What Nobody Tells You About C-Sections (Not for the faint of heart)
by Leigh Hope Fountain 12:17 PM 0 comments
So given that nearly four weeks have passed since I had my C-section and out came the most incredible, adorable, magical little girl we call Gypsy, I finally feel prepared to relay my feelings about the entire C-section debacle.
The surgical procedure itself was a cakewalk. My doctor was phenomenal and everything in that respect went off without a hitch. The only thing that sucked was what took place in advance of the surgery - having to swallow a vile liquid antacid that tasted worse than barium. My husband still doesn't believe that could even be possible. I assure you that to me, it was. Anyway - it was the 4 1/2 day aftermath to the surgery that temporarily turned my world upside down and infuriated the shit out of me.
Nobody in the hospital hands you a guidebook on breastfeeding and the staff offers very little in the way of help, unless you ask to meet with one of their on-staff lactation consultants, but you need to know to ask. And... note to anyone planning on having a baby and breastfeeding:
ASK BEFORE YOU RUN INTO EXCRUCIATING AND EXCESSIVELY FRUSTRATING PROBLEMS SO YOU CAN AVOID THEM.
Another issue nobody had warned me about was when I'd be able to eat solid food. I hadn't eaten anything in almost 24 hours - and apparently they wouldn't let me do so until I passed gas. Why does nobody mention this? Lucky for me, I managed to meet their requirement pretty quickly. When I told them however, they decided it was still too soon regardless. WTF? Why did they tell me I could have solid food when I passed gas, only to decide thereafter to change their agenda??? Not cool. Maybe they thought I was lying? Either way, not cool.
On day 2, I woke up drenched in sweat and in massive pain. I was so out of it and exhausted that it didn't even occur to me to inquire about what pain meds I had been given, if any - until I was pretty much in tears - especially because they wanted me to walk around. Little did I know they had only been giving me Motrin. MOTRIN! "Motrin is used to reduce fever and treat pain or inflammation caused by many conditions such as headache, toothache, back pain, arthritis, menstrual cramps, or minor injury."
Um - having someone cut through skin, muscle, uterine tissue, etc. probably qualifies as far more than a minor injury and I would hazard a guess that it might call for a drug slightly more potent than Motrin. So, when I explained to the nurse that I was in what felt like unbearable pain, and her response was, "Well you've been getting Motrin every six hours," it took everything in my power not to tell her to fuck the hell off. Instead, in an effort to get what I truly needed, (significantly more potent meds), I calmly explained that it wasn't working. She asked if I'd like some Percocet and said she was, "surprised nobody had offered me any earlier." Um - WHAT? So they're supposed to offer you something more powerful and check on you to make sure you're not suffering unnecessarily? Well, for me, that didn't happen. And why did she remind me that I'd been given Motrin a handful of times if the typical patient takes both Motrin and Percocet?
And things would only get worse.
I would run out of water, page the nursing staff and be told more was on its way. An hour or so later, when no water came, I'd page the nursing staff again.
This went on multiple times per day. I also had to request my pain medication around 1 - 2 hours after it was due each and every time. Apparently, the nurses needed to be reminded that I needed it. I guess I couldn't help but wonder why, given that they manage the care for a pretty significant number of C-section patients every single day. Is this really a surprise?
In any case, nobody tells you just how painful the recovery from a C-section will be. Or maybe nobody tells you because they were sufficiently drugged and oblivious. I don't know. All I know is that I have a pretty decent pain threshold and I was losing my mind without the Percocet, especially when I attempted to get in or out of bed, which you are asked to do repeatedly. Yes, I am aware that this helps you recover/heal faster, but that doesn't make it suck less.
That day, I also got a roommate. I knew this was a possibility, and one that I'd accepted, so I was hoping that she'd at least be nice and maybe even kind-of fun to talk to and commiserate with. No such luck. This girl, (and yes, I'm using that term on purpose), was a nightmare. She was on her phone incessantly speaking in a foreign language I couldn't quite put my finger on - and she had a voice that was truly nails on a chalkboard for me. It was nasal and whiny and it drove me completely mad. To boot, her husband was with her constantly - in the room until midnight every night. He also did all of her talking for her when any hospital staff came in to discuss anything. He advised her not to take the Percocet when it was offered. Brilliant. She of course, complied with all of his requests. He was a total blowhard and I think I hated him more than I hated her. That night, she paged the nurse at around 3 a.m. to inform her she was freezing. Mind you, I was still sweating bullets. She demanded that the thermostat be set higher. Of course, she never bothered to ask me how I felt about this and the room that we SHARED quickly became a sauna.
This was also the day my husband came down with some kind of miserable cold/flu/sinus infection type thing - so I knew he wouldn't be able to stop by or help for the remainder of my stay. Awesome.
Admittedly, (and maybe this was the hormones talking), I blamed him for getting sick. I told him he doesn't take good enough care of himself and that this was all his fault.
YAY ME. In my defense however, I really was ridiculously hormonal, beyond overtired, in a lot of pain even with the meds and I was feeling more helpless than I ever had in my entire life. My husband can tell you that I am not good with being helpless. I hate asking for help because I'm fiercely independent, so relying on anyone for anything doesn't make me too happy. Because the vast majority of the nursing staff was so preposterously shitty, it just added insult to injury in this regard.
The next day, my milk came in. In fact, it flooded in - to the point of being truly uncomfortable. I breast fed Gypsy, but it did little to help. My breasts were so engorged - they literally looked like bowling balls. I have large breasts to begin with - and now they were comically large - and stretched so taut they looked and felt like they might burst. A few hours later, I was again, in tears from pain - and wondering if this was normal. By that evening, I was hysterical. I paged the nurse - who sent for the head nurse. I explained that I honestly was beside myself and unsure of what to do through a flood of tears and hysteria. I had tried feeding Gypsy who refused - no doubt because my breasts were pretty much too engorged to even feed her with any level of comfort for either one of us. They fashioned hot compresses out of diapers - and instructed me to hold them on my chest in an effort to start resolving the issue. Then, when I still couldn't breastfeed, they reluctantly brought out the pump.
Much to their surprise, I pumped 3.5 bottles of milk. Again - this was when my milk had first come in. Apparently, my body thought it was having triplets. I was only mildly relieved, but any relief was welcome. Then they brought in ice packs. The goal, now that I'd expressed enough milk to alleviate the engorgement was to stop my body from producing another excessive run - and to get more in line with Gypsy's needs sooner rather than later.
Anyway, I'd been up for nearly 24 hours straight - and was alert enough at this point to notice how hostile many members of the nursing staff were. In fact, one complained about having to work on the maternity floor - less than 60 seconds in to being in my room. Another came in - and didn't say a word as she began taking my vitals. I was really beginning to wonder what the fuck everyone's problem was there. They didn't make me feel any better about anything - let alone paging if I needed something, which only worked about 25% of the time anyhow. When I asked any of the staff taking my vitals for anything like water or help of any kind, they looked at me as if I'd asked them to fetch some caviar and pate. At some point, I asked a nurse for another couple of pillows to help me prop myself up to stay on my back - and she only gave me one stating that if she gave me another, I'd just wind up on my side or stomach that way. I was always too tired to really argue.
In the meantime, my roommate became a bigger and bigger pain the ass. I couldn't tolerate the tropical climate she insisted on - and something about her told me she wasn't worth the attempt of having a rational conversation with.
On the morning of my 4th day, a new head nurse popped in. Little did I know she'd become my ultimate advocate and hero. She noticed that nobody had delivered my breakfast. I explained that I had been having trouble getting meals from day 1 - and that somebody had said I hadn't been entered into the system properly. She was stunned that after three entire days, this issue hadn't been resolved, yet she wasn't surprised that I had been barked at by various of the other nurses, including one who basically refused to go get my baby from the nursery for me because, as she put it, I could go get her myself, despite the fact that I was nowhere near healed enough to walk that far only 24 hours post-surgery.
My nurse, Michele, quickly became a friend. I am not exaggerating. She was amazing. She made sure I had food and plenty of coffee, and listened to me gripe about my first few days there. She also got me a private room next door so I no longer had to put up with the incredibly annoying roomie. While it would only be for another 24 hours, I cannot even begin to relay what a blessing this was for me, at the time - particularly as I was dealing with some other rather uncomfortable side effects of being post-partum - namely, constipation. I was lucky that this issue was not one that ailed me during the pregnancy itself - but man did the C-section and the seemingly lame cocktail of drugs they gave me thereafter seem to kick this into holy hell high gear. I mean seriously - I had to resort to suppositories. SUPPOSITORIES! For those of you who have never had this wonderful experience, let me explain.
If all else fails - and you cannot go to the bathroom, you will insert an inch-and-a-half long glycerin capsule into your bottom. Then you wait as long as you can - and somehow, this is supposed to encourage whatever is clogging your intestines to clear on out.
It is not a pleasant feeling. It was sort of burny and weird - and even after I suffered it for about 20 minutes - it accomplished next to nothing - and I was again, in tears. It's not that constipation in and of itself is so bad - but when your abdominal area has just been cut open - the constipation makes the pain in that region about a million times worse - so you are desperate to get the pipes working once again.
Funny thing about pregnancy and birth - you no longer have much in the way of shame - but the last thing I wanted during the running-to-the-bathroom-with-my-fingers-crossed-hoping-something-would-happen-process was a roommate - especially an incredibly grating one.
That night, at around 11:30 p.m., they tried to give me another roommate. At that point, I had a total shit fit and demanded to speak to the head nurse. I explained the myriad shitty conditions I'd experienced and that I'd been told I would not get another roommate during my last night there. I complained enough that it finally worked and I succeeded in avoiding having to share my room with yet another potentially miserable human being.
The next morning, I had to use a second suppository. It was fairly upsetting. I'll spare you the results - but let's just say - it would take going home and even further intervention to fully rectify (HA) the problem. By the time things had improved, I felt like I had given birth to a child out of my rear end. Sorry if that is TMI. Wait, no, I'm not sorry. This is supposed to be educational for anyone who wants to know what really happens after a C-section.
So, on day five, I went home. FINALLY. I cannot even begin to explain how glorious that was - even given the car ride home which reminded me about every 3 seconds or so that I had been cut open thanks to potholes, bumps in the NYC streets, etc. It didn't matter though. I had my beautiful baby girl and I was going HOME.
There's no place like home, especially with a magical little girl to be madly in love with, who has already helped me erase a lot of the horrors we went through to get her here.
Gypsy is Sick and I'm Pretty Much Losing It
by Leigh Hope Fountain 9:32 AM 1 comments
I didn't write a post last week. I was too busy basking in the bliss of being a new mommy. (Well, that and exhaustion the likes of which I've never before experienced). Despite a few hurdles post-birth, (a rather crappy hospital stay, my husband getting sick with me following suit, etc.,) things were finally looking up. In fact, we were settling quite nicely into parenthood. Not much sleep of course, but we were getting into a groove and things were awesome. Happy tears all around.
But then Gypsy started sneezing. I was a bit concerned, as both John and I had suffered and recovered from some kind of cold/flu/virus/sinus thing over the past few weeks, but I didn't totally freak out. I was high on life as a mommy - so much so that when I was sick, I refused to let whatever I had get in the way of getting Gypsy set up in her first costume on Halloween. So, 7 days later, I figured Gypsy was in the clear. How long can an incubation period be, right?
Then on Saturday, Gypsy started sneezing more - and by late-afternoon, she developed a cough. I was concerned, as was John, and we finished our errands, got home and hoped that it didn't get worse. I googled - and it seemed that unless she had a fever, there wasn't too much cause for concern. Nevertheless, something was still bothering me. John went to sleep first that night. (We've been sleeping in shifts). I sat watching TV with Gypsy on my lap, listening to her breathing, which sounded a little labored - and her cough became more frequent and sounded wet. I didn't like the sound of it and it sent me into a panic. I called the pediatrician - and the on-call doc expressed concern as well, despite Gypsy not having a fever. She said that in a newborn, especially a newborn only 16 days old, "...a cough is serious with or without fever," - and she gave me two options:
1. Take her to the E.R.
2. Take her into the Manhattan office in the morning. (Sunday).
At this point, I was in tears. I was really hoping that her lack of a fever meant we didn't have to freak the fuck out, but I guess some maternal instinct told me I'd better be sure - hence the late-night call. I texted a few mommy friends to seek out their opinions on the matter - and it seemed that the consensus was to do something right then and there. I had pretty much already made up my mind prior to touching base with them anyhow. Better safe than sorry, right? Besides, I knew I'd never be able to sleep a wink without knowing if Gypsy was going to be okay - and decided the E.R. was our best bet.
I woke up John, explained the situation - and not long thereafter, we waltzed into the emergency room on Saturday night closing in on Sunday morning, around midnight. I wish I could say that being there made me feel better, but it didn't. The staff was cold, callous and utterly indifferent. I didn't feel that Gypsy was secure at all in their hands - and seriously questioned whether we should've gone to another hospital further away. Fortunately, the doc who thoroughly examined Gypsy at least had a decent bedside manner. I burst into tears in front of her - and she was quite understanding and kind. Don't get me started on the three other staff we had to contend with. Honestly, their attitudes and behavior were completely inexcusable. The other doc looked and sounded half asleep or stoned and referred to her as "the little guy," which infuriated John. He also looked like he was 15 and he was no Doogie Howser. Again, don't get me started. Our primary doc on this case informed us that Gypsy's lungs were clear and that she was indeed, fever-free, but that we should keep a close eye - make sure she continued to eat regularly and that we should start giving her liquid vitamin D supplements. We were discharged shortly thereafter.
I really thought I'd feel better after all of that, but I only felt slightly better, if that. I was and am still utterly paranoid about Gypsy being so sick before she's even a month old. I can't sleep - I am watching her like a hawk, taking videos of her in her bassinet when she's coughing or sounds like she's struggling so I have something to point to when we see our pediatrician tomorrow for a follow-up, I'm aspirating her tiny little nostrils with the help of saline, taking her temperature, trying to keep her as comfortable as possible, cheering her on every time she breastfeeds and every so often, crying due to a hefty dose of mommy hormones and paranoia about the prospect of her developing a fever.
As I type this, she's in her bassinet and I'm listening to every sound she makes... hoping that nothing sounds worse than what I've already been hearing for the past 24 hours while counting the minutes until I can call our pediatrician's office and beg for the earliest available appointment.
Okay - wrote that last night. This morning, Gypsy seems to be doing a bit better. Got her an appointment with her regular pediatrician for 5 p.m.
Let's hope she's doing even better still by then.
This wasn't supposed to be my first post, (that I'd write), following Gypsy's birth, but as with all things child-related, I have a feeling I'm not going to be dictating forthcoming topics as often. Seems that life - and really Gypsy - will do that for me.