Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Recovery

I am going to state in advance that I remember very little of my recovery. I don't know if that is because I was in shock, or if it was from my lack of sleep, but I am regretful that I don't remember. I have to constantly ask Jason or my mother-in-law what happened or if I was dreaming a certain detail.

After my c-section, I remember the nurses and Jason taking care of Jack while I was being stitched up. It took them a good 5 minutes to finish before I could even see him for the first time. That 5 minutes was an eternity! He was crying, I was crying, Jason was crying. Finally I got to see and hold him and I was wheeled to my recovery room holding my precious boy.

Mike and Lynn (My in-laws) were waiting in our room and as I was holding him, they were gazing at my beautiful baby. Being a selfish person, I didn't want to give him up. After a cruddy birth, I wanted to cuddle my bundle. It was a good couple of hours before Lynn got to hold him (I am so mean!).

One of the nurses got to work on me. I think they were making sure I was comfortable in bed and taking my vital signs. The other nurse, Molly, was taking care of Jack. After I was all checked out, he was brought over to me to try and nurse. He latched on okay with Molly's help and started sucking. Little did I know that he wasn't doing it right (see my Breastfeeding Failure post). Molly tried helping us along and let me tell you, all modesty goes out the window. She was grabbing my breast and grabbing Jack and my mother-in-law was in the room. I don't remember if my father-in-law was gone or had stepped out of the room at that point.

After nursing, Jack got his first bath and diaper change. I am really glad that Jason took a video because I honestly don't even remember this detail. The video shows him crying and screaming away, but again, where was I? I am sure my heart was wrenching to hear my baby crying, but I don't remember! The video is very sweet. It's amazing just how much he has changed already from when he was first born to 11 days later.

Because I had a c-section, I couldn't get out of bed right away. I still had my catheter, my IV and all kinds of monitors hooked up to me. FINALLY, I was able to have some water. I hadn't been able to for close to 12 hours. When you have an epidural, all you are allowed are ice chips. My mouth was so so so dry. I sucked down close to 16 ounces of water right away. That might have been a terrible idea because about an hour later, it all came back up again. The nurse was standing at the sink and I asked "If I need to throw up, what should I do it in?" She wasn't paying attention, but I felt the nausea coming on, so I covered my mouth and motioned to Jason that I was going to vomit. Jason literally had to shake the nurse's arm to give me something to yak in. And throw up I did. Amazingly, throwing up didn't hurt my incision. I was probably so drugged up at that point which might explain it. Because I had gotten sick, I was told that I wouldn't be allowed to eat until at least the next morning. Dude, that is mean! I was starving! Even if I could have had some fruit or crackers, that would have been fine. Nope, no food.

The rest of the night is a blur, but I remember Karen, my nurse, telling me that around 3:00am, they would be waking me up to get me out of bed. I didn't need to walk anywhere, they just wanted me to stand up. I probably didn't even sleep. Again, I can't remember. Jason took care of Jack and brought him over to my bed if he got hungry.

The witching hour of 3:00am came. Karen maneuvered me around in bed (that was hard enough since my legs were slightly numb) to try and get me to stand. You try standing on legs that feel like pins and needles that have been that way since the early afternoon. It was such a bizarre feeling. It didn't hurt when she stood me up, but boy, my body revolted against me. Even though I had thrown up all my water earlier, there must have still been something left in my stomach, because I threw up again. I no sooner stood up with the nurse's help, sat back down and said "I need to throw up again". Geez, could I catch a break? I am sure it had something to do with adrenaline and the anesthesia finally wearing off, but still. Icky.

The rest of the night passed and the next morning, I was feeling so much better. I was still not able to eat (meanies). I think my first meal came at 6:00 and that had been 36 hours since I had last eaten. Honestly, the roast beef and cheese sandwich tasted like the best thing ever. I figured roast beef because Jason and Lynn had oh-so-kindly eaten delicious looking sandwiches in front of me the day before.

On Wednesday morning, I finally got out of bed to use the bathroom and to get "freshened up". That is exactly what the nurse called it. Her words, not mine. I had a nurse on either side of me and they helped haul me up and out of bed. Thankfully, I did not get sick this time. I shuffled very slowly to the bathroom and was able to sit down on the toilet with the help of the grab bars. My catheter was removed as I was sitting on the toilet and boy did it feel weird! I remember the nurse explaining that it wouldn't hurt and that it would feel slightly strange. She also explained that since I had a catheter for so long, my bladder wouldn't be able to know it needed to be emptied. I was instructed to get up every two hours even if I didn't think I needed to pee. I sat on the toilet for a good five minutes trying to pee, and finally it came! I would pee a little and my bladder would get confused and then stop. This continued until I was done and by that time, the nurse was ready with all her "equipment" to clean me up. Again, all modesty goes out the window.

Being cleaned up felt amazing. Seriously, I felt like a new woman. She filled this nifty squeeze bottle with lukewarm water and "hosed" me off. I wasn't allowed to wipe and needed to use the squeeze bottle for a while. Fine with me! It felt good! Like a little bath every time I needed to go potty. Everyone talks about the huge mesh panties that the hospital has you wear. Confession: I stole some from the hospital. They felt soooooo good. I didn't want to soil my own underwear so I wore mesh panties for a few days after I came home from the hospital. They are stretchy and comfy and fit those giant elephants pads that they give you. My "freshening up" was over and I was put back into bed with my giant panties, pad and puppy pad under my butt.

Karen, my night nurse (didn't like her, that's another story) said that for the first day of recovery, all I was allowed to do was go back and forth to the bathroom. I shouldn't be getting out of bed for anything else. I shouldn't pick up my baby or walk the halls. The following day I could walk around the room and the day after that, I could walk the halls if I felt up to it. If I needed to use the bathroom for the first day, I should call my day nurse for the first couple of times for help getting out of bed. The funny thing is that when my day nurse, Larissa, got on shift, I asked her about this and she poo-pawed those instructions. She said if I felt fine and up to it, I could go by myself but to take it slow. That wouldn't be the first time that a different nurse poo-pawed Karen's instructions.

The day went by without any real events. I peed, watched tv, snuggled with my baby and chatted with my mother-in-law. Nursing was pretty hard. Jack had a slight issue with latching (he couldn't fish lip my breast like he was supposed to), so my nipples got very sore very fast. Nursing was not exactly fun, but I kept up. With the help of my Boppy, I kept nursing about every two hours.

In the evening, I had a few visitors. I honestly felt fine after eating so my co-worker and good friend Kelly came by first. She cried when she first saw Jack. Who wouldn't? He is that darn gorgeous after all (I will post a picture at the end for proof). My sister came by as well and so did my aunt and uncle. Even though I hadn't showered and was still wearing my sexay hospital gown, it was nice to have visitors and show off my baby.

Karen ended up being my night nurse again, lucky me. Here's why she kind of bothered me. First off, she kept calling me Babe. Everything was "Okay Babe", "good job Babe", or "no problem Babe". Yes, she was an older woman, but seriously, babe? It was annoying. She also would come into the room and say "It's just Karen". Not sure why it bugged me, but it did. She also would try and baby me. I realize that I had major surgery but I didn't need to be told to eat vanilla pudding at 4:00 in the morning, or when she brought my pills, she would try and get me to eat some saltines. None of my other nurses did stuff like that.

Here are the main reasons that Karen was not my favorite nurse: She told me I couldn't get out of bed the first day. When I mentioned that to another of my nurses, she seemed shocked. She told me that the information was untrue and that I SHOULD be getting out of bed and walking around. I missed a whole day of picking up and snuggling with Jack! I can't tell you how disappointed I was about that. The second reason is because she would give me information and then not explain it very well so I was left upset or putting the pieces together myself. For an example, read my Breastfeeding Failure post. That tells it all.

On Thursday, I was feeling much better and getting up and out of bed on my own. I got a Tetanus shot that day and I was able to pick Jack up and feed him without help. My first lactation nurse came in to help me with feeding since Jack was already losing so much weight. I thought after working with her, the problem would be solved, but no. Those issues have continued. Don't get me wrong. I am not upset. I know it's a process. She did give me some good information and had me start using these cooling gel pads on my nipples since they looked like I had been bitten by a vampire.

The only cruddy thing about Thursday was my gas issues. I don't know if it's because of the surgery, but I swear, it felt like I had another baby in me trying to break out. I had gas bubbles all day and night. It didn't hurt, but once in a while I would get a stitch in my side. If I walked around the room it helped relieve my issues. Poor Jason probably got grossed out by all the farting I was doing.

Aunt Laurie, Mamo and Vicky came to visit Jack on Thursday and then later that evening, Lynn came and roomed in with me so Jason could go home and get a good night's sleep. I figure that since I wasn't sleeping (I literally had about 5 hours of sleep my entire hospital stay, no joke) that Jason should be getting some rest. You could tell that he didn't want to leave because of the tone of his voice. As he was leaving, he kissed Jack and had tears in his eyes. I made a comment to Lynn that he would call at least twice before the next morning, and of course, I was right. He called 20 minutes after leaving and asked how Jack was and to give him a big kiss. He sounded choked up. It was heartbreaking.

Lynn and I spent the night together and I was completly delirious. A few times, she told me to get some rest and I did shut my eyes. It's hard to sleep when you are worrying about your baby. My eyes would close and I would say the most random, gibberish. I am sure Lynn thought I was losing my mind. Jack slept right next to my bed in his isolette. That way he cried I could easily pick him up and feed or comfort him.

That night lasted forever. It was hard to be away from Jason after he had taken care of us for four days. The only saving grace was my night nurse. She was an absolute joy. Her name was Cathy and she had the cutest Texas accent. She was so incredibly nice. She made mention that I should get some rest and that Jack could come to the nursery to give me a break. From that point on he had roomed in with me the entire time. Finally, around 4:30, I took Cathy up on her offer and sent Jack to the nursery. That was about as hard as sending Jason home! I knew he was in good hands. Cathy asked my permission to give him a pacifier if he was inconsolable. I got a few minutes of rest and no sooner did Jack leave that he came back. He was only gone an hour. He got so upset and wouldn't stop crying so he was brought back into the room. Looking back, I know he was so upset because he was hungry. In the hospital, he was extremely cranky and grumpy and that was because he wasn't getting enough food. My poor baby. I am so glad that he has turned a corner and is gaining weight now and getting the hang of eating.

My doctors wanted me to stay in the hospital until Saturday but by Friday I was itching to go home. I was ready to beg Dr. P to let me go. I felt fine and was healing well. To prove it to them, I got up, took a shower and even did my hair. It felt so nice and I felt so human afterwards. I even wore some of my own clothes. Bye bye icky hospital gown! When Jason came back to the hospital, he would see me all showered and pretty.

The on-call doctor came around at 10:00 and I asked if I could go home that day. She said it would be perfectly fine! Yay, we were going home! I was given two prescriptions. One of Oxycodone and one for Ibuprofen 800. I couldn't wait until the afternoon when we would be discharged.

As we were getting ready to leave, a different lactation consultant came in and Jack was weighed. I was nearly hysterical when I found out that he had officially lost 10% of his body weight. All the pumping and supplementing (we were finger feeding along with breast feeding) along with breastfeeding were not working to stop his weight loss. Talk about a complete curve ball. We were on track to head home when Laurie (the LC) told us that Jack had a sucking problem. I couldn't stop crying and Jason kept trying to console me.

The LC was wonderful and told me that I was not a bad mom and that I was doing a good job and that Jack just needed some help. She evaluated his sucking and determined it was not very good. She gave us a plan and since then, we have been working with him. If you want to read about the plan, there is a whole separate Breastfeeding Failure post. I could rant and rant about my issue forever.

I was nervous about getting Jack in the carseat and taking him home because he hated to be unswaddled at that point (he is over that now). My stomach was in knots as Jason made his way to the car with all our things and to go get the carseat. I was alone with Jack in the empty hospital room for about 20 minutes which gave me a chance to unwind and let my emotions calm down. When Jason returned, surprisingly, Jack did really well being strapped into the carseat. We had him in a very cute blue bear outfit to make the journey home. He was so dang tiny!

We had to wait for a stupid wheelchair for me (hospital policy) and I was getting really upset. I just wanted to walk to the car and get the car ride over with. Honestly, waiting for 15 minutes for the dumb wheelchair was very stressful. I was unnecessarily snappy with the poor volunteers when they came to get us.

Jack did awesome on the ride home. He didn't fuss or cry once! He seems to enjoy the bouncing of the car. Every time we have taken him out, he has been so good. I hope I didn't just jinx us by saying that.

Being at home is amazing. It's been so much less stressful and we have found our groove. It's been awesome to wear my own clothes, feel comfortable nursing without flashing the world, going to the bathroom on my own toilet (I know, weird), etc. I have even found a few opportunities to cook and bake. It's been awesome and I know how blessed we are. I thank God every day for our miracle and the fact that he's such a good boy.

My advice to those recovering after having a baby:

* Take the Colace! Keep taking it until you are "regular" again or are off your narcotics.

* Give yourself a break. Send the baby to the nursery. Don't feel guilty. I wished I had done this at least twice so I could get an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep.

* Let the nurses help you. Don't try to be a hero. Let them help you out of bed, bring you water, bring you food, etc. Seriously, you just gave birth. Let people pamper you.

* Eat! Take advantage of some down time and get some food. Surprisingly, the hospital food was pretty good. I was bad about having three meals a day. I was lucky if I had two.

* Take the drugs. Again, don't be a hero. The pain medication you are given has no harmful effects on your wee one. Take them and don't feel guilty about it.

* Expect that your body will not bounce back immediately. Yes, I have already lost over 15 pounds, but I don't expect my flabby belly or my incision are going to look great for several months. You will have flab and if you were lucky enough not to have gotten stretch marks, don't be shocked if they appear post-delivery. I have some on my belly now even though they are light and white.

* RELAX! Sleep when you can, snuggle with your baby and try and give yourself some "me" time. Even if that "me" time is a 5 minute trip to the bathroom. You need it.

If you made it through this post, congratulations! Your reward is a super cute picture of Jack. Seriously, how handsome is he? He looks slightly annoyed in this picture. Probably because he thinks someone is going to steal his paci.

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