One week ago, I reached my due date, woke up to painful contractions, headed to the hospital, got from 6 to 10cm quickly, pushed for an hour and a half…and then we found out baby’s position. I ended up having my first cesarean.
This week has been completely different from all my previous births. I have had pains and discomforts in so many places in my body – except for the one that I would expect to! My vagina has been absolutely fine; no swelling, soreness, or aching. So strange to have a newborn and not be hurting down there! Though the burning in my incision, the spinal headaches, and the utter loss of strength haven’t been a walk in the park, either! Every day has gotten a little bit easier, but this is not what I ever pictured it feeling like to recover from a c-section.
Burning and stinging – those are the only words I’d use to describe how the actual incision has felt. Not specifically pain, but soreness and weakness (in addition to the burning), for sure! I had no relief from it until one of the nurses suggested I use a peri pad. It works like a charm to eliminate the stinging. Incidentally, the pads are meant to soothe vaginal swelling, but I had no need for that, lol. The nurse gave me about five of these pads to take home from the hospital with me and I just pop them back in the freezer once the cold is used up.
The incision looks pretty crazy still, with lots of purple bruising, but I’ve been told it looks “great,” and that it looks exactly how it should at this point. Um, ok. haha
I was still hooked up to the epidural trolly after the surgery, and had a button I could push every ten minutes if I was hurting too badly, but I didn’t notice any great difference in my pain level because I was trying to use it to not feel the incision pain. Later, I realized it had been helping with the afterpains! They hit full force once I had them turn off the epidural. Wow, no fun. It’s crazy how much the pains feel like contractions, and with each child they get worse. Elizabeth is my fourth baby and let’s just say I am very glad I at least had the epidural pain relief for the first day of afterpains. I remember being in absolute agony with my third, Samuel. *shivers*
I was being cared for completely for the first day – I never even saw what was on my pads, but I’m sure it was quite heavy. By the next afternoon (once the Foley catheter was removed), I started going to the restroom myself, and I was surprised how seemingly light the flow was. As I’ve been home, it’s fluctuated between being light to medium – never gotten heavy. I notice more flow when I’m nursing (or just afterward).
I used the lousy, disposable hospital pads while there and then for the first full day home but then I switched back to my cloth pads. They are so much more comfortable, I just couldn’t continue with disposables!
I really had no idea what to expect in the bathroom after the surgery. I had a Foley catheter put in just before the cesarean began, and they didn’t remove it until they felt that I could start walking to the toilet, which was a little over twenty-four hours later. I was worried that it would hurt (or, at least be uncomfortable) to pee after the removal, but it wasn’t!
I was told that I would have a fair amount of gas but not to expect a bowel movement for a few to several days. And they were right; I first had to go on Thursday morning (about 90 hours after the surgery). Thankfully, I didn’t have to strain at all and I was back to being regular after that first time. It’s recommended that you take a stool softener to help keep things soft, but my diet is pretty high in fiber and I’ve been drinking a ton of water, so I just watched and waited to see if I’d need it. I didn’t.
Without getting into it completely, I ended up having a complication from the spinal block that caused massive, migraine-like headaches. I was leaking a tiny bit of spinal fluid and the pressure it resulted in caused excruciating pain unless I was lying down. I had to return to the hospital on Wednesday (three days postpartum, one day after discharge) to have a blood patch done by an anesthesiologist. Click the link if you’re interested in what the procedure consists of, because it was traumatic and I don’t want to talk about it further. It was successful and the headache didn’t return. Just to give an indication of how rare this complication is, the anesthesiologist who performed the original spinal block for my surgery called my on Thursday morning to check on me and to apologize. He said he has performed about 7,000 blocks in his career and this makes only the second time someone has had this happen. Wow, aren’t I lucky? lol
My back has been quite sore since then, but not at the site of the original block or the secondary epidural, but in the muscles of the lower back where the second anesthesiologist had to literally push against during the blood patch procedure.
Every time I go to feed Elizabeth, she has a challenging time latching on; she doesn’t open her mouth wide enough to get a good latch right away but once on, she’s great. Night one and two at the hospital were crazy. She wanted to nurse non-stop, switching from breast to breast after 20-30 minutes, for three hours straight on the first night and somewhere between three and four hours straight on the second night. My nipples were absolutely shot! Cracked and bleeding, and we’d only been at it for forty-eight hours. Owww
My milk started coming in on Tuesday, basically just before we were discharged from the hospital. And by Wednesday it was all systems go! Unfortunately, the pain didn’t stop with the change from colostrum to milk. I was literally having to grit my teeth and hold onto something near me because it hurt so much every time she latched. My nipples are pretty much healed now, and we’re working every single time to get a deep latch before allowing the feed to continue. Nipple pain is NO JOKE.
Along with my milk coming in came engorgement. Owww, again! lol I highly recommend having a breast pump to be able to relieve the swelling and tightness that engorgement causes. On the first two days of it (Thursday and Friday), I needed to pump about a ½ oz of milk off before attempting to feed her so that I wasn’t in so much pain and also to give her the highest possibility of getting latched on. I have the Medela Harmony manual breast pump, and so far I like it.
Emotionally, it’s been a really positive experience overall. You’d think that with all the unexpected events and complications that I’d be a wreck and feeling a bit traumatized but I absolutely DON’T! I feel completely supported and cared for because of my daughter and husband’s awesome help and concern both at the hospital and at home. I have been able to rest, heal, and simply enjoy our new baby. Her brothers are over the moon and it makes me SO happy to watch them love on her.
In addition to everyone’s responses to me and her, I also feel peace about the way the actual birth went. I have no regret about having needed to deliver her by cesarean – it’s what was needed and I feel nothing but thankful. ♥
At 40 weeks and 0 days (better known as my due date), I finished the pregnancy weighing 166lbs which was a total gain of twenty-one pounds. It fascinates me to see what happens to a woman’s body following the birth – there are so many changes! The puffiness in my face and feet/legs has disappeared so I feel somewhat deflated (in the best possible way), lol. And I just look so much better, and so much less like a dang whale.
I weighed myself on Thursday, which was four days postpartum, and I was down nineteen pounds! And then at seven days (today) I weighed 143.6, that’s BELOW my pre-pregnancy weight!! Seriously?! I’ve lost almost 23 lbs in one week! No wonder I feel lighter, lol. Obviously, I am feeling pretty good about it, especially considering I won’t be able to do all the postpartum fitness I had planned to do – at least not for a while.
One goal that I have for myself is to shower and do my makeup every day (minus lip stick because I am kissing Elizabeth constantly!), and I haven’t missed a day since I started (two days after her birth). The shower usually isn’t happening until about 1pm, but it’s happening, and I even shaved my legs on Friday! It makes a huge difference how I feel about myself when I’m clean and I’ve given a little bit of time to my appearance. I’m definitely glad I made this one of my goals.
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So, that was my first week postpartum! My main reason for wanting to keep a record of this time is that I know from past experience that I won’t remember most of it, even a few weeks from now. I hope to do a post like this for the next five weeks, at least.