The infertilite and the c-section

Yes, the arrival of my beautiful baby boy is here!  He was delivered at 39 weeks 5 days via scheduled c-section because he remained breech with his head fully engaged in my ribs.  Even though all the other birthing “experts” said “Oh don’t worry, there’s still time, he’ll turn.”  Well, he didn’t, because little did they know he barely had room to grow.

It was a minor miracle that he was delivered at 6 pounds 10 ounces given that he had a unicornuate uterus for a home for nine months.  Getting him to that size was no small feat on my end, and required me to eat a lot of protein, a lot of calories, and a lot of fat.  And as the time came near, and the specialists dismissed me from their care because he had gotten far enough and at a big enough weight (at 6 pounds they were no longer concerned), there was nothing left to contemplate by the actual birthing process.  Which, granted, I knew wouldn’t be a vaginal birth.  I spent nearly two months petrified of going into early labor, constantly checking in with myself about possible contractions.  It was no solace when an OB told me that due to the nature of my uterus I was “likely to fell things differently anyway.”  For the record I recall only two contractions, and both were at night and were excruciating back labor pains.  Some of the worst pain in my life.

I was still in denial about having a c-section when I had to schedule it.  I was told to meet with the surgery scheduling secretary of the OB group one day after my NST, and when I walked in I had been frantically texting my husband about what was happening.  The secretary started the conversation with, “Well, it looks like January 2nd, 3rd, or 4th.  What’s better for you?”  Really?  What’s better for me?  How bizarre; I felt like I was in another world.  Although I thought it might be “fun” to have my son’s birthday be 1/3/13, I ultimately chose the 4th for two other factors: 1. the doctors who were available that day, 2. I wanted him to stay in as long as possible so that he had the best chances once he was delivered.  What if all the doctors were wrong?

It turns out that scheduling a c-section creates the same kind of pause in others as much as a story about infertility, or about using IVF, to conceive.  There’s always this uncomfortable silence, like, “Oh why would you do that?  That’s so unnatural.”  It’s enough of a silence to make you feel like less of a woman, that your body is not capable of doing what it is biologically created to do.  I couldn’t help but think of even 100 years ago, before all our modern medical trappings, that a woman like me would probably have recurrent miscarriages, stillborn babies, and be at a higher risk of dying during childbirth, and I felt so utterly sorry for all of those women who didn’t have the luxury of scheduling a surgery.  So whenever someone asked about when the date was coming, or when I was able to start telling people that unless he came early the 4th would be his birthday, many times the news was greeted not with joy or happiness but of confusion.  Even among nurses that I encountered in the hospital, when I explained it was a scheduled c-section, they would stay quiet and I could tell they wanted to ask – but I guess so many people elect the section out of convenience they’ve stopped wondering why people do it.  So I fill it in for them – “He was breech.”  “Oh.”  And I can almost hear their brain ticking as they silently forgive me for not being woman enough.

The only person who seemed to take me and my condition seriously was, appropriately, the doctor I had chosen for the surgery.  She had been supportive during my OB meetings with her, and was equally supportive during and after the surgery.  And she used the opportunity, with me still open on the operating table, to show the entire staff in the room just exactly what a unicornuate uterus looked like in the flesh.  “You read about it in textbooks, but you’ll never forget it once you see one in person,” is what I distinctly remember her introduction as.  I wish I could have seen it too.

As a side note, my doctor confirmed the left-side uterus diagnosis, and discovered that my right ovary had a non-functioning/non-connected tube and was actually slightly smaller than the left ovary.  “But you only need one!” she said later.  I don’t think she remembers I ovulated from the right side.

At the same time, I wish I wasn’t awake for that part, since I couldn’t see but could sense all those eyes in the room peering over my belly, staring at the remains of my uterus and fingering a limp infertile ovary.  I should have felt proud, to live what I preach here, to help educate those who can do the most good with this information – those on the front-lines working with patients – by being a living example, but with a few stitches being the only things keeping me from joining my husband and baby in the recovery room at that moment all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there and meet my son.