I’m not going to sugar-coat this. The terrible two’s tantrums suck.
Physically, emotionally, behaviorally it’s draining… and that’s just how my furniture feels about the tantrums. My 27-month old is dancing that line from being a “little guy” to a “big kid.” He loves to show that new independence… and remind me he can do it himself.
Unfortunately, he and I have a difference of opinion that he can’t do WHATEVER HE WANTS by himself.
For starters, the throwing. Can a mom of an older boy shed some light on this for me. Everything gets thrown. Toys, food, mommy’s cell phone (oh HECK no), it’s all tossed across the room. He does it when he’s happy, he does it when he’s mad, he’ll even throw something and within a millisecond be crying because he’s not holding it anymore! I say “if you wanted it, why did you throw it?”
I try saying no. I try picking up and “comforting” whatever item is now across the room.
Recently, we’ve ventured into the new world of ‘timeout’. Oh sure, we’ve done the occasional time out that essentially consisted of taking away toys and sitting quietly on mommy’s lap for a short while. However the most recent toddler meltdown was a wakeup call that our unstructured discipline system was not going to cut it anymore. We knew something needed to change... but we just didn't know how to change.
Vague memories of the Super Nanny started to come back to me. Back in my pre-kid days I recall watching the show with a very misplaced sense of superiority... "oh, when I have kids, I'll never let them get this bad!"
Oh... bless my heart. I'm adorable ((pats myself on the head)).
Clearly I didn't know WHAT I was talking about, because kids have a mind of their own... and at some point, as a parent you're just exhausted. And then you start to let stuff slide... and before you know it, you're calling the Super Nanny.
But I recall something else. Super Nanny uses timeouts. She doesn't yell, or try to reason with the kids. I don't know how many times I've told my toddler "I've told you this before... why do I have to keep telling you?" Reasoning doesn't work with toddlers, they're not adults. It's like trying to reason with my hair dryer, "I just bought you! Why are you overheating??" I don't know what my husband's excuse is, though. But the toddler, of course he doesn't comprehend. He doesn't understand "no" or "stop" or "you're making mommy crazy".
Ahhh... but he understands time out. Why? Because time out has a consequence. Unlike "no", "timeout" means no toys, no play, no fun for two whole minutes. He sits in a chair, behind the sofa, with nothing fun as far as the (toddler) eyes can see. I don't counsel, or reason; I just stand quietly. He's learned crying doesn't help, or tantrums.
Does he still do the crazy stuff that gets him in timeout? Of course. But when he comes out of timeout, I get a little bit longer of a reprieve before he does it again. With continued use, maybe I'll even get him to go a whole day without throwing something! (Ha, good luck to me!).
If you've ever had a miscarriage
, and I hope you never have, it can feel like one of the most lonely, isolating events of your life. Unfortunately miscarriage, while incredibly common, is still one of those taboo topics that are rarely discussed. As a result, women who are experiencing the loss of a pregnancy often feel like they are the only one.
I know I did. After each of my many miscarriages, it seemed like my life was filled with pregnant friends and newborns...every commerical was something Johnson & Johnson! I didn't know anyone who had experienced a miscarriage too, and therefore I didn't feel like I had anyone who I could talk about it with. It felt like some dirty, shameful secret.
However, one thing I've noticed over the past few years is more and more celebrities "coming out" with their own stories of pregnancy loss. I respect and admire these women so much, as it helps to move this topic from the shadows and assure women everywhere that this is common, awful, and most importantly, you are not alone in your struggles.
Here are some celebrities who have shared their stories of loss:
I was very surprised to hear that Beyonce recently shared her story of a miscarriage before the birth of her daughter Blue Ivy. Beyonce seems to live such a charmed life, I was very sad to hear of her loss but grateful she chose to speak about it--anyone, even Beyonce, can experience miscarriage. In her new HBO documentary "Life is But A Dream," she shares that she even began to pick out names. Sadly it wasn't meant to be, the first ultrasound revealed there was no heartbeat. "I went into the studio and wrote the saddest song I've ever written in my life," said Beyonce. "And it was actually the first song I wrote for my album. It was the best form of therapy for me, because it was the saddest thing I've ever been through."
Guiliana Rancic has been one of the most open celebrities to discuss fertility issues. Guiliana documented many steps in her and her husband Bill's reality show; including several IVF attempts, the "good news" call she got from her doctor confirming a pregnancy, and the devastasing news that she was miscarrying. I watched those episodes and cried my heart out--I knew so well the heartbreak she was experiencing, and I wanted to much to hug her right through the TV. I commend her so much for documenting an incredibly personal situation; and tragic as it was, I know sharing her experience brought a feeling of solidarity to women everywhere who have experienced miscarriage.
Mariah Carey, Pink, Brooke Shields, Bethany Frankel, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Courtney Cox, Elizabeth Banks, Nicole Kidman and Lily Allen were just some of the many celebrities who have also talked about a pregnancy loss... and I thank them for sharing their stories!
If you’ve ever experienced a miscarriage, you don’t need a psychologist to tell you depression is a common after-effect. Not only are you emotionally dealing with the loss of a pregnancy, but the physical effects (hormonal imbalance, cramping, and bleeding) will likely magnify all those emotions.
So many celebrities have come out to talk about past miscarriages. Typically it is within the context that they are currently pregnant and are so happy to be in their current condition after experiencing a loss. What very few celebrities talk about is how emotionally they handled the loss the pregnancy and if they experienced any depression after the fact. Fewer celebrities even admit they’ve had a miscarriage at all until a “successful” pregnancy is currently in the works, leaving many women to feel alone in their grieving of a miscarriage.
I had at least five miscarriages before having my son. I say “at least” because those were the ones that got documented by my doctor. I had many more pregnancies that I got the positive test for, got all excited about, and then experienced the miscarriage before I could even make it to my first doctor’s appointment.
It took a lot of heartbreak before I got my PCOS diagnosis—but I never got diagnosed with depression.
Why? Because I waited way too long before I spoke up. It wasn’t until I lost my fifth “documented” pregnancy at 11 weeks and had a D&C to remove the tissue that I finally talked to my OB/GYN about how I was feeling. For weeks I had been experiencing both insomnia and excessive tiredness, I had lost interest in day-to-day activities, I was not taking very good care of myself, and while I wasn’t crying all the time—I just plain felt sad. Hopeless.
My doctor just brushed it off, said it was normal due to hormonal imbalance, and gave me a prescription for Zoloft. While the medication itself was tiny, proverbially it was a tough pill to swallow. Me, on anti-depressants? I felt like a failure, like it was something I should have handled on my own. But I took my medicine, and waited.
Within a few weeks, it felt like the sun had come out from behind a dark, endless cloud. I didn’t feel artificially happy, I just felt like myself again. I was still sad about the miscarriage and my general situation of infertility, but it was like Zoloft had given me a rope and I was now pulling myself up and out of the hole I was in.
I wish my doctor had talked to me a little bit more. It still felt shameful, but in hindsight I had nothing to feel bad about. The doctor should have made me feel that way too. There are lots of free support groups out there for women with infertility, and I wish I had explored those as well.
If you’ve had a miscarriage, especially multiple, and you're thinking you are experiencing depression—you probably are. It is not your fault. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. It isn’t because you aren’t “strong enough” to handle this. It is because miscarriages are emotionally and PHYSICALLY altering your mental state. Please, ask for help. Talk to your primary care physician or OB/GYN. Do an internet search for support groups, or look into seeing a counselor—there are many affordable ones out there, and most insurance will cover them. Search online for groups of women who are going through this, too.
And if you would like to continue trying to get pregnant after this loss, you will mentally and physically be in a much better place to conceive when your depression is addressed.
Hang in there.
I had to research something on the Internet this week that I am slightly embarrassed to admit is not the first time I've had to look into this.
Psychosomatic pregnancy symptoms. Meaning, either my brain was tricking me into thinking I had pregnancy symptoms because I wanted to be knocked up... Or my brain was interpreting other signs incorrectly, again because I wanted to be knocked up. Either way, my brain was tricking me. Sneaky brain.
Pseudocyesis, the clinical name for a false pregnancy, is actually pretty rare - only about one for every 22,000 births. But the symptoms can be so real that even a doctor could be fooled. Women's periods can cease, their belly's swell; they can even go into "labor" where pains minic contractions! Well, fortunately I didn't take it so far as to start picking out baby names. However, I did feel nauseous, have cramps, sensitivity to smells, and was excessively tired. Even though it was only our first official month of trying (and after five years of infertility to finally have our son, I wasn't expecting anything to happen too quickly), I really thought there was a chance that maybe we got lucky on the first shot.
Four pregnancy tests later, they were all negative and I was left wondering what the story was. A couple days later I had my answer - I got my period, and realized all the symptoms were actually just PMS! But I was hoping so badly that I wouldn't have to go through all the trauma of infertility again that I made a lot more out of my symptoms than I should have.
When I did some online research, the term that came up most often was "hysterical pregnancy". Frankly I don't find anything funny about my body and brain playing tricks on me; alas they don't mean 'hysterical' in that way. As previously stated, it's rare for the condition to go to full-blown labor, but I can't imagine it is that uncommon for women to imagine pregnancy symptoms when they are either hoping to be pregnant or have been in the past and know the symptoms to look for.
So I decided to ask my friends on Twitter (@BustedKate), and the response back was instantaneous - yes! My cousin tells me she still gets phantom baby kicks, and her daughter just turned one. Other friends say their PCOS symptoms will trick them into thinking they are knocked up (missing periods, hormonal changes, etc).
As I write this post, sitting in a restaurant, a pregnant woman came in to sit down next to me... So I decided to conduct an informal survey with her! Even she said, yes several months before she became pregnant she found herself about two weeks late. She had morning sickness to the point of vomiting, tender breasts, and was tired all the time. She took so many pregnancy tests that came out negative, she actually went into the doctor to get a blood test. The doctor confirmed she wasn't pregnancy, but surmised after an ultrasound that she had likely had an ovarian cyst burst! The hormonal changes she felt (and abdominal pain) could have all stemmed from that.
All this from a random stranger, so I am thinking this is much more common than I realized. Which makes me feel better, you know that I'm not crazy... Well, at least not crazy over this! So don't despair if you feel pregnant but the test keeps showing up negative. Get a blood test, tell your doctor what's going on (it could be another condition, after all), and if everything come back normal... Well at least you know you are in good company!
Well, I think we're all of about five minutes into trying to get pregnant this month... And I've already used two pregnancy tests.
All these old familiar feelings are coming back. The hope is I'll get pregnant on the first month of trying. The hope that it will be much easier and more cost-effective this time. But the reality is one in four couples who are seeking help for infertility already have a child.
And of course I went to a baby shower
last weekend where I counted no less than five other women who are pregnant in addition to all their little kids already running around. I feel like it's the Universe's equivalent of telling me to stop screwing around. Or telling me to screw around more?
It turns out that the problem may not be how much I am or am not screwing around but rather how soon I decide to seek help again. That is been themost common question I've gotten: "will you see the doctor again?" and "How long will you wait?"
How long should I wait? Are the rules different for me, as a woman who has experienced infertility in the past, versus somebody who got pregnant naturally? According to Dr. Google, the appropriate time for me to go to the doctor is more based off of my age and my past fertility.
Meaning, as a woman of 32 years, after six months of trying to conceive if I haven't gotten pregnant I should make an appointment with my OB/GYN. However a lot of women who are experiencing secondary infertility struggle even at the OB/GYN level, as the doctor is more likely to adopt a wait-and-see approach if you've already been able to conceive once.
Experience in infertility tells me that I should adopt the same approach this time that I did last time: trust my intuition and be my own advocate. I might wait six months before I go back to the doctor, I might only wait three. But when I do go back to the doctor, I'll be sure to have a complete history of what my challenges were in conceiving the first time, and not minimizing my concerns about secondary infertility. Make sure you and your doctor are on the same page... And at the same pace.
And you never know, maybe I'll get lucky and pregnancy test
number three this month will turn out positive. Fingers crossed!
Yesterday I went to drug store to buy some "trying to conceive" supplies. I don't know how I could have so easily forgotten all the supplies it takes in order to get pregnant!
Of course, not all women require conception lube (I prefer PreSeed) and ovulation predictor sticks. Some women just let nature take its course, and boom! You're pregnant!
However, for me getting pregnant the first time around wasn't quite so easy. It took five years, several miscarriages, an expensive doctor, acupuncture, fertility supplements, a specialized diet, medications, and lots of "good luck charms" to finally have my son two years ago. At the end of my pregnancy, I was exhausted. Not just from carrying around an eight pound watermelon, but also just from the whole "trying to get pregnant" business. I was looking forward to a break.
My husband was keen to start "trying" again before my son even turned one. But the thought of all the WORK that goes into it made my head spin. I didn't do anything to actively prevent us from getting pregnant, but I didn't do anything to help the situation along either...
...until this month. This is the first month we are actually "trying" (as opposed to the ever popular term "we're not not-trying," which if you're able to decode that please send me a translation). I wondered if I could magically morph into a "let nature take it's course" woman, not only to save my sanity but also quite a bit of money in the conception-aids department.
I don't know if I should assume that I'll need all that stuff all over again. I don't know if having overcome infertility once means my body magically just knows what to do now. I know I still have PCOS, but surprisingly my periods have been more regular the last two years. I don't know when (or if) I ovulate, and if I do get that little egg on it's way, will my 32-year-old uterus is as hospitable as it should be.
I won't know if I have secondary infertility until I really give it the, ah hem, "old college try". I'll start with PreSeed, tracking my ovulation, and my fertility diet (basically, no sugar except the natural kind like in fruit, no breads, and overall clean eating... aka, the "blah diet"). After a few months, if we haven't gotten lucky (I mean, we'll have gotten "lucky" but not pregnant, oh you know what I mean) I'll visit my doctor and see about starting Clomid again. And if that doesn't work after a few months, I'll go back to ritual moon dances (just kidding! Unless you know some that work...).
If you experienced infertility (and have had or are trying to have another child), did you experience secondary infertility upon trying to conceive again? What worked for you, getting pregnant the second time?
It is the circle of life (for human gossip). If you are dating (somewhat seriously) family and friends will begin to ask "think you'll get married?" And once you're married, next comes the "will you have kids?" Then once you've had a kid... one, two, six, "think you'll have any more?"
For me this question happened even BEFORE I had given birth to my son back in December 2010. Of course, there were some complicating factors: I was 30, it took us five years to get pregnant, and I still had PCOS. I think the broadly held belief was "of course she should try and get pregnant again right away, what if it takes so long for the next one?!"
But, I didn't feel rushed.
Of course, I should have. For all the factors previously mentioned. Yet, I still struggled to get modivated to start "trying" again. Why? I'm not totally sure. I felt very fulfilled by having my son. If you put five years of work into ANYTHING I think you're inclined to bask in the glory of success... and take a little breather. Not that having an infant, and then a toddler, will gives you a lot of downtime (not to mention, ah hem, the "alone time" required to work toward that second one).
It's not that I was (am) opposed to more kids; but the idea of "trying" completely stressed me out. I've realized that I have Infertility PTSD (self-diagnosed of course). You see, I do a lot of training for my profession, some of which involves PTSD. While I think of it in terms of a traumatic incident (like going to war, or an accident, or some awful and compelling incident), the truth of the matter is I was incredibly traumatized by five years of infertility, including at least five miscarriages.
When my son turned two last month, my husband (who has been VERY pro "more kids ASAP!" for about the last year) and I decided to really start trying again. So far, all I've been able to manage is sort-of timed intercourse. I haven't been able to bring myself to check and see if I've been ovulating (and all the ovulation tests that go along with it), resume my "fertility diet", re-start acupuncture, take fertility supplements, or visit my doctor for more clomid. Just writing it, or even thinking about it, makes me exhausted.
But can I get pregnant again, without doing all those things? Let's face it, time isn't on my side. As my 33rd birthday looms in a few months, do I really have the luxury to gradually ease into all the things I needed to do, in order to get pregnant?
This week, I'll be discussing further "trying after infertility" and secondary infertility. Stay tuned!
After boring you all with my own personal cesarean section story, I thought I’d give out a few tips (as an unqualified, non-professional… so, keep that in mind). Submitted for your consideration:
- Don’t get inside your head:
I freaked myself out by overthinking the procedure and all that went along with it. Why? This is happening. Period. Thinking about it, worrying about it… anything outside of just planning for it was wasted anxiety and thought-space. What did help is when I would just tell myself “Time to cowgirl-up” or “Britney Spears did it, how hard can it be?” So give yourself a break; if this is going to happen then it’s out of your hands. Whenever you find yourself thinking too much (I call it “tumbling” in my brain), take a deep breath and say “Forward” (or “*$%& this”—whatever makes you feel better). In the same vein…
- Educate yourself only to the point that you feel prepared:
Unless you are a medical professional and enjoy that sort of thing, don’t watch the videos. It’s cool, there are doctors doing an awesome job on the other side of that curtain—you do not need those images in your mind. Just pretend they are giving you a bikini wax or something. I found it helpful to review the “things that might surprise you” lists about c-sections. What I like about those lists is they provide helpful information about things that might have otherwise surprised you, while sparing you the gory details. For me, I did not need to know WHAT was happening down there to feel more comfortable, just the knowledge that the things I was experiencing was normal and common.
- Brace yourself… physically AND mentally:
All that mental space that I’m asking you to not occupy with icky youtube surgery videos and needless anxiety, spend that time instead planning. Give yourself a mental rundown, the way a SWAT team would have a briefing and create an attack plan before invading that drug dealer’s crash house. Starting with “Ok team, we are going to prep and get geared up….” And ending around “Operation Healthy Delivery is complete!” in the recovery room. Psychology tells us that the more your brain is prepared for a situation, the better it will be able to handle those situations when they occur. It’s why we do fire drills and CPR training—so when emergency’s happen, our training kicks in without having to make a plan on how to respond.
- Anticipate down time (and for all the medical staff to be calm):
Of course that sounds good in theory—you WANT your medical team to be calm. But in reality, you’ll be expecting something more akin to Grey’s Anatomy than Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. However, your doctors have done this so many times that it is the equivalent of changing the oil or solving world peace (depending on what your own profession is). There will probably be music, side conversations… and even some loneliness. I felt alone for a lot of the procedure… it was only a short period of time my husband was with me (he was brought in just before the procedure, and left with my son right after he was born). I was mostly a lower-half of a body (my head being above a curtain and all) and so no one really thought to talk to me. I listened to the music, and tried to think of how I was now a mom. It takes a while to get you all stitched up, it may be some time before you’re able to really see and hold your newborn.
- You won’t feel pain, but there is some sensation—mostly tugging:
At best it will feel weird and surreal, and at worst it’s just uncomfortable. Trust me, you can handle it. There’s also a vacuum thing to get the other stuff out after the baby, in case you are wondering who brought the Dyson in.
- Moving around as soon as you are able is a good thing:
For everyone one story I’ve heard like mine with having a slower recovery, I’ve heard 99 more about how the new mom was walking around the next day and not even needing pain meds. Everyone’s experience varies, but what we do know is that sooner you get moving (within reason, always check with your doctor) the better your body will heal. Obviously you have to take it easy, and it is somewhat counterintuitive to try and get moving when your body is so sore and telling you to stay still. But it really does help to start walking, even just a little bit, the next day.
- Even if you’re feeling really good right after surgery, it’s still going to feel weird down there for a while:
Like when you sneeze, you’ll feel like you have to keep your hands on your incision. The c-section cuts through all those muscle down there. Don’t worry, they’ll all heal and go back to where they should be. But for a few weeks, the muscles you used to use for things like sitting up, sneezing, or even blowing your nose will be out of commission. Keeping a pillow on your stomach for those times isn’t necessary to prevent your stomach from exploding open, but it will probably make you feel more comfortable.
- Prepare yourself for your first post-op BM:
Especially if you had any morphine. I had heard this from someone else, but frankly there’s really nothing I could do mentally to anticipate what that would be like. Between being VERY backed up from the pain-meds and surgery, plus the incision in my front, well… how about we just leave it with me encouraging you to drink some prune juice or take some stool softeners as soon as you get home. I had the postpartum emotional swings pretty badly, and when I went to my first post-op check-up and my doctor asked me “how was your first bowel movement” I burst into tears. Not in relation the bowel movement, I was crying over everything and it just happened by coincidence that was the question he asked when the tears were starting, but both my husband and my doctor burst out laughing. True story.
- Oh yeah, you might cry at everything:
I did. I don’t know why. Silly things, serious things, TV commercials, the dishwasher… it didn’t matter. My mom made me my favorite muffins after the delivery. While we were out, my dogs jumped up on the counter and ate them all. When we came back home and I saw what they had done, I cried inconsolably for two hours. TWO. HOURS. Sigh… You might have the baby blues, those will go away after a few weeks. If they last longer and turn into postpartum depression… don’t give yourself a hard time. Just make SURE you talk to your doctor about it. It’s sooo incredibly common, there’s nothing you could do to prevent it or fix it on your own, so ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak or a lesser mom, it makes you strong for speaking up. I had postpartum depression, and boy was I glad I got some help. Medication and a support group made it so I could actually ENJOY my newborn and being a mom. As my doctor pointed out, those first few weeks are stressful enough without your brain chemistry adding to the mix. If you are experiencing the blues, step two (step one being talk to your doctor) is get out. Get outside, get fresh air and sunshine. My instinct was to be a shut-in; care for my baby and cry when I wasn’t. Of course, in the first few weeks when I did go out, I would still cry in front of all my friends, but they (being good friends) understood.
- You can totally do it:
Seriously. Pre-teen mothers with reality shows have c-sections. Train wreck celebrities do have them. Heck, even I did it and I did the opposite of every one of my tips above (some people are meant to serve as an example, I'm meant to serve as a warning)... so you KNOW you can. Just repeat after me “it’s cool, I’ve got this”. And remember, you get a baby out of it!
Hope these help! Good luck, speedy recovery, and most importantly… CONGRATULATIONS on your new addition!
When I last left off, I was in a hospital operating room about to have my scheduled c-section. At this point I've been given my spinal block. I couldn't move the lower half of my body (which is quite the odd sensation, let me tell you), but I still had some sensation. My husband was getting rushed in, as I suspect they were about to start without him. The atmosphere was surprisingly casual, more like I had gone in for a routine pelvic exam... with oh say, 20-30 nursing students observing.
Ah yes, let's not forget the nursing students. When I consented to allow them to watch the surgery, I imagined it would be just a couple. They weren't brought in until after the curtain covering my face was up. As Adam, my husband joined me up near my head, he whispered "There's a lot of people over there! What the heck?" Well... at least if something goes sideways, there's a lot of witnesses?
I never got a heads up on when they began. I could still feel some pressure, and I wasn't sure if it was from the incision or them just pressing really hard on the area. It wasn't painful, but certainly not comfortable. Adam was as freaked as I was, and had no interest in peeking over the curtain, so he was as in the dark as I was on the status of the procedure. I'm scanning around, trying to find someone to tell me what in the what was going on with my uterus and my son.
I see the anesthesiologist out of the corner of my eye. "Have they started? Is he out?"
OOPH! Something is slamming into my rib cage. WHAT IS GOING ON DOWN THERE?! OOPH!!! Another slam into my abdomen. I see someone's head popping up and down over the curtain in between slams.
"HEY! What is happening?!"
"It looks like the baby's legs and butt came out (note: since he was breech and they make those incisions low, they had to pull him out butt first), but your uterus contracted down on his head before they could get him completely out. The assisting doctor is trying to pop him out."
'Pop him out' meant literally throwing her entire body down on my stomach, chest to POP him out. You'd think there would be some advanced medical technique for this but no, just POP. I tried not to imagine any extra intestines or organs popping out along with my son.
"Is he out? Is he ok??" Still no one was filling me in on what was going on. I was cold, shaky, and freaked out... not so much about the status of my lower body but more about the status of my now hopefully newborn son. But the status of my lower body still ranked pretty high up there.
Finally, after a million years, the anesthesiologist says "they got him out, they're trying to get him to cry". They moved him over to the weight station, and Adam went with him. After what seemed like a million years, they finally brought my kid over to me and I was briefly able to see his face. "You were worth the wait," were my first words to him.
Then he was gone, been taken to NICU since they still weren't able to get him to cry (a skill he did acquire in great abundance, but not until about 18 months!) and needed to check him out. Adam went with our newborn... and I, well, I just laid there with who knows what hanging out.
With my kid leaving, so did any commotion or excitement. Half the staff left, with only the anesthesiologist remaining near my head and mystery voice on the other end of the curtain. Status fairly normal with infant and mom, my OBGYN began a conversation with the remaining doctors about shopping for Christmas presents and other remaining holiday errands still remaining to be done. Surreal moment #242 of the day, joining in a discussion about online shopping while someone is sewing you back together.
I hear my doctor explaining to the students about my fibroid tumors, how large they were, and how he had nicked one during the procedure and needed to stitch it back up before proceeding. Weird weird weird.
It seemed like forever it took to stitch me back up. I could feel the tugging, the "adjustments" or whatever, again no pain but certainly sensation. All I could think was "hurry up I want to hold my baby", but then again I don't know that you want someone doing a rush job when they are rearranging your organs. I'm guessing it took about 30 minutes to do.
I've always processed medications quickly. As they finally finished me up, took down the curtain, and began rolling me out of the operating room into a recovery room, I was already beginning to feel some pain down south. A dull ache at first, then little sharp shoots with greater frequency. I had thought I'd be numb for a few hours, but maybe 45 minutes post procedure I was already feeling the nurse's hand on my feet. Within an hour, I could move my toes, and I had total sensation and movement back between two and three hours post-surgery.
Sensation meant more and more pain. I told the nurse so, and she injected something in my IV line. If I had known it was morphine, I would have asked for zofran first since it makes me incredibly nauseous. Surprise, within a few minutes I was throwing up.
Hey, it really does make your barf taste like grape!
When they finally brought my kid in after what seemed like forever, it was all amazing as you can imagine. But I'm here to focus on the c-section
It did seem like I had more pain than most. A very sharp, sharp pain was down on my lower right. After much shoulder shrugging from the nurses (and repeated requests for ice from me), one nurse speculated that when they did the internal stitches they the doctor may have tied them too tightly. I also reflected that might be where my OBGYN had nicked my fibroid tumor, and had to sew that up as well.
I tried to get off the heavier pain meds as soon as possible. It made me incredibly sleepy, and I also didn't want it affecting my breast milk. The nurses said it shouldn't be a problem, but hey every mom worries about that, right? I moved to Motrin as soon as possible, and while I was alert more quickly, the amount of pain I was in was considerable.
The next day after the procedure, my catheter was taken out (nice having it in, sucks pulling it out), and I got to take a shower. MAN! It was hard to move around, but it felt great to be clean. I had to go and squirt a water bottle with warm water up my lady bits. There was some blood, but not as much as I would have expected. I think a lot of that stuff got vacuumed out at surgery.
I was released two days after the birth (out on Saturday morning), and while medically I could have stayed longer I was eager to get back home. I think I took longer to recover than 90% of women I know who have had c-sections. My post-op pain didn't get significantly better until six weeks after surgery. After a few more months the pain was gone, but I still had some numbness at the incision site for a year. I think the fact that I had some extra "fluff" in that front area made my recovery longer, and on my next pregnancy I hope to not only maintain a healthy weight but also try to keep my core muscle strong. Having an overall fit body, but especially strong abdomen muscles, would have made recovery much better.
I'm left feeling like, with the c-section, "it is what it is". Most women I know who have had them have thought it was great and highly preferable to a vaginal birth. Most recovered quickly, had almost no pain afterwards. Most women who had vaginal births agree that a c-section is much easier to go, but post-op the vaginal births are less painful and quicker recoveries (you know, except for the bleeding, if they have to stitch you up *down there*, bladder control, and/or hemorrhoids).
So, it's sort of a mixed bag. If I'm lucky enough to get pregnant again, I'm not eager to do another c-section. But if it means I get a healthy baby out of it, then whatever. I've done it once, I can do it again. It's worse than getting a filling done in your teeth, but it was better than that one time I had to get stitches in the bottom of my foot.
If you have specific questions about my personal experience, don't hesitate to ask! You can always say hi to me on Twitter: @BustedKate. Remember, I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV, this is just my personal experience with a c-section. Any medical questions or concerns you have about the possibility of a c-section, talk to your doctor! You'll end up feeling much more comfortable with the process. Fortunately, there are lots of great resources, including right here on BabyMed, for getting information about what to expect going into the surgery, as well as what to expect after. Good luck!
This is part 2 of a 3-part series on my experience with
a scheduled C-section. Read my first post here.
The night before my scheduled cesarean (aka “c”) section, I was a bundle of nerves. I kept hoping, right until the very last minute my little guy would turn, but no such luck. He was breech in what we called the “pike” position with his butt on my cervix and his legs extended straight up (even now it boggles my mind as to how it would be comfortable to stay in that position for what ended up being several weeks!). Our doctor advised he would likely be a flexible little guy—and he still is!
On a chilly Thursday morning in Arizona, before the sun even rose, I watched my breath fog as I walked briskly into the hospital with my husband to have my son. I felt the weight of him inside me and realized that, for the last time with this little guy, I’d be doing a pregnancy waddle (so enjoy that last waddle ladies!). We went through the standard check-in process; not much different in fact from when I checked in to do my regular stress test monitoring in the weeks prior. I felt like there should be some flurry of activity, nurses throwing clipboards and doctors rushing to me with a wheelchair.
Alas, it was quite organized and professional, much to my movie-loving-drama regret. I was taken back to an admission room, where I going to get prepped for surgery.
This was all about to get real.
First off, lots of people asking you lots of questions. Your name, lots of times. What you were expecting to happen, lots of times (you know, in case you came in for a c-section and they accidently amputate an arm). They put you in the super-flattering hospital gown, complete with booties that do nothing to protect against the cold and a hair net that would make any lunch lady jealous. An IV line gets put in.
They make you drink something purple. It had something to do with reducing your stomach acid in case you barf. It thought, well that’s reassuring. The nurse said “if you do throw up, it will taste like grape”.
Doctors, lots of doctors come in to meet you. My regular OB came in to say hi. I met the anesthesiologist, whom I liked immediately due to his jokes about my impending ‘appendectomy’ and also for the fact he had the good meds. It was all such a blur at this point. I was so nervous (and scared) that I had gone into what I call “frozen bunny” mode with a fixed smile on my face and a rigid stillness until someone came to do something, in which case I would just flop into whatever position they needed.
Finally I’m getting wheeled into the operating room. My husband was left behind, which I didn’t care for but in frozen bunny mode I’m not able to ask questions. The operating room was as you might imagine in appearance—bright, clean, sterile. But in mood, it was quite different from expectations… for starters, a local radio station was playing from a boombox in the corner; one that I listened to as well. Among all the oddity of the day (so far), I found the casualness of the boombox playing in the corner to be the most surreal.
My nurse came to get me situated for the spinal. Yes, for your c-section they give you a spinal block rather than an epidural. Unlike an epidural which gives a slow, steady release of medication to help dull the pain, the spinal block will (as the name aptly predicts) block all your feeling from the injection down to the rest of your body. They sat me up on the table, and turned me 90 degrees so my legs hung over the sides. The doctor advised that the pain would be like a bee sting, sharp but over quickly.
I hunched over as far as I could with my pregnant belly, let my arms drape down limp, and took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
That’s the sharpest bee sting I’ve ever felt. But, it was also manageable. Once again, much worse/more scary in my head than in reality. “I hit your vertebrae, I need to do it again,” says the doctor. Seriously? Once more, a very sharp poke and sting—more startling than painful, but certainly something I could handle.
Then… cold. The injection going in felt exactly like cold water on my back. In fact, I was so sure there was cold water on my back I asked what they were doing back there. The nurse laid me down on the table again, and began to put a sheet up blocking my video from the southern hemisphere. Somebody (A nurse? An assistant? Some random passerby? The janitor?) asked if I would consent to allow nursing students to watch the procedure. Thinking it would be just a few, I said sure. I also thought it might have been better to ask before I got in the room.
I didn’t go numb as quickly as I thought I would. I had feeling, and some sensation, but couldn’t move much—and then quickly not at all. I felt the operating gown get lifted, and I was completely alone on my side of the sheet. I heard someone say “yes we’ll need to shave the area” which is an odd way to find out your lady forest is a little too abundant. (Note to self, if you have another c-section, cowgirl up and just get the Brazilian before the procedure.)
At this point, it’s all feeling a little surreal. It’s a lot more relaxed and social than I had expected; staff are chatting or singing along to the music. I’m cold, and little shaky (which they also said was normal). I think they are getting to the point of being about to cut me open, and I only have the anesthesiologist near me. I try to get his attention, “Where’s Adam? Where’s my husband?” He seems startled by this (“oh crap, we almost forgot the husband!” is the look on his face)… “Hey! We need the husband in here!” he signals to someone on the other side of the tent.
My husband is rushed in a minute later. And it all begins.
Come back for part 3—I’ll cover the second half of the procedure, and how it felt afterwards.