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C-Section Recovery.

More details on the c-sectionI'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

Tiny daisies for my tiny baby

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. 

Comments

Kerri,
I want to thank you for sharing your c-section (and entire pregnancy) story with us. I mean that. I am hoping to get pregnant and hearing from a new mom her own (un-sugar coated, pun intended)experience is truly helpful to me.
Make sure you keep that beautiful daughter of yours safe and happy...I know you will. She is precious!

Here's hoping you get back to your . . . ahem . . . life. *hint hint* *wink wink*

Thanks for sharing the info. I know the future moms appreciate it and all the gory details.

Oh my goodness, if anyone suggests that you've done something wrong by choosing a c-section, shoot breastmilk at them.

Wait until you try to do crunches!
For me, I laid on the floor and nothing happened. hahahaha.

My wife had a c-section nearly 15 years ago and still speaks with total loathing about the resident who told her the pain was "just a little gas." She still has suggestions of what she could do to him....

thank you so much for sharing your whole story. i completely agree with you and your doctors that a c-section was appropriate for your situation.. don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

i'd love to hear how your blood sugars have been post partum.. were they all over the place for the first few days/weeks.. have they come back to "normal" now.. apart from the breastfeeding lows?

What a blessing to have a beautiful baby to hold with healthy eyes that can watch her grow!!!!!!!!!

The gas thing after abdominal surgery? Sucks. Big. Time. And 24 hours before relief? HAHAHA, right.

To improve healing open vitamin e tablets and smear the insides on the scar. My dad had triple bypass and did this and you can hardly see the scaring! Stay well!

I just posted your blog on my Facebook page - and as I said there - having a C-section ensures that you can see BSparl little gummy smiles at you! I would have done the same thing as you did - no doubt about that if it effected my health and my baby. I say " Poo " (fling one of BSparl's diapers at them - *splat* - in their face) on those that say otherwise !

Thanks for the indepth post Kerri! I really appreciate it as a Type 1 who will be trying to get pregnant soon. :) Hope you heal quickly and can get back to your life..."look something shiny"....soon! :) Thank you for sharing all the information with us, it has been more helpful than you know.

Holy Heck! That was intense just reading it!

It doesnt matter what others say, its YOUR body and YOUR baby, sheesh!

as for the scar, once you get the doctors okay, use Vitamin E on it ;)

I have heard a crazy rumor that a lot of moms have to have an enema before a C-Section...

Meghan - I have heard that, too, and I think some moms do have an enema before their surgeries. I personally did not, but I'm sure plenty of people do, because getting your bowels moving after surgery can be a tricky situation indeed.

I squiggling in sympathy pain as I type! :) Thank you for sharing, Kerri!!!

I'm so sorry that it's been a rough road for you. I'm glad you seem to have a good sense of what you need and how to get there - those will serve you well as a mom. Hang in there, it's up hill a ways and then decidedly much easier!

My C was a walk in the park compared to yours (though the catheter was not my friend). :( I'm so sorry yours was rough. I opted for pain management immediately though and asked to be sent home with Darvocet because the Vicodin they wanted to prescribe never does anything for me. I didn't have your gas issue, but I did with an appendectomy ten years ago and I remember it being awful. In any case, happy one month to beautiful BSparl...who doesn't care how she got here - just that her mommy and daddy are awesome.

P.S. I'm 15 weeks post-op today and the incision area still feels "weird" - like itchy leather I can't quite scratch - even though the scar looks decent enough and the area hasn't had any pain in nearly three months. The skin is just kinda numb in pockets. So look forward to more potential body weirdness...as if turning your nipples into faucets wasn't enough.

Oh boy, that brings back memories...12 years later and Noah is still an only child!

2 c-sections later (both under a general)... the one thing I learned from the first one was that I should've gotten moving faster. So the second one I was up and about as soon I was steady on my feet. Made such a difference to how I felt. And that's my lil 2c of wisdom for any T1 mamas to be :) Oh and if ANYONE judged you for having a c-section, I'd like to see them walk in a T1 mama's shoes for all those months - it's the baby at the end that counts, not the method of delivery ;)

You did it Kerri - great job! Nothing can prepare you for the actual c-section, no matter what advice everyone gives you about this or that. I have had 3 of them and each one was different. I cannot say they got better, they actually got worse, maybe cause I knew what to expect? Anyway, that's neither here nor there.

Oh the gas!!! And frankly, sorry to be all TMI on you, but that first BM, a killer. I actually thought I was giving birth without painkillers. Absolute hell. No one tells you that stool softeners work wonders. I knew that for the 2nd two kiddos.

Sorry if I just disgusted half the population who read this blog.

I am happy that you are safe and sound, that BSparl is all snuggly, cute and safe and that you made the best decision for you. And the rest of the judgy people, I think gardening is a tad too good for them. Might I suggest another place they might go? :0)

Wow that's some pretty intense reading! What an ordeal! Thanks for sharing, it makes a big difference just knowing what might be instore for me in the future (here's hoping! :D)
Best wishes.

Having had a partial hysterectomy and then a follow up complete hysterectomy because of ovarian cancer, I could've warned you - sorry. Yeah, my best advice for anyone having that "type" of surgery is do NOT stand erect for the first 3 days - if you do you will have excruciating pain and feel as if you are dying. LOL

Glad you are feeling better now. Hugs to you and Bsparl! :)

Kerri,

I'm not sure if anyone mentioned it, but Mederma works wonders to help fade the scar. I'm glad you're up and around now. I lived off Gas-X after my past surgeries. That gas pain was just awful!

Ack. The c-sections are painful. I've had 2 bookending my 2 vaginal. Give me the vaginal any day. :D ...with the epidural, of course.

Recovery takes some time, but it does fade. I hope you're feeling better soon.

I am a diabetic mother of 3. My first was a C section, and I thought I missed out on the miracle of a vaginal delivery... so I insisted on having my second baby that way.. I was not good. It was a difficult delivery, that included the use of a horrible tool like salad tongs to pull my son out. He was damaged in the process. Something called Urbs Palsy (don't know if I spelled it properly). I was also torn up and incredibly sore. So don't worry about having a C section. I is definately better for mom and baby. Take care.

I've heard the "I wish I could have delivered vaginally" a lot from women who have had c-sections.

All I have to say about that is this: Imagine the pain you had at your incision site.

Now imagine that pain in your nether regions because of tearing or an episiotomy.

I know the "grass is always greener," but sometimes I wish I'd had the stitches and intense pain a little farther up.

Don't get me started on the permanent maiming my backside took from 2 1/2 hours of pushing.

And thanks for sharing your story!

You know we're all so nosey here... thanks for all the details. I appreciate you sharing them with us. Glad you're almost healed up! When you're not using the treadmill or nursing or feeding yourself or using a lancet or... remember to rest.

are there really people telling you that your c-sec was BAD?? Who are these people and can I go kick them? I have a lot of pent up frustrations right now and I need someone to take them out on. In any case, however HOWEVER a baby comes into the world, and enters in healthy and safe for baby for THAT mom - is the right way. No two babies/moms are alike and no two deliveries are the same. The outcome is what is important - a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

And yes, aren't the clots fun? Especially when the nurse makes you leave your "stuff" there in the bathroom so they can go examine. Hu.mil.i.a.tion.

Kerri -- you are so not a wuss! You had major abdominal surgery, for pete's sake! I don't know why people don't acknowledge that fact more often...mothers go through some amazingly difficult stuff, and you should give yourself all the credit you deserve. My father had a hiatal hernia repaired and he definitely wasn't out of the hospital after four days! :)

Thank you so much for sharing your c-section experience. I never heard specifics about the procedure and recovery until I spoke to other mothers; my doctors didn't seem to like to talk about C-sections very much. It's like a "cross that bridge when we come to it" issue, but I'd rather be well-informed beforehand.

it's too bad people would question whether a child should come into this world vaginally, c-section or adoption as long as the child comes into the world loved~

May 8th i had a stat c section because baby a had stuck his little foot down my cervix, breech... I was pregnant with twin boys, and at 27 weeks gave birth to them.., Im actually at the Ronald Mcdonald house now. Anyhow, i wish someone would say something to me about having a c section! Like so many other women have said..as long as the babies are born, whatever the means,thats what counts! congrats!

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry that people judge you for having a c-section. I had c-sections for both my children, and a lot of people look down on me for it as well, spouting off things like "years ago women never had c-sections." To which I respond in my mind, that's right and years ago many many more women and babies died in childbirth.

And isn't it so hilarious how people act like you didn't go through anything if you had a c-section? *rolling eyes* I just listened to my dad whine and talk endlessly about all the drugs he's currently taking for a broken finger. I reminded him that three weeks ago I had a human removed from my abdomen, cleaned the house three days later, resumed taking care of my four year old, and took ibuprofen IF I couldn't tolerate... He looked at me like I was from outer space and said, well it did sever a nerve when I broke my finger... lololol

Thank you for sharing your story. As I prepare for the birth of my second child (C section again), this helped me truly remember what it was like. It is odd how much you forget -- but a good thing that you do. Thank you for your honesty. It helped me immensely.

Hi Kerri,

I loved reading your story and you told it so well :-)

So much of your story was soooo familiar. The pain is aweful isn't it? And if you get behind the curve it can be even worse.

But you're right the horrible memories fade. What you're left with is a beautiful baby and that's all that matters :-)

Actually, you'll be proud of that scar some day. I know I am ;-)

I just had an emergency c-section 11 days ago and reading your story is like reading my own. Everyone keeps asking, "Should you still be this uncomfortable?" and "Maybe we should call the doctor if you're still in this much pain." My response? "Hello! I just had major abdominal surgery just over a week ago!" another thing no one seems to tell you is that you still experience the same recovery issues you would have with a vaginal birth too!
Thank you for sharing your story!!!

thank you for writing that...it's just been 6 days since my second unexpected c section and i really needed a good laugh. it's so nice to hear that someone else understands the horrible gas pains!!! if i could come up with a quick fix for that after surgery, i'd be a rich woman!! i'm still dealing with that pain and barely starting to get past that. congrats on the birth of your baby girl :)

Thank you so much for that detailed recovery. It's one thing to talk about what a C-section recovery is like but it's so much better to hear it from someone actually going through it.

The recovery IS hard but the reward of a beautiful baby somehow makes it worthwhile :-)

Awesome. Thank you for sharing. I'm scheduled for my 1st c-section (3rd baby) 1 week from today. I appreciate reading your story. Congratulations : )

Hello Kerri
I just had a c-section about a week ago today and yes the recovery is the hard part of the situation. I also thought the staples would be some kind of medical equipment too, I chuckled a bit (cause laughing hard still hurts a little) after I asked to see the staples. I do Thank You for sharing your story!!!

I had a baby 1 year now thru Csection hw long can I wait till I get another baby.

I've got a breech baby and am scheduled for a c-section. Thank you for your candid description of what I can expect.

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Had to read it for myself...almost as great as you described to me last weekend....hmmm, I am so very excited now! :P I hope you will consider a visit to NC mid september to help me get thru this little surgery that is going to bring me the greatest joy in my life when I deliver my little girl!!

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