeled into the operating room alone. My husband was in a waiting room until all the protocols were taken and I kept asking for him. I was so happy when he could sit by me! I also didn’t realize my arms would be strapped down, so that was daunting. Most of all though, I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to see or hold my son for so long after he was born. He needed some oxygen and glucose when he was born (since he was such a big boy; they said it was very common and he was healthy most importantly!). With my arms strapped down, I was only able to touch my son’s leg and face when my husband moved him close to me. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to do skin to skin until two hours later in the recovery room. Finally, the actual recovery from a c-section is a lot. We forget that it is major surgery! I had excessive swelling in my feet and legs that finally went away 3 weeks postpartum and only after 5 1/2 weeks did I really start to feel better. I was told not to lift anything over 10 pounds for the first 6 weeks and my son weighed more than that when he was born! So it was very difficult but I had the help of my amazing husband and our families.
3. What kind of support do you feel you received (from friends, family, healthcare team) after your c-section(s)?:
My doctors, nurses, and staff at the hospital were incredible. Especially the night nurses in the hospital - they really helped us understand that our son needed more to drink than the typical newborn because of his weight! My husband has been incredible and has been my rock through it all. He helped so much will all of our son’s feedings because I couldn’t hold him while I was healing. Our families and friends have also been so helpful even if it’s just a text message checking in! Finding other moms and connecting with those that have had c-sections has been helpful too because you can connect on the shared experience. This page and the online group has been so helpful to share ideas, ask for advice, and simply just have a network of strong women to connect with!
4. What’s your #1 piece of advice/encouragement for a new c-section mom?:
My advice would be to plan for the unexpected and make your voice heard. If you have questions, ask! I asked the doctors and staff a ton of questions during my procedure and it really helped calm my nerves because I knew what was taking place. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help once baby is born. Recovery is tough! Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you even stronger and you know you have that support system behind you.
5. How do you believe having a c-section birth(s) made you stronger?:
Going through a major surgery to bring my little one safely into the world is one of the most selfless things I’ve done. Though I didn’t have an option, I would still do it 100 times over to have my little boy. Knowing that I did my best to bring my little one into the world makes me a strong person and a strong mama for him!
Name: Lisa Calagna
Your Profession: Program Manager
How to Connect With You on Social Media: @_xo_li on Instagram