This is my story.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting; What to Expect The First Year; What to Expect The Second Year; What to Expect…wait. Nope. There is no book on “What to Expect Post C-Section”. I mean, I’m sure there is, but let’s face it, it’s not on your list of books to read when you’re pregnant. Never mind the “What to expect when you fully dialate and push and need an emergency C-section”, as was the case with my delivery with Maxton. I was there! Pushing! Moments away from meeting my baby! Boy? Girl? It all changed when his heart rate spiked and the doctor informed us that he had become distressed, and was stuck because he was too big, so off to the OR we ran. THANK GOD he was delivered safely and once I was aware of what was going on, I finally got to meet my 11lb baby boy.
I honestly skipped over the C-section part of all of my books (so did Steve). I was so focused on how to allow my body to open like a “flower” I didn’t think much about it. (Despite the fact I was a big baby and delivered via C-section). I also didn’t want to put the idea out in the universe. (Go ahead and laugh.) In the end, it was the safest thing for myself and Maxton, and due to the tearing he caused my uterus, all future pregnancies would be delivered by C-section as well – which is why Miss Everly was a planned C-section. Do I feel cheated? Sort of. In the sense that my number of kids has to be limited because I must have a C-section every time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I want 5 kids, but still. I remember my OB giving me the “all clear” during my C-section with Everly, letting me know things looked good, and we could have a third if we wanted to. I felt so stupid lying there, wondering if she would say I could have another baby, when I had literally just had a baby seconds before.
Recently, a Mommy friend of mine had an emergency C-section with her third baby. She had two vaginal births in the past, so not only was this a shock, but a completely different post-partum experience. Unless you have had a C-section, there is no way to describe how difficult the recovery is. I understand some women can tear badly, which can be extremely difficult to recover from I’m sure, but I am talking about the whole “abdominal surgery” part of it. Her story really got me thinking about how I felt after Maxton was born, and how angry I felt as all the Moms bounced out of the hospital carrying their carseats, while Steve carried ours, and I shuffled along the wall. When I was pregnant with Everly, my sister-in-law told me she was running through a parking lot to the pharmacy the day after having her third. I almost cried realizing it would be weeks before I would be able to walk normally never mind running a simple errand alone.
It’s painful. You feel like your abdomen has been run over by a truck. Nursing is also painful because the slightest pressure on your abdomen is torture (imagine resting an 11lb baby on it minutes after). You can’t get out of bed to get your baby, you can’t bend over to change your baby, it takes 10 minutes to walk to the washroom only feet away from your bed, and getting out of the hospital bed and walking to the door to “move around” causes excruciating pain. You have no muscle strength to get momentum to sit up, and when you finally do, you want to lay back down from the pain.
The gas pains. Oh the gas pains. They were so much worse after having Everly. I was in tears as my sisters and Steve watched, feeling helpless. My stomach sounded as hallow as a drum when my OB tapped it. The only relief I was told would be moving around. Seriously? Pain + Pain = Pain.
I think it took me like 20 min to walk from my room down to the car, and Steve drove ever so slowly over each bump, to keep me from wincing.
Getting up off the couch, sitting on the couch, getting into bed, getting out of bed, walking, going up and down stairs, coughing, sneezing: pain. Every day it gets a little better, and after a while, everything feels “normal” or what you think normal is, and you forget, and want to do it again.
Recovery after Everly, was so much different. A friend told me I would “bounce back” faster the second time around. I am not sure that’s the case, rather, you feel like you NEED to. I remember my OB coming in the day after my C-section, and I asked her: “How long until I can pick up my 22 month-old son?” “Wait at least four weeks. If you feel pain at that point, wait two more.” How do you tell a 22 month-old you can’t pick him up when he looks up at you, arms stretched out saying “Mama pick ee up.” It broke my heart. Steve took some time off work, and my Mom took time off to help me. To take Maxton out of his crib, put him in it, put him in his booster, take him out of it, put him in his car seat, take him out of it. All of those simple every day tasks you take advantage of. It broke my heart.
The guilt consumed me for weeks. I felt like I was half the Mom I should have been to him during those weeks of recovery; but I know now, if I had rushed anything, it would have done more harm than good. My OB advised two weeks before driving; which I waited with Maxton, but I drove after a week with Everly. I needed to do something normal.
I had staples with Maxton, which I thankfully I didn’t have with Everly. They stung and pulled my skin, and because I chose to have my GP remove them and not my OB, he was over-cautious and they stayed in too long and started fusing to my skin, so they were basically ripped out. That was awful. With Everly, because the C-section was planned, my OB chooses not to use staples, so I was happy to avoid that extra pain this time around.
Every day, is a step on the road to recovery; but it takes great patience. In the end, having a healthy baby is so worth it, but no one tells you just how hard it is after having a C-section. Emotionally everything is a whirl wind, your life completely changes, and you struggle to be the best Mom you can be, while trying to recover from major surgery. Never carry anything heavier than the weight of your baby (which I laughed about when I carried my 11lb newborn around), move around – but not too much, rest, keep your incision clean, don’t lift anything to avoid the risk of tearing your incision. GAH!
There is no “easy” way to have a baby. Every baby is a blessing and a miracle, and it wouldn’t be as special without all the bumps (pardon the pun) along the way. However, to all those Mama’s out there (like my own) who only had or will only have C-sections, I admire you all for doing it more than once; because the older you get and the more kids you have at home, the harder it is emotionally and physically to recover from. Power to all the Mama’s out there.
Maxton and Everly, I would do it a million times over, for each of you. xo