Eileen: my cesarean birth experience

Eileen and baby Noemi

When living in Costa Rica, you have to plan ahead and be as prepared as possible.  The month I went off birth control, I started looking into location options for my future birth experience.  As I was researching, I realized in Quepos that my option was limited to the public hospital unless I wanted to travel to San Jose or San Isidro.  After continuing my research and prayer, I had peace about having a homebirth in San Jose with a team of midwives, Marie and Rebecca. 

When I was about 17 weeks pregnant, I met with the midwives and discussed everything from family history to the possibility of having a breech baby.   At my 7 month ultrasound (to check if everything was OK for homebirth) we found out that our baby was in fact breech.   I discussed this further with the midwives and they recommended me to do some exercises to encourage the baby to turn.  At eight months, I got another ultrasound and our baby girl was still sitting.  Now, we had to look into options besides a homebirth more seriously because the midwives nor a doctor would deliver breech, which meant the only option was a cesearan section. 

Now I had more decisions to make because if we decided to have the csection in Quepos, I would wait until I went into labor and go to the hospital.  If the only doctor in the area was on duty at the time, I would be in luck.  If not, I would have to drive 2 hours to Puntarenas.  I was not comfortable with this option, so we opted to go with Dr. Paer, a doctor in San Jose, who the midwives recommended. 

We went to see Dr. Paer for our last ultrasound at thiry-eight weeks to see the position once and for all, and she was still breech.  We scheduled a c-section for 39 weeks, which timed our perfectly for my mom and grandma to be present at birth. 

On October 5, we arrived bright and early at CIMA hospital 2 hours prior to my scheduled c-section to allow time to check in, get settled in my room, and have the nurses prep me for surgery.  I have always been queasy with IVs and things of that nature, so I felt nauseous most of the time.

While the nurses were shaving me and putting IVs into my veins, my mom and husband were talking to people on Skype who could not be present for the birth.  They saw at my worst, feeling light-headed and puking.  My husband even took the computer into the area where I was waiting for surgery.  All the nurses were very nice and helpful.  My husband got suited up, and I was wheeled into the operation room. 

The operation room itself was extremely bright.  I remembered the midwives saying that I should ask for the lights to be dimmed, but I didn’t want to bother.  The doctors wasted no time getting me ready for the epidural, which I didn’t think was that painful.  Right away, they laid me down, strapped my arms down so I was in a cross position and hung the curtain under my neck.  My lower body went numb very quickly and I could feel the catheter being put into place. I couldn’t feel any sharp pains or anything, just pressure.  The next thing I knew, the doctor tells my husband, “Jared, this is it!” He went over to the other side of the curtain while a nurse came to my side of the curtain and told me to take deep breaths and that I was going to feel some pressure. 

Operating room

The next thing I knew, my baby was out, but she did not cry right away.  I heard the pediatrician and my husband talking to the baby.  A few seconds later, I heard her whimper and the pediatrician told her that she was going to see mommy soon.  I was getting anxious to meet her.  Finally, the doctor brought her over for our first family moment.  She was beautiful.  I started crying immediately and told her how pretty she was while touching her tiny hands.  My husband told her how much we loved her.  Needless to say, it was one of the best moments of my life. 

While I was getting stitched back up, Noemi (my daughter) was sent to get cleaned up and dressed.  My husband was able to spend this time with her.  After I was ready, I was wheeled back to a waiting room and I had to wait for the epidural to wear off.  They would let me go back to my room when I could move my legs.  I did all I could to move my legs as quickly as possible.  I wanted to be with my baby!  While waiting for the epidural to wear off, I found out that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.  It was a good thing that she did not turn.  God is sovereign. 

After forty-five minutes, I was able to go back to my room and I was met with my mom and grandma.  They were very excited because they had already met Noemi.  Soon, my husband, Noemi and a nurse arrived.  The nurse helped me nurse Noemi for the first time, which was a success.  The times after that when I tried on my own were not so successful because she was not asking for food.  The doctor was concerned that she was not getting enough food so I had to give her some formula, which I wanted to avoid.  It took a few days and the help of my midwife for me to feel confident about breastfeeding.  No one told me how frustrating it would be before I could figure it out. 

The healing process after the c-section was painful.  The pain meds the hospital were giving me were not strong enough.  I did not want to feel pain at all, and I definitely could.  The morning after the surgery, the nurses walked very slowly with me up and down the hallways.  After all the paperwork was completed, I was dismissed from the hospital in the afternoon.  I stayed in near the hospital for a week to recover before traveling back to Quepos, which ended up being a great decision. 

The first few nights with my daughter were challenging on me as a first time mom.  I woke up every 3 hours to try to feed her and she would just cry.  Poor thing, now I know that I didn’t need to wake her up and that was probably why she was crying so much. 

Even though I had to get a c-section, all that mattered was that I had a healthy baby girl.  Yes, I had some pain recovering, but it is nothing compared to the joy that her life brings.