Saturday, July 19, 2014

Top 10 Things You Might Want to Know Before Your C-Section

To prepare myself for my third scheduled Cesarean, I re-read all the books plus multiple blog posts claiming to tell all the secrets of the procedure. Every one of them mentioned the same things. By the time I was discharged, I had made up my mind to tell all the things the books and blogs managed to leave out. So here are all of the things that surprised me at least once, if not all three times--the things that no one else seems to have covered. 

.      1. You will sport an entire arm party of hospital bracelets.

Trendy "Arm Candy"
Not-so-trendy "Hospital Arm"
The bracelets closer to your elbow may get a little tight, causing your circulation to be cut off, your arm to turn purple, and amputation to become inevitable.

2.      If you’re not careful, “I Saw the Sign” could be the first sound your newborn hears outside the womb.

Apparently, mamas are supposed to bring a CD or ipod/MP3 player with music that they would like playing at the time of delivery. I missed that memo. So Finnick’s birth music, chosen by the doctor performing the surgery, was fated to be Ace of Base. Thankfully, I was not too far gone to request a musical change. I have no memory of what music we landed on, but no matter what it was, it HAD TO BE better than that.

Unless, of course, we landed on the same CD we put in for Oliver’s birth.

This time around, the nurse, upon discovery that I had once again failed to provide baby-birthing music, produced a CD labeled “The Best C-Section CD EVER!” that a past delivery-er had left behind. Here are some lyrics from one of the songs. Tell me if this sounds like good “Welcome to the world, tiny baby!” music to you:

I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on

Don’t get me wrong—I love me some Rascal Flatts. But listening to all the nurses sing along to a song about heartbreak didn’t exactly put me in a celebratory mood. There was also a song about dying and going to Heaven in addition to two more we’re-breaking-up-I-hate-your-guts goodies. 

3.      You will be moved so many times, you’ll lose track of your room number.

My Cesarean required four rooms. FOUR. I had one room where I was prepped for surgery, then a room where the surgery was performed, then the recovery room, then finally the postpartum room where I was to remain until discharge.

By the time I was wheeled into that postpartum room, I was so doped up on anesthesia and puking my guts up that no one bothered telling me what my room number was. That turned out to be a problem when I ended up exiting the nursery out of a different door than the one I went in.

In my defense, the nurse ushering me out said, “You can go out the back door. You’ll be right at your room!” I took that statement literally. I exited the nursery hallway and walked into the room directly in front of me.

It wasn’t my room.

The girl inside didn’t much appreciate my waltzing into her room unannounced. And since the nurse wasn’t at her station, I ended up hanging out for about 10 minutes waiting for someone to come along who could tell me where I lived.

It was the room next door.

4.      The grandma with the cane will be able to lap you on your way to the nursery. 

Approximately twelve hours after surgery, you hit a milestone—removal of the catheter. This is a huge deal because it means that you are no longer tethered to that hospital bed. You are free to roam! Since Oliver was confined to the nursery having his blood sugar monitored, being freed from my bed meant I could finally walk down to see him.  

That elation was slightly marred when I realized that I was shuffling along so slowly that others were making it down to the nursery windows, ogling their new little ones, then making it ALL THE WAY BACK before I could get out of my hallway.   

5.      You will be so proud of yourself for peeing.

Who knew that peeing could be so difficult or so painful? Seriously, the nurse should hand out tiaras and sashes and shower you with confetti after that first successful potty break. And she could, seeing as how she’s standing RIGHT THERE when you go to measure the amount of urine you can produce, as well as being part of the whole “Call, Don’t Fall” push.

Except in my case.

I did not want to urinate in front of an audience. I was even willing to risk the fall if it bought me my privacy. So I waited until the nurse was long gone for my first attempt. Unfortunately, the measuring-cup-urinal-thingy had been removed by one of my visitors. However, it looked rather self-explanatory, so I just plopped that sucker back on the toilet, put the seat down, and went to town.

It’s not self-explanatory.

It fell into the toilet mid-stream.

I did not earn my tiara, sash, and confetti.

6.      Your lingerie will take a severe hit.

Bye-bye, fishnet hose and corsets. Hello, fishnet granny panties and binders.

7.      You will succumb to junior-high-boy conversations about gas.

I was amazed how many times I was asked, “Have you passed gas out of your bottom?” No kidding—the nurse was very specific—“OUT OF YOUR BOTTOM.” My favorite was when I had to answer with a roomful of visitors. Even more amazing was how proud I was of myself when I could finally answer, “Yes!”

Again, there should be prizes. Maybe buttons that say, “I Tooted Today!”

8.      Shower time may remind you of a scene out of a prison movie.

When you can’t move from the waist down, then even the little things become incredibly difficult. Like drying your legs. Or putting on underwear. Sadly, I was forced to choose between accepting the help of the (multiple) nurses and giving up my last, meager shreds of dignity OR remaining damp and naked…and giving up my last, meager shreds of dignity.

I chose the first option, taking the term “potty party” to a whole new level. 

9.      You might discover that your shoulder blades can have gas.

On day #2 of my hospital stay, I started to feel a tension knot in my shoulder—or so I thought. The nurse tried to warn me that it was more likely to be referred pain from my surgery, but I blew her off. After all, I have been dealing with knotted-up muscles in my back/shoulders/neck all my life.

That was a mistake.

If you take every ache and pain of pregnancy plus those of the actual C-Sections and combine them into one big, super pain, you might just begin to understand the agony I felt in my shoulder. At some point, I ended up in the fetal position (which hurt my incision site) crying (which caused pain spasms in my shoulder) and begging for more pain medicine (which I was told would have zero effect), all the while wishing my shoulder could toot. 

10.   You will have access to an unlimited supply of Jello.

Probably the only positive other than the actual BABY is the Jello Rainbow available upon request at any hour, day or night. My Jello-eating schedule looked something like this: Jello, breakfast, Jello, lunch, Jello, dinner, Jello, Jello, Jello. The nurses brought it to me in 3’s—one cup of green, one cup of red, and one cup of orange. I probably should have felt more shame at the amount I consumed, but I couldn’t manage it. I was in fruit-flavored Heaven. In fact, I almost opted to stay in the hospital one more night just for the Jello.

Luckily, I had stocked up on boxes of Jello at home; I went through four in the first two days after my release.


  1. Awesomeness! And yes. It's all true. Did Oliver have to be monitored for his blood sugar also?

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