Monday, March 26, 2012

Multiple C-section: Physical Acts to Help Lessen the Pain of Surgery (Part III)

1. Being open about my panic attacks while waiting for surgery.

 I wish I had thought to talk about this with my OB before surgery. I found out only after I finished that one of my pain-reliever drugs post-hospital discharged was actually approved to take to "lessen the fear prior to surgery." I've always been reluctant to take drugs during pregnancy for fear of hurting my baby, but this seemed like an easy compromise. One drug a mere two hours early could have helped me in the past avoid an emotionally painful panic attack.

Because there was a chance my husband wouldn't attend my c-section, I had to mentally prepare to confide my anxiety condition to my pre-op nurse. I found just the act of being willing to talk about it, made my panic attacks disappear.

2. Treating the Anesthesiologist Like My Personal Caddy

In past surgeries, I've always focused on the doctor who is sewing up my womb. This time, I figured out that the Anesthesiologist is the only one in the room who is completely focused on me during the entire surgery. I made sure to tell him every time I started to get nauseous, instead of valiantly fighting these feelings on my own. Turns out vomiting is directly tied to low blood pressure. He gave me meds every time I felt sick. I ended up getting through the entire surgery without vomiting. As an extra plus, I did not start out my motherhood experience with Baby Abigail feeling like I just survived a week of the stomach flu. What a gift!

3. I tried to be "giving" during my surgery.

I don't think this would have worked if I tried to "fake it". However, I found that honestly caring about my team and praying for them, helped me come out of my shell during surgery. I didn't feel so scared waiting in the OR for my husband to appear. It also made the time pass faster as I waited for my little daughter to come out.

4. I asked for drugs during Post-Op Recovery

The two to three hour recovery from surgery is usually pretty rough on me. This time I wasn't shy about asking for Benedryll to control my 'itching" allergy symptoms from the anesthesia. Usually, I'm so in the "no meds" thing from pregnancy, that I also turn down Benedryll in the recovery room. This time I took it. It made life so much more bearable.

5. I gave myself a break from doing breastfeeding "perfectly" in the recovery room.

Thanks to Tessy's NICU stay, I'm now so much more relaxed about breastfeeding. I used to get myself so anxious because a c-section usually means you miss that "one hour perfect window" when an alert newborn is most easily taught how to breastfeed. This time breastfeeding at first was miserable. Baby Abigail couldn't get the concept of how to latch on. I had no mobility in my waist or legs. I also had to lay flat because of my low blood pressure. I literally couldn't get my body into a position for her to comfortably nurse for the first three hours. We flopped though our first breastfeeding dance awkwardly. I just kept telling myself that things are going to be okay. I knew she wouldn't starve. I knew that we'd have plenty of chances in the next 24 hours to get things moving along better. I'm so happy that I finally took this 'performance pressure" off of myself.

6. Follow Directions

I've grown in the understanding of the virtue of obedience this hospital stay. I was impatient to walk when I first got to my hospital room. However, the nurse said I was confined to a 12 hour bed rest. I followed the nurses directions carefully. Surprise, surprise! My recovery was even faster than before.


  1. Wow, Abby. These posts are great! Thank you so much for this. I will definitely look back at these if/when I am facing the OR again!

  2. Thank you for these posts. C-section stories really aren't the norm when it comes to 'birth stories'. Lying half paralysed on your back doesn't have such a triumphant ring as x hours in labour. It is nice to hear an echo of my own experience in yours.

  3. Man. That's a heavy cross! I do not do surgery well....It would give me panic as well....Plus, you have the whole time to think about it during your pregnancy.

    My aunt had 9 and I just can't even imagine.....

    Hope you are recovering well.....Praying!

  4. I was just wondering how many sections you've had and if they were close together? I just had my second section 2 months ago and at my follow up my doc suggested waiting a year and a half before having another child. That sounded a bit unnecessary to me, but I don't know. I should have asked him more. Anyway, these are awesome tips. A couple I learned too!

  5. Abigail, please pray for a young mother, Shannon, who gave birth to a baby girl last week, and today she had a stroke. The family is hysterical, and the mother in law is my friend. I know that you are a prayer warrior.

  6. About three of these have to do with asking for help from others. That can be so hard to do. Good for you, Abigail!

  7. Hi Abigail, a friend of mine just introduced me to your blog. I haven't read all your posts yet (but I plan to) but I wanted to thank you for these posts. I have had 6 c-sections, and am going for a 7th in October.

    I have struggled with so many of these things, physical, spiritual, emotional. These posts, I hope will help me embrace more fully this cross, that has been so hard for me to accept. I especially struggle, as my husband is not Catholic, so many of the comforts that I turn to, he does not understand. While I know he loves me, it can be lonely to continue in this vocation as a wife and mother without that immediate faith support.

    Anyways, long story short - so glad to have found your blog!!

  8. For me, what helped so much this past time was finding a dr who was on the same page as me. In the past, my dr was Catholic but I think he was more cultural Catholic than practicing. Now I go to a practice that caters to orthodox Jewish moms. They tend to have larger families, c-sections or not. He said post-op that my csection was the best 5th section he's ever done and I joked yeah but how many 5th csections do you really do? And he said you would be surprised! :)

  9. I've had five c-sections in the past 9 years. The first two and last two were less than 18 months apart.

    My fifth c-section was the easiest one by far, both in the initial surgery and the recovery.

  10. These posts are an amazing outflowing of the Graces you are receiving.

    WOW! Total insight and spiritual healing!

    You are gifting us with these amazing and needed posts.

    Keep em coming. We are all ears, Abigail!

  11. Abigail, I know you didn't want any comments from women NOT planning a c-section, but I still wanted to say how inspiring these posts have been for me. My first child was born via c-section and although I'm planning a natural birth, and really hoping and praying for one, for baby #2, I have had this hard place in my heart regarding the possibility of a 2nd c-section. I can't know, no one can, really, if going into labour everything is going to go the way I planned it, or veer wildly off-course. It's possible I will have another c-section, and if I do, I'm trying very hard to be ok with it, and these posts are helping! I especially liked your comment about obeying the nurses. What a hard and valuable lesson to learn.

  12. so many things to love,

    I'll pray for you. I've had four c-sections. I really wanted to have a natural birth for both my first and my second but the second child didn't happen. Hers was by far the hardest birth because I was in labor for a day and a half after my water broke. I went on pitocin and all when the labor wasn't progressing, and finally when they did the c-section I was exhausted both physically and spiritually. My advice is to find a physician you really trust. I wasn't happy with my OB and never really felt like I trusted her. So I was bitter when I didn't feel like she was really supportive of my attempt to have a natural birth. I think holding on to that resentment has been a great weight for me. I pray that you have your natural birth but also that if for some reason you aren't able to have it that you will have peace with it.

  13. second chances,

    I have had four in the past five years. The first two were 22 months apart, the second and third were 16 months apart, the third and fourth were 19 months apart. After my fourth my OB also suggested I wait a year and a half. She said I look good and don't have too much scarring and should be able to have more children with no problems but that it's a good idea to give my body plenty of time to heal. I've decided to take her advice seriously and wait a bit; but if you're uncomfortable with waiting, maybe you can get a second opinion or at least find out more about the recommendation?

  14. Thank you, Melanie B.! I think the point at which I realized I needed to come to peace with a second c-section is when someone asked me how I would feel if my birth wasn't a natural one. And the thought of that made me depressed! I would be miserable, I thought! And then I realized that if a c-section for #2 was God's plan, then who was I to be miserable about it? I couldn't pout and sulk because it didn't go MY way! I hope to use some of these suggestions posted here to give me a concrete way of being 'okay' with any outcome.

  15. Thanks to you all I feel allot more relaxed regarding my fifth c-section. I have been terrified because of past blogs. So God bless everyone for being so positive and reassuring.

  16. Thanks to you all I feel allot more relaxed regarding my fifth c-section. I have been terrified because of past blogs. So God bless everyone for being so positive and reassuring.

  17. Thanks to you all I feel allot more relaxed regarding my fifth c-section. I have been terrified because of past blogs. So God bless everyone for being so positive and reassuring.