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Birth Story Part II – Monday Recovery



Read Part I of my birth story here.

Snuggling with my sweet Sabine shortly after her birth.

Snuggling with my sweet Sabine shortly after her birth.

Sabine was allowed to stay on my chest the entire time the surgical team stitched me up. Sadly, I was not able to hold her for that long. Halfway through I started to feel nauseous and did not want to risk hurting my baby so I handed her to the Professor, who was still seated right by my head. In her place the anesthesiologist put a barf bin. Lovely. But my baby stayed right by my side in the Professor’s loving hands the entire time.

The actual removal of baby was really fast, however,  putting me back together again seemed to take an eternity. Once I was sewn up I was rolled onto the recovery bed. I could see this in the reflection in the lights and man was it humbling – a bloody unshaven bush as my legs were spread into a frog like position. But birth, no matter how it happens, does strange things to the most vain women and I found myself not caring that a room full of people could see my messy world.

The Professor and Sabine followed me into recovery and she was placed back on my chest and we began breastfeeding. My doula coached us, but Sabine really seemed to know what she was doing. This kid came out ready to suck and went to town noshing on the colostrum that had been  leaking into my bras for months prior.

Letting the Professor have a  chance to snuggle baby, too.

Happy and swollen. Letting the Professor have a chance to snuggle baby.

Things start to get foggy after this. During the surgery the anesthesiologist switched shifts and another came on to finish my care. I had assumed he had been briefed on my wishes to not receive any pain medication that might interfere with my memory of the day so when he came in to give me a final dose of pain medication via the epidural that would keep me comfortable for a full 24 hours I did not object. I’m a tough lady, but even I am not ready to fight my way through abdominal surgery without any pain medication. I was given Duramorph in my epidural which did a wonderful job relieving pain and a lousy job keeping me lucid and sane.

A few hours after the dose I started to itch all over. I itched so bad I started to draw blood and leave cuts behind. By night fall I was an absolute mess, sobbing in the bed, clawing at myself, foggy headed and unsure where I was. I was not able to care for my baby. The nurses gave me a bag of medication given to drug addicts to help them come down. It did nothing. I was given multiple doses of Benadryl and they did nothing  By 10 p.m. sweet Sabine was screaming and I was crying. My anguish was so great they had to take her from me so I could try to sleep it off. I sobbed uncontrollably for the next hour and eventually passed out. It was a horrifying experience.

The next day I was speaking to a nurse and she said that the drug they gave me is either a wonder drug or a nightmare for new mamas and that it really seemed that more people than not had this reaction. I was floored that this had been given to me after I very expressly explained that I am extremely sensitive to narcotics. I warned them what happens to my grandfather when given heavy pain medication (after knee replacement surgery he tore himself from the recovery bed and started walking down the hall having war flashbacks and looking for the invaders. A second surgery had to be done the next day to repair the massive damage he did to himself.)

I am ashamed of my first night with Sabine. So ashamed that I considered not sharing it here but it was part of my experience and something I want to retain in my memory – hard as it is. My baby still loves me even though I had a bad reaction to a medication. She will not remember that first night and, in time, my embarrassment and sadness will wear off. I hope.  To women facing a planned c-section: make sure someone is ready to tell any new anesthesiologist your wishes should there be a shift change. If you don’t want drugs like this you need to be prepared to take a real stand, because everyone will look at you like you are crazy when you say you would have rather felt the pain from surgery than what you felt that first night.

That was pretty heavy. Despite the bad first night, the rest of my recovery was very good. The nurses who cared for Sabine that first night were great and abided by my wishes to not give her any formula or pacifiers. She hung out in the arms of a nurse for several hours, sucking on her finger and waiting, albeit impatiently, for mama to come out of her nightmare. When they brought her to me several hours later for a feed she was crying and famished. We had a very hard time latching because she was so hungry and upset but with the help of a lactation consultant and no more than three drops of glucose water (two in her mouth and one on my nipple) we were able to guide her back to the breast where she has stayed since. If I were to put a silver lining to this story it is that I learned from the very beginning how it is critical to not miss a feeding  with your newborn. No matter how tempting that fourth hour of sleep is at night, I am able to wake up to feed my baby by remembering her frantic cries after going too long the first night.

So this was all Monday. Monday was amazing birth experience, holding my baby for the first time, breastfeeding triumphs and happy grand parents day. Monday was itchy, crazy drug reaction, peeing myself through a tube into a bag, legs being squeezed randomly by these terrible blood clot preventing beasts, cheap chicken broth and juice drinking hell. Monday also brought two of the most embarrassing opportunities to be cleaned and “changed” by nurses. I made the Professor turn around and look out the window for this – no one, not even my sweet husband, was going to watch two strangers wash my bloody vagina with warm wash cloths and then pull bloody pads out from under my ass. No one. I didn’t even watch. Instead I closed my eyes and pretended like this was some bad dream, all while apologizing profusely.

This is getting long so I’ll post the final two days of my hospital stay, which were much better , as a final Part III and then we’ll be done with my long birth story and ready to return to daily life. Stay tuned!




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  1. July 14, 2013

    Oh wow, I’m so sorry your wishes weren’t understood by that new anesthesiologist! That sounds horrible and terrifying — but NOT embarrassing. You did nothing to cause that reaction! I’m so glad you were (fairly) easily able to get back on track with the breastfeeding and bonding experience. Sabine is lucky to have such an attentive Mama!

  2. Mo #
    July 14, 2013

    Thanks for sharing the good and the bad here. It’s so important to share the bad stuff so other people can learn from the experience.
    Much love!

  3. July 14, 2013

    Yikes! What a reaction to the pain meds. I’d be upset about that too. But please don’t be embarrassed, you had no control over what happened while those drugs coursed through your veins.
    So glad the nurses were great and Sabine was back on your boob soon after! Sounds like breastfeeding was off to a great start. (My guy seemed to come out knowing what to do too.)

  4. July 14, 2013

    It’s amazing how widely the response to spinal anesthesia ranges, from “feeling normal” within hours, to, well, you. but i’m glad you shared your experience here – while things aren’t always shiny and perfect, they are most certainly worth it, eh?
    (and about the butt/bottom wiping? while horrifying to you, it doesn’t even register with the nurses… which kinda makes nurses the weird people. let that be some reprieve to your embarrassment).

  5. July 14, 2013

    Oh the itching! I had the same itching, but not as bad as you had. I kept forgetting that itching was an effect of the meds. You forget a lot that first day!

    I also forgot that Bryson needed a few drops of sugar water too, for the same reason. Poor babies get so worked up!

    That first night is hard. Thank god for the nursery. We did use it this time around. It was wonderful!

  6. 35life #
    July 14, 2013

    This is so scary. Talk about fighting the good fight to the very end to get to your bundle of joy. So glad you’ve shared and got through it all!

  7. July 14, 2013

    Whoa, that sounds terrifying (all the itching, I mean)… yikes, never thought one wrong deviation from a birth plan could lead to such horrendous results. At least it was temporary, but still. I guess the upside is that you’ve been great with breastfeeding — it seems like so many women (or their babies) have difficulty with this and it becomes so emotionally devastating, so I’m glad you’ve been a rockstar colostrum producer!

    Weird/gross question for you, but: Why so much bleeding in your nether regions when you have a C-section? I kind of thought all the healing would be taking place “upstairs” in your abdomen, no?

    • July 14, 2013

      I wonder the same thing, and I have c-sections. The bleeding lasted 6 weeks for me last time, and I’m 3 weeks in this time and still bleeding. I will ask my OB. Great question!

    • July 15, 2013

      Even with a C-section, they can’t completely “scrape” (for lack of a better term) off the inside of the uterus… those tissues have to “shed” off (like a period) over time and the blood vessels in there have to heal, so no avoiding the ickiness for anyone. a lot of people were shocked when they were recovering from a c/s that there was bleeding… everyone kinda assumes they get to skip that part when they need to have surgery, but unfortunately, no such luck!

      • jak #
        July 19, 2013

        in addition, your uterus has been cut through completely. so there’s bound to be bleeding on the inside of the organ from that. not hugs amounts though…

  8. July 14, 2013

    Poor Belle! I’m sorry you had such a bad reaction to the meds! I’m quite relieved to read that you were well cared for, though. xox

  9. July 14, 2013

    uuuugh I am SO sorry about that reaction to the pain meds especially after you voiced your concern about them. I had itching too but honestly forgot about it because the reaction wasn’t so bad and easily covered by some Benadryl. I hope you don’t feel embarassed about the experience too long – it was totally out of your control. HUGS

  10. July 15, 2013

    I am loving these c section birth stories that remind everyone how beautiful birth is!

    • July 15, 2013

      eee edited to add but not the nightmare narcotic effects. I had an epi and I remember looking at myself in the mirror afterwards and the come down was not pretty.

      • Elizabeth #
        July 15, 2013

        I didn’t have the narcotics issue, but you mentioning looking in the mirror reminded me of the first time I looked in the mirror after giving birth four months ago—-and I had a huge smear of afterbirth all over my right cheek (presumably from holding my son for the first time). I was like, why didn’t ANYONE TELL ME I looked like this?? Could nobody have brought me a washrag and gently suggest I wash my face? 😉

        • July 15, 2013

          oh no!!! You poor thing!

  11. APE #
    July 15, 2013

    I totally forgot about the itching! I had that too, just not as bad as you! My baby spent the first night in the NICU so I was not able to keep him with me or breastfeed at first (which was devastating at the time) but at least I was able to focus on myself and getting rest before I went to him first thing the next morning. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • APE #
      July 15, 2013

      And by the way, your pictures are gorgeous! Whoever was manning the camera did a great job of capturing those special moments.

  12. Romy #
    July 15, 2013

    Wow I’m sorry to hear about your reaction to the drugs! Awesome recovery from those few hours though, you should be proud of yourself for that. I feel negligent in saying this but I have no clue at all what kind of drugs they gave me. I had no reactions to any of them but they weren’t cutting it and I fainted during my first wheelchair visit to the NICU – after that incident they were suddenly able to give me more…
    I just wish nurses would listen to patients as they relay the history of reactions to drugs and pain tolerance!

  13. jak #
    July 19, 2013

    sorry i’ve been so bad about commenting!!! it takes all morning just to get a shower and brush my teeth and (half the time) manage to eat something for breakfast before lunchtime rolls around. then there’s keeping him up all day so he actually sleeps some at night…..

    the birth sounds like it went really well and that nothing that occurred interfered with bonding, which is excellent:) also, the itching sounds like the only real downer in the whole thing. you pulled off a stellar plan b. be reassured that sabine’s belly (and blood sugar) were likely just fine that whole night even though you couldnt feed her as much as you may have wanted. you didnt go through hours and hours of labor, so she was still operating off of what you had provided her already through the cord before she was delivered (which was fast!). when infants are born their stomachs are smaller than a ping pong ball and can really only hold a few mL’s. so the food demand is really not high and they dont really know/understand hunger at that point (from what i’ve read and been told by doula’s, midwives, instructors at least). suckling in the first day is probably more about connecting and bonding than it is about delivering a lot of food to the baby. and you get mad kudos for making sure that that happened even when you had to go to a plan b. you rock mama!!

    oh, and the finger trick… we totally use that too!!! no pacifier or bottle. just fingers when i cant get to our baby in time for him to eat. my younger sister (a psych major) asked me what i really think is the difference between a finger and a pacifier because she thinks a contradiction. i say, it’s skin and it’s attached to a person. that’s hella different than a pacifier in my inflated first time crazy obsessive parental mind!

    ok, onto your next entry which looks like a great one:))))

  14. July 23, 2013

    OMG Belle! She is so precious! I’m glad to hear you and the professor are settling into parenthood. Those Momma and baby pictures are fantastic.

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  1. Birth Story Part III: Tuesday, Wednesday & C-Section Recovery | Scrambled Eggs

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