c section recovery

OK this isn’t my birth story, obviously – if I was reporting on my own birth it would be just odd. I don’t remember any of it. Really the title should be My Story of The Birth, or something, but that sounds weird…

Anyway, if you’re still reading (forgive the frequent random rambles), then this is what happened on the 3rd February 2017 when I gave birth to my second baby, a beautiful baby boy, by elective c-section. If you want the backstory as to why I had an elective caesarean then read these posts here – in a nutshell, it was an issue of previous section and potentially very large baby and in the end a section was recommended as the most safe and straightforward option.

So here’s the birth story. I’d like to say, in advance, that some of these pictures are possibly the most unflattering photos of me that you’ll ever see. The vain part of me wants to hide them, but I asked my husband to take them so that you could get an honest idea of what it’s like having a c-section – looking great wasn’t the priority here!

I was incredibly nervous the night before – I had a massive cry when I put Angelica to bed, thinking about how I wouldn’t be able to lift her for over a month and do our little nighttime routine. It was quite odd knowing that I was having a baby the next day – I went into labour with Angelica nearly two weeks late and so the reality never really hit home that a baby was definitely coming!

Surprisingly, because I thought I’d not sleep at all that night, I actually slept for a good six hours. I had dinner with husband and parents at about 8pm, I took my antacid tablet from the hospital at 11pm, checked my hospital bag and then went to bed. After tossing and turning for an hour, I decided to listen to some of the hypnobirthing things I’d downloaded when I was pregnant with Angelica, but they hadn’t transferred across to my iPhone from my old computer. So off I went to iTunes to re-download and what did I find there? A special hypnobirthing download for people preparing for a c-section! It was this one here – absolutely brilliant. I can honestly say that my whole experience the next day would have been totally different had I not listened to it. I only played it through twice (I was asleep by the end of the second time) but I really concentrated on the little techniques for relaxing and staying calm and I remembered them in surgery the next day. So, so useful, I can’t recommend highly enough. I should do a separate post, really – I’ll try and get around to that.

We had to get to the hospital for 7.30am the following morning and, as we only live a few miles from the hospital, I got up just before 7am and was in the car by ten past. (Couldn’t have breakfast and I hate not having breakfast, so I didn’t want to be up for ages feeling hungry. And nervous. Hungrous.) The day got off to a bit of a bad start when there was an argument in the reception of the Day Centre we had to check in at – something to do with queues, and it didn’t involve us at all, but it was all a bit much first thing in the morning. What is wrong with people?! At any rate, we didn’t have to wait in the horrible shouty atmosphere because a nurse came to get us almost straight away and we were taken, along with one other couple, to the prep area outside the operating theatres.

My Birth Story: Elective C-Section

There we had a little cubicle where the doctors and surgeons and anaesthetists would come and do their final checks on me before surgery – I was given two gowns, one to put on forwards and the other backwards so that my bare bum wouldn’t be on show as I walked to theatre. Hurrah! My husband and I were in absolute (silent) stitches, though, when we heard the nurse go into the cubicle next to us and say “oh, Sir, I meant that your wife should put the gowns on, not you!” Hahaha….that set us up for the day, pretty much, in terms of lifting our spirits and making us less nervous. Picturing this big bloke just the other side of the curtain, wearing the two hospital gowns…

I had my checks (baby heartbeat, position, etc) and then the nurse put me into my anti-deep-vein-thrombosis stockings (well sexy, gardeners’ green, with a little peeptoe for your toes to stick through) and shaved my lady-garden around where the incision would be made. Then I was asked the same questions about five billion times by five billion people (any loose fillings? When did you last eat? Drink? Are you allergic to anything? What’s your date of birth) and before I knew it, it was time to go into theatre.

I wasn’t nervous at all until I got into theatre, then I started shaking uncontrollably. There’s something quite weird about walking yourself into an operating theatre, with all of its lights and bleeping machines and the people walking about busily with their masks and gloves on. I suppose that the majority of people never actually see the inside of theatre, but with a c-section you’re witness to absolutely everything apart from the procedure itself. (Though I think some people watch that part too and shun the “curtain”? Or is that urban myth? I couldn’t think of anything worse than seeing myself be operated on, I have to say!)

Everything that happened was almost identical to the last time, really. I had a section with Angelica because she was breech, and it was classified as an “emergency section” but in actual fact they decided on it at 11am and I had it at 3pm (I had eaten a load of Tracker bars and had to wait for them to…emerge…) so it wasn’t truly an emergency. Pretty relaxed, really. Nobody was rushing about or panicking, put it that way. So, when it came to it lots of things were quite familiar. I was expecting the little set of steps that led up to the operating table and I remembered having to sit hunched over a cushion so that they could put the needle into my spine for the spinal block. I was still incredibly nervous, but I practised the breathing from the hypnotherapy thing and it seemed to work – at least I didn’t completely freak out, shaking and crying like last time. Even when my cannula went wrong on the first attempt (won’t go into it, let’s just say my arm was rather bruised afterwards!) I managed to keep my cool. I kept the shaking to a minimum.

My Birth Story: Elective C-Section

I’ll admit that it’s a bit stressful having a number of people poke you with needles at the same time. It irked me, with my first section, that they had to do the cannula at the same time as insert the spinal needle – my brain can only cope with blocking out one thing at once, and then everyone is talking to you and asking questions – “can you feel this cold scratch?” “do you feel anything running up your arm?” “can you hunch over just a bit more?” “can you try not to move, I have to get the needle into your other hand”….it’s incredibly hard to stay calm with all of that going on.

And so I totally shut off.

I went completely silent and refused to engage in any conversation. If I needed to answer then I grunted or nodded my head and otherwise, I stared at the floor and imagined myself breathing in golden air, like they said on my birthing download. Whatever I did, it worked, because before I knew it I was lying face up with people spraying air at my body asking whether it had gone numb yet! And then the curtain was going up, and the staff were having their pre-surgery meeting, which they do over your prone body which is very odd! I was just there thinking, you’re staring at my massive swollen belly, all of you, and my PUBES are on show, and you’re saying my name and date of birth and other things about me and it’s just too weird.

My Birth Story: Elective C-Section

Where was the husband through all of this? Just behind my head. But I was ignoring him – ignoring everyone – because I was in my zone. The anaesthetists kept asking if I was ok and I didn’t answer, but I heard my husband say “I think she’s in a zone” or something to that effect, which made me inwardly amused. I think that it’s quite important that you do what you have to do, mentally and emotionally, to stay calm. For someone like me, who has to psyche up to even have a quick blood test, it’s a challenging situation (to put it mildly) to be in theatre, awake, being operated on. Even if the end result is something so wonderful! I was a bit worried about my husband and whether he was ok, but ultimately I was more worried about myself. I reckoned he was a big lad and could take care of himself (he’d been through it before, at any rate) and even if he couldn’t then I had to be totally selfish and stay focused on my cool, calm, collected experience…

Then, the section itself. To start with, about ten minutes of “rummaging”. Everyone says, “it’s just like we’re doing the washing up in your stomach” and “you won’t feel pain, just pressure and tugging”. I’d say there’s a lot more pulling and churning than you expect – I was taken aback, both times, as to how much my head and shoulders moved about on the table, which indicated that there was quite a bit of serious manipulation going on! I would have honestly held my breath for all of those minutes, I was so nervous and excited and anxious to meet the baby, but they kept telling me to take long, deep breaths, and so I did. It seemed an eternity waiting for the baby, but then there was a sucking, lifting sensation from my body and a few seconds pause and then a huge cry.

My Birth Story: Elective C-Section

I can’t even begin to tell you what that first cry does to you, if you’ve never experienced it before. Something just utterly primal happens, even if you’re completely off your tits on drugs – both times I’ve wept uncontrollably. It’s hard not being able to hold the baby when they bring it round to show you (some people have it on their chest but I honestly can’t see where you would even balance it?!) but everyone busies around, cleaning and weighing and doing baby checks, and it does take your mind off the whole sewing-up business that’s going on further down.

I’ve been incredibly lucky that with both sections I’ve had minimal blood loss (this time it was 400ml, which is less than the average natural birth, apparently) and no complications, and so the post-birth part has been trauma-free. It’s still not a great feeling, lying there helpless and knowing what they’re up to, but the new baby is a great distraction and it’s not as though anything hurts, particularly, apart from maybe the pressure of the cannula in your hand where the drips go in.

The new baby didn’t stop crying for almost the whole time, and it’s quite a lot to deal with mentally, when you’re there and you can’t do anything to help stop the crying and all of your instincts are telling you to reach out for the baby… We were still in shock that we’d had a boy, I think, because we were absolutely convinced the baby would be a girl! But there he was, with a willy and gigantic testicles, and I looked at my husband as though to say “what an earth do we do with THOSE?” My husband went off to put a nappy and a hat on the baby, which I thought was quite brave as the table was down the “business end” and I would have been petrified of seeing what was going on, had I been him. He’s even more squeamish than me, so top marks for bravery there. I’m sure he probably side-stepped like a crab all the way down the room to avoid looking in my direction, ha!

My Birth Story: Elective C-Section

And then? All a bit of a blur. You can tell when the section is almost over, because the atmosphere in the room changes. Two people in the room started chatting about their weekend, one started talking about a new job they were going for. There were sounds of cleaning-up, people were gradually moving away from the table. Someone asked if they could insert a pessary into me – I didn’t ask which orifice and, quite honestly, would never have been able to tell you which one it went up! I just looked down to see both my legs in the air, the weirdest feeling as I had no idea my legs had been moved – it was as though they were comedy rubber legs! – and they were saying that the pessary was in. Oh, the shame, the indignity, when I think of what my lady-garden region must have looked like. I’m surprised they even found a way in, if I’m honest…

My Birth Story: Elective C-Section

Painted with something (to kill germs?) and then lifted (by a team of about eighty-five people) onto a wheely bed so that I could be taken to recovery. My husband had gone ahead with the baby, so he didn’t witness the anaesthetist telling me that I was the “perfect patient”. My God, I was so proud. I bet he says it to all the ladies, but it meant so much because I thought that I was a rude, gibbering wreck but apparently to the outsider I was very calm and collected! Husband obviously is doubtful that any of this conversation took place, and I have no witnesses, but I’m sticking with my story – I was a GREAT patient! I’m adding it to my CV.

c section recovery

Here I am holding my new baby boy for the first time. He weighed 9lbs 7oz, which is quite some weight when you only have bodily awareness from the chest up! It’s rather hard, this bit post-section, when they give you the baby and it’s ravenous and you have to latch it on and feed it, all whilst feeling slightly out of it, with wires coming from your arms and a great big needle in the back of your hand! I remember with Angelica feeling quite cross that they couldn’t just let me be for five minutes, give me a chance to gather my senses and get on top of things and catch my breath, but no (and this is a great intro into the rest of motherhood!): the baby is the most important thing and SOD YOUR OWN FEELINGS!

Ha.

I found latching the baby on very easy this time, but perhaps because I’d done it before and remembered how to position the baby. I also felt much better in recovery this time, too – I felt incredibly poorly the first time – so that helped with getting the baby latched on. He fed straight away, not for long, and then fell asleep on my chest as they wheeled me through to the maternity ward. What a total babe. Look at those chunky little arms!

My Birth Story: Elective C-Section

From here, if you want to know what happened next, you can read my c-section recovery story. I’d say that I couldn’t have really had a better c-section experience, this time around – it’s so different when you’re prepared, and not scared out of your wits, and haven’t already laboured, and aren’t emotionally fraught and absolutely knackered… I mean, still nerve-wracking, but I must recommend that hypnobirthing download again. I suppose you could use any meditation app or download, really, it’s all about positive thinking and clearing the mind and so on, but I did like that it was specific to the c-section scenario.

So there: the arrival of baby 2! As with my recovery story, I hope I’ve not been too graphic? When I read things back, I think oh that sounds horrendous! and I really don’t know why everything sounds so much more dramatic when you commit pen to paper. I can assure you that nothing was dramatic, it was so calm. It could have been dramatic, but I think that your own mental state plays a massive part in how you experience the whole thing – you can be calm and take things as they happen or you can go in with very heightened emotions and everything will seem like the end of the world. (Me, with my first section.)

Did anyone else feel that their elective/planned section was much calmer than a non-planned? Any other tips for coping with the stress or emotions of having a section? Any other hypnobirthing recommendations? Fire away in the comments section below!

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ask the midwife app review

Possibly my best post-partum discovery so far: an app called Ask the Midwife. Strictly speaking it’s not a post-partum discovery, as I was told about it a month or so ago by an app developer I’ve been conversing with, but I’ve used it a few times since New Baby’s birth and it’s absolutely brilliant.

I don’t know about you, but during pregnancy and that new and mystifying post-partum period, I always have about ten thousand burning questions that need answering but completely forget to ask them when the midwives/health visitors come for their checks. And they’re never the sort of thing I want to Google, because – as we all know – Googling anything to do with pregnancy or babies is likely to end up in a tearful, panic-stricken dash to A&E. (“I know I haven’t been abroad in a year but I’m POSITIVE I’ve got dengue fever!” “The baby’s breathing is noisy and I’m SURE it’s that very rare respiratory thing that I read about on Wikipedia!” Etc.)

The first time I opened the Ask a Midwife app was when I had terrible trapped wind a day or so after the c-section (see post here) and I desperately wanted to know which remedies would be safe. The simplicity of the app coupled with the speed of the response (it was a Sunday, I had an answer within the hour) singled this service out as a bit of a winner from the start; you just type in your question and press “Ask Question” and await an answer. I didn’t even get charged for my first question, so the whole process took around three minutes!

The questions are all answered by registered Midwives who are members of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and qualified to work in the UK and you can either ask a one-off question or schedule a ten minute chat, during which you can ask as many questions as you like. (I haven’t done this, but I want to, just to see how many questions I can fit in. Sort of like a “supermarket sweep” of baby information. Hohoho.)

ask the midwife app review

It costs 99p for a one-off question or there are monthly subscription packages, offering unlimited questions for a set fee per month. (It’s £24.99 if you just want to do it on a month-by-month basis or £19.99 if you subscribe for 9 months, a package geared at pregnant women to see them through until birth.)

I’ve now asked three questions and all of them were actually quite pressing. Not medical emergencies (you most definitely call your midwifery team or GP for those!) but annoyances that were making me miserable (things in the downstairs area) and a question about the baby that would have played on my mind overnight had I not had an answer. Questions are answered from 7am-9pm, seven days a week and the team aim to answer all questions within four hours, though I must say that each time for me has been within the hour.

So, money well spent, I think. The app is free to download (it’s here) and then it’s just 99p per question, if that’s how you want to play things. I wish I’d started using the app during pregnancy – there were so many things that I needed answers to that I would then forget to ask at my appointments! Or minor niggles that would then go away before my midwife appointments but I’d have spent about twenty hours Googling and trawling Mumsnet for information! Far better to be able to give a qualified person your own, specific details and get an expert opinion. Big thumbs-up from me for Ask the Midwife – they also have a website here, if you don’t use apps or have a smart phone.

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best space saving baby things

Travelling light? Here are my top five most-used space-saving baby things. You’re welcome.

best space saving baby things

The Yoyo Pushchair, recently reviewed here, if you want to read more about it. Folds down so small you can fit it in an overhead aeroplane locker and is great if you have a small car with limited boot space. It’s £339 here.

best space saving baby things

The Baby Bjorn Travel Cot, reviewed here. Just brilliant – seconds to set up, lightweight, ultra-slim when folded down. I can’t recommend this enough. It was pricey, but I’ve definitely had my money’s worth out of it and I take it with us on trips away even if a cot is promised wherever we’re staying! Find it online here – £199.95.

best space saving baby things

The Washable Squashable Highchair from Totseat fits pretty much any dining chair and means that you always have a reasonably serviceable baby seating option with you wherever you go. This folds up small. And it’s not perfect – it’s not like using a proper high chair, with a tray and so on – but it does the trick when the alternative is sitting the baby on your lap and getting covered in mush. £23 at Amazon here – a great addition to the frequent traveller’s baby arsenal!

best space saving baby things

The Self-Sterilising Bottles from MAM mean that you can travel completely steriliser free so long as you have access to a microwave. These are the only bottles I continuously used; I started on them because they came with my first ever breastmilk-expressing kit and the baby took to them well, but not having to faff about with sterilising  tablets or those big microwave tubs soon became the overriding benefit. Find them here on Amazon – £12 for three.

best space saving baby things

May I suggest another fabulous Baby Bjorn space-saver? Say hello to their innovative highchair which has a folded width of just 25cm, easily detachable legs and is about half the size of one of those big padded monstrosities that come with air force-style restraints and a tray big enough to play poker on. No child’s seat needs to be that big! They’re like alien control pods! The Baby Bjorn is stylish, sleek and everything is completely wipe-clean – the tray goes in the dishwasher. If you’re short of space in your bijoux apartment then this is the chair for you – we happen to have a big kitchen but hate clutter, so also a good one if you like your baby stuff to be tucked away rather than on display. It’s £148.95 here.

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c section recovery

I thought I’d write a little about my c-section recovery, at least for the first week. I’ve had loads of people asking me questions about it, some who are booked in for caesarean sections themselves and want to be prepared!

I’m always a bit wary when people ask me about my “birth experience” or what have you; as soon as you write things down, they sound so much more dramatic and I hate the idea that someone might read my words and be made anxious about what their own experience might be like.

I think it’s important to remember that each person will recover from surgery differently, so please don’t let anything I say scare the wits out of you, if you are booked in for a section. Recovering from a c-section is definitely no walk in the park, but it’s not the same as recovering from other surgeries because – and this is what you have to focus on here, it helps to keep your mind off the potentially gross stuff – you have a brand new baby!

You also have to remember that one person’s experience is never going to be the same as yours – and, in fact, even if their birth was identical they will still have perceived it in a different way, and have had different emotions that will colour their memories.

So, I’m going to try to report on my post-elective-caesarean-recovery with as little emotion as possible – just the plain facts. If you don’t fancy reading on, then in summary I’d say that the first twenty-four hours were…trying…and the rest of it has been pretty much as expected. Lots of painkillers, no heavy lifting and a general squeamishness towards my scar area!

c section recovery

Day 1:

Elective Caesarean Section at 9.27am – no complications, very little blood loss, minimal time in the recovery area before transfer to the labour ward. Obviously completely off my tits on whatever I was on, but hey. They wheeled me on my big wheeled bed through the corridors and I gurned at everyone we passed, holding my little newborn creature to my chest and wondering why I could see elephants on the ceiling.

11am: was offered orange squash and biscuits. Consumed heartily.

11.05am: threw up squash and biscuits – a lot – and the pain in my wound was immense. Even through whatever cocktail of drugs I was still on. Even through the SPINAL BLOCK! I couldn’t move my feet or legs, yet I could feel that I may have split my newly sewn-up insides.

11.10am: was assured by the professionals that nothing would have split. Wound checked and no bleeding.

12pm: horrific, horrific pain from my wound site and further inside my body, begged for more pain relief. At the same time, breastfeeding (yay!) and trying not to throw up or think of throwing up or smell the throw up that was in my hair and all over my chest in case that made me throw up.

The rest of the day was a blur. I needed morphine for the pain that (I’m certain) my initial throwing-up caused, but the morphine made me throw up again. Oh, the joys. As I was on the “enhanced recovery programme” where they get you home after 24 hours (HAHA! How did I fall for that one?) I had my catheter removed at around 8pm and then was encouraged to get up and sit in the chair next to my bed. I got up and sat in the chair next to my bed, helped by two lovely midwives who then disappeared. I sat there semi-naked, staring at the floor and willing myself not to puke, but then I puked, loads, and my body felt as though it was being torn in half.

(I’d like to point out that – had I not puked in the first place – I would have actually been A-OK. So don’t freak out if you’re having a section and reading this: my advice would be not to eat or drink so soon after the op. I didn’t eat or drink for hours and hours afterwards with Angelica, so not sure why I was encouraged to this time around. Last time they kept listening to my stomach for bowel sounds so that it was safe to eat, this time they said “we don’t do that anymore”. Maybe they should..)

10pm: informed that I had to pass urine on my own by 4am, otherwise a catheter would have to be “re-introduced”, but couldn’t feel any real sensation or urge to wee-wee. Fed the baby – who, in all fairness, was like an angel sent from heaven, latching on like a dream and never crying – and went to sleep.
1am: still no urge to wee. Despite having drunk about eighteen litres of water. This, apparently, was not a good sign! Had a big anti-vomiting injection in my arse, which was supposed to have hurt but I didn’t feel anything at all. It was water off a duck’s back by this point! Read a bit from my book about 18th Century pirates, where they were all coming down with this terrible disease and then one of them died. Didn’t help my frame of mind, much, but I perked up after eating an illicit bag of Haribo Star Mix .
3am: text my husband crying as I had been told that if I didn’t have a wee within the hour my catheter would have to go back in, otherwise my bladder might implode, or something like that. Went into toilet with my cardboard wee-bucket (I had to show evidence to the midwife) and tried every single squat/wee position imaginable. Quite difficult with no stomach muscles to speak of and a cannula stuck in my right hand which hindered any sort of “support”. No wee came. It was a real low point, especially when I caught sight of myself in the full-length mirror (WHY?), nightie pinned up under my chin, squatting over a grey disposable potty whilst using my left hand to grasp onto the plumbing beneath the sink.

3.56am: husband text to say he had done a wee dance (I have no idea either) with the dog and the cat (I can’t even imagine), to send good urinary vibes my way. A minute later I did the most enormous wee and proudly carried it along the corridor to the midwives’ office with two minutes to spare before I would have been having a tube re-inserted into my bladder, this time NOT under any anaesthetic. Thank the lord for small (humungous) mercies. I slept like a bloody log after that.

Day 2
No sickness, actually woke up in hospital feeling pretty, pretty good. The nightmarish first day was but a memory (good job I wrote it all down in my iPhone notes, otherwise you’d be getting a totally different story right now!) and I had all of my discharge exams and checks done and dusted by 9am. I was out in the bright daylight by 12.30pm. (This whole accelerated recovery thing is a bit mad, if you ask me – I mean, 24 hours! Not even! And after such a rough day and night… I’m going to do a separate post on it, but part of me thinks it was way too soon to be discharged, even if both of us were in tip-top condition. On the other hand, there was nothing I was getting in hospital that I couldn’t take at home (paracetamol and ibuprofen) because I couldn’t have the morphine anyway, so it made sense for me to be somewhere more comfortable and quiet and – well – homely.)

But as soon as I got home, a different sort of pain hit me. I had this with my first c-section but didn’t ever work out what it was: trapped wind! Sounds like a joke, is anything but. I actually think that the pain from the air that gets trapped in your body during the op (combined with the fact that your bowel has been messed with, and all of the drugs) is worse than any pain from the surgery incision itself. It makes it almost impossible, if you have it badly (which I did), to get up, lie down, straighten out, roll over, anything. Imagine being inflated like a balloon and then having your entire torso squeezed in a pincer grip – that’s what it was like. Immense, all-over torso pain.

Day 3

On Sunday morning I woke up on my back to find that the trapped air was in my chest and shoulder area (or felt as though it was) and I was virtually paralysed on the top half of my body. I had to scream for help, but I couldn’t even scream properly because my lungs felt as though they weren’t working! Once I had been hauled upright by my panic-stricken husband, I was fine, but it was a scary few minutes – I spent the rest of the day Googling trapped wind remedies and sending my husband out to more and more obscure chemists. I seriously upped the peppermint intake (tea, capsules – extra strong mints worked well) and took some Lactulose laxative (advice of midwife) and slept in a pile of pillows to ease my discomfort. It’s this sort of thing that makes me think that a 24-hour discharge after a c-section is a really bad idea. I could have done with the electronic up-down bed – trying to get out of a normal bed, from a lying position, was absolute agony!

Day 4

Trapped wind situation was about seventy billion times better. But I didn’t sleep a wink due to the constant feeding of New Baby. My mobility was better, still weak but more out of being wary of causing pain than anything else, I think. I’m very squeamish and any sort of sensation from the scar area sent me into apoplectic fits of silent, inward hysteria. Unfortunately my husband is also squeamish, and a hypochondriac, so there’s no “problem shared is a problem halved” with us when it comes to medical issues…

Day 5

I felt almost normal. Bad stomach, probably from the Ibuprofen, so I considered cutting them out of my painkiller “schedule” as I wasn’t feeling any pain anyway. Considering I hadn’t slept for two nights, I really felt as though I’d made a ridiculously fast recovery. I was virtually sprinting up and down the stairs (an exaggeration) and getting out of bed no longer made me feel as though I was being sawed in half. Hurrah for fast recoveries!

c section recovery

Day 6

The executive decision to stop some of my painkillers turned out to be a terrible, terrible decision. The midwife turned up to remove my stitches (I didn’t have dissolvable because of the type of repair work they did and/or previous scar tissue, I don’t fully remember the reason) and as she tore off the dressing it pulled on the wound and OH MY GOD the pain afterwards! It was unreal! It’s really hard to get back on top of  pain once it’s been unleashed and it really sets you back in terms of wanting to do anything, like get up or bend forwards or go to the loo. I made the mistake of thinking the pain had gone – HA! It was just the painkillers doing their painkilling work…funnily enough. What a rookie error – I really regretted trying to run before I could walk.

Day 7

I realise I’ve counted the day of the baby’s birth as day 1, when I suppose the day after should have been day 1? Anyway, whatever this day was, the day before a week afterwards: the wound was still smarting somewhat. Because of the midwife ripping the wound dressing off? Or because I sneezed about eighty-eight thousand times in the night? Who knows. I went back on a strict painkiller routine and took them with food to minimise stomach discomfort, but was definitely feeling a lot better. It’s easy to forget that a c-section is major surgery – you try to just get back into the swing of things, because you have a new baby to look after, but it’s so important to rest and get well. For the next week, now that things are settled, I’m just going to get loads of sleep whenever I can and stop staying up late to write incredibly long blog posts!

I hope that this recovery report hasn’t been too – erm – informative or explicit. I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a particularly horrendous time, apart from that first day in the hospital with the vomming and the forced urine sample – as I said before, everyone has their own experience. With my first c-section, the worst memory was them messing up my cannula (the thing that the drips feed into in your hand through) but this time it was the vomming. Neither experience has particularly traumatised me, but both times I was very focused on the baby (I’m guessing that most people are) and so you just sort of get on with it. I certainly wouldn’t be saying to anyone “oh it was a nightmare” if they asked how it all went – I feel very lucky that the birth itself was uncomplicated. All the bits afterwards are just to be expected, really, aren’t they?

What do you think about this “24 hour recovery” idea? Madness or perfectly reasonable? As always, I welcome your thoughts! Did anyone else prematurely stop their painkillers? How long was it before you stopped them? Or took a walk outside? Or drove a car? I’m interested to know!
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Mini Rodini x Adidas Originals

I know that the word “cool” is a bit outdated, but I don’t know how else to describe the collaboration between kids’ brand Mini Rodini and Adidas. When a top-hatted panda mini-tracksuit arrived on the doorstep, my first thought was: my sister would LOVE this in a full-size version. And my sister is sort of my barometer for all things cool.

I have a PO Box in central London and every month it gets cleared out and sent to me in the back of a van – I never know what’s going to be in the postbag, but usually it’s 80% random nail polishes, dog biscuits and homemade beauty products and 20% very intriguing, niche skincare. Always interesting, always fun to pick through – none of it ever expected – but now and then, something lands in there that is so brilliant that I scream with excitement.

Mini Rodini x Adidas Originals

This little tracksuit from the first Mini Rodini x Adidas Originals drop was a “scream with excitement” moment. It’s not something I would ever have picked out myself, not for Angelica, anyway, but it’s just such a collectors’ piece – so striking, so retro, so…cool. Sorry, that word again. But I was a proper Adidas Originals girl when I was in my teens (the striped-arm tracksuit tops were the ultimate badge of conformity where I was from, everyone had one) and I can’t help being a tiny bit in love with this off-beat, cute-but edgy design.

Mini Rodini x Adidas Originals

The Adidas-Mini-Rodini collaboration is happening for a whole year and there are going to be a number of limited edition designs released – this one has sold out already, but you can keep an eye out for the future releases here. If you’ve never browsed Mini Rodini before then do, especially if you’re into kids’ clothes that are a little bit different.

Mini Rodini x Adidas Originals

I have to say: I would very much like these trainers in an adult size. Don’t they just look supremely comfy? I’m off to see if there’s something similar that I could squash my hooves into…

Mini Rodini

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birth announcement ruth crilly

For those who don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram, an important update: New Baby has arrived! A boy! He was delivered on Friday 3rd February weighing in at 9lbs 7oz and he is just absolutely perfect in every single way. (Not the seventy eight thousand kilos I was led to expect, but then I suppose if I’d left things naturally and had him at 42 weeks like Angelica then there could have been big trouble as he’d very well have been edging over the ten and a half pounds mark and up towards eleven…) Everything went very well in terms of the c-section and we were home the next day after a stay of around twenty-seven hours. Which I have mixed feelings about, but that’s for another post.

On that note; I have so many posts in the making! I’d forgotten how boring it can be recuperating, when the newborn is asleep, so I’ve actually been rather productive, including drafting a rudimentary sort of “birth story”, some thoughts on the c-section procedure and recovery process and a load more gumph that’s been floating about in my head. Does any of this sound appealing or helpful? I’ll probably write it all down anyway…

ruth crilly and baby son

For now, I must get on with sleeping. Because opportunity has been rather sparse – New Baby has been having a little crazy session every night from about 11pm until 4am (I know!) and making the hours up in the daytime never works, does it? I mean, I can nap like an absolute pro, but I’m never going to get a full five hours slotted in – by the time I’ve done essential stuff like eat and go to the toilet and spend time with Angelica and check Rightmove for fantasy houses, it’s almost time for bed again…

So I just wanted to update you on the family news – we are all over the moon with our new addition, there’s a proper warm glow going on in the house that feels like we’re in one of those candlelit Christmas card scenes. Everything in order, both babies (big and tiny) safe in our arms…now all we need to do is to think of a name.

If you want to follow me on social media, here are my “places”:

Twitter @modelrecommends and @theuphill

Instagram @modelrecommends and @uphillbaby

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(About this photo: sometimes Mother takes photos of me on her mobile phone, and then she looks at them at says “ooh now that’s a lovely one”, and then she sends it and I expect it to be some sort of Testino masterpiece but it turns out like…well, this. Usually they don’t see the light of day but a) I have no other genuinely-39-weeks-pregnant photos and b) as you’ll gather from my next few posts (patience is a virtue, timing is blatantly not one of my virtues), I am no longer in the position to take any more 39-weeks-pregnant photos! HINT HINT!)

So here we are: 39 weeks pregnant and at the end of the pregnancy line. As I’m having an elective section two days before my due date, this will be my last entry in The Pregnancy Diaries. I do hope that you’ve enjoyed following them – now we switch to the “Baby and Body Updates”, which have cuter pictures, so a win-win situation for you all, really!

Read all of The Pregnancy Diaries…

Nothing wildly outrageous to report for 39 Weeks other than that my boobs have started to grow and it’s getting really difficult to turn over at night because of the weight of the baby. He/she seems to settle into position when I lie on one side, but if I stay for too long it becomes almost painful to move – the pains in my bladder are excruciating! And I think in my bowel, too, though it’s all so close together down there, isn’t it? It’s hard to know where sensations are coming from!

Talking of bowels: my poo went completely black because of the iron tablets I’m having to take to “build up my levels for the birth”. I found it weird to be given them when nobody had mentioned my levels before, but maybe this is just standard before a section? Anyway, jet-black poo is a surprise – never had that one before. The tablets seem to be constipating me a bit, too (aren’t you so glad that you tuned in for this? Ha!) so I’m trying to keep really hydrated and eat dried dates and almonds and high-fibre things. Without sending my sugar levels soaring, because I’m still monitoring my phantom/not-phantom Gestational Diabetes. It has become rather addictive, seeing what various meals and foodstuffs do to my levels! Though I’ve not been as strict as before – this morning I ate a scoop of ice cream at 4am to “soothe my throat”, the night before I did treat myself to un petit peu: Lindt Chocolate Santa.

Read my 39 Weeks Pregnancy Diary for Baby Number One…

Ha – just reading my diary from the same time last pregnancy (link above) and the fact that I scheduled it early in case I went into labour. Little did I know that I had another two weeks to go! The similarities are astounding though – I was still working away, right up until the last minute. Lifting heavy suitcases, that sort of thing. It feels very different, though, knowing which day I’ll give birth – unless I go into natural labour in the next few days, that would be a surprise! I keep dreaming I’m in labour and that my waters have broken, which doesn’t make for a peaceful slumber – in fact I’ve turned into a bit of an insomniac, really, waking at about 2/3am and not being able to sleep again until 6.

I have a rotten cold at time of writing, and there’s not a lot you can take for one when you’re pregnant. I remember getting a bad cough quite late on last time and worrying that the coughing would send me into early labour. This time, just a heavy head and a stuffy blocked nose, but I still fear for little twinges when I blow it too hard!

Right – I’m off to have a baby. See you on the other side – I’ll update as soon as I am able, but make sure you’re following me on Instagram here as I’m sure that will be the first place I’ll pop up the news!

Thanks for all of your wonderful, enlightening and often downright hilarious comments and anecdotes throughout this pregnancy. I know I’m sporadic – at best – with my replies, but you all leave so many and it takes me hours just to read them, let alone type responses! But I really appreciate them, it’s like having a little personal forum. So thank you, sincerely.

Oooh! I almost forgot that there’s a video! Bloody hell. Brain like a sieve.

 

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whats in my hospital bag planned c section

Lots of people requested I make a video on the contents of my hospital bag, so here it is – to be very honest, it’s not much different to the bag I took with me when I was having Angelica, which was supposed to be a natural birth. The clothes are looser, the knickers larger and I have more maternity pads, but apart from that the essentials seem to be the same. Stuff for mopping up (sorry), clothes for the baby and my trusty Kindle Paperwhite just in case I’m not so off my head on painkillers I can manage to read something.

Actually, I tell a lie: I have peppermint teabags (supposed to help with wind after c-section), Arnica tablets (for bruising), Nutri Mum bars (for helping with milk supply) (I’m sceptical, but we shall see) and hand sanitiser. Didn’t think of any of those things last time. Mainly because I wasn’t supposed to be having a section!

Anyway, full list below the video pane for quick reference.

Bystroom Leather Changing Bag: https://bystroom.com/bystroom-bea-lat…

Vest tops from H&M, striped top from GAP

Sleep Bras, Mothercare: http://www.mothercare.com/non-wired-2…

Nursing + Sleep Bras, Jojo Maman Bebe: http://www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk/2-pack…

Large cotton briefs, M&S (I get a 16 and am usually a 10): http://www.theuphill.com/maternity-kn…

Breast Pads from Lanisnoh: http://amzn.to/2jP2rEk

Nipple Cream from Lansinoh: http://amzn.to/2jwA9xo

Re-useable Bamboo Breast Pads: http://amzn.to/2kIpH83

Kindle Paperwhite: http://amzn.to/2kansKE

Ear Plugs (these are great): http://amzn.to/2jP1kEK

Pukka Mint Tea bags, supermarket

Nutri Mum Bars, supermarket

Weleda Arnica Tablets: http://amzn.to/2kanaU4

Always Night Sanitary Towels (supermarket)

Natracare Maternity Pads: http://amzn.to/2kIcLim

Nappies, Pampers Sizes 1 and 2

Baby vests, sleepsuits and hat: various, inc Next, M&S and ASDA

Old Havaiana Flip-Flops

Fluffy Dressing Gown from ASDA, £15

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vbac vs planned c section

I’ve come to a conclusion about the whole VBAC thing. You’ll be pleased to know. Bloody good job, really, as the baby could be here at any minute, surprising me before my elective section! This post is going to be a bit over-honest, I’m taking myself well out of my comfort zone in a sort of pseudo-pyschotherapy session, but I think that what I’m going to say needs to be said. Because despite all of the pros and cons I came up with in my head for elective c-sections and VBACs (vaginal birth after c-section), it all boiled down to one thing (brace yourselves):

I felt as though I would be copping out if I don’t try for a VBAC.

There, I’ve said it. I can go through all of the pros and cons in the world, and they can all be completely valid (and actually, very wise, because who wants to risk their life or their baby’s life just because they don’t want to feel as though they’re copping out?!) but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the thing that was playing on my mind from the very start of the whole VBAC/section dilemma was that – somehow – if I asked for an elective section, I was taking the easy way out. Being a wimp. Not giving things “a good go”.

So untrue, of course, because you’ll know if you’ve had a caesarean that it’s no walk in the park, but nevertheless the “copping out” idea was what – after a bit of frank soul-searching – was holding up my decision. Good God, I would have decided on a section on day one had I not had to attend the VBAC class and be told that a section was risky and I’d be fine birthing naturally and that I’d recover better from a VBAC and “nonsense! women only grow the size of baby they can deliver!”…

Read my VBAC class post…

And I clung onto various reprieves – first of all that the baby would be breech, and I’d have to have a section, and then that the baby would be big, too big to come out, and I’d have to have a section (turns out my instincts were good on this one – not on the coming out part, because who knows what can come out of the Tunnel of Great Stretchiness when it’s put under duress, but the “big baby” part). But really, I just wanted a section. I didn’t want a “trial of labour” when I only had a 50% chance of success (my hospital stats); neither did I want a trial of labour when I’m potentially carrying the Hulk Hogan of all babies. Why I couldn’t have just put my foot down (as I would have been entitled to do) at the start and saved myself months of anxiety, I have no idea.

Well, I do: as I’ve said, I didn’t want to feel as though I was copping out. I wanted to be a Warrior Princess of Birthing, I wanted to be how I thought I would be with Angelica’s birth – breathing the baby out, empowered, the staff in awe of my amazing babe-delivering capabilities. But birth isn’t like that, not for everyone. And I’m not a Warrior Princess – I’m just a normal, slightly frightened woman who has had her confidence knocked once before, has been petrified before, and can’t bear the thought of going through it again.

To VBAC or not to VBAC…

So there. I’ve said it. And I’m by no means saying that anyone else who opts for a c-section is copping out – I’m talking about me here, just me. To make it clear, I also don’t think that I’m copping out – I’m done with that hang-up. You get your baby out the safest and least traumatic way possible and, on professional advice and my own counsel, a c-section, for me, is that way. (Now with the whole maybe/maybe not-gestational diabetes complication too, I’m adamant.) I admire any woman who goes for a VBAC and I equally admire any woman who decides that an elective section is best – nobody takes any of this birthing business lightly. It’s a difficult decision to make but the pros and cons are, I think, different for all of us and nobody can make the decision for you. Nobody should make the decision for you.

I hope that this helps if you’re dithering over what to do when it comes to VBAC – not to push you in either direction, but to sit down and be truly honest with yourself as to why you’re struggling with your decision. Ultimately, I worried about what other people would think of me and I also worried about not “achieving” something I felt I should be able to achieve – and what utterly irrelevant nonsense. Think about recovery time, think about chances of success, think about safety, think about how you would like your birth to go, but never think that you’ll be letting anyone down. Not least yourself.

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