Real Talk

Ok, I need to vent. It isn’t an angry rant like you might expect. I don’t have PPD; Amy is amazing and I love her so much. I haven’t really posted about this publicly until now, maybe because birth struggles are still a bit taboo; probably more because of the rosy glow to life that social media encourages/spawns and I don’t want to be a Debbie downer or look like I’m asking for sympathy.

So, what on earth is this about. Apologies now to the TMI or squeamish crowd; here’s the backstory. Amy was born really fast, especially for a first baby. I wasn’t even dilated when we went to the hospital; wasn’t having contractions; we went in one night because I was having some bleeding all day and called a nurse before going to bed to see if it could wait until my 9am appointment. She said since I was already a week past due, I should go in and have it checked out. So, we grabbed our bags on a Wednesday night in case we ended up staying, and I felt bad for ruining Mark’s sleep on a work night. Contractions started while we were in the triage room, around 2am. Amy was in my arms 6 hours later, no pitocin or anything. She decided it was go time and came out all at once, so I had to be stitched up pretty good. All normal.

6 week checkup for me, and it still isn’t healing quite right. “It has to heal from the inside out,” so it will take time. 8 weeks. 10 weeks. At 12 weeks I was supposed to return to work, and my doctor said I should probably extend my leave. There was a pretty big gap where the stitches didn’t take, and it just stopped making progress. She ended up calling me a few days later, and told me that I needed to have surgery. An episiotomy revision.

Just hearing the word episiotomy is enough to make you cringe, but doing it this far after delivery really surprised me. She expected to just cut out and restitch the part that hadn’t healed, which would be about 3 weeks of recovery. As much as I really, REALLY didn’t want to have surgery, if this 12 week battle with no end in sight could actually be done with in 3 more weeks, it seemed worth it. So, I had the surgery.

When she got in there, she realized there was more to repair than she thought, and ended up having to redo the entire thing. Two birth recoveries for one baby.  Except this time it was worse. At 2 weeks after the surgery, I still couldn’t sit in a waiting room or dining room chair. I’ve spent all of my time on the couch. My mother-in-law had planned to be doing day care for us when I returned to work, so she has been coming over during the day to help with Amy since I can’t really bend over, sit on the floor, etc.

If you’re still with me, we have arrived at the point of this post. Now I’m at 3 weeks post surgery, and writing this post on my phone while lying in bed. I am on Facebook about 18 hours a day. I just want to be a MOM, I’m so tired of being a patient. I want to be able to play with my baby, to take her out of the house when she’s fussy, to go to the library or swimming or just walk around a park. I know she won’t have memories of any of this, but I will, and I feel like I’ve missed out on the best part of her new little life; soon (assuming I ever heal) I will be back at work and won’t have had a chance to spend quality time with her, outside of nursing.

I know this is super hard on Mark as well; he comes home from work and has to take over taking care of both me and Amy.  He was trying to do some work at home the other day and Amy was fussy on her play mat. He got frustrated because he couldn’t concentrate. He said something like “I used to be able to come home and get something done.” I wanted to say, “Was that before you had a kid, or before your wife had surgery?” but I just didn’t say anything because that wouldn’t be productive.

I cry a lot. I know it isn’t unusual for new moms, and as I said when I started out the post I don’t think I’m dealing with depression, more like oppression. I’m so tired of being held back from my baby. I’m so tired of being stuck at home because it still hurts to sit in a car. Even if I went somewhere, it hurts to walk around so I don’t, in case it would make this recovery last even longer. I want to be able to EXERCISE again. Even just evening walks with Amy would be a delight.

To anyone that hasn’t had kids yet and is afraid of tearing/an episiotomy, honestly don’t be. What happened to me is super rare, and it wasn’t that bad the first time. You are so distracted with figuring out what to do with a baby that your recovery is a side note.

To anyone who has had to be restitched, solidarity. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I feel like I’ve failed at being a mom, a wife, an employee, a person. I see my doctor again in a few days, but all I expect to hear is “it looks about the same”. Ugghhhhhhhh.  I don’t even remember what it was like to not hurt all the time. Here’s to week 16.

Oh good. Just got a call from insurance that my request to extend my short-term disability claim was denied because it wasn’t medically substantiated; that an episiotomy revision recovery should take 3 days. F You very much.

Placemats! and Surgery!

In preparation for making a T-shirt quilt or two, I wanted to practice my quilting skills, particularly binding and quilting the layers together. I thought a great way to practice these would be to make a set of quilted placemats!

So far I’ve pieced together the top of one of them:

There will end up being a green, yellow/orange, and red one as well. I think I’m going to finish this one out though before starting piecing the others, just to try everything out.

I STILL haven’t finished the Donkey Kong stitch. I know, I know… I’ve been putting it off. But I have been working instead on a secret project. I’m stitching one of the patterns for a themed cross stitch book that will be coming out in March, and my stitch will be one of the demo photos! I’m actually really excited about this. I’ve always wondered who stitches the samples in those books, now I’ll be one of them!

I’ll elaborate more on the book once it’s de-classified 🙂 Update: see post Year Recap!

In other news, I got my tonsils out a week ago today. It was actually not as bad as I was bracing myself for. Particularly the surgery itself; I am really antsy/panicky when it comes to needles and anesthesia. I used to even get laughing gas at the dentist because I would stress out so much. I went into this one very mentally prepared, and it was no big deal at all. Zen is the way to go.

The hardest part of the recovery was trying to sleep. I propped a bunch of pillows up on my bed so I could sleep sitting up, because it felt really uncomfortable to lie down and I would tend to snore just breathing normally at first. Falling asleep wasn’t the problem — I made myself wake up every 4 hours to take more medicine and drink water because my throat would get too painfully dry if I didn’t. This means for a week straight, I never slept more than 4 hours, and typically I didn’t go back to sleep after taking more medicine until I got drowsy later. If you ever get this done, especially as an adult, they tell you to drink water like crazy, and it’s SO WORTH IT. Even though it hurts to swallow, do it, especially in the zone of the medicine when it doesn’t hurt too bad. I had to pee about every hour, but the throat pain never got unbearable.

Second hardest part was not being able to talk. My voice was so hoarse/just the vibration of speaking hurt so much that I just preferred not to do it. It makes it inconvenient to not be able to use a phone or speak to people, particularly when in public.

Yesterday evening though, I started to feel the scabs sloughing off, which just felt like swallowing little bits of food when I drank. Sorry to be gross, but I feel like documenting it for the sake of anyone who has this done in the future. This I knew was a good sign — almost better! I could even talk for a couple of hours, and I could tell my throat wasn’t as tight as it had been feeling.

I went to bed late as usual, after my 2 am dose, and set my alarm for 6, but when it went off I thought you know what, I don’t think I need it. Either at that point or later on, I realized I could sleep lying down now, so I chunked the extra pillows. And slept until 2 pm.

Needless to say my throat was super dry when I woke up after 12 hours, but I feel 100 times better than I have for the past week. Other than a dull, sore throat pain, I feel back to normal.

My best friends during this process: Mark (my husband), chicken Ramen, and a bag of frozen peas. Best flexible ice pack ever (for the front of my throat). I used that every day I think. I even kept the noodles in my Ramen today. I think I may be on some squishy solid food tomorrow, which is really exciting. I’ve been craving some Shipley’s donuts.