I Struggled With My Birth Options; In The End The Big “C” Was Best For Me

When I was 13 I had a long, invasive and very painful surgery which placed Harrington rods along the length of my spine to correct a dramatic S shaped curvature. At 13 I was not considering future childbearing implications nor had any doctor every hinted that there would be any. When I became pregnant I was in an OB practice that (like many others) rotated you through to meet all of the doctors. To my shock, each doctor in the practice had a different opinionPregnant about my abilities to give birth vaginally and/or receive an epidural successfully. One went as far as saying he absolutely would not attempt natural child-birth and I might as well schedule the c-section immediately. I visited various doctors, cried, thought, researched and agonized. Why, you may ask? Well, not because I was adverse to the idea of a c-section but more because the diversity of opinion worried me. More importantly the idea of having to just “choose” a birth method just seemed so darn unnatural to me. What if I made the wrong choice? What if I attempted a vaginal delivery and couldn’t receive an epidural? That may be ok for some but I have NEVER believed that medals are earned for pain endurance, nor have I aspired to  go au natural. What if I attempted a vaginal delivery, was unable to receive an epidural, couldn’t deliver vaginally, and THEN needed a c-section under general anesthesia? Now that sounded like the quadruple whammy of childbearing horrification to me! What if I had a c-section and had to have general anesthesia? What if I was unable to see my baby being born (no matter what the route)? The doctors told me that if I needed general anesthesia not even my husband would be allowed in the room. That very thought, of my little baby being born, with no family witnessing his first sweet breaths, brought the hot and sticky tears quickly every time.

I decided to take control and changed OB practices completely. I found a doctor that sat down with me forPrepping For My Section over an hour and weighed all of my options with me. She was honest, open, kind, and most importantly we decided NOT to make a decision until we had to. She literally showed me her calendar and said, “I will come to the hospital any time you go into labor (except these days because I will be at football games).” We thankfully also had a “game plan” for other doctors to follow on football days, too. At 40 weeks pregnant I had no contractions and no signs of dilatation despite all efforts to bring them about. I also had oligohydramnios  (or low fluid levels) around the baby. We could have waited, but instead, with the help of my kind doctor, we made what was felt to be the smartest and safest decision at the time for the baby: a scheduled c-section.

With the big c-section decision made I felt a bit of relief but I still agonized over the issue of the spinal.birth collage I was terrified that it wouldn’t work and that I would would end up under general anesthesia. I was more than a bit of a bear to my family. I begged them not even to come to the hospital when the baby was born. I envisioned myself missing the birth, groggy from general anesthesia, in grave pain, severely cranky, and not wanting to see visitors. Quite the Debbie Downer I was. You should know that as a nurse I have seen dozens of c-sections and yet? I was still terrified. Even my registered nurse logic could not talk myself out of  sobbing the entire way to the OR. In the end, the spinal worked like a dream, my husband was there stroking my face, and my fears of fear quickly turned into tears of joy.

I understand all too well that a c-section is not a choice that anyone wants to make, nor is it something that anyone dreams of having done to them. I am here, however, to tell you after all of the agony, questioning, doubt and tears that I had a great c-section experience and recovery. I went in rested. I had a planned date and time. My bags were packed. All arrangements were made with work for my time off. I am a planner, and I sincerely loved having all of my ducks in a row before this baby was born. Home quickly after the birth!As far as the physical recovery goes, I believe it is all about your expectations. I have had some pretty horrific surgeries in my 29 years so I was expecting the same level of pain for a c-section. I was blown away by how easy (in comparison to my expectations)  the experience was. Not a walk in the park certainly, but I was breastfeeding 3 hours after surgery, walking 6 hours after surgery, home 48 hours later, and out for light walks to the nearby mall within a week. I drove myself and the baby to Thanksgiving two weeks after my surgery. I have a few friends with vaginal delivery complications that were envious of those stats.

I may not have braved an all natural delivery, and I did not labor for days on end. However, I wanted the same as everybody else: the best for my baby. I know that some people feel shameful or guilty about their c-sections and others see it as a failure. I don’t subscribe to these notions. We are mothers, we grew actual people, we delivered (via abdomen or vagina) a human. I think all mothers should be proud of themselves for we have all sacrificed ourselves and our bodies in some way.

Celebrate Your Birth Story. What’s Yours?



  1. I can’t imagine what is was like to go through all of this and deciding what to do, in addition to all those previous surgeries you’ve had. Whew! And to top it all off, you still looked “super cute” the day you delivered! I’m glad everything went well, and best of all, you have a beautiful baby to show for it 🙂

  2. Same as you- my C-section recovery was super easy. I was up and walking the next day and I went home after 4 days and my recovery was easy peasy in comparison to a previous abdominal surgery I had in the past! 🙂

  3. Love this – thanks for sharing Karen! I would think being a nurse might make a surgery harder because you know enough to imagine everything vs. being blissfully ignorant!

  4. Thanks for sharing your story! I am 32 weeks and have a planned c section for 37 weeks. We are in the talks now with an anesthesiologist about a spinal vs. General for the c section. I’ve only found scattered info on the internet about patients who received a spinal with harrington rods. Some can’t be placed at all and some have “scattered/patchy” pain relief which moms could actually feel the cutting. I’m terrified but reading your success story gives me faith and hope that it will all be alright. If you don’t mind me asking, how far are you fused to? And do you know what space they placed your spinal in?

    I’m also a cardiac nurse and I think we make the most worrisome patients sometimes! Lol

    • Hi Celeste,

      Happy New Year! When I was pregnant I too Googled for all of the information that I could find. I really didn’t find many encouraging stories- but then again I do think many people are much more apt to write stories of trials rather than success. I am so happy that you found my story and that it can give you some hope that things will be ok. I remember SO well what it was like to be in your shoes terrified of what the outcome would be. I can tell you now that no matter what the outcome (spinal, general, WHATEVER) it would have been a win because I received the best gift ever- a healthy baby.

      I do not know my fusion level off of the top of my head but if you need it I will be happy to dig around in my records for you. I will tell you that I met with several anesthesiologists that told me that it was possible but I should be prepared for general. I would not worry about feeling the cutting- I am almost positive they always ask “can you feel this?” before anything dramatic. If you would like to email me or chat by phone I am happy to share any specifics that you would be interested in. Karen {@} neworleansmomsblog {dot} com

      All the best to you in the New Year and on this crazy (and fabulous) ride that is motherhood!


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