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Has anyone else had a bad elcs experience?

(23 Posts)
TippetyTapWriter Tue 18-Apr-17 22:03:25

Hi I'm due with my second and trying to decide between vbac and elcs. Had planned elcs with first as he was breech. I've read so much about elcs over the two years since ds was born but have never heard a story similar to mine (scbu admission for a week for respiratory distress). I know I have a lot of trauma to work through (midwife has referred me to counselling) but I feel so weirdly lonely about having a non-great elcs when every story I read sounds so positive. Does that sound stupid? It's nothing to do with envy, I just keep wondering 'why me?' Am I going to get unlucky again? And it's making it so hard to choose between vbac and elcs!

Didn't enjoy any aspect of elcs. They told me to eat breakfast (I queried it three times but woman was adamant) then nearly cancelled the whole thing because I'd eaten a tiny bit of cereal. Told me not to shave, then said I should have so had to have dry shave by nurse before going in. Kept waiting for six hours. Told me to wear flip flops into theatre then told me off for not being bare foot. Couldn't get the spinal in and scratched vertebrae. Surgeon forgot to introduce themselves until after they'd cut me open. No one spoke to me at all during whole up. I wanted skin to skin but ds was held up by my face for two seconds wrapped in towel so I could only see one eye and his cheek. Nurse barked at me 'kiss your baby!' so I did then they took him across room to where I couldn't see for apgar I guess. Then there was lots of talking about his breathing (no one said anything to me.) I was wheeled off to recovery still knowing nothing (dh went with ds). Starting shaking like mad in recovery, whole body spasms. After an hour a pediatrician turned up and said 'concerned about several birth defects including small chin, short neck and large hernia which together suggest a genetic syndrome. We'll need to do chromosomal testing'. Then told ds having trouble breathing and on oxygen but needs to be transferred to another hospital for a surgical assessment. He went to the other hospital a few hours later but it took ages to get an ambulance and bed for me so I didn't get there until 4am. Finally got to see him at 7am the next day - in a different hospital on a different day to to the I gave birth! Dr was there. Said he had no idea what the first doctor was on about as neck and chin both normal and not a hernia but might be tortion of the testes. Later that day confirmed to be just bilateral hydrocele. Then told ds has funny shaped head, hydrocephalus suspected, confirmed the next day as not hydrocephalus but ventricularmegaly (enlarged ventricles in brain). Ds on cpap with oxygen mask over face if I wanted to hold him! Told I couldn't attempt breastfeeding as he's too sick. Then told he has suspected sepsis and needs lumbar puncture. Poor bean had canulas in both hands and one foot. Was only on fluids for first two days in case they needed to operate then fed donor milk through nasal tube. After a four days his breathing stabilised and he was transferred back to original hospital where he stayed for another three days until his breathing was fine (he was also having iv antibiotics). I'd been kicked off maternity ward when he was three days old as they needed my bed so I was back home with no baby. Recovery was awful. Hospital kept forgetting to give me any meds as I'd been transferred in at night and wasn't on their rounds. Morning after cs midwife made me get up and have shower with no pain relief at all (I stupidly didn't ask, just assumed I'd be given what I was meant to have). Managed the shower but nearly passed out when I got back to my bed. Took me nearly a month until I could move without bad pain. Anyway. Several weeks later another ultrasound revealed ds didn't have ventricularmegaly and was in fact perfectly normal. Or so we were told until we were sent a letter six months later saying a review of his scans showed agenesis of corpus callosum (the bit of the brain that joins two hemispheres). Another review of his scans months later revealed that again they'd got it wrong and his brain is perfectly lovely and normal after all.

So sorry, that's absolutely epic. I didn't mean to write so much but guess I needed the catharsis. I'm just so mixed up and scared now I'm pregnant again. Elcs was horrible and having baby in scbu was so awful. I'd do anything I could to avoid it again. But ds was big with a huge head and I'm scared of rupture and having to lie still for continual monitoring. Just don't know what to do. I also have no one but dh to look after ds if I go into labour but could arrange for family help if cs was planned. However I haven't much help with recovery after cs as dh doesn't even get paternity leave (new job) and family are not great and we have nowhere for them to stay anyway. Help!

Chavelita Tue 18-Apr-17 22:13:06

I'm so sorry, Tippety -- how awful for you. But I have to say that none or almost none of that sounds like it was specifically to do with your ELCS, it sounds like very poor healthcare, a lack of professionalism, basic compassion, and communication. I had an ELCS at a poorly-regarded London hospital, and the pre-op staff, and surgical team were lovely, the procedure perfectly pleasant, DS put straight in my arms, good communication with me and DH. (Afterwards, in the postnatal ward was the awful part -- understaffed, no breastfeeding support, DH made to leave at the end of visiting hours despite the fact that there was no one available to help me pick up DS. I discharged myself early.)

Have you had a birth debrief?

Nottalotta Wed 19-Apr-17 03:01:26

I agree with pp, about it not soecifiobeing related to c section. But bloody hell poor you! What an awful rlexperience!

Will you be at the same hospital this time? I'd discuss with your mw your fears and get her help in writing a birth plan which ever way you choose.

I had a good elcs and then a vbac. Fears very similar to yours (massive head, continuous monitoring etc) ds2 was massive, 10lb13.5, massive head and I did end up in theatre with forceps and episiotomy, narrowly avoiding emcs under GA. BUT!!! It was a positive experience.

elliejjtiny Wed 19-Apr-17 19:58:00

You poor thing. I had an awful elcs too, with baby in scbu, although thankfully my baby didn't have to move hospital. I chose vbac for my next baby but needed to be induced because my waters broke before labour and I got an infection. I ended up with a crash c-section. Sorry, that wasn't very helpful but wanted to let you know that you are not alone.

Oly5 Wed 19-Apr-17 20:06:19

two of my friends have attempted Vbac after elcs. Both ended up with emergency sections, one baby made it, the other did not.
Just don't plan on Vbac "at all costs"

Oly5 Wed 19-Apr-17 20:06:43

But of course many ARE successful

TippetyTapWriter Wed 19-Apr-17 20:27:51

Thanks for responses everyone. It really does help. I guess I've been bottling it up for two years and being pregnant has brought it all out. No one except dh knows the whole story, it's just so complicated to explain!

chavelita no didn't have a debrief. Just wanted to get far away from hospital and all medical staff but with hindsight it would have been a good idea. Current midwife has referred me to counselling for birth trauma so hopefully that will help.

Thanks notalotta. Glad you ultimately had a positive experience despite it sounding quite scary! I think for me just being handed my baby straight after birth would be so healing... I didn't realise at the time how much it hurt having him taken away. Luckily a different hospital this time as we've moved house, so I'm glad about that. A woman in my old nct also had cs where I did and though I think everything went fine she also found it a horrible experience. So maybe the hospital did have a lot to do with it, though generally being a good one.

You're right that all the misdiagnoses weren't due to cs, but the week in scbu was. I think I'm currently leaning to vbac but haven't had my vbac clinic meeting yet. I'd want to stipulate no induction and intermittent monitoring (pretty sure hospital doesn't have mobile monitoring). But I really don't know. I'll probably change my mind again!

Thanks ellie. So sorry you had a bad experience too. Thanks for sharing it too. It does help to feel I'm not alone.

Oly that's so sad sad This is why it's such a hard decision. I keep thinking vbac would be better for baby after what happened to me, but of course it has it's own unpredictable risks. I have a huge fear of baby getting stuck and starved of oxygen as it happened to someone I know. Which is partly why I'm so worried about my ds having such a big head and shoulders! Too early in this pregnancy to know if this baby will really be big but at both 9 week and 12 week scans it measured ahead of what's physically possible, unless it's an immaculate conception as we only dtd once that month!

hazeyjane Wed 19-Apr-17 20:49:43

Sorry to hear you had a hard time. I think one of the things I found really hard after having ds (elcs, at 39 weeks, 3rd child) was how different the whole thing was to the threads I had read on here. It seemed I had only really taken in posts that talked about how much they enjoyed their cs, how the recovery wasn't as bad as they thought it would be etc.

This feeling that I must have fucked up somewhere, and was making a drama of it just helped to contribute to the awful feeling I had afterwards. I hate typing it out so much, that I am going to copy and paste from a post I wrote before about ds's birth.

"I'm afraid I had a dreadful time of it with my elcs

My bp plummeted, I lost loads of blood, the anaesthetist and surgeon were visibly panicked during section. I started wanting to vomit and felt like I was going to pass out. I was allergic to the pain meds, so had to rely on a combination of paracetemol, codeine and morphine. After the op I was too shaky to hold ds, I couldn't eat for a whole day afterwards, as I was throwing from the minute I had ds (really, really horrible after surgery). I had chest pains after the section, and had to be put on an ECG. I felt like I have been sawn in half for weeks everything ached, and I felt shaky on my legs for days afterwards. Because I had to be up and about, I developed an infection of the veins in my leg, which was very swollen and painful. I had 2 infections in my scar, and years later, still feel uncomfortable in the area of my scar. I also have stomach problems that I had never had previous to my section (I don't know if they are related)

Ds was born with respiratory distress syndrome, I couldn't hold him when he was born as I was shaking so much, he was cleaned up and dh held him, the midwife tried to hold him to my breast, but ds was grunting, and seemed to have no suckle reflex. A paed came up and ds was taken to SCBU, I couldn't hold him for 3 days, and he was in for a further 8 days (I was transferred there after 3 days on postnatal ward). He was on cpap, tube fed and had antibiotics for a possible infection. He had jaundice and a heart murmur. He was 8lb 9oz when born, but had lost 12% of his birth weight in the first week.

I was quite shocked at how appalling I felt, because I had heard mostly positive things about electives.

I had lots of anxiety and panic attacks after the birth, and nightmares about ds being taken out before he was ready. Physically I didn't feel like the same person. I sought birth trauma counselling and am on ads for ptsd and pnd. The birth trauma counselling was held in the hospital and consisted of the consultant and the surgeon basically saying that it was a very unusual section, but there was nothing they had done that could have caused ds's difficulties, that I had 'an unusual womb', and basically the whole thing was (as my GP later said) an 'arse covering exercise'."

TippetyTapWriter Wed 19-Apr-17 22:20:49

So sorry hazeyjane that sounds really awful. I get exactly what you mean about feeling like you'd messed up somehow for not having the positive experience others seem to! I felt terrible guilt even though ds was breech and cs was really the only option. I kept thinking they must have calculated his due date wrong to have such bad breathing difficulties at 39 weeks. All the stuff I read online suggested post-cs respiratory distress normally resolves after a day or two so I couldn't understand why ds needed a week. I felt I'd let him down somehow. I know it's all a stats game really and someone has to get unlucky but it doesn't really help when you're the 'one in a hundred'! Hope you and your ds are doing fine now x

Nottalotta Wed 19-Apr-17 23:19:05

tippety re vbac, I came out of my initial consultation thinking no way, I'll have a c section. Ds1 was elcs due to breech, good experience and recovery. Ds was also only 19 months when new baby was due and that was as the only thing putting me off repeat c section as I wouldn't be able to pick him up etc.

I saw several consultants due to another issue but spoke to each one, and just about every mw in the hospital. I changed my mind daily. I really didn't want continuous monitoring. Sone said I'd have to, others said no. Confusing!

In the end I booked for a elcs at 40+4. My lengthy research showed vbac to be more successful if labour starts naturally. Then, at 40wks was told I could have my waters broken and no other induction, with a very low threshold for moving to c section. So I did that. Didn't happen til 40/9 though as needed 1-1 care and they were very busy.

Waters being broken worked (3 sweeps didn't) but they then said they wanted to give me the hormone drip, alleged to be brutal. I decided on epidural so had to wait for anaesthetist. By the time he got there after dealing with an emergency I didn't need the drip as wad 10cm. All good.

At this stage though an existing medical condition fucked things up. Hence the drama and almost emcs under GA.

The continuous monitoring, although a nuisance, saved us both I think. Had the monitor not been on they wouldn't have picked up the baby's sudden drop in heart Beat. And as ut happened there was no way I Was pushing an almost 11lb back to back baby out!

My advice would be to make your birth plan VERY clear. Skin to skin etc in big letters. Low threshold for elcs, don't be fobbed off. Make sure dh is up to speed on what you want and will speak up for you.

With the monitor, I could bouncers the ball, waddle back and forth, I spent a lot of time on my knees leaning over the back of the bed, or on the balls resting head and arms on the bed.
Good luck!

CoteDAzur Wed 19-Apr-17 23:43:13

It sounds like most of what went wrong last time was due to useless doctors and nurses, not the CS itself.

If it helps put your experience in perspective, pushing a big-headed large baby out of your delicate bits is no fun, either. I cried in agony for three weeks after DD's birth and it took about 6 months for the pain to finally go away. She cried non-stop for 5 months, which I am convinced was due to her squished head (one plate of her skull had crossed over another).

ElCS with 2nd baby was a breeze in comparison. Thank fuck I didn't have to push him out.

TippetyTapWriter Thu 20-Apr-17 13:25:06

Thanks for the advice notta. I've read induction increases risk of scar rupture which really puts me off, as well as the fact it generally sounds awful. The monitoring doesn't sound too bad as you describe it. It's the idea of being stuck in bed on my back that scares me. I really need to talk to people at my hospital and work out what their attitude is. I'm not very assertive (have social anxiety!) and dh is absolutely lovely but also very shy so I worry we're not going to be great at getting our wishes across.

I'm just worried about this bub getting big if I go past due date. Funnily someone's just posted about head circumference in another thread. Ds was 38cm at 39 weeks which is above 100th centile! It's only 75th now but dh has a big head and was over 11lbs at birth so I blame his genes!

Thanks cote. I know vb is hard which is why it's so tough to decide sad I sometimes think well at least my under bits are unscathed so why risk them, and risk a stuck baby, forceps etc, and risk a rupture, and risk the 50:50 chance of ending up with emcs, but how can I make myself ask for an elcs when I feel like it's going to send my baby straight to scbu?

CoteDAzur Thu 20-Apr-17 19:49:13

"Ds was 38cm at 39 weeks which is above 100th centile! "

I find that hard to believe, since:

1. I was born 55 cm at 41 weeks. DD was born 52 cm at 39 weeks. 38 cm at 39 weeks actually sounds quite small to me.


2. There is nothing above 100 centile.

Nottalotta Thu 20-Apr-17 20:03:13

^ what happens then cote when the head measurement if off the top of the chart? As in above 100th centile, as ds1 was?

Heirhelp Thu 20-Apr-17 20:10:55

Have you done/been offered a birth reflections session? I had counselling and a birth reflections have a traumatic c section (emergency)and awful aftercare.

The birth reflections involved me meeting with a modern matron of midwives and an obedtrian (sp?). I went through my birth story, raised complaints and asked questions including questions about potential future labours, they had my notes in front of them. They apologised for things that went wrong and as a result have changed some policies on the ward.

I found it helpful but this was post me having a baby and mine is too little for me to think about having another one yet.

TippetyTapWriter Thu 20-Apr-17 20:45:29

cote I meant his head was 38cm not his length. There is above 100th as 0-100 is normal range e.g on a bell curve. There will be outliers at either extreme. I do suspect if he'd been squeezed through birth canal his head might have been smaller but it measured right on 100 line at anomaly scan and after birth paediatrician was concerned enough by size to suspect a problem and do an ultrasound.

heirhelp sorry you had a bad time too. Midwife said she'd refer me to counselling service for traumatic births but not had an appointment through yet. Glad you found yours useful. Wish I'd asked for help after birth instead of repressing it.

hazeyjane Thu 20-Apr-17 20:50:22

Cote - 99.6 centile at 40 weeks is 38 cm.

Ds has macrocephaly and his head is about 55 cm now ( he is nearly 7)

hazeyjane Thu 20-Apr-17 20:51:58

A 55 cm head at birth.....I reckon you would definitely need a section!

CoteDAzur Thu 20-Apr-17 21:06:22

Notta - 25 centile means 25 out of 100 are under those measurements and 75 are above. 99 centile means 99 out of 100 are under that measurement and 1 is above. 100 means you are at the top, and there is nowhere else to go.

If your child is off the charts, then charts are wrong and should be remade to include children like yours. It doesn't mean the field of mathematics should shudder and shake because 100% now includes 101 percentage points.

CoteDAzur Thu 20-Apr-17 21:08:36

"I meant his head was 38cm not his length."

That makes more sense grin

DS had (and still has) a big head, which was picked up at ultrasound scan. He was also expected to be 4.3 kg at 40 weeks, which is how I managed to get an elCS. Best thing ever, I'm really glad I didn't have to push out his square head!

Nottalotta Thu 20-Apr-17 21:12:01

cote I know what the centiles mean. However each centile corresponds to an actual measurement in cm. I don't have ds red book to hand, but if for example, 40cm at 6 weeks was 100th centile, and ds head was 42 then he'd be above the 100th.

hazeyjane Thu 20-Apr-17 21:13:36

Ha ha. I totally thought you were talking head circumference, cote. Apologies.

If you have a condition like macrocephaly, or a growth disorder, then the definition is approx 2> over the 100th centile. Ds's head measures over the 100th centile, and under the centile scale for height.

BaskingTrout Fri 21-Apr-17 14:51:24

I had an emcs with dd and was hoping for a vbac with DS. However, he was an unstable transverse lie and I had an elcs at 39 weeks after a week on the ante-natal ward.

While my experience in terms of the care I received and the support I was given was good both times, my elcs was physically much much more difficult than my emcs, even though I was well rested for my elcs and my emcs came after 2 days of full labour.
Perhaps because DS was so mobile in my womb but he sort of flipped and got stuck during the CS so it really took a lot of dragging to get him out. Then I had a whopping PPH and was pretty out of it.

I think in my case it really was just bad luck and it wasn't anyone's fault (except perhaps DS!!)

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