Time certainly flies when you have a newborn. It is hard to believe that the six week mark has come and gone. Harrison is full of smiles lately, responsive to my voice, and just overall a very happy baby. We are so grateful for that!
Yesterday, I had my six week checkup with the OB- something I’d been anxiously awaiting to see how I’ve healed and where I go from here. My doctor was diagnosed with cancer while I was in the hospital, so I was nervous he wouldn’t be there and that the NP wouldn’t be able to answer all of my questions. Since the delivery, my anxiety about the whole thing has come and gone. I’m pretty good at pushing it aside, but it does pop back up occasionally. I knew being able to talk to him would set my mind at ease. So when I was in my room, you can imagine my relief when he walked in the door in good spirits. (Side note- the dedication to his patients makes me appreciate him even more than I did before!) He jokingly asked if I was mad at him for the c-section and I assured him I wasn’t (more mad at myself!) and told me that had he done anything else to force him out, I would have been even more upset (significant tearing). So I let that settle in. I’ve read horror stories about 4th degree tears taking years to heal, and I have to say, that sounds a lot worse than anything I’ve had to deal with. Recovering from a c-section is tough, no doubt, but it has gotten immensely better over the past few weeks. My doctor reiterated how shocked he was at Harrison’s size when he pulled him out and how he never would have thought I was carrying a baby that big based on how I was showing/measuring shortly before delivery. So I asked the question that had been on my mind since shortly after delivery- was a VBAC a possibility? I know the question is premature since I just gave birth, and I’m sure I could have waited to ask if/until it becomes relevant, but I figured while the circumstances of this delivery were fresh in everyone’s mind, we might as well discuss it so I know what I might be dealing with in the future. And it was the response I expected. It depends. If I were to go to 40 weeks again with a baby Harrison’s size, he would say no. He wouldn’t want me going through what I went through during the three hours of pushing only to have a last minute c-section again. Of course, therein lies the problem. The size of a baby is hard to predict since the ultrasound can be off by a pound.
Last Friday (before my appointment), we had a family friend over who happens to also be an OBGYN. She was familiar with the circumstances of my delivery, so I had posed the same question to her. She said she would definitely try for the VBAC but that I should prepare myself for another c-section. She said she thought I was probably a true case of CPD (cephalopelvic disproportion), which basically means the baby’s head is too big to fit through the pelvis. There’s a lot of literature online about CPD, which is apparently a fairly frequent diagnosis, but there’s a great deal of disagreement about how legitimate that diagnosis actually is. “True” cases of CPD are considered rare amongst those doubters. She considered it a true case of CPD since Harrison had descended into the pelvic inlet where he got stuck. So of course I spent my weekend reading all about CPD where they talk about changing the angle of delivery and different methods to widen the pelvis. To be honest, it seems like the nurses tried a good deal of those methods to no avail. I’m not sure where that leaves me on how much I “accept” the c-section. I honestly don’t feel like it was “forced” on me. The nurses and my doctor really tried so hard to help me get the baby out without surgical intervention and upon reflection, I’m really astounded by their patience (particularly knowing now what my doctor was going through that week). I still wish it didn’t have to end that way and I still wonder if I could have “figured it out” with an unmedicated delivery, but I’ll probably always have those questions. I feel like I just want a do-over (who in a million years would want to go through labor again!? HAH I must be crazy…), but it just makes me more determined to at least try in the future. But again, those thoughts can be tabled until they’re relevant.
My doctor said I’ve healed well, and I’m fairly close to my pre-pregnancy weight. I started at 118, and at the hospital I was 158. So I gained a solid 40 pounds. At my appointment this week, I was 125, so I would have 7 more to go to technically get back to my original weight. That’s not necessarily my goal though. If you look back at that original picture from my first post, I was super thin and I’d probably agree with Nick that I look almost too thin. I could definitely benefit from gaining some muscle and getting back in shape. Since I got the go-ahead yesterday to begin exercising, I went with my sister-in-law to a pilates class today. She’s been doing it for several months and loves it so much she’s now training to be an instructor. I’ll be honest, I do not enjoy working out for the sake of working out. I loved gymnastics growing up, and in college I got really into rock climbing. Both activities are great workouts where you don’t feel like your only objective is losing weight or getting in shape- you’re just having fun. But South Louisiana isn’t really conducive to a rock climbing hobby, and my body couldn’t tolerate the intensive impact that gymnastics brings, so finding an alternative activity is a necessity if I really want to get in shape. I decided I would document my progress and made Nick take photos, which did not make me feel awesome about myself.
I’ve received A LOT of comments about my post-pregnancy body (my favorite being a sweet little grandmother at church a couple weeks ago, “Is that your baby??? But you’re so thin!”) Most of the weight had come off 2 weeks after delivery (thank you, breast feeding!) But as I’m sure most moms know, it isn’t just the weight, it’s that everything about your body has changed. The skin is loose, organs have been shoved around, you’re still bloated and swollen, etc. My belly button looked like the Grand Canyon and my whole abdomen was extremely soft. So while everyone who sees me fully clothed thinks I’ve “bounced back,” I know that’s not quite the case. Granted, I fully acknowledge how lucky I am to have a working-out journey that starts where I am, but I know the c-section pooch is going to pose its own hurdles (that may be impossible to jump!). The OB friend I mentioned earlier insists I need to massage the scar (which I had never heard!), so of course I started freaking out, knowing that I hadn’t been doing that. No one ever mentioned it to me, and no one else who I’ve talked to who had a c-section did it. BUT I figure it can’t hurt, right? So I googled some videos (apparently this is a big thing) and I’ve been tugging and pushing and pressing and lifting that thing ever since. It is not a pleasant feeling. It is still tender in the area, and numb on top (which is a particularly strange feeling altogether). And I just get grossed out pulling it up, wondering what’s going on underneath the skin. But I will try anything to get it to go down!
I feel pretty decent in the tank top pulled down with the pants pulled up past my belly button, holding everything in. But I realized that the above photo doesn’t really capture what I needed it to. I wouldn’t really be able to see the progress if I’m hiding my beginning point. SO I made Nick take the picture I didn’t want to take or look at.
And that’s what I’m working with. Here I folded my pants down to just below my incision, and despite desperately wanting to, I didn’t suck in the tummy. There’s 7 extra pounds there that I didn’t have before (and it is definitely all in the belly; breast feeding can only account for so much and I didn’t gain anywhere else!) I try to imagine taping the pound of sugar bags you see in the grocery store to my abdomen- 7 of them. There’s a lot there that wasn’t there before and I’m HOPING that I can really start working toward getting in shape and getting healthy– not just getting skinny (because honestly, looking back at my picture from 4 weeks pregnant, I don’t think that was the best version of me.) I would love any advice you have for me as far as workouts go and what you did to get in shape post pregnancy- especially if you had a c-section as well! The first pilates workout was hard. I had to take a lot of breaks but the instructor was great at giving me some modifications and was super encouraging which I definitely needed, especially when looking around at all the other ladies who were absolutely killing it. The nice thing about this place is that it is two minutes from my house. So there wouldn’t be the excuse of, “But it’s so farrrrrrr.”
The studio itself is nice and clean (with a smoothie bar!) and the classes are kept small- all great factors when considering a place to work out. I’m going to see how my body feels tomorrow before jumping into a regular routine. I don’t want to be counter-productive by moving too much before I’m ready. But hopefully I’m on the right track!
In addition to working out, I’m wondering if going dairy free is going to help. I’m now about 5 days completely without dairy (the first two days after the ped visit resulted in a gradual reduction before fully kicking the habit. Cutting it out is hard, no doubt. But as I was telling my brother the other night (who is expecting his own first baby in a few months), when you have a kid, you realize you would eat chalk if you thought it would help them. Heck, forget the c-section, if necessary you’d let someone cut off your head to help your kid. Being a mother really makes you realize a potential that you probably didn’t think you were capable of beforehand. Dieting is not something I’ve ever thought I was disciplined enough to master. But it is a no-brainer when you look at your child and look at that pizza- that delicious pizza just dripping with melty cheese- that you choose the well-being of your child. I don’t even know if this is working or helping yet and it will probably be a week and a half before I do know if this is even the issue, but at least I’m making a concerted effort. Luckily the E. Coli and Salmonella tests (and whatever else they were testing for) all came back negative, so we aren’t dealing with a serious bug. But the unknown can be frustrating. Since I stopped consuming dairy, his face (which was suffering from a mild breakout on his cheeks) has been clearing up and his dandruff (which at one point was absolutely awful) has all but disappeared. That could be coincidence, or it could mean we are headed in the right direction. I guess we will have to wait and see.
But overall, everything seems to be going well for us. Harrison is a great sleeper, thankfully, and we have still managed to dodge the flu, despite his cousins battling it this past week (poor babies!!) Fingers crossed that tomorrow will complete our first week without visiting the pediatrician’s office!