Posts Tagged ‘recovery’
Zen will be 4 months tomorrow and I finally had the chance to finish the recap of his 1st week. That is how busy things are over here!
This post has been in the works for over a year. It started by floating around my head before I decided to write it, then a draft kept changing and changing, sitting idle and then changing again.
As much as I enjoy motherhood and my son brings me immense joy, the whole journey has not been entirely rosy. As you already know from my birth story, my homebirth plans went down the toilet and resulted in an emergency c-section. I ended up suffering from PTSD which evolved into PPD, people immediately assume that it was from the surgery but that is not so.
As detailed in my birth story, when I was hooked to the monitors and I could hear Shammy’s heartbeat, I would notice that his heart rate would drop every time I had a contraction and would practically stop every time I pushed. The doctor wasn’t in the room most of the time so I had the midwife still telling me to push while my husband and doula cheered. Nobody noticed but me so I did the only thing that I could think of at the time I started to fake push.
I didn’t expect my husband or doula to catch on because they’re not trained and not even focusing on the monitor but the midwife kept looking at the monitor to check for contractions yet seemed oblivious to the drop in heart rate. It wasn’t until days later that I shared with my husband what had happened in that room.
I realized that I couldn’t fake pushing forever so as soon as the doctor came back into the room I pushed for real, it took 1 push for him to notice and immediately ask me to stop and say that for baby’s safety a surgery would be best. By then I already had plenty of time to evaluate the situation and had come to the same conclusion so I admit that for a moment felt relief knowing that there was an end in sight.
I was surprisingly calm for the circumstances but at the same time I was terrified. By then I was sure that Shammy would be alright so I only had to deal with my fear of the surgery itself. And the rest as they all say, is history.
After the birth I had to deal with frequent flashbacks of being told to push and listening to the beeps in the monitor slow down only to pick up again when I stopped. This scene has replayed in my mind endlessly for the past year. I was so happy to have a healthy baby yet I was crying regularly at the reoccurring memory. After several days of nightmares I realized that this wasn’t the typical baby blues brought on b the typical hormonal changes.
At first I didn’t know what to do, therapy wasn’t an option at the moment and I was too exhausted and overwhelmed with a newborn to really apply my spiritual practices that have helped in the past.
At 1 week postpartum I broke down crying while the OB checked the healing of my incision. I could see by how uncomfortable he was that talking to him was not an option so he helped in the only way that he knew how but pulling out his prescription pad. I was prescribed an anti depressant but I didn’t immediately take it and instead chose to suffer longer.
The prescription for Zoloft had been filled, the pills were sitting on my desk but I wouldn’t take them. I kept researching it’s effects on breastfeeding. I was scared that the OB said that I would have to take them for a minimum of 3 months and couldn’t just stop them cold turkey, it felt like such a huge commitment since I couldn’t expect immediate results either. My fears were somewhat calmed by Dr Punger sharing that I could only take it for a week if needed.
At 3 weeks postpartum my parents were flying in from Puerto Rico to meet their grandson. Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t have a very close relationship with them and any sort of interaction with my family brings a wave of anxiety oftentimes resulting in full blown panic attacks. In the past a shot of tequila would help but that wasn’t an option this time.
At the encouragement of my husband that is when I finally surrendered in hopes of having an amiable visit with my parents. It helped a lot and I could see results sooner than I expected but I also started to experience side effects just as quickly. I had to take the daily pill right before bedtime and I had 15 minutes to get settles before “the high” would kick. But this wasn’t a good high, I felt like I was on a bad trip along with hallucinations, the only way to really deal with them was to sleep through it. If Shammy woke up within 4 hours of me having taken the pill I couldn’t walk with him because I was just too unstable and would literally walk into walls. Despite all of that I felt that the benefits were outweighing the side effects.
I did have to keep a close eye on how the pill was affecting Shammy. I did notice that the fat content in my breastmilk had dropped greatly while I was taking Zoloft but that is something that I knew would happen and I just made sure that Shammy’s weight was regularly monitored. He may not have gained weight as fast initially as other breastfed babies but he still held his ground on the growth charts and it was never an issue.
Another weight related side effect that I did notice was in my personal weight loss. Before the pill I had lost 32 pounds of pregnancy weight by just sitting on the couch and breastfeeding but that stopped once I started the medication. At first my weight just plateaued but after a month I gradually started to gain weight. It wasn’t until I stopped taking the pill that I started to loose weight again but even then it has been slow but I blame that on my sedentary lifestyle and being less careful with my nutrition.
My original plan was to take the pill until my parents left town but then it became time for me to prepare to go back to work and that brought a whole new round of anxiety so I took it a little longer. As you already know if you’ve been reading this blog a while. I didn’t last long at work. I was hopelessly depressed while at work and I spent more time crying at my desk or in the bathroom than getting any work done. Add to that the challenges with pumping and management trying to change my schedule I don’t want to imagine how it would have been if I was not on medication.
Overall I took Zoloft for almost 4 months, once life started to feel stable and I felt like I had the hang of motherhood I started to self wean. By then I didn’t have health insurance so even though I was supposed to step down with a doctor’s care that was not an option for me. I started to take the pill every other day, after a while I went to once every 2 days. Until one day I just forgot to take it, and forgot again the next day, and the day after that.
During that time I was experiencing some weird symptoms that had started to scare me, for a moment I even thought I had vertigo or some other sort of weird disorder but with no health coverage I couldn’t seek a diagnosis. I had problems with vision and balance. After about a week my husband wondered out loud if my symptoms were related to me not taking the pill anymore. The thought had not crossed my mind!
So I consulted the doctor for the uninsured, Dr. Google and found no shortage of people in my situation. I was experiencing withdrawals and my only option to feel better was to start taking the pill again. I did not want to become a junkie, it had already been over a week so I decided that cold turkey was how it was going to be and I would just have to grin and bear it. It took over a month for my body to fully detoxify and for all of the withdrawal symptoms to disappear.
For months I lived in fear of a relapse but thankfully it didn’t come to that. I regret not having been able to have gotten traditional counseling but thank the support of strangers in PTSD/PPD and C-Section recovery forums for doing the part that the pill could not do.
I consider myself lucky that things didn’t get as dark as they could have and I have to give credit for me accepting that there was a problem early on. It would have been a much steeper hill had I been in denial.
I am disabling comments on this post because just like I didn’t want to talk about it during the first year, I still struggle with bringing my vulnerabilities out in the open so this is being posted for that new mom days, weeks, months or years down the line that finds herself in the same situation and just needs that stranger’s story to know what she needs to do. Just like that stranger mom with her blog post did for me.
Pardon the randomness of thought, this entry has been composed in tiny installments with no interest for proper editing and story flow.
Because I can ramble quite a bit I have broken down posts between my actual post partum recovery and baby Shaman’s first week (upcoming).
Recovering from a c-section is no walk in the park, I was bed bound until the following day and the first few hours were spent with minimal feeling and movement while I waited for the anesthesia to wear off. They hooked me up to a morphine drip for the pain which did nothing, the nurses just kept saying “keep pressing the button” and it took several hours to convince them that no amount of button pressing would make a difference.
Finally they called the doctor and he approved some magic something to be injected in my IV that gave me relief and allowed me to get some sleep.
Because my water had been broken for so long before Shaman was born the biggest concern was infection, even though he never had a fever or any symptoms and his culture came back negative one of the markers was very high so he was on a course of antibiotics for a while, as a result baby didn’t get released from the hospital until a day after mom did. I never felt like I was released as I never left the floor, not even to go to the cafeteria, the only difference is that I couldn’t ask the nurses for happy pills.
Thankfully breastfeeding got off to a good start, given that c-section can have a negative impact on breastfeeding I consider myself lucky. When I first tried shortly after birth Shaman was too hyper and overstimulated to be interested in the breast so we gave him a couple of hours to chill out. A few hours later he was focused on the mission and once he found the nipple he latched on like a pro.
I’m in desperate need of nursing bras and tank tops, I have very little that I can wear to facilitate nursing.
The challenge now since my milk has come in is that I spend most of my day being a leaky faucet, I’ve actually made small puddles of leaking milk! The 2 pairs of cloth nursing pads that I have are definitely not enough! This baby ain’t starving!
Now back on to the recovery process, there are various painful moments that come to mind:
Painful moment #1- removing the dressing from the incision, they were nice enough to wait until all painkillers had worn off.
Painful Moment #2, the Mother of All Painful Moments: standing up for the first time. I almost fell over but miraculously I didn’t cry.
You will stand up and feel like the front of your body’s being ripped off. Thanfully the nurses were cool and didn’t rush me, they just told me to call them when i was ready to try. I would stand completely bent over then slowly have to raise up.
Soon after that my own self imposed mission was to take a shower, I am proud to have done it unassisted although it took forever as moving was still quite the mission but at least it helped me start to feel human again.
Most stupid painful thing to do ever: allowing the Percocet to wear off! I learned that this is no time to be a hero. I still try to go unmedicated as much as possible but sometimes I just can’t help it.
The remaining painful moments are coughing, sneezing and laughing, specially if without warning, I just see stars!
By next morning they had me on a liquid diet even though I cheated and got the night nurse to sneak me some juice and jello the previous night. By lunch time the second day I was on solid foods and mediocre hospital food had never tasted so good!
I was encouraged to walk around the floor and after a successful trial run we decided to go on a walk with Shammy, he was being fussy so I pulled out my Baby K-tan carrier and he immediately loved it! Apparently the nurses had never seen a baby being worn and were amazed that he could look so happy. We did get in trouble for using the “fancy thing” because nobody told us that baby had to be moved in the bassinet at all times. I seems to have been missing the rules book in my admissions packet.
We couldn’t help but roll our eyes when as we headed back to the room one of the nurses commented on how “those fancy things were not available back when I had my kids”, I guess that people truly don’t know that baby slings and carriers predate strollers and car seats by thousands of years… :sigh::
Here I am almost a week later and still trying to clean iodine (or something like it) and adhesive from the myriad sensors, needles and IVs off my skin)
For the most part we had a great experience at the hospital, almost all of the nurses were excellent and one of them went above and beyond being helpful to us. I did have a clash with a breastfeeding nazi nurse that expected my milk to come in less than 24 hours after birth.
The biggest challenge was the staff being loud whenever coming into the room at all hours and waking Shammy up, usually a minute after we finally got him to sleep which most of the time wasn’t a quick and easy thing.
Halfway through our stay they relocated us to a different room. I understand their logic as we were in a larger room equipment for surgery recovery and they were preparing for Monday which is a busy day for scheduled C-sections, however the staff really dropped the ball in the process. With no advance warning we are told that we need to move, the nurse says “no rush” but is trying to pick up our belongings to move them to the new room. Thank goodness I had just gotten a dose or I would have been barely able to move myself. This whole process left a very sour aftertaste and we made sure to report it.
I took the opportunity to take a breastfeeding class offered by the hospital’s lactation consultant. I truly felt like a nerd in there, the LC was shocked that I had been attending La Leche League meetings and read books and websites on the subject, she is used to dealing with moms like my classmates, completely clueless and vulnerable to booby traps. I am glad that I was as prepared as I was as I did encounter my own booby trap later that night and if I hadn’t been as well informed I could have easily been guilt-tripped into something that wasn’t truly necessary and I would have regretted later. I will share the booby trap story as part of the upcoming Baby’s first week report.
Since I wasn’t able to get the placenta for encapsulation (more about that later), I started to feel my first major hormonal drive on my second day at the hospital. That subsided fairly quickly but by the time I reached my second day at home I had a firm case of the baby blues established. I noticed it was bad when I started to cry when I dropped yet another something on the floor that I couldn’t pick up. Most of it is stress induced as I’m overwhelmed at how impotent I feel while still recovering, how many simple things I am not allowed to do and the fact that Daddy Fox is going back to work tomorrow and I’m suddenly trying to figure out how to survive the long days home alone with Shammy.
On Thursday I had a follow up with the surgeon to have the staples removed and he immediately could tell that I wasn’t doing well so now I have a prescription for anti depressants that I don’t want to have to take but will have to seriously consider depending on how things go.
My body hasn’t learned the whole concept of sleep when baby sleeps so the sleep deprivation is adding up! I am freaking exhausted and today I learned that it wasn’t just from lack of sleep. It turns out that my hemoglobin level is very low causing anemia probably as a result of the 1200 cc of blood that I lost less than a week ago.
I am glad that I got this information as I was starting to wonder if something else was wrong, I had reached the point that I didn’t dare try to stand up while holding baby for fear of falling. So now I need to boost my iron consumption and have a prescription for iron tablets. The doctor was talking about blood transfusions if I didn’t improve by Monday but I definitely don’t plan to go there.
In the meantime I just have to deal with feeling more weak and tired than I already should be feeling but at least I know the reason why.
I admit that I have been lacking nutritionally and that doesn’t help matters. My day consists of mostly snacks and small meals, not all of them optimal choices but that’s what happens when I’m not recovering at an all-inclusive resort.
I haven’t proofread anything that I’ve written but I can only assume at how negative most of it may seem, I’m sure that my mood doesn’t help matters but I do want to point out that it isn’t all bad. Compared to an online friend that had a c-section 6 weeks ago I’m doing great, unlike her, I have full control of my bladder and don’t have to walk around wearing depends. See? the glass is half full.
In other news, I have already lost 21 pounds, I did gain a lot so we’ll see how long it takes for the rest. I’m not particularly concerned and don’t plan to stress about it as I’m more into stressing about what to wear that’s convenient for nursing and doesn’t irritate my scar.