Let me just start by saying, everyone’s experiences are their own. I had a tough c-section recovery, but that doesn’t mean other people don’t have very good recoveries. I’m putting my hard recovery down to a specific reason to do with medication. Also, I’ve cut this down to the important parts. If I included absolutely everything, I’d be writing a bloody novel.
I remember lying in my hospital bed in the recovery room, just after being taken from theatre with Joel on my chest, skin to skin and feeling no pain. In fact, I had no feeling from the ribs down at all! I was given painkillers straight away and told by the surgeon not to miss a dose as I’ll be in a lot of pain due to the trauma to my bladder and the op itself. Unfortunately for me, I’m limited to what painkillers I can have because of my Ulcerative Colitis. Anything anti-inflammatory based is a big no-no for me. So it was just my luck that the painkillers of choice for c-sections are anti-inflammatory. Figures. So, I had to settle for paracetamol with the occasional codeine and morphine. I remember those occasional times well. Less pain.
Soon after arriving on the maternity ward, two midwives had the glamorous job of cleaning me up and fitting me with multiple maternity pads and some sexy hospital net knickers. Even with a c-section delivery you still have a lot of vaginal bleeding. I had Wilko own brand ones and they were amazing! After about an hour of being on the ward, I started to feel some pain creeping in. Then one of the midwives came to assist me with breastfeeding. I was really struggling to hold Joel properly as the pain in my stomach started to worsen. The pain at this point felt like a really bad aching pain that was higher up than what I’d expected.
“Try feeding him lying on your side, take the pressure off your body.” My lovely midwife advised as she lifted Joel from my arms.
As I slowly pushed my hands into the bed to shuffle down, I felt the most intense burning sensation in my incision that made me shriek in agony. With every movement on that first day, I had to have someone help me move, even just to prop myself up on the bed. I couldn’t even sit up to look at Joel in his cot which brought me to tears. Good job those things are see-through, I’d have been an absolute wreck if they weren’t. At this point, all I wanted was my mum. After the trauma I’d just been through, the overwhelming emotions, the new responsibilities of having this little person counting on me and being in so much pain, I just wanted my mum. I’d asked for her to be the first person I see, so I was looking forward to having a lovely mother-daughter moment. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen exactly the way I’d planned. But that’s another story. Every time I moved, it felt like I was being branded with a burning hot iron in my incision. When I wasn’t moving, the area above the incision was purple and felt like the pain you feel when you press a bruise, constantly.
There was another girl opposite me who’d had a c-section a few hours after me who refused painkillers and was walking around. What?! How on earth was she coping without any painkillers and I’m here dosed up and can’t move? It made me so down to think I wasn’t coping with what had happened to me. I ended up asking her how she was able to not have any painkillers. She said she had zero sensation in her stomach and felt numb from the waist down. Look’s like I drew the short straw, but it just shows how no two women are alike and we all recover in our own way.
At about 10pm on our first night in hospital, visiting hours were over and Shaun had to leave. I was absolutely terrified. I’d be on my own to look after this tiny little human and I can’t even move.
“It’s ok, the midwives are here to help me.” I reassured myself.
They’d all been so lovely and couldn’t do enough for me throughout the day. On the night shift, there were only two midwives. One of them was so lovely and really put me at ease as I was clearly feeling a bit overwhelmed and in a lot of pain. The other midwife. The Trunchbull I called her (not to her face, she’d have eaten me) was the complete opposite. She was so impatient with me and made me feel useless as a new mother on multiple occasions during my stay. On my second night, I rang my bell when Joel was due a feed. I was still unable to lift him out of his cot so I needed help with feeding. The Trunchbull came to my bedside with a face of thunder and looked at me as if to say, “What do you want?”.
“Joel’s due a feed, can you help me getting him on my chest please?” I asked, scared of what her answer would be.
“You’re expected to be doing this on your own by now!” She snapped back at me as she reluctantly lifted Joel up and roughly plonked him on my chest.
Eh?! Behave love. I’ve just had my stomach sliced open the day before, trauma to my bladder and I’m not on the best painkillers. Which I might add, she didn’t give to me until about the 4th prompt a few times. That’s what I wanted to say. Instead, I ignored her for the remainder of my stay there and reluctantly asked to be discharged the following day. Even though I was in excruciating pain and was just about able to walk for a few minutes at a time, I couldn’t put up with another night of that vile woman.
On the third day of being in hospital, I was allowed to go home. Joel was latching fine and had plenty of wet and dirty nappies, I’d had my catheter out and I was peeing fine after drinking a disgusting fluid to get things working again. The head midwife came to discuss my discharge and go through my medications or lack of I should say. I was given fragmin injections to prevent clotting, which I had to get Shaun to do for me. I couldn’t bring myself to do it! As I wasn’t allowed anti-inflammatories and they can’t dispense morphine or codeine outside the hospital, I was given paracetamol. Yep that was it. Part of me thought “I’m not going to cope without the morphine and codeine doses”. On the other hand, I didn’t want to put up with The Trunchbull for another night. So I kept my mouth shut and I was discharged.
Our first night home with Joel was a living nightmare. But that is a whole other blog post for the future. Let’s stick to the c-section recovery!
Shaun was sleeping downstairs with the dogs. Obi wasn’t well, so Shaun was keeping an eye on him and he just wanted to keep the dogs feeling loved with having our new arrival getting a lot of attention. I’d set up camp in bed with my laptop, some snacks, my breast pump, painkillers and more snacks taking up Shaun’s side of the bed (I wish I’d taken a photo!) with my boy by my side.
Thankfully Shaun was on paternity leave for a few weeks. I don’t know what I’d have done if he wasn’t there for us. He had to help me get in and out of bed. Oh wow, just thinking back to what it felt like when I stood up brings it all back. I’d sob uncontrollably as Shaun took my weight to get me on my feet. He had to help me with feeding Joel. He even had to wash me and when I was able to, he helped me shower as I was just in so much pain, I couldn’t look after myself. Then I just kept breaking down. How long was I going to be like this? How was I supposed to look after a baby if I couldn’t even look after myself? Shaun would always reassure me that I was doing great, but I didn’t feel like I was.
I started getting very depressed during the first week of being home which lasted for another few weeks. There were a few factors that I feel caused my depression; the pain from the c-section was a big one, being in one room most of the time was making me snap, feeling like a failure as I was struggling with breastfeeding and trying to keep everybody else around us happy (which I will not be doing next time around, I’ve learnt from this that me and the baby come first).
After 5 days the midwives came round to remove my dressing and check up on us. My emotions were all over the place and I ended up breaking down on one of them and just sobbing my heart out. She told me I was doing great, I was healing well and it was just taking me a bit longer to heal. My incision was healing quite well overall. There was only one area on the right where they had tied the knot that was beginning to irritate my skin. (I think after about 2 weeks I ended up cutting the knot stitch out as the skin around it looked and felt really sore. I’m not recommending you do this whatsoever! I’m just an impatient person and I wanted it out.) To help with the healing of my scar, I used Dead Sea Salt in the bath to soak the wound and this made a visible difference every day. It really aided the healing. I also bought some C Panty knickers which are specifically made for c-section recovery, with a silicone strip that lies over the incision to help it heal. I found that they did help, but they also really chafed in the legs. I recommend checking the size before you buy.
To take my mind off the pain, I decided I would binge-watch a TV series. I had a look through Netflix, but nothing caught my eye. So I had a look at what All4 had to offer. Dawson’s Creek. Perfect! (I know the title of this post is Netflix and Cry, but All4 and Cry doesn’t have the same ring to it.) So a lot of my recovery was spent either watching Dawson’s Creek whilst having Joel attached to one boob and expressing on the other, having a mental break down or trying to go for a crap.
I’m about to share something that isn’t nice at all, but it needs to be addressed as this is something I wished someone had prepared me for. My first crap after Joel was born wasn’t until 7 days later. Well, why the hell didn’t anybody give me some stool softener earlier?!!! Jesus Christ, I made so much noise the neighbour knocked on to make sure I wasn’t dead! Shaun thought I was having another baby! Now I know where the saying “rip you a new arsehole” comes from. If there’s one piece of advice I can give any pregnant first-time mum, for the love of god, please take some stool softeners and save yourself and your arse!
At first, I absolutely hated my body after having Joel. Before I got pregnant, I was a size 10 with small boobs and I was happy with the way I looked. Now I’m a size 14, have a bruised mum-tum, my tits resemble a Newton’s Cradle when I walk, I’ve got stretch marks for days and a big ass scar. And you know what, I couldn’t give a shit about any of that because when I look at my body now, all I see is the place that our beautiful, perfect little boy was created. The place that he called home for 9 months. And what an amazing place it continues to be.