I waited until I was about 10 weeks 7 months weeks post partum with my second child to sit down to FINISH writing this blog. In between a newborn waking up, typing, feeding, toddler needing his shoes tied, lunch being made, putting the infant back to bed, I finally got it all out.
I’m sure the sleep depravation factors in there somewhere and I had high hopes for getting this blog out in a timely fashion. Oh, how motherhood is teaching my Type-A too cool her jets and be in the moment.
My birth goal: A healthy me and baby
I also wanted to come back with a happy and cheerful, no complications “VBACs rock!” kind of mantra. I’m not going to make that statement. So, before you click off and call me the VBAC party-pooper, read the blog. Just read it.
Babies are a miracle. Truly. I think of no greater way to experience pure joy and love but thru the birth of a child. It’s a magical moment when they hand you your baby and I wouldn’t change anything.
Now, the way they come out I’m not so fond of. I know they have to come out one way or another, so I wanted to break it down for you and how my c-section and VBAC were both good and how they were both not so hot!
I hope this gives some moms hope for either option they choose and know that it’s your right to choose what you want!
WARNING: This will be long. Get a cup of coffee and get ready. There’s a lot here.
The Glorious Birth Experience
There is so much information out there, but when I searched specific about each of my postpartum recoveries, there wasn’t a whole lot of insight or “prep” for moms like me. True. I’m a rather know the nitty gritty before, so I can manage my expectations when the times comes.
Here’s a great example of why I want to know it ALL before I go into labor!
Anyone ever told you how great a movie is before you’ve gotten a change to go see it? Then another person chimes in and confirms the same. “Well, now it’s got to be great,” you think. When you hit the theatre your expectations are based on other people’s experiences. But, we adopt them as our own as we take a seat and wait for magnificence to wash over us. Then…the worst happens. The movie just isn’t that great. I mean, I just paid $20 bucks for popcorn and a non-matinee ticket. You leave feeling disappointed about the whole experience and question if there is something wrong with you since everyone else said is was “The most awesome experience.” That is how I feel about giving birth.
So let’s get to it.
A Look Back at the Emergency C-Section (March 2011)
At 40 weeks+ I was in labor 3-days, had a badly informed doctor who didn’t care about anything labor related. Any who, I was new to town, this doc was close and you can read more about that baby story here.
I will tell you I planned on a water birth/natural birth with my first. I read all the books, watched all the movies, talked with doulas, I had it figured out! Then, I had a c-section.
The things I was prepared for postpartum:
- Nothing! I feel like your first time around you can’t have a clue. You can research your heart out (believe me, I did when the insomnia kicked in for 4 months)
- Then you go through it & think you have some sort of a clue as to what it’s about
- Then I had a VBAC and didn’t have a clue again. I’ve been on the road of “Let’s have exactly opposite of everything you’ve planned for, happen.” I laugh as I type in my sleep-deprived stooper.
My best advice when someone asks for 1st time baby advice: Be prepared for everything that could happen and nothing to go your way. Keep expectations low, spirits high, and a focused mind. Do what’s best for you and your baby.
:: FIRST BIRTH STATS ::
Drugs: Reg epidural at 7cm + morphine – I did not ask for this (pp)
Postpartum Drugs: Percoet (Godsend!)
Weight Gained: 65 pounds (A cold Winter + Tater Tots = lots of eating! Yikes!)
I’d say most of the pros of a c-section are the short-term benefits, but they are beneficial.
- No pushing! I think the majority of the pro in not pushing a baby out is that your lady parts aren’t mangled for weeks (yes, I used that word), you have limited back pain and for me, prolapse and changing anatomy weren’t an issue.
- Healing area – Before my VBAC I would have told you that my c-section incision was the worst pain and don’t get me wrong. It hurts like a B. It just does. But, the incision is one, clean, surgical incision. You also aren’t sitting on that portion of your body so going to the bathroom isn’t really an issue in the anatomical sense.
- Quick & ‘Painless’ – Now, I was in labor for 3 days. So getting an epidural after 3 long days of 1-2 minute apart contractions – with my water breaking and sending me to a 7cm instantly – I needed some drugs to rest!
- The c-section where you’re completely numb and don’t feel a thing as your baby exits your body, I can say after having a VBAC, that’s pretty nice.
- Limited bleeding – ewwww. She said blood. Yep. But with my section it wasn’t that bad. Not like everyone described who had natural births. Kinda nice.
- Getting Back to “It” – I’m going for it. No issues once cleared. Don’t have much to say about it, other than clearance after a c-section didn’t really change anything for me in this area. That was a good thing.
:: CONS ::
- Length of healing time – When they told me not to climb stairs or carry anything for 6 weeks, I scoffed at the thought of not doing those things. Then, you try and get outta bed and you can’t. Your muscles are shot and there is some BAD pain associated with that nice little 4 inch incision site.
- I carried my son’s car seat too early, went on Target runs too early, I even cooked dinner for the family…too early! And guess what? I healed SLOWLY. I’d say I finally got the “take it easy” part around 7 weeks and didn’t fully heal (my incision kept reopening in minor ways) until week 10. So ladies, please sit. Please let others help you. This I’m saying from someone who didn’t let ANY of that happen my first time around…it’s a stubbornness or a thought that you SHOULD be able to do it. Nope. Reading this helped me a bit more the 2nd time around
- Incision site numbness + pain – This is the part that I hated. I wasn’t able to do a sit up for a year. A year! And even to this day, too much ab work has my round ligaments hurting and achy. This isn’t to say everyone will have this issue, but that’s not super fun. The numbness for me lasted about 6-8 months. Even at the incision site there are parts that never regained feeling. Not that big of a deal, but if you have multiple sections I’ve been told your nerves don’t reattach as nicely each time.
- Scarring & the “flap” – My scar was ugly in my opinion, but as I let it heal, I realized what a good job the doctor had done. It’s almost non-existent now and low enough to be covered by a bathing suit. I keloid so it’s a little more raised to the touch, but nothing anyone will ever see. And, after 3 years of healing, I don’t even really notice it anymore. I was devastated when I first had it, so ladies please give yourself time. Please! It will fade and turn white and not be something noticeable. J And if you’re like me, you won’t believe me until you heal and then you will.
- As for the flap, I have a hate-hate relationship with that little pooch. I’m working my way towards getting rid of as much of it as possible, but when you have a section because your skin is so stretched from pregnancy, when they sew you up, the excess skin leaves a little flap, forever there…it can reduce with exercise and good nutrition though!
- Drugs – Right after I had my son and he was taken to the NICU, my head felt VERY heavy and I was pumped full of morphine! I had no clue they were doing it and wasn’t happy about it. I don’t remember anything past seeing him and knowing he was going to the NICU. Then I just remember being in my recovery room…don’t know how I got there or what went on in between. Kinda scary and I didn’t like it. And…probably didn’t need morphine. Just some Percocet and fluids. So, if you know you’re getting a section before hand you might ask them to go light on that part!
The Section + the NICU + Breastfeeding
Boy #1 (Breastfed for 15 months)
With my first, Jack was in the NICU, seriously, if you haven’t read my birth story, read it here and then come back, for 10 days. He was whisked away from me in the delivery room and he didn’t get to nurse until 32 hours later. I was devastated, thinking he wouldn’t latch or have issues with attachment because that’s what I’d read. But, he did the opposite of everything every book or blog told me. I never had a problem with attachment or latching…in fact they had their lactation department come in and observe to show how a baby should latch (this is a true story). I laugh looking back because it had nothing to do with me.
When I held him for the first time, even though others were holding him in the NICU when I was resting, his heart rate would go down and oxygen levels go up (this was a positive thing being monitored for an infection in his lungs). My milk was able to rid him of the infection faster, and he smiled as of 5 days old and hasn’t stopped since. Just as a disclaimer, I supplemented with formula a good handful of times because he was eating so much I couldn’t keep up.
A few things to note:
- I will say that my milk didn’t come in FULLY until 3 weeks later – when he came home. The stress of him being in the NICU and commuting back and forth to the hospital made me not produce as much in the beginning.
- I pumped a lot in between every feeding and stored a bunch for when I would make his food come month 6.
:: The VBAC ::
I didn’t even know if I could have one. Honestly, there was so much “fear” surrounding a VBAC, I did a lot of research before pursuing it 100%. It was a decision that my husband and I made together. It wasn’t so I could have a particular experience in birth (although that did factor in as a pro) but it was really about the health of me and our 2nd son.
Looking back, I think my viewpoint on c-sections would be different had we scheduled a c-section, instead of the emergency c-section. My current OBGYN also offers family-centered c-section which look AMAZING compared to what I remember mine being. So, if you choose a repeat cesarean or have to have one, make sure you look into this option. It made me smile!
:: SECOND BIRTH STATS ::
At 41 weeks, we opted for non-chemical dialation (google foley bulb dilation). It didn’t hurt at all.
(Pitcoin and Light Epidural) – I was given a VERY small dose of – I think the number on the monitor screen was maxed at 9 – I think most Pitocin drips start at that amount and double every hour. My midwife upped it ‘2’ every 3 hours. Pitocin was over the course of 12 hours. I also opted for a ‘lite’ epidural at 7 cm. I’d done the feeling of labor with my first and knew I didn’t have that long to go and really didn’t want to feel it a ton. I could feel pressure, every contraction and knew when & where to push. I even could move my legs and lift my body…the nurses gave such a low dose as I requested so I would have enough not to be debilitated with pain, but enough to not be bedridden.
Drugs Postpartum: Motrin and Percocet
Weight Gained: 34 pounds
Tearing or Incisions: 3 moderate – Internal Tearing
:: PROS ::
- Recovery time – A lot quicker when it came to leaving the hospital and the long term healing is a lot quicker! I can workout and do situps – although I do recommend people waiting until they can hold their bladder decently to workout. I tried to soon and well…you all know what happens there.
- Limited drugs – I was on Percoet only because of my internal tearing – yowsers – and it was for 7 days.
- The Laboring – this was a really cool experience. I think if you’re a woman and you can, the experience of labor is pretty neat. To push out your baby is super cool.
- My midwife and nurses – these are your rockstars. Find people that support your birth plan and YOU and your family and you’ll have a great experience. Mine was night and day difference with my 2nd birth I believe all because of the doctors, the nursing staff and the hospital I delivered at. There are OBGYNs out there! Search and search until you find someone that believes in you.
:: CONS ::
- Postpartum Hemorrhage – This was pretty scary, although I couldn’t tell you because I wasn’t conscious. I know that they make you get up to go to the bathroom after and when I did as I was sitting blood had pooled and I lost about 900mL. I passed out and felt the effects of that for about 2-3 weeks after. Feeling extra tired and weak were the primary ones. Thank God they were able to stop it.
- The Lady Parts – I feel like I can’t even accurately go into this without getting graphic to a point of embarrassment and while I’m open to sharing in small circles if need-be (ask me anything in private I’ll tell ya!) talking about that region publicly feels slightly awkward. So, I’ll leave it at this. Nothing is ever the same – it does heal – it does function normally again. Any more – send me a message J
- Postpartum Bathroom Routine – Just kinda a pain literally after all the pain you just went thru. The process of spray bottles and iodine and salt baths and essential oils for me wasn’t fun. I was sleep deprived and just wanted to pee. So in this area the C-section wins.
- Back pain – I think because of pushing I had a lot of back pain. Pain that lasted probably 7 weeks. It finally went away, but it was hard to get around for a while.
- Sex – give it time. It will not be like a c-section recovery time. Everyone is different. Go at your own pace and don’t pressure yourself to hit that 6-week mark.
- Bleeding – the on again and off again bleeding was like any woman’s monthly. Kinda a pain to handle, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Baby #2 (TBD) My milk came in instantly. I think being my second and knowing what to do, I wasn’t as worried. This was the natural part for me. I didn’t enjoy it as much this time around because I think Charlie (my 2nd) does it strictly for the food and not comfort. He’s gotten more accustomed as he’s gotten older to enjoying it a bit, but more so it’s about food and then sleep. J
I was hoping to shout victory for one or the other process. You might think I’ve picked one, but honestly I’m about 50/50 when it comes to deciding. I think if you are able to birth a child without being cut open, that seems like a no brainer, but because I had the option the second time around, it then became a decision and so now I think if the decisions were laid out on a table, I might actually do the Csection. But another day might lean toward the other.
Labor is a crazy great and painful experience. Once you get to a place where you feel at peace with your decision for your family, I feel like THAT is the right choice J
Happy Laboring Mamas!
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