“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi
To pick up from where we left off in “Ding Dong, Some Order a Baby”…
It turns out that when you have a baby, they just pack you up and send you home with it after 3 days. *gasp.* Just “off you go. Go sink or swim.” Even if you went to classes to learn how to deal with the baby, which I didn’t, it is the most overwhelming thing to suddenly have a whole baby to look after all by yourself. That is a whole story on its own. Today I want to talk about my physical recovery from the c-section.
People in my part of world love to make a c-section out to be the “easy option” with less mess, less fuss and less pain. Often, perhaps it is. It wasn’t easy for me.
From about day 3 postpartum, I started to feel a tingling just above my incision that didn’t feel right. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. When I pointed it out to the doctor (my doctor went on Christmas holiday on the day of my procedure so this was his stand-in) that something didn’t feel right, he was the first of many to say ” you have just had a c-section. You are not supposed to feel ok just yet.”
Over the next couple of days, the tingling became pain and then it became a whole lot of pain. And then a whole lot more. Everytime I mentioned that I was in pain to anyone, the answer was the same, “you’ve had a c-section, you will be ok. Just keep taking your painkillers.”
I wasn’t OK. In my heart of hearts I knew this was not ok. It was Christmas period and my doctor was still away so I decided to hang in there until he came back or until my 2 week check up.
Let me pause here to deliver Life Lesson Number 1: Never Ever Hang in There. Don’t do it.
There is no prize for suffering needlessly. I should have made a fuss and a half about being in pain until someone listened. Instead I tried to be strong and trust me when I say, I suffered.
It came to a point where getting up from the bed to fetch the baby when he cried at night caused me to cry out in pain. My entire stomach area felt like it had been scalded by boiling hot water. It was unbearable.
My darling husband and my mum-in-law did the best they could to help me with everything and I could not be more grateful. I couldn’t have done much without them. I did my best not to complain. Mum, quite understandably, registered her concern about the fact that I continued to depend so heavily on painkillers a week or so after the procedure. I could only take them every 4 or more hours. In hour 3 to 4, I would literally be clock watching just waiting to take the next dose. It wasn’t because I was addicted. I was in severe pain. Once I had taken them, for 2 hours or so, I wasn’t in blinding pain just trying to be strong.
I think all three of us could tell that something wasn’t right but we all wanted it to be. With no frame of reference we just did our best. I remember very little of the first 2 weeks save for my darling boy screaming endlessly, the haze of pain, doing everything on autopilot and gritting my teeth majority of the time. I also remember quite distinctly watching my husband on a particularly bad night thinking “shame, he is going to be a single dad because I am going to die from some weird post-birth complication.” This thought was quickly followed by “I should have updated my Will.” In short, it was a nightmare.
When my 2 week appointment date finally came round, we went to the doctor and I barely lifted my shirt before he said “Gosh! Look at the size of that Haematoma!”
a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues.
It turns out that one of the veins that was snipped during my c-section wasn’t sealed afterwards and it slowly bled into the tissue on my stomach leading to the severe pain I was experiencing. As it continued to grow, the pain continued to escalate.
To be honest, my first feeling was relief. Relief that I wasn’t crazy or somehow weak. Relief that this was not what it was supposed to be like because if it was, I wasn’t about to have another baby. The factory was closed baby. Relief that nothing about this was normal. Relief that there was something I could do to end my suffering.
Even now, 6 months postpartum, the area still hurts vaguely when pressed or more distinctly when it is freezing cold (cue the Joburg winter) but it is nothing like those first few weeks. For that I am grateful. Healing takes time. Childbirth is no walk in the park no matter how you do it. The gift it brings is priceless but don’t underestimate the effect it has on your body, mind and soul. Adjusting to those changes also takes time so take all the time you need.