Then my due date came and went. And went. And went.
Ten days later, after two days of back labor, my water breaking, an epidural and whoknowshowmuch pitocin, my OB was whisking me into the OR for an unexpected c-section.
It wasn't until several weeks after I came home and struggled through the recovery that I learned some of my friends had had similar experiences. But they never told me about their c-sections because they didn't want me to worry. I was stunned to realize that they had answers and advice that could have been a huge help during those first couple of weeks -- but I didn't know to ask them.
Today I'm thinking about my friend who is scheduled for an induction with her first baby. I wonder what she knows already or if she's even thought about a c-section -- other than wanting to avoid having one. And I wonder why I didn't already tell her any of these things.
Well, because I didn't want her to worry.
So as I'm sending prayers to my friend for an easy, healthy delivery, I'll share with the rest of you five things you ought to know if you have a c-section (all of which I learned the hard way with Junius and managed much better with Pippi):
- Ask for access. If you can talk with your OB ahead of time, ask how much access you can have to the baby in the OR. See if they'll let you hold the baby quickly while you're still in surgery or at least have a free hand to touch that tiny new face (like Pippi in the photo above). See if they can do the initial stuff (weight, cleaning, etc) in a spot where you can see what's happening while you're flat on your back. If you're someone who likes to know what's going on, see if the nurse anesthetist will talk you through the whole process while it's happening. [Also, I'm intrigued by this "natural" c-section, but not sure anyone is doing it in the U.S.]
- Take the drugs. Whatever the nurses are offering in the way of pain meds, take them. All of them. Every time they're available. You get no extra credit or superhero cape for toughing it out. Your baby will not be harmed if you're breastfeeding. And you'll be able to enjoy your baby more (and maybe even take a nap) if you're not suffering from incision pain. Did I mention you should take the drugs? Seriously.
- It's surgery. This may seem obvious, but it didn't really register for me or my husband after Junius was born. Don't expect to be able to do the things your friends did after a vaginal delivery, like drive a car (two weeks) or walk easily (several days). If you'd had abdominal surgery without a baby, no one would expect you to be up and around in two days entertaining visitors. With a c-section, it should be the same thing -- except that you have this new little person placing a lot of demands on you all of a sudden. Which brings me to #4...
- Be nice to yourself. Ask for help and accept all offers. Let someone else make dinner, do laundry, clean house -- this should be true for all new parents, but especially for a c-section mama. You'll need someone else to drive you to doctor's appointments for the first two weeks, so go ahead and let that person take care of grocery shopping and errand running, too (like going to the pharmacy to pick up your pain medicine, ahem).
- Keep everything close. Going up and down stairs is particularly difficult at first. Be sure you can camp out on one floor for most of the day -- set up a changing station, a place for the baby to nap (or rock or whatever) and access to snacks for you so you're not having to chase after things. Get lots of pillows for making yourself comfortable. Also, keep your feet up while you're sitting -- something about the surgery tends to make your legs swell for a few days.
Okay, mamas -- what did I miss?