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Birth Story Part III: Tuesday, Wednesday & C-Section Recovery

07/29/2013

Belle

Sabine at 6 days old outside our home. I can't believe how tiny she was here!

Sabine at 6 days old outside our home. I can’t believe how tiny she was here!

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.

Yum Yum giving Sabine a few tiny kitty kisses during some skin-to-skin time after coming home.

Yum Yum giving Sabine a few tiny kitty kisses during some snuggle time after coming home.

– 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.

Heading home from the hospital! Sabine was alert and interested in the car ride.

Heading home from the hospital! Sabine was alert and interested in the car ride.

 

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

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14 Comments

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  1. July 29, 2013

    First of all, you look amazing. Seriously. Also, that picture of Sabine in the car is so precious it made my heart just melt. You are one blessed momma and I can’t even put into words how happy I am for you.

  2. July 29, 2013

    So glad your recovery is going smooth! Sabine looks darling and you look fantastic. Speaking of “smooth”… I JUST blogged about the miracles of milk of mag. That stuff is amazing!!! Knowing about it earlier would have saved so much blood sweat and tears.

    • July 30, 2013

      I know!!! Saw your post and felt bad that you just now discovered it. At least you are armed with the info for after your birth.

  3. July 29, 2013

    Ha, you know how they say that you forget about the pain of birth so that you’ll do it again? Somehow I managed to forget how much it hurt to cough, sneeze or laugh. Apparently that saying is true of c-sections too.

  4. July 29, 2013

    So glad the Milk of Mag worked so quickly for you! It took a few days for me, but was much better than the 10 days I had to wait last time (and had the same birthing-like experience as your mom, but in a public restroom spanning over an hour – with the light automatically turning off because there was no movement to trigger it. Good God!). That Sunday that I emailed you, I said to B, “I forgot to tell Belle about the MOM!” He took Bryson for me so I could email you – even he understood the importance of that assvice! I hope everyone who reads this post of yours passes this assvice onto anyone they knowing having a C-section!!!

    That nurse was just precious! I did chuckle at poor Sabine’s nursing cues. BECAUSE I WOULDN’T HAVE NOTICED EITHER! HA! I am no good with baby cues.

    If you ask me, it sounds like you “bounced back” (sorry, I was one of those who told you you would and didn’t put it into context) quite well!

  5. Kathy #
    July 29, 2013

    Good advice for vaginal delivery also ! I had problem with going after my first delivery and had to have a suppository with the threat of an enema. After my second daughter was born I thought I’d head it off so I loaded up on all the fiber/bran selections on the menu. I was so bloated and fartin’ up a storm. My room-mates hubby said “My it’s windy in here” If I hadn’t just given birth, I might have been embarassed.

  6. July 29, 2013

    I’d like to add that this advice applies to any ab surgery. I recently had a laparoscopy (right ovary removed) and whilst it was ALOT simpler than a baby being ejected, the advice is pretty much the same and I very much agree with the “walk, walk, walk” and the “stand up straight”. I pushed myself to do both and felt almost normal in under a week, fantastic in 2. Wish I’d known about the Milk of Magnesia though. I was constipated BEFORE the surgery because my ovarian cyst was adhesing to my bowel. After the surgery, my bowel went into shock and fainted, not coming to for about 3 weeks lol. Sounds like the Milk of Magnesia would have been very useful indeed.

  7. Amy #
    July 29, 2013

    You are glowing!!! & shut up, we were also serenaded by the exact same ukulele playing nurse! Although, honestly, I found it awkward & memorable in a WTF, this kind of craziness only happens to me way. I was pretty excited to see him be part if your story too. It warms my heart to hear how well you are doing. Good job!

    • July 30, 2013

      Get out! It was pretty crazy and definitely something I won’t forget 🙂

  8. July 30, 2013

    Thanks for sharing the real deal always. And girl had I realized you thought recovery wouldn’t be that bad I would have totes warned you. I’ve only seen two people recover from c-sections and it was pretty much the way you described. Also, I had a breast reduction 10 years ago and I can still remember the excruciating pain. Surgery recovery is no joke and your recovery has been outstanding! Great job.

    Also, thanks for all the pictures of bebe. She is too precious. We are going to have to plan an East Coast trip to visit this little cutie while she’s still squishy! Hugs!!

    • July 30, 2013

      Yes yes yes!!! Come see us! We will even have a little guest space!

  9. Shinara #
    July 30, 2013

    Congratulations, Belle and crew! I haven’t looked at my computer in a while because I delivered my babe on the 17th. I am so glad your new chickadee and new home are so beautiful and friendly. Despite some trip-ups, you got an excellent Ukelele concert, too! BONUS! My birthplan went out the window, too, by the way. Little Yousef just didn’t want to come out. But all was not lost. My little boy is healthy and well and I got the entire operating room to sing the Meatball song to him as he was pulled out of his cozy uterus. 🙂

    • July 30, 2013

      Oh man, I need this meatball story in its entirety 🙂

      • Shinara #
        July 31, 2013

        In the beginning…there was a shower…and a woman who couldn’t sing. And then she got pregnant!

        Enter babe, movin’ and groovin’ in her belly.

        Hmmmmm! Ohmmmmmm!…mmmm….On top of spaghetti all covered with cheeeese! I lost my poor meatballll when somebody sneezed!…It rolled off the taabbblle and onto the flooorrr and then my poor meeeatballl rolled out of the doooorrr! etc. etc.

        Let’s just say I sang that alot while showering pregnant. So, when my 36 hours of labor ended up with the little one still 1.5 inches from the exit and needing to be out now. My doc and I were resigned to the fact that the one thing we were avoiding had to be done. Considering, also, the fact that my doc was wearing her favorite Wonder Woman Converse shoes, I was convinced that this would end up well, despite her dire predictions.

        Enter pregnant lady stretched out like Jesus on the operating table. Gentle and giant anesthesiologist, Rafael, has his hands under her head for a pillow…or to keep her from looking under the sheet to see what was going on. (I’m not squeamish.) I don’t know what he gave me but I was babbling like a brook. My poor husband was back at the room worried to tears, thinking I and the babe were going to die. Up until that point he was a rock and did his job very well. Every time I moaned and was about to scream during a contraction, he would remind me to breathe. That simple word from his mouth kept me from screaming bloody murder and holy hell. Breathing definitely helped with the level of pain.

        Back to the operating room…

        I am babbling and out comes the story of me singing the meatball song on a daily shower basis to my unborn child. The next thing I know, my doc is leading the way with the first stanza and next thing I know everyone is singing along, loudly. Out pops the babe and I hear him crying…he’s probably wondering what kind of insane asylum he just got born into. They place him on my chest and I am a blubbering stunned idiot I don’t quite know what to do except shower him with kisses. I completely forgot about giving him my breast and told them to get him to my poor hubby pronto.

        The end…wait! It continues…Babe likes my boobs, too, despite the delay in latching.

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