10 Things To Know About Cesarean Section

Folks, today I'd like to share with you the things I've learned about having a cesarean section.  No, I'm not an expert, but I've had 2 so I think that entitles me to an opinion - or at least a healthy dose of insider information that might just be helpful to you {or someone you love} someday.

Here we go...

#1.  It's not that bad.  

#2.  It's especially not bad if it's planned.  In my little circle of friends, I am one of three who have undergone the dreaded C.  Of the three, I'm the only one who planned this method of birth {for health reasons} and I did have the best experience during and after.  I would be willing to guess that the trauma and exhaustion of engaging in active labor for HOURS and then having an emergency cesarean is like double exhaustion and I can totally understand why some people report horror stories.  

Because mine were planned, I went into birth day well rested and prepared.  So, if there's any question about your ability to go "vag" and you are not opposed to a cesarean {which I absolutely understand varies}, I'd advise to go with this option immediately.  No reason to traumatize your body and mind in two different ways.

#3.  Go on a vitamin C overload pre-surgery.  I did a ton of research before I had my first and was terrified of getting an infection, being bedridden, not healing properly, etc.  I found a lot of new research that suggests vitamin C as being an integral part of wound healing so I stocked up.  I already eat a ton of fruit but in the days before and immediately after, I literally allow myself to binge on it.  Smoothies and fresh fruit is the route I chose because with both of my births, I craved nothing but cold things to eat {weird, I know}.  At three weeks postpartum, I am still eating smoothies all day, every day.

* Don't forget to ask questions when ordering your hospital meals! I do not eat canned fruit and that is what my hospital serves {besides "Red Delicious" apples and I truly don't know why people still eat those}. I also found out their "smoothies" are drinkable yogurt so I relied on smoothie runs by my awesome husband.

** I also kept my calories up by inhaling nuts. Not unusual for me and rosemary marcona almonds from Trader Joes are my fav.

#4.  Rest as much as you can beforehand.  I realize this is really only possible to do if you've planned your cesarean but it is super valuable for the bonding and healing process immediately after.  If you are well rested, you are alert and able to spend quality time with your newborn in those first few hours after birth and it is so beneficial on many levels.  {This includes your ability to breastfeed which some critics say can be inhibited after cesarean because some of the natural hormones released during a vaginal birth are not released in the mother or the baby.  So, it goes without saying that the more present you are after the cesarean, the more you can emotionally and physically bond with your new baby}

#5.  Ask for a belly binder right away and start wearing it within 12 hours.  Before baby #1, a dear friend of mine from Guatemala mentioned some of the birthing traditions in her culture.  Her mother was a midwife of sorts and her stories were fascinating to me.  One thing that peaked my attention was belly binding because after delivery, as she described it... "you feel like your insides are floating around in your belly".  Even being pregnant for the first time, I could totally imagine this sensation {after all, your organs do shift around significantly during pregnancy} and the thought kinda creeped me out.

Anyway.  I did some research and it turns out, this isn't just a Guatemalan thing.  A ton of different cultures have been doing it for centuries and swear by it.  

So, after my first cesarean, I requested one from my doctor and although he had to order one, it arrived later that day {by the time I had my second, the hospital had begun stocking them so it's catching on!}.  I immediately bound my belly and whoa! what a relief.  No one tells you that just sitting up after a cesarean is hard work.  All of your core muscles are not only out of shape from pregnancy but you are tender and don't want to disrupt the giant, gaping wound at your bikini line.  The binder acts as extra support and makes breastfeeding, getting out of bed, and walking feel so much better.  Seriously.  Take my advice on this one.

Another added benefit from the binder is the ability to continue to tighten it as your uterus - and tummy - shrink.  {Hallelujah!  It shrinks.}  It is believed by some {including me} that the compression of the garment reduces the swelling from the surgery and helps eliminate extra air {aka. gas} from your system.  It is recommended that you wear the binder for 6 weeks, continuously.  I pretty much stick to this because it does make me feel so much less fragile {it feels like a little bit of armor which is especially helpful when you have a toddler who wants to crawl on you at home!}.  I have also found that wearing mine helps keep some of the ache at bay since I am almost never still.

#6.  Get out of bed as soon as you can.  I know it's hard.  It's not going to feel great.  But it is so necessary {you can't get your catheter out until you do, it helps prevent blood clots, etc}.  The second your nurse suggests it, trust her.  She knows what she is doing.  I found that once I conquered getting out of bed, I felt so much more confident in my ability to return to real life and it is kind of a treat to get out of bed and take a shower.  

#7.  Peeing is going to be weird.  Once you've proven your ability to stand and your catheter is removed, your nurse will want you to pee on your own.  It will take FOREVER.  TMI?  Sorry, here comes some more... I found that smelling something {I grabbed a bar of soap} was distraction enough for me.  It relaxed me somehow and over the next 5 minutes, I was able to, trickle by trickle, empty my bladder.  The next time, my nurse was so thoughtful to bring in a vial of peppermint oil for me to sniff and that totally worked too.  The delay goes away and soon you'll be a peeing machine but those first few pisses are going to be odd.  You'll feel like you're being potty trained again.  

#8.  Drink water.  This helps with #7 plus you have nurses at your beck and call to refill your bottle any time of the day so why the heck not?!  It's kinda like luxury room service.  I wish I had someone at home refilling my water for me.  Especially because my hospital has amazing crushed ice.  

Not only will access be super convenient and make you feel like a princess, but it helps eliminate a lot of the pregnancy bloat and, best of all, enhances your glorious and magical milk production.  I still sport my Big Gulp sized, hospital jug and find that it helps me drink about 136 oz a day!  Gold star for me. 

#9.  Don't rush yourself.  This includes that inevitable itch to get home as soon as possible AND your extended recovery.  Recovery for a cesarean section is estimated at 6-8 weeks, on average.  Some take much longer.  Follow your doctor's instructions as closely as possible.

My second cesarean was far easier to recover from than my first {maybe because I knew what to expect AND/OR I had a toddler to take care of at home so I had to put my big girl panties on} and by day 5 I was off all pain meds except for Ibuprofen when I needed it.  With my first I was on oxycodone for a full 2 weeks.  To each his own, I say!  Every cesarean is obviously different and the guidelines for recovery are simple enough to follow - especially if you have help.

On the other hand, I myself do tend to attempt martyrdom so I struggle with asking for help.  Take my advice, just do it!  Everyone around you will benefit from your honesty and quicker recovery and you'll avoid a lot of fights that make you end up looking like a crazy person.  {I was going to give you a dialogue of one such instance but deleted it to avoid personal humiliation}

#10.  Enjoy your experience.  I know this is a weird way to end this but it needs to be said.  Cesarean sections are not exactly heralded in the birthing world.  Truth is, there are probably a lot of them that could be avoided, they are intrusive, sometimes dangerous, scary, can come across as vain, and... I'll just say it... kind of make you feel like less of a woman.

I remember crying before my first because I knew that there was an element of traditional birth that I was about to miss out on.  For me there would be no exciting rush to the hospital because my water broke. Chris and I wouldn't get to play Uno and watch crappy movies as the contractions increased. And I wouldn't be able to relate to an ancient rite of passage that women from the beginning of time have experienced and cherished.  Feeling and pushing and "birthing" would not be a memory for me. The romance of how I always imagined it to be was out of my reach.  And I grieved it.

Over time I came to realize that you can't really miss what you don't really know.  For me, giving birth to my children via cesarean section is what I know.  It's MY experience, good and bad, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am a true believer that the Lord knows me so intricately and always has a plan - even for the details like this.  For whatever reason {ahem, I'm I control freak, maybe?} he knew that this journey would be mine.  So, try to embrace it as your own and enjoy it for what it is.

At the end of the day, you will still have that amazing, noodle of a baby to cuddle and sniff, and... hey... you'll still have your vajayjay intact.  So, it has its perks.


Beckett Jameson: A Birth Story

Friday - July 6, 2012

4am  I smell bacon.  {Why bacon?  Because Chris couldn't sleep and apparently, bacon was on his mind.}  I leap out of bed {as fast as a pregnant girl can leap} and rush to open all of the windows in the house.  Why open windows? For 1) I love bacon too and Chris had forgotten that his adorable, round wife was fasting for the impending c-section so the smell has me slightly feverish, and 2) because I spent the day before cleaning like the crazy person I am and I do not want to bring Beckett home to the smell of 4 day old stale bacon.

4:05am   I try to go back to sleep.  It doesn't work and Chris feels awful that he forgot I couldn't eat anything.  Best intentions, as always.  We lie in bed wondering what Beckett will look like.

4:35am  It's time to get up.  I still have a few things to pack in our hospital bag and we are due to check in at 5:30am.  I can still smell the bacon.

5am  We're all packed and my nerves start to surge with adrenaline.  I wander into the kitchen to find Chris frantically cleaning up his breakfast feast to make sure that we {I} get to come home to a clean, fresh home.  I fall a little more in love with him.

5:11am  We are in the car but stop by our neighbors to drop off some fresh eggs.  We have too many in the fridge as it is.  It reminds me of our wedding day when I stopped by the bank to deposit a check on the way to the chapel.  I am so thankful that we have come this far.

5:15am  We are officially on our way and Chris reminds me that this is his favorite time of the day.  When it feels like he's the only one awake.  I remind him that I wish it were him that was having a c-section.  He tells me that if that were the case, we probably wouldn't have any children.  Wuss.

5:35am  We officially check in at Hotel de Hospital.  It feels so familiar and yet new too.  We are in a different room, but only 3 down from the one that we had with Paley.  The nurse immediately notices that I am shivering and cranks up the heat.  Good nurse.

6am-ish  Several hospital staff start arriving.  There are papers to fill out, questions to answer, IV's to start, and a few more things that I conveniently decide to blur in my head.  In less than 2 hours I will be holding our son!

7:10am  Kristi {aka Bestie} arrives and jumps into action.  Have I ever mentioned that in the case of emergency, I hope to have her nearby??  She always seems to know just what to do.  She quietly sits at the edge of my bed and starts to massage my legs and feet.  I can feel my body relaxing.

7:15am  My mother-in-law arrives just in time to see us off.  Within minutes, it's time for Chris to suit up and he puts it on backwards.

7:17am  The nurse comes in to tell us it's time.  I ask her for 5 more minutes.  I have to prepare.

The next few minutes I spend just trying to mentally walk myself down the hallway.  I am scared and excited and everything feels very surreal.

7:25am  It's go time!  I grab Chris' hand and use my other to make sure I don't flash anyone as I waddle to the OR.

Chris is instructed to stay outside and I enter alone {which is one of the parts I have dreaded the most}.  I am shaking so badly that the nurses start piling on warm blankets.  They also lay the amazing hot air pillow across my chest and again I feel myself relaxing just a bit. I think I should get one of those for home.

7:28am  It's time for my spinal.  Oh Lord, the spinal.  My nurse is busy so she asks Dr. Drake to hold my hands.  They ask me to roll over onto my right side and I stare out of a large picture window and onto a gorgeous, sunny, tree lined street filled with old Portland homes and Dr. Drake does his best to calm me down.  I don't know what he is saying and I try to concentrate on the day beginning outside.  I feel the wetness from the cleaning pad, then fingers, then pressure, a slight sting, and... Then that part is over.

7:35am  Chris is finally allowed in and he comes immediately to me.  He holds my hands and tells me how excited he is.  He kisses my forehead and I remember how grateful I am that I can give birth to his children.

I feel like I can't breath and I tell the nurse.  The anesthesiologist comes to make sure that everything is fine.  He says this is normal and will pass.

My legs are feeling like they're falling asleep, which annoys me, and I want this part to be over.  Slowly they start to feel nothing but heavy and I can hear the nurses go into high gear.  It is time for the catheter, one says, and again the control freak in me protests.  I beg her to wait one more moment for the spinal to really take effect.  In all of this, the thought of feeling a catheter makes me almost pass out. I can feel the perimeter of my vision start to darken and I hold on until the anesthesiologist does a few pinch tests which I gloriously cannot feel.  I can also breath again.  Amen.  Breathing is essential when trying to calm oneself.

Suddenly, the catheter is in and the sheet in front of my face goes up.  I can hear noises and machines and talking between the nurses and Dr. Drake and another doctor who has come to assist.  I try to concentrate on Chris' voice next to my ear.  Whatever he says is perfect and although I feel much more tugging and pulling than with Paley, I don't feel a thing besides that.

7:47am  Suddenly I feel my stomach deflate.  Relief.  It's the closest sensation to the final push in a vaginal birth that I will ever feel and it is magical.

7:48am  I hear the time being called out and almost a simultaneous cry.  He is here.

He is whisked quickly away but we can still see him which is awesome.  His tummy is filled with amniotic fluid {22cc's to be exact!} and they are busy sucking it out.  Chris comments on his scrotum and we cannot stop laughing.

Dr. Drake is still working on me.  I hear him say that my uterus is boggy.  That doesn't sound good.  But I don't panic.  I am blissed out to the MAX.  The anesthesiologist jumps into action and it turns out Chris is leaning on my IV line and once it's fixed, my boggy uterus seems to be fine.

Chris cries a little.  I smile a lot.

It's time to be lifted back off of the operating table and into my bed.  It's easier than I remember and I still can't feel my legs.

And then they bring him to me.  I remember that with Paley, they took her from me as they wheeled me back to my room.  This time I ask to keep Beckett with me.  The nurse agrees and I hold on tight and smell his sweet, newborn skin.  I look at his fingers and his nose.  And after all of that wondering what he will look like, he looks just the way he should.

8:30am-ish  It's time for Paley to meet her brother.  I'm not sure what to expect when the door opens.  I can see Paley dash across the room yelling "Baby!".  She immediately begins to kiss him {on the lips, of course}.

The House of Thorn's is now a home of four and my heart swells with gratitude and peace.  I hope I remember this feeling forever.

Welcome to the world, Beckett Jameson.  You will be well loved.


Welcome to Camp Thorn

We had the funnest {yup, I said it} 4th of July!  How about you?  Our busy week started off with a visit from friends that we haven't seen in years {Team Tankersley} and even the weather blessed us with sunshine and 70 degree weather.  Here's a recap of what Camp Thorn looks like - in case YOU want to come visit!

First came movie night.  Movie night at Camp Thorn is outside because, 1) it's waaaay cooler that way and, 2) we have the smallest living room ever.  The girls even got a little entertainment out of watching their dads set up the big screen {aka. large wooden structure with a white sheet}

Then the 7.5 of us piled into the tent to watch Kung Fu Panda II, eat popcorn, and hide marshmallows from the kids.  Because, seriously, who wants to be in a tent with three kids that are high on sugar??

On the 4th we all overslept so getting to the parade was a test.  Chris had the girls help decorate the wagon.  You can see how much good that did.

The Douglas clan met us at the starting point and we added Gretty to the bubble wagon.  Paley is always thrilled to see her friends!

Yes, that's almost the whole lot of us... and yes, I'm still sportin' the bump.

After the parade, we headed over to Nana & Poppy's for an afternoon of sunshine and lake water.

Our night ended late.  But just the way it should with good friends over.  By 2:30am the last of us had turned in and by 9am Team Tankersley was on their way to Colorado.  We were honestly sad to see them go.  Thank you for visiting Tankersley's!!!!  You have the coolest, cutest, most well behaved kids ever.  We'll see you next time in Arkansas! You will forever be welcomed with open arms at Camp Thorn.

Hope you all had a fabulous holiday as well!

PS.  By this time tomorrow, baby Beckett will be here!  Hooray!  Now, off to do the last of my nesting...


Berries & Bubbles & the last of the Belly

Few things in Oregon say "Hold on! Summer is coming, I promise!" like our amazing, freshy-fresh berries.  In some other states, berry picking might be met with a cocked head and furrowed brow, but in Oregon, we LOVE picking our own berries!

As a matter of fact, this little family loves it almost as much as we love eating the berries and yesterday we came home with a whopping $42 worth of berries {luckily I had a Groupon from last summer that was about to expire so it was kinda like getting free berries}Yes, it's excessive.  But we have company coming this week and I did stash some in the freezer for smoothies, and I made real fruit popsicles, and to be honest, we've eaten a ton already - especially the golden raspberries... have you ever seen something so darn pretty?  Sweeter and even more delightful than ever...

PS. We love berries so much, we did this IN THE RAIN. Imagine that.

P has also recently become bubble obsessed - thanks to Nana - and the two of them have been having a blast making the biggest bubbles they possibly can.

In other news, Beckett Jameson will be here in less than a week!  Of course I am still having the best Braxton Hicks but they're still not enough and I'm pretty sure he's going to hold tight until Friday morning.  Naturally, I have a to-do list a mile and a half long but, things in this house have a way of undoing themselves about 3 minutes after I've done them for the last time.  I guess I'm going to just wait until the last minute.  Here's to the last of the belly...

And from the rest of the Thorns... have a fancy Sunday, folks!