An Unexpected C-Section and other Delivery Complications

Image via Mindi Stavish

Four years ago I experienced the joy of welcoming my first child into the world. Prior to my delivery day, I carefully crafted a birth plan, which I presented to my doctor in my third trimester. At forty weeks and four days, I went into labor naturally and as planned. We left the house around 9:30 pm and the drive was rather quick since it was Sunday night. This I was thankful for, since one of my many concerns about labor was delivering on the beltway in Washington DC rush hour traffic. The drive to the hospital was pretty painful and on my way I felt a small gush of water, which I later found out was my water breaking.

My husband pulled into the main entrance of the hospital and brought me up to labor and delivery. Once I got into the triage room a nurse hooked me up to the contraction monitor and took my vitals. A doctor came in to examine me and told me I was only 2 cm dilated. Mind you I was only 1 ½ – 2 cm at my 40 week appointment. At that point, I knew there was no way I was doing this labor thing naturally. So I told the nurse I will be need an epidural once I get to my room.

It took about 30-45 minutes to get into a room. My pain was getting more severe as the contractions were closer together and seemed to be lasting longer. It seemed like I waited forever for the anesthesiologist to arrive, but once he arrived the process was very quick. The hardest part about getting the epidural was just staying in the right position long enough to have it administered. Once it was in place, it worked in about 15 minutes and I had sweet relief!

I continued to labor throughout the night. Baby boy was having heart decelerations which seemed to be relieved by frequent position changes, where I had to roll to my right or left side. At some point during the night, I developed a fever and needed oxygen supplementation. I was so uncomfortable and hot! My husband continued to remain supportive and calm throughout the night. He really was amazing!

At the point where I was switching over to active labor, I began throwing up repeatedly. I hate throwing up! While it was nice to know I was making progress, I was miserable. When I was finally 10 cm dilated around 8:30 am, the pushing marathon began. Baby boy’s heart rate would drop if I was pushing on my back, so I pushed on my side. My husband held one leg and my nurse held the other. I could feel the contractions begin so had an idea of when to push, but the nurse told me when it reached the height and that’s when I began pushing.  The doctor came in periodically to check on my progress, which seemed to be so very slow.

{ MORE: Let's Be Honest: C-Sections Are Never Lazy }


After three and a half hours of pushing, there was very little progress. My doctor explained that he was going to try a vacuum delivery. The doctor attempted assist delivery with the vacuum three times. Each time the suction popped off baby boy’s head, which I honestly thought was the head coming out. It was sad to know this wasn't true each time it happened.

I then had an episiotomy. First the doctor cut without lidocaine but when I told them I could feel the cutting they gave me some lidocaine. After sticking most of his arm up my parts, the attending finally came to the conclusion that my sacrum was tilted upward and the baby’s head was not getting past it. So the decision was made to deliver by cesarean. At this point, I was so scared and a bit sad.

Everything happened so FAST! One minute I’m trying to push my baby out and the next minute I’m on my back being wheeled to the operating room. In a matter of no time, I was prepped and surgery began. I didn’t feel a thing, as my baby boy was pulled out at 12:05 pm. Once he was out I didn’t hear any crying for what felt like forever. I swear those were the longest few seconds of my life. Once baby boy did cry, it was such a sweet sound.  The MD handed my little boy to my husband, who brought him over to me. He was absolutely gorgeous! It was a surreal moment to actually see my baby boy. Words can’t describe how I felt at that moment. Incredible. Amazing. No words.

I then felt like I was wheezing, which it turns out I was desaturating down to the 80’s (normal oxygen saturation level is 100%). At that point, the MDs told my husband he needed to step out of the room. We thought it was just a normal policy that they have dad step out while they sew mom back up. Actually nothing normal was going on. I was becoming unstable. I don’t recall what happened next, other than I felt very uncomfortable in the position I was in. I remember complaining that my neck and jaw hurt. I was actually very hypotensive and the doctors were concerned that I had pulmonary edema (abnormal fluid build up on the lungs).

Eventually I made it to the recovery room where my nurse met me. My husband and Alexander came in, and the world was okay (sort of) again. I had a chance to hold Alexander and attempt to latch him on to start breastfeeding. I was pretty shaky and cold from the anesthesia, so it was a challenge to latch him. Alexander was then bathed and weighed him.

{ MORE: Can You Still Have a Home Birth with an Incompetent Cervix? }

Much of the hours following recovery were a blur, but what I do remember is Arian taking picture and the both of us falling deeply in love with our baby boy. I had a lot of doctors in and out of the room. I also had an EKG done at my bedside followed by a CT angiogram. The doctors were worried about my heart and lungs, so I was then wheeled down to radiology to have a CT angiogram. By this time, I was scared and in tears. I just wanted to be with my baby and husband.

After returning from the procedure, I learned that I would need to spend the first night as a new mom away from my baby, so I could be monitored on the telemtry unit. I was absolutely heart broken.  I wanted to be with my newborn baby, but instead laid in my hospital bed with what felt like miles between us.  It was quite possibly one of the hardest nights of my life.



What do you think?

An Unexpected C-Section and other Delivery Complications

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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  1. Nicole says:

    I had HELLP Syndrome, and ended up in the hospital 4 weeks early. They were planning on inducing me, but because my blood pressure was so high I was on magnesium for a day and a half before I could have the pitocin. I was in labor for over 12 hours, they broke my water, and I never made it past 4 centimeters. It is all a little hazy because of the magnesium, but they put me on oxygen and both my heart rate and the babies started to drop off. So after a valiant effort of me and the hospital staff to do it naturally, they said that the only way for the two of us to make it was to have a c-section. :0( They said that I had to go under because with my platelets being all messed up I was at risk of paralysis if they gave me the spinal. It was terrifying in the OR and they were very rough with me. I know it was because of the urgency of the situation, but with my husband not being allowed in and the lovely drug haze, it was nightmarish. I missed the birth of my baby, and only got to be with him 5 minutes that first day, and only an hour or two the next couple of days. We both had a lot of recovering to do. It was not the birth experience that I had dreamed of, and though the doctors and nurses could not have been more supportive or followed my plan more closely, had I stuck to my guns about doing it naturally, my husband would have gone home without a wife and son. I am grateful that I have my baby, and though he did not get here the way I wanted, he is with us now! We are both happy and healthy together.

  2. jesster131 says:

    My little guy was early by 3 weeks. My water broke at home before I really had any contractions. 18 hours later after 3 hours of active pushing & multiple attempts at using suction to help the not so little man out it was decided that he was hopelessly stuck & a C-section was in order. My epidural needed to be re-positioned first as I still had full feeling on one side. It wasn’t until about 3 hours after my son was born that I got to finally meet him. We had some fairly minor complications that included some loss of feeling in my upper body. Once I was stable & he was in my arms I didn’t care about any of the rest. I won’t be having any more children as that pregnancy was a huge danger. It was not the birth we planned, but in the end it was worth every second of pain.

  3. Charmaine says:

    I have two children, and both arrived via c-section. The first one, with my son in 1995, was an emergency one, and I was not pleased with the care or service I received. I was having my labor induced, and my son was not ready to make his appearance. I was on a pitocin drip from about 9 am on December 4th until 3 pm on December 5th. The tried to manually break my water, but was unsuccessful until after two rounds of cervix softeners. By the time my labor actually started, my son was so antsy inside that he got the. Umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, and when they started losing his heartbeat, they decided on the emergency c-section. I don’t think they were much more. Pleased than was about how the whole ordeal happened. When I became pregnant with my second child in 2005, I wanted to have a VBAC, and we went about requesting my records from my first pregnancy. Guess what? The hospital could not locate them, and had no records showing I was even a patient in 1995!! Without the records, my OB didn’t want to take the chance on what kind of incision the previous doctor made on my uterus (and rightfully so), so we went with a planned c-section for my daughter. My second one could not have went better. I had an excellent hospital staff, and they were wonderful. The doctor, again, was less than what I would have preferred, but overall, it was a good experience. The OB I had with my daughter completely “forgot” I had planned on having a tubal while I was already going to be in the operating room, and claimed to have “no recollection” of me ever discussing it with him…. Funny, his nurses, and even the hospital staff were aware of it, and were prepared for it, all until he claimed he knew nothing of it, and could not locate the paperwork I had signed. Do I wish I could have experienced a vaginal birth? Absolutely! Did I have moments of anger at the universe, and frustration with everyone around me when I was told on both occasions that would not be able to? Absolutely! However, in the grand scheme of things, both of my children were delivered healthy, and that is the most important thing. 🙂

  4. Kathleen says:

    Im so sorry that you had such a terrible scare. An Emergency C section is a very frightening experience. The good news is, next time you have a baby, you can schedule the birth and not go into labor and all of the difficult stuff.
    The 2nd C/S is really a picnic!! My first son was 1 month overdue, My GP had decided that I should not be pregnant because I was very young, so he basically just ignored me when I need help the most. I ended up in the hospital for 1 week, sick as a puppy, and they had to feed my son formula because I was too weak to BF him. I did not have another child until I was 31. Easy peasy, he was Frank breech so I picked a day and had a C/S, planned, not nearly as much pain, no complications, A lovely experience. Look on the bright side, your baby and you are alive and well, which would not have been the case a few years ago. Modern Obstetrics is a blessing for many women who have difficulties bearing children. Smile and Thank God that you are thriving!!!
    Blessings and Con-graduations on that new little man!!

  5. Sarah says:

    I hear ya momma! I had a similar crazy experience. I was put on bed rest for 3 days before they induced me at 38 weeks at 6:30 AM. Little boy wasn’t so little so this is why they decided on this. After the initial fun of waiting for as long as I could with the contractions I finally asked for the epidural but the dr messed up and only got one half numb so he had to do it again. Needless to say I told him after he finished he better run cause if I got my hands on him he wasn’t going to be happy. Finally the happy drugs arrived and I got checked on every few hours to see how I was doing. Once I got the go ahead to start pushing I was on it but after 2 hours of active pushing he was going no where. So they said time for a c-section, got wheeled in and took him out then they put me back together,didn’t find out till later that they stapled me together, got to finally see my BIG boy at 9 lbs 1 oz. Sadly while at the hospital I got a rash that took 11 drs to figure out what it was(PUPPP or Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). I was allergic to my sons DNA but because it took so long for them to figure it out I never really got to breast feed and my milk never came in. This is the main reason why I only did this once. Maybe if things had been easier I would’ve opted for more kiddos.

  6. aww that sounds so terrifying it made me cry. at least you and your baby are fine!

  7. im scared but ready for all the possibilities to come in just 9 more weeks!

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