Your Arms Are Strong And Your Legs Are Strong: A C-Section Story


Your Arms Are Strong And Your Legs Are Strong: A C-Section StoryA little over a year ago, I wrote this post, outlining how my first labor was unmedicated and relatively easy, and how I hoped my second would be similar. Well y’all, it literally could not have been more different. It began with a much more difficult pregnancy, where I spent a lot more time in bed due to sickness and exhaustion. I don’t think I would have made it through without my family, friends, and coworkers who kept me going every day. The baby ended up being sideways for most of the pregnancy, and I had a flipping procedure scheduled with my doctor, but my son ended up flipping at the last minute at 37 weeks. 

At 39 weeks, around 11pm (why is it always in the middle of the night?), my water broke. This was a new experience for me as my doctor had broken my water in labor with my first son. I was surprised at how long I had to wait for that to finish. Contractions started immediately. Unlike with my first baby, where contractions lasted a whole weekend before it was time, these contractions were already very close together. I hobbled back to the bedroom to find my phone to let my mom know we would be dropping off our oldest son as soon as we could, then woke up my husband. 

Even though it was a week early, we had everything ready to go.

We arrived at the ER entrance since it was after hours. I hadn’t told my husband that contractions had been about every other minute or so the whole way there — no use panicking him while he was driving! Something didn’t feel right; these were very painful compared to my previous pregnancy where they felt more like pressure. Nevertheless, I did my best to keep a brave face for the very sweet night nurses at the hospital. I had said in my pre-registration that my preference was for no epidural (only because I don’t like needles!), but as the nurses were hooking me up to the wireless contraction monitor I said, “I’ll take that epidural! This is really painful.”

After a quick check, the nurse said, “That’s not the head, honey.” As soon as she said it, I knew. Before I could blink, they wheeled me to the OR and started prepping for surgery. The woman who thought she would prefer another natural birth was getting anesthesia and was being cut open on the operating table…isn’t life funny? They lifted out our sweet boy, and I got to see him very briefly before throwing up in my husband’s hands from the anesthesia.

What a time to be alive!

The anesthesiologist, doctor, and team performing the surgery was wonderful, and all did an excellent job. We were taken back to our room around 4am to get a couple hours of sleep. After staying one night, we begged to be sent home. Hospital beds are so uncomfortable, and it was terrible trying to get into a good position after the C-section and hold onto the baby to nurse. The hospital staff was a little reluctant, but since it was our second kid, they figured we knew what we were doing and sent us home. My one surprise was that not a single nurse or doctor seemed to give any directions specific to the C-section; everything seemed to be the same as when I delivered my first child. Over the next several days and weeks, I had to google everything or ask my mom who had me by C-section 33 years prior. 

That first week home was the roughest.

I was largely confined to the upstairs and I spent the first couple of days in an electric recliner since I couldn’t lay, sit up or stand on my own. I spent the first 24 hours throwing up, which as you can imagine was really fun with a giant incision in my abdomen. It’s very difficult when you want to be able to do things for your new baby, but you can barely move. My wonderful husband did everything for us and my parents were a huge help as well. Not only was it hard physically, but mentally as well, but I kind of had a mental turnaround when I read a line in an article on C-section recovery and how to get out of bed.

It stated, “Your core may be weak, but your arms are strong and your legs are strong.”

Ever since then, I’ve remembered that line when I’ve come up against obstacles. It’s a great way to face difficulties in life, remembering that just because you may be weak in one area, doesn’t mean there isn’t another way to tackle something.

If you’re going through a C-section or are about to, know this: every day gets a little better that first week, and then every week gets a little better in those first six weeks. I wasn’t disappointed that my birth story didn’t turn out the way my first had; I was just thankful that we live in a time where a breech baby can easily be born with no complications. I actually also feel a little thankful for a different experience than the first time. There are still moments where it feels scary for a minute to use my core muscles even though they’ve been healed for a long time now or sometimes the area around the scar is numb or tingly. I don’t know if it will always be that way, but I do know it was certainly an experience I’ll never forget. 

Have you had a C-section? Feel free to share about your experience by leaving a comment!


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