On the physical and mental challenges of recovering from a C-section.
Zen will be 4 months tomorrow and I finally had the chance to finish the recap of his 1st week. That is how busy things are over here!
I was delighted to see Zen do the newborn crawl that I had heard so much about. He was very sleepy and had a very shallow latch which we later learned was from being tongue tied in addition to having an upper lip tie but it was still awesome. I had requested to postpone the first bath until after nursing and later found that the nurses treated giving Zen’s bath like a hot potato, they were all too busy/nobody wanted to do it. He finally got his first bath on the 3rd day in the middle of the night.
A few hours after birth we learned that Zen was Coombs Positive. What this means is that he got his father’s blood type which is incompatible with my blood type and it can lead to jaundice if unchecked until his body got rid of my blood cells. The nurses were super strict with the bili lights as a result and tried to limit breastfeeding to only 20 minutes every 3 hours, this is contrary to normal advice for jaundice which lots of feeding is encouraged to help baby have lots of dirty diapers, it was also contrary to my mothering instinct of having skin to skin and bonding with him. Thankfully I was able to get permission from the doctor to put myself under the lights so Zen could have unlimited skin to skin and nurse on demand. Due to the bili lights ordeal we missed out on Zen having pictures taken by the hospital and that made me sad but I try to not dwell on it.
He was having lots of dirty diapers which was great but since he was so sleepy and had an ineffective latch he still managed to lose a lot of weight. I knew this was coming and I was prepared, I would express colostrum and feed it to him and would practically hand express in his mouth to get something in him. Thankfully the pediatrician understood my desire for a virgin gut and didn’t push supplementation and instead told me to “nurse him a million times a day” which I was glad to do. I am glad that despite them having an option of invoking a “medically necessary” excuse they didn’t push formula and I didn’t receive a “Breastfeeding Success Kit” aka formula gift bag on discharge.
My recovery was much harder this time. I lost a lot of blood and some of the nurses would forget about my request for pain relief until I was in agony. I snapped at one nurse that was 45 minutes late giving me painkillers and then had the nerve to tell me to not cough because it would hurt. Does it look like I want to cough?!
Overall the hospital experience was better than with Shammy with it being a different hospital. The only truly bad experience was a fiasco where an immature food service employee spilled my husband’s coffee while delivering my dinner and didn’t apologize nor try to help clean it up. The coffee spilled over lots of important papers, pictures and gifts. I made a scene about it because I was furious that she refused to at least apologize. The rest of the staff were great at trying to salvage what they could and replace the rest and the person’s supervisor paid me a visit right before discharge to apologize.
Discharge at Martin Memorial is different than at St Lucie Medical. With Shammy I was required to carry Shammy out while sitting in a wheelchair. At Martin Memorial they required Zen to be strapped to the carseat and carried out and I had to walk myself out while being escorted by a nurse that verified the carseat installation.
I went home knowing that it is normal for his bili levels to rise before falling so I planned to nurse often and make sure he got sunlight several times a day. He was a very sleepy baby compared to Shammy. I was blessed that Dr. Punger was kind enough to work with us and fit us into her schedule quickly to get Zen’s tongue tie situation addressed. Over that weekend that we had to wait my nipples started to suffer from nursing so often with a bad latch and my milk supply was suffering. I don’t think we would have lasted longer than another day without supplementing. Dr. Punger clipped Zen’s tongue tie AND upper lip tie. He looked like a vampire baby and I couldn’t help but giggle while refraining from taking a photo. His latch immediately improved and although it took him a couple of days to figure out how to work his tongue things only got better and my milk production increased.
By this point Zen had gotten a little orange due to breastmilk jaundice/Coombs + but with lots of nursing and sunlight we were able to avoid the hospital and he gradually went back to a normal color.
Zen only got better from there. Shammy has grown to love Zen and Zen really looks up to his big brother, I look forward to lots of playing together and bickering in the future. Shammy didn’t develop any jealousy over Zen nursing and I am proud to be a tandem nursing mama.
My anemia got very bad with a hemoglobin level of 7.3, thankfully thanks to being able to have my placenta encapsulated I was able to get my hemoglobin up to 12.1 in just 5 weeks without taking any other supplements or paying any attention to my diet. The rest of my recovery however has been a long and painful road. My incision bled from any physical exertion for up to a month. Even though I weaned myself from painkillers after 10 days, I sometimes have to pop a Motrin to recover from carrying Shammy or cleaning something. Almost 4 months later I still experience residual pain and I sleep in a recliner because it’s too painful to lie down to sleep. I hope to be able to feel normal again… someday.