You Need To Make A Decision: The Unplanned C-Section

delivery room decision

At my birthing class, our instructor kept telling us that one in three of us would have a c-section. “Well, that sucks for them,” I thought. “It’s not going to be me.”


I went into labor around 4PM, two days before my due date. I labored at home for a while, so when I arrived at the hospital I was already dilated to 4cm.

The medical team asked if I wanted an epidural. I had been on the fence about getting an epidural, but not anymore.

“Oh my God, it’s going to get worse?” I heard myself blurt out. “Yeah, I want it.” They gave me the epidural around 1AM.

At 6AM, a mid-wife came in to check me. While she checked me, my water broke. She let me know that I was at 6cm and making good progress.

I told my husband to get some breakfast. I also asked him to call our families to tell them that we’d probably have the baby by lunch time.

But it was now 6AM. I hadn’t eaten since lunch, the day before. And, remember being pregnant? My recent nights of “sleep” hardly counted as restful. I had insomnia, and I’d been getting up in the middle of the night to eat cereal. Now, I had just pulled an all-nighter, on top of laboring for 14 hours. I was beyond exhausted.

They checked me again around lunch time, and I was still only at 6cm. They started Pitocin. I’d let the epidural wear off, so I could push. As the Pitocin was administered, the contractions were really intense. They told me the baby wasn’t dropping down enough, though.

I started to feel like things were going off course.

The medical team asked me to try some different positions. Then the nurse started to seem concerned. “It’s OK”, the nurse said, trying to be calm, “but we noticed the baby’s heart rate is dropping.”

“Oh my God. His heart rate is dropping?” I thought, starting to feel anxious. “The different positions aren’t working. My doctor isn’t here.”

This was getting intense and I started worrying about safety. Was my son safe? What was happening to me?

“We have an operating room opening up in about half an hour,” the nurse continued. “Why don’t you think about it?”

Why don’t you think about it? What does that mean? Did that mean I needed a c-section? What was she telling us? We didn’t know what to do.

It was now 5PM, and I hadn’t slept in the last day-and-a-half. I wanted a doctor to tell me what to do, because I didn’t understand what she’d told us. My son’s heart rate was dropping, and there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. This didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like it should be going this way.

My husband was panicking too—he was a mess. We were trying to have a discussion to make a decision, but we didn’t even really know what was going on. I realized I was going to have to make the decision myself.

Then the nurse walked back in. “I need you to make a decision,” she told us.

There was still no doctor there to advise us. “Let’s just… “, my mom softly said, “I think this baby needs to get out.”

So I signed the papers.

They wheeled me into the operating room. Since I already had an epidural, everything from there just happened really fast. At about 6:15PM, my son was born.

After a quick check, they put him on my chest. I felt a wave of relief—he wasn’t in danger anymore.

Then, I just felt an overwhelming urge to close my eyes. I was so exhausted and shocked.

They had me in an uncomfortable position on the table, tilted to the left, with my head slightly downhill. Lifting my head to see my son took so much strength and energy. I think that detracted from being able to enjoy the moment. From what everyone had told me, I expected to be overcome with joy,  in this rainbows and sunshine happy place. I was just too physically and mentally exhausted. I felt guilty about not seeing the rainbows.

I did feel an instant connection and love though. And I felt awe, looking at him—it was amazing and strange to finally see the little face that had been kicking me for so long.


Recovery was hard, because I was recovering from both labor and a c-section. I’d pulled an all-nighter and labored for over 26 hours, then I had a major surgery. And interestingly, after all that, for months, I still really didn’t feel like I’d actually given birth. Is that normal?

Thank goodness, I have a beautiful, healthy boy now. The whole experience was just the craziest thing, though. How could they ask us to make that decision? Is any of that normal?

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