5 things I learned after my unexpected c-section

5 things I learned after my unexpected c-section

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April is C-Section Awareness Month, which got me thinking about my own unexpected c-section.

I feel like mine was more unusual than most, because I had already delivered three very healthy (although slow!) babies without having one. C-section was the furthest thing from my mind.

My husband and I strolled into L&D, joking and laughing like the baby-having pros we were. Less than 24 hours later, he was throwing on scrubs and I was being wheeled in for a c-section. My daughter was born looking a little beat-up, but healthy and beautiful just the same.

I didn't mourn the loss of my birth plan (mostly because I didn't even think out a birth plan -- I just assumed it would be like the others). But I didn't enjoy the recovery. Frankly, surgery sucks. It's only been in the years since that I can look back and realize what I learned from the experience. I may not have loved recuperating from my c-section, but I can now appreciate it.

  • I learned to accept help

    Ohhhhh -- any fellow control freaks who can back me up on this? It's hard to admit you need help. It's hard to let people help you when they don't do things the same way you do (which makes them WRONG. Obviously.) It's also hard to think you're worthy of people's time when they have their own families and lives to lead.

    I'm pretty sure I had a lot wrapped up in not wanting help, but when you can't stand, you have to start making concessions. I learned to accept meals and babysitting from friends without apologizing. I learned to let other people do my laundry without redoing it. I learned to trust my husband to get everyone where they needed to go without reminding him every five minutes. And at the end, I could look back on a variety of people who gave up their time and energy and feel so much love from them all. I'd go back and tell pre-c me to stop kibbitzing and gratefully accept any and all help from people who offered it.

  • I learned to make ridiculous goals

    Did you know they reteach you how to sit up after a c-section? You can't use your stomach muscles, so a nurse came in and demonstrated how to roll over and push myself up with my hands. It was more than a week before I could walk upright. And it was during that week, when it took all I had to shuffle around my cul-de-sac, that I realized I needed something to look forward to. So I signed up for a half marathon.

    (my sister made me that shirt. It says, "Mom of four, hear me roar.")

    It's not for everyone. Please don't make that your goal if you hate running. But I needed to strive for something that reminded me of my old self. I needed it to be crazy enough that I wouldn't slack off trying to get better. I needed to be able to visualize myself a year from that point. Whether your goal is traveling with your new family, or finishing an entire book, or just going for a walk, it helps to have something to motivate you and remind you that you won't always be this sore.

  • I also learned the fun of small goals

    I got a thrill when I got out of bed for the first time afterward. And one when I walked around the hospital wing. Even going to the bathroom, I was delighted with myself. I haven't been that proud of going potty since I was 3. I found all sorts of silly reasons to celebrate, but they were there and I appreciated them.

  • I learned the value of one-on-one time

    I was planning on heading home right after I had my baby, to a houseful of kids and relatives. They were so excited to meet her and I was figuring she'd just fit in to the chaos of big-family life -- falling asleep at random and waking up at siblings' sports practices or piano lessons or wherever we were. Instead, I got three full days in the hospital with just her. Sure, we had some visitors, but you can't keep three older, energy-filled siblings entertained in a hospital room for long. The majority of our days there were just the two of us, hanging out together. I'll always remember this time we had together before jumping back into the fray.

  • I learned to sympathize

    I'm in the unique position of knowing how moms feel after a c-section and after a vaginal birth and you know what? They all hurt like hell. They all require warrior-mamas. You will never convince me that one is easier than the other. I also know what it's like to have an idea how your birth is going to go and have that upended on you. I hope this makes me a supportive, encouraging voice to moms who have babies - however those babies get here.

    I wouldn't have chosen a c-section to teach me any of these things...but I can appreciate those lessons now, even if they are hard-earned.

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: Improving C-Section Recovery: The ERAS Program Helps You Heal (November 2022).

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