Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Physical Recovery - Part 2

Thank you for the kind (and understanding) words on my last post.  It’s nice to know that maybe I’m not such a wimp after all.  J  I can imagine that having more c-sections would “toughen” someone up…especially if there were another baby/toddler to chase after and care for.  There wouldn’t be time to sit around and feel everything because you’d be too busy…you wouldn’t have time for the pain.  That makes total sense.  There was more to my physical recovery than just my surgery and so I’m going to share that with you now.

I’ve mentioned my wrist pain…I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about it.  It started while I was pregnant and I figured it was just tendonitis.  I wore a brace, had a cortisone shot, iced it…nothing worked.  Then while I was in the hospital my other wrist began hurting.  It actually was worse than my left wrist.  I dealt with it because I had no choice but to do so.  It really made handling the baby difficult and painful.  Bath time was the worst.  I had to hold her so tightly because she was wet and wiggly but my wrists would scream with pain.  It was like someone was taking an ice pick and digging around in each hand.  It was really difficult to say the least.  And forget trying to take her infant seat in and out of the car.  Holy Hell…that caused such a burning sensation.

BJ told me that I needed to see the doctor again.  I was extremely hesitant because I knew the next step would be surgery.  How on earth would I care for an infant while recovering from wrist surgery?  Not to mention that I didn’t want to be away from her for more than 10 minutes.  I bucked at the idea of seeing the doctor and just suffered.

This went on for about 4 months, maybe a little more.  One day I happened to notice that my wrists were not hurting as much.  I could pick the baby up, move my thumbs and even grip things again.  Miraculously, I was getting better.  Each day and week that would pass after that I got better and better.  My only theory is that most of my pain was caused from pregnancy hormones.  I’d read that being pregnant makes you more susceptible to carpal tunnel but that is not what I had.  However, once the hormones fully got out of my system, I was better.  My right wrist/thumb still gives me problems from time to time but it’s definitely something I can live with after the pain I had been feeling.

I had been told to expect my thick, lush pregnancy hair to fall out “after giving birth”.  What I did not expect was the timeline for this to occur.  My hair was awesome during pregnancy.  Between the hormones and the pre-natal vitamins I had a great head of hair for the first time in my life.  It was awesome.  I waited a few weeks and then a month and then two months and my hair was not falling out any faster than it had before so I thought I was good to go and maybe I’d be lucky enough to keep this great mane.  Not so much.  What no one bothered telling me was the hair loss actually begins more than 3 months post-partum.  Say what?

BG and I actually started losing our hair at the same time.  I would say she was about 3 ½ to 4 months old when her little baby hairs started shedding like crazy.  I also started shedding like crazy at that time.  I had never seen so much hair fall out of one person’s head in my life.  It was like a horror show, for real.  We have a stand up shower so our drain is on the bigger side.  I clogged it, night after night.  My hair was EVERYWHERE.  I would empty my brush before blow drying/brushing my hair and then have to do it again when I was finished.  I was stunned and also a little afraid that something was really wrong with me.  I visited my due date buddies on a message board and I was not alone, thank goodness.  This hair loss thing was scary but normal.  It just kept getting worse, too.  Once I came back to work I started to actually “do” my hair.  My bangs were getting thinner and thinner and I hardly had any to style.  The sides of my hair would fall in my face and I couldn’t understand why so I looked really closely at myself in the mirror.  I was horrified at what I saw.  I had a receding hairline that rivaled any man’s and almost all of my bangs had fallen out and started to regrow.  It was the strangest looking thing I had ever seen in the mirror.

The good news is that the hair was starting to grow back.  The bad news was that the new hair was really dark (seemed darker than my natural color) so it clashed really badly with my highlighted dark blonde hair.  Since my bangs were almost non-existent it looked like someone had taken shears to my hair and only left me with about an inch of bangs.  It was quite a sight.  I went to get highlights and explained my plight to my stylist.  She had the same thing happen to her.  She did her best to highlight the little dark bangs so that they didn’t stick out like a sore thumb under my very thin bangs.  Once I got the highlights done it wasn’t so bad.  That happened in October and we had some family pictures taken in November.  I love our pictures but I really hate my hair.  If you pay attention to my hair you can see that I hardly have any bangs.  It’s strange looking to say the least.

Thankfully, I’m getting my hair back.  It’s growing at what seems to be a snail’s pace but at least it’s finally growing.  And it’s falling out at a regular pace, like before the pregnancy.  I know it must sound strange to hear me talk about this but I was not expecting the loss to happen so late after birth and I definitely was not expecting it to be so fast and furious.  I think it’s completely normal but no one told me the timeline so I was taken by surprise.  Hopefully anyone reading this that hasn’t been through it can be a little more prepared than I was.  It’s only hair but it’s a big part of what people see when they look at you.  Not to mention that for a lot of people (me included) post-baby self image can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.  The last thing I needed was to feel self-conscious about another aspect of my outward appearance.

My body is shaped differently now.  I heard that would happen, too, so I expected it.  I have lost all but about 7 pounds of my “baby” weight.  My old clothes do not fit, though.  I’m still wearing maternity pants most of the time.  With an extra 7 pounds you would think I could squeeze into my old pants but my weight is distributed differently so that’s not possible for me at this time.  I didn’t like my shape before and I don’t like it now.  I need to change it and I will…I’m just having a hard time finding the discipline to do so.  I was about 10 pounds heavier than I wanted to be before getting pregnant so I have a lot to lose before I’m comfortable with myself again.  I know it takes time but BG is almost 14 months old (WHAT?!) so I’ve had the time.  I just need to get my butt in gear and control myself a little more.  One thing that has really changed are my arms and shoulders.  Yes, I have more weight on me overall so my arms are bigger but I now have bigger muscles, too!  And my shoulders are a little bit wider because they are stronger, too.  That comes from carrying around my sweet baby girl and she weighs about 21-22 pounds right now so she can be quite a work out.  But that is another reason my clothes are not fitting like they used to.  I’m in desperate need for some new clothes but I’m hoping to drop a few pounds first.  We’ll see.  I’m getting sick of the maternity pants so I might need to splurge on a few things pretty soon.

I think that just about covers my physical recovery from pregnancy and birth.  I will be tackling my emotional recovery next.  It’s going to be hard to revisit my feelings from a year ago but I need to do it.  For myself, mostly, but if I can help anyone else I really want to.  I’m actually glad I’m going to write about it now instead of when I was going through it.  Some of you may have wanted to commit me if I had written everything out back then.  J

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Physical Recovery - Part 1

I think I must be pretty wimpy and I must also have a low tolerance for pain and discomfort.  Recovering from my c-section was harder than I thought it would be.

While I was in the hospital I was taking a big Motrin every 6 hours and a perc every 4 hours.  I decided to only take one perc because I’m pretty sensitive to medications like that and did not want to be loopy while trying to care for my new baby.

One of the days (our second full day) in the hospital I had a nurse that came to see me in the morning and the early afternoon and then no one showed up until after 7:00 that night.  I had visitors come and go, food come and go the baby came and went (more on that later) but no nurse and no pain medications.  The nurse that visited me early in the afternoon told me to make sure I got up and walked around to make sure I healed properly.  She showed me how to clean my incision and helped me put my binder back on after my shower.  So I took the baby for a couple of walks and tried to stay out of bed (something else she told me to do) as much as I could.  Then more visitors came and went and before I knew it, it was just after 7:00, which was shift change time.

 I had been sitting in the nursing chair while we had guests and when I stood up I almost collapsed.  My incision felt like it was on fire.  I was in so much pain I could barely move.  BJ went to find a nurse to bring me medication.  He was pissed when I told him how long it had been since I had seen a nurse.  I just didn’t think about it…I was busy with the baby and visitors and walking.  I completely over did it and had gone over 7 hours without any pain medication.  Holy hell…I could not believe how much this hurt.  The nurse that came in asked me why I hadn’t called sooner and I told her that I had never had to call before…the nurses had just been coming in to give me meds and check on my temperature and my blood pressure.  I wasn’t paying attention to how many hours it had been since my last doses.  It was hard enough to tell day from night and keep the baby’s feeding schedule straight.  So I got my meds and all was well.  Needless to say we complained about the nurse that I had and come to find out she was a substitute from another floor.  I also did not do any more walking, I enjoyed my hospital bed to the fullest.  There was no need to try and rush anything at that point.

My wrist was still hurting me and that really sucked.  I had to maneuver the baby, the boppy and everything else when I could barely move my hand.  It was awful.  And then my right wrist started hurting.  This was all I needed, right?  BJ helped when he could but he didn’t spend much time in the hospital with us.  He had to work because he had used 2 days needlessly right before she was born for our cancelled induction and then our health scare.  There’s more on that, too.  I’m trying to keep things organized in my head.  J

We went home and I made sure to keep up on my medications.  It was nice because we went home on Saturday afternoon so BJ was able to spend lots of time with us.  He stayed home Monday and Tuesday, too.  I really missed the hospital bed because putting my feet up was so easy on my belly.  Laying on the couch was not nearly as comfortable.  I was told to avoid steps so I had to have BJ get a list of items from upstairs for us on a daily basis.  I did go up 3 times before I was released because I had to shower for crying out loud.  I moved slowly but deliberately and still did not understand why I was hurting so much.  There was pulling and tugging and it really was uncomfortable.  BJ suggested I call my OB so I did.  She asked me to come in.  I went in and she looked everything over and said I was healing really nicely.  The incision looked great but I was really sore.  My body had been through major surgery and I couldn’t understand why I was hurting so much.

My SIL, meaning no harm, told me how she was up and moving and felt fine after her 3rd c-section so of course I felt very inferior (do those feelings ever go away?) to her and became very down on myself.  There were times that I would stand up because I had to go to the bathroom but I didn’t realize how badly I had to go until I stood up.  Oh, the pain that seared through my incision on those few occasions.   I could barely stand upright while walking to the bathroom it hurt so much.  I told myself that I would not wait to pee any more.  It was crazy.  Like I said, I think I must have a low tolerance for pain because everyone else told me their stories and I just sunk deeper and deeper.

 There came a point where I started to feel better.  I guess it was about 3 weeks post-partum.  I was able to move around better and the stairs didn’t bother me anymore and I was able to lay on my back with my legs straight without too much pain.  My wrists were still killing me, though.  There were times when I was bathing BG (baby girl) that I just wanted to cry.  I was so afraid I was going to mishandle her because of the pain and my limitations on movement with my hands.  Thankfully, I never did.

It took about 4 months or so until I was able to lay on the floor on my stomach and prop myself up on my elbows without too much pain.  I tried it several times a week before that but there was so much pulling and strain that I could only last a minute or 2.

 I’m much more mobile now, thank goodness.  It took a long time to get here but I kept telling myself that it would get better and I didn’t push it.  I still feel my incision when I lift something heavy or walk uphill, it’s crazy.  I never thought that I’d still be feeling things 13 months after the surgery.  One of my coworkers told me that she still sometimes feels pulling and tugging sensations and it’s been just over 20 years since her surgery.  Yikes.  I guess this is just something I’m going to have to live with.

I’ve been able to start doing Pilates.  And by “doing” I mean I did them once last week.  Ha!  I was so sore after that I wasn’t able to tackle it again (I was going to on Friday but  left work early and then we had a snow day on Monday and I had a lunch meeting today…so maybe tomorrow I’ll get back to it).  It’s been almost 2 years since I did a core work out so I wasn’t surprised at how much my muscles were screaming afterward.  My incision didn’t bother me so that’s good news.  I just need to get back in the gym and work the muscles again.

There’s a few more aspects of my physical recovery that I’d like to share.  Mostly to just get it out of my head but maybe there are women out there that also had a hard time and can make me feel better about being a “wimp”.  J