My Repeat C-Section Experience

Me at 36 weeks pregnant

The first time I gave birth, labor went on for a few days and ended in an emergency c-section. It’s a long story and you can read it here. 

This story is much shorter, I promise.

When I first visited my doctor at the beginning of my second pregnancy I was hoping to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-Section). I had really wanted to experience an unmedicated birth with my first baby and, for some reason, a part of me still held to that dream. 

My doctor came in and said that she had been reading the report on my first birth but didn’t get through it because it was fourteen pages long. She asked me to sum up for her and when I was finished she said, “Yeah, VBAC is often possible, but in your case it would probably end up the same as last time. But you will never know unless you try. If you want to go for a vaginal birth, I am fully supportive, but I highly recommend a repeat c-section.”

I only cried a little over my disappointment. Still, it meant so much to me to have my doctor’s support, and it didn’t take long for my husband and I to decide on a repeat c-section.

In my last several weeks of pregnancy, I experienced my first ever panic attacks. It was bad. I mean, it was really scary and I was so out of control. 

My doctor believed I was dealing with moderate PTSD. She theorized that my body was recognizing the signs of an approaching birth and panicked in response. She said, “In your head you know it will be different this time, but all your body knows is trauma from last time.”

I was afraid that I would have a panic attack at the hospital when my husband and I went in for the scheduled surgery. I share this to illustrate how bad my first experience was and I can say now that I am so glad we opted for a repeat c-section. 

The idea of my second child being in fetal distress was terrifying and I am relieved that she didn’t have to go through that like her brother did.

Now to the story…

New Year's Day 2022, my baby at one day old

On December 31, my husband and I drove through freshly fallen snow to arrive at the hospital at 5:30 am. It was a peaceful morning. I felt good. I felt emotionally prepared for this.

I was a little nervous since I thought we would be sitting around waiting to have our baby. The surgery was scheduled for 8:00, but we were busy the whole time. There was paperwork to fill out and an IV was inserted through which I was given medicine and fluids. 

Whatever the nurse gave me made me so sleeply I actually drifted off for a while. So much for having a panic attack, right? 

I am so happy that I didn’t lose my mind after all the stress I endured for weeks. I think that I got all the nervousness worked out of my system. By the time the big day came, I felt calm.

The anesthesiologist came to check in with us. I saw my gynecologist next. And suddenly, it was time for surgery. 

The worst part was saying goodbye to Josiah since he wasn't allowed in the operating room until the last minute. So, I nervously said bye to him and walked with the nurse into the OR at about five minutes after 8:00 AM.

At first, I hated being in there. It was really cold and I just had this awful feeling, probably from my first encounter. I also hated being in the delivery room until my meds made me fall asleep. I just don’t have good memories from labor and delivery.

I climbed onto the operating table to receive my spinal block. I was nervous, not because I anticipated feeling pain from the needle, but because my husband wasn’t there with me.

 This was the moment when I had previously anticipated that I would breakdown. The nurse must have noticed the tears coming to my eyes because she offered to hold my hands. And she made me feel good about myself when she said, “Wow! You didn’t even flinch. I kept waiting for you to react but he already stuck you.”

She helped me lay down as I was quickly losing feeling in my legs. Two women in scrubs and masks were checking over all the medical tools and equipment as several other people came in. The only person who actually introduced herself was a nice nurse from the NICU.

During any c-section, drapes are used to separate the sterile surgery area from the non-sterile area. I missed the opportunity to see my son be born when I had my first c-section. So, on this morning I requested a clear plastic drape instead of the usual blue. My doctor had assured me that I wouldn’t be able to see the actual surgery since the incision would be cut on the underside of my pregnant belly.

Soon my doctor came in and spread that yellow iodine stuff all over my belly. She and another doctor, who was there to help with the procedure, stood looking at the clock until it was time to start. When I saw my doctor pick up a scalpel I said, “Um, I would like to wait until my husband is here.”

She calmly replied, “He’s coming.”

The other doctor said, “He won’t miss any of the cool stuff.”

Moments before, my anesthesiologist had said, “C-sections are kind of weird. They’re basically the only type of surgery where the patient is awake and completely aware of what is going on.”

His words hit me as I was about to be cut open. I thought how crazy it was that I was back on this table. I had voluntarily lied down on this table and I was about to be cut open. Again.

This was crazy. This felt like standing at the edge of abridge about to jump off crazy. And I had done that before. But I knew for certain that this was going to hurt later.

For a second, I forgot that I was even having a baby. Then to my relief, my husband walked in all suited up in white. He sat near my head, held my hand, and suddenly everything was all right.  

I suddenly felt excited again. I didn’t feel cold anymore, and I couldn’t feel any pain though I could feel some of the tugging as the doctors worked to get my baby out. It only took several minutes but it felt like waiting for Christmas morning.

At 8:31 am, my daughter was born. I gasped as I saw them lift her out of me. My doctor quickly laid her on my upper belly and my little girl cried and cried. I cried too. I softly touched her little head through the plastic drape. My voice sounded far away as I heard myself say to her, “Good girl! Good girl! That’s my baby girl.”

I was so stressed and exhausted when my first baby was born, and I was impatient to get a good look at him. But this time I calmly watched as the NICU nurse cleaned and measured my baby, and my husband took pictures all the while.

Before long, a nurse placed my baby on my chest and my sweet girl latched on right away. I was so thrilled to have skin-on-skin especially because I didn’t get to breastfeed my first baby until surgery was done and we were back in the delivery room. 

As my daughter nursed for the first time and the doctors were stitching me up, I looked to my husband and said, “I would do it like this again.”

So there you have it. It wasn’t the “natural” birth I had wanted for years, but it was beautiful and I am so grateful that there were no complications.

An attempted vaginal birth for me looked like:

• Labor for days,
• My baby’s heart rate dropping with each contraction,
• A fever and infection
• A NICU stay for my son
• Four nights in the hospital
• My IV wearing out and leaking into my wrist
• A struggle to coordinate with the NICU nurses so I could try to breastfeed my baby (The timing didn't work out.)
• So much swelling, especially in my legs
• Emotional trauma
• Feeling like my body failed me
• Frustration that my body hurt my baby during labor even after I knew he was safe

My planned c-section looked like:

• Not even one contraction
• We got to choose our baby's birthday (to a degree)
• I actually got to choose the doctor who would deliver my baby
• A shorter hospital stay
• Having my baby beside me in my hospital room 
• Breastfeeding throughout the hospital stay
• My IV was removed about 36 hours after birth and I didn't need antibiotics
• The recovery was much easier on me both physically and emotionally
• Peace of mind and feeling like I made the best decision for myself and my family.

I admit that after my daughter was born, I briefly wondered what would have happened if I tried a vaginal birth again because she wasn't as big as my son had been. But I quickly decided that I am okay with not knowing. And this experience gave me a little closure after what happened the first time.

No one is more of a woman for having a "natural" birth. Pain does not qualify us for motherhood. And believe me, c-sections are not painless. Recovery is brutal and takes forever. 

There is no universally correct way to have a baby. C-sections make the most sense for my body and I am forever thankful that I can safely give birth to my babies.

Hi! My name is Kait. Follow this link to learn more about me and my blog.


  1. This is so beautiful! You are such a great mom

  2. You are amazing and a wonderful mother! I am so proud to be your friend!


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