Before I had kids, my friends who were already mothers loved to fill my head with horror stories about childbirth and life after having a baby.
“You’ll never, ever sleep again,” they’d say.
“Sex will become a chore,” they lamented.
“You won’t recognize your boobs,” they’d sigh.
But for all of their unsolicited advice, for all of the wisdom my friends tried to impart on me before I gave birth to my own cherubs, not one of them mentioned what it’s like to poop after you’ve had a C-section. Not one of them thought it was pertinent to pass along what it feels like after your bowels haven’t moved in eight days and you have a crying infant in a bouncy seat in the bathroom with you.
This is valuable information that I needed to have, people. I was not prepared.
When my son was born after an emergency C-section, taking a satisfying dump was not my highest priority. My body went through hell to bring that kid into the world and I was more concerned about pain meds and being able to nurse the child who destroyed my abdominal muscles than I was about moving my bowels. My feet were swollen beyond recognition after receiving 11 bags of IV fluids in the OR, and I was so tired that I actually fell asleep in my dinner on the second night in the hospital.
Once we got home, my life was a blur of sore nipples, exhaustion deep in my bones, and an inability to speak coherently because of a colicky screaming baby.
Before I realized, eight days had passed and I still hadn’t pooped.
And I started to panic.
Being a first-time mom, I naturally called my OB’s office and was assured that it can take a little while for normal bowel function to return after a C-section. The nurse suggested I take a stool softener, try to relax, and let nature take its course. As I hung up the phone, the nurse said in a conspiratorial whisper, “Good luck and Godspeed.” That should have been my first clue that my Hershey highway was about to have a colossal traffic jam.
When I started to feel a rumbling in my stomach, I gathered my newborn, the bouncy seat, the phone, diapers, and basically the entire contents of my diaper bag and went to set up camp in my bathroom. I assumed, rightly, that it would be a while until the magic happened and I wanted to be prepared. I nestled my son in his bouncy seat, pulled down my pants and settled on to the throne with much less ceremony than I imagine Queen Elizabeth has when she sits on her throne. She at least has a crown.
And then the stomach pains came. Fast and furious, my intestines squeezed and twisted as they tried valiantly to push stones as hard as coal through my gut. I doubled over, sweating, and prayed for God to take me swiftly. As I writhed back and forth on the toilet, I was pretty sure I saw God and all his angels laughing at me as I cried out. I’m not sure, but I think I may have even reverse-planked on the toilet in an effort to just get my petrified tootsie roll out as fast as I could.
Now, here’s the thing about recovering from a C-section: Your abs have been split open and sewn back together and this causes a problem when you have to strain to push a rock the size of a lemon out of a hole the size of a Brussels sprout. My efforts had not been wasted, though. My deuce was on the verge of coming out, and I was in the homestretch. I needed to be able to push that sucker out of my ass and breathe the sweet relief of a functioning bowel. But every time I pushed, I was pretty sure my incision was going to open up right there in the bathroom, and frankly, I didn’t have time for that shit.
As my son lustily screamed from his bouncy seat hell, the bathroom walls reverberated with the sounds of my straining and his demands to nurse. I, in my hysteria, worried the neighbors would call the police because I realized too late that my bathroom window was wide open, thereby allowing everyone to bear witness to my loud descent into hell.
In an effort to contain the situation, I did what any self-respecting postpartum woman would do: I wiped the sweat from my brow, waddled to my bedroom, deuce half out of my poop chute be damned and grabbed a throw pillow off my bed. As I took my place back on my throne, I hugged my abs with that little piece of Pottery Barn heaven and screamed bloody murder as I unleashed the fury of ten thousand postpartum women into that toilet. As I heard the thunk and the sound of my excrement hitting the bottom of the toilet like a lead balloon, I gently eased myself back and rested my head on the wall.
I had done it.
I had survived the first poop post C-section and lived to tell the tale.
After my ordeal, I slithered onto the floor, crawled over to my son and raised him to my breast. As he nursed hungrily, I realized it was now dark and I’d lost an entire afternoon trying to take a dump. And that’s motherhood in a nutshell.
As I sat there on the cool tile, my husband came in, having just returned from work and took in the sight of me in a heap on the floor. He looked around, quietly assessed the situation, and gently said, “I’ll order takeout for dinner. What do you feel like?”
I looked at him, raised my eyebrow, and said, “I don’t give a shit.”