The Birth Part 2: Recovery

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The first day was no joke. Cesarian sections are major surgery and tough there's a sweet reminder of the reason why I got one on the first place, there needs to be a time to heal. 
I kinda knew what to expect because of my first experience last year but you tend to forget the pain that goes with it. For the first several hours you just sit in your bed hooked up through your IV. I got some pain medicine that way, which was great cause it numbed me really well. I had friends who came to visit and believe it or not, I was making sense :) last time I was tired from labor so I fell asleep in the middle of a sentence. 
Baby sleeps a lot but we still have to care for her. I wanted to breastfeed so I started working with her immediately. Let's put it like this, sister girl can latch! She did a good job. I was supposed to move my legs throughout the day, which I did. Last time it took me forever to feel them. This time I could wiggle my toes a little bit when I was in the recovery room.
Later on that night the nurses helped me to stand up so I would get used to it and so we would get some basic cleaning (giving birth is messy, don't be fooled by all the happy pictures). Standing up was PAINFUL. On top of that it felt like the room was spinning like crazy so they told me not to looked down. The nurse told me I could take 3 steps and brush my teeth at the sink. I went for it and gave up. My legs couldn't move that much, it was very painful... I told her I wasn't going to be a hero, I was going to wait til the next day. 
The lesson I learned was that I needed extra help that first night. I couldn't move or get around  easily, so it would be nice to have someone there to hand me the baby so I could feed her and comfort her. I had (have) a feeling that I am the one who needs to do everything for her. It's hard to fulfill this duty if you can't move because of pain. Thank God I had an awesome team of  nurses who did not mind coming to my rescue every time I called. And I called them a lot. They came with a smile and a good attitude every time. If you are wondering where my husband was, he was at home with our son at night.
The next day I felt like a brand new woman. I couldn't run a marathon but standing up was not as painful. I was walking slowly but things were much better. More friends came to see me and they came at the right time. Another lesson learned: having most friends come in the evening is best because doctor's come in the morning (mine and the baby's) and there are several tests done in the morning as well. By the evening I was ready to see my friends and to be seen. 
Earlier that day the nurse helped me take what I call a bird bath. I felt like a normal person! She told me sit close to the sink and wash everything I could on my upper body, than I stood up and did the same for the lower body. I was able to wash myself. I felt awesome! 
The next day I took a shower (yes!) and took my bandage of so the nurses and doctors could see how I was healing. Things were really going well, thank God. 
Before going home I got several instructions as far as what I could and could not do. I cannot drive for 2 weeks. I cannot lift anything (or anyone) heavier than my newborn baby girl. I cannot exercise. I can take baths and showers. I can continue to take my prenatal vitamins. The nurses saw my oldest and the kind of relationship we have. They told me the hardest thing I would face is the fact that I can't pick up LP. They said it was the hardest thing for them as mothers.
The first evening at home was great. We wanted to hurry home to get settled before family came over from out of town - most came just for a weekend visit. My mom came to stay for a while and has been an awesome addition to our daily lives. She does things I can't, she gives me great advice and gives me a hand with LP. The boy is moving faster as the days go by and he has different needs than his sister. We have kept his schedule as normal as possible. I'll write more about his interaction with his sister in a later post. It's been a joy to watch it though. Tough I can't pick him up, I still feed feed him on occasion and get many hugs from him.
Unlike the last time, I got in a girdle a day after I arrived home. Some nurses told me it wouldn't be necessary but it does make a difference. I can tell a difference in my stomach now and the day we started. Also, people tend to look a lot to your stomach when they know you just gave birth. Those things give you a little bit of confidence.

It takes a while to recover from a c-section but I will get there pretty soon. It's important to have a good support system. Last year we didn't have family but God provided through many brothers and sisters in Christ as well as other friends.
Along with recovering from the surgery, there are other challenges that come from breastfeeding, pain management, lack of sleep... Everyone says I need to rest and I agree. Everyone says I need to be stress free and I agree. It's been a learning experience all over again. Such is life and I am thankful.
Recouping from a C-section, 10 Tips
* Be sure to talk to your doctor, that's the best tip of all.
1 • Get help for that first night in the hospital. The less you move, the better you will feel.
2 • Plan for the month post-partum: who will clean? Family or should you hire someone? 
3 • Get daily help for lifting heavy things from toddlers to laundry baskets;
4 • Who will feed you? Get a plan together. If people offer to bring food say yes and try to get an idea of who is coming when. Don't be shy when asking for what you want. Decide if you want to freeze some food ahead of time or if you want to buy food that only needs a microwave. 
5 • Get a girdle. It will boost your confidence if nothing else. 
6 • Have your supplies ready to go. Set up a station close to your bed and wherever you feel you need one in the house. Having diapers and wipes handy will save you some moving around and will save you time. The same goes for feeding supplies if you are using bottles. Have everything ready in your kitchen and wash everything as you use it, it will save you a pile of dirty bottles later.
7 • Drink a lot of water. It always helps.
8 • My feet got really swollen after both c-sections. Don't freak out. I put my feet up, kept moving, drank water... eventually they got back to normal.
9 • Acknowledge your feelings. Hormones get unbalanced after birth. If you are really, really down, be sure to ask for help. Even if you are not, it's nice to stay open even if you confide in your spouse or a friend for emotional support.
10 • Give your body time to heal and don't push yourself too far. Most of us would like to look like a supermodel the day after surgery but your body needs a little bit more time to heal. Give yourself a break, eat healthy, rest and things will get back in place. 

The Birth Part I here 
Milse said...

Nossa... esse seu blog e otimo!
Quando as pessoas falam de parto falam muito superficialmente... ai vc nem tem idea do que realmente acontece!!! Muito interessante ler sobre a sua experiencia pq voce da detalhes nao so do processo mas de como vc se sente! Nunca li nada mais informativo do que a sua historia! Obrigada por compartilhar!

Cintia Listenbee said...

Obrigada Mil, obrigada por ler e pelo belo elogio :) gosto muito de escrever aqui.

Convertible Girl said...

Great advice! I also had two c-sections -- first was a surprise, second was planned. Much easier the second time around, but mostly because I was nicer to myself about taking time to recover. You'll get there!