Thursday, May 2, 2013

Surviving the "C"

5 a.m. on "go" day!
"Dude-I don't know anything about C-sections, and I don't think 10 hours before I'm scheduled to deliver, now in this way, is the time to go poppin' in videos or anything," I said to my girlfriend as we marveled at the anticipation the new few hours and a whopping expected 9.5 pound baby held for me. And so I went in with no expectations given the plan had changed 12 hours in advance, a bit of anxiety and fretting the recovery. And you know what? The C-section itself was kind! With two extremely kind anesthesiologists (the dudes went and grabbed warm blankets even on their pay grade), one sassy OB and a lot of laughter and exclamations at the arrival of our incredible hulk, I wouldn't have done it any other way (given of course there were several clinical reasons to do so).

But then there's that whole recovery thing afterward...the winding journey of "I want to comfort my 3 yo during this transition and also clean sweep the whole house but can't drive or take the stairs and I have to rely on others for everything and don't you know I'm a woman" situation. A few folks have asked for tips on getting through, and now that we're a week in, here's what I'd recommend:

1. Manage your pain: stay ahead of the pain meds, or rather, right on time. Though every recovery is different, I found doing this made it pretty seamless by popping every four hours and getting on with the rest of the day as planned.

2. Walk hourly: as soon as the feeling returns to your legs, wander those halls every hour to 90 minutes, even if the nurses at the station do begin to look bored of you. And bring that baby along - you'll enjoy the coos of how cute he/she is, therefore helping you ignore the biting pain. Do the same when you get home (though limiting stairs can be helpful).

3. Embrace your circle: delegate, let others assist, welcome those meals, pre-schooler distractions, errand running and sock finding missions - all while you put your still swollen cankles up on the ottoman. Generally the most helpful baseman: husbands, Moms, neighbors and best friends. What a blessing to have these amazing players in life!

4. Drink oodles of water: take that much coveted birthing souvenir and fill it up hourly and pour it down as if it was your first glass of Riesling post delivery. And if you're still admitted, enjoy that crushed ice - you can only get those suckers at Sonic these days.

5. Elect for the granny panties: sexy or not (note: NOT), elect for something like the Hanes high waisted briefs at Target that sit near your belly button, avoiding your incision and if I were to be truthful, helping a bit with the pooch like a Spanx without all that spandex.

6. Find a nursing position that works for you early: if you're breastfeeding and are of a certain height or posture, the fabulous Boppy may not be so much so if it's sitting right on your incision. Like the pillow brigade you've managed trying to sleep the past three months, get creative in positioning to feed your little one that still protects your middle. Then you won't have to think about it when you're incoherent during the night feedings as you've got a plan.

7. Keep the maternity clothes hanging: though if you're like me, your first instinct was to go ahead and light up that fire place (after all we're still getting snow in May) and get rid of those suckers, the looser styles and waists will help provide comfort your first weeks at home. Plus when you go to stretch the garment as you shouldn't to nurse at the top, you don't really care because you

8. Familiarize yourself with your furniture again: it sounds crazy, but that comfy sunken couch, chair and even bed can leave you feeling a bit stuck with no one to rescue you from its desert of yumminess if you're home alone.

9. Send your older child to pre-school/daycare: not only to maintain his/her normalcy and routine, but so you can truly rest, rejuvenate and nap so you can be a better Mom when he/she returns home to your growing family. Also, find ways to include him/her with your limited activity such as extra snuggles, picnics on the family room rug for a special dinner or wild times with figurines on top of the coffee table.

10. Get real: talk with your girlfriends and vent when things get challenging and share the tiniest moments that are making it all worth it while you're at it too.

11. Have some basics ready on the home front: nursing gear, basic baby wear, somewhere for baby to sleep and diapers are a good start. That way you're not having to scramble or describe ad nauseum to those that are helping out on the basic stuff to get through a morning - it's all right there.

12. Don't beat yourself up: avoid mirrors or trying to find any type of clothing that will work for awhile; let the house be disasterous as long as roaches aren't making their way in; don't worry about being the perfect wife or friend, getting back on that diet or solving world hunger. After all, you literally just built and then had a human removed from you. That's enough for awhile, don't you think?

13. Keep your gadgets nearby: frequent texts of others thinking of you or taking a moment to look something up or check Facebook can be a little perk during the day. Plus you can look at how the gorgeous Kim K. is growing larger while you grow smaller.

14. "Sleep" comfortably: when/if you get a chance to sleep in the early weeks, find a comfortable position much like you had to when preggo. Use those pillows and respect the incision, waking and walking slowly as your pain meds will have worn off in the night. Though it's tempting to go right back to belly, right side and flat back positions, the body is still recovering and you'll feel it as it protests times ten now that you have a battle wound to go with it.

14: Take it a day at a time: like pregnancy, some days you find glimpses of your old self and others are just damn tough. Patience. Persistence. And lots of staring at that cute baby (it erases all bad!).

What other tips do you have for getting through the early weeks of this major abdominal surgery?

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