What's it like? C-section Recovery
I wanted to start a blog series like this because when I was pre-motherhood, I found all the unknowns about pregnancy, birth and beyond most unsettling. As much as I researched I was not satisfied with the answers I got, my choices were either the Web MD answer or a terrifying discussion board (don't go there!). I wanted anecdotes from women who had experienced this and could talk about it in an honest way.
When I was 28 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and was placed on bed rest. My doctors informed me that I was at a higher risk of having a c-section. Ironically enough, this news came just a couple days after I decided to change to a midwifery practice and pursue a natural childbirth. My intentions for a natural pregnancy became one of the most medically intervened times in my life. I was flooded with emotions. After about 6 weeks on bedrest, I went to one of my two weekly Dr.'s appointments for monitoring. The nurse took my blood pressure and then stepped out of the room to talk to the Dr. When she came back in she told us to get ready because we were having a baby today! After 6 hours of trial labor we made the decision to go ahead and have a c-section as my pressures were getting higher and things were becoming risky. There was no time to ponder what was about to happen to me, but I felt pretty calm. (It was probably the drugs they were giving me or the Hypnobabies scripts I was practicing!). They wheeled me into the OR where they coached me through the spinal which was an odd sensation but not painful. A few moments later the Dr started poking me to test if I could feel anything but pressure and before I knew it the surgery had begun. Within 30 minutes of making the decision for a C-Section, my son was born! Being born early, he had a team of Dr.'s waiting to intercept him and assist with his immediate needs. I saw him all of 2 minutes for a quick picture before they wheeled him away. I however, was put flat on my back in recovery and hooked up to the "mag" or magnesium to keep me from having seizures (a lovely affect of pre-e). I was this way for around 24 hours, a little less since I was doing well and I kept bothering the nurses about wanting to see my baby! I was able to finally meet him and learned that he was going to have to spend a few days in the hospital. He in total spent 10 days there but I was released 3 days after my surgery. Getting up and walking after a c-section is a bit anxiety producing in the beginning. I kept thinking about what happened to me and I'm squeamish so it wigged me out! I was afraid I would pop something loose. I was very careful as I recovered, but I soon realized that in order to see my baby in the special care nursery I was going to have to walk. Waiting for someone to find a wheelchair, get it, get me in it and take me to the nursery was agonizing. I grabbed my husbands hand and made him walk me down on my second visit which involved LONG hallways and an elevator two floors down. A mom's strength knows no limits! My advice, take whatever pain meds they prescribe, and keep up with them. I had a tiny notebook where I would record what I took and when so I could remember what I could take next. Don't wait to feel like you need something, just take it at the right time. In all honesty, with the surgery there was pain, but the pain was similar to the time I worked out to Cindy Crawford's "Shape Your Body" Workout. I couldn't sit up or sit down without falling over for days from that workout! My abs felt about the same way. The most painful moment for me was trying to pee for the first few times after the catheter came out. My birth breathing came in handy then! I soon discovered that the more I moved around the easier it got and I was less focused on how I "felt" and far more focused on my newborn. It took about 3 months for me to feel "normal" but it took me a full year to start feeling like I could function as I had pre-pregnancy. This estimation includes postpartum recovery plus months of figuring out a baby. I may be slower than others though, but it's good to keep in mind when you feel frustrated or miss those easier times in your life before baby. I have seen other women who seem to have it all figured out and they just keep Rolling.
Physically, To this day, 4 years later, I have numb places on my abdomen and when I do any abdominal exercises, I get a pinchy feeling there as I imagine its scar tissue tearing.
All in all, I'm grateful for my birth but I have to say it took me a while to get to that feeling. I spent the next year processing all that happened and I felt "cheated" by it all. I also had a strong feeling that my baby was not mine. I loved him immensely and cared for him furtively, but I would take him out in public and somehow expect people to not believe it when I would say he was my son. Or someone would knock at my door and say "thanks for looking after him, see ya." I attribute it to our long journey to get pregnant and my short pregnancy coupled with such a quick delivery.
Now, my boy is 4 and I feel ever so much his mother, he acts like me too sometimes in case I forget! We are fortunate when we become mothers and it doesn't matter how it happens, just that it happens.
In thinking about this article, I wanted others to weigh in. I am in a community of magnificent Doulas and I wanted them to share their experiences too so that these posts will give you a wealth of knowledge and support if this is your journey. The next post is about their experiences first and second hand. They share their experiences on how their C-section affected them physically and emotionally. I will post Part 2 of this on Thursday.