Sunday, March 21, 2010

Recovery - Part 1 - FINALLY!!!

I think there is a mommy group out there that tells all the new mommies not to tell anyone the perils of recovering after giving birth because I never knew about any of these obstacles until I actually experienced them. Of course, looking back on it three months later, it wasn’t that bad and didn’t last that long. But still – YIKES! This is not to scare anyone, but just to give you an idea of what to expect. I had no clue what was going to happen and was a little blindsided by the events that took place. I think I would have handled it better or planned better had I known.

Around 7:30pm, the transporter came and took me from LDR suite to my new maternity ward room. I had to slide my butt onto a new gurney/bed which was difficult, but I was able to do. It was hard because my entire body was sore from the pushing; I was still shaking like a leaf and had zero energy. The epidural was wearing off, so I was able to use my legs to help scoot.

Once I got into the room, I was met by my evening nurses. I got the rundown of the room and what would be happening to me. The first thing they did was take my vitals AGAIN and let me eat. They had two sandwich boxes, fruit, chips, juice for both of us to eat. I was so grateful. I had in my head I was going to send Daniel out for the mother of all Subway subs, but he didn’t have to. Eating helped settle my body shakes, but I think my body was going into another form of shock. I wasn’t shaking anymore, but I was overwhelmed with exhaustion, nerves, emotions, etc.

One of the first things the nurse and I talked about was my preferred meds. Again, I am naive when it comes to pills of any kind. I have never taken anything stronger than an aspirin or antibiotics. The nurse had to give me the “what is your pain right now on a level of 1-10” spiel and what was the max tolerance I could stand. I was sore from head to toe and for the first time noticed the pain in my lower regions where I was stitched up. Not pain that made me want to cry, but uncomfortable pain. I told her I was at an 8, and if I had meds, I really wanted to be no higher than a 2. The nurse said the Dr had an order for all kinds of meds, what did I feel like taking? I explained my lack of knowledge and wanted to be able to function when I had the baby back in the room. We agreed to try the Motrin at 600mg. It was a huge help and I probably didn’t need anything stronger. I think at this point, my biggest pain was just the muscle soreness and the swelling in the nether regions. I didn’t think it was Vicodin type of pain. Again, if I had an advocate or someone there to guide me on this would have been helpful. This is another area I wish I was more informed about. Looking back, this would have been a great question to discuss with the doctor in the office during my last visit or one of his appearances at the birth. The other regular med they gave me was a stool softener. This was routine. I wasn’t expected to have a bowel movement for a few days, but they wanted it to be as easy as possible when it came.

The next thing the nurse and I tacked was the bathroom. I was worried about being steady enough on my feet after being in bed for 12+hours straight and coming off an epidural. I wasn’t numb in the legs anymore and getting up and out of that hospital bed was difficult. I needed her to guide me up and help me get steady on the feet. I felt like a baby giraffe with the wobbly legs. Once I was standing, I was okay.

I hobbled to the bathroom where the nurse presented me with the splendid mesh panties. They were an XL and didn’t fit me at all. We managed to get them up past my thighs and up enough to hold the monster pad they wanted me to use, but they would not go up and over my butt at all. I hated these panties!! The monster pad was another doozey. I haven’t used a pad since junior high school and to have one as big as an airplane runway wasn’t pleasant either. She also had to explain to me how I had to pee, and clean myself. I would use a plastic bottle of warm water to clean myself and my stitches, and I would use a spray to numb the crotch area as well. This was to help me be comfortable when sitting. I asked her for an ice pack to help the swelling as well. I did hear about that at one of my classes and sure enough, it was a big help! Now, I know this doesn’t sound too bad, but it literally took me 20 minutes each time I went to the bathroom to get of this done. I had to change the panties, the pad, rinse and spray. The hospital provided you with all the panties, pads, Dermoplast spray, etc. I had to get up about once an hour to do the bathroom thing and like I said, from start to finish from getting out of bed, to getting back into bed it was a good 20 minutes. The thing that would frustrate me the most was the bathroom didn’t have a sink and I would always forget my bottle of warm water. The hubby had to fill me up on a number of occasions and bring it to me. (The sink was in the middle of the hospital room) That little water bath and the spray were helpful and did make me feel better. It was just a hassle to have to do all this. It got easier and faster each passing day, as my muscled loosened up again and I was able to get through this routine a little easier. Now cleaning up after myself was challenging, but not as much as the actual act of peeing.

Initially, I couldn’t pee. The nurse was ordered to measure my urine. If I didn’t urinate so much within a specific amount of time they would have to do the catheter again. I sat, and sat and sat waiting to tinkle. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t feel my bladder and I didn’t have that sensation to push the urine out like you normally do. I assumed my bladder was empty. We would occasionally hear trickling sounds, thinking it was the blood. She had me get up to check the toilet to see if I had peed. She did notice urine mixed in with the blood. It was dripping out without my knowledge because I couldn’t feel it. She also noticed urine on my pad. This made us believe that my bladder was full and in desperate need of emptying. I was so baffled that I would have a completely full bladder and not even feel it. Normally, this is very evident to a person. Nope, not to me. It was as if my bladder was numb.

This started the fun of learning how to pee again. First of all, this chick was watching me pee, which was weird, but hey, I was not modest anymore. She gave me some tricks to try like blowing bubbles into water, drinking water, etc. NOTHING. We would continue this exercise throughout the night. Finally, a few hours later, I relaxed enough and was able to push out enough urine to pass my test. She didn’t have to monitor my bathroom activities anymore after that. Peeing for the next two weeks would continue to be a big challenge for me. The numb bladder issue was still going on and even when I felt I had to pee, trying to push/pass the urine, was difficult. It got painful after a while if I wasn’t successful at releasing. This is dangerous and can cause bladder infections, etc. Around week 3, the pain disappeared, but I noticed that I was still not aware that I had to pee. Hours would go by during the day and I had to stop to think if I had tinkled yet that day. I was lucky and didn’t have any infections as a result, but it was one of the most difficult things I experienced in recovery. Today, 3 months later I am much better and almost 100% back to normal.

Also, it was uncomfortable to sit on the toilet. I was aware of my stitches and the skin felt like it was stretching. The urine would sting as well. I tried to get in and out as quickly as possible and would be in some interesting balancing positions so I could be a little more comfortable when sitting.

During all of this, I was missing my baby. The nurse said the nursery was taking care of the baby; they fed her, bathed her and were now observing her. I wouldn’t have her for a few more hours. I took that opportunity to take my first shower. The hot water felt like heaven. Again, things that were second nature to you and easy, like showering and dressing were 1,000 times more difficult now. I made it through the shower and felt like a new human being afterward. Because of the bloody mess, I stayed in the provided hospital gowns and mesh panties. They had to change my bed linens several times the first night because I was leaking from all the blood. The nurse said this was normal. The bleeding was heavy the first two days in the hospital. After that, it slowed to a more normal heavy/medium flow for a week or so, and then slowed down to medium/light and finally ended for me after 4 weeks. Other than being messy and forcing the whole bathroom routine to make sure I was keeping myself clean and the stitches were clean and free from danger of infection, the bleeding wasn’t too bad to deal with. To me it was just like having an extended period. I did continue to use the hospital pads even at home because A.) They were free and gave me a crap load to take home and B.) They didn’t rub against my stitches and kept additional wet pads, ice packs, etc in place and kept my panties dry. Week 2-3 I started wearing normal pads.

Part 2 - Following this post.