When I was pregnant for the very first time, I was beyond excited as any first-time Mom would be. I was going to have a baby! It was amazing, and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops to all the non-pregnant people below.
I've always been an avid reader, so naturally my love of reading carried over into my new pregnant lifestyle. I decided that I was going to fully prepare myself for my vaginal delivery and with the strength and courage of a warrior princess I was going to push a baby out of my body and into the world. Wrong.
At exactly 40 weeks pregnant, I went for my final doctor's visit.
“Well, it looks like you're having a baby today,” the nurse said.
“Wait, what? Wouldn't I like, know that?” I asked, eyes bulging.
Turns out my fluids were low, yet again (I was diagnosed with oligohydramnios—low amniotic fluids—in my second trimester) and my baby girl went breech on me... yet again.
Five hours later, I had my first child. Being strapped down to an operating table butt-ass naked in a room full of medical professionals and your husband at the heaviest you've ever been in your entire life is humbling to say the least. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die, but the anesthesia would have prevented that seeing as I couldn't move the entire lower half of my body.
My baby was precious, I adored her, but sitting all alone in the recovery I felt like everything I'd wanted for my child birthing experiences had been taken from me. Little did I know that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Fast forward almost exactly 14 months later. I went into labor 5 weeks early with my second child. I remember eating some seriously spicy food earlier that day and around midnight I woke up because it felt like tiger claws were scratching the living shit out of my stomach.
“Oh, so that's what a contraction is,” I thought to myself as they steadily increased. I had never been in labor before so I didn't know what the hell to think, plan or do.
My husband laid next to me in bed but I didn't want to wake him for nothing, not that he would have cared. But his fight or flight response would have just stressed me out. So I waited for two hours, and they kept coming, so I called the doctor.
When I finally woke my husband, we gathered our sleeping kid and my hospital bag and booked it across town at 2 AM to the hospital. By the time I was checked in, the contractions were less than 2 minutes apart. Still, I was fine. I have a high threshold for pain, I guess you could say.
One of the last times they came to check on me, I was watching ESPN and it was then that they told me I needed to call “one of the grandparents” so they could watch our child while they delivered the other one inside my body. I already knew that I was having a repeat Cesarean section, because my new doctor had advised that was best. And who was I to argue with a medical professional?
I remember watching the medical team prepare me like they did the first time, but this seemed much different. Although I was deliriously tired from losing a night of sleep, I could tell that something wasn't right. But out of fear I didn't ask, I just played along.
When they were operating on me I remember hearing that I was “losing lots of blood” and I could literally feel my organs getting jostled about. With what little strength I had, I said to the anesthesiologist at my left, “I'm going to throw up.”
They got me one of those little paper bags, like the kind you see on airplanes. I breathed in and out, wondering why on Earth everything was taking so long. When you're under anesthesia, it seems like time takes longer, but still, this was taking really long.
I was told not to be scared when I saw my baby. "Scared” is a word that triggers fear in my mind. My baby's forehead was black and blue from being stuck in my birth canal. She was still beautiful, and they let me hold her for a few long seconds before taking her away for newborn screenings, testing, and because she was premature and could have possibly needed extra attention. This time, I wasn't alone in recovery at all. My husband wouldn't leave my side.
I remember the first time I saw my stomach, I wondered what in the hell had happened to me. Afterward, I was in more pain than I could have thought possible. Walking seemed like a difficult task. It hadn't hurt anywhere near as badly the first time. My stomach was black and blue like I had paint splattered over it.
When the doctor came to check on me each day, he seemed very concerned with how I was feeling. But honestly I didn't know what to feel. Aside from myself, I was worried about my baby, who was born prematurely. Luckily she was rather healthy aside from jaundice.
I couldn't bring myself to even call or text people and tell them the good news. I was traumatized. My late mother and I were extremely close at the time and I couldn't even tell her about what happened. Three months went by before I opened up about it. I knew something was wrong but I never thought to ask mostly because I didn't want to know.
Almost two and a half years later I got my answer finally. By some rare chance, I was pregnant again. It was completely unexpected. One of the things that I did remember from my traumatic birth experience was the doctors asking if I wanted my tubes tied. I vividly remember screaming the word “yes” at the top of my lungs. My husband disagreed and since he wasn't heavily medicated like the screaming cut-open woman, they went along per his suggestion.
“So, you'll be having a repeat Cesarean section again.”
I shrugged. I guess V-BAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) was out of the question. I asked, but was respectfully denied, as my doctor flipped the pages through my file while reviewing my history.
“Mrs. Ramos, we will need to monitor you closely. You had a uterine rupture during your last delivery, you are lucky you were at the hospital when it happened.”
I remember looking at him puzzled. “Why are you telling me this now?”
He looked at me, not as a patient, but as an actual human being. “Because I didn't want to scare you.”
I couldn't argue with that, and instead said nothing. They monitored me closely and I had a healthy pregnancy and around 7 months pregnant I was put on moderate bed rest. Which I stayed on till I hit 34 weeks.
At 37 weeks, I went into labor, but this time I was smart and didn't twiddle my thumbs, instead I took my ass straight to the hospital. They admitted me and a few hours later my son was delivered.
I was calm, despite being slightly terrified in the back of my mind. Mainly because I'd already signed the paperwork to have my tubes tied. Knowing it's the last time you'll have to get through something certainly helps to manage sanity, at least in my mind.
When the doctor opened me up, the first thing he said was, “How long have you been having contractions, Mrs. Ramos?”
“Since about 10 PM,” I answered.
“Oh my, your uterus is paper thin,” he said, nervously. The sound of a doctor with a nervous tone is slightly frightening.
I took a deep breath. I was glad I hadn't hesitated this time.