I’ve witnessed an epidemic lately of women passing off a C-section as something that is “simple” and the “preferable alternative” to pushing a baby out of your lady parts, when frankly, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Just the other day, I was talking with a group of women about my upcoming scheduled C-section, and they expressed how lucky I was to not have to go through the pain and agony of a vaginal delivery and that I would be back to my daily activities and on my feet “in no time.” One of them even said, “That’s nothing. C-sections are a breeze.”
I remember walking away wondering if something was wrong with me. Even though my last C-section was 5 years ago and without complications, I remember it being traumatic and beyond painful. I remember literally wanting to die for the first 24 hours following the procedure. “Maybe I was just being dramatic,” I thought.
Surely my experience could not be such an extreme opposition to the experience these women were portraying.
That was until I had a repeat C-section a month ago and realized that I was, in fact, not being dramatic and that these women must be delusional.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the women who tell you that a C-section is “nothing more than a quick and easy, no-fuss surgery” are either batshit crazy, lying to ease your mind, or C-section unicorns. Yes, the C-section unicorns do exist. I know this because some of these women are my friends. I hate these women. Ok, I don’t hate them, but I am beyond jealous of them and want to know their secrets.
The C-section unicorns are released from the hospital, only to arrive at their house to pop open a bottle of wine and prepare an extravagant dinner for their husband, all with their baby strapped to their chest in the Ergo. They don’t feel pain and hardly realize they even had a major surgery. I even had a girlfriend who was drinking champagne in the hospital a day after delivery. Lucky bitch. I couldn’t even fathom doing such a thing. I had lost so much blood, I looked like a character from The Walking Dead. Just drinking my cranberry juice was a chore. I can assure you that the last thing on my mind was drinking alcohol.
Do not be fooled by these women.
They are called unicorns for a reason. If you compare yourself to these majestic creatures, you are going to end up feeling like something is wrong with you, which is absolutely not the truth.
If you want to stop reading, I completely understand. I’m going to be very real about some of the things that happened to me post-delivery that were never mentioned in the baby books (or at least not the ones that I read).
There is nothing wrong with you if you feel like you want to die.
In fact, I think something is wrong with you if you don’t feel like you are going to die. You just had major surgery. I don’t care how many medications they give you. Unless they put you in a coma, it’s going to hurt like hell.
Do what you have to do to survive.
Take the meds. Send your baby to the nursery. Feed him or her formula. These first few days hardly define you as a mother or impact your child. You just take care of you so that you can be the best mom you can be when you leave the hospital and don’t have all these paid helping hands.
You may feel like you have a UTI for the foreseeable future.
Correction: You may feel like you are peeing fire long after you leave the hospital and apparently this is a completely normal. The irony is that it may not even be a UTI, but just a bruised and battered bladder from having a catheter and things being shifted during surgery. Yes, this is a real thing — a bladder bruise. And if you have to turn on the faucet just to start the urinating process, that isn’t uncommon either. I was convinced that they had nicked my bladder during surgery because the pain I was feeling was unbearable, but nope, just part of “the healing process.” Before the bladder issues finally subsided at three weeks, I was already preparing for a life of wearing Depends and a lot of awkward public outings. Thank God, my pee problems dissipated.
Breastfeeding may make you sick.
This came completely out of left field for me, since I had breastfed before with no problem. I couldn’t understand why every time I tried to breastfeed, I felt like I was going to pass out and vomit.
My husband thought I was being dramatic and trying to get out of my motherly duties, but he ended up eating his words, thanks to Google. I’m not sure how new moms survived before the age of Google. My research informed me that a small percentage of women get sick from breastfeeding. It’s either attributed to a plummet in blood pressure, dehydration from the loss of fluids, or a dip in blood sugar. Lucky me. I’m always one of those “rare” statistics.
So if you all of a sudden feel awful when you are breastfeeding, just remember, you are not alone and it should subside in 6 to 8 weeks. No big deal, right?
There will be sweating, sweating, and more sweating.
I’ve seriously never sweat so much in my life. I didn’t even think I had that much fluid in me. It was relentless, all day and night. I had to change my shirt and reapply deodorant no less than 10 times a day. It was disgusting.
And you may as well sleep with no sheets on the bed because between the sweating, the spit up, and the poop explosions, you will be changing those sheets five times a day. You should just release yourself from that responsibility. I found myself apologizing to people in advance for my profuse sweating problem and BO. No wonder visitors stopped showing up.
Your incision may partially split open.
This was my biggest fear and it happened to me. And after consulting with a handful of my girlfriends, I realized that this awful occurrence is actually pretty common. It had happened to at least four of my close girlfriends.
Why was no one talking about this? It’s like they are part of some secret society of C-section warriors. They are bitches for not warning me about this because I was terrified when it happened. I’m pretty sure I almost passed out and my husband had to convince me not to call 911.
I will have to say, though, that besides it being unsightly, the incision eventually healed and now looks totally normal.
You will feel like an invalid.
You never realize how often you actually bend and pick shit up until you are told you cannot do it. I was super surprised to learn that I even had stomach muscles, let alone ones that I depend on so much. You would think I had six-pack abs pre-surgery by how much not being able to use them hindered my life.
And expect to have a breakdown because you are so frustrated that you cannot do the things you want. I remember crying because I couldn’t reach my son’s sippy cup. “How can I take care of two kids if I can’t even make him a drink?”
Yes, hormones make for a lot of drama and irrational thinking.
Which leads me to my other point…
You will feel crazy and irrational.
This does not mean something is wrong with you. Hormones are a bitch. And to top it off, you have all these women going on and on about how happy and complete they feel postpartum, and here you are feeling extremely guilty because you are having a hard time. Damn those Baby Center chat rooms. Having a baby us a huge adjustment, so cut yourself some slack.
Now if you cannot shake your funk after six weeks and are still battling extreme anxiety and feel like the world is closing in on you, get some help. I know it’s hard admitting you cannot handle it all, but modern medicine can be a life-saver, and you need to do what you need to do to take care of you and that baby. Anti-depressants have gotten me through some very dark times in my life. Self-care is crucial.
Childbirth is freaking hard, no matter how that baby makes its debut. There is no “easy way out,” unless you are one of these magical women on TLC who didn’t know she was pregnant until she sneezed and the baby popped out in her bathtub.
For the rest of us, it’s beyond painful and traumatic. Cut yourself some slack, and don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s recovery is unique and not to be demeaned.
Just hold that new bundle tightly and daydream about the day that you can tell them, “I went through hell for you, so you better eat those peas.”