A C-section has always been a very scary thing for me. The unease of one has been planted in my mind from watching one of the strongest people I know, undergo the surgery and then recover from it. It was by no means easy. Through her experience, I’ve acquired the fear and carried it with me from before I got married.
After labouring for 4 full days, morning and night, no epidural, no pain management, no sleep, no food, induction, manual stretching to get me to dilate (in which I only reached 1cm in 4 days) and cervix checks – I was defeated. I had my mind set on a natural delivery which is what got me through every excruciating contraction over 80 hours. Finding out I had to go through the surgery traumatized me in the moment like nothing I had ever felt before. Go figure – the surgery entails the doctor cutting through 7 layers, removing your insides to get to your uterus, then cutting that open, to pull out a baby – all while you’re awake. =/
Anyways, after the op, nurses wheeled me from recovery to the permanent room where I’d be staying for the next few days. They lined my bed up beside the existing one in the room. I waited for additional staff to come in to transfer me from one bed to the other. NEWS FLASH – that’s not how it works. One of the two nurses told me to shift on to the new bed (which was higher than the one I was laying on) on my own. You should’ve seen my face. HOW THE HECK AM I SUPPOSE TO DO THAT? She read my facial expression and smiled. “You simply have to slide your hips and shoulders left, right, left, right.” My body didn’t even know how to do that. My brain wasn’t exactly sending signals to my hips or shoulders to follow instructions. But with a little bit of encouragement, I was able to achieve the scary feat. I was so numb chest down, I felt nothing. But that sensation, was a strange feeling in itself.
While eating my Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and Subway Tuna Sandwich (yes, I ate both), I had mentally prepared to walk that same night. I called the nurse in to help me. Upon my request, she took a step back and said “I’ll guide you. But you have to do it on your own.” I was determined and managed to get myself up out of a lying position and walk to the washroom to freshen up and learn how to work my catheter. I rejected all pain medication post surgery because I was crazy. I wanted to feel everything. I didn’t want to numb my body. My logic was that I should be able to feel all aches and pains so I could understand then focus on what areas needed care and attention.
Night 1 went by and like Raaya, I slept majority of the night. My husband and I had decided he would do all diapers week one and besides feeding her every two hours, I had no other responsibilities.
Burhan changing his first diaper.
Day 2 – I spent the entire day forcing myself to be active. So in the morning and afternoon, I walked around, cleaned the room or toured the ward. Bad idea. I actually overexerted myself and hemorrhaged. The sight of blood down my legs and pooling on the ground made me so dizzy, I decided not to push it any further. The doctor who did my surgery wanted me to get a blood transfusion because of the loss and my already low blood count but I denied it. A big chunk of the rest of that day went by in bed.
The next couple of days were spent in the hospital as Raaya was jaundiced so I didn’t really have any real chores except to eat, sleep and make sure my new baby did the same. Lucky for me – she did both beautifully. I was going to the bathroom on my own, walking around regularly, and staying out of bed as much as I physically could. During one of those afternoons, they removed my bandages so my incision was exposed and I needed to be extra cautious. Praise the Lord for high waisted diapers and hospital gowns, I was comfortable!
Raaya in her incubator.
On day four since Raaya had arrived, they finally discharged us and our jaundice free Guddi. Once I got home, it was on! I ran around more than I had ever in my life. I was on some insane adrenaline as I was the cleaning, organizing, hosting machine. I was going up and down the stairs, picking things up from the ground (a hard but doable job), entertaining around the clock guests, all the while pumping and feeding Raaya. 8 days after I gave birth, I even went to a close friend’s mehndi and wedding, and danced the night away.
Getting dressed up for the first time. Attended a Mehndi and left Raaya for the first time as well!
And that, my friends, basically sums up my first two months. I literally pushed myself every day to be as active as possible. I had a cooperative baby who was a big sleeper and pretty low maintenance so I was getting a sufficient amount sleep – which helped a lot! I’ll be honest – running around was extremely difficult and painful. Although I’m convinced it assisted with a quick recovery, I wouldn’t advise it. I constantly felt sharp pains and tightness in my core. My exhaustion was thick and slowly catching up to me. Getting up from bed in the middle of the night to tend to baby was HARD! Lifting her up when your insides felt like a butcher shop in which the meat was loosely hanging from hooks was so demotivating.
Raaya will be 3 months in a couple days iA and it is only recently (maybe since early in her second month) that I feel like my chaotic schedule has caught up to me. I have been forced to slow down and pause more. Parts that I never knew existed, hurt. Try the back of my knee? Weird, right? I find that when I get out of bed in the morning, my knees and ankles instantly give out. My shoulder blades and neck feel heavy. My fingers and wrists are weak. Mind you – it was only till a couple weeks ago that my last couple of stitches dissolved. This is just a small overview of my struggles. But because of this, I make sure to nap when she does. I let dishes sit in the sink if they must so I can sleep. I’m not a nazi over dust particles on our dark hardwood. I’ve had to reevaluate my day.
Get that sleep, girl!
Another thing I’ve noticed is the hit my immune system has taken post delivery. Living in Canada, I can proudly say that I haven’t caught a flu or a cold in almost 4-5 years. After delivering, I’ve been sick twice, for the course of an entire month. My body isn’t able to bounce back or fend off germs like it once had the ability to.
Diet is another aspect of my life that I’ve had to slightly revamp because I wasn’t eating properly (or at all) and the lack of energy and nutrients from the food I was intaking was unproductive. I naturally had no appetite and my calorie deficit contributed to my fatigue. That had to change. Eating good, nutrient packed food with anti-inflammatories will help your body heal. I lived off of bone broth.
Prenatals have been a great supplement. They energize me and pack my system with a lot of what I need. BUT I must say, getting your nutrition from natural sources is obviously the better option.
Last but not least, WATER! H20 has been my life saver. Being hydrated has helped with my milk supply, my system being regular and generally just feeling better. I down about 9-10 glasses a day and the results are amazing.
Getting a big surgery and then being expected to take care of a new baby is no joke. A caesarean is a major operation and women don’t get enough credit for undergoing such a huge procedure. Take the time you need to feel like yourself. Don’t rush what you may not need to.
Please note, the above are not my suggestions on how you should cope with a c section. It’s very important to go at your own pace and do what your body needs every step of the way. Every body is built different. Every mom has a different level of support at home (which will help a lot when it comes recovery). Every person has different mental/physical capabilities. I simply wanted to share my own conditions and let any woman who might be in the same boat get an idea of how I managed post delivery. Hope it helped, even if in the slightest. =)
After two vaginal births, my third was a c section. And I truly hated the recovery! So true about the joints aching and hurting. Esp ankles when I get out of bed in the morning as you mentioned above. The baby is now 8 months old and diff parts still ache, esp the scar at times when I over do it. They say it takes two years to completely recover from a major surgery as c section. How much I missed having a vaginal, in which everything was alright with the world within 24 hrs.