“The Day After a C-Section”
I had to have a c-section with Bean because he was breech and ginormous. Then, I had to have one again with Gracie because I’d had one with Bean so recently. I didn’t mind, really, except that there isn’t a whole lot of practical, useful information out there for c-section recovery that isn’t related to medical info. Your doctor will give you all kinds of recovery information for how to take care of yourself (none of which is pleasant, by the way…), but there are also some things you can do for yourself to make the day after your c-section much easier to handle.
1. Be careful which pajamas you bring. With Bean, I was afraid of anything touching my incision and so I went with a nightgown instead of comfy pants. Unfortunately, that meant whenever a nurse came in to check me (which is pretty often in those first few days), I basically had to lift my dress up over my head. Awkward and unnecessary. With Gracie, I went a different route and was much more comfortable. I wore comfy, lightweight pajama pants and cotton t-shirt. This kept me warmer in the cold hospital room, and was more comfortable for me to greet guests in. Just be sure you are aware of where the pants line hits your midsection. Try to buy pants that are up high on your waist so that you can pull the pants up over the incision.
2. Walk around a lot. Get up and get moving as soon as possible. My doctor told me this with my first c-section, but it was really painful and so I didn’t do it as much as was recommended. With Gracie, I don’t know if it was actually less painful or if I was just more prepared for the pain level, but I got myself up and moving bright and early the next morning and it made a huge difference in how I felt. It will be really painful at first, but if you can push through that, try to. It gets easier and it will make a world of difference in how quickly you recover from your surgery.
3. Use a nursing pillow. Not just for nursing, but for holding pressure on your incision when you laugh or sneeze. They are fitted perfectly around your midsection, so just press it up against you when you have to laugh or sneeze and it will really help relieve the pain of the incision site. You can also use these to help you hold your baby in that first day when you are really, really sore. I was really hard for me to hold either of my babies the day after because my midsection was so sore. I started using the nursing pillow to apply pressure to my midsection when I was really hurting, but I quickly realized that it was also helpful to use as a way to hold the baby. That way, I got to hold the babies without putting any strain on my body.
4. Bring your own toiletries from home and shower as soon as possible. It is unbelievable what difference a shower makes after surgery. Depending on your nurse, you will be given the green light to shower either the day after or two days after. I waited with Bean because they made showering sound like such a big deal that I was a little nervous. But with Gracie, I just wanted to be clean again and so I got up and showered the morning after (right before my walk, actually) and it was awesome. Follow your nurses instructions, and do it right away. Your body will thank you.
5. Bring alcohol wipes or ask your nurse for some. The iodine and medical stuff (how’s that for terminology?) they put on your before surgery stays on your body FOREVER! I swear sometimes I still think I see that orange tint on my belly! It’s so gross! Try using alcohol wipes to wash some of that off as soon as possible. The longer it stays on you the harder it is to get it off.
6. Get ye a belly wrap! These are somewhat on the pricey side, but totally worth it. A belly wrap is a giant fabric wrap that goes around your entire torso and is pulled tight. In traditional pregnancies, it is supposed to help get your stomach muscles back in place and tightened up quicker (can I get an AMEN?). But in c-section recovery, it serves a second purpose, too. That tight pressure form the wrap actually feels really great on your incision. It protects it and holds it still so that you aren’t constantly jostling around your stitches. I had my nurse help me put it on the day after my procedure and it really felt great. C-sections are a beast of their own. Their needs are slightly different than a traditional recovery, which is a beast of its own, too.
Be prepared with a few simple things that can make a world of difference!
This past weekend I made a bunch of plans, forgetting that Chris was scheduled in be in tech rehearsals all weekend long. Thankfully, my mom came down for the weekend, so I didn’t have to be by myself. I’m doing pretty good emotionally right now. I’m not crying a whole lot anymore, and I’m able to think about my dad without feeling incredible sadness. I think all of that is good and definitely progress, but I’m not sure I’m ready to do a whole weekend without someone around to talk to. Lucky for me, my mom’s not ready for that either. So, we just hung around this weekend together.
We took the kids to the outlet malls all day on Saturday and shopped until we all dropped. And then we ate lunch and shopped some more.
Sunday morning we decided to skip church (too emotional for me right now – I’ve been once and it was pretty tough), and instead we hung around the house with the kids. Sunday afternoon I had made dinner plans for me, Chris, and Bean while my mom stayed home with Gracie. Chris and I are in the process of making new friends. It’s such a brutal process to make adult friends. It’s so much like dating. It’s exhausting.
Bean’s best friend at school is a little girl that we’ll just call Elle. Elle and Bean are inseparable. They play together all day. Their teachers have all told us that the two of them are like little peas and carrots. And they even look alike! She is a little blonde girl who looks like a female version of Bean. It’s pretty stinking cute.
At Bean’s birthday party this summer, Chris and I met Elle’s parents for the first time and they were pretty awesome. They are about our ages, very laid back, fun, and easy to talk to. We hit it off right away with both of them. We had them over for dinner once, met out at a restaurant once, met for a couple play dates, and even signed the kids up for swimming lessons at the same time. They had invited us over for dinner a couple times in the past two months, but with my dad’s passing, our schedules went on hold and we had to cancel twice on them. I was starting to worry that we were going to lose our new friends before we even made them! So, when they invited us over for dinner, I said yes before I even asked Chris.
Turns out, Chris had to work all weekend. So, we planned that we would take two cars and he would come for about an hour and then leave early while I stayed with Bean. It was a good plan until everything starting sucking.
Chris was supposed to meet us at our house at 4:00 so that we could get to Elle’s house by 4:30. At 4:25 he still wasn’t home, so I called. He hadn’t even left work yet. I told him to stay there, and that Bean and I would just go alone. I was pissed, but we’d deal with that later. Instead, I threw Bean in the car, left Gracie with my mom, and we got to Elle’s house half an hour late.
When Elle’s mom opened the door, she kind of looked confused and said, “Where’s Chris?” I explained he was stuck at work (strike one). “Well, where’s Gracie?”
“Oh,” I said. “My mom is in town this weekend, so she’s staying with her tonight.” (strike two)
“Well, where are your swimsuits?”
Turns out, it was a swimming thing. I’m sure she had mentioned that to me, but the past few weeks have been a big blur, so I completely forgot. I dropped my food and left Bean there while I drove back to our house to get our bathing suits.
As I’m driving back home, I realize that I gave my mom my house key because she and Gracie were going to run some errands. So, I was locked out of my house.
I drove over to my friend Sarah’s house and got my spare house key from her and then drove back to my house, changed into my suit, packed Bean’s, and then drove the 20 minutes back to Elle’s house.
When I got there, I changed Bean into his suit and we all headed out to the pool. Elle’s mom and I told the kids (who both have passed their infant survival swimming programs, by the way…) they could play on the pool steps, but they couldn’t swim out in the pool by themselves. Two seconds later, we were standing next to the pool talking and we looked out and there were both our kids, trying to swim in the middle of the pool. They both looked panicked, but THANK GOD they both knew how to get themselves floating. Elle’s mom and I dove into the pool with our cover ups on and dragged them out.
Thankfully, the rest of the evening was uneventful and actually a lot of fun. Turns out I have a lot in common with Elle’s mom. I’m thinking our next get together should be a single date just the two of us, without husbands or kids.
Of course, that’s assuming they don’t think I’m an absolutely irresponsible, crazy, frantic woman with an uninvolved husband. Probably going to be hard to hang out again if that’s the impression I made…
Here’s hoping for a first solo date!
Last night I put out my fall decorations. I love fall, especially fall decor. Bright oranges, burnt yellows, harvest greens… nothing feels homier. But last night as I lit apple and cinnamon scented candles, a distinct sadness came over me.
I think the hardest part of missing my dad are the firsts. Anything I do for the first time without him is really tough. The first college football Saturday without my dad’s obnoxious Gator phone calls, the first soccer practice for Bean, the first day of school. All those firsts are painful. But it is the unexpected firsts that are hardest of all.
Pulling my fall decorations out of their neatly packed boxes, my dad was the last thing on my mind for once. I concentrated on wreath placement and candle distribution, and all of a sudden I stopped in my tracks and thought, “This will be our first fall without Dad.”
It’s not that I associate fall with my dad. There was nothing particularly poignant about that season that reminds me directly of him. But to be leaving the season where I last saw him and moving into another reminds me that he’s not going forward with us. It was such a painful realization that I literally had to stand very still until the moment passed me and I could catch my breath again.
Generally speaking, I’m doing pretty good right now. For the past week or so, I could think about my dad and talk about him without crying or becoming too terribly sad. But I have been shying away from anything really personal. I can talk about him in broad strokes. “Dad would have loved this…” or “Remember when Dad did that…” But I had stopped thinking about him as a presence in my life. I didn’t, for example, think about his laugh or the feeling of his hugs or the sound of his voice. I think I was just tired of crying so damn much that whenever those things crept into my mind, I would simply do something else. I had a picture of him as my computer wallpaper and my iPhone screen saver, and I took those down last week. It was just too much to see him or feel him too closely. So, for a couple of days, I took a break from that and thought about him in very impersonal ways.
But putting up those fall decorations brought all of that flooding back to me, and I felt as sad and mournful as I did during the immediate days after his passing.
On my way to work this morning, I heard him talking and laughing. I hadn’t allowed myself to think about that in over a week, but hearing that distinct, joyful voice calling out, “Katharine!” took my breath away. Work itself was uneventful, but also uninspired. I felt exhausted from grief and I haven’t felt that weariness in over a week. After work on my way to pick the kids up from daycare, I could feel my dad sitting next to me. I don’t believe that when we die we hang around earth, so I don’t think it was him sitting there, but I could picture him so clearly sitting in my passenger seat, asking me about my day, about the kids, about Chris. And I had such a strong desire to just pick up my phone and call him. But I couldn’t.
And then, as luck would have it, on our way home from daycare, Bean asked me about him. He hasn’t asked about Granddad in two weeks, but today Dad must have just been on all our hearts because Bean asked me out of nowhere, “Mom, where is Granddad again?” And once again I told him that Granddad had died and now lived in Heaven with God.
“And Lt. Dan?” he asked me.
“Yes,” I said, smiling, thinking about how my dad would have laughed his head off at that logic. “Yes, Granddad is in Heaven with your fish, Lt. Dan.”
“When will we see him again?”
“Well,” I said, struggling for words to a question that Bean had not yet asked me before. I didn’t want to tell Bean that we would see Granddad again in Heaven because I didn’t want Bean’s little literal brain to think that we were going to see Granddad again soon. And he’s not yet old enough to get too religious or philosophical with yet. So, I decided to just be straight and simple with him. “We won’t see Granddad again, Buddy. When someone dies, we don’t see them anymore. But we can talk to them when we pray to God and we can miss them and talk about them together. But we won’t see Granddad again.”
Bean sat there for a minute quietly and then said, “I miss him.”
I told him that I missed him, too. “If Granddad were sitting in this seat right now,” I said, patting the very same passenger seat I had just pictured him sitting in not 15 minutes earlier, “I’d tell him about how I went running yesterday for the first time in a long time. What would you tell him?”
“I’d tell him about my soccer game!” Bean squealed. “And I’d show him my soccer ball!”
“Oh, good one!” I said.
“Where is Heaven, mom?” Bean asked very seriously.
“It’s up in the sky, buddy. See those clouds way up there? That’s where Heaven is, and that’s where Granddad lives now.”
“But I can’t see him,” Bean said, looking out his window.
“I know. We can’t see people when they go to Heaven. But I bet Granddad is sitting up in one of those big clouds, just waiting to see you play soccer. Maybe on Saturday at your soccer game, we’ll see some clouds and maybe Granddad will be sitting up in them watching you play!”
“YEAH!” Bean shouted, clearly happy with the idea of a heavenly audience.
“Austin pushed me down on the playground today…” and our conversation quickly changed. Leaving me sitting there with a heavy, heavy heart and tears in my eyes while we talked about Austin being put in time out today at school.
Some days, things are okay and I can laugh and get things done and think about Dad without that panicked feeling. And then on the other days, it is the simplest of tasks, like putting out pumpkin decor, and the most innocent of questions, like “When will we see Granddad again?” that take me right back to the day he died all over again. But each time that fall happens, it takes me a little less time to get myself back upright. I can pull myself together a little quicker. I can smile and take a step forward a little sooner. And maybe that’s how the loss of a loved one lives inside of you.
The fall never hurts any less, but you learn to stand up a little faster.
Chris and I love taking the kids out to dinner, but sometimes it can sound more fun than it actually is. Trying to keep them quiet, in their seats, eating their food, all without disturbing other patrons is quite a task. I think it’s good for kids to be exposed to restaurant environments because it teaches them how to behave in public, but sometimes I think it’s good for them to be out somewhere that’s just for them. Somewhere where they don’t have to sit quietly or wait patiently for their food to come. Somewhere where they get pizza and gold tokens and prizes. Somewhere where they can bang the crap out of gophers with rubber mallets. Somewhere like Chuck E. Cheese’s. (cue host of angels singing)
What I noticed when we first got there was that there was a doorman who checked in our family. He had one of those little stamps with the invisible ink that is visible with a black light. He assigned our individual family with a specific number, and then stamped that same number on all of our hands. When it was time to leave, they checked each of our hands to confirm that we all had the same number. This way, no one could leave with a child that they didn’t come in with. I thought that was pretty brilliant, especially in a place where you might not necessarily be with your child the whole time. That was my favorite part of Chuck E. Cheese’s. Well, maybe my favorite part was the pizza… (so good!). Or maybe the clean tables and bathrooms… (I’m a sucker for a clean bathroom, friends). Bean’s favorite part were the coins.
He went all Ebenezer Scrooge on me and locked down the coins so that no one could have any. Until he spilled his cup o’ coins under the table, and I had to crawl under there and find all of them. That was the only time I was permitted to touch the coins.
I worried that maybe our kids were too little for Chuck E. Cheese’s, but they had a great time! Bean loved the tunnels to crawl through, and there were a lot of games that both of them could play.
Even Gracie had fun, though she was NOT a fan of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Too hairy, she said.
What was so fun about Chuck E. Cheese’s was that it took only slightly longer than a dinner out at a restaurant and didn’t cost any more than we would have spent for dinner out, but it was so much more than just dinner. It was fun and a great way to spend a night with the kids! Even Chris and I got in on the game action…
When it was time to go, Bean and I were not happy.
But then Chris reminded us about the best part of Chuck E. Cheese’s – PRIZES!!!!!
It took the kids twice as long to pick their prizes as it took them to win the tickets!
Needless to say, we will be going back again. And again. And again. Because there are tickets to be won, people. TICKETS TO BE WON!!!!!! And now, you and your family have a chance to win those tickets, too!
Chuck E. Cheese’s is giving away a $100 gift card to one lucky Marriage Confessions winner! (And in case you didn’t know, $100 is roughly one bajillion coins… Bean will INSIST on coming with you.) Leave a comment telling me why your family loves Chuck E. Cheese’s or why you think they’d like it. The giveaway is open until September 28. GOOD LUCK!
Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “”#SweepstakesEntry”"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 9/4/2012-10/4/2012.
Be sure to visit the Chuck E. Cheese’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggersí reviews and find more chances to win!