Recovery – the Journey to a VBAC

As traumatic as the birth was, surprisingly, it was nothing compared to the recovery. I was broken physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

As the anesthesia wore off, I slowly started to get feeling back in my body. Sensation started with my toes,  followed by my legs and worked it’s way up. In a matter of minutes, it felt like I was suddenly hit by a semi truck. My back was stiff and sore, my stomach was throbbing in pain, and my head was pounding. I realized  I could barely move. And with each effort to get comfortable, I was terrified my insides would fall out through the incision. Once the nurse gave me my baby, I held him tight, with no intentions of letting him go.

My mom came while my husband left to go home for a shower. Understanding my need to keep my baby with me, she encouraged me to sleep, keeping an eye on both of us. After being awake for more than 24 hours, I reluctantly took her orders while my baby stayed in my arms. As I started to power down, my body would startle and jump awake causing my stomach to throb. On the third attempt, I was asleep for about five minutes when it automatically convulsed – causing horrendous pain. My body was in shock from everything that happened to it. The connection between my body and brain was temporary severed. It was suppose to birth a baby but hadn’t, it was pumped with so much drugs, and now was recovering from a major surgery. It was almost like it wouldn’t let it’s guard down, scared of what would happen next.  My body was having a hard time relaxing, even though I desperately needed some sleep.

Later that day the horrible catheter was removed and 3 nurses came in and told me I had to start moving my legs and that I needed to learn how to clean myself. I started to tear up just thinking about how painful it was going to be to move. They said it was for the better. My husband took our baby and set him in the bassinet. He then braced me as I tried to stand. My legs tingled, my abdomen throbbed. We shuffled, I hunched over like a 90 year old lady to keep the pain at a minimum. He held my arm and we slowly made it to the bathroom. I sat down on the toilet in pain. The blonde nurse  gave me a peri bottle and instructed me what to do. Barely able to bend over an inch, I burst into a crying frenzy. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see what I was doing and I was in so much pain. Seemingly annoyed at my pathetic behavior (you gave birth like billions of other women, what are you complaining about?), the nurse took the bottle and rinsed my vagina with cold water. My husband stood back in the doorway, staring. When I got back to the bed, I felt humiliated. I was crying, I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t clean myself. I hated every moment of this.

As the day progressed, visitors came and went, nurses came and went, and then the surgeon came in later that evening. He asked me what I thought was the appropriate time to go home.  I begged him for tomorrow. As the nurse fixed my IV, he told me that wouldn’t be the case. The standard after a csection was to stay for 3 days. At absolute minimum it would be 2 days.  As he left, I cried some more. I was already in this hospital long enough. I wanted to go home, to my own comfortable bed.

The next two days were the pitfall of my dream. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t pick up my baby when he cried in the bassinet. My husband would have to get up, pick him up and bring him too me at every whimper, cry, and feed. He would change his diaper every single time. My husband was amazing, but I could tell  he was regretting the whole decision of having a child. He slept on a cot beside me and the baby. During the night, was the hardest because my husband was exhausted and a deep sleeper. I woke up to my baby squirming, I tried to get his attention to bring me the baby. After a few attempts of throwing whatever I could get my hand on, I think it was only a hat and my pillow, a nurse came in because my baby was screaming. It made me so sad. I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be.  I was slowly breaking inside.

Saturday came and I was determined to leave. I got up and started hobbling around in pain. I decided to take a shower, prove to them that I was capable to go home. A nurse came in, surprised at my improvement. I asked for the doctor. Two hours later, she came in and said that I could go if the baby’s blood work came back fine. It did and my husband  rushed us out of that hospital so fast,  I didn’t even get a picture of my son in his “coming home” outfit. As he tried to lift me into the pickup truck, I cried in pain. I cried all the way home as we hit every little bump. When we got to the house, my mom came running out for a hug. I snapped “Don’t touch me”. The look on her face, still puts a lump in my throat. I was so miserable.

It wasn’t that great being home, as I thought it was going to be. I cried at everything. My husband did everything. I missed my son’s first bath because I needed a shower, which was a half-hour long project. As the water ran down my yellow body, I followed it to the stapled up mess on my bikini line. It looked like I just walked out of some horror movie. I cried some more.

That night  I slept on the couch. My bed was too high for me to get up into without wincing in immeasurable amounts of pain. I rigged up some chairs and put a baby basket on them, beside me. That whole idea was abandoned at his first whimper when I realized I couldn’t roll over every two hours in pain just to pick him up. He slept on my chest, listening to the pounding of my heart. I remember his tiny hands and his sweet baby smell.  I rubbed my lips against his soft black hair. For the next four nights, this is how we slept.

The next three months, I was an emotional basket-case. I cried at everything. My relationship with my husband was crumbling. We fought over everything. He started to enjoy working late  and spending every weekend with his guy friends. Now that I was capable of caring for the baby, he wanted nothing to do with his son unless it was absolutely necessary. I became the mama bear –  nobody could touch or care for my son except me.

At the next and last doctor appointment for my son, I asked the doctor if all my babies would be born via cesarean?  She told me yes, as it would be very risky for someone like me (I’m assuming she meant my small size?) to birth naturally after a cesarean because of the risk of rupturing. I went home and cried to my husband. He held me close and we shared a tender moment, one in a very long time. He wiped my tears away and we both agreed we didn’t want anymore babies. My dream of having a large family was over.  The fear of being  cut open again, won.

Maybe it was because summer was here and the sunshine and bettered our spirits, but my husband and I seemed to let go of our traumatic experienced. It was great to float down the river on an air mattress – just the three of us, soaking up the sun. We enjoyed our son very much – his love of water, his first laugh, crawling and getting into everything. He was a true boy and mischief was his middle name! He learned to walk at 8.5 months old. We were so proud!

At this time I very surprisingly discovered I was pregnant! Sadly, I wasn’t overjoyed. I was horrified. I didn’t think about having another little one. All could think about was having another csection or attempting a obviously failed  vbac. Either way, I knew I was going to die.

After a week of depression – I realized I had to do something. The baby was going to continue to grow inside of me and it needed to get out somehow in roughly 8 months time. I was determined it wasn’t going to be by cesarean section.  I searched the internet for midwives and birth centers in my province. I found a lovely one that looked nothing like a hospital but more  like an English cottage. It was very homey.  It had a playroom for older children. They excepted vbacs and explained what would happen in case of an emergency. I loved it! It was six hours away but this is where I wanted to be, this is where I already felt safe.

I sent an email right away. A wonderful, loving, tender, motherly midwife called me the next day. Her name was Toby. She gave me the time of day to answer all my fearful questions and explained to me that my body was meant to give birth and that it COULD do this. I could here her children playing in the background, and yet she stayed with me on the phone for about an hour. She told me how powerful the uterus was and how amazing it heals. Once our call came to an end she gave me the assignment of finding a doula in my area. The doula was going to be the most important part of our journey to achieving a vbac.

The next day, I came across Pure Love. It was the perfect name and I contacted a doula called Fiona. She had a Scottish accent and also gave me more hope that having a baby vaginally was possible.  I immediately felt connected with her and she gave me more confidence in myself. We scheduled a date after Christmas to meet.  In the mean time, I was allowed to call her at any time with questions and concerns. I was so comforted by this woman.

Christmas soon arrived and we were traveling ten hours away this year to spend the holiday with family. I was very much in the Christmas spirit and very happy. It was my son’s first Christmas and I was very excited as well as being 8 weeks pregnant. I was finally overjoyed. We stopped halfway for a bathroom break. I noticed some dark blood in my underwear and told my husband. He assured me not to worry. When we arrived at our destination, I phoned Fiona. She also assured me not to worry and that it could just mean spotting, it was normal around this time. She told me to take a bath and relax and enjoy the festivities. I did what she told me. The next day, there was more blood and it was now red. By midday it resembled a period. On Christmas Eve, I called Fiona again and she confirmed it was most likely a miscarriage. I cried. This lady that I never met, cried with me. She explained to me what to expect next, what to keep an eye on, and to rest. She told me if I needed to call her on Christmas, she was here for me.

The miscarriage took about a week to complete. I lost my a baby. I was sad, but because of the experience, I knew that I truly did want more children. The next three months I allowed my body to heal from an 8 week pregnancy. We celebrated my son’s first birthday in March. A month later On April 7, 2010 – I received a positive pregnancy test. I was definitely overjoyed!

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