After my emergency C-section, I wasn't sure what to expect afterwards. After gathering feedback from some friends who had C-sections and googling like crazy, I discovered a few consistencies about the healing process, and overall it didn't sound like getting over a C-section was all that different from any other birth. What I expected and what actually happened to me ended up being completely different:
It takes six weeks instead of four to heal. Yeah, check back with me in another six weeks because I am eight weeks out and far from being back to normal. A more accurate description for me would be, "It takes six weeks before you are not in constant, nagging, ache-y pain."
You can't go up and down stairs for six weeks. Stairs were the least of my worries. I was more concerned with getting out of bed, feeding Dorian without him kicking me in the gut, sitting, standing, coughing, laughing, sneezing, crying, walking…you get the picture.
You can't drive for six weeks. This one is more like the instructions above, obvious and laughable. While I don't drive in Malta, I did take a cab a few times for doctor's appointments. These rides were spent gripping the side of the door and looking expectantly at the obstacle course of potholes in the road ahead. The drivers were either surprised by the tip I gave them when they avoided the potholes successfully, or confused when I gave them the stink eye for plowing through them like they weren't there and taking every corner like we were in a race.
These three instructions were seriously the only response I got in the hospital when I asked about anything I should or should not do as I healed from this major abdominal surgery.
The hardest part of being in the hospital for four days was that visiting hours were limited, and spouses were not allowed to spend the night. Not even the first night. I was in such a haze and exhausted from the whole experience and the morphine drip I woke up with. For the first night I was constantly calling the obviously annoyed nurses and midwives to hand me the baby when needed. The next morning they got me on my feet, and after that, I tried to bother them as little as possible. I totally get that after giving birth, yes, you now have to take care of the baby, but I was in so much pain I could have used more help.
|Me and my morphine...er, I mean, baby|
I was prescribed over the counter medication to get me through these past few months. I read that many people who had C-sections in the U.S. are prescribed a pain killer such as Percocet, and knowing this made me pretty upset for a while. What I had didn't feel like it was doing anything until I skipped a dose. It basically dulled the pain just a little bit, but enough that I NEEDED that little bit.
I will be honest here, my healing process has been sloooow. At four weeks the pain and cramping subsided so little that it felt like it would never go away. And when I say pain, it was like constant aching and cramping in my entire core area. The incision itself healed nicely, and was pretty well done by the doctor according to every medical professional who has looked at it. From my bellybutton down to below my incision it was sensitive to the touch, not at all like the numbness all the forums said it would feel like. The whole abdominal area was, and still is to some degree, swollen with my organs feeling…how do I put this…out of place?
I experienced digestive issues which have not entirely gone away. Another lovely reminder of the procedure is bladder irritation from the catheter. That, thankfully, has mostly gone away but is still slightly there if my bladder is full. By the way, babies don't care if your bladder is full.
The thing I am most happy about is that the pain on the right side of my incision is finally going away. This was from the site where the blood drain came out. I had never heard of this but yes, I had a tube inserted throughout my abdomen which came out on the right side and was attached to a plastic jug. They kept it and the catheter in for almost three days, during which time I carefully waddled around carrying a paper bag filled with my jugs of fluids. Every time I got up to take care of the baby or go to the bathroom, I had to be careful of that. And for the record, the most painful experience was having the drain removed. I knew it would be bad when the nurse instructed me to take a deep breath, and to push the morphine drain which they purposely left in place to help me get through taking the tube out.
I know that my experience is mine, and that many others have healed much faster from this than I have. Is it my pain tolerance? My age? That I will never know. I really cannot fathom how a woman would ever electively choose to have a C-section, though.
And to anyone who knows they have to have this done my advice to you is to ask and accept help as much as you can, especially in those first few weeks. This is difficult to do when that mothering instinct kicks in and you want to be the only one to give your baby what he needs, the only one to really know your baby. Early on it was hard for me to do because it felt like after all I went through to have Dorian in my arms, I immediately had to hand him over and rely on others to take care of him because I was unable to. At the time I felt inadequate, and that I was missing out on part of the experience I had wanted for so long. In reality, I missed out on a handful of fussy nights and diaper changes. In the end, I am his mom, and no one will know him like I do.