Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Stork Is Scheduled

My c-section is scheduled for Friday, June 4th, which means that regardless of what else happens, in 65 days I will have held my baby girl. This makes me smile in a very big way.

I mentioned my decision to opt for a c-section this time around in a very early pregnancy post, and as happens with these issues, people had opinions. They're interesting to read, especially since I frequently and gratefully rely on my blog to serve as a world-wide internet community of girlfriends, but there is one view that annoys me, and that is the one that assumes this is something my OB pushed me into doing. I am a smart, self-confident woman. If I had walked in my OB's office for my first maternity visit after a perfect vaginal birth and she recommended a c-section, I would have left to find a new doctor. My OB's white coat and status as an MD would not have affected my ability to think for myself one bit. This option was introduced by me alone.

You see for me, Landon's birth was perfect. It was very calm, relatively quick, nearly painless (at least until the very end), and resulted in only one little tear. I recovered quickly, running errands at Target by the end of the first week and happily regaining my sex life 4 weeks later. If I was the only party involved I wouldn't think twice about doing it again; in fact, I would give birth at least 3 times in a row if it meant getting out of a few of those pregnancy months.

But childbirth involves more than just me. There's a baby, and in Landon's case, that baby came out and developed dark purple bruises covering the entire top of his head, both sides of his body, and the bottoms of both feet. He was diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which is not unusual for preemies, but is somewhat rare for 35-weekers. And once he recovered from that, he de-satted for over a week, something the neonatologist said was unusual and very likely connected to the 7 broken ribs we discovered a few weeks later. (Her letter and testimony was very helpful at our DCFS appeal hearing.) We don't know- and will never know- that the birth process is what broke Landon's ribs, but it remains by far the most likely possibility (the other being that something happened to him while he was in the NICU) and I simply will not take a chance on that happening again. He was a perfectly average sized baby at 7 lb. 7 oz., and since this baby will hopefully bake a few weeks longer, she should be at least the same size or bigger, and we're not going to risk her getting stuck or injured in my screwed up pelvis.

Those are my medical reasons, and my doctor agrees with them. But it goes deeper than that, as I realized when I had my first OB/GYN check-up right after we moved to Austin- the idea of another bruised or injured baby terrified me. When I sat down in my OB's office to introduce myself, I was amazed to find the whole Chicago story spilling out of my mouth about 5 seconds after saying hello. I hadn't told it to anyone start-to-finish since it happened, so it was a little bumpy, but she listened patiently and we talked about my options. Well, she called them options, but I knew I had already made my decision as to how future babies would be exiting my body. I wasn't pregnant and had no plans on becoming so for at least a year, but I felt really good leaving her office knowing that she knew my full medical history (a history which includes my baby) and that she was at least on board with the possibility of a c-section. Throughout this pregnancy she has continued to phrase it as an option, but when we sat down to talk about the birth at my last appointment she agreed that it was the right one. I will be 39 weeks on June 4th. I really hope to stay pregnant that long and have come to believe that I will, but even if I don't, I'll just show up at the hospital and go straight to the OR. The peace of mind this has given me can't be put into words.

But, and this is the part where I'm really looking forward to your comments, while I am confident in my decision, that doesn't mean I'm not a little disconcerted by the idea of a scalpel-meets-belly birth. I never worried or thought much about labor the first time around. I figured I'd have a vaginal delivery, but if that didn't work out I trusted my midwife to make the right recommendations along the way. And my recovery was so easy- I felt back to 100% days before Landon was breathing regularly. I've had major surgery before- my hips were operated on in high school (as noted above, I have screwed up, turned-in hips that managed to tear through a bunch of cartilage not normally rubbed by your pelvic bones and it had to be cleaned out), but this is abdominal surgery and that's different (though it can't be much worse than major joint surgery, I had to have walking lessons after that). Still, it sounds like recovery will be harder than a vaginal delivery and I worry that it will take a long time for me to be able to pick up my baby and play with Landon like normal.

So for those who have had one, how was the recovery for you? Is there anything you recommend that I have on hand post-birth, either at home or at the hospital? And this isn't medical, but I almost cry when I think about being away from Landon for the four days I'll be in the hospital. Sure he can visit, but it's not the same and I'm going to miss him so much.

And yet, 65 days. I can't freaking wait.


  1. I had an emergency C. The drama that came before was stressful but the birth itself was not at all scary. I didn't like that so much was going on without me being able to see. However, I got my baby back super fast and was able to nurse within the first hour which was awesome. Recovery was not too tough for me, I was up and on my feet within a couple of days within the hospital, back to normal walking within a week and then back to my normal self within the month. They said to take a minimum of 6 weeks off work but other than being with my baby I didn't feel that I needed to, my physical ability was definitely back on track before then.
    Having a co-sleeper really helped in the first couple of weeks when getting up and down was hard. I wished that our bed was a bit lower, we have a very high bed and that was tough to get in and out of. We don't have stairs, but if you do then setting up downstairs for a couple of weeks would be ideal.
    Also I think it will be helpful if you can explain to Landon ahead of time that you won't be able to lift him etc.

    The only negative thing I really did find with the C was how surreal everything was. I hadn't been expecting it, and then suddenly all this drama happened. I think in some ways it made it a little harder for me to bond with my baby right away. However, I have little to compare it to and I think that maybe people who have vaginal births don't always get the instant bond that people talk about.

  2. I can relate to the bonding issue. I got to hold Landon for about 5 seconds before he was in severe respiratory distress and dashed off to the NICU. And then I felt so separated from him the 12 days he was in there. It was weeks before I really felt like we had that bond I had heard about from so many mothers, and even then, I felt like it wasn't until he was nearly 18 months old that I felt that absolutely overwhelming-to-the-point-you're-not-sure-your-heart-can-hold-it feeling of maternal love.

    I wonder how much of that was my situation and how much of that was me. Maybe now that I'm so comfortable in my "mother" role, it will come faster regardless of the medical/NICU situation? I'm not sure, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

    (And thanks for the recovery commentary!)

  3. Hey LL: I'm sure the combination of 12 days in the NICU, colic/reflux, and DCFS investigation had a ton to do with the bonding problems in the beginning. I am sure, with a normal, non-traumatic post-birth situation, you'll have no trouble falling head over heels in love!

    Luckily girls tend to have their lungs developed earlier than boys so hopefully you won't encounter breathing issues if you go into labor earlier than 38 weeks. I do remember reading, though, that with c-section delivery, there is a higher risk of breathing issues at birth because the fluid isn't squeezed out of the lungs in the birth canal.

    I haven't had a c-section but my Mom had 3 of them. I thought I might need a c-section with #2 (she was not head down at 37 weeks) so my Mom and I had a long conversation about it. My Mom said that the c-section itself is odd because you can feel people poking around in there but it doesn't hurt. She said that you mostly feel tugging. With respect to recovery, my Mom said that it was pretty painful for the first few days because the incision made her feel like her body was splitting in two when she tried to get up. She said that after the first 48 hours or so, the pain was mostly when she was getting up, but once she was up it was a lot better.

  4. Hi...I'm a lurker...I had two c sections because I didn't dilate well. The recovery was not bad and both children emerged healthy and un bruised. C Sections definitely minimize potential trauma on the child.

    I feel like c sections get a bad and unfair rap. But I think there are definite benefits to the child and mother. I felt gentle tugging during the c-section. I took advantage of the extra strength tylenol...they offerred vicodin but I didn't feel as though I needed it. After 48 hours, I felt a lot better. I also fully took advantage of the extra days in the hospital...I took time to bond with my baby and rest fully. With C-sections you obviously have no tearing...I put neosporin on my small incision and the scar is minimal.

    I think you are making a wise choice. Best of luck and good health for the remainder of your pregnancy.


  5. I had two c sections, one emergency (twins) and one planned. The first one was definitely harder, both physically and with the bonding. My twins were in the NICU for 3 weeks after birth, and I didn't get to hold them until they were 5 days old, so I know that contributed to my bonding troubles.

    With my third, last June, I got to hold her as soon as I was out of recovery (~4 hours), and we bonded instantly. I think part of that was also being a mom already; I had issues similar to what you describe in developing that maternal bond with the twins. Part of it was that I didn't have to wait to see her, though. The recovery from that c section was a ton easier, too. Though I knew what to expect, it was better than my expectations.

    It's good that you're comfortable with the c section idea. It really will make things go more smoothly for you. A belly band or something similar will help with your recovery - not only will it help get your shape back, but you won't feel like your insides are falling out, like I did. :)

  6. I had NO idea about your previous hip surgeries. (How did I miss that?!) Very excited about your decision because the date falls on MY b'day! June 4th babies are obvs. teh best ones. ;)

    I'm sure you'll bounce back in no time. No worries.

  7. I had a C-section with my son after 21 hours of back labor. I'm quite small, he was over 10 pounds, it just wasn't happening.

    The whole procedure took about 20 minutes. I felt absolutely nothing (that I remember). The hardest part about recovery was the stinging. You just HAVE to rest (it is major surgery, after all). You also can't life anything heavier than 10 pounds, which might be a challenge of Landon still likes to be picked up, but I'm sure you and JP will find a way to explain it to him!

    Make yourself a little nest in your living room or bedroom, avoid stairs if you can, drink water, and you should be just fine.

    Best of luck to you!

  8. I could have pushed for a vaginal birth but when I didn't dilate after 12 hours of pitocin and contractions with 39 week twins I wasn't exactly in the mood to go home and try again in a couple of days even though my OB offered that as an option. I do think that having an OB who didn't push me into a c-section led me to a level of comfort with it.

    And to be honest it was pretty easy. I had it at 5:30 and by eight the next morning I was walking to the bathroom. We all went home after two nights. The only downside was that I couldn't pick both girls up for the first couple of weeks but I mainly just used that to get out of changing diapers. I drove myself to the OB for my two week appointment.

    As for bonding, many hospitals let you have the baby in the recovery room if someone stays with you. I held the girls right after they were weighed. You can even breastfeed as tehy are stitching you up. And we had them in our room when we were moved two hours after the section.

    The biggest thing to remember is to keep taking your pain medication for the first couple of days. Don't try to wean off too early.

    Good luck!

  9. My mom had 4 c-sections (she's tiny, we were HUGE).

    I do remember having to be careful around mom afterwards, but I don't remember her being particularly incapacitated. With my sister at least (I was almost 10) I remember seeing mom and holding my sister that same afternoon hours after her 8 am c-section. So even if you're not home, you should be able to see Landon quite a bit.

    I know you're a lot taller than my mom, but one thing I particularly remember being helpful for her was having a footstool for wherever she was sitting. It kept her feet higher, so her legs weren't pulling on her abdomen.

    I'm really impressed you get a 4 day hospital stay - my mom definitely didn't get any more than 2 nights for my sister. I'm old so she was there for a week after her c-section with me.

  10. I've had 3 c-sections and all had slightly different recoveries. My general tips would be, 1. Take the pain meds:-) 2. Stairs are the worst so try to have a set of everything on each level. For me that meant water, chapstick, books for when I was nursing and also the baby stuff-diapers, wipes, change of clothes,etc. 3. Accept help in the beginning as much as possible. I either stayed at my parents or had my mom come out for the first 2-3 weeks after each birth. This was crucial. If you can just rest and not worry about the house, cooking, picking up Landon you will bounce back much quicker.
    I wish I had known about the belly band thing when I had my kids- I've heard good things about them. As I said, each recovery was different but I was moving around mostly pain free in about a week or two. Oh I forgot the biggest tip- get a great surgeon! I can't say enough about my ob in that regard. I actually stuck with him for my third pregnancy even though the other ob and midwife that I loved had left because I knew I was having another c-section and I wanted him to do it. He had done some plastic surgery training so I'm guessing that helped.

  11. I'm not sure how to add my name, so I guess I have to be "anonymous," but my name is Lisa and I delivered at Prentice, where Landon was born.

    I had an emergency c-section with my daughter after a failed induction at 41 weeks. The procedure itself was not a problem for me. I had dips in blood pressure from them turning up the epidural (I told them I was going to throw up and they immediately added something like epinephrine to my IV - which is like being paralyze but drinking 3 espresso shots!). My biggest regret is that I didn't ask that they hold her up over the screen. I saw her the first time all cleaned off in a blanket with a hat on. I joked that they could have just wheeled any baby in and handed her to my husband...I feel like I missed something with that but never felt I had a "bonding" issue.

    They let me hold her while they wheeled me to recovery. I needed to have my husband help me though, because I was twitching so much from the anesthesia (some women have this from the epidural and/or hormones regardless of the type of birth). My biggest recovery advice is to try to sit and stand up straight in the days and weeks following the c/s. My back honestly hurt me more from slouching than the incision itself. I felt pretty good after 3 weeks, but not back to myself for about 5. It seems like most people feel better much sooner. I've also heard that a c-section before you've labored generally makes for a better recovery.

    Best of luck and how fun to have a date in mind!

    PS. I echo the pain meds comment. I never took my vicodin for fear of it getting into my breast milk (even though it is of course safe) and think that may have led to the slouching/back issues and slow recovery. Take them!

  12. Hi LL! I had an emergency c-section (but without actually even ever going into labor). It really doesn't hurt during the surgery at all - you do feel tugging, (and for some reason, I got the shakes, I think maybe the painkillers caused that), but no pain. The shot itself prior to the c-section isn't very pleasant but nothing too bad. Here are my major recommendations:
    1. Have your husband with you during the c-section and have him snap pics of the baby when she comes out and getting all cleaned up. Otherwise, you'll just see her when they are done cleaning her up and wrapping her in a blanket.
    2. Have a good surgeon that has done a ton of c-sections. It really makes a difference in how the scar looks afterward.
    3. Before I had the c-section, I read that the soon you try to start walking after the surgery, the faster you will heal. This was true for me. The next day, I made sure to try walking at least a little and then, a little more each day. I didn't use a wheelchair once, just because I wanted to get back on my feet asap.
    4. Try to get some sleep. Especially at night.
    5. Have the lactation specialist show you breastfeeding positions specifically for post c-section moms. It was next to impossible for me to sit up in bed and breastfeed (or use the pump) for about a week after the birth because the belly hurt too much in that position. Also, I couldn't use the breastfeeding pillows to help because the belly pain was too much also. The lactation specialist should be helpful in figure out how to help you in that regard.
    6. Take it easy in the hospital. I remember being completely exhausted all of the time. I don't know if it was the pain meds or just post-surgery, but I literally couldn't handle visitors for more than 10 minutes. Bring magazines, watch TV, read books, take baby pics. :)
    7. Take it easy when you get back home. If you can have someone help you at home for at least a week, it would probably help a ton. Particularly cooking/cleaning, etc.

    Good luck! So excited for you!

  13. I had a semi-planned (as in "tomorrow at the latest") c-section and I agree that c-sections tend to get a bad rap. The procedure itself was fine. We were all joking around, listening to music, enjoying the anticipation. There was no stress or anxiety (other than the holy crap we're about to have a baby kind). My husband watched Eli be "born" which was a little weird now that he's seen my insides, but other than that, it was just a little pressure and tugging. I was up and walking the next day. My advice is to take it slow at first (I got a little competetive and paid dearly for it that night). Also, the boppy was nice for keeping him off of the incision. At the risk of giving way too much information, I would bring my own underwear next time since the awesome mesh ones caught on the staples in the incision. My weight restriction was no more than baby+carrier, so I was able to hold and carry him right off the bat. I was taking walks around the block within the week.

    At home I didn't see a huge difference in the pain associated with getting up and down and the discomfort of getting up and down with a huge belly. I'd agree with having a couple nests set up though, just in case it does get painful.

    I'm going to try the VBAC route this time, and your labor story helped to alleviate some of my fears about doing it the old-fashioned way. Good luck with your c-section! Everything's going to be great.

  14. I've known people who have had great experiences with C-sections. I don't want to terrify you but in my case, the c-section was the worst experience I'd ever had in my life. I'm sorry to say that knowing you are going to have one. I think what made it so bad was that it was an emergency c-section. After 2 hours of pushing and 24 hours of labor, the doctor suddenly said- "C-section in five minutes" that in itself was horrifying. I had never had surgery before and I was literally terrified to death. i was exhausted and in pain during my c-section. My neck muscles were killing me from 2 hours of pushing. I could feel them tugging my internal organs around too. But I guess the worst part was having it be an emergency and having AFTER experiencing a rough and long labor. I was in the hopsital for FIVE days after my c-section. I couldn't walk at all for the first three days. I couldn't eat for 60 hours. I couldn't take care of my son- I relied on everyone else to pick him up, bring him to me and change his diapers. I couldn't drive or do anythign strenuous for 2 weeks afterward and I relied heavily on my vicadin for pain relief. Ugh, the worst part was keeping the incision clean and the removal of the staples two weeks later. No fun at all!

    All that on top of being a new mom was so hard. But at least YOU will be expecting the c-section, you wont have to do the labor part and you're already a mom so I have a feeling it will be WAY better for you! Sorry to scare you- I hope your experience goes well. Good for you for choosing a c-section after Landon's rough birth. Don't listen to anyone tellig you you're making the wrong choice. I'm 100% positive you are doing what it best!

  15. Hi LL,
    I had an emergency c-section, but didn't even go into labor or anything. You can feel tugging during the procedure but no pain. The painkiller shot isn't pleasant, and I got the shakes from the morphine for about an hour, but other than that, it was fine. You can't see anything beyond the "blue curtain" during the procedure, but the coolest thing was hearing her cry for the first time as they took her out. Then they clean them up and wrap them in a blanket and you see them for a few seconds before they're whisked out. But they bring the baby back very quickly once you're in recovery and you can breastfeed then.
    Some ideas:
    - have your husband with you during the c-section with a photo camera and have him take pics of the baby as she is taken out/cleaned up/wrapped - because you don't get to see all that there, so at least you can see it later.
    - before the c-section, i read that the more you try walking soon afterward, the faster you heal. This was true for me. The next day after the c-section I tried walking and I never used a wheelchair once during my stay. I was fine walking once I left the hospital and at home.
    - have the lactation specialist show you special holds for post c-section moms. For me, it hurt too much to do the usual sitting-up breastfeeding holds or to use the breastfeeding pillows (or even to pump sitting up). The lactation specialist should help.
    - have a good surgeon. It really makes a difference in how the c-section scar looks afterward.
    - take it easy at the hospital. for some reason, i was worn out all the time, but i couldn't sleep at night. It might be the painkillers. The nurses are your friends. :)
    - if possible, have someone help out at home at least the first week. Moving will be hard. If someone can do cooking/cleaning/etc, it would be a great help.

    Good luck!!!

  16. oh, also a follow up on the c-section - if possible, have them do the staples that dissolve by themselves. I'm not quite sure how it works but I know that all I had on my scar was tape that fell off after a few weeks. Absolutely problem free.

    if you can, bring your own towels and pillow to the hospital.

  17. I have read your blog for quite a while, but have never commented.
    I had a c/s with my son. It was a planned c/s (he was big, I wasn't progressing and I had gestational diabetes). I think having a planned c/s is much easier than having one after labor from what I have heard.
    My c/s was a snap. You do feel pressure and tugging, but that is it. I didn't have any problems bonding with my little boy. My advice is to stay on top of your pain meds and get up and walk as soon as they will let you. The sooner you walk the quicker you will recover - just don't push yourself. I had him on Tuesday and was at Babies R Us on Saturday (not driving of course :)). Also, do make sure you have plenty of help especially with Landon. Good luck!

  18. I had an elective c-section, which turned out would have been necessary since JP was tangled up in my ribs and they had to be cracked in order to get him out (another story entirely). But I found the recovery to be relatively easy- I was shopping at the mall 10 days later. The key I think was getting up and walking ASAP, which in my case, was 12 hours after the surgery. I also had dissolvable stitches, so there was no staple or stitch removal. We went home 48 hours later and while getting up and down was not pain free, it wasn't the worst pain I've ever experienced. Trust your body- after my c-section, the doctor came in and said, "you were right that something was wrong, if we had induced, you never would have progressed because he was stuck". So rest easy knowing that a c-section is the right decision for you!

  19. As someone who has never had a baby (obviously), why do they want to do the c-section at 39 weeks instead of 40?

  20. I have no input on the c-section, but I just wanted to say how exciting it is that you have a date! I'm also really happy for you and JP (and Landon!) to be able to experience all the amazing newborn/1st year things that you may have missed with Landon.

    and to (roughly) quote someone brilliant, if you want something to work badly enough, you'll make it work. The c-section recovery will be fine, just plan for taking it easy for a few days, have family and JP there to help as much as possible and squeeze in visits with Landon whenever you can!

  21. I had a C-Section after 32 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing. The C-Section itself wasn't bad. The recovery was not fun, but was not horrid, either. Next time around, I fully intend on scheduling a C. I was sore - but I think a lot of my soreness was also related to the exhaustion of labor and the hard pushing. My sister has a heart condition and had 2 planned C's. She has a LOW pain tolerance, and thought that the recovery wasn't bad. I was up and moving as soon as the epidural wore off (slowly and painfully, but moving). Holding and carrying the baby was no problem. Landon will be a different story. I lived in a 3-story garden-style apartment and had to climb the stairs when I got home. It wasn't bad. The worst parts, IMO, were when they had to push on your incision site in the hospital, climbing in and out of bed, getting off of the toilet and the insane itching at the incision site for over a year. It's not exactly in a location that you want to scratch in public...

  22. I've had both a scheduled c-section and an emergency c-section after labor (and a v-bac in between - a tri-fecta!). There was a six-year span between the two, and they were vastly different...mostly in the pain meds. For the most recent (the c after labor) they put something into the spinal block that allowed me to go without a morphine drip the next day...and they dosed me better overall - I was numb up to my nose for the first! Between the stuff in the spinal block, painkillers that carried over to the next day or something, AND the better dosing, I was up and moving around much quicker and easier after the emergency c-section. So much so that I convinced my dr to let me out after two days and they sent a home health nurse to remove the staples. Because seriously, there is no rest to be had in a hospital!

    Overall, you're going to be VERY aware of how many times a day you use your 'core'...coughing, sneezing, laughing all = ouch!

    Plan all moves, up, down, or whatever, methodically and take your time.

    Slippers or shoes that slip on, so you don't have to bend over, are great.

    An ice pack will feel good on the incision.

    They will probably put you on a 'soft foods' diet until you pass gas, so ask what items are on the hospital's 'soft food' menu and then have J.P. bring you stuff to fill in the gaps (maybe ask the midwife for some recommendations). Otherwise you might be looking at lots of jello and coffee - whee!

    You will still be able to snuggle with Landon - nursing baby in one arm, Landon tucked under the other turning book pages so you can read to him. You'll make it work! Landon will also be a super great helper - he's at just the right age where he'll love grabbing a diaper and the wipes for you, and all manner of other things...this may also be the age where they learn to push a chair up to the counter to get their own banana, lol, but I don't recall for sure.

  23. long-time reader here.

    That is so exciting that you have a date! It sounds like a c/s is a great option for you. I have not had one, but my best friend did, and honestly, she had a great experience! She recovered quickly and said she didnt really get why some people dread them. So hopefully your experience will be more like hers. I know you read amalah too - she has a good post about them, i'll dig up the link and post if i find it.

    I really, really don't want to intrude, and I know it's a sensitive and separate topic from that about which you posted, and I only say this as your internet "girlfriend," but for me, in my experience, and speaking about my experience only, one thing that helped me to bond immediately, was breastfeeding. The amazing energy I got from doing it at the beginning was really special. I am not sure if you have considered it for this baby, or if it was the circumstances of Landon's birth that precluded it for you last time, but I wanted to comment about it. Of course, please remove this post if you don't want to get into it!

  24. My second section is scheduled for June 15. I thought about a VBAC but we all know my pelvis didn't get any bigger and my boy's head looked pretty big on the 20 wk ultrasound.

    The first section was not bad. I had been laboring for > 12 hours and finally agreed to the obvious. It did creep me out to be in an OR (I'm an MD and have assisted in c-sections in training) but I found my happy husband and I talked about the pans for the next week. Also, I had had abdominal surgery before (my gallbladder), so I think that helped recovery. Things I learned:

    1. Do not refuse pain meds. And take those narcotics. My spinal wore off quickly and I had nothing on board at the time. My husband did not like me saying to him: It's ok if my uterus ruptured and they have to take it out. All was well after lots of morphine.

    2. Get up as soon as they let you, preferably AFTER 2 percocet.

    3. Bleeding is not too bad after a section.

    4. Stay the 4 days but you can sometimes go home in 3 days. But having a hospital bed one more day rocks. We'll see if I stay that long with my son at home.

    5. At home, put something by your bed to simulate a hospital bed rail. We used a small step ladder. It will help you get out of bed.

    6. At home, take ibuprofen around the clock. After I went home, I took one percocet.

    7. After abdominal surgery, you will feel like your stomach will fall out if you lay on your side. And laying on your stomach is out. But a pregnancy support belt, pulled tight, will help that feeling (I'm a side/ tummy sleeper).

    8. Take a stool softner in the hospital starting right after the section. Between the surgery and the narcotics (seriously, don't be a hero), you want to poop with ease.

    9. Expect your breast milk to come in a little later than with vaginal delivery (12-24 hours).

    10. Bonding: my hospital is great in that I was holdng him as they rolled me out of the OR. I was breastfeeding him in less than 30 minutes.

    All in all, I was 90% back in one week. Not bad I thought.

    And it did take me awhile before I could do full sit up again but those muscles do come back. Or in my case, I discovered them for the first time while getting in shape for this pregnancy!

    Good luck! It will be beautiful.

    hil (no blog to have log in for comment).

  25. They haven't invented the baby transporter beam since the last time we popped 'em out? Shit. Well, at least you'll have a quick, painless delivery and your baby won't come out looking like she's been juiced! Exciting you're getting so close though!

    As for bonding, people are just different, and I think most lawyers are a more logical breed anyway. Being adverse to all forms of sentiment, I view it as I continue to bond with my child as we both grow and change, it's not something that is innate or immediate, but rather, an ongoing process, at least for me.

  26. I think everything's been covered!

    As a recipient of an unexpected C-section my quick tips:

    A) It won't be painful. Just a bit of 'tugging' sensation when she's being taken out.

    B) Recovery is not bad. I spent about an hour in the 'recovery' room while my husband and parents were in the nursery with our daughter while she was being weighed and all those good things. I did miss out on that part. Was reunited with my daughter once the 'shaking' had stopped...roughly 2 hours after surgery ended. She immediately began nursing and all was well.

    3) Absolutely get out of that hospital bed as soon as the nurses will let you! It will be tough at first, but the quicker you get moving the faster you will recover.

    4) Don't worry about not being able to hold your newborn...I held/carried my 8 lb with no trouble. I did need help with the baby AND carrier though...too heavy for about the first 2 weeks.

    Hope all these suggestions get you well prepared for yours!


  27. After seeing comments I just wanted to pop back and clarify my "bonding" experience. I know that for me any bonding issues had nothing to do with time spent apart from my son. My hospital is very adamant about never separating mother and child and I had him back as soon as he was weighed and cleaned and, as I mentioned, I was nursing him within the hour. I loved him immediately, of course, but still felt something was not quite there as I expected it to be until a few days later. It seemed to me that feeling that came from not having physically given birth to him.
    One thing for me that was different was I was convinced 'he' was a 'she'. I think the combination of this little baby I had been carrying for nine months not being the girl I had imagined, the drama of the emergency C, and the fact that he looks exactly like his dad (and nothing like me) all combined to make me feel that as much as I loved the little babe it couldn't truly be my son. It as all too surreal. I felt at the time that if I had been able to take a more active role in his birth and actually witness his entrance I might have felt differently.

  28. I apologize that I didn't read every word from the posters above, so please forgive me if I repeat something. :)
    I've had 2 c-sections. With #2 I was attempting a vbac and #1 was unplanned. Talk to your doctor or hospital to see what the hospitals policy for the recovery room is. With my first, I didn't see her for 3 hours. With my 2nd, they had changed policies and I was able to hold and nurse him in the recovery room. I think it's essential to know if you will be able to hold the baby right away or if you will have to wait until you're out of recovery. I think it would be a nasty surprise if you were expecting one thing and the policy stated otherwise.

    Some practical tips:
    -Ask for an abdominal binder. It will help immensely with moving around in the weeks following the surgery. It's like a big stretchy girdle. You can buy them on your own, but my experience was that the hospital provided binders worked much better... they are wider and stretch better.
    -I assume you will get a spinal. They put a morphine derivative in my spinal that lasted for 24 hours. Be aware that at 24 hours, if you haven't started on your oral pain meds that you will go from feeling great to feeling like you got hit by a truck. I had to send my son to the nursery for a few hours while I got my pain under control.
    -Take your stool softeners and gas pills religiously.
    -have a squishy pillow or a rolled blanket to brace your abs with for the first BM you have at the hospital and keep it nearby for other times. YOu can use it to brace your belly when you need to "push" when using the bathroom, and when you laugh or sneeze. The counter pressure on your belly will help with the pain.
    -do not jack knife up from laying down. Roll onto your side and push up that way.
    -do stairs as infrequently as possible. I spent a week or so on the couch with my kids in the pack-n-play only going upstairs once a day to shower and dress.
    -if at all possible do not lift landon. Doing that with my daughter made my recovery from my son much harder, and at the time she was only 25 lbs. I ended up setting up a step stool so she could climb onto the changing table with minimal assistance from me.
    -if you happen to go into labor before your scheduled date, get to the hospital asap. I think both of my recoveries were hard because I labored with both of my kids before having the surgery ( neither child moved into the birth canal, so with #1 they let me go for a while before recommending the surgery and with #2 I was attempting a vbac so I labored for a while a home only to find out that there was no progress from 2 days before I went into labor). If you deal with the contractions, you just end up with a tired body from that, then you go through major surgery. It's not fun.

    hope these help!

  29. I had an emergency C-section with my first child, born last June. I had no idea what to expect, since the 30+ pregnancy books on my nightstand kind of skimmed over the C-section part. :-)

    Anyway, most of the commenters above have covered prepared for uncontrollable shaking from the epidural once the birth has happened, take the pain meds,etc. Here's my 2 cents...the pain meds tend to make you constipated, so make sure you are taking something to offset those effects. Also, no one notified me that the incision site basically goes numb for weeks afterward because they cut through the nerves in that area. I regained some feeling after a couple of months, but not all. It's not bothersome, just a weird thing.

    Just take it easy for the first couple of weeks and focus on recovery and the new baby. You won't have to worry about the new baby causing too much strain on your incision, but you'll have to take it easy with the adorable Landon.

    Congratulations on your birth date!

  30. I totally second the poster who advised getting up and walking around as soon as possible afterwards. I did that, and healed INFINITELY faster than my best friend whose mother kept her on the couch and barely let her walk to the bathroom unassisted. In my (completely non-medical) opinion, I think that our bodies have natural coping mechanisms - cavemen couldn't just lay around and wait for things to heal, after all - that are sped along by taking reasonable steps to resume normal physical activities as soon as possible.

    Also, in case they don't tell you, you have to pass gas in the hospital before they let you eat. I didn't know this, and was horrified each time the nurses came in and asked if I had farted yet; I obviously lied, being too embarassed to tell the truth in front of my husband and mother. As soon as I found out that THAT was the reason I was still stuck with bland broth and tasteless jello, you can bet your sweet a$$ that I 'fessed up immediately. Of course, that might be more about my particular neuroses...

  31. Very excited for you!!

  32. I have had one natural largely unmedicated birth and one surprise c section. I was on bed rest beginning August 5 for high blood pressure. I was keeping it under control. On August 13 I went to my morning OB appointment where my blood pressure was on the high side. We had an U/S to check the amount of amniotic fluid where we discovered for the first time he was breech. Then he failed the non stress test. We had planned a tub birth with a midwife. At 10 am the midwife told me she thought I would be having a c section soon. Since I was 36 weeks I figured that meant I had a week or two. The OB came in and told us the U/S showed baby was at least 8 pounds, his head was a large enough size to indicate his lungs were developed, and we should go straight to the hospital for a c section at 4 pm.

    I cried on and off all day. I cried through the IV, through the phone calls, through the supportive tweets, through the nurse who couldn't get the computer to work. I really cried when the anesthesiologist came is to explain the consent form for the spinal. I asked him not to kill me today. You know, cause I'm a lawyer and I READ every line of every form and I didn't miss the part that said YOU MAY DIE FROM THIS. (I have a niece who flatlined from her epidural and had to be paddled during labor)

    The Midwife and the OB arrived and they were so calm and so respectful that it turned the experience around for me. The spinal was just as awful as I thought it would be. But the midwife helped me breath through it. Turns out my spine is not hollow and I felt WAY more than other people feel. And once the spinal was in and I was strapped down I started throwing up. Once they got the throwing up medicated things got warm and fuzzy and everything went very quickly. My husband came in, the anethesiologist was telling me jokes, and the baby was born within 20 minutes. He was NINE pounds.

    My OB is the only one in town who sews you back together with plastic surgery stitches, so at some point there will be no scar. The nurses all said how lucky his patients are.

    It took a long time before we were all back in the hospital room. Baby was born at 5:30 and I think we all got back to the room at 11 pm. At 4 am my legs were still too numb to get out of bed. By noon I was walking the halls though.

    Stay on top of your pain meds. The only time I was in pain in the hospital was when a nurse told me she thought I should try to only take 1 Tylenol 3 instead of the 2 I was prescribed and if I wanted the other one she's give it to me later. I went with that, then they wouldn't give me the other one when I needed it. I was cold and in a lot of pain and had to wait the same length of time as if I'd had 2.

    I was swollen from the IV for weeks. WEEKS. The constipation after I got home and took the iron pill PLUS all the paid meds was horrendous. Worst pain of my entire life. For Real.

    Nursing went fine, easy even. I went up and down stairs fine. I did have a stitch pop, but it was no big deal. Got it checked out and the healing was going fine.

    Both births has their positive and negatives, but the c section was a better experience for me because of the respect and kindness shown to me by the doctor, midwife, and nurses. That was distinctly lacking at my first birth.

  33. I always tell people that IT'S NOT THAT BAD -- but researching always helps me, so good for you for asking your best resource! You've gotten great comments so far, but I don't think anyone has said this:
    1) check with your hospital about policy re spinal/epidural. At my hospital, you walk into the OR while husband stays outside -- so your support person for the epidural (the person you lean on while the needle goes in) is a nurse. I would want to know that before hand.
    2) You and JP seem like such a great team, so he's probably already done this, but if NOT, make sure he's read up on c-sections and recovery and that you and he have talked through the procedure and what you want to happen (like a birth plan). You'll probably want his support in calming you down and making the experience positive, but it can be really freaky for the husband to walk into the OR (you and he will have been apart for probably 30 minutes at this point) and see you naked, strapped down to a table with a roomfull of strangers busily preparing you for surgery. The more he knows ahead of time, the better support he'll be (duh).

    Good luck! Try not to worry, but definitely prepare yourself (as you're doing).

  34. Hi LL, I am a lurker who is de-lurking.

    I had an unplanned c-section after a failed induction at 41 weeks exactly 12 weeks ago today (I too have an odd shaped pelvis). Everyone else has already said most of what I would say except for one thing: I got to watch the entire surgery (they put a mirror up so I could see) and it was amazing!! I work in a hospital and have watched open-heart surgery before, so I wasn't freaked out. I know some people might be. I know you like medical stuff, so, if you're so inclined, ask your OB if this is an option. Seeing every second of my baby boy being born was an awesome opportunity! (My husband also got some pretty cool pictures!)

  35. I believe that every woman should have the birth experience that they want. However, I am not the biggest fan of c-sections. I planned on having a "natural" birth with no pain medication for my son. I was ready - I had taken all kinds of classes and practiced lots of yoga positions to help me with my goal. However, I went into labor at 37 weeks and while I was in labor at the hospital and dilated 5 cm, I learned that my son was breach and I had to have an immediate emergency c-section. I became very emotional and started crying and could not stop the crying. I'm a lawyer too so I read those release forms thoroughly through my heavy sobs.
    I was immediately wheeled to the OR and sat in a wheel chair for twenty minutes while my contractions came fast and strong. The OR was very cold and medical - not my idea of where I wanted my son born. The procedure itself was fairly quick. I felt tugging, but no pain. After my son was cleaned-up, the OB handed him to my husband who gave me my son to hold him for the first time. I only held my son for a few minutes before he was taken to the nursery so I could be stitched up. I didn't see my son again for about 1 1/2 hours. I finally got to see him again in recovery where I immediately breastfed him, which went really well.
    As far as bonding goes - I do think that my relentlessness with breastfeeding really helped a lot. I know everyone has their own opinion about breastfeeding, but I really think if a woman can try nursing, she should at least give it a shot. For me, it was a wonderful experience and softened the blow of having an unplanned c-section.
    My real beef with c-sections is the recovery. I have run a marathon before so I like to think I am pretty tough, but for me recovering from the c-section and taking care of my newborn was very difficult even with a very supportive husband and tons of supportive family around to help out. Everything is hard during recovery. Getting out of bed is hard. Using the bathroom is hard. I definitely second taking the stool softeners immediately because constipation with staples in your stomach is one of the worst pains I have ever felt in my life!Coughing, sneezing, and laughing feels like a punch to the gut. Plus, your core muscles will never ever be the same.
    For the hospital I recommend taking clothes that do not have a waistband, like dresses or night shirts. The bloating after a c-section was really bad for me and I still looked pregnant a week after giving brith. So, for me anything with a waistband was really painful since it sat tightly on my incision. Also, take some comfortable pairs of granny panties with a waisband that won't sit on the incision. Finally, if you do decide to try nursing I defintely recommend some nursing tanks - they are super comfortable and good for the ever changing size of a nursing woman's breasts!
    Overall, I am happy that my son was born healthy and safe, which I don't think would have happened if he was born vaginally. My son was feet first with the cord wrapped around his neck twice. However, for my second child I am opting for a VBAC and I will try everything I can to get that baby in position!
    One last thing, from what I have noticed, and in my non-medical opinion I think that an elective, planned c-section where you are not in labor may be easier to recover from than an emergency c-section when you have already gone into labor. Good luck to you!

  36. Hi,
    I also had a c-section after over 24 hours of labor. I was thankful for the opportunity to have a c-section because I was in so much pain and the baby just would not drop. The recovery is a little difficult, but it does heal fairly quickly. I work from home and I was able to be up working and taking care of my baby on my own within a week and a half. Just be careful not to lift anything heavy soon afterwards because you could pull your incision.

  37. I haven't read all the comments (I know, bad commenter! -- but I have to get back to work asap) but wanted to say:

    I had 2 c's (one emergency when I dilated but he didn't descend and then his heart rate went all wonky, and the 2nd one scheduled), and the scheduled one was in many ways a piece of cake. BUT -- I still kind of lost it in the OR, as they were prepping me -- I just freaked out about how they were about to CUT ME OPEN etc etc, and when my husband came in (what seemed like hours later) I needed to be calmed down a lot... so, something to warn you of. (The emergency one didn't do that to me, but probably because I had other stuff to worry about.)

    Secondly, the recovery from scheduled one was pretty easy, although I did take advantage of narcotics for a few days. But what nobody told me about was the GAS. OH MY GOSH, worst pain ever. Way way bad. Seriously, I think the surgery pain would have been fine with just tylenol/ibuprofen, but the GAS PAIN! On day 2 and 3 in the hospital, there were long stretches when I was writhing (in bed, chair, while walking...) with pain, 'cause I COULDN'T FART. So... yeah. Be aware. Maybe see if you can figure out what positions you best fart in (bearing in mind no tummy laying, which would have helped, I think) (and boy, is that weird advice, but.. yeah. pain.)

  38. My Mom had a C - she laid around a lot and felt like hell. 20 some years later, my SIL had a C - she demanded that they let her up and walk around immediately so she could get those circulation stimulator cuff things off her legs, and she did great. I (vaginal birth, 2nd deg. tear) was on pain meds for longer in recovery than she was! So I think the lesson is, if you're feeling up to it, get your butt moving as quickly as possible. ;) You'll do fine.
    Oh, and I think they schedule at 39 weeks instead of 40 (to the person who asked) so they can avoid you going into labor. It's easier to prep a woman who isn't heaving and ho-ing and in lots of pain. But don't quote me.

  39. first pg with the twins was an emergency c section and I don't recall much of anything except for the incredible terror I had of having 2 screaming babies being pulled out of me and becoming a mom. The 2nd c section was planned; my little girl, and went very smoothly but for the stifling claustrophobia I felt with that sheet pulled so close to my face. I couldn't stand it. I got to kiss baby #3 as she was led into the weighing area and was holding her within 20 minutes of her birth, attempting to nurse her. I recovered very quickly and didn't take the strong meds although I gave up on nursing on day 3; I am just not a good nursing woman...another post about mother's guilt, right? You should prob. shave "down there" before you go in so that a nurse won't have to (hey, you said you wanted to know!) I wore a girdle belt of sorts to help with recovery of those abs although it didn't help! lol The post above described the gas resulting from the anesthesia...I started taking a mild laxative about 3-4 days before the 2nd surgery. I do recall with the first c section, I had such painful, unbelievable constipation that a kind nurse actually gave me a manual enema...take about a humbling moment and God bless the kind nurses. To ward off another such event, my ob/gyn told me to start the laxatives; I had a successful, painless bowel movement on day 2. Also, watch the carbs and concentrate on liquids like water, soup, does make a difference. There's so much more but I may be repeating others comments so...good luck dear LL.

  40. The only piece of advice I haven't seen is to ask for a little pillow or a stack of washcloths to press against your incision when you get out of bed. It helps keep your muscles from engaging and makes a HUGE difference! My mom had 3 c sections and was a postpartum nurse and told me this tip -- just had my second c-section last month and it helped so much.

    Oh, and ask for simethicone as soon as they'll give it to you in addition to the pain meds and stool softener. The gas pains are no joke! (No drinking from a straw or gassy foods for a couple of weeks!)

  41. Wow! I don't think I can add anything other than take everyone up on their offers to help out...bringing you prepared meals, taking care of big brother, letting you sleep, and doing anything around the house to help you out. The more you rest and heal those first few weeks, the faster you will be back to normal...or whatever normal will be with 2 kids! Good luck!

  42. Yay for June 4! That's Eden's birthday! :) And I'm sorry you have to go through a C-section, but I completely agree with your thinking. Can't wait to see the pictures of Landon and his sister!

  43. I think it is fantastic that you have a supportive OB and a plan this time that helps you feel more in control. Pumpkinhead had similar respiratory distress issues and was in ICU for a week after birth. That was very traumatic. They had been offering/pushing a C-section and I refused. Hmmph. So it was all vaginal. But I have had plenty of abdominal surgeries. The only thing I would add is to ensure you have a firm pillow you can hold over your incision as you stand up and sit down. The counter-pressure is helpful in reducing pain.

  44. My baby is 8 weeks old today. She was delivered via urgent c section 4 weeks early due to low amniotic fluid. Here are things I wish I'd known.

    1-the meds give you the shakes. It will pass.

    2-just because you are feeling good, do not be a hero and skip a dose of pain meds. I was feeling terrific less than 24 hours after the surgery - then my spinal wore off. If I hadn't skipped a dose, that wouldn't have been so jarring.

    3-walk as soon as they'll let you.

    4-the area of the incision is unsettlingly numb because they cut the nerves. This is still the case.

    5-the bedrails are key to getting out of bed. At home jp may have to get up in the night, change her, and bring her to you to nurse. Also, a stepstool was key to my getting out of bed in a high bed. So, so helpful.

    6- I was terrified, but it really was a great experience. I felt pretty good by the time I left the hospital (4 days pp), great by 1 week pp, and totally normal after they removed the staples 2 weeks pp aside from the numbness. It didn't hinder breastfeeding once a LC helped me position her.

  45. As a birth professional I have to point out (gently, but truthfully) that C-sections do often go just fine but they definitely carry some very real and very serious risks. Also, while things may feel better emotionally for you since it's a planned event, you do need to recognize that baby misses out on a HUGE array of biophysical/chemical benefits by not being allowed to initiate the labor process. So, to be realistic, you do need to prepare yourself for the possibility of more complications there, too (e.g. breathing difficulties, temperature irregularities). Same goes for skipping the squeeze down the vaginal canal, which pushes out mucous from the lungs... and stimulates the immune system via introduction to normal vaginal flora... etc.
    The gas and constipation were huge issues I saw in many of my clients after Cesareans, until our practice began recommending probiotics intensively prenatally and throughout the recovery period. They are great for not only regulating your bowels (and softening, ahem) but also for keeping your immune system in the best shape to combat any post-surgery infections. As for baby, breastfeeding would really be best for providing the same insurance on her health, but like a previous poster commented I'm not sure if that's your plan or possible at all. At any rate we're biologically programmed for the optimal bonding experience possible through the complex hormonal reactions created through breastfeeding, so that's there to think about. :)

  46. I had a C-section (followed by a VBAC) with my first and, as far as I'm concerned, THE most important advice I have for you cannot be repeated often enough - stool softener, stool softener, stool softener. Do whatever you can to avoid post surgical constipation. I wish someone had told me - enough said.

  47. I'm a lurker, but I wanted to say I did the c-section thing for both of my girls and wouldn't do it any other way. My first c was an emergency and wow! I was very shaky from the drugs they had to give me to stop my labor (Emily's heart rate was dropping and they didn't know why until she was delivered - the cord was around her neck). The second c section was a cake walk. It was incredibly serene and I was nursing in the recovery room. My recovery was fairly easy for both of them. I had some soreness but was off the major pain meds within a couple days of going home. My biggest recommendation actually comes from having my gallbladder out and that is an "ouch" blanket. Take one of those hospital blankets and fold it up so that is roughly the width of your abdomen. When you have to stand up or bend over or laugh or cough or sneeze, hold the ouch blanket against your incision. It will help A LOT. Also put it between your incision and your seat belt when you get in the car.

    And GOOD LUCK! Two is even MORE fun than one. And Landon will look HUGE when he comes to see you. He goes from wee baby to gigantic behemoth in just a few minutes. Best wishes to all of you!!

  48. Amanda in Austin4/4/10, 8:01 PM

    I know you are set on the C. We all have our reasons and I get that. Another option, rather than the 39 weeks c/s, is to go into labor on your own and have surgery at 4 cm. Kind of meet in the middle. That lets the good lovey chemicals/hormones do their thing as intended, the baby gets some good squeezes to get out the fluid and you get to improve your chances of bonding.

    I have had 2 c/s, one from a failed induction (failure to progress, hours on pit with no BLEW!!!) Second kiddo was a failed VBAC. I got a new OB (Dr. Hart at SSW) and went into labor on my due date, 22 hrs at 2-4 mins apart and my big headed boy was stuck and having major HR dips, so another c/s for me. BUT, this time is was much easier knowing what to expect! My OB is an amazing surgeon and she used Dermabond v. the stitches and tape I had from my first. I would do a commercial for Dermabond :-) It was so much better than having stuff yank on the stitches and tape!!!
    I was up and out of the house at 10 days with both boys, hiking at 3 weeks (that was stupid though, don't do that)

    I LOVED my abdominal binder and used it for 30 days.

    Bring a travel pillow to the hospital for stinting coughs/sneezes.

    Use the bed rails and the up and down controls on the bed to help you sit up

    Shower ASAP, you will feel brand new

    Take your meds, even when BF, don't be the hero.

    Co-sleep. It saved my ass.

    Make your husband do the diapers in the middle of the night for the first couple weeks (and bring you the baby for nursing if you don't co-sleep).

    Take time to bond with Landon after the birth. I had a much more difficult time being away from my 2-year-old and reconnecting with him than I did bonding with the new babe. Buy some fun things (games, playdough, books) and make a special basket things for him to do with you or do next to you while you nurse the baby and rest.

  49. LL,
    I have lurked around your site for a long time now! I am also in law school and I am a mom to two girls. Thank you for sharing your lives with us on your blog.
    I have had two c-sections. The first one was emergent and the second was planned. The tips you have gotten in the other comments are all very valuable. The ones I feel the strongest about:
    1) wear big granny panties for the first couple weeks. They cover your incision nicely.
    2) take your pain meds; I tried to go without because I don't like the way they make me feel and really regretted it.
    3) wear an abdominal binder
    4) get up and walk around asap; you will know if you overdo it, but keep moving and you will feel better faster
    5) make sure Landon knows you cannot pick him up; this is so hard but you won't feel like picking him up
    6) sleep slightly propped up for a week or so; your heavy belly weighs on your incision and this was the most comfortable for me
    7) have JP help you a lot the first couple of weeks; it will be difficult for you to get out of bed and pick up the baby at first
    8) I highly recommend buying the book "The Essential C-Section Guide" by Maureen Connolly and Dana Sullivan; this book is fabulous and since you appear to love books as much as I do I think you will appreciate it!
    Congratulations! You have a beautiful family!

  50. hi there, i had 2 c-sections and they rocked. the first was planned because bubba was so big and i am, well, not. i knew i would have a second fairly soon after i got pregnant again as it was a high-risk pregnancy and i am not a fan of vbacs anyways.

    i have skimmed through the comments and, although i had relatively little pain and healed quickly, i think that i would have liked to have had an abdominal binder, that sounds fantastic. if you can, try to get one of those hospital beds where you can elevate the back by pushing a button - v. helpful when getting out of bed. also: when they try to get you up for the first time afterwards, make sure that you have taken a painkiller about 30min previously. good luck!