Read Birth Story Part I
Read Birth Story Part II
After 24 hours of only clear liquids, Tuesday morning I got real breakfast – scrambled eggs and oatmeal. After breakfast two nurses came in to pull out the catheter, which was not nearly as painful as I had expected. They also removed the gigantic bag of pee that had been hanging from my bed all night – gross.
Once the bag o’pee was emptied, the nurses helped me up for the first time since surgery Monday morning. I knew this would be unpleasant and it did not disappoint. I have never been so aware of my abdominal muscles and organs and for the first few moments was certain they were going to tumble out. Once standing, we hobbled to the bathroom where I sat on the toilet and allowed the nurses to wash my nether regions again and help me into the famous mesh panties and pads. Y’all, these hospital pads are the biggest things I’ve ever seen! I wish I had brought one home as a souvenir. Or to use as a cat bed. They were seriously large enough that a cat could lay on one and consider her/his self fortunate to have scored such a great fluffy nest.
Later in the morning I headed back to the bathroom, this time without the help of nurses, and took a shower. This was a feat motivated 100% by how offensive my arm pits were becoming. Seems my bad drug reaction the night before yielded some wicked sweats and all I wanted was to have hot water run over my body and lather up using the peppermint castile soap I brought. Hot water was easy, lathering was not. It was not until Thursday that I felt ready to bend all the way down and wash my legs. Instead I opted for washing my upper body and delicate areas only and praying that enough soap ran down my legs and feet to count them as clean. The first shower was really hard and took all my energy and left me worn out and needing a nap.
– This next two paragraphs will be way TMI on my poop. Consider yourself warned! –
Tuesday morning I also requested my first dose of Milk of Magnesia. A very kind, wise and awesome blogger emailed me on Sunday sharing her No. 1 piece of “assvice,” which ended up being the most important bit of info I received all pregnancy: skip the stool softeners and go straight for the milk of mag. NO ONE wants to be plugged up after a c-section.
My mom has horror stories of her first poop an entire week after c-section. She says that while she might not have given birth vaginally, what she pushed out of her ass a week later more than makes up for it. I did not want to follow in her footsteps. I took the milk of mag around 7 a.m. and by 2 a.m. that night I was paging a nurse to please come watch Sabine so I could go take a poo. It took about 15 minutes of gentle pooping, but I was able to relieve myself pain-free. I continued once daily milk of mag for the next five days to keep things moving, and never experienced the post surgery backup!
– end poop talk –
Tuesday we received lots of support from lactation to work more on latching, learned how to change diapers and visited with my parents who were in town for the birth. My favorite nurse “challenged” me to walk two laps around the floor. I wonder if my Type A, super competitive nature is that evident because a challenge was exactly what I needed to get me back out of the bed. I walked my two laps nice and slow, focusing on standing up straight and not doing the “c-section shuffle” that Dr. Z had warned against. I felt good after the walk
Tuesday afternoon we were visited by another nurse and his ukulele for a special performance just for Sabine. My dad videoed the two songs and they make me cry each time I watch it. So sweet! )You will notice at the end of this video my sweet baby rooting around for food and me clearly not noticing. New parent fail! I’m pleased to report that I’m not much more in tune with her feeding demands.)
Wednesday morning I took another shower. This time I was able to do it without the aide of a shower chair, and got a little closer to being able to wash my legs. This shower also did not take all my energy and afterwards I was able to stay awake and feed Sabine. Sabine and I continued to get good reports on our health and progress and Dr. Shannon said that she would push for a day two discharge if we wanted. By 1 p.m. on Wednesday Sabine and I were being wheeled out front where the Professor loaded us up to head home.
Looking back, I wish I had stayed one more night in the hospital mainly because the hospital beds were way easier to get in and out of. Also, my milk came in Wednesday night and with it came a surge of hormones so intense that they left me a sobbing mess in the bed. Poor Professor did not know what was wrong or how to handle it. I don’t even remember what I was sobbing about, but know it was too overwhelming and after about an hour of nonstop crying I suddenly felt my breasts start pouring milk. I was too tired to do anything about it and instead slept in damp, milk-scented sheets.
Recovery continued once we were home. A lot of women sugar coated the recovery, which was kind but left me a sobbing mess more than once when I started to worry that something was wrong with me because it was “taking so long” or “hurt so bad.” Now I realize that when people said I would “bounce back” they did not mean that I’d be up and running in three days time. No, “bouncing back” from abdominal surgery is a few weeks.
By Thursday I no longer needed the heavy narcotic pain medication and instead relied on the 600 mg ibuprofen four times a day. On Thursday I also felt good enough that I cleaned my kitchen and started taking daily walks: first just down the street and back and gradually increasing each day.
By 11 days post c-section I was 100% pain med free, moving about without any grunting or groaning and taking long walks with the Professor and baby. 14 days post c-section I celebrated taking my first three mile, fast-paced, sweaty walk since before delivery. It was a grand moment and left me feeling empowered.
I would say that today, 4 weeks post c-section, I feel back to normal. I can laugh and sneeze and not feel like my insides are going to fall out. I can get out of bed without swearing or asking for assistance and I can stand straight and tall and move about like nothing had happened. The random stabbing pains I would get around my incision have also gone and all but three steri strips have fallen off. Perhaps most importantly, though, the bleeding has finally stopped and I’m able to again wear my regular undies!
All considering, my physical recovery has been relatively swift and I am now itching to hit the gym, start jogging and return to my yoga practice. My muscles are weak and my arms, legs and abs are flabby. Two more weeks until I can return to strength training and toning. It cannot come soon enough!
I have four pieces of advice (assvice) for mama’s facing a planned c-section or waking up from an emergency c-section:
1. Milk of Magnesia as soon as you can. You will thank me later!
2. Once home, ask for help when you are getting up from laying down. I did not and I think I slowed my healing by working muscles that were still very much damaged from surgery.
3. Walk, walk, walk. Everyone says this but it is true. The more you move, the faster you will heal. Start ridiculously small and work up. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your walks will increase.
4. Stand up straight. Sounds simple but it is not. Dr. Z warned me about the c-section shuffle many women do and then get stuck in for weeks and weeks. Not only will this kill your back, it will slow your abdominal healing even more. Take time to stand straight each time you rise and grunt and swear all you need to get there. Your baby will not remember your potty mouth and your abs will thank you in a few days!
Read Birth Story Part I
Read Birth Story Part II