Posted tagged ‘cesarean section’

Postpartum: In the blink of an eye

March 4, 2011

This post is the final post in a series about my labor, delivery, and postpartum story. When we left off, the entire family had been delivered to my room in the postpartum unit to recover.

See the following posts for a recap:

Read on to find out what happened during our stay in the postpartum unit.

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It was late in the evening by the time we finally got settled in our postpartum room. I’m really not sure what time it was, because we had been inside the hospital for going on three days now. The flourescent lights were starting to really throw off my sense of time and place. I was disappointed to realize that my room only had a half bathroom (no shower!!!) and was right outside of the nurses’ station, so was quite loud. But I was so tired and elated and just so full of wonder and fear all at the same time that I didn’t even bother to ask if they could move us. We were all here, together, in one piece (or I guess you could say two pieces :)) and that was what really counted.

I was comfortable at this time because I still had plenty of pain killer from the epidural running through me and a catheter to keep up with my peeing needs. So I was anxious to try when the nurse suggested that I breastfeed. I did so, under the guidance of a gruff and less-than-sympathetic postpartum nurse who seemed bothered by my incessant questions. Lukas latched right on like a champ, and the pain was immediate for me. Too bad that epidural couldn’t have spread just a little further north!

Afterward, the nurse suggested that I pump to help bring in my milk. I complied, after observing her rudimentary lessons, but, looking back, I think this is where all of my trouble with breastfeeding started.
And now a sidetrack about breastfeeding:

It turns out that I really didn’t need any help bringing in my milk – It came in on day two with abundance. However, lacking good lactation advice, I continued to pump in an attempt to build up a “buffer” for when I couldn’t breastfeed. But by the time we were discharged, we already had several ounces of stored breast milk and two really engorged breasts. My totally uneducated opinion is that the pumping I did in the hospital set me up for the oversupply I dealt with later that eventually played a big role in my decision to quit breastfeeding.

So if you wondering about breastfeeding and pumping, here is my advice: listen to your body. If you have plenty of milk, DO NOT pump, not even to build up a “stockpile.” If you’re anything like me, you will end up with more milk than you can use and you will pay for it with sore, rock-hard, lumpy, leaky boobs. So much fun.

Instead, just feed your baby when he or she needs it, and let your body do what it’s built to do. And if you have to supplement with formula at night so that you can get some sleep, try not to agonize over it. A healthy mom is critical to the health of a new baby, and if you are a wreck, your baby will be too.

Of course, everybody is different, so take my advice with a grain of salt. If you don’t have plenty of milk, for example, than you have the complete opposite (and much more common) problem from me. In that case, my advice certainly does not apply.

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The next morning, the nurse stripped the bandages off of my incision, drug me out of bed, and showed me how to get to the toilet. Getting out of bed is a lot hard than it sounds when you have a belly full of stitches. But they had removed the catheter and my body was starting to flush out the swelling that the Pitocin had caused, so I got lots of practice getting to the toilet in short order.

We spent four days in the postpartum unit and it was just an absolute whirlwind. I fed Lukas every three hours and my husband changed all of the diapers. In between, we struggled with an allergic reaction to two of the three pain meds they tried on me, gas pains, general incision pain, constipation, insomnia, and the standard noise and interruptions that come along with a stay in the hospital. It turns out that I had more pain than most new moms, so this added another layer to my struggle to recover.

I had one nurse who was a real diabetes moron. She gave me a lot of trouble for not finishing my lunches and for treating my near-constant lows with orange soda pop. My doctor set her straight, though, and she laid off. Aside from that one nurse, the hospital staff went out of their way to be helpful, which was a godsend when I was struggling with all of that pain. And they did not try to impose on my diabetes management. Instead, they just wrote down my BGs in their logs and kept track of the changes I made with my pump and the food I was eating.

Speaking of the near constant lows, I was hardly taking any insulin at all during those first few days. I had entered my pre-pregnancy basal rates into a profile on my pump before we left for the hospital, but most of the time my pump was on suspend. My insulin needs increased slowly over the next several weeks, but I still had random lows, especially after breastfeeding.

Our days in the postpartum unit passed in what seemed like moments and I felt so helpless. I could hardly crawl out of bed. My husband had to help me shower and get dressed.

By the time we got home, it had been seven days since we had stepped foot outside of the hospital and I was so happy to see the light of day that I could have cried. It was late afternoon on a sunny day in June. As I walked toward the house, I felt the warm breeze on my cheek and noticed the sun glinting through the tall grass. I looked down to see Lukas asleep in his carrier. I just stood there for a moment, trying to take it all in. We were all here and we were all healthy. It was just incredible.

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Day Three: The Delivery

March 3, 2011

This post is a continuation of my labor, delivery, and postpartum story. When we left off, the first 48 hours of labor had drawn to a close and I was only five centimeters dilated.

See Labor: Day One for a breakdown of the going-ons on the first day and Labor: Day Two for a review of what happened on the second day.  Read on to find out what happened on day three.

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Things happened quickly after my doctor made the decision to do a c-section. I watched everything as if I were floating outside of myself. I was scared and nervous. It just seemed like a dream. The anesthesiologist came back and injected a boatload of some sort of painkiller into my epidural and they rolled me into a sort of staging area outside of the operating room. Here we waited for our turn.

Once inside, I tried to take it all in, but it was just so much. There were like three or four nurses and two doctors standing at the foot of the table. The anesthesiologist stood behind me. Everything was stainless steel. A nurse asked me if I could move my feet. I tried, but could not, but was not convinced that I was numb. They strapped my arms down to the side of the table like you see on TV and they put up that crazy paper shield right in front of my face so that I couldn’t see anything. I was kind of freaking out.  My doctor was standing on my left and an assistant was standing on my right. Just before the surgery, my doctor leaned around the shield and showed me what looked like a pair of pliers. He says, “I just cut you several times with these and you did not feel it.” I think he was trying to put my mind at ease, but his comment only served to freak me out further.

During the actual event, I did not feel anything. Not even the tugging or pulling or pressure you sometimes here about. Before I new it, my doctor was saying, “He looks good.” He held my baby up over the curtain for just a moment, but I couldn’t really see him because the curtan was basically in my face. I was still pretty freaked out and I said nervously, “He’s not crying.”

They took little Lukas over to a bassinet in the corner of the OR where they had oxygen and all kinds of other treatments, but he didn’t really need them. Just like that, he let out a surprised yelp and then started to cry in earnest. Tears of relief pricked at the corners of my eyes.

Meanwhile, the doctors and nurses were working on putting me back together. They discovered that Lukas’ cord was in a full knot, which explained why his heart rate kept dropping. And they found a large fibroid (the reason for our ectopic pregnancy scare at six weeks), which they removed. As soon as they started to close me up, I felt pressure in my shoulders. Sort of under my collar bones. That and nausea. I mentioned this to the anesthesiologist, who assured me that both were normal (the pressure is a result of gas that is trapped in the abdominal cavity during the surgery) and gave me something that eased the gas pain and Phenergan for the nausea.

My husband took pictures of the baby, of my open belly, of the knot in Lukas’ cord, even of the fibroid. Kind of gross, but I was glad he did it, so that I could sort of relive the expereince later after I had calmed down. I was not able to hold Lukas in the operating room because the pain in my shoulders was too great, but my husband was and we have a great picture of him in his white jumpsuit and “shower cap” holding our little bundle.

It wasn’t long, though, before I was able to hold him. Out in the recovery room, the nurse tested my sugar (the only test that I or my husband didn’t do during this entire week-long event) and then they propped me up and let me hold him. I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s like a dream. It doesn’t seem real. After a little bit of bonding and a few visits from family, they took Lukas to the nursery for a quick checkup and took me and my husband to the postpartum unit. They rolled Lukas into the room just behind us, and reported that he was doing splendidly. His BG was near perfect and he showed no signs of distress. And with that our postpartum adventures began.

Check back soon for one more post about our experiences in the postpartum unit.