My C-Section Recovery
I’m still pretty shocked that I’ve had a C-Section. It’s something I truly knew nothing about, and now that I’ve experienced it, I feel like more people need to talk about it. Much like my first experience having a baby, there is so much no one tells you about the process or recovery. Not sure if it’s taboo or I’m just not looking in the right places, but I very much want anyone who is looking for this type of information to be able to access it in an honest way. I vaguely remember hearing that people often feel ashamed or struggle with the idea of having a C-Section and I never really understood why. To be honest, a lot of the emotional stuff women experience during pregnancy, birth, or postpartum kind of puzzled me because I’m just not the most emotional person. I’m guessing that is why I didn’t pay attention, but now I’m all ears!
I’m going to break down my recovery in order of timing to paint the best possible picture for you guys.
Being heavily drugged (something I’ve never experienced) was very scary for me. Having no feeling in my arms prevented me from holding Walker immediately after he was born. The drugs definitely clouded my emotions and I remember seeing him and almost feeling nothing, but knew in my head that I was so happy he was here safely. I recall thinking in my head ‘why am I not feeling anything??’ It freaked me out, but I also didn’t have the space to fully process what was going on. Since it took a few hours for the anesthesia to wear off, I didn’t experience any pain initially, but I was extremely loopy and out of it.
The next day
Apparently the drugs were still somewhat in my system because I didn’t feel much pain until 2 days after the surgery. I could tell moving / standing was not an option, but I didn’t necessarily feel pain. I finally regained strength and movement back in my upper body so I could at least hold and feed Walker while laying in bed. I was still connected to the IV, catheter, blood pressure machine, and the machine that keeps blood flowing through your legs (by squeezing them over and over again) for 2 days so I didn’t have to stand up yet.
I was in the hospital for 4 days since a C-Section is major abdominal surgery. I can fully see why it’s good to stay this long since the hospital rooms are set up for you to recover in a comfortable and functional way. Having a remote controlled bed that reclines and lifts up and down is kind of key since you cannot use your abs to do literally anything. On day 2 the nurse helped me up to walk to the bathroom. I instantly got dizzy and felt like walking was not in my near future. I felt super anxious after this, as I was truly concerned that I would not only be helpless myself, but would not be able to take care of my babies either.
The nurses tried to talk me into pain meds but I just hate the way my body feels on them. I didn’t want to feel dizzy or loopy anymore so I declined them. Come day 3 the pain really started to kick in and I had to take something. I ended up taking pain meds at night so I could sleep soundly. To describe the pain, my incision would burn during the height of the pain. It would get so bad that I would need to lay down to relieve any pressure pushing through the incision.
In addition to the pain, Paul needed to help me use the bathroom, shower, sit up, lay down, etc. I needed help doing pretty much everything and anything.
By day 4 I switched from the hard pain meds to Tylenol and Advil. I took it pretty much all day to manage my pain and it was tolerable. Everyone kept telling me to walk around to speed up recovery but walking was not enjoyable. I was still unstable on my own and would get tired just going from one side of the room to the other. Like I said, recovery was not looking promising while in the hospital. I pretty much expected to be bed-ridden the entire 6 weeks they say it takes to recover based on how I was feeling.
By the day we went home, I started feeling better and stronger. My incision would still burn once the medication wore off, but I was slowly regaining strength. I was able to use the bathroom on my own very slowly, and could stand in the shower confidently. Getting into the car or sitting down was very challenging and I definitely needed assistance, but walking was getting a lot easier thankfully.
The first week was a shit show. Just so much frustration and weakness. Not being able to take care of myself or my kids’ is really what caused me to feel so terribly. Had this been a voluntary surgery and I felt helpless it would be different, but the fact that this was a result of my childbirth, I was helpless, AND not able to take care of my kids was just too much to handle. All I kept thinking was how do people do this without a solid partner? How do single moms do this? How do women with partners who aren’t hands-on with their kids do this? Seriously…I am SO grateful for Paul.
Being home was hard. My bed is high. My couch is low. Not a single chair in my house is supportive enough and everything is soft, which resulted in me sinking in and hurting my incision. Trying to sit still all day was never going to happen. Everyone kept trying to convince me to stay in bed, watch TV, relax, nap, but there was no way. My kids and house needed me. I would walk around and obsess over the messes that needed to be cleaned. Capri would ask me to pick her up and I couldn’t.
Again, I felt completely worthless. Paul was frantically taking care of me, the kids, the dogs, the businesses, the house, and I just had to sit back and watch him struggle through it all. I ended up calling my mom, Paul’s mom, and my sisters and asking everyone to please help whenever they could. It was the best I could do to contribute and relieve him a bit until I was back on my feet.
Mind you, twisting, reaching, sitting up, sitting down, coughing, laughing, bending, EVERYTHING is off limits and painful. The most simple movements are no longer allowed and it’s fucking rough.
I finally turned a corner by week 2. I was starting to regain more movement and strength to be able to get out of bed on my own and even get dressed (without bending down). I could do things as long as I didn’t have to bend so I did a little cooking, organizing, and working. I also stopped taking the pills.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever endured is telling Capri I cannot lift her. She was so confused and sad. Seeing me hold Walker when I told her I couldn’t hold her made her mad at me. It seriously broke my heart. I would sit on the couch with her with a pillow on my belly in case she kicked me, which clumsy 2-year olds often do. I told her I had an ouchy on my belly so she had to be very careful. She seemed to grasp this and was very gentle around me.
Each day I started feeling better and better. Less pain, more strength and movement. I got really good at picking things up with my feet lol. Sometimes I would get a little ahead of myself and do too much and by the afternoon my incision would be in pain. I could tell I was pushing it but was also in a hurry to be healed and back to normal life.
By this time I was feeling about 80% back to myself. I was able to bend down with my knees and was cleared to drive. I felt very liberated by this clearance. Even though I wasn’t technically supposed to lift anything, I would carefully lift things slowly. Sleeping was getting more comfortable too, and I could finally handle a little side sleeping rather than just being slightly propped up on my back. Essentially each passing day I would feel better.
The incision itself is very low. My underwear covers it and it’s about 4 inches long. My doctor took care to stitch it in a way that minimized the appearance entirely. I was terrified of looking at it for weeks but finally brought myself to look once the bandage came off. It wasn’t nearly as scary as I had imagined. Once I reach the 6 week mark, I can start using products that will help reduce the appearance of the scar. Will keep you posted on anything I find that works.
I was kind of shocked to learn that even with a C-Section you experience bleeding. I will say that my bleeding was very minimal even in the beginning. I used the hospital pads and underwear while I was staying in the hospital, but once I got home I downsized to boy shorts and a regular period pad. Within a few days I was using the thinnest pad I could find and then just a panty liner after that. I had some spotting for a couple weeks but nothing to really complain about. I guess that’s one nice part of having a C-Section, your vagina area definitely does not undergo as much trauma!
Just like my first birth, I experienced the awful night sweats this time around too. Waking up drenched in sweat every night, when it’s already hard to get out of bed, was absolutely miserable. However, I knew each time I woke up drenched in sweat it just meant I was closer to reaching my full recovery. I also believe a lot of my fluids were exiting my body through these insane sweats, so again, can’t really complain. Thankfully now the sweats have subsided (I’m about to be 6 weeks postpartum in a few days).
C-Section vs Vaginal Recovery
Vaginal recovery is no walk in the park either, but I would take that over a C-Section recovery ANY day. I’m not the type to lay around or depend on others. I like to take charge, take care of my babies, provide for my family, and take care of myself. Feeling weak and helpless absolutely killed me. While I was willing to do whatever it took to get Walker safely out, it still doesn’t make the recovery any easier to process or endure. I’m just grateful that my body is healthy and healing.
To anyone who is going to have a C-Section or currently recovering from one, just know it gets better with each passing day. The first 4-5 days are pretty brutal, but I promise you won’t feel this way for very long. The best piece of advice I can give is to just take care of yourself, be good to your body, and allow yourself to heal properly. I know it can seem like an impossible task, especially with a newborn (and possibly other kids) in the picture, but hopefully you have a support system that you can lean on. I would 1000% not be able to make it through this time without my incredible support system.
And to Paul, I will never forget or take for granted how much you stepped up for me and our family during this time. You made me feel so well taken care of and assured me that my recovery was a priority. I never once felt resentment from you, and I appreciate that more than you will ever understand. Now go get snipped because I’m not going through this again!! xo