It's now been over a month since Squeakles' birth, and I am feeling almost entirely recovered. Of course, there are other reasons I'm totally wiped out most of the time (lack of sleep, breastfeeding). But other than a flabby belly, weak abs, and occasional twinges of discomfort, I would say that I'm totally recovered. (I have a doctor's appointment in a week and a half to confirm this.)
I'm going to start writing about what life has been like since Squeakles was born, but there's a lot so I'll just start with the next three nights after Squeakles' birth, while I was in the hospital.
Immediately after surgery, I was moved to a room where they could monitor me. I was totally numb from my chest down and my hands were shaking. My doctor suggested that I try breastfeeding, but I felt so clumsy that I asked her to help me do it. I'd already hit myself in the face a couple of times by accident and really didn't want to do that to my newborn! So she helped me out my putting him up to my breast and somehow he started sucking, though I really couldn't feel it because of the numbness.
I don't think we were doing that very long before my parents showed up. I'm sure they were surprised to have missed the whole thing, though given how it had all gone, I was glad they hadn't arrived any earlier. When I was pushing and had the leg cramps, I don't think I was especially pleasant (I actually apologized to my doctor later, though she says I wasn't nearly as bad as most), and then of course, they couldn't have been there for the surgery.
Sitting there in the hospital bed, I felt strangely floaty and when I moved my body from side to side on the bed, I felt like I was swaying on water or something. I also noticed pressure on my calves that would come and go periodically. It was strange enough that after a while I mentioned it to my nurses and they told me they had put compression boots on me - these boots periodically compressed to keep blood flowing through my legs. But since my legs were covered by a blanket and I had no real feeling in my legs, I had had no clue that those boots were there. In fact, whenever people would leave the room for a little bit, they would give my foot a sympathetic squeeze, which I found sort of amusing because although I could see what they were doing, I couldn't feel it at all.
But eventually I started to get a little feeling back. At one point I told my dad to watch and I was going to try to move my toes. I thought really hard about it and tried to move them and ... my thigh sort of jumped and twitched - it was so creepy that I decided not to try that again!
As I waited to be moved to a recovery room, where I would spend the next three nights, I started to get really thirsty. It was now around 5:30 pm and I hadn't had anything to eat or drink in the past 24 hours. However, because I'd had surgery and a variety of anesthestics, I wouldn't be allowed to eat or drink anything for the next twelve hours! They said that because my digestive system was slowed down that I probably wouldn't be able to process anything and I'd just get nauseous and throw up. So instead they gave me giant cups of ice cubes, assuming I couldn't eat through ice as fast as I could gulp down a glass a water. And it's probably true that it slowed me down, but I ate cups and cups of ice. Fortunately, I didn't feel at all hungry, so when J and my parents brought dinner back with them, it didn't bother me at all.
Finally, they moved me to a recovery room and I was relieved to find myself in a private room. I'm not sure if it's because I'm an employee of the university that the hospital is part of (they have a special program that I signed up for and one of the perks is that they will give you a private room if one is available) or whether it's because I had a c-section and would need to be there for three nights. Another perk of the special program is that I got free cable, but it turned out that I was much too tired to care about watching t.v. There was also a single pull-out bed in the room, so J was able to stay overnight with me.
Not much happened the first night. We had Squeakles in the room with us most of the time. In fact, they told us that they couldn't keep a baby in the nursery unless we agreed that if the baby needing soothing that they could give him either a pacifier or formula. Since we didn't want them to give him either of those things, we almost always had him in the room.
That first night I was pretty much just counting down the hours until I would finally be allowed to drink something. I was so happy when, at 4:30 am, they let me have some juice - four little 4 oz cups of apple juice and however much water I wanted. It was then that I also learned that I had a catheter in from the surgery. They took it out (not painful at all) and told me that I could now drink as much as I wanted (though they advised me to go slow) and that eventually I would just pee on my own. I was so excited that I tried to take the drinking slow, but I did drink to my heart's content. (Wait for it, this becomes important later!)
As for medications, I learned that I was on pitocin (given through the IV they put on me at the very beginning) to help my uterus contract and shrink. I guess with the anesthesia that my uterus wouldn't be able to do that on its own. They also gave me oxycodone and ibuprofun as pain relief, which at first I don't even think I was really aware of. There were so many doctors and nurses coming in and out of the room, checking my incision, giving me medications, changing my maxi pads (yes, you bleed for days after a c-section too - it's because the placenta is gone but there are still blood vessels trying to feed it). The strange thing to me about the pain medications is that there was a definite schedule for when I could take them (6 hours between doses of ibuprofen and 4 hours between doses of oxycodone), but the nurses themselves wouldn't just bring them to me on time. They kept telling me that I needed to request them, but it was almost as if they didn't realize that I wasn't really able to keep track of when I'd had what. When I'd finally ask for more, they'd sort of admonish me for not taking them on more of a schedule and remind me that it's important to keep taking them, but yet they never tried to remind me. I guess they don't want to drug you if you don't need it, but at the very least, I would think they could check back in with me on a schedule.
But except for the strange impetus on me to keep to a schedule for the pain medications, the doctors and nurses were extremely attentive. In fact, it was almost hard to get any sleep because there was always someone coming in the room for something. I can't say enough good things about them; they were all very supportive and helpful.
By the next afternoon, now that my catheter was out, I was starting to feel like I had to pee. Unfortunately, I didn't seem to be able to go. I just figured that maybe I didn't have to go yet, but after a while it became clear that it was not that I didn't have to go, it was that I absolutely couldn't go. I guess there is a sphincter and the anesthesia hadn't worn off enough yet for it to let anyting out, so I was totally blocked. It was similar to the way I'd previously thought about moving my legs, but they didn't respond. I spent some time on the toilet, trying to relax, but nothing came out. The nurses eventually brought me a sitz bath (a pan of warm water that you sit in) in the hopes that that would trigger it, but it didn't help either. The nurse was reluctant to give me another catheter because she said that everytime they do it, it introduces the possibility of bacteria and they didn't want me to end up with an infection. But eventually I was in such pain from being unable to go that I was crying on the toilet and begging J to go grab the first nurse he could find to help me out. So my nurse came back, this time with a student nurse, to give me a "straight" catheter (one that isn't hooked up to a bag).
The student nurse made a couple of attempts to put the catheter in, but apparently this is a little difficult and she kept missing. It doesn't really hurt when they miss, but it just prolonged my pain of needing to go. I didn't realize at the time that it's a difficult thing to do, so I asked if instead of the student nurse, if the regular nurse could do it, and fortunately she got it on the first try. And then, sweet relief - I peed a whole liter and a half of fluids!
After that they left me without a catheter, telling me that it would likely be fine and that I shouldn't hold off on liquids just because I was afraid. Of course, I was afraid and so I didn't hold off entirely, but I also didn't guzzle down cups and cups of water. Unfortunately, a few hours later I needed to go again and was still unable to. I had a new nurse this time (they worked in shifts, so I kept having different nurses) and was just thrilled when she told me she would give me a regular catheter again. (Actually, she missed too when trying to put the catheter in at first, but at least this time it didn't feel as dire.) Fortunately, by the next day, I was able to pee without the catheter - what a relief!
Other than trying to pee, I didn't do much except sit in the bed and chat with my parents and J and some occasional visitors. Actually, we got a lot of visitors because I was in the same complex of hospital buildings were J works and just a block away from my office. I wished I could have been showered and more presentable when people showed up, but I wasn't and really, it's ok. I was just really glad that they wanted to come by to see us and Squeakles.
Over the course of the three days, I went from being completely numb and weak to being able to walk with some support. At one point, my dad took me for a walk down the hallway to the nursery - normally it wouldn't take more than about two minutes to get from my room to the nursery and back, but it took me half an hour! (Well, we did spend a little bit of time looking at the babies.) And by the second day, I was even able to get out of bed and stand by myself (that first picture of Squeakles I posted was one I took myself while J and my parents were out getting lunch).
On Friday morning, after getting final checks by various doctors and nurses, they let me go home.
dressing Squeakles before going home
Since then, my life has been consumed by breastfeeding, but that's a story for next time...Squeakles