Unrealistic Expectations

It took me a week of reminding myself how great it was to be a part of my son’s birth before I could admit that the VBAC was a good decision.  From the moment he was born I was done with the pain; the pain, however, was not done with me.  Somehow I had it in my mind that once the delivery was over the pain would be gone.

I was incredibly deceived and felt that everyone had lied to me.  The books all talked about taking it easy and hiring a maid during the first couple of weeks home, but they all seemed to slant it with “so you can bond with your baby.”  The recovery from a cesarean, they all seemed to say, was the only recovery that was seriously debilitating.  It didn’t help that I had some very energetic friends who were up and walking around shortly after giving birth.

It was another day before I could go to the bathroom and several days before I could do so without crying.  I could only waddle for short distances and standing still is still painful as gravity is not my friend.  I discovered the dark, unglamourous side of childbirth: donuts, ice packs, peri bottles, and Preparation H, in addition to copious amounts of Tylenol.  I hated having to be waited on hand and foot and I hated not even being able to diaper my own children.  I hated my battle between taking enough medication that I felt okay, and not taking so much that the baby was drousy.  And I just couldn’t believe the pain.

I had only one freak-out, and it was fairly mild as it was after I had heard Elder Holland’s talk about not complaining.  (“No problem” he said, “is so bad that it can’t be made worse by whining about it.”)  But why wasn’t I getting any better?  Why was it still so hard and so painful?  I had been prepared for a long recovery when they wheeled me into surgery for Little Red, but nothing prepared me for a painful recovery from a “normal” birth. 

As soon as I started feeling better, physically and emotionally, we landed ourselves in lactation problems.  To the endless game of supply and demand we added nipple confusion.  With 19 months of successful breastfeeding under my belt I immediately applied all the advice my instinct gave, then when I finally had a minute, sat down with the internet.  La Leche League International, Dr. Sears, and others all supported my theories, as did my friend who has overcome several latch issues of her own.  I should have stopped reading then, but continued reading more about breastfeeding problems, just enough to make me crazy.  What I needed to remember was not to compare Early Bird’s technique with that of Little Red’s at 19 months, after all Early Bird has only been doing this for a few days, and when Little Red was young we basically lived on the couch for three months.

In the end, I think we’re all doing better.  I’m learning to forget the bumbling, forgetful nurses, and with time I’m forgetting the pain.  I did three days at home by myself (no help), although for two of those mornings Little Red was wisked away to play with friends.  It helps that he is the sweetest big brother and truly loves Early Bird.  It also helps that it’s the weekend: my husband is home and his Dad is back in town for a few days.  The key for me is to just not think, everytime I do I go crazy.

5 thoughts on “Unrealistic Expectations

  1. I am sorry that you are having so much pain! That is never fun… did I read that you had tearing and thus needed some stitches? That could explain why it has been so hard…

    Hang in there, things will get better!

    Yes, I know the nature of the pain: stretching, stitches and swelling. That doesn’t make it any more comfortable! But things are much better this second week. I just felt the need to document my experience.

  2. After Jaedin was born I was pretty miserable for the first two or three days and then I was mostly back to normal, just sleep deprived. I was fully expecting an even faster recovery after Jenacy was born. I’d exercised more through her pregnancy, I was better informed, and my body already knew what to do.

    Immediately after her amazingly fast 2 1/2 hour labor I was feeling great! Easy labor (comparatively–it was still labor haha), fast delivery, I wasn’t worn out or anything!!! And then everything else happened: internal hemorrhage, hematoma, insane amounts of pain (*FAR* worse than the labor and delivery. I’m amazed I didn’t black out), surgery, and blood transfusions. I wasn’t even physically able to get out of bed for 3 days, and even then I was still so lightheaded and tipsy I had to have a nurse help me walk. They sent me home in not much better of a condition. I was a walking pharmacy I had so many meds! A couple days after coming home Jaedin REALLY wanted to go outside so I walked with him about a block away from home and nearly blacked out on the way back.

    It was 6 weeks of misery trying to recover. And then phantom pain that lasted at least a year if I stood in one spot for too long or exercised too much. I can definitely say I felt a lot like how your feeling! I remember a friend called about 2 weeks after Jenacy was born and asked how I was doing and I said, “today’s the first day since Jenacy was born that I haven’t cried–I’m doing GREAT!”

    So anyway…I’m not trying to do the pity party thing…I’m just trying to say to hang in there. Your feelings are 100% valid. Everything will eventually get better. If you need help ask for it. Everyone who has kids knows how hard the first few months are! People in RS love making meals! Good luck with the lactation problems! I hope things get better! Nathan’s mom teaches lactation at the hospital so she always came out and coached me. I don’t know what i would have done without her!

    Good Luck! (eat chocolate. Then more chocolate. Then chocolate dipped in chocolate!)

  3. I remember those first days of having the “normal” birth. You’re totally right. We’re told how hard it will be recover from the c-section by everyone, but no one really gives you a ton of insight into the recovery that comes from vaginal birth. I remember the peri bottle, making sure I had it with me, and cursing everytime I forgot it. I remember having to try to reach the sink in the bathroom (thank GOD we had a small bathroom and it was all close…this time, I’m screwed, I think I might ask for a second bottle to take home this time around) and refilling because it didn’t quite do what I needed, or I wasn’t paying attention at 3am…whatever. I remember the hemorroids…mine weren’t terrible, but bad enough. I took about 600-800 mg’s of Ibuprofen every eight hours and god forbid I forget to take that. After a week though, things settled down really well for me. But I get the impression I was a lucky one. I also spent the first week of Logan’s life in the hospital with him because of the jaundice, so I got plenty of time to sit and rest for the first week. I didn’t have to deal with visitors or a three year old. Now I’m going into this again, just as unsure as before, but I won’t kid myself this time. I know that no matter what happens, natural or c-section, I need to take it easy. It’s something I’ve learned during this pregnancy. It’s okay to rest. People understand. Your body’s doing something totally special and completely spectacular, but it’s exhausting and there’s recovery involved.

    I’m glad that things are starting to get better for you! Really I am! Everything in your blog I read today, I completely understand. I went through almost all of it, except for the bumbling nurses. I was incredibly blessed with nurses who were both compassionate and mindful of the fact I was a new mom and needed some special attention sometimes. Even on the pediatric ward when Logan had the jaundice. Otherwise, it’s sure interesting to read someone else’s experience and know that I am not the only one!!

    Good luck!! I can’t wait until it’s me! I feel like it’s going to be Christmas in July for me! That is, if I make it to July!!

    Take care all of you! Huge huge huge hugs from our family to yours!!


  4. I find that the books and courses downplay everything. They make you believe that a caesarian is something that happens to other (unfortunate) people, that the nurses will listen to and respect you, that a birth plan is some kind of magical thing that gives you special powers. All of that is wrong of course. Anyway, glad you are close to recovered now.

  5. When my midwife told me to push slowly, I thought, ‘Heck no, I’m getting this kid out NOW!” I didn’t care about tearing.

    Two days later, boy oh boy, did I care! I was getting out of bed and my stitches ripped. Holy cow! Not only did it hurt, but then part of my was (this is gross)…loose. I made the mistake of looking at myself in a mirror and that was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. I FREAKED OUT.

    I called the hospital. They had my OB call me. He wasn’t concerned. He said no, I didn’t need to go to the E.R. I went to his office the next morning. The midwife checked me and said it was too late to re-stitch, and that it wasn’t a big deal anyway. She said the thing hanging down would shrink when the swelling did and would be barely noticeable in about two weeks.

    She was right! It pretty much disappeared.

    Yeah, it hurt, but the pain went away a lot faster after the VBAC than it did after my c-section.

    Glad you’re feeling better! 🙂

    Author of
    DON’T CUT ME AGAIN! True Stories About Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)

    Eeek! Your story makes me feel SO much better about my own recovery! Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for what you’re doing on your site and with your book — I think giving voice to all those women is a major service to them and others.

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