Postpartum

Beware: This article has a lot of what would be considered TMI. That said, SOMEONE needs to warn new preggos about all the pain they are about to experience postpartum.

Forty stitches. At least that’s the rough estimate my husband got when he asked around the nurses. My Ob and my back up Ob were stitching me up for a good long while. Eventually my doctor said she was going to stop and just shove some gauze in or something. I wouldn’t stop bleeding, but she’d already added so many stitches she was afraid that adding more would make my recovery even more painful. “Your recovery is going to be pretty painful.” I didn’t even hear that last time.

I figured that since I’d already had a kid once I’d be a bit more, I dunno, stretchy. Apparently that’s not how it works. Scar tissue from a previous tear or episiotomy likes to tear again. Last time I had an internal tear on my left side. This time I had a second degree tear that started internally and then progressed externally.

People love to fret over the potential pain of childbirth. But really, unless you’re into the whole natural childbirth thing or you’re just really unlucky there’s no reason you can’t have a pain-free birth with an epidural. Ok so I lied- the numbing agent for the epidural burns (totally worth it)- but other than that you can get off pain-free.

Postpartum is what you should be worried about. No one tells you about that. Oh, you hear about sore nipples and sleep deprivation, but no one tells you about what happens “down there.”

This is basically what happens. It’s apparently such a painful scene that I couldn’t even find a non-spoof version with the regular sound effects.

I can’t speak for women who’ve delivered via Caesarian, or those who’ve delivered without any tearing. But to those of you who end up tearing or having an episiotomy, you’re in for a world of hurt.

The hospital is going to (hopefully) provide you with a lot of stuff. You’ll be given pain meds and a stool softener. You’ll be given a water bottle for rinsing down after using the bathroom, as well as a Dermoplast spray to ease the pain. Mesh underwear is provided, because you’ll only get your normal underwear all gross with the discharge. Gigantic maxi pads will help stem the endless flow of blood. Ice packs will help decrease the swelling. This time I also got witch hazel pads. You’ll basically have four inches or so of crap in your underwear: two gigantic maxi pads (to form a platform for the ice pack, which often doesn’t have adhesive), perineal ice pack and witch hazel pads. This makes it difficult to sit, lay down, walk, or generally do anything, but it greatly helps with the pain. The ice packs in particular are wonderful.

Yes, you will need all this stuff.

Going to the bathroom is about to become excruciating. Sitting down may be too painful, so you may have to hover over the toilet. Labor will leave you somewhat constipated, as will any pain killers you’re on. Stool softeners and lots of fiber will help somewhat, but no matter what you do that first bowel movement is going to be terrible. You’ll feel the pressure of being constipated, which is highly unpleasant, but if you try to have a movement the pain of pushing will be unbearable. Last time it took me five days to have my first movement, and every day until then I was in agony from trying. The good thing is that once you get over the hurdle of that first poop things tend to come easier (not even close to normal, just comparatively easier).

This time around I knew what to expect, and tried to *ahem* empty the pipes beforehand. However, after the cervidil was inserted I was extremely sore and unable to go. I wasn’t looking forward to pooping during the next week  and actually asked the nurse about getting an enema. Her response was not favorable, and I was embarrassed about even asking so I changed my mind. After the delivery, no matter how much I wanted to go home sooner, I vowed to stay in the hospital my two days to give myself a better chance of having a movement. My home is not well-suited for postpartum pooping.

The first couple of urinations they make you pee into a bowl in the toilet. This is to make sure you can actually empty your bladder. Some people have issues peeing after giving birth, especially after having a catheter (goes with the epidural). My first urination was interesting in that I sat down and it just kinda came. I heard it but barely felt it, and I seriously peed for like two minutes straight. I’ve always found the bowl thing really unpleasant, as it actually touches my sore spots. After my required two measurements I stopped peeing in the toilet and swapped to the shower.

If sitting on the toilet is painful I really, really recommend using the shower. Not only will the running water stimulate urination, but it is really comforting on your perineum. Unlike my shower at home, which takes 5-10 minutes to get warm water, the hospital shower warmed up immediately. Hospital showers also have lovely things like handicap rails for gripping, and moveable faucet heads. I’m also less weirded out my pooping in a hospital shower. You heard me.

Last time I went home and spent a week trying to go on the toilet. This involved hovering, since it was too painful to sit, and trying like hell to grip onto SOMETHING to help accomplish said hovering. This time I didn’t screw around. My goal was to poop in that damn shower before leaving the hospital. Several times a day I peed in the shower and then tried every imaginable position to help ease my evacuation. Those handicap gripping bars were extremely helpful. In the end I managed to poop about 24 hours after my initial delivery in the shower while on my hands and knees. (This should go without saying, but obviously I cleaned up after myself.) It was horrible and painful and I freaked out both my husband and the nurse with my cries of pain. But I got it done and felt soooooooooo much better afterward. A weight had literally been lifted. I’ve managed a poop pretty much every day since then and each time they’ve gotten easier.

My doctor prescribed Motrin and Vicodin for my pain. Initially I refused to take the Vicodin. I took it before during my last pregnancy, and knew that two of those pills would knock me out. I didn’t want to be in a narcotic-induced sleep when I had a newborn to take care of. The perineum pain remained pretty bad though, and finally my doctor explained that the Motrin was for the uterine cramps, not the perineum. It would do nothing for that. The Vicodin did help with the soreness, though not nearly as much as I would have liked. It merely made things slightly more bearable.

Once I got home I continued to take stool softeners and ate a bowl of Kashi cereal every day. Pooping got a bit easier, but peeing actually got worse. Two days after returning home I was starting to feel like I was mending, then for some reason peeing started to burn my tear and walking went from almost normal to excruciating. I had to swap to peeing in the shower EVERY time. Since my shower takes forever to heat up, I took my water bottle from the hospital, nuked it and used that to rinse down each time. It was a huge hassle, especially as it involved walking from the bathroom to the kitchen and back again. My mom and husband became so concerned that they asked me to call my doctor. Eventually I gave up and messaged her, but she basically said “I told you it was going to be painful, all I can do is give you Percocet instead of Vicodin.” I asked for a refill and continued to deal with the pain.

I’m now three weeks postpartum.  I started running out of Vicodin and I didn’t want to ask for more, so I’m down to one per day. Doing anything or going anywhere seems to make the pain flare up, so simple tasks like feeding my animals or making breakfast can lead to “I need to sit down” level pain for the remainder of the day. I’ve driven twice now by myself, but sitting on the Boppy pillow makes that a pain. It raises me up quite a bit so that I bump my head getting into the car and had to readjust the steering wheel just so that I could get in. However, I do feel like I’m on the mend. I can pee in the toilet again and sit down for a full three minutes or so to poop! It’s frustrating though, and I just want to be able to walk and sit and go to the bathroom like a normal person again.

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2 Comments

  1. Peaches

    That sounds horrific. I’m not sure I want to do this anymore.
    There’s NOTHING they can give you? No ointment to gently rub or something?

  2. They give you plenty of stuff (Vicodin, Motrin, ice packs, witch hazel pads, the spray), it just doesn’t help a whole lot if you tear. I honestly wouldn’t worry too much about it, as there’s nothing you can do. Not everyone tears (two friends of mine just had their second children with no complaints). I tore with my first, and started feeling better after a week. It does really make me want to give every pregnant woman a postpartum recovery kit at their baby shower, but if you haven’t been through it yet the items might seem a little too personal and weird (“Congrats on having a baby! Now here’s some giant maxi pads, pain killers and a spray for your vagina!”)

    Having kids is totally worth it though. I want one more, so I’ll have to go through this again in a few years…

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