C-section of the Heart
Posted on August 22, 2012
The worst side effect of the C-section is guilt. This is one of the painful parts of recovery that your doctor doesn’t go over with you before they wheel you into the OR. We were held hostage in the hospital for four of the most agonizing days after my surgery. A couple to recover from being sliced open and stitched back up and a couple more because baby Jo dropped 12% of his birth weight while he and I struggled through learning how to breast feed. He’d go left and I’d go right kind of thing. He was a demon sucker and somehow his tiny mouth quickly tore through my much larger by comparison nipples. Every time he cried for them, my nips screamed “Sanctuary!” but found none. Between our adventures in breast feeding, misguided attempts at stomaching hospital food, sleeplessness and some of the weirdest bathroom trips of my life, it is a wonder that Hubby and I survived. I had mood swings that took me from elated to the depths of sorrow. One morning I sat up in my hospital bed after a night of baby Jo screaming his little newly sprung lungs off, eating scrambled (shitty) eggs weeping uncontrollably. All I could think was there was no way I could be a mother. In that moment I was convinced that if I could have moved, it was likely I would have gotten up and walked out, leaving J and baby behind. The highs and lows in those first few days were a trip to say the least. They were some of the most intense emotions I had ever experienced. It wasn’t until we finally escaped nightmare inn that those rollercoaster moments leveled off, but oddly the more reasonable reality that set in afterwards brought with it just as powerful moments of emotional anguish, better yet, emotional heartburn. Screaming hot, heart stabbing moments of searing guilt.
I was prepared for physical pain. Of course, I am no idiot. I knew what I was doing with undergoing a caesarean. After major surgery you expect down time. So, while in hospital when J basically shuttled baby back and forth from my boob to his bassinet, I dealt with the constant pain. By the time we arrived back home things had seemed to settle down and I was handling post-surgery well enough. Here’s what I wasn’t prepared for, when they say you aren’t allowed to pick up anything heavier than your baby they mean you can’t pick up anything heavier. Baby Jo is a substantial kiddo weighing in at 8lbs 8oz at birth and there are times when I can’t manage to lift him at all. And, it’s not always down to the pain of lifting. If I wake up in the middle of a nap with Jonah crying to be lifted and held, my arms fall weak. To the point of me hardly managing to support his head properly in my arms, if I get him there at all. Other times we will be cozying it up in a chair for a while and I’ll go to stand and it will be met with utter failure even if I try two or three times. My legs just go limp. Everything on me is weak, it’s like somehow when they cut through my abdomen they severed all my tendons so my limbs don’t function on top of it all. It all falls to Hubby to make up the difference … and the problem with that is it seems everything these days is falling to hubby.
If after multiple attempts to get Jonah to sleep he finally agrees and does so, I follow suit and take a lie down. But my son isn’t a coma victim like me. After I don’t know how many hours, my eyes will blink open momentarily to watch Hubby repeat this process: get up, pick up the human pork roast, change him, soothe him, prep a bottle, get him on mommy’s nipple, get him off mommy’s nipple, soothe him, feeding him 2oz of formula, change him again and put him back down. I’ll fall asleep again and when I wake I’ll ask J what I’ve missed and he’ll reply with that process but he’s done it over and over again three times. I know the books and the nurses say to use the help you have in the first weeks of your baby’s life and your recovery but this must be more than they meant. JP hasn’t slept since August 3rd. I’ve pretty much slept since Jonah emerged but I don’t feel like I’ve slept a wink. At least that’s how it feels. Have I slept all that much? I don’t even know since the last two weeks have felt like one long day. We’ve fallen victim to Jonah’s not having a schedule. We don’t know the time, the day or whether it is day or night. We are nothing more than doting zombie parents.
The guilt of not being able to get to Jonah fast enough or always able to pick him up or being able to be awake all hours of the night with Hubby is taking its toll. My confidence dwindles each time I ask J for help because I know one day soon he’ll have to go back to work for us, school too. It will be me and baby all alone again but this time regardless of pain or tiredness I won’t have superman to fall back on. I better start popping those iron pills of mine threefold.
The worst of it all in the department of feeling guilty for being a so far lack lustre mama is the fact that I am not producing enough of my own milk yet. Yes, apparently it is common. Yes, apparently almost all first time moms have bumps along the road to the perfect breast feed, but when it’s just you at night with a screaming from hunger baby none of that reassurance is worth anything. I’ve sat for hours pumping only to come up with an ounce of milk collected in the bottom of the bottle. Then watching my child being satisfied by Daddy with a bottle full of formula has made me heartsick on more occasions than I’d like to admit.
Like it wasn’t enough that after birth I couldn’t be skin to skin with him right away, he went straight to Dad … the guilt turns to worry that baby Jo is more bonded with him than with me. And why shouldn’t he be? So far it’s been Dad that turns up to save the day every time Jonah calls. Mommy just looks on from her bed feeling a little bit sorry for herself. Is love from a distance enough?