Surviving a Cesarean Section

I have been desperately trying to find the time to write this post, because with any traumatic event, the emotional and physical severity is fading with the passing weeks. Our natural instinct to keep calm and carry on requires us to forget a lot of what happens in these trying times, focusing instead on the “silver lining” (and there is a BIG one in this story). I’m not writing this to scare anyone, I’m writing this to remember. I want to remember exactly how I felt while I lived and survived a Cesarean Section.

I’ve written about what happened in the delivery room and how I felt my son being wrangled from my helpless, beaten body. What happened in the first few days that followed are blurred by a fog of narcotics and sleep deprivation. Those stories I can only really tell second-hand through my husband’s experience. My glimmers of reality are like a dream, pictures splashed with emotion, very brief, sometimes unclear. What I remember, I remember well. I remember the constant stream of nurses, delivery personnel, administrators, wanting anything from my temperature to my mailing address. There was discomfort with every movement. My skin crawled, the effect of pain medications. I remember my mind filled with anxiety about my new role as a mother, my heart bursting with a love so unlike anything I’d ever felt before and my maternal instinct to protect with my life, this being I brought into this imperfect world. I remember my heavy eyelids, oh, my heavy eyelids! I remember my body, so desperate for rest, that in the brief moments when I found sleep, I believe it was dreamless, pure exhaustion had taken over, and every cell in my body slept… like a baby.

We left the hospital on Saturday, May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. I only mention Cinco de Mayo because we came home to an amazing spread of chicken mole, enchiladas and rice from some VERY GENEROUS neighbors and this is ONE of the crucial components to my survival the first week home, but I’ll get to that later. The three of us arrived home around 10pm and slept in our own beds, it felt amazing.

The next day we struggled to get into a groove. My husband and I came up with a method for tracking Beckett’s eating, peeing and pooping schedule, hand written columns on white paper. We changed diapers, learned quickly how to swaddle, rocked, burped, walked… We tended to our son’s every need, while ignoring mine. I was in pain, pain when I sat down, stood up, tried to get out of bed. My posture protected my incision and my back ached. I couldn’t laugh, sneeze or cough without feeling scared my wound might burst open. By far, the worst of all my symptoms was gas. The gas that moved through my bowels was so painful it brought me to tears, I’d put it up against contractions any day, and I thought those were pretty darn bad. We had let my well-being slip to the back burner in that first evening and next day home. We didn’t pay close enough attention to when I was taking all of my pertinent medications and we failed to buy the over-the-counter drugs I had been administered in the hospital until day two… BIG MISTAKE! I will not sugar coat how I felt those first two weeks, I thank God for that beautiful baby boy I held in my arms all day, because without him, I was in hell.

When you have never experienced something like this before, you’re scared it may never end. And not knowing when the light would shine at the end of the tunnel weighed on me every day. That light started to shine, come week three. I had pushed through and persevered. I survived. Mothers are marvelous creatures, and I am so proud to count myself among them. What we do for our families cannot be calculated or properly described by meer words, and I cannot thank my own mother enough for all the things she has surely sacrificed for our (her children’s) happiness. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, momma.”

I sit here, six weeks postpartum, feeling really great. I am not taking any medications, except for my prenatal vitamins and a DHA supplement. My body is heading back towards normalcy. I am NOT in pain when I sit, stand, get out of bed, walk or when I laugh out loud when Beckett makes a new silly face. I can cough, sneeze and go to the bathroom without worrying my guts might burst through my abdomen.

A friend asked me if I’d schedule a C-Section my next time around, and I told her, having only known this, I wouldn’t be afraid of it. Time, truly heals all wounds. And looking back, I’d gladly live through two weeks of hell all over again to experience a lifetime with Beckett (I told you there was a silver lining). He is worth every tear, every pain, every fight for survival!

Here is my MUST HAVE survival guide:

1. HELP in the form of a human that can not only take the babe when you need them to, but also one that will cook, clean, do laundry, drive you around, run errands, walk your dogs, rub your feet, back, etc. and most importantly someone who will wipe your tears and pat you on the back and tell you everything is going to be ok. “Thank you, thank you, thank you momma.”

2. Home cooked meals, ready to be warmed up and enjoyed. Matt and I are so fortunate that our amazing friends provided us with weeks of food. If you are on the giving end of this necessity, don’t forget breakfast… we received a breakfast casserole that was awesome!

3. Vicoden, Peri-Colace (stool softener), Simethicone (Gas X). I can not stress how much pain I was in, these three drugs got me through the day. DO NOT skip a dose, do not play a super-human, after all you are already a super-HERO!

4. Loose drawstring pants you can pull up over your incision. You will not feel sexy but you should feel as comfortable as possible, get at least two pair.

5. Steal the hospital underwear, as many as you can. Yes, the huge, unattractive, mesh granny panties… they will fit above your incision, won’t be tight and will be comfortable.

6. A massage therapist that will give you a side-laying massage as soon as you can stand it. Clear it with you doctor first and then get one every week for the first couple of months. Trust me, your back will have never felt worse after giving birth, walking around bent over and learning to hold and nurse your baby. You NEED to find the time to be pampered!!

I hope this helps, it has really helped me to write it! Good luck and God speed!