One of the advantages of being human is we lack memory muscle for pain. I can describe what happened before my neighbor drove me to emergency for what turned out to be kidney stones. I know what I did to compensate for my shoulder prior to having bone spurs shaved off of it (relieving the pain). Recovering from my first cesarean took some time, but I remember it as not being so bad.
So, I thought I'd jot down some thoughts about this c-section before the memory flitted away, leaving me with the cuddly thoughts of new baby and baby smells and baby smiles.
First, the ignominy of the situation. If you wondered, as I often did, when this word could come into play during every day happenings, a c-section is it. By 8am, I was shaved (thankfully, not as creatively as when I had my appendectomy), had an IV shunt in my arm (hand?), and was splayed out on the table like a turkey waiting for Thanksgiving stuffing. I, however, was waiting for a catheter. In came the attending OBs (mine and one other) and a medical student with huge pipes.
I watched the snow fall over the East River and FDR Parkway as two anesthesiologist residents and one attending and a nurse or two readied the room, the table, and me. I sat, hunched forward, on the side of the table, chatting with the attending anesthesiologists as the residents inserted the epidural. Poking, poking from the anesthesiologists to determine how numb my back was (I had an epidural), lessons from the attending to the residents, questions from him to me regarding the differences between Alta Bates and NYU processes.
The operating room is cold. It's a sterile environment, so the temperature is kept down. Blankets helped keep me from shivering on the metal table.
When you have a c-section, you're awake. You can feel pressure, but not pain, if that makes sense. Pulling, tugging, but not slicing or poking. When I had Bama, there came a point where it felt like the postman had popped by and dropped a couple of phone books on my chest. It was the attending OB, who'd clambered on to the table and my chest, elbow down, shoving the baby out. This delivery was deja vu, even Mister's pictures look like doubles of the first delivery. Elbows in chest, shoving, tugging, pulling, Pop! Out comes the baby.
Mister held Pickle, swaddled, while they sutured my incision. I don't remember pain from the first time, but this round, I asked for more pain relief to compensate for the pulling along my left side — doctors will cut away the original incision to make the new one smooth. Yeah. It hurt. It also took longer to heal.
Mister said I looked better after this surgery, a surgery during which my organs were scattered around my body while they created an exit plan for the baby, than I had after Bama's. I was up and moving more quickly, didn't have clotting. NYU has a "pain management team" that came around regularly to check my pain levels. The epidural was left in for two days, giving me a constant drop that I could also boost six times an hour. At times, I used the boost more than at others. It helped to give a little oomph before getting up to use the bathroom, or shifting around to nurse Pickle. (Riddle me this, batman, why can we be doped to heaven and nurse but not have a glass of wine?)
Once home, with Bama around, and no hospital bed to help me up and down, my recovery was on track but felt slow. And awkward. And frustrating. And achy. It hurt to get out of bed. I would pull the sheets to leverage my body up and out of bed. You're not supposed to pick up anything heavy — tell that to your toddler, please. I spent time lying around, thanks to my mother letting me (making me) nap during the day. Mister was home half-time that first week, which also helped as he carried most of the Bama load.
Me, I felt like crap, all the time. I was (am) tired. I hurt. I was (am) cranky. I cried.
A side issue was the lead up to the surgery, and the decision to have another c-section instead of trying for a VBAC. Did I write about this already? At my guilt, despite knowing better, at even wanting a c-section instead of having a "real" birth? I have real babies, they are my babies, even if they didn't shoot out of my vagina. But many people look down their noses at c-sections, as if we took the easy way out. Yeah.
Once you're home, vaginal delivery or c-section, you're body is riddled with hormone fluctuations. Yuck. I wanted to be left alone, wanted to be with my babies, wanted my husband near me, didn't want anyone to talk to me.
As I write this, I realize, most of the memory is already gone. The pain of my incision is fading, replaced by new issues. Pickle's six weeks. I've been given the go ahead to run, take baths, have sex. I even have a prescription for birth control. (I know, it could happen naturally, but I still think it's funny.) My incision doesn't stink or hurt from the pressure of my belly falling on it. My week of mastitis has cleared up. Pickle, a week ago, weighed in at 11.5 pounds. Bama hates me about 50 percent of the time (90 percent, yesterday). New issues.