The Recovery Room
I awoke in the recovery room. It was two hours later. There was a sweet-looking, older nurse there with me. I remember some pretty intense pain, and again I became fearful.
I guess I was probably pretty out of it, but I wanted some comfort and grabbed my nurse’s hand. She seemed startled, and placed my hand on my side and went back to what she was doing. Rejected! 🙂 Ah, well.
Like I said, I was in some pain. The details are fuzzy, but somehow I was quickly given pain meds. On a stomach that had been empty since eight o’clock the night before. Ew. I became nauseous and dizzy. Got some red jello. Double ew!
Anyway, I’m not sure how long I was in that room, but it wasn’t too long before I was wheeled into more of a recovery patient room which I shared with another girl. It became clear my new nurse wanted me to get headed home! She was pushing me to try to get up, but I became too dizzy and had to lie back down. I was very easily annoyed in this state. I just wanted her to leave me alone!
Baby’s on Her Way!
Well, my husband’s and my efforts to transition my six-month-old to a bottle for the time we would be separated fell short. It was about eleven in the morning and she hadn’t eaten since three-thirty! My hubby was making it through the city as quickly as he could so I could feed her.
They told me I had to pump again before I could feed her, to get any residual medicine from my milk. That annoyed me too. Wasn’t this stuff supposed to be safe for babies, even newborns? Oh well. I pumped about an ounce from each side and that was all I was going to do. My memory of this time is still pretty hazy. I don’t remember having my wits about me.
Enter Hubby and Baby Girl. A very upset Baby Girl. If you’re a mama, you know how a distraught, very hungry baby tugs your heartstrings. I couldn’t believe she hadn’t eaten in so long, she nurses quite frequently normally. We propped her on my side with pillows, and using the “clutch hold”, she nursed and was immediately pacified. Aww!!! My milk seemed to take a while coming in. Not cool. But she did get fed.
After a few more unsuccessful attempts at sitting up, finally I felt okay enough to be wheeled out of the hospital. I think it was about noon now. My mother-in-law took our other three sons and our recently-fed daughter back to the house, and my husband was going to take me home. We stopped on the way and picked up my prescriptions, one for pain, and one for pain and inflammation. Eventually, we made it home and I took up residence in our bed.
The rest of the week
I never really stopped to consider what a shock to your system surgery is. Seems like a no-brainer, but I’d never really had a surgery like this. The biggest thing I noticed was my milk supply. It almost went to nil. For about the first thirty-six hours, my daughter had to nurse at least five to ten minutes before anything would come, and it was very little when it did come. I had pumped up a lot of milk and frozen it, but she refused every bit of it. Thankfully, she did eat some mashed banana and other baby food in between. I’m not sure how we handled those first few days. I’m just grateful that they’re over.
My milk eventually did come back, in full force. What a relief. I spent most of my time on the bed, groggy from pain medication, and would only really be interrupted when the baby needed to be fed every few hours or so.
Before the surgery, I had prepared and frozen some homemade bone broth. Here’s a tutorial if you’re interested, it’s really pretty simple. That was the best thing to eat after the surgery. Full of gelatin, amino acids, calcium, magnesium, and many other nutrients – it was the most healing food I could have eaten.
I had one drain, a hand-sized bulb that would fill partly with fluid and blood. I had to empty it a few times a day, but it was probably never more than half a tablespoonful after the first day.
The nights were the longest. It was unbearably painful to lie in any position other than reclined with pillows all around me, even on the meds. So I just stayed upright. Nursing continued, using the clutch hold, and I literally couldn’t have done it if my husband weren’t there to help me get her situated before, during, and after. However, all that time spent reclined in bed resulted in my back muscles going into spasm. Great! Pain from the front and the back. I not sure which was worse.
But something did excite me: even from the first night home, after my eight p.m. dosing, I didn’t need any more medicine until the morning. That was a relief too, not having to mess with taking them with food, etc. Believe me, during those first days, I would never turn down my meds. I wanted nothing to do with the pain or trying to be a hero. So it was nice, though strange, to not need the meds at night. But around 7-8a.m., I needed that medicine quickly.
Forty-eight hours after the surgery, I was permitted to take off my bandages and shower. I have pictures of my stomach before and after taking off the bandages here. Please be aware, they are graphic. Only look if you really want to.
My first shower went great, having just taken pain medication, haha. My husband washed me while I hunched over, holding my drain. I teased him, “For better or for worse, right?” He just smiled and said he didn’t mind.
With each day I improved. It wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe. I envisioned unbearable pain nonstop for six weeks, but no. Even after several days I played around with skipping doses of pain meds. That brought up a little bit of a dilemma: try to become less dependent on the medicine, at the cost of being able to be more active during the day. It was a tough one. The days I skipped doses I was met with pain and discomfort and retreated to the bed to continue hibernation. When I took my meds, I was able to physically do more and therefore felt much better. If you’re about to go through with surgery, my position would be in favor of keeping up the pain meds and therefore being more active. Never push yourself during your healing, though. You do need rest so you can heal quicker.
On day six I received a shock I was in no way prepared for: I started spotting and it looked as if I was going to start my period. My period hadn’t come back yet, due to the exclusive breastfeeding of my daughter, and I had been looking forward to many, many more months period-free. I was not happy about that, but what can you do. My milk supply dipped really low during the first day or two. I should have seen it coming, but was simply blindsided.
It was never more than a spotting, and so I remain hopeful in the possibility that maybe that is all it will be, but well, I will be on the lookout in four weeks. And I’ll let you know in my fourth-week post-op post.
Anyhow, by the end of the first week I was able to be up and around more, feeling much more optimistic about the rest of my journey toward healing.
Read on to Week Two.