Monday, January 26, 2015

Postpartum Recovery – C-Section vs. VBAC

WARNING: This post is obviously TMI so read at your own risk. :)   I typically don’t write these kinds of personal posts, but I wanted this to be written somewhere.  I wrote this a long time ago, but was waiting to add some pictures to it.  I’m now 7 months postpartum.

Wow!  What a couple months it has been!  It’s been 8 weeks since I had Maddox and so much has changed. If you are about to have a baby, know that the first month is the worst and you will feel completely different once time passes.  Those first couple of weeks I thought I would never feel the same (with both births). 

I wanted to write a post on how I survived the first 8 weeks and my experience with delivering babies both cesarean and vaginal (VBAC specifically…Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).  Of course, this will only be ONE person’s experience, but I remember searching so much on the internet for VBAC experiences, so I thought I’d put mine out there.

My experience with my first pregnancy was great.  It was pretty easy for the most part, until the very end when we found out Beckham was breech.  I found out around 32 weeks he was breech, but they can flip still at that point, so we waited. Side Note: If I had to go back again, I would have done every technique possible to flip baby (chiropractor, exercises, playing music low in belly, etc.).  At 37 weeks he was still breech so my doctor performed an ECV (external cephalic version).  You can read about it here.  It didn’t work.  Here I was after the procedure.  A couple of hours later and that smile was wiped off my face…it causes cramping (if it doesn’t put you into labor).

So we planned for a c-section and hoped the baby would still flip.  He was pretty big, so we were doubtful.  Well, about a 1 1/2 weeks later (38.5 weeks), my water broke and I went in for my c-section.  I labored a couple hours before he was delivered (just the prep time to get ready).  You can read my birth story here.  Beckham was delivered without a hitch.  Everything went great.

Then, I woke up the next day!  Holy cow.  My legs were still weak and slightly numb.  When I did my first “exercise”, which involved sitting up in bed and standing, as well as coughing, I thought I was going to DIE!  It felt like someone was inside my stomach, cutting their way out with a knife.  I could barely walk still 4 days later when we left the hospital.  It hurt to stand up straight.  The ride home…brutal!  Got home and I had a fever of 102!  Come to find out, I get this postpartum and there is such a thing as “postpartum fever.” (got it with second birth too).  I think a lot of it had to do with all the pain meds?? 

On top of all the difficulties that come with becoming a parent and recovering from birth (breast feeding, sleep deprivation, etc), I couldn’t breast feed normally, but had to hold him like a football to feed because it hurt to lay him on my stomach.  I hated this position.  It takes like 5 minutes to set up all the pillows, get situated, get baby in right position, get him latched, and hope he feeds.  So, I had to wait a couple weeks before I could feed across my body.

I would say around 3 weeks, I felt like I could walk around somewhat normally, but still had to be careful with how fast I got up and moved around.  I didn’t have a toddler to run after though so it made it much easier to recover from that surgery.  My scar healed great and is barely there now.  It’s amazing how much it shrinks and fades.  As far as the other junk that goes on postpartum (bleeding, first bowel movement pain, swollenness)…it all still happens.  I wasn’t really prepared for that.  My first BM was actually worse with my c-section. 

Fast forward 2.5 years and Baby #2 was born.  This last pregnancy was not fun, especially towards the end.  I was more swollen, had way more pressure, was nauseas at the beginning, and got mastitis (yes, you can get a breast infection during pregnancy if you’re lactating…which I was).  Sleeping was more uncomfortable and pregnancy is just plain harder with a toddler.  If you’ve met my toddler, you’d know he’s extremely energetic.  Not normal toddler energy, but 5 cups of coffee energetic!  I was READY to have the baby!  And of course, he took his sweet time.  This picture is the day I started having contractions.

At 2 days shy of 40 weeks, I started getting contractions.  Went to hospital, water broke in the bed, and 24 hours later, I had Maddox.  You can read that story here.  Since my c-section was planned, the biggest difference between the two deliveries was LABOR (and of course pushing).  The labor sucked, even with an epidural.  It was a LONG and tedious process and I had to work very hard to have him vaginally.  It would have been much easier to pull him out of my stomach, but I kept remembering the recovery and knew I had to do this vaginally.  This was my #2 reason to have a VBAC.  My #1 reason was that I wanted to experience a vaginal birth, the way God created it, the way many of my friends had experienced.  Luckily, I was able to do it.  I pushed for 2.5 hours (1.5 of it simply flipping him face down).  I tore pretty significantly, but my doctor didn’t seem too worried.  Unfortunately, Maddox was 9.1 pounds and his head was WAY larger than a 40 week baby (measuring weeks ahead based on his head size)…EEEK! 

First of all the experience of a vaginal birth was incredible.  Not that it wasn’t with Beckham, but working so hard, pushing him out, and holding him right away was just so euphoric.  I felt immensely empowered.  I’m not going to lie, with a c-section, I felt depressed.  Like I didn’t do anything to get him here.  If you feel that same way, STOP.  Let me tell you, it takes a special woman to be cut open, have a baby pulled out from you (through a very small incision I might add), and recover from surgery while caring for a newborn.  I had to tell myself, that was the way God wanted him to come into the world.  I’m very thankful for this procedure as it saves many little babies, as well as mom’s lives.

The recovery was so different.  First of all, I got up to use the restroom, literally within minutes of being stitched up.  But oh my, it felt like my insides were going to fall out.  Tons of pressure down there.  When she told me to sit in the wheel chair to go up to my room, I thought, is she serious…how in the world am I supposed to sit?!  I remember leaning on my elbow a bit, cursing in my head, while I held Maddox, trying to pretend I was fine. 

The hospital stay was much shorter (2 nights because he was born at night), but I never had a meltdown or felt like I was going to die.  Everything was very tender, just in different areas.  The contractions afterwards were stronger than before, but I hear that’s common in subsequent pregnancies. 

I still had to use the squirt bottle and pat dry to use the restroom, but this continued at home much longer than with c-section.  I bled about the same amount of time as before and was actually just as swollen.  I had to walk gingerly for about a week and then still had to be slow to sit.  I move much faster with a toddler and had to remind myself to slow down.  Luckily, B was with family during a lot of my recovery.  This recovery has been easier, yet taken longer.  I still can feel the effects of the birth 2 months later and can’t do more than a brisk walk before my body says enough.  Grocery shopping with 2 kiddos is my workout these days.
Having both a c-section and a VBAC, was how God intended me to deliver my babies.  I would take a vaginal birth over a c-section any day (and my vaginal delivery was anything but easy).  My body dealt with a VBAC much better.  I’m sure if I had to have a repeat c-section, it would have been easier than the first, but I didn’t want to find out.  Luckily, I had a doctor who supported my wishes and worked with me to give me MY dream day!

C-SECTION (planned):
Pros: No/Little laboring, No pushing, No damage to your lady parts, Fast delivery
Cons: Major surgery, Higher risk of complications, Longer recovery, Scar (the way it digs into my skin is more bothersome than the look of it), Felt like I didn’t work to bring him into the world during birth (this is just me though…and probably a really stupid thought…a REALLY stupid thought, but I’m just being honest)

Pros: Less risks (even with vbac), the experience of delivery, Better/Quicker recovery, Fewer days in hospital, Less pain meds, Less postpartum pain, Empowering feeling
Cons: Damage to lady parts, Lots of pressure down there postpartum, More leaking when I do too much
*I feel like this recovery has been much easier, but I have had to take things slower or my body tells me to stop (literally, I will leak if I do too much…it’s call lochia).

I wanted to document my experience with both deliveries and I hope some of you who were searching for experiences with both, found this helpful (or at least entertaining).  If we decide to have another baby, I’ll try for a VBAC again, but a third baby is FAR from my mind.  Like.Really.Far.

Do you have any tips on recovering from birth?  Even this far after?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 and 6 Month Update – Maddox Cade

5 Months
6 Months
The red cheeks at 5 months was due to being too hot with that helmet on…it was a constant guess as to how to dress him with it being colder, while having something on his head.  They ended up getting pretty chapped too.  It was crazy…at times he’d be in a onesie when it was 50 degrees out.  Also, his 6 month photos were during his cold.  I put it off as long as I could, but needed to take them before it got too late.  Needless to say, these pictures are no “model” shots.

Dear Maddox,
I hate that I had to combine these months together, as I’m sure I’ll forget stuff, but you were SUPER hard your 5th month at night, leaving me no time to update.  Let’s start with that…you have had a few weeks off and on these last two months where you wake up every 30 minutes to an hour from the time we put you down (7:30) to 11:00 or 12:00am!  Considering your dad was gone majority of these nights, I had to deal with it alone until you passed out.  When you boys go to bed is when I work at home.  Needless to say, I didn’t hit the sack until 3 or 4am most nights  Please remember this when I’m old and gray and need someone to take care of me.  

Other than that weird sleep thing, you have changed SO much from my last letter to you at 4 months.  You are way less fussy during the day, actually, you’re really happy now!  You’re “talking” quite a bit and love to growl…hmmm wonder where you learned this.  You also experienced your first Thanksgiving and Christmas, which pretty much involved traveling in a car, sleeping or eating, and being held by different family members.

I’m not sure how to describe your personality.  You’re still so needy, yet are the most chill baby when awake and playing.  You don’t get upset (yet) when Beckham takes your toys, which is constantly.  You will just sit back and watch him play, especially in the bath tub.  Your brother is quite the “entertainer” so maybe this will be the case as you guys get older too.  Beckham makes you smile the most.  I LOVE watching you light up around him.  I’m sure in a year, you won’t let him get off that easy, so I’m enjoying it now.
Here’s a little comparison of you and your brother at 5 months and 6 months (look how much taller you are from the arms of the chair)…
B and M 5 months
B and M 6 months

Measurements: You turned 6 months on Christmas!  You had your well visit on the 31st and here were your stats.  19 pounds 13.5 ounces (85%), 28 inches (95%), still with a large head (90%).  Both your weight and length dropped in percentages from your 4 month update.  We just started solids, so I’m sure that might change things.  You’re in 6-9 month onesies, but I need to switch you to 9-12 month.
My favorite thing:  I love when you talk/squeal when you’re happy.  It makes me so happy!  I’m also super pumped YOU GOT YOUR HELMET OFF a couple weeks ago!  It is so much easier to cuddle you and hold you against my arms and chest! 
Daily Activities: You still basically eat, play, sleep.  Although after your second nap, you stay up till bed time.  You are much more playful this month as you can sit up now.  You love to chew on everything and watch your brother play too.  Your schedule goes something like this:  Eat around 8am after waking up.  Then you are back down after about an hour of being up.  You take a good morning nap about 1.5-2 hours if we’re at home.  Then eat and play till your second nap, which is usually 2 hours after you woke up from nap #1.  It’s harder to get your to sleep for this nap.  Then you eat again, including solids around dinner time.  We bathe, do bottle, and put your down around 7:30 or 8.  Then the fun begins with that funky sleep thing I mentioned. 
Eating: You still eat about every 3-4 hours (mostly 4 now).  About 6-7 ounces per feeding.  First feeding is around 7:30-8 and your last feeding is around 8, then we put your down for the night.  You still drink breast milk only from a bottle.  We just introduced oatmeal 3 days ago.  Let me say that you have taken to eating solids like a champ.  I was expecting lots of practice with food mostly on your bib, but you actually open your mouth.  It’s still everywhere, but most of it gets in your mouth.  I have noticed your mouth has small red bumps around it and seems they appeared around the same time you started this oatmeal.  I hope you’re not allergic.  Your diapers seem fine, so it might be your paci’s or the fact that you sleep on your face.  Inspector mama this week to figure it out.

Sleeping: You’re really not a terrible sleeper, but it’s getting a lot harder to put you to bed.  You want to be held or rocked to sleep.  You just got over a cold where we had to do lots of rocking/cuddling, so maybe that’s to blame, but we might have to do some sleep training soon.  I can definitely count on good sleep from 12am-7:30am (sometimes 8).  Your morning nap is pretty solid too.  You’re fighting your afternoon nap, but I can usually count on you to take one.  Your naps are usually 1-2.5 hours (usually 2).  I’d say you get 13-16 hours a day.
You no longer have to sleep with your helmet, but I wouldn’t say it has changed anything regarding sleep.  I thought you might sleep better, but it’s still up and down. 

Special Events:
-First Halloween (just turned 4 months), Thanksgiving (just turned 5 months) and Christmas (turned 6 months)
-You were dedicated to the Lord at our church in November
-Went in the church nursery for the first time around 5 months
-Started sitting up on your own right before you turned 6 months
-Got helmet off on 12/23/4
-Roll all over the place and are scooting on knees in crib
-Got another cold during the holidays

First and Last day with helmet.
First and last day with labels

The day you got it off!  Merry Christmas to you.

At church with Gramma (Poppi was there too) and daddy about to be dedicated

First time in the nursery.  You did great, but didn’t sleep (when you should have been). You were about to pass out when she was handing you to me.

First Halloween:

First Thanksgiving (you met your Aunt Mimi…my younger sis):

First Christmas:

Here are some more photos from Months 5 and 6 (October 25-December 25):

Brothers 5


Brothers 6
Brothers 1 6

I hope I remembered everything!  I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a fun year for you…crawling, walking, talking, real foods, first birthday, starting nursery pre-school, and more!  Can’t wait to watch you grow!  You are my sunshine!  Love you to death.