Every day gets a little bit easier.
Last week, I had written a draft post about my experience with my C-Section, and then on Monday morning, I opened up the internet to find that as luck would have it, someone’s rant about C-sections had just gone viral.
Typical. And I nearly deleted mine.
But these things happen all the time. It’s almost eery how often the same idea goes through a number of people’s heads. Then we the procrastinators hem and haw while the early birds rush out and get that shit written up, invented, designed…. sigh.
But whatever. Yes, there may only be so many stories in the world; what matters is not who got there first, but each person’s voice as they tell their version of the tale.
I’m publishing this anyway, with a short update at the end.
Whoever said that Caesarean sections are the easy way of giving birth is an absolute ass. Yes, an ass. There. I said it.
Because it isn’t the easy way out, as anyone who has had to recover from one knows. I’ve had two now, and both times were nerve wracking. This one, much more so because I really, really didn’t want to end up in surgery again. I gave the vbac my best shot but it just wasn’t to be. her heartbeat began to plummet with each of my contractions and there was a mad panic to get her out.
Because Keloids are more likely to form the darker your skin pigmentation is, I opted for clips instead of stitching, after the surgery. I had asked for same when Roz was being taken out and there was a keloid that formed, but thankfully, it didn’t keep growing. This time, the second they said they had to get the baby out, I said “clips!” like a demented woman, giving myself the best chance of healing.
So in case you don’t know what on earth I’m on about, clips are these big metal staple like things they use to hold the wound together while you heal, instead of surgical stitches. They have to be taken out five days after surgery by a doctor or midwife and feel very very strange for the time they’re in. This time around, they felt tight. And by day three, I wanted them out. I was in relatively more pain this time around, finding it difficult to walk, to sit for long periods of time, to lift the baby up, but what else can you do but soldier on? Instead of recovery, you have a frickin’ baby to take care of, right? So when the community midwife came to our home to get the clips out on day five, I was ecstatic.
She had what I can only describe as tiny pruning shears, to snap the metal clips and yank them out of my poor flesh. I think there were fifteen of them, but they felt like a hundred and I was near tears at the end, it was that painful. And it felt so good when they were out. I realised that my impatient, abrupt manner with both Krys and Roz, and my near tearful state since the birth, was due in part to the pain caused by how tight they were. Where I’d needed help to get down on the sofa and give her access to my stomach, I was able to get up with relative ease once they were out. I spent the day practically dancing.
That was Wednesday.
Thursday was great. I felt so great the painkillers were finally off the menu. Hmmm….Did I mention that I had to take painkillers every four hours because I was in so much pain?
I had to take painkillers every four hours because I was in so much pain.
And I HATE popping pills. No matter how tiny. So I was nearly dancing around the place all day. Of course I’d been warned to keep taking it easy, that I was still recovering from major abdominal surgery and not to twist too hard, no exercising, no straining the abdominal muscles…and did I listen, of course I did. But. But. But. In the middle of the night when you’re half dead from lack of sleep and the baby starts snuffling and rooting for the breast from beside you and it’s too much hassle to call the other half to pick her up from what, ten centimetres away and hand her to you, well……things happen. I felt a sharp pain on my left side, wrote it off as straining and promised myself not to do that again, and carried on.
Friday, I was in pain again, but I took my shower. A bit slower and wobblier than the day before, but we made it through the day. And night. Sort of.
Saturday, I couldn’t get out of bed.
I was in absolute agony!
Krys had to physically pull me across the bed and to my feet where I nearly wept with pain (I’m not a crier – I blink a lot, I gnash my teeth, I punch walls, but I don’t cry in front of others …yeah, working through that in therapy). I hobbled, fucking hobbled my way to the bathroom. I couldn’t get into the shower so gave that up after the sixth attempt. I barely changed from my PJs to my day clothes, and just managed to bend down and wash my face in the sink, teeth clenched.
I sat on the toilet and burst into tears.
I finally got a mirror to look at my stomach, but couldn’t see over the post-pregnancy bump. I hobbled my way out of the bathroom and asked Krys to look instead. Krys is not easily panicked. I’d say, and he would disagree, that he’s one of the calmest people I know.
I could tell from his eyes. His calm, “okay, you need to go to the hospital”, wasn’t fooling me. He called the hospital, and this he’s all,
“She has an open wound on her c-section, about two inches wide…”
In this super calm voice that nearly had me giggling.
I got on the phone and again, between the calm, patient voice of the midwife, when she said,
“I don’t want you to panic. This happens often. There’s a three hour wait to see the doctor in the emergency room this morning so if you can take a pain killer, stay home for now but come in this afternoon as it hopefully won’t be as busy.”
“Should I wait and call back this afternoon?” Says me.
“It should be quieter this afternoon. You should come in and be seen. Today.”
And I started to panic again. And as often happens, I began to berate myself on how stupid, stupid (stupid!!) I had been. And what if I got an infection, and what if I died, and what if they had to keep me in overnight, what about my poor baby? and poor Roz? and, and, and….
And We were at the hospital at one that afternoon and seen at three – given priority as I had a baby in my arms breastfeeding. A swab was taken (the pain! Oh I can’t describe the pain!); I was given an antibiotic, just in case of infection, and told to take it straight away because the lab results would only be available after 48 hours.
“And will someone ring me to tell me the results?”
“Should I call here?”
“No. If there’s an infection, and I don’t think there will be, We’ll write to you.”
“No, in the post. You should get the letter by Friday”
In this modern day and age.
I was distressed. I was worried something might be seriously wrong and, and snail mail was how they would tell me!
“Are you kidding me? What if it gets lost in the post? Shouldn’t they call either way? And straight away, if there is anything?” Asked Krys in disbelief? But I was tired and tearful, already imagining the worst and still shocked at being told, again, that this happens a lot. that reopening a wound that leads right into your body, happens often with c-sections. That women are kept in sometimes, for days, to recover from a reopened section wound.bBecause mothers often don’t take the instruction to REST seriously.
Actually, when I first walked into the emergency room, the midwife that saw me was asked a question by someone and said,
“Hold on, I have to get this mum over to a bed before she collapses, she’s very pale!”
And I didn’t realise she meant me. I thought I was fine.
A lot of us really don’t rest, do we? Usually when people have major surgery, they have weeks and weeks of recovery. Here you are, cut open, a whole human being tugged and pulled out of you and three days later you’re sent home to care for them, and you, and don’t forget to rest. And it’s seen as the “easier” option to a natural birth.
And if you have a penchant for swear words you’ll work that one out easily enough.
So I was on antibiotics for a week, no improvement. I went to my GP for the two week check up and they messed it up more, putting a dressing over the now slightly healing red open wound I was meant to be airing. I ended up with stabbing pain and a weepy wound and had to rush to hospital right then and there during rush hour with a crying, screaming baby and me worried sick about both of us. Three hours later I had another antibiotic and surgical tape to hold the wound closed, with strict instructions to rest and expose it to air as much as possible this time and if I didn’t see any improvement in two days, to go straight back to the emergency room.
Thursday a letter came from the hospital, advising that after my first visit, there was an infection after all and included was a prescription for an antibiotic. Two frickin’ weeks later! But whatever, I took to my bed and breastfed and exposed my wound to air for the rest of the time.
I was very down about it. I could barely sleep, I was in constant pain, I couldn’t write, I didn’t want to read – unheard of! – I was short tempered, teary, but unable to cry, because if I opened that floodgate, who knows when I’d stop. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I withdrew, pulling myself inwards even as I tried to stay okay for Roz, for the baby… I just…It’s been hard.
So yes, it pisses me off that this is seen as the easier option. I’d have given my left arm for a vaginal birth. Hell, I’d have thrown in my right arm too. I’m still in pain, my leg goes numb if I lie down too long but I haw to lie down to air the wound because it’s in an awkward place. I have to stop Roz from hugging me, from jumping onto the bed first thing in the morning, in case I get hurt. The area from my navel to my scar feels alien, numb and swollen still, four weeks after. I can’t go for walks and sit at the playground with Roz because I’ll sweat into the open scar and it reopens (I cried the day I tried it. All my previous work undone in two hours)
This isn’t what it’s supposed to be like when you have a new baby. It just isn’t.
Today is the first day it actually looks like it’ll be okay. There’s a scab. It’s not weepy. It didn’t open up over the course of the day, leaving me to wonder if bacteria is not making its way into my body via an open, fleshy tunnel. I keep lying on the floor in patches of sunlight with the baby beside me, hoping to hell it it’ll stay closed today.
On the bright side, I’m here, I’m alive, both my children are alive. I owe science and technology our three lives.