I've been putting off writing about the recovery from the c-section because, quite frankly, I'm not fully recovered just yet. But I've received a lot of emails asking about the specifics, so here they are - just be warned, there's a lot of boring details and TMI going on in these posts. :)
After BSparl was born and we were back, as a family, in the recovery room, I spent a few hours vomiting myself silly. But once the nausea had worked itself out of my system, I was feeling pretty decent. Not much pain, but then again, I was in bed, with a catheter in place (so no need to jump up and use the bathroom), and on morphine. I was also holding my baby. (She's an excellent pain killer. So cute!)
It wasn't until the next day - Friday - that I started to feel the effects of the actual surgery. Once the morphine had worn off, I became acutely aware of the incision. There was a big gauze patch over the incision itself, keeping me from catching a good look at the staples and all the ick in that region. What I did know was that the pain was a little less than I expected ...
"Hi Kerri! Would you like your pain meds?" the nurse asked, the morning after BSparl's birth.
"Oh, I think I'm okay. I'd like to see how far I can get without them."
... until the morphine wore off.
"Hi Kerri. How are you feeling?" the nurse asked, later that morning.
"Pain meds. I'll take 'em NOW. Anytime. Now would be awesome, though. I love you?"
After the morphine was out of my system, my medical team had me on a combination of Percocet and mega-strength ibuprofen. The ibuprofen was fine with me, but I was very uncomfortable taking the Percocet. I'd never taken a pain killer of that nature before, and it made my brain feel like it was total mush. I resolved to come off the Percocets as soon as possible, and only ended up staying on them for about four days. But because the pain was so intense at times, and because I had no clue what the "right thing" was for me, I followed the doctor's orders.
Note re: Dexcom: Two days after the surgery, I asked to move from Percocet (which is an oxycodone/Tylenol blend) to straight oxycodone, because the Tylenol mucked with my Dexcom readings. Once I was off the Tylenol, I plunked a new Dexcom sensor on to help me keep track of the chaotic blood sugar readings.
Once the catheter was taken out (embarrassing moment, having the very kind, patient nurse pull the tube out of me and then help me scurry into the bathroom like a wounded crab), I was at the mercy of my bladder again. Which meant that I was getting in and out of bed finally, working my abdominal muscles for the first time since the surgery.
It was not a snuggly experience. I moved sloooooooowly to help minimize the pain, but it was still very uncomfortable. For the first few hours, I was like a 95 year old woman, half bent over and favoring my abdomen and saying things like "Oh, my medication is wearing off!" and "Those nurses are so sweet - we should call their mothers and thank them for raising such nice girls." Using the bathroom was very awkward because that motion of sitting to pee was a strain on my stomach, and also because the bleeding post-surgery was exceptionally heavy (you pass clots, which I was not prepared for but is common), making for a lot of activity in a region of my body that had been pretty quiet for a few weeks.
Thankfully, I had plenty of help. The nurses were constantly coming in and out of the room, checking on me, on the baby, and spying on my incision to spot-check recovery. Chris stayed in the hospital with me for the four days I recovered, so he was able to help me get in and out of bed and also was able to serve as BSparl's primary caregiver. (He did most of BSparl's diaper changes in those first 24 hours - thank goodness. Because if she was waiting for me to leap up out of bed to change her poopy diapers, she would have been waiting a while. I was a sloth, only with five toes.) I was able to start breast feeding BSparl, though I only had colostrum to offer at that time. My milk didn't come in for a few days. (More on the diabetes/breast feeding fun in another post.)
So pain in the incision area was expected, and I was also expecting to feel sore in my back where the epidural went in and where all the other pokes and proddings took place. I had also expected the nausea and the blood sugar bounces. But what I didn't expect was the gas pain.
Oh holy hell, that was painful.
I hadn't thought about it before, but when they opened me up for the c-section, my internal bits and pieces were exposed to the air. And some of that air got in. It's like a Ziploc bag - you need to push the air of of the bag before you zip it shut, or else air gets trapped in there. For a person's body, you can't help but end up with air trapped after an abdominal surgery like a c-section. Which meant that my body had these pockets of air in it that needed to work themselves out.
"Oh, it's just gas," people say (often while holding their tea cups with their pinky in the air).
Oh, it's just freaking awful. The air trapped in there was one of the worst parts of my recovery. When my OB came in to examine the incision, she grazed my stomach skin with her pinky finger as she went to remove the bandage and I jumped an absolute mile.
"WHOA! I'm sorry. Whoa, that hurts a freakin' ton right now. I'm not sure why ..." I panted, unaccustomed to that kind of insistent discomfort.
"It's that gas pain. All the air trapped in there. It will work itself out over the next 24 hours or so, but it can be really painful. Would you like something to help break those air pockets up?"
"YES. Please. That would be awesome. And it's okay if you don't want to touch me until the pain has sort of gone away, right?" (At that point, I didn't have the guts to tell someone not to examine me. I just sort of hoped they wouldn't if I asked in a really passive way.)
"We can wait a few hours. I'll have the nurse bring you something to help with the pain."
The nurse showed up with what tasted like a stale wedding shower favor mint, and after chewing on it, I felt some relief in the abdominal region. About 24 hours after the c-section, I was starting to feel a lot better re: the gas pains. I worked to get out of bed and get moving as much as possible, because everyone who had left comments here on SUM regarding their own c-sections said "GET UP ASAP!" to help speed up recovery.
It's now a month later, and I'm feeling a lot more like I'm in once piece again. The staples were left in for a full week, but once they were removed, I felt much better. (I didn't anticipate that the staples were ACTUAL staples. Like from Office Max. I thought they'd look more medicinal or surgical. Nope - they looked like someone had grabbed a black Bostich and worked me over.) The scar is about eight inches long and looks very narrow and well-healed, and should shrink up even more as my uterus goes back to its previous size. I'm able to walk without much issue, and in two more weeks, I'll have my surgical follow-up, where I'll hopefully be cleared for exercise, lifting, sexual activity - LIFE.
So - to recap: The c-section did freak me out. The recovery was harder than I thought it would be, but that's probably because I'm a wuss and I don't like pain. And the actual incision was way more FrankenKerri than I thought it would be, but every day it becomes less obvious and uncomfortable. I wish that I had the opportunity to deliver my child vaginally, but the damn retinopathy was a factor, so the c-section is how we had to move forward. I wouldn't chose surgery, if I had a choice. (Note to anyone who wants to tell me that I made a horrible decision to have a c-section: My medical team and I, together, decided that a c-section would help ensure a safe delivery of my daughter, in addition to preserving my vision. If you still have a strong opinion on the method of my daughter's arrival, I suggest you start gardening. It will bring you to a zen-like place where I bet you'll appreciate the fact that my health is intact and my daughter is safe, instead of getting all judgy on me. Just a thought.)
Overall, as the scar fades, so do the memories of the discomfort. And every day, I have the blessing of this baby girl in my life. Doesn't matter how she got here - point is, she's here. She's safe. And she's my buddy.