And also, a disclaimer: this is still part of a written birth story account, so once again, some of it is probably not suitable for all audiences. You still have the option to watch this hilarious video.
I have no intention of scaring anyone with my story. I simply want to share my story for three reasons: one, to get it out of my head and down permanently. Two, I want to have the memories recorded before I forget any more. Third, I hope that somehow I can encourage some one else through my story so that they may not feel so alone.
While going through the physical and emotional healing process of my c-section was very hard for me, I am thankful that they do exist. And while it is easy for me to wonder if I could have done things differently and avoided having one, reality is that I made the best choices at the time with the information I was given. Ultimately, I know that no one was at fault - my c-section was simply a part of living in a broken world.
When I met my daughter for the first time, she was still swollen, although not as badly as at first. Josh made sure to show me pictures of how bad it initially was. I was afraid that I had cursed my child with an ugly face. Thankfully within a day the swelling was down and she actually turned into a very adorable newborn.
The first nursing session went well [in large part due to the fact that she had to wait two hours for food], and she was in perfect health. I was so happy to be done and amazed that I had survived "it" - a c-section.
I still couldn't move from the waist down, and in no time at all the post-surgery shakes hit me [if you haven't experienced this, it is something else. I was so cold, even with 3 heated blankets over me, and I shook uncontrollably and visibly for I don't know how long].
I think a little after 5 p.m. we finally got the green flag and moved up to the mother-baby unit. I remember the nurse coming in, introducing herself, and telling me a bunch about the IV pain meds that I couldn't really track with. She put pressure cuffs around my calves and told me to get some rest. The cuffs would go off randomly, one leg and then the next, working to prevent blood clots from forming. Each time they would go off, I would get jolted out of my half-stunned state. Getting any rest with those on was a joke.
I remember my parents finally coming in to their new granddaughter. Details evade me. I don't know if I actually ate any dinner or not.
I remember a talk at one point from the nurse about the breast pump. I didn't realize that using it was optional - so I used it regularly to pump nothing out.
I remember realizing at one point that I had soaked through the pads I was wearing in my mesh "underwear" and being embarrassed to have the nurse roll my still-paralyzed body around on the bed while she cleaned up after me.
I remember the night nurse coming in and deciding for some reason that my baby wasn't nursing well. She had me pump, then fed the little bit of colostrum to my baby through a syringe. Looking back now, I wish I could remember her reasons for doing that.
I remember the first time I got up to walk, once I finally felt my feet again. The ache in my abdomen was awful. I don't care what they say about making sure you stand up straight after a c-section - there was no way I was going to be able to stand upright for while.
I remember hobbling around the room in the wee hours of the morning with a crying baby I couldn't soothe, crying myself, with my exhausted husband sleeping through all of it on the chair-bed in the corner. I felt too guilty to wake him up [it had been a very long two days for him as well], but at the same time furious that he could sleep through her cries while I couldn't.
I remember the surgeon coming in at 6 a.m. to check my incision. He had trouble looking me in the face, and barely took a peek at his handy work.
I remember that I started struggling with breastfeeding because the pain of latching was intense. I remember my nipples were raw and bleeding, having the lactation consultant come in twice, and again, the night nurse deciding to syringe feed my baby at 3 a.m.
I remember pulling off the stickies over my incision and expecting my incision site to burst open. It didn't. I remember how messy post-delivery was. I felt like I was getting blood everywhere.
I remember confusion the second night over the class I needed to attend before being allowed discharge. The first nurse told me I could stay in the room and sleep - my husband could go in my place because I was a c-section patient. Five minutes later, the head nurse and teacher of the course came storming in my room, telling me I was late for class and "what on earth was I thinking?" I remember spending the entire hour of the class falling asleep in my chair, over and over. I have no memory of anything she told us that night.
I remember the excitement of hearing "discharge" the next morning. I was lucky to be getting out so early with a c-section, but apparently I was doing "exceptionally well." I remember the nurse that day was my favorite, and she actually knew what she was talking about and was actually really helpful with explaining meds and breastfeeding.
I remember the surgeon coming back in again during discharge, this time to give me a prescription of birth control, telling me that taking it sooner than the 8 week recommended wait was a good idea - I didn't want to accidentally get pregnant again too soon. I remember a part of me was pretty miffed that he assumed I was that dumb.
I remember carefully dressing my baby up, afraid of breaking her fingers through the sleeves, and of getting her strapped into her carseat 30 minutes too soon. I remember seeing my swollen belly, swollen feet, and realizing that it was going to be some time before I felt normal again. This realization made me incredibly sad.
I remember getting the option to walk out of the hospital instead of going in a wheelchair because I was doing so well post-operation. I decided to slowly hobble my way out, so I could proudly show each person I passed that I was a big, brave, new mama. I survived the worst, and I was walking out on my own.
I remember waiting for Josh to bring the car around to the front of the hospital and thinking how momentous today was for only me, and no one else outside would ever understand this moment like I would.
I learned that at the end of the pregnancy road comes not the experience of birth, but a baby. When I was pregnant, I was so wrapped up in the details of the experience of birthing my first child that when it didn't happen the way I wanted, I was crushed. This isn't to say that I didn't want the baby at the end [I very much wanted her], but I think I didn't have my priorities straight.
I've also begun to understand a tiny bit better what earthly suffering is about, and where God fits into all of it. I don't know if God made me have a c-section for some specific reason - in fact, I wonder if there really is no reason at all for it. It may be that I simply live in a fallen world, and therefore experienced the natural consequences of the original sin. But I've decided I'm not going to look for answers from God. I'm going to look for a chance to give my hurting heart, tight throat, and tears to Him each time they surface. And so far, He has blessed my efforts to do so. For that, I am grateful.