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10 Things You Should Know About Having a C-section

10 things about csection

Like I explored in the last post, I never thought I was going to end up having a C-section. So honestly I didn’t even prepare for that possibility. I didn’t know what to expect and all my postpartum plans didn’t factor in that possibility. So, in the aftermath of things, I feel like I definitely could have been more prepared. So, I am sharing the 10 things I wish I had known about having a C-Section.

  1. Emotions run high. The high intensity of emotions during labor and delivery during a vaginal birth or a C-section are the same. You will still be excited, fearful, and feeling like you are riding an emotional roller-coaster. And seeing your baby for the first time in the OR or in a labor and delivery room will bring you that rush of emotions either way. I cried like a baby when I saw my little bundle of joy for the first time. I probably would have either way. Only difference was, I could not pick her up right away.
  2. Breast-feeding might come with some challenges. First of all, you will not have the opportunity for a latch-on right after birth. However, depending on where you deliver, you might be able to so as soon as you are in the post-op room (like I did). However, after surgical birth, your milk might take longer to come in. Now this is where it can become tricky if your plan is to exclusively breastfeed. Because depending on what hospital you are in and who your support system is, you might feel more pressured to feed the baby formula. I will tell you: it is hard to hear that little newborn cry and not think you are starving your baby. Specially if everyone around you thinks and says that. However, baby’s stomachs are very tiny and were made to thrive off the small amount of colostrum you are giving them. If you are in a breastfeeding friendly hospital, have good support, a lactation consultant, and your baby isn’t losing more that 10% of their birth weight, you will do just fine. Actually, in that scenario, your longer hospital stay might come as a blessing in disguise. Besides these issues, the pain in your stomach from the c-section might also challenge breastfeeding, since it will be harder to try different latch positions and having the baby’s weight on you for so much time (you need to breastfeed a newborn 8 to 10 times a day and in the beginning they feed for longer periods of time) might pose a challenge.
  3. How am I bigger than when I was pregnant? I didn’t have any expectations of leaving the hospital with a beautiful postpartum figure like all those wonderful celebrities. I didn’t even have expectations to fit into my regular clothes. So, I brought my maternity jeans and some sneakers in my bag so I could be comfortable when going home. NEVER did I expect to NOT FIT INTO MY MATERNITY JEANS! What??!! Well, it happens that after a C-section you get swollen. Not pregnancy swollen. Worst. And depending on how much medication and IV fluids you got, the worst the swelling! I barely fit into my jeans. Just enough to get by and be really uncomfortable the whole ride home. But the sneakers? Not a chance! Fortunately, I always have a pair of flip-flops in the car, and I managed to get those on my ginormous feet. Never saw that one coming!
  4. Abs are important muscles and not just because you want to show them off. You will finally understand the importance of your abdominal muscles. Oh my, are they involved in pretty much every little thing you do. You will definitely appreciate them much more after this experience, but just after you cringe and swear every time you sneeze, laugh, walk, sit, hold your baby on top of your stomach, go to the bathroom, and so many other mundane daily activities you will do. But don’t worry, “only” for 6-8 weeks.
  5. You WILL need help, even though you think you can do it all on your own. If you are anything like me, you will think and you will want to do everything by yourself. You want to enjoy your baby in peace and quiet once you get home from the hospital. Have some alone family time and enjoy the wonders of a newborn baby. You will reject your mother’s offer to fly in ahead of time and will be pissed when she shows up anyway. Boy, was I wrong. Mom, I apologize for being so stubborn! Thank god you did not listen to me and came anyways. Coming home after a c-section is delightful. But physically there will be so much you shouldn’t be doing. And it will hurt to get up from the couch and the bed. So if you have someone around that will hold the baby and bring the baby to you, help out with the cooking, the cleaning, and taking you and the baby to your appointments, you will appreciate it! Husbands/partners are great help, of course! But depending on their leaves from work, they might not be home to help. So if you can, have a plan B!
  6. You’ll still have postpartum bleeding. I guess I just never gave this one too much thought, but of course you will still have bleeding, just as if you had a vaginal birth. Were you happy that you didn’t get your period for 9 months? Well, you’ll make up for it in the 6 weeks after birth! Have many pads (the big ones, too) in your house for when you come back from the hospital. You will need them.
  7. The c-section scar. Healthcare professionals will judge your scar like its artwork and ask you who the “artist” was if it is a good one. Apparently, I was lucky. Every nurse that came in to check on me made a wonderful surprised face and asked me “Who did your c-section? Your scar looks amazing!” Of course, for you, it will never look amazing, because it’s your body. But, if nurses say it looks good, you should take the compliment and feel good about it! Also, I have to say, Bio-oil, really helped me with the scar. It’s looking so much better and lighter. I tried the silicone strips first, and just didn’t like them. They would get caught up  in my clothes and I ended up not putting them on because of the inconvenience. Don’t forget to ask your doctor when it’s ok to start applying any type of product on your scar.
  8. Medication. Even if you don’t like taking medication, you WILL be taking painkillers! I hate taking meds and will only do so when I really, really, really need to. I took meds for more than 6 weeks after the c-section. Not the super strong ones. Those I took for about 2-3 weeks. But, I continued taking Ibuprofen for a while. I was in pain for a bit longer than expected. The midwife said it was because I was lifting weights before the recommended timing. So, if you have another option, please don’t lift your child’s car seat before you should. I was by myself with the baby after week 3 and had some last-minute doctor’s appointment that I had to go to, so really had no other option. You can do it, but you will just be stalling your recovery.
  9. Getting dressed. Clothes will be uncomfortable and soft pajama bottoms with no elastic band or nightgowns will be your best friends. I remember even some of my underwear feeling bothersome because they would sit right on top of the scar. So keep that in mind when choosing your outfits for the first couple of weeks.
  10. Weight loss. People say that it’s usually harder to recover from a c-section, with regards to losing the baby weight. I didn’t experience that. Let’s be clear. I am not one of those people who can eat anything and not put on weight. Quite the contrary. So, I was surprised to begin with that I only gained 34 pounds during my pregnancy. Specially when I did not exercise regularly or pay too much attention to what I ate. I did drink LOTS of water, which probably helped. But just because I was always so damn thirsty! Anyways, postpartum, the weight just slowly started shedding off, again without any particular diet or exercise. I was exclusively breastfeeding for 4 ½ months and continued breastfeeding even after introducing solids, up to today (11 ½ months). I do think this was the main reason. Today, I am 7 pounds lighter than when I got pregnant. I am pretty scared about what will happen when I stop breastfeeding, though. I WILL have to start a regular diet and exercise regimen if I want to keep it up. So, for me at least, besides being really swollen after birth, I don’t think there was a difference with weight loss due to the c-section.

So whether you are planning for a c-section or not, factor it in ahead of time. Know who will be helping you if you need it (you always need it, but you know what I mean) and look into products that might help with c-section recovery. For instance, it was too late for me when I found what seems to be these wonderful underwear for post c-section: C-panty.

There you have it. I am curious to know what you would add to this list! Comment below.

 

Birth Plan: the dream, the reality, and everything in between

birth plan

I realize now the impact of birth and your birth story. It’s been almost a year and I still have not written the post I planned on writing about Birth Plans and Labor. I think in a way, it’s just been more comfortable to not go back and think about it again. After I finally felt like it was done and dealt with, going back to thinking about it and writing about it, was more than I wanted to handle. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not traumatized, nor do I regret anything. And above all, the most important thing, was a healthy baby and healthy mommy, which fortunately we were blessed with. However, being in labor, having a baby, and becoming a mother is one of the most powerful things that will ever happen in your life. And rightfully so, you have expectations about how it will happen. And the reality of what DID happen, are the memories that will stay. In between, is where the difficult emotions lie. In between are the dreams that you did not see come true. In between are the feelings of frustration, sadness, and grief. In between are thoughts, doubts, feelings of incompetence, and what ifs. In between, lies the difficult reality that is hard to accept: you can not control everything in your life; you can not do everything the way you would like for your child and for yourself, from the get-go.

Like I mentioned in my last couple of posts, throughout my pregnancy I gave a lot of thought to what my ideal labor and delivery would look like. As many wise people advised: you should have a plan of preferences and be prepared to change it. And so that is what I did. I knew very well that everything I was planning might not happen the way I wanted it to. But until you are living it, it’s hard to realize how difficult that actually is.

We prepared for labor with a Hypnobirthing class at Newton-Wellelsey Hospital. My husband enjoyed getting to know all the facts and what to expect and I enjoyed a perspective that made me feel more confident about my decision in choosing natural childbirth. Plus, we both enjoyed our mini-naps during the relaxation exercises after a long day at work. I have to say, though, from the beginning, I thought their perspective of feeling NO pain, was too exaggerated and a far stretch for everyone to achieve… but, maybe I would be one of the lucky ones? Everyone said Hypnobirthing required daily practice and I was not religious about it. I would practice the relaxation exercises now and then, I would hear the positive affirmations on my way to work, and I read the book from top to bottom. But was it a daily exercise for me? Not really.

We hired a great doula. This was one of the best things we could have done. Please read more about this  in the prior post: On the decision of hiring a doula.

So what was in our birth plan exactly? We wanted a natural childbirth, with the least medical interventions necessary. We would not be offered pain medication, but would ask for it if we decided to go that route. We would not have continuous monitoring, unless medically necessary and not be constricted to the hospital bed. We would be able to move around, use the birthing ball, the tub (if available). We could labor and give birth in whatever position was more comfortable. An episiotomy was to be avoided and only used if necessary. Once the baby was born, she would be put on my chest and allowed to latch on. We would delay cord clamping and cleaning and weighing the baby for more skin-on-skin time after birth. Vitamin K shots and any other procedure for the baby would be done while the baby was with me. Obviously, all of this if everything went well health wise with the baby and I.

That was my plan. That’s what I was hoping for. And rationally, I was prepared to alter the plan at any given moment if the circumstances made me do so. But emotionally… oh that’s a whole other story! So what actually happened? It’s such a long story. But I will try to summarize the important parts. But let’s just say it probably couldn’t have ended up being more medicalized, to my disappointment.

Tuesday afternoon I started having contractions. They were regular, but tolerable. I ended my work day (working from home) in a breeze. When I went to bed the contractions were getting further apart and I thought it might have just been another false alarm. After midnight the intensity picked up and by 4am they were 5 minutes apart. By 6am we reached our 5-1-1 protocol and called the hospital. We arrived at 8am and our doula met us there. When we were told I was only 1cm we could not believe it! We were sent back home with some recommendations to try to shift the baby’s position, which was not ideal either.

So I labored at home, trying to rest and eat (not very successfully). The intensity was getting higher but the timings were irregular. I laid on my couch, I was in the shower for a good hour, I did a bunch of positions to try to shift the baby to a better position with the help of Nancy (our doula) and my husband. By 4pm, after eating some homemade chicken soup my lovely mother made, they were 3 minutes apart and back to the hospital we went. Now, 24 hours later, I was tired. At intake we were told we were at 5cm and could be admitted. They even had a room with a tub. So, I labored in the tub for another hour, but was struggling. At that point, I struggled with my first decision: to get or not to get the epidural. I had made it to 5cm but 24 hours had passed and my energy was disappearing. Maybe if I just got the epidural I could sleep and relax a bit and feel better for when the baby arrived? Still, I was worried about the pushing the baby with an epidural among other things. My wonderful midwife and nurse made me feel comfortable with my decision. So after I got out the tub, I was 7cm and got the epidural. After that, things just did not go as planned.

The epidural wasn’t working well and I needed to get more very often. My progression stalled. Since my water had not broken, I got pitocin. Nothing happened. Decided then to rupture membranes. Finally reached 10cm. At this point it was already 2am. Pushed for 1 hour. Nothing. Pushed for another hour. Nothing. Tried different positions. Remember thinking, “this baby is coming out!!!”. But I was completely depleted. In labor for almost 40 hours, more than half of that without an epidural, and the rest with an epidural that wasn’t working. Pushing for 2 hours and NO progress at all. So, we ended up in the OR with a diagnosis of “failure to progress” (which the name of the diagnosis alone makes you feel like the word itself – a failure!) and a cesarean. It wasn’t an emergency. It was the last resort. To top it off, with all the medication I was given due to the probably badly done epidural, I don’t remember a thing. I remember thinking “why is he (the Dr.) already cutting? My husband’s not here yet” and next thing, I see my husband brining our bundled up baby to me and emotionally saying “she’s beautiful!“. What?! What just happened? I couldn’t believe I didn’t even get to hear her be born! Then I looked at her. At that point I forgot everything about the whole journey! I couldn’t believe she was here! I loved her immediately. I could not stop crying and just wanted to hold her!

I have to say that Newton-Wellesley did a wonderful job with trying to make a C-section be the best experience possible. I had a wonderful uncomplicated C-section and scar. The baby NEVER left our sight. As soon as we got to the recovery room she was put on my chest to latch and she was skin-to-skin with me even while my bed was taken to our room in the Maternity ward. All our postpartum wishes were respected and attended to: no formula, sleeping in my room, etc.

I was in the hospital for 5 days. I think it was a blessing. For 3 days the midwives came and spoke to us about my labor and delivery and tried help us process all the feelings. They knew things had not gone as planned and they knew how emotional that could be. We cried, we laughed, we hoped it had been different, we accepted the reality of what had happened. Besides, staying in the hospital was critical for establishing breastfeeding. I am not sure if I would have been successful at  home had I been discharged after 2 days (more on that in a future post).

After all most a year, the part that still makes me tear up is remembering that I didn’t hear her be born. It hurts. Some people don’t get it. But I think you need to go through it to really understand. What makes me feel better? Of course, having a healthy child. But also, a wonderful video that my husband captured of that bright-eyed girl looking straight at the camera after being in this world for only 1 minute. She was ready to steal our hearts and take this world by storm. Our journeys began that day. That Thursday morning at 8:08am. And I have some reassurance knowing that she was born when and how she had to be born, even though it was not as I had planned.

 

Daily Activities with a Baby – September 23, 2014

This was our activity for today:

an aquarium sensory bag!

 

sensory bag

What you need:

  • ziplock bag (preferably the ones that have the zipper, for added security);
  • cheap hair gel – I got this one at the Dollar Store and it was already blue. But you can also buy clear one and add food coloring;
  • Foam fish – we used this because we had it around the house from other projects;
  • Duct tape – to secure all ends.

Just add some hair gel to the ziplock bag, put in your fishy and duct tape all around! And voilà! Your baby can have fun pushing the fishy around the gooey bag! It’s cute and a great sensory activity for the kids! Touching different textures is a great tool for babies’ development.

You can do this in different themes and with different objects and substances. For example, you can use shaving cream or water. You can add different objects like small beads, buttons, and other plastic or foam toys and shapes. Just make sure you pick objects that won’t poke holes in the bag and if you have a younger baby that still puts everything in their mouths (I am there with you! When will that phase ever pass?) keep a close on eye on them in case the bag does get damaged and leaks.

Here are some other ideas:

  1. Sensory Baby for Baby by Plain Vanilla Mom
  2. Halloween Sensory Bag by Hands on as we Grow
  3. Glowing Sensory Bag by Growing a Jeweled Rose
  4. Button Sensory Bag by Falling Flanellboards
  5. Glittery Sensory Bag by IntelliDance

Get creative and share in the comments your own creations!

 

How The #100HappyDays Challenge Has Changed Me

It has been one month since I started the #100HappyDays Challenge. Influenced by other people whom I follow on social media, I decided that I would give it a try. How hard can it be to post something that makes you happy every day? Well, unfortunately, sometimes it is really hard. We live in a fast-paced world and rarely do we slow down to reflect upon the simpler things in life. We move along from one obligation to the next and when we realize it a week, a month, a year as flown by.

For those who follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that I started this adventure the first day I decided to stay home. So of course, my days have been a bit easier know that they are not full with the hustle and bustle of the full-time working mom days (although there is a lot to be said about the work of being a full-time mom too. But that topic I will leave for another post). And yes, I have a wonderful baby that makes me happy every day. But, to challenge myself, I try to really think of any other little or big thing that is making my life happier that day.

#100HappyDays has made me a more mindful person. Everyday I am forced to look back and think about sensations, feelings, thoughts that filled my spirit with positivity. Because of #100HappyDays, I practice gratitude every day. I count my blessings. I focus on what makes me fulfilled and happy. Sometimes it is something as simple as feeling the sun on my skin or the breeze blowing through my hair. Things that might have happened on other days, but because of all the craziness of the life you are living, you might not have the time to stop and think about it. And then you are in the perpetual grayness, where life just loses its color.

I am looking forward to the next 68 days of the challenge and hope that by the end it has become a daily practice that I can continue throughout life.

I am sold! Will you join me in this challenge? 

#100HappyDays

Making My Own Path To Happiness

I was invited to write as a guest blogger on my dear friend’s blog and website – Purpose & Path – a site on numerology, energy, and life guidance.

Here is this month’s post:

 

path to happiness

Photo by: jnyemb
https://flic.kr/p/8A2ywC

When my best friend told me she was quitting her stable job in a time of economic recession to become a numerologist I thought: “Are you out of your mind???!!! I left our country and emigrated because I could not find a job and you are quitting yours?” But as a good friend I toned down my negativity, shared some of my concerns, but ultimately said I would support her in any of her decisions. And against all odds, in a fragile economy, and proving wrong all the nay sayers… she did it! She created a successful business and most importantly, was a much happier person and professional! And I was just thrilled seeing her so fulfilled.

Throughout this change, she has managed to “drag” me along with her. We talk so much about life, change, happiness, and she has made me think and look at numbers (and life) in a whole new way. I have found myself reconnected with a much more “spiritual” self, more mindful of my wishes, needs, and desires in that all so sought after road to happiness. I wanted to beam the same happiness I saw on her face, as I once used to.

Coincidence or not, it is on this month, month 5, month of change, that after a lot of reflection, discussion, and soul-searching, I decided to take my own leap of faith. Sometimes in life you just have to close your eyes and jump. Sometimes you can’t listen to the critics. Sometimes you can’t make decisions based exclusively on what’s rational. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart. Like my dear friend so many times has told me: if it makes you feel happy, than it’s because it’s the right thing to do. And, that’s what I am doing right now.

Since I have decided to leave my stable employment (as stable as a contract ending in the next few months can be) I have beamed more happiness than you could ever imagine. I took the leap of faith and am happy at home enjoying time with my beautiful baby that is blooming in front of my eyes. I get to be back with her, I have more time to think about myself, I am starting to have time to do things that I love (like writing), I am venturing out on new business opportunities, and most importantly, I get to stop. I can stop, reevaluate my priorities and develop a plan that will eventually bring me closer to my path of happiness.

See, many would say, “well you could do this while holding your job”. But can you really? When you feel like you are stuck it’s like having a cloud around you. You can’t see anything in front of you, just the present. And you stay there, stuck, trying to make ends meet, trying to make it to the next day, just mending patches in what needs to be immediately fixed. I now feel free. I can dream again, I can plan again, I can envision other paths. My 5 is allowing me to reboot and start fresh.

It is still too early to say where I am headed. But somehow, I just know, I just trust, that everything will be fine. I am not just trying to create a path to happiness. I am living the path and being happy while I create it.

New and Refreshed Two Tiny Feet

It’s been a long absence. A lot has happened. A lot has changed. But throughout this whole time, I have always held in my mind all the things I wanted to say and share. Two Tiny Feet was always with me. Never forgotten. If only there were an app that could translate to your blog what you were thinking… Since we are still far from that technology advancement, I would just jot down some notes and started many drafts that are now pending on my dashboard. I will slowly share my journey with you in the upcoming months. I can’t wait to share all that has been going on. For now, I just wanted to reintroduce Two Tiny Feet and it’s new and refreshed format.

As many of you know, I have lived both in the US and in Portugal through different times in my life. Although I am currently living in the US, I still wanted to be able to reach my Portuguese readers. So, this blog is now bilingual! When you reach the front page, you will see a Welcome page and you can choose your language. If you are a subscriber to my blog, you might start seeing Portuguese posts as well. Particularly now, when I will try to translate some of my past posts to catch up.

Also, one of the many updates of my life is a new partnership and business venture. You can read more about this in the Services section.

I hope everyone is happy with this new feature and I hope to be able to reach more readers who are interested in following these tiny footsteps!

refreshing

Picture by: Brian A. https://flic.kr/p/6i1As