I’ll never forget how it felt to hear “OH, you took the easy way out!” during the first few weeks of my son’s life. He was born right smack in the beginning of the holidays (like, the week before Thanksgiving that year), and we were dealing with feeding issues. The swelling in my feet and ankles just refused to go down, I was exhausted (duh) AND recovering from a major surgery, and here we were dragging our brand-new, teeny-tiny little baby to family gatherings during cold and flu season.
In other words, the last thing I wanted to hear was that I “took the easy way out”. Not only was it said, but it was generally accompanied by a pat on the knee and a somewhat condescending wink. Sometimes that would be followed by a knowing glance the person would share with another woman.
I got to hear all kinds of stories from the women who were ‘real’ warriors. 30 hours of labor this, episiotomy that, blah, blah, blah… And of course the complaining was always capped off with a quick, “but it was all worth it” at the end. Uh, ok.
“I wish”, one woman said, “that I could have just relaxed on a table while a surgeon did all of the work!” She then laughed at her own joke. As if I had gone to some all-inclusive resort and sipped a (virgin!) daquri and had a pedicure during my c-section. Yeah, that’s how it went.
Here’s the thing. I know a lot of people think that c-sections happen purely by a ‘selfish’ choice made by the mom. That generally isn’t how it goes, though. A lot of women face c-sections for a number of reasons…Reasons, I might add, that are no one else’s business.
I actually did not have a choice. When it was confirmed that O was breech and couldn’t turn around (he was sharing a small space with a rather large tumor, after all) my doctor immediately scheduled the surgery. When I asked if there was anything else we could do, she explained how dangerous it would be to attempt to go the natural route and that she wasn’t really willing to do it. Not only was my life at risk, so was O’s. I even asked her to turn him, which she said would be ridiculously painful for me and likely totally ineffective.
Thanks to hormones and a lot of misconceptions, I felt like an absolute failure. I was so embarrassed to tell people outside of my family, and I was always quick to justify it by saying, “but I have no choice in the matter”.
The morning of my c-section, I felt strangely calm. It was incredibly early, and the 30 minute drive to the hospital was a piece of cake…No traffic, no rushing, just the BF and I chatting calmly.
They did one last ultrasound to see if he had managed to flip… I silently prayed that he had, and asked if they would be willing to induce me if that were the case. The nurse said that might be an option, but then promptly confirmed that he was still breech. So much for a last-minute miracle.
The BF had to wait while they prepped me and got the epidural going. I don’t really remember the epidural being too terrible, but I do know that I was terrified I would move and paralyze myself. After all, that needle was pretty huge and it was going right into my spine. I was also perched rather precariously on the edge of the operating table and shivering because damn it was cold in that room. Also, probably from what ever they had in my IV. At any rate, the very first epidural attempt was successful and it took no time to work. In fact, they were instructing me to move my legs and I finally had to laugh and let them know I couldn’t, could they please help me?
Once I was situated on the table, a green curtain was erected to block my view of the lower half of my body. I remember my doctor asking if I felt something, and when I replied “What?”, she smiled and said I was ready to go. Apparently, she had pinched the inside of my thigh as hard as she could to make sure I was numb. Even though I felt nothing, I asked if she thought she should try again…She just smiled and told me everything was fine.
“Well, you’re not the one about to be cut open, you know?”
She laughed and made a big show of pinching me again, just to humor me. I was still nervous, but I hadn’t even felt her move my leg. I couldn’t stall any more.
The BF finally got to come in, all suited up, and sat on a stool next to my head. He and I stared at the green curtain while the final prep work was being done, and finally Dr. Stephenson let us know they were getting started. The BF and the anesthesiologist talked about hunting, and they passed the anesthesiologist’s phone to each other over my head to look at pictures of an elk he shot on some trip. It was all very surreal, and then I noticed smoke wafting up from behind the green curtain.
Oh yes, they cauterize your incision as they cut.
I felt absolutely nothing, and I was surprisingly calm. I thought, “this might really be a piece of cake”. There was a lot of chatting, mostly the BF because he can be a bit of a nervous talker. Then, the six-foot-tall, 185-ish pound doctor that was assisting said, “Ok, you aren’t going to like me much after this part.”
Then he leaned on the left side of my stomach with what had to have been his entire body weight. I’ll admit, I did panic a bit when I suddenly couldn’t breathe and thought he was going to break my ribs. I made this ridiculous “OOF” sound as every bit of oxygen I had in my body was forced out, and then I realized that he was grunting a bit as well from all of the force he was putting into it. You see, a baby is definitely bigger than the incision they make, and it’s not like they come out easily. No, there’s a lot of pulling from the operating doctor and a TON of pushing from the assisting doctor. That part sucked and I hated every second of it. My whole body was rocking from the force he was using, and I swore I was about to fall off of the table. There is actually nothing especially gentle about a c-section, and the “piece of cake” thoughts I was having ended rather abruptly the second they started actually working on getting O out.
Obviously, I didn’t fall off of the table, and obviously, this was how they had to do it. I knew that, but I still didn’t like it.
Once they got him out, they brought him over so I could see him, then he was taken to be cleaned up and weighed. BF got to go over and watch, and on the way back to his seat I saw his eyes get wide. He told me later that when he turned around, he saw my guts all sitting on my stomach just waiting to be put back in my body. And blood. Like, a lot of blood.
Yeah, another fun thing. They have to pull your ab muscles apart like curtains and remove the organs that are in front of your uterus to get the baby out. Easy way out my ass.
So I did cry a little tear, but then I started to feel very weird. Everything sounded like it was in a tunnel, my vision was starting to blur, and I felt a bit nauseated. I tried a couple of times to tell someone before I finally managed to get the words out…If you’ve ever had one of those dreams when you’re trying to scream and just can’t, that’s exactly how I felt. The anesthesiologist said that was totally normal, pushed something into my IV, and within seconds I was fine again.
I don’t remember a lot about being wheeled back to my room, or holding my boy for the first time. We had to wait an hour before my parents could come in, and I do remember asking the BF to take a picture of me holding O. I look a little confused, maybe a little tired, but I don’t exactly look excited. Then again, I was mid-sentence when he took the picture so that could be part of it.
I was told I’d have to stay in my bed for the remainder of the day, probably, because even after the numbing wore off I wouldn’t be able to comfortably get in and out of bed to pee. I thought that was pretty stupid, and as soon as I could feel my legs I asked my nurse to let me try to get up. She laughed, but then relented and started moving blankets and getting my catheter ready. The look on her face when I successfully stood up and started shuffling around the room was priceless, and she was still shaking her head as she took me in the bathroom to take out my catheter.
That part, by the way, doesn’t suck at all. It’s just a little pop! and it’s gone. Pretty painless.
The time I spent in the hospital was great. Nurses were coming in to take a look at O because word had gotten around that he had a ridiculous head of dark hair. We had a few visitors, but nothing too crazy. The BF went out to get us ice cream and brought Blizzards to all of the nurses. I was kind of sad when they told me we were released.
The recovery sucked. I wasn’t in a ton of pain, but I there were definitely times when I was reminded I had been cut open. I also had some gas bubbles that seriously felt like they were ripping my stomach open. Coughing, laughing, sneezing, sudden movements…all were painful, even if I had just taken pain meds. I wasn’t allowed to pick up anything heavier than my baby. Do you know what’s heavier than an eight-pound baby boy? Damn near everything. I couldn’t drive, I had some trouble getting in and out of chairs by myself, and pooping was absolutely terrifying. I don’t know that it’s possible to overdose on stool softeners, but I’ll bet I came close.
Then there’s the stuff that happens no matter how you get the baby out. Nothing is worse than talking to your best friend when you suddenly pass the mother of all blood clots and have to quickly shuffle to the bathroom before it falls out of your diaper. Because, yes, you are basically stuck wearing diapers for a few weeks.
Oh yeah, that’s definitely TMI.
There’s also the long-term stuff that you never hear about. My ab muscles separated, so here I am over two years post-baby and they’re finally coming back together (it’s taken some work, I’ll tell ya). I also have weird sensations from the scar tissue (that’s also from my second surgery) that feel a lot like something moving around in there. I can’t feel the area around my scar…except when it itches. Then I can feel the itch, but I could attack it with a cheese grater and feel no relief. That’s a blast and a half.
So, over two years removed from my sweet boy’s c-section arrival, do I still feel like a failure?
Nope. Not even a little bit.
I realized at some point that, as long as your child is healthy it doesn’t matter how you got him or her here. Having a c-section was the very first thing I did as a mother to ensure my boy’s safety. It wasn’t fun, but if I could do it over again I totally would.
And yes, I have a gnarly scar to show for it. I have actually come to love my scar for what it represents.
After all, if my kid ever asks where he came from, I can show him my scar. Certainly can’t do that if you squeezed yours out the old fashioned way, can you?
Good God, I’d hope not.
Did you have a c-section? How did it go?
Happy Cesarean Awareness Month!
Today marks the one – year anniversary of my three pound tumor removal. If you’re new around here, or if you just want to take a stroll down memory lane, click here, and here, and here, and of course here to read about Fred’s Twitter fame.
Anyway, I won’t include actual pics of ‘ol Fred here, but they’re in the posts I’ve linked to above. Yes, including the infamous “tumor in a bucket” pic.
Getting that nasty thing removed was the best thing I’ve ever done for my health. I’ve felt better over this last year than I can ever remember feeling.
Going through a pregnancy with a giant tumor was pretty anxiety inducing. In the very beginning, my family doctor told me I would be very high risk and would likely miscarry. Way to be positive, doc (for the record, I no longer go to that office). I spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying over my sweet little peanut. I couldn’t bring myself to share anything baby related on social media for fear that I’d lose him.
I found a wonderful (and infinitely more positive) doctor. She made us aware of risks, but in a way that was far less terrifying. I got to have an awful lot of ultrasounds, mostly because my little stinker would hid behind the tumor and the doc would have trouble finding his heartbeat. I always felt better after those appointments.
People tell me all the time that I “got the easy way out” because I had a C-section. Nothing about it was easy. A nurse at the hospital was kind enough to inform me that they were reserving a few bags of blood for me because, “you’re probably gonna need it.” Having a giant, blood sucking tumor just hanging out in your uterus makes your chances of hemorrhage go way up. I was almost convinced I would bleed to death before ever getting to see my baby.
The day my sweet boy was born, I cried a little from relief. He was here, he was safe and healthy. He was beautiful, with a head full of hair and eyes that seemed to see more than a brand new baby should. It was over.
And six months later, it was really over. Fred was removed, sent to be examined and then disposed of (so far as I know). I’m still a little bitter that I didn’t get to keep him. Women are having teddy bears made out of their placentas and I don’t get to keep my three pound tumor?! Bullshit.
I had my annual poke n’ prod a couple of weeks ago, and my doctor has declared me to be tumor free, which was awesome news since the little mnfers tend to grow back. The longer I can keep from sprouting siblings for Fred, the longer I can put off a more drastic treatment…Namely, a hysterectomy. I don’t know that I want more kids, but I know I don’t want to so firmly shut that door just yet.
So happy birthday Fred, wherever you are. I can’t say that I miss you but I do think of you often.
Last night I started trying to get O to bed around 7:00 and he just wasn’t having it. I knew he was sleepy, but he’s also got another tooth trying to bust through. Add to that some wicked gas (from what, I don’t know) and you get a pretty grumpy boy.
So there I was, feeling frustrated because nothing seemed to be comforting my sweet boy and starting to get pretty tired and grumpy myself… but at one point he seemed to finally be sleeping for real. I plopped down on the couch and opened my Twitter app.
I noticed a conversation going on between Allie from Hyperbole and a Half and The Bloggess about having body parts removed. I thought, “Hey, I had something removed… maybe I can be one of the cool kids too!”
Imagine my surprise when this happened:
And then this happened:
I remembered that I had a pic of me holding Fred that never got posted because I look like a creep… But I thought, “Oh, what the hell!” and attempted to tweet it. Of course my Twitter app would pick that moment to refuse to work.
That’s how the creepy picture of me holding my tumor ended up on Instagram.
I’m sorry, Instagram.
Finally I was able to get the picture on Twitter. Just as I finished the Tweet, O woke up again. I abandoned my phone on the couch and headed up the stairs to my grumpy baby. While I rocked I could hear my phone just blowing up… I told myself that I really needed to unsubscribe from all of those damned email lists because the amount of junk I get is astounding.
When O was asleep (again) I went down to check my phone. And then I almost died.
HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS.
What followed was an insane amount of tweets and replies and I was trying so hard to keep up that I thought my thumbs might fall off. I just could not believe the enormous response… and I was so touched and humbled by all of the kind things that complete strangers were saying that I almost cried right in the middle of all of it.
When The BF came home…my dear, internet-phobe BF that would sooner eat mountain oysters than sign up for Twitter… I must have looked like a puppy, because I was practically vibrating with excitement. What came out of my mouth probably sounded a lot like this:
At that moment, it occurred to me that I should check my blog stats…and I almost died again.
The BF, bless his heart, was excited for me…even though he doesn’t really get into the internet. To really illustrate my excitement, I ran to the bookshelf and grabbed my copy of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and then shook it at him.
He really puts up with a lot.
At any rate, with all of the excitement plus my grumpy, teething baby…I didn’t sleep much last night. For once, I really didn’t care…because who else can say that their giant fibroid was Twitter-famous for a night?
Yesterday was my last post-op appointment (catch up here, here, here, and here if you missed all of the surgery excitement)… After checking my incision my doctor announced that I was released and that I could (slowly) return to normal activities.
Little does she know, I already started doing that. Actually, she probably does at least suspect… See, the morning after my surgery, she was checking on her patient across the hall from me…My door was open and she stuck her head into my room, probably expecting me to be sleeping (it was 6:30 am, after all). Instead, she discovered me shuffling around the room wearing pants. The look of bewilderment on her face was priceless, and when she asked what I was doing I could only be honest with her…
“Cleaning? Just straightening up, really… There were some things on my tray table I wanted to throw away…”
She just shook her head.
So I asked if I could start working out. She gave me the ok as long as I didn’t overdo it…And this morning I knocked out my very first post-surgery workout.
Guys, I might have…maybe…possibly…Um, there’s a chance that I over did it a bit. Really just a teeny bit, though, because now I feel pretty awesome and, more importantly, I did not die.
I did not, sir!
So yesterday was a super great day because I got released AND I got to drive for the first time since my surgery. Today was also an awesome day, since I got to work out and I lifted O in his carseat for the first time. I thought it would rough since I went a month without doing it… I mean, it’s not like he got lighter… But no big deal!
Thank you to everyone that sent me well wishes, happy thoughts, prayers…and to everyone that has emailed or texted me to see how I was doing. It meant a lot to me that so many people cared about little ol’ me!
Today was my first post-op doctor appointment. I’ve been looking forward to it because I haven’t been out of the house much. Plus, I enjoy my doctor. She’s awesome.
If you’ve liked my page on Facebook, you probably saw the update regarding my rather poor clothing choice considering today’s weather. What can I say? I’ve never really been good at dressing appropriately for the conditions… I’m the same girl that wears flip-flops in winter, after all. Good news, though…We had one big storm that lasted about an hour and the rest of the day has been clear. Good thing my appointment was later in the afternoon!
At my appointment, I learned that Fred weighed almost three pounds. Now, I know that doesn’t sound all that impressive…But according to my doc, he was roughly the size of a 30-week pregnancy (O was born at 39 weeks). My doc and I both marvelled at the fact that my insurance company said my surgery was not medically necessary at first, forcing us to jump through hoops to prove it really was. The nurse that did most of the work to get it approved was there, and I offered to sing her Wind Beneath My Wings as a show of appreciation. She politely declined and left the room shaking her head. There was a smile on her face, though…one that said “Man, I totally wanted to hear her sing Wind Beneath My Wings”.
I told doc I had considered having the thing taxidermied so I could give it to O…And that a friend suggested I have it bronzed and made into a keychain. She thought both ideas were pretty funny, though we both agreed that having it on a keychain might do damage to my steering column.
Unfortunately, I still have a bunch of restrictions. I was kind of hoping she’d say I could do whatever I wanted since I’m such a good patient, but I guess having your gut cut open so a giant fibroid can be removed takes longer than a week to heal. I asked about the bruising, because I was afraid I had the binder* on too tight…She informed me that the bruising all around my incision was from trying to get Fred out…that she had to use forceps and still struggled quite a bit. She was determined, she said, not to have to cut me vertically.
She relented when I asked (ok, borderline begged) if I could please do some extremely light exercise…So now I’m allowed to go on a short walk once a day. I’m officially done with the antibiotics, so now I can start working to re-build my supply to get O off of formula. Hooray!
Thanks to everyone that sent me a question for my upcoming Q&A post! If you have a question for me, send it to willfullydisobedientblog (at) gmail (.) com.
I did get a couple of questions about the binder I have referred to a couple of times… So I’ll just address that here:
An abdominal binder is used after you have a baby to kind of help things go back to where they’re supposed to be. I had one after I had O and loved it… I asked for one this time to help with the swelling, as well as to maintain pressure and support for my incision.
Yesterday I reached the summit of boredom when both the BF and O decided to nap. The house was alarmingly quiet and I couldn’t decide what to do with myself.
I realized it was time to take my meds and I’m supposed to take them with food. Chicken In A Biscuit and Easy Cheese? Don’t mind if I do!
In the middle of my feast, the BF wandered downstairs to pee…and almost caught me squirting the cheese directly into my mouth. I froze, using the Jurassic Park don’t-move-and-he-can’t-see-you logic. Good thing he was mostly still asleep, because I think it worked.
Once he’d made his way back upstairs, I put the Easy Cheese up and shuffled into the bathroom. I don’t know what I was looking for as I stood there poking through the medicine cabinet, but I managed to discover this:
I remembered buying it the week before my surgery, but I had completely forgotten about it. Excited to have something to do, I ripped it open and smeared it all over my face.
After scrubbing it off, I was surprised at how good my skin looked. This stuff was pretty cheap (around $2.00 and I had enough left over for another mask) and it worked like a dream. Next time I’m in CVS I’m buying a full size container for sure.
Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone so I immediately stuck a couple of pore strips on my face. They sucked even more gunk out of my face. I’m not surprised, since I’ve been fairly lazy about my skincare routine lately.
I managed to finish everything before the BF came back downstairs, so he still gets to have the illusion that I just naturally have beautiful skin.
He was a little sad that I’d polished off the rest of the Chicken in a Biscuit crackers. I tried to blame it on O, but I think he knew…
I’ve got to say, recovery is incredibly boring. I’m not allowed to do anything.
I started out doing a lot of reading… I finished the first book I bought pretty quickly. When I started the second, I got through the first paragraph and realized I’d read it before. Damn it.
I spent some time hanging out in the kitchen with the BF while he made dinner last night… I even managed to feed O some pears after the BF plunked him down in his high chair for me. I’ve tried to be up moving around as much as possible. I can’t stand or move around too much or I get dizzy and worn out. I have been able to shower, which is definitely a plus. Today I knocked my giant bottle of conditioner off of the shelf, which caused the BF to come running. Oops.
I didn’t wake up Friday night to take my pain meds, and I fell asleep wearing my binder. I think the combination made for a far more painful morning. Saturday was just more painful in general… and the bruising!
I’ve sneezed a handful of times and it’s miserable. I check my incision every time, because it feels like it’s being ripped open. Laughing still hurts, too. I can do little more than snort when I find something funny. Occasionally something catches me off guard and I laugh at it…but immediately regret it.
I’m going to enjoy the rest of this mini Veronica Mars marathon I discovered and then I think I’ll have lunch.
Boring, yes. Stressful? Not one bit.