My C-Section – Post 2 of 2

Posted on February 23, 2013
"you must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star. "
~ friedrich nietzsche

Here now is the continuation of the previous post about my c-section, please go there and read that first before this one, at least the disclaimer portion if you just wandered here from google or something. :)

Ok so, I last left off at the moment they separated me from my baby and I had to camp out in the recovery room while my husband hovered around our daughter while the nurses did whatever it is they do with newborns… check their blood glucose and stuff like that. I thought I'd only be in recovery for an hour, but I think I ended up being in there for at least 3 hours (nothing went wrong, I merely had to wait there for all the numbing sensation to wear off), I was so upset about that. How horrible it is to be apart from your newborn right when you want to see her the most.

I wasn't able to sleep at all in recovery because there were lots of people walking around tending to other patients, and I was constantly wondering if I would be able to leave soon. In retrospect, if I had known what I know now, I would have tried to fall asleep there.

When I finally got wheeled to our private room the first thing I saw was my topless husband holding our newborn (he was attempting to have skin-to-skin contact with her in my absence, because that is supposed to be good for babies, especially newborns). They had ended up having to feed her from a bottle because I was in recovery and they wouldn't allow me out to breastfeed her in there. I was kinda pissed about missing that as well.

I was still semi numb and had painkillers going on, and was asked not to try and sit up or anything like that, so at first I was not in any pain. They put these squeezey things on my legs to help prevent blood clots. For the first several hours, maybe the first day, a woman would have to come in periodically and and clean me up (after birth, even if it's not a c-section, your uterus is shrinking and ejecting lots of blood and leftovers). I still had the catheter in because I was not yet able to get up to go to the bathroom on my own.

For the first whole day I just looked at her (my baby) talked to her, fed her (periodically, breast feeding consultants would wander in and see if I needed any guidance). DH had to manage all of the diaper changes at first since I wasn't able to get out of bed. It was really a nice room, private (just us), pretty spacious and there was a separate cot for DH to sleep on, with the little hospital bassinet between us.

The following day they took out my catheter and it was time to try and get up and walk to the bathroom myself. I felt super weak in my abdomen, and I was timid because I had no idea what it would feel like. It wasn't really painful, as I am recalling, it was more of a really extreme stiffness. Like, imagine if you sat on your legs for a couple days, and then tried to move and stretch them. It would feel really stiff and tight and uncomfortable. That's how it felt. It felt uncomfortable but also kinda good at the same time.

I felt like I was half bent over like an old lady at first, but then I got myself to a corner of the room and used the walls to slowly and carefully straight myself up into a more normal standing position. I was told not to stretch (or else it might pull on the incision too soon. It felt like I was stretching it, but I don't think I was, because I hadn't yet been fully standing.

I did not, at any time, feel like I was in very much pain in my uterus or at the incision. I had plenty of general discomfort, but I cannot say I was in pain, other than some mild aches as the meds wore off each time. But even then, I didn't really notice a very big difference between the ache during those times; Very slight.

The surprising thing that DID hurt -and this hurt A LOT and I was almost to tears- was my shoulder. I thought at first that maybe it was "referred pain" but a nurse claimed it was gas trapped in my body. Whatever the hell it was my left shoulder FUCKING HURT. And yes, that f-bomb was necessary. I was literally saying to them "This is ridiculous, I have no pain anywhere else, can you please do something to ease my shoulder pain?!" and they said they couldn't. I still do not understand why. All they said was "walk more." My shoulder hurt for days. It was finally gone a week later, but then I would periodically get sudden shoulder pain for a moment in the months following the c-section. It's gone completely now.

I think it was around day two that they wanted me to poop. LOL… I needed some help with that but it eventually happened and… ugh, without being too graphic it was kind of a scary feeling (having just had your abdomen open and then to go #2). They indicated that I shouldn't push, but I didn't have to. I felt a lot better afterward; I didn't even know there had been discomfort there until it was gone. Haa… around the same time, actually maybe more like day 3, they allowed me to shower but said not to wash the incision area.

The meals were kind of interesting. The first day there I was only allowed to eat clear liquids… so clear broth, water… some other things I can't remember. I begged one of the nurses to bring me coffee and she agreed, but she said "I'm giving it to you black, NO MILK OR SUGAR!" and I was like "Oh god, yes, thank you that's fine, anything!" lol the next meal was also liquid-y or semi-liquid… like jello or a fruit cup I think? After that was oatmeal, and them finally I got to have pancakes and bacon for breakfast and I think chicken and veggies for dinner near the end.

On the 5th (my birthday) my parent's both showed up to meet their grand daughter and brought me some flowers and a cupcake. Before that some balloons and a bunny for my baby had been in the room, requested to be put there by my oldest sister who lives on the other side of the country and couldn't be there. I was exhausted but it was so nice, and my mom had to say the cliche, "our baby had a baby!" lol

The nurses had also continually offered us pitchers of water in our room. The stupid thing was, I was ordering iced water several times until a nurse finally says "you should ask for room temp water with no ice, cold water causes gas." I was like "That would have been nice to know earlier…"

Backing up a bit, the other thing that happened was that basically every hour or two a nurse was barging into the room to take my blood pressure, or check the baby's glucose, or whatever else. As such I got NO SLEEP for the entire (I think it was 3 or 4?) few days we were there. That was probably the worst thing about it all. Everything else was so amazing and pain free and smooth, and me and my baby were as healthy as we could be… but my shoulder killed unceasingly and I was (actually my husband AND I both were) becoming severely sleep deprived.

We tried to get the nurses to leave us alone so we could sleep, but that didn't pan out very well either. The next time I will try sleep masks and ear plugs and see if that helps at all. As soon as we got home from the hospital we all slept for several hours and woke up feeling a MILLION times better. You're supposed to wake a newborn yourself for a feeding if the baby sleeps for many hours in a row, but guys… seriously, we had NO SLEEP in days. We were both literally starting to get batty. It was only that first night back that we didn't wake her in the middle of the night for a feeding. She was still pooping and peeing on schedule and all was well. It was a great relief.

Being home and being able to get some solid sleep finally made everything all better. I was refreshed, happy, and I was able to walk and do things right away. We had been worried I would be bed ridden, but it wasn't like that at all. The only hard part is when you first have to sit up and get out of bed, you have to do it slowly and carefully, and there's a little bit of pain. As soon as I was on my feet though, I was fine, just took it easy and didn't try to rush it.

After two weeks I was able to go for walks outside. I would eventually feel fatigue in my abdomen and had to stop, but it seemed like things were healing and getting back to normal really fast. I've always been a fast healer, which was one of the reasons I felt good about choosing c-section, I knew my body could handle it. I'm still worried about the next one, but I think that's normal… who is NOT nervous about a major surgery?

I had no complications and no infections during my healing. I have felt like my old self for several months now (it has been just over one year). I feel like I healed very fast in the first couple months, I was actually back up to brisk-walking 2 and 3 miles a night after my 6 week checkup.

I have some very very mild numb spots near my scar (which is very pale and white [I am very pale], and almost gone now). When I was first home I felt like the entire scar was completely numb, but month by month sensation came back, and now it's only mild spots that have less feeling than I remember. It's not a big deal and I don't notice it unless I'm purposefully feeling around there to check.

Did I mention I'm pregnant again? :) I got pregnant again just days before my daughter's first birthday, so my uterus has had one full year to heal. I have heard that this a safe amount of time in between, and the baby is not due until September. You may remember if you've read the older posts, it took us over a year, and the use of clomid to get pregnant the first time. This time we got pregnant with no meeds, from having unprotected intercourse… *wait for it* … ONE. TIME. We both cannot get over it. We literally had sex without protection ONCE… to be honest we weren't really trying yet, and we figured one time would be ok… NOPE! For the past few weeks we periodically look at each other, shake our heads, smile, and say "once…" in that *I seriously don't believe this* way. lol

That is not to say that our second baby is an oops, we were planning to have another. We wanted them maybe two or two and a half years apart, and would have been trying again in a few months anyway, it just happened a couple months sooner than planned. As it stand now, the second baby will be born about three/three and a half months shy of our first child's second birthday, so we are about a half a year early for number two. It happened so easily though I actually prefer this, we got to find out sooner that this time would be effortless to conceive. It's better than having to try and try and try, as we had to before. :)

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My C-Section – Post 1 of 2

Posted on February 16, 2012
"fortune and love favor the brave."
~ ovid

First : This is my body, not yours; If this fact bothers you, too bad. You can't have or control choices about my body (the same way I have no say about yours)… you're just going to have to come to terms with it. Also... if you don't care to hear details about my body, you probably shouldn't read on either, lol.

Disclaimer about personal medical choices : One would hope that this much is obvious and didn't need to be said outright, but before I begin I wanted to acknowledge the following biases and common sense information. Firstly, this is the personal blog of one woman. I'm not you, you're not me, and I'm not a doctor. Please keep the following information in mind; I'm only one woman and you should NOT base any of your own medical decisions on MY outcome, please speak with YOUR doctor and base your decision on what makes sense for YOU personally. Always remember that you could end up with a different scenario and outcome than you read about here or anywhere else. Each outcome is different and unique. This post is by NO MEANS "advice" on c-sections, nor am I promoting c-sections beyond how it worked for me in my own life. Please talk to YOUR doctor and do YOUR OWN research.

Additionally, here is some more info you may like to know about me (in relationship to my health and how it may affect how my body deals with major surgery [which c-section is!]): This was my first pregnancy and first c-section (my first surgery and hospital stay as well). I'm 30 years old (29 when I got pregnant, and turned 30 two days after my baby was born). I'm a very healthy person, I rarely get sick. When I do get sick with something like a cold, it usually is very short and not severe. I also rarely have headaches. I've always been in my target weight range for my age/height, or if not then only a little overweight. I've never been underweight and also never been fat or obese (except I feel fat right now, since I was just pregnant LOL). I'm pretty sedentary, but I love to walk. Before pregnancy I walked 4 miles a day (briskly for cardio). I don't always eat the most healthy, but I do avoid greasy fast foods, I try to make smart choices about food. I have no chronic, genetic, or environmental illnesses or notable allergies to speak of.

I had an ideal pregnancy, I didn't even have any morning sickness. I also heal very fast from injuries, and my stretch marks and scars usually fade very well (I love piercings, and have many of them, I have never had any scar issues or keloids related to those, and they all healed very well and very fast). I have a pretty decent pain threshold as well and a strong will. I also don't scare easily and am not a very emotional person (except in private with my husband), I like to approach things rationally and know as much as I can ahead of time. As long as I have information and knowledge on my side, my natural curiosity about things usually can carry me the rest of the way through even the most harrowing experiences with little fearfulness.

I have barely any hips to speak of, and a smaller than average vagina. My own personal feelings regarding this, and family history of births (birth experiences of people I am genetically related to) made me worry about it with regard to vaginal birth. From the very beginning I felt I wanted a c-section. At one point I allowed some people to scare me into considering vaginal birth, but then, after a lot of fact checking and research (about elective c-section, emergency c-section, vacuum extraction, vaginal and pelvic floor trauma etc) along with my husband, I soon switched back to c-section and never looked back. The choice has always been mine, and my husband supported whatever I chose. I am VERY happy with my choice, and my outcome could not have been better, it was prefect and ideal for both me and my beautiful baby.

So there you go… now that that is out of the way, I can tell you all about my elective c-section.

Ever since my early/mid-teens I always assumed (and wanted) to eventually have kids (not have them THEN of course… it was just my outlook for my adult life). I don't remember when, but I eventually decided that 25 would be a good age to have my first child, but I ended up not being with the right person, nor had all my "ducks in a row" at that time, so I was forced to wait a bit longer. It also turned out that I had a little fertility issue to deal with. I'm still not sure what was wrong (not ovulating? not ovulating on time?) but two months of clomid sorted it right out, and my husband and I were able to finally get pregnant after having tried for over a year unassisted. I had a wonderfully ideal pregnancy with only one major bout of headache and some general physical discomfort during the final month (otherwise had none of the usual pregnancy woes except for some hormone induced acne… ugh! lol… it's gone now, yay!).

As I said before, I did seriously consider doing a normal vaginal birth at the hospital. However, I quickly discovered that the uncertainty about what could happen (What if they have to use a vacuum extractor that's dangerous for my baby? What if I tear severely or end up with incontinence or sexual disfunction? What if something else goes wrong and it turns into a dangerous emergency c-section? … most of these things were quite possible for me personally, based on a history of birth complications in my immediate family members, I was not merely being scared out of the blue) was causing me unrelenting worry and distress on a daily basis. We did research (as I mentioned) and as soon as we switched back to choice of elective c-section (knowing all the possible risks) I immediately felt relieved. I still had some fears (the main one being blood clots), but with elective c-section we felt there were far fewer, giant, looming question marks and "what if"s. The c-section risks were more predictable, very cut and dry (no pun intended) and easier for me to mentally prepare for. I also felt that since I have a history of being healthy and healing well that this was the smarter choice. The biggest factor was it being the safest choice for my baby.

Vacuum extraction and emergency c-section were the two absolute deal breakers for me, there was NO WAY I was going to risk putting myself or my baby through those two situations.

Once I let my choice be known to my doctor (who did not try to push me one way or the other) it was time to pick a date. He told me the optimal days that I could choose from, and we picked one (two days before my own birthday). The date we chose, of course, was past the 39 week mark (this was also a must for me). So now the juicy bit you probably were waiting for… my description of how my c-section went and how it "felt."

It all happened pretty quickly. I came in two hours before. There was no boring or anxious waiting time because for the entire two hours a nurse was asking me questions and prepping me (setting up my IV, giving me lots of fluids etc). I also met one of the doctors who would be working on me (there were two who did my c-section, my OB and this other guy) and the anesthesiologist. Next they brought in a jumpsuit for my husband, while he was dressing in the prep room they took me to the operating room and the anesthesiologist started the process of giving me my spinal. First she scrubbed my back and I felt a pin prick (this was the local numbing stuff), then she did the actual spinal, and I didn't feel a thing. I was expecting getting the spinal to hurt, but honestly I felt nothing. The nurse from before held me during it (I was asking a ton of questions so I think she thought I was scared). It was comforting though. Soon my legs started to feel cold, and then started to go numb. The nurse helped me lift my legs onto the table and I laid down.

My legs felt like they were "going to sleep." The anesthesiologist asked me to tell her if I felt (I guess it was a cotton ball with something on it?) as she rubbed it across spots on my stomach and abdomen. I was supposed to tell her if it felt cold or not. This was to find the boundary of where the numbing started and ended. The numbing gradated from just under my boobs to just below my ribcage, everything below that was completely numb. Oddly, after this, as they were putting in my catheter I guess, I noticed I still had some sensation in my clitoris. The other doctor seemed to think this was odd, but I only felt it the one time, so maybe it was just the last thing that went numb for some reason. lol

Anyway, so then they put up the screen so I can't see… but they went a little overboard. It wasn't a short little screen like in the youtube videos, this felt more like it was half a tent over me, it just seemed larger and more obscuring than the ones I have seen in videos of c-sections. I started to get worried that they would start before calling my husband in, so I kept asking for him repeatedly. Then someone said my doctor (my OB) had arrived. But the screen, as I said, was blocking basically the whole room except for what was directly behind me, so I was like "Uhm, can I SEE my doctor??" and they were like "Oh… ok" (I was like… yes, let's just let people cut me open without me seeing my doctor first… right). lol… anyway so he came around so I could see him and said hello. Then I asked for my husband again, I must have sounded annoyed this time because the nurse from before ran and got him (she was great btw, very nice the entire time… the others in the room all basically seemed to be ignoring me and I felt like a piece of meat).

Another nurse who I had met a couple weeks before, and who was prejudice against my choice to have a c-section (and who seemed to also be "put off" that I'm an atheist) was in the room, which didn't make me very happy, but I let it go, I was too preoccupied and excited. Anyway, so my husband came in, and I asked if they were going to test my sensation… so the doctor started doing something and asked me if I could feel it, and I said no. I guess at that moment they started cutting. I didn't feel a thing… well, I mean I didn't feel any pain or direct touch sensations, of course. So now the juicy bit where I describe how it actually felt as a whole process.

Ok so… my whole lower half is asleep, but of course if they move my body, my upper half can tell, because it's attached, and moves as well. Also, my stomach and ribs were still able to feel, and they got a little sore (I'll get to that in a moment). So the initial cutting and so forth I didn't feel anything at all. Then -I guess- they moved onto pushing her down and out of the incisions they made, THAT WAS A TRIP. First of all, because I couldn't actually feel on my skin and organs, my brain (in all it's evolutionary wisdom) had to fill in the gaps in the absence of that sensory info. So, instead of feeling like a really low incision (reality) it felt -to my upper torso and imagination- like everyone on the other side of the screen was grabbing one edge of a huge gash in the middle of my stomach and were all tugging violently in opposed directions. It sounds scary, but it was more kind of shocking and then a bit amusing because I didn't feel any pain from it, just the pressure and movement. It was like "whoa whoa whoaaaa" and then "Hahaaa" I felt like a piece of luggage being pulled around and shoved.

At one point someone started pressing very hard on my stomach (up high, where my actual stomach organ was, near my ribs) and it started to hurt. I felt like I could have puked (but I didn't because they give you antacid before the procedure). It got more intense so I told the anesthesiologist about it and she gave me morphine. From there on I felt absolutely wonderful. I've never experienced a narcotic before, this was my first time. I felt very mentally blurry, but it also felt really good and I was a little drowsy.

My husband and I were nervous (he couldn't see anything either, the screen was that large). We kind of just stared at each other and held hands. A few moments later we heard her cry. I don't have words for the look on my husband's face, but it was a really amazing moment. After that moment passed he stood up to peek over the screen and saw her. He said, "Well, she's definitely a girl." lol… he sat back down and they readjusted the screen for some reason.

Another moment later they brought her around to the little table where they suctioned her nose and mouth and clipped her umbilical stub. She scored 9 for all of her APGAR tests (meaning she was pink, strong, and breathing perfectly right out of the womb). 9 is basically the best/highest score a baby can get. I told my husband to go over and take photos. It took -for what seemed like- a while but they eventually brought her to me and laid her on my chest. Up until that point she'd been crying and her eyes were closed. As soon as they set her down on my chest I touched her face and said "Hello pretty, I love you." and she immediately stopped crying and opened her eyes. My husband said she hadn't opened her eyes while on the table, so likely I was the first thing she ever saw (albeit blurry? lol).

After a very short moment with her they whisked her away and my husband followed to watch over her while they monitored her and gave her a bath. I was left to be sewn back up. I felt great from the morphine and didn't feel a thing. I could hear some talking but the only bit I managed to process was that they were giving me buried stitches and dermabond for my incision so that it would scar nicely/minimally (not staples which I have heard are horrible and don't heal well). I think someone else also mentioned "You didn't lose very much blood." After they were done sewing me up the doctors left and the nurses cleaned me up and prepared me to go to the recovery room.

This post is super long now at this point, so I'll stop here and do a second post about the actual hospital stay and my recovery at home (spoiler alert: it went perfectly as well, lol). In the second post I'll talk about the hospital stay, breastfeeding, and how I healed at home.

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