Permission to run: granted

Tuesday of last week was when Oscar turned six weeks old.  Six weeks!  In some ways, it’s gone really quickly, but in other ways, oh so slow.

When I was discharged from hospital five weeks earlier I was told that I would need to book a six week appointment with my GP for both Oscar and I.  It wouldn’t be until this appointment that it would be determined whether or not I was ready to return to driving and exercise again.

Those first six weeks were so restricting.  Not being able to drive or go anywhere on my own was horrible.  Because of my operation, I wasn’t even strong enough to put the pushchair together and get it out of the house, so I really was housebound until Dan returned home from work each night.  Lack of sleep, combined with cabin fever and a crying baby do not make for a fun start as a family of three.  Those first few weeks were really trying times, as Oscar and I tried to understand each other and work out what the other was trying to communicate.  But by week five, the smiles had begun and having booked an appointment at the doctors, the end was in sight.

I made sure that my appointment fell dead on the six week mark.  There wasn’t one day longer that I wanted to wait before I could run or drive again.

I was rather annoyed at the appointment itself though.  It was a twenty minute appointment, to be allegedly split 10mins/10mins with Oscar for his first check up.  (Although it actually wasn’t his first check up.  We’d already been to the doctors and spent a night in A&E by this point.)

When I arrived for the appointment the doctor began by asking “How are you feeling now?”
“Yes, much better thanks!”
…And that was it.  Me, done!  She went on to tell me that my baby looked malnourished (I assured her that I was still being seen every three days by the Health Visitor for his small size) and that she planned to refer me to paediatrics as she didn’t feel comfortable performing some of the assessment on a baby his size (He was nearly 8lbs by this point).  (I informed her that he had spent the night in the paediatric unit at the hospital the week before, where he had been given a very thorough check over.  The team there had reassured Dan and I that O was in fact very healthy and incredibly strong for his small size, with nothing for us to worry about.)

She didn’t check my scar or ask any further questions about me. In fact, it wasn’t until after I had left that I remembered I had also wanted to bring up the varicose vein on my right leg which has hung around after pregnancy.

As she was hurriedly passing me Oscar’s clothes to (what felt like) push me out of the office at the end of the twenty minutes, I asked her if it would be alright to drive and run again now?
“Yes, yes.  You’re past the six week mark.  Everything is back to normal again now.”
“So I will be able to run?  Long distance and that’s OK?”
“Yes, just make sure that the baby is in a car seat.”

I’m not sure she really understood my long distance question, but as she was opening the door for me to leave at this point, she made it very clear that my time was up.  I decided that I would go home and research online about Caesareans and returning to running.  I’d been searching unsuccessfully for any running blogs where runners have returned to long distance running following C-sections since first finding out that Oscar was going to have to be delivered that way.  It makes sense that each woman is going to be different though.  Each birth is different and each person’s running experience is different in the build up to the birth. Whatever information I am able to find online doesn’t necessarily apply to me and my situation.

The plan had been to head to Kettering parkrun last Saturday with Laura.  Dan had hoped to join us, run the first lap and then come and collect Oscar from me once he had finished so that I was able to attempt running the remainder of my second lap once I was buggy-free.

However, the norovirus shattered that plan.

I have never been so sick in my life as I was on Thursday night. I must have thrown up nearly 40 times, and felt so, so very weak.  Although feeling a lot better the next morning, when I attempted a short walk I really struggled energy-wise and knew it would be silly of me to attempt parkrun the following day.

Dan was then hit with the virus over the weekend, so I was unable to leave Oscar with him to escape for a run.

In fact it wasn’t until the following Tuesday evening when O turned seven weeks old that I finally managed to get out, having first posted asking for post-baby running advice in several running forums and Facebook groups. I received lots of helpful and encouraging comments. The gist of which encouraged me to ensure I listened to my body and didn’t try to take things too fast.

It felt good to be lacing up my trainers again after such a long break (seven weeks, three days).  Garmin on, long sleeved top on, shorts – dug out of the wardrobe.  I really didn’t need a long-sleeved top on Tuesday night, but wasn’t sure how quickly I would heat up over the one mile I intended on attempting as a test run.

First run back after baby

It’s pretty sad how excited I was about heading out for that one mile.  I was also nervous though.  Perhaps I should have forced more questions on the doctor about my recovery?  Made her examine my tummy and check over my scar?  At the end of the day I’m not sure it would have made a huge amount of difference though.  I don’t think doctors are the best at understanding runners, unless they are runners or sporty people themselves.

I knew I would be able to run that mile, and I was pretty sure it would be pain free.  I’ve had no pain from my scar since leaving the theatre and only occasionally in recent weeks have I felt a slight pulling on my abs when I overdo something.

I intended on keeping things very gentle on the run, and immediately could feel that my running style was very lumbery.  Without picking up the pace I wasn’t too sure how to adjust it, but figured I wouldn’t be doing a huge amount of damage running just one mile.  I kept it to as smooth of a motion as possible and quickly ran a mental check over my body.  Scar – fine.  Tummy muscles – no problem.  Legs – not forgotten how to do this.  It was only really my breasts which were sore.  I’d fed just before leaving, but the bouncing around in an old, slightly stretched bra wasn’t the most comfortable situation.  Hopefully it won’t be a problem once my new bras arrive.  I’ve ordered a couple which came in bra sizes rather than S/M/L, so hopefully they will help hold everything in place.

Despite being a little uncomfortable breast-wise, the run went smoothly and I could have easily turned that mile into several miles on Tuesday night!  I decided to be sensible about it though and turned in to finish after just after a mile, heading out for a 20 minute walk as a cool-down afterwards.

First run back after baby

As long as things continue to go well I think the plan is currently to continue just running up until Christmas, building on the mileage as much as I am able whilst still breastfeeding and fitting in family life.  I won’t look to re-introduce any hard sessions such as speedwork, hills or overly long distance until the New Year as I don’t want to end up injured and spending more time away from training.

I want a family, but I also want to be able to enjoy my hobby and even though I know it’s going to take a fair bit of juggling, I’m determined to have a good shot at giving both a good go.

Maintaining a healthy life after pregnancy is essential. The overall body must be nourished with vitamins and minerals. A healthy body includes aspects such as healthy gums and teeth, the strength of bone and a good condition of the skin and muscle.

To know  about your oral health condition contact the Wahroonga Dental Group for more.

 

How did/would you plan to return to running following pregnancy?
Are your doctors understanding of runners?

Recovering from a Caesarean: day four onwards

I started writing about my Caesarean recovery last week, but ended up splitting the post into two when I realised just how much I was writing!  You can read the first half here  >>  Days 1-3 following my caesarean

Day 4: Saturday 1st October

When my first lot of pain medication was brought round on Saturday morning, the duty midwife commented that she would like to see me going home over the weekend and that I would probably recover quicker in my own surroundings, rather than being bed-bound on a ward filled with screaming mothers-to-be and crying babies, reliant on a buzzer by my side.  Although I didn’t get my hopes up, and was pretty sure that there was no way I was ready to be discharged (that morning was the first time I had made it to the toilet on my own!) I immediately rang Dan to tell him the potential good news and then I made it my mission to do everything I could to prove I was ready to head home that day, – starting with making it to the Day Room for breakfast.

The nurses hadn’t brought me breakfast for the past two days – merely walking up and down between the bays shouting “Breakfast is now available in the Day Room.”  I hadn’t felt strong enough to walk there on the other days, but was determined to do so now, only to discover that the Day Room was at the far end of the corridor, at least four times as far as the toilet had been (my furthest walk to date!)  I made it though, and despite perching rather uncomfortably on a hard-backed chair in the room whilst I slowly munched on some toast, felt rather chuffed with my accomplishment!

Dan arrived a couple of hours later and we were told that I would definitely be discharged that day.  Along with three other first-time parents, we were sent back to the Day Room to sit in on a breastfeeding and bathing advice session before being discharged.  As I waited for Dan to wheel Oscar’s cot in I got talking to a couple of the other new Mums.  It seemed that I had been in for the longest, with the others only having been admitted the day before, or at the earliest, on the Thursday evening.

Whilst waiting for the discharge paperwork to be completed the ladies from Bounty came round to take pictures of Oscar before we left.  He was a little rockstar and posed beautifully for every position they placed him in.  Although we hadn’t intended on purchasing any photos, we did get one of the smaller packages, with photos and digital images to be posted out to us during the week.

Along with my discharge notes I was offered an extra shot of morphine to help get down the stairs to the car as it would be the furthest I had walked by a long way.  Sensibly, I decided to take the extra shot which luckily kicked in before we were allowed to leave.  I was also given the chat about future contraception.  No need to worry on that side of things – I hadn’t realised how traumatic and painful having a baby would actually be!
I packed up the remaining items from my bed bay whilst Dan drove the car round to the loading bay and started to load up my belongings downstairs in the car, leaving Oscar and Me until last.  For the past three days I’d seen all the other women on my bay leave, carrying their new babies in car seats and loaded up with their luggage to be driven away to their family homes.  When it came to my turn, I couldn’t even carry a shoulder bag, never mind my baby in a carrier, and I shuffled along in pain with every step.

I really wasn’t prepared for just how far the car would be.  Having thought that the Day Room was only just manageable earlier that morning, the distance to the car was easily twenty times as far and involved a lift, a small series of steps and getting myself down to car seat level.  (It was very painful just allowing myself to drop to the height of the seat!)  One of the midwives came out with Dan and I to ensure that we were able to fit Oscar’s car seat correctly, and then we were free to head home!

Today I am going home for the first time card

Getting into the back of the car had been tricky, and I definitely knew about every single bump on the ride home.  I never knew the A45 had so many potholes!  One of the conditions of being allowed to leave on the Saturday was that I had access to a breastpump at home, as Oscar still hadn’t had a successful latch which lasted on my breast by this point.  Luckily, a friend had offered to sell us one a few weeks earlier and so I had sent her a desperate text on Saturday morning to establish whether or not it was still up for sale.  It was, and so we headed for home via Northampton (which is in not on the way home!)  Lindsay popped out with her little boy to meet Oscar whilst Dan popped the pump into the boot.  As we turned out of Lindsay’s drive I realised the route Dan was taking before it was too late…he turned down the road with the most speed bumps in Northamptonshire!  Agony!

Dan had been in a hurry to get Oscar home as Wolves were playing on TV that evening and Dan was desperate to sit down with his son, who would be wearing his first Wolves top to watch the game!  We didn’t quite make the start of the match, but once I’d fed and Dan had changed Oscar, he managed to catch the second half with Oscar snuggled up to him on the sofa!

Knowing that we would be seeing several visitors over the coming weeks, on arriving home I begun to tidy the downstairs, clearing away the washing Dan had done and hung up indoors the previous day.  I was careful not to bend too much, and tried to keep my traveling up and down the stairs to a minimum, but I didn’t feel as awful as I thought I would.  I unpacked some of my hospital bag and chucked some of Oscar’s dirty things for a wash, clearing away items into his new bedroom before settling on the couch with Dan to watch a film.

And then after the film I went to stand up, and found that I couldn’t.  The sofa in our lounge is low and required the use of all of my stomach muscles for me to get up.  The morphine shot I’d been given before leaving the hospital had clearly long worn off, and once Dan had pulled me up, every step towards the bedroom was agony.  I managed a couple of stairs at a time before having to pause in pain and I was reduced to tears by the time I reached the top of the staircase.  I headed into the bathroom on my way to bed and was not even strong enough to pull the cord connected to the bathroom light switch I was in that much pain.  I really never considered just how many day-to-day tasks require the use of stomach muscles.  Much more than I thought.

Although I had no more morphine, I had been sent home with several tablets.  I was due to take iron tablets twice a day (due to the blood loss that I had in theatre), along with ascorbic acid, to help absorb the iron.  I also had a couple of packs of Diclofenac and Paracetamol to help with the pain.  I was allowed to take one Diclofenac and two Paracetamol every four hours, and did so religiously over those first few days.  Dan also had to inject me each night for the first ten nights with clexane to prevent any blood clots from forming as I hadn’t been very mobile for a while.  I’m not great at swallowing tablets, but the injection was the worst.  Dan would either come at me wielding the needle like an axe murderer, or he would hesitate, by which point I would tense up and then the injection would be painful.

The first night was tough.  In hospital Oscar had never really cried.  He just kind of whimpered a little and I was able to press a button on the side of my bed.  This resulted in the midwives arriving who would automatically know how to stop his whimpers.  Dan and I had aimed to head to bed for 10pm on the first night out of hospital but when Oscar still hadn’t settled by 5am I took him down to sleep in the lounge where we had a moses basket set up so that at least Dan was able to get some sleep, even if I wasn’t!

Baby boy balloon

Things were made doubly tough as I was in too much pain to pick Oscar up yet, and leaning over a changing table and fighting to clean the bum of a protesting newborn was still very much above my capabilities.  Dan changed almost every nappy for the first ten days, and when Oscar wanted feeding, he would bring him over to me so that I could feed him and attempt to settle him.  Despite being at home, I still felt very useless and let Dan take over all the tasks, even after I was feeling a little stronger as it just seemed like he had so much more experience than me, even after just a few short days.

Day 5: Sunday 2nd October

I had been so out of it when returning home the day before, I hadn’t realised that Lindsay had sent a huge storage box of baby clothes back with us in the car.  After dropping her a quick thank you message over Facebook it became my mission to organise the clothes by age and type into piles next to me on the sofa.  It was something I could do to feel productive when I couldn’t stand or walk without pain.

The only thing I had been looking forward to more than a bed with clean sheets was taking a shower, but I wasn’t well enough to attempt one on Sunday.  I must have looked a sight sprawled out on the sofa surrounded by piles of baby clothes we’d been gifted, which I was attempting to sort into piles of size and type.  Dan’s parents came to visit and I didn’t even have the energy to stand and greet them.  I was still wearing my pyjamas, covered by a dressing gown to hide the fact that my milk was leaking a ridiculous amount.

The midwife I’d been seeing throughout my pregnancy came for a routine visit not long after Dan’s parents arrived.  She weighed Oscar (he’d lost slightly more than at Day 3 and weighed in at 6lbs 10oz), did his heel prick test and filled out some pages in his little red book.  Most importantly though, she helped to get Oscar to breastfeed properly for the first time, where he was content to stay for more than half an hour.  I didn’t dare move in case he stopped!  Because I’d had problems breastfeeding during my hospital stay, she booked us a visit from the community breastfeeding support workers for the following day who would be able to assess Oscar’s breastfeeding at home.  Following the midwife’s visit though, we no longer had any issues.

Day 6: Monday 3rd October

Finally, time for a shower!  Dan had to help me get into the shower as our shower is one which is over the bathtub and I was worried about the pain of getting my leg up so high with nothing to lean on once I was in.  Once in, I sent him away to keep an eye on Oscar, with the instruction not to go too far in case I ended up needing him.  Within a few minutes though, I had dropped the shower head whilst trying to open the bottle of shampoo and ashamedly I had to call Dan back to hold the shower head for me whilst I showered as I couldn’t manage it alone.

Bella keeping an eye out for our next visitor! #cutecat #catsofinstagram

A photo posted by Mary (@ahealthiermoo) on

From my now-permanent spot on the sofa I could see so many things that needed doing in the lounge and dining room and kept pointing these out to Dan, much to Dan’s annoyance!  It was very frustrating to see all these things and be able to do nothing to fix them!  I pointed out that the architrave round the doors still needed painting, that we needed to put up picture frames heading up the stairs, clear baby items from the dining room table and put Oscar’s cards up on the windowsill amongst other things.  I couldn’t even lean down to the windowsill to put up cards without being in pain.  I did feel so guilty for pointing things out to Dan afterwards, as he was already doing so much.

Welcome home cards for baby Oscar(Oscar was so lucky – his cards literally filled our entire bay window downstairs!)

Days 7-9

Out of curiosity I weighed myself on Day 7 to discover that I had lost all but 6lbs of the weight I had gained during my pregnancy.  I had never been bothered about the weight gain/loss during pregnancy and was surprised to have returned to relative normality so quickly.  I’ve since lost all of the remaining 6lbs and am back at my pre-pregnancy weight again, with no attempt to lose anything.  I’ve changed shape – my stomach is not as flat as it once was, but I’m not too concerned right now.

Excuse the glasses and leafy pavement but this picture was taken one week post-baby. (Last Tuesday) It was the first time I had weighed myself in ages and it seems I lost all but 6lbs of my baby weight in the first week without realising. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost more since and will weigh myself again tomorrow, purely out of curiosity. Losing the ‘baby weight’ was never something I really worried about during pregnancy as I continued to eat as normal and exercise throughout, right to the very end. (Last parkrun was three days before delivery!) I was curious how my body would behave post-baby and other than being in so much pain for those first few days following the section it’s been fairly strong since. Fingers crossed it remains that way for a strong return to running! #postbaby #babyweight #babyweightloss

A photo posted by Mary (@ahealthiermoo) on

It was day 8 before I finally ventured out of the house.  To be honest I was still in an immense amount of pain, but desperate to get outdoors by this point.  To go from running several times a week and ticking off 10,000 steps a day throughout my pregnancy to barely leaving the lounge was incredibly tough mentally as well as physically.  I didn’t want to lose my fitness but I also didn’t want to go insane from staying housebound!  Our first walk was literally around the block and no more than 10 minutes, but it felt so good to be outside.  Unfortunately, as the porch swings round into our house the buggy needs to be put up outside, and I’m not strong enough to carry the heavy duty travel system on my own yet so am only able to head out for walks with Oscar when somebody is able to go with me.

Me pushing the pram

Day 10: Friday 7th October

I’m not sure if it was the high temperature our central heating was now permanently set at (babies have to be kept in an environment at 18-20°), the man flu Dan had been rocking the week I was in hospital, the lack of sleep, or a mixture of all three but by Friday I had developed a fever and was shaking one minute and burning up the next.  I layered up and felt freezing, despite my face seeming to be on fire.  I had gone off food.  Absolutely nothing was appealing and there were a couple of days that I made myself eat a bowl of cereal in the evenings just to make sure I was getting something in and had the energy to be able to feed Oscar.

The lack of sleep was finally catching up with me and it was on Friday that a friend mentioned to me that I should think of each day as 24 hours now, not as separate blocks of night and day.  This helped when it came to my stubbornness of going to bed early and so began the routine of being in bed by 8pm.  Yes, 8pm.  :(  I was up again by 10 for the next feed, but it was hard having to devote my ‘free time’ when Dan got home each evening to sleep.

Dan’s best friend was getting married on the Saturday, so by Friday lunchtime Dan had disappeared off to the Midlands, armed with a speech he had hurriedly written in between baby snuggles and having given me instructions that I was to call if anything happened.  It wasn’t until after he had left that the reality of still feeling pretty useless myself whilst now having sole responsibility of a newborn hit.

Luckily, there were still plenty of people who were hoping to squeeze in a visit and I slotted in one visitor on the Friday night, another Saturday morning, with a couple and their three children at lunchtime and two more first thing on Sunday.  I was relieved when Dan returned though and Oscar went back to being a joint responsibility!  But being forced to step up and look after Oscar over the weekend had given me more confidence and I felt much better about Dan returning to work the following week.

Oscar will be five weeks old tomorrow, and although the last few weeks have been tough, I do feel like we’re finally beginning to get there now, and I’m no longer having to make absolutely everything up as I go along!  Days are completely dictated by him though.  This post was written and all ready to go apart from photos by 5am this morning.  It’s now 3:30pm and I’m finally hitting publish!

Is it my nap time yet?…!

Shit just got real card for baby Oscar

Batch cooking

One of the things I wanted to do towards the end of the Summer holidays was to have a go at batch cooking some meals for the freezer, ready for my return to work in the September and ultimately, my return from having our baby (which at this point I still thought would be halfway through October!)

I’ve been saying for months, – years – that I need to have a go at batch cooking meals for the fridge and freezer, having seen so many others have such success when it came to saving both time and money.  I knew that when I returned to school in the Autumn term, I would be hitting the ground running in terms of my workload and would need to save as much time as I was able, especially as by this point in my pregnancy I was getting increasingly tired in the evenings.  Towards the end of the Summer holidays, I knew that there was a good chance I would be going in for a Caesarean as well, leaving me useless for several weeks following the birth of the baby.

A few weeks before the end of the Summer I headed to B&M and picked up a set of 15 plastic chinese-food style containers to add to the collection I already had back at home.  I’m gutted I didn’t get more at the time, as they seem to have been out of stock ever since, and are so much more expensive in the supermarkets!  I also picked up a few aluminium foil trays that would be able to go in the oven.

One Saturday I sat down with a notepad and my laptop, and sent out a tweet…

I got several responses, and then leading on from this I sat down to write out a list of meals I would create the following afternoon, drawing up the shopping list I would need to follow in order to make the planned meals. Shopping list for batch meal prepIn total, my shop came to just over £100.  Not bad for what I was hoping would potentially last for several weeks of meals. At the beginning of the Summer, Dan had purchased a slightly larger car, (preparing for the practicalities of being a parent!) and I think that this shot makes it look like there is hardly anything in the boot of his car.  When, in actual fact this little lot completely filled a trolley by the time I made it to the checkout!Food shopping in the back of Dan's carI had set aside all of the following day to cook the freezer meals.  So, the next morning I laid out all of the ingredients on our kitchen worktop.  Please excuse the fact that there are no tiles on the walls in the kitchen here.  (There still isn’t on half the kitchen wall!)  And that brown worktop you see the ingredients on?  That is just a loose piece of worktop resting on top of some of the old units!Batch cooking freezer meals - ingredients

My kitchen is looking much more complete now than it was at this point, but it’s still missing plenty of the finishing touches.

On my list to cook that day was cottage pie, lasagne, thai red curry, chicken casserole, chorizo pilaf, fajita mix, lentil and sweet potato curry and chicken cheesy tomato bake.

First on the list of to-dos was to place two chickens on the top shelf of the hot oven, as I would be using chicken as the base for quite a lot of the meals I planned on creating.  Cooking two chickens at the same time meant that I was only using the electricity for half the time it would have taken me to cook them both normally, and the two of them were cooked much quicker than if I had cooked them separately.  Whilst the chickens were cooking I set to work with prepping the veg I intended on using.  I peeled, cut and sliced potatoes, carrots, runner beans, peppers and mushrooms, leaving them all in bowls on the side.  As Dan isn’t a fan of many vegetables, the ends of packs that I buy from the supermarkets often get thrown away as I either a) never get through all the veg before it goes bad or b) get fed up of eating the same veg over and over before it goes bad so go off it completely!  With cooking so many meals at one time, it also meant that I was able to include vegetables I like in half the pots, and just the ones which Dan liked in the other half.  So, for example, Dan doesn’t like sweetcorn (along with every other veg apart from runner beans, peas and carrots!) so I made sure to cook a separate batch of meals which included sweetcorn.

Although the majority of the meals would be cooked, so just need heating up in the microwave before consuming later in the year, I planned to leave the lasagnes uncooked.  Therefore I layered the ingredients straight into the aluminium trays which would enable me to put them into the oven if I wanted to have them for dinner.

The smell of the chorizo pilaf (a dish new to me, and one suggested by Stephanie) was so good that there were several forkfuls that never made it into the containers!

Chorizo pilaf

In total, across that Sunday afternoon, and also one Wednesday evening, I made enough meals to have one every single day across a fortnight for both Dan and I, and still I ended up putting uncooked meat back into the freezer that I hadn’t gotten round to cooking up to add to a meal.

We haven’t been having meals from the freezer every evening, but they have been great to turn to when Oscar has kept us up late the night before or when a trip out takes much longer than expected, leaving us starving by the time we arrive home!  Most of the meals are ready to be consumed within 8 minutes of a blast in the microwave – other than the lasagne, which requires cooking still (about 40 minutes in the oven).

Unfortunately Oscar hasn’t been gaining the weight that is expected of him, and at four weeks old today, still weighs just 7lbs 3oz.  The Health Visitor has been round every three days and is monitoring his progress but he dipped right under the 2nd percentile line at one point the other day which was a concern.  He is gaining weight (O’s birth weight was 6lbs 13oz, and all newborn babies are expected to lose a little at birth), but is doing so very slowly, so they are just keeping an eye on him at the moment.

Oscar growth chart

My Dad is convinced that part of the reason O isn’t gaining as much as he should is because I’m not eating properly.  (Other than the fact that I seem to no longer be capable of finishing a meal in one sitting, and that I rarely get a chance to eat the food whilst it’s hot anymore, which I’m sure are both standard new-Mum problems, I AM still eating!)  For this reason, my Dad decided that when we popped by for a visit on Sunday he was going to present me with ten cottage pies to add to my ever-diminishing freezer stash!  They definitely weren’t turned away!  :)

Do you ever ‘batch cook’ your meals?
What are your ‘go to’ meals that you always make during the working week?   Mine are calzones and chicken/sausage casserole with dumplings.

Recovering from a Caesarean: the first three days

I still had several weeks left of my pregnancy when the C-word was first mentioned.  My baby was breech, and the policy at our local hospital is to not attempt a natural delivery when the baby is a known breech presentation.

Initially I was very upset.  I didn’t want to give up running for potentially twelve weeks, giving up driving for six weeks following the operation would be very tough, and I was concerned that as I would not actually be ‘giving birth’ to the baby it would mean that I would struggle to bond with the baby when it first arrived.

However, as it began to look more and more likely that I would require a Caesarean, I came round to the fact that the operation would be inevitable.

Although terrified of the operation itself, it was more the no-driving and no-running post birth that I was dreading.  I had no idea though just how much pain and discomfort I would be in following the operation.  I naively assumed that as I was going in to the birth very fit, my recovery would be much quicker and easier than for most and hoped that the articles I’d found online stating that a new Mother should be able to walk slowly for up to 15 minutes three weeks after the birth were just an exaggeration and wouldn’t apply to someone like me who had been regularly walking and running throughout the last nine months…

So here I am, three weeks following the birth of Oscar, trying to do my best to document the days following my operation.  On Sunday night I managed a twenty minute walk to visit somebody who lives the other side of town, and then made it back again. – The furthest I’ve been to date.  In some ways I wish I’d jotted these notes down sooner when they were fresher, and more clear in my head.  Another part of me is glad that I didn’t though, otherwise I would never want to go through everything again to have any more children in the future!

Pre-warning: there are more squeamish parts in this blog post than there were the birth story itself!  If you want to read my birth story, I have documented that here.

Day 1: Wednesday 28th September

After returning to my bed in the hospital bay late the night before, the midwives had woken me every 90 minutes through the night in order that I could hand express milk, which they then syringed from me to feed to Oscar.  I wasn’t yet able to pick him up or even hoist myself up in bed and, with a catheter, drip and drain all attached I couldn’t even turn in the bed to soothe him when he cried.  The extent of my interaction with Oscar at this point was when the midwife left his plastic see-through crib close enough that I could extend my fingertips to rock it gently whilst I waited for somebody to help me see to his cries.  It felt awful just lying there, listening to him cry and knowing I could do nothing to stop it or soothe him.

Eating toast following a cesarean

I was brought two slices of toast for breakfast and given a slip by which to choose what I would like for my lunch and dinner that day.  There was a choice of several different options, but to be honest it would have been impossible to get five fruit and veg portions in for the day without topping up with food from outside the hospital.
My throat was sore in the morning.  I vaguely remembered reading somewhere before the operation that pressure would have to be applied to my throat so that I didn’t throw up if I ended up having to be put right out.  I appreciated having the scratchy toast to open up my airway a little!  My sore throat, along with the severe lack of sleep and general pain meant that I didn’t feel up to calling anyone from my hospital bed on Wednesday, although throughout the day I texted and privately messaged on social media a few friends to let them know that Oscar had arrived safely.

I had been given IV paracetamol during the night through the cannula in the back of my left hand.  There was also a cannula in my right hand for anything else the doctor deemed appropriate to give me.  All the advice going into the operation was to not refuse any of the pain meds and try not to be a ‘hero’ following the birth.  There was no chance of me refusing any of my medication.  I could not believe the immense amount of pain I was in the following day.

At regular intervals, liquid morphine was brought to me in small pots.  It tasted kind of like a dodgy shot on a night out.  I also had a pot filled with tablets three times a day – two paracetamol, a stronger pain killer, iron tablet and ascorbic acid – as I had lost so much blood in theatre my iron levels were very low and needed picking back up again.  I’m usually rubbish at taking tablets with just a gulp of water, but following my hospital stay I’ve got the technique perfected!

Each evening for the ten days following surgery I also had to be injected with clexane to prevent blood clots as I had been bed bound.  This is standard procedure for all C-section patients, and Dan had to continue giving me injections once I returned from hospital until my ten days were up.

When my pain meds hadn’t arrived on time, my body definitely knew about it.
The pain would start in my lower stomach – almost like a bad period pain but spread right up high across my chest and be completely unbearable.  My stomach felt completely battered from the surgery, although luckily I wasn’t able to sit up enough to see my scar or bruising yet at this point.

At one point in the afternoon I was in so much pain, all I could do was concentrate on breathing in and out to take my mind off the pain.  In my head I half-smiled, as I imagine it must have sounded like I was going in to labour – something I never got to experience!  My breathing became very heavy and the lady in the bed next to me ended up pressing her buzzer for assistance for me.  It wasn’t long before I was being served another portion of morphine and it didn’t take much longer for the pain to fade from my body.

It had made sense for Dan to take his week of paternity leave once I came out of hospital (especially following the complications of my caesarean).  So, although the majority of other ladies had partners accompanying them in their bays during the daytime, I relied entirely on the hospital staff for support and was alone until the evenings, when Dan would be able to stop by for a few hours after he had returned home from work.  On the first day a couple of friends from my running club dropped in to see me and I was very grateful to see a pair of familiar faces at my bedside, despite knowing that I was looking incredibly rough and unwashed by this point!

A paediatrician visited in the afternoon to assess Oscar’s legs.  As he was a breech baby he was born with very ‘froggy’ legs – his knees came right up to his chest and naturally hung in that position.  The paediatrician flexed his legs in every direction and didn’t seem too concerned that there was any chance of lasting damage, although booked O in for a routine scan of his joints at three weeks just to be on the safe side.

Throughout the day several of the hospital staff commented to me about how they aim for Caesarean patients to be up and walking around within four hours of delivery.  By this point nearly 24 hours later though I couldn’t even prop myself up onto my elbows without help and couldn’t ever imagine being able to walk again(!)  In the afternoon, one of the midwives pushed for me to try and move off the bed and onto the armchair in the corner of my bay as she felt that Oscar would have a better shot at latching to feed if I was in an upright position.  With a lot of help I managed to perch myself upright on the side of the bed for a few minutes.  This was made all the more difficult by the fact that I had to hoist my blood drain and catheter bags across with me.  After a few minutes of perching on the edge of the bed, I lurched into a bent-knee standing position.  Then, at the encouragement of the midwife I took one shuffly step forwards, before promptly collapsing into a crumpled heap onto my table.  The midwife pressed my emergency buzzer and within seconds my bay was filled with staff who rallied around to help me back into bed again.
Failed get-up attempt number one!

By the time Dan arrived in the evening, there had been a shift change, and the new midwife on duty in my bay also pushed for me to stand.  I felt much weaker by this point, so with a lot of help from Dan to get my legs positioned underneath me, and with the support from both Dan and the midwife I managed to let them pull me into a standing position.  I remained in this almost vertical position for perhaps a minute before my world began to spin and I had to lower myself back down onto the bed again.

I really underestimated just how much I needed my stomach muscles for every day tasks.  Who would have thought how much you need your stomach muscles in order to help you stand?!  I had to pretty much let Dan take all my weight and then pull me into an upright position.  I wasn’t able to help at all by bracing my weight against him.  When it came to returning to bed I soon realised that the simplest way was to lay on my side, for Dan to fully support my legs, where he could quickly lift them into place and I would be able to roll back up into position.  This incredibly ‘simple’ task would leave me in pain for the best part of the next half hour.

Following my second failed attempt at getting into the armchair, Oscar had begun to cry for his feed so, (as was now becoming the norm) the midwife got him out of his see-through crib (I swear it was just a gerbilarium!), comforted my baby, helped position me onto my left side (the drain was on my right and my stomach was too sore and swollen to support Oscar still) and held Oscar up for him to try and feed.  A few minutes later she declared that once more, we were having no luck.  This time she left Dan with a syringe and instructions to collect 1-2mls of my milk as I expressed.  Not sure that when Dan asked for my number almost ten years ago he ever imagined that he would be syringing milk from my breasts in a hospital bay!

Day 2: Thursday 29th September

On being woken in the middle of the night once more to express and feed, I was in too much pain to be able to do anything but squirm uncomfortably in the bed.  The breastfeeding specialist called the midwife on duty, and it was discovered that my catheter had partially come out, causing my stomach a whole world of pain.  Between the two of them, they made the decision to fully remove the catheter and then help me to stand and make my way over to the toilet opposite the bay I was on.  Although this really was no distance away at all, it felt like a marathon and after propping myself up on Oscar’s crib I heavily lent on both ladies who then supported me as I shuffled for at least twenty minutes, almost sobbing in pain to cross the room to the toilet.  One of them was carrying my blood bag and the other my washbag, under the impression that I would be able to stand to wash once reaching the large disabled toilet cubicle.  Although I had been determined to get there, even I was incredibly surprised when we made it through the toilet door.  The next ten minutes were incredibly undignified as the ladies placed a pot on top of the toilet and helped lower me down onto it.  They left me whilst I did my business but then came back in again to put my knickers on and take away the pot to measure the contents so that they were able to monitor if any urine had remained inside me.  Going to the toilet for the first time in two days was uncomfortable, but not a painful experience, although I hadn’t been able to pass much at all.  Between them, they were able to help hoist me back up from the slightly higher toilet and bring me and my unused washbag back out of the cubicle.  I was already beginning to feel incredibly weak and as my legs buckled under me passing through the door, they shouted to a passing porter for a wheelchair.  I was then wheeled the 50 or so metres back to my bed where I was helped back in so that I could return to feeding Oscar.

Although happy that I had been able to stand and walk (shuffle) a short distance, now that the catheter had been removed I knew that I would have to work hard to improve as the trip across the corridor would have to repeated many times throughout the day.

I was in too much pain to be able to express anything for Oscar to drink by this point and the midwife in charge returned to inform me that they were going to have to place Oscar on a strict feeding plan as he wasn’t getting enough milk.  I felt really helpless.  I knew that I was unable to express anything, and couldn’t even look after myself, never mind the new baby I’d just brought into the world.  I was to go from feeding 1-2mls every 90 minutes to 37mls every four hours!  I had no idea how I was ever going to get so much milk off for Oscar, and was thankful when a pump was suggested, as Oscar was now over 24 hours old.
I managed 9mls in 30 minutes.

Mr Baby Pearson

I was devastated when they pushed me to feed Oscar a bottle of pre-mixed formula.  I couldn’t even do that myself though, as I was unable to hold him in place.  From my position on the bed I watched the midwife feed my son an entire bottle of formula…and then continued to watch as he threw it back up again.

I managed to doze back off for a little while before being woken to three midwives with a scanner entering my bed bay in the early hours.  Because I was still in so much pain, and had passed such little urine, they used the scanner to determine if there was any urine left inside my bladder that I had been unable to pass.  After a few readings they established that things were actually OK and perhaps I just hadn’t consumed much fluid since my catheter had come out earlier that morning.

Oscar’s feeding plan and my choice of feeding was also discussed with me in detail at this point.  I was determined to produce enough milk, and luckily(!) it seemed my milk had come in by this point.  I easily managed the required 37mls which I felt rather smug about and passed over to the midwife for feeding.  My smugness was short-lived though.  It appears that using an electric pump so soon after birth can mess with the amount of milk that your body produces.  I was literally pouring with milk for the rest of my stay in hospital, getting through so many baby wipes as I tried to awkwardly freshen myself up in the unchanged bed and clothes that I remained in for the first three days.

There is nothing dignified about having a baby at all.  There must have been twenty people over that first week who watched me breastfeed, midwives who helped me pull up my underwear and nurses who examined the neat Caesarean scar which I was able to see for the first time the following morning in the bathroom mirror.

Between new roommates, constant feeding, babies crying and the checks on both me and Oscar, there really was never time to get bored on the bay.  Oscar had a hearing assessment on the Thursday, (all was OK), and a doctor came to assess whether or not my blood drain could be removed.  (It was decided to remove it the following day instead as my blood loss had increased due to the moving around from the morning.)

At lunch a lady came to change my bedding but I was unable to get up on her demand.  She was rather abrupt with me and told me I should have been up and about days ago.  She did mellow slightly towards the end of our conversation and promised to return at the end of her round to help me get to the bathroom.  Despite leaning heavily on her, the journey was much quicker than it had been that morning and I already felt like I was capable of more.

I had slept through breakfast and when my lunch arrived I realised that due to the pain I had no appetite and struggled to eat more than a couple of bites.  This was also the case at tea time and I ended up eating barely anything on the Thursday at all.  I was really feeling sorry for myself and just wanted to go home by this point.

My third attempt at getting to the bathroom was with the help of Dan that evening.  We struggled past scores of people visiting the other ladies on my bay and made our way over to the bathroom.  Despite Dan offering to stay with me in case I needed him in the cubicle, I assured him that no husband needed to go that far and that I would be fine if he remained within shouting distance.  The struggle was real when it came to pulling up my own knickers, but with a sudden lunge, rather a lot of discomfort and willpower I made it and called Dan back in to collect me again.

Day 3: Friday 30th September

After the horrific day I’d had the day before I begged for someone to come and stay with me on Friday.  My parents were over at our house, with the aim of my Dad getting the tiling in our bathroom complete so that I would be able to have a shower upon leaving the hospital the following week.  They had intended on coming up during visiting hours that evening, but after a word with the midwife I managed to persuade them to let my Mum stay for the day as Dan would be unable to.  Dan was an absolute star the entire time I was in hospital.  Not only did he head into work each day, but he then came straight to see me in hospital each evening, bringing any items I needed along with him.  Having not initially been intending to stay for quite so long I was out of items quicker than I first thought, and we needed a variety of new sleepsuits for Oscar as he was so tiny and 0-3month items drowned (and still drown) him!
Dan dropped my Mum off at the hospital a little after 8:30 on the Friday morning and I literally put her straight to work as Oscar needed his nappy changing when she first arrived.  This was followed by general tidying and organising of my area.  I felt rather guilty for asking so much of her, but it did feel good to have things looking a little clearer in my bay and it was nice not having to press the button on my bed for help every time that Oscar cried.

After lunch two nurses came to remove my drain.  It was an incredibly uncomfortable feeling as they pulled the pipe out from one side of my body to the other.  I immediately felt so much better for having had it removed though and I feel that my recovery really began properly from this point.  Traveling to the bathroom with just the help of my Mum was so much faster throughout the day.

When visiting hours began that evening, Dan brought my Dad up to meet Oscar and then took some lovely photographs of both my parents with Baby O.  Oscar is their first Grandchild, but he is number six for Dan’s parents.  As my parents intended on driving home that evening, Dan took them back after a little while, before returning to hospital for the third time that day so that he could spend some time with Oscar and Me himself.

…I’m going to leave my recovery story there for now.  I had initially intended on writing about the first ten days of recovery, but looking at the word count after just day three, I know I need to split it! You can read all of my previous pregnancy posts here.