Our Journey

2002 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #1

2003 1st consult with an RE, you know, just in case

2003 Got Married (at 37 (me) & 34 (DH) years old)

2003/2004 Naturally conceived pregnancies BFPs #1, #2, & #3 and miscarriages #1, #2, #3

2005 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #2

2005 IVF #1, BFN #1

2005 IUIs #1 and #2, just because, BFN #2 & #3

2005 FET from IVF #1, BFN #4

2006 Exploratory surgery to remove scar tissue from fibroid sugery #2

2006 IVF #2 (w PGD), BFP #4

2006 Emergency cerclage for IC @ 16w6d (5 months + 1 week of complete bed rest at home ensues)

2007 Our son is born @ 38w by scheduled c-section

2007 IVF #3 for baby #2, BFN #5

2007 IVF #4, BFP #5, miscarriage #4

2008 IVF #5, BFP #6, miscarriage #5

2008 IVF #6, BFP #7, miscarriage #6

2008 DE IVF #7, BFN #6

2009 DEFET #8, cancelled, embryos don't thaw

2010 Decide to adopt domestically

12.17.10 Profile is live with our agency

November 2011 Consult with RE re: donated embryo cycle

Early January 2012 Cleared to proceed with deFET

January 2012 Freeze our profile

1.20.12 deFET begins
2.12.12 eSET of one compacted morula
2.22.12 BFN

3.23.12 deFET #2 begins
4.14.12 transfer 3 embryos (1-8 cell, 1-5 cell, 1-4 cell)
4.22.12 + HPT
4.24.12 Beta #1 = 48.4
4.26.12 Beta #2 = 125.7
4.30.12 Beta #3 = 777.8
5.11.12 1st U/S - Singleton!
7.12.12 It's a Boy!
12.26.12 C-section: Baby G is born, 9#5oz, 20.5"

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The Bad and the Ugly

Anyone who has lived through what Dr. Karp refers to as the 4th trimester with a newborn, and particularly after having a c-section, can attest to the difficulties adjusting once home.  It is not just the familial adjustment of adding another member to one’s family (and that is it’s own adjustment, believe me, especially for child #1), but there are real trials that will test a new mother and I have many to share.  This is the bad and in some cases the downright ugly side of post partum.

  1. Hormone crash:  While every woman experiences this to varying degrees, it happens to all women.  Once the hormone rich placenta is removed, levels begin to decline and sometimes rapidly.  In my case, during both my pregnancies, this crash coincided with our returning home.  Not only do I feel emotionally raw and easily moved to tears (and I mean the ugly cry, more than once a day), but I can’t predict what is going to trigger me, how deep the spiral will be, and how long it will last.  I have cried for long stints (over half an hour) both yesterday and today.  It feels less scary than it did with my son and I attribute that to better pain meds (as pain medication can magnify one’s emotional reactions).
  2. Blisters: I am allergic to latex tape, something I often forget to mention.  With this c-section, my MFM covered the incision with an adhesive pad.  It was removed yesterday morning and I remember the skin feeling itchy.  I scratched a little when I was in the bathroom and thought what is that wetness I feel?  Turns out my scratching opened several blisters.  I have large blisters (pinto bean size) all across my lower abdomen where the adhesive met my skin.  I also noticed upon close examination of my incision, that blisters are forming under the steri-strips that were affixed over the sutures.  Lovely.  It was so uncomfortable tonight that I decided to lance them.  I haven’t looked again, but I feel like they either re-filled or new ones have formed.
  3. Swelling:  I experienced almost no pregnancy related edema.  During a c-section, one receives a number of liters of fluids.  I received 7 liters during my pregnancy with my son and asked for a reduction in that amount during this one.  I’m not sure what the final tally was, but judging by my significantly swollen hips, thighs, calves, ankles, and feet, I’m gathering that I got about the same amount.  The swelling has painfully stretched my skin and if I am on my feet too long, I literally can’t bend my ankles.  It is quite a sight.  It could take two weeks for my body to be able to process the fluid and, really, drinking fluids is the best way to move it along.  Suffice it to say it is uncomfortable.
  4. Soreness:  I am sore, internally, and the pain meds don’t completely take the pain away.  I should mention that I consented to have a tubal ligation during my c-section.  At several points during my surgery I heard my MFM discussing the state of adhesions in my abdomen with the doctor assisting her.  During my c-section with my first son, I requested that the adhesions be removed (and because my bowel was attached to the back of my uterus with a finger like rope of scar tissue, this required a specialist be called in.  No one wants to nick a patient’s bowel).  At Kaiser, their preference is to leave them or to only remove them if it benefits the surgery in some way.  At any rate, at one point Dr. F. began to explain that she could not perform the ligation because the round ligaments and my fallopian tubes were plastered in a tangle of adhesions to my uterus (and, we gatherws, was the source of my pain throughout this pregnancy).  She marveled at just how she could not discern what was what.  At one point she called it remarkable. She invited my husband to come around and take  a look and to take pictures so that I could see if I wanted to.  He did and I did.  What grossed me out was the look of having all these structures attached to my uterus.  At any rate, all that mess is causing additional internal soreness for me now.
  5. Hemorrhoids:  I have never had one and thought I’d avoided them with this pregnancy.  However, on the morning of my c-section, I did feel some swelling, attributed it to a pregnancy hemorrhoid and didn’t think much about it.  Fast forward to today.  TODAY as in 3 days post op when I was in the shower.  I remember the solution they use to sterilize the back before inserting the spinal block dripping down to my butt so I decided to do a more thorough cleaning.  I won’t give a detailed account but I felt something hard (and literally thought it must have been poop that somehow must have come out during surgery but never got cleaned) and the more I felt, the more freaked out I became when I felt THREE of them.  A chain of hemorrhoids!  OMG, I panicked for a minute because they were OUTSIDE my body.  I did some research that said that people get a lot of relief by pushing them back in, but these are not going back (and, even if you do manage to get them back in, they will pop back out at your next BM, so the ‘fix’ is temporary).  I can’t bear to actually take a mirror and look but I did Google “hemorrhoid” images and what I saw is what I felt.  It is possible they will recede over time, but it is also possible that they’ll require surgery to repair.  Loverly,
  6. Engorgement: As happened with my pregnancy with my first son has happened again:  when my milk comes in it is fast and furiously, much more than can be expressed through nursing.  And, we’ve been having a few hiccups in that department, too.  My son is intermittently feeding at the breast.  At first it was because he didn’t like the lanolin.  Once I showered and fully cleaned it off, he was back to nursing again.  My husband picked up something for me from Whole Foods that is lanolin free but apparently that also upsets baby boy’s delicate taste buds.  Which leaves me to have to pump and pump and pump in an attempt to get some relief.  But, here is the thing, I can’t get ahead of it.  Even if I pump for 20 minutes on full speed, it only barely and temporarily eases the engorgement.  And, I can’t really pump more than every 2 hours.  So, my breasts are like hot boulders rocks.  I am about to pump again now and will have to pump once or twice overnight.  It is quite painful to pump engorged breasts.  Trust me.

So, there you have it.  Physically (and to a lesser extent, emotionally), I am a hot mess.  I am uncomfortable, tender, sore, blistered and hemorroidal.  Any one of these is bad enough on its own and would make one feel less than up to par.  But, taken altogether, it is a lot and is overwhelming on top of acclimating to this newborn, to the sleep deprivation, and adjusting as a family of four.

If anyone has experience with any of the above and wants to share tips for resolution, I’m listening.

I managed to avoid getting stretch marks.  Yay me!

10 comments to The Bad and the Ugly

  • Anna

    Oh my goodness, this takes me back. I’m sorry that it is all so messy and hard to deal with. I remember just knowing that if I got a couple of nights rest my body would be able to sort these things out but, of course, you don’t get those nights and just have to keep going.

    Regarding the hemms, I struggled with these for months. Tbh, for me I think they truly went with the breastfeeding. I tried all the conventional remedies, cream and pessaries, but they would go and then come back. I tried bathing with an essential oil in water mixture, it was what my mum turned to when she had the same thing. I will check the oil and post later on.

    I also had the problematic engorgement, there wasn’t a nursing bra big enough (literally) and they were hot and sore and the skin got stretched. However, it did ease off. I tried warm compresses, I actually tried cabbage leaves too but then I freaked out about the possibility of soil contamination (not at my most rational).

    Hang in there, you’ve done this before and you bounced back. It’s really hard but you will build yourself up in slow steps. I am hoping that things are starting to change already,x

  • Ugh, so sorry! Post-partum isn’t pretty, that’s for sure. I second the motion for a pp doula or other sensitive friend who can help with life tasks. I didn’t have one, but it would have made all the difference if I had. You need time and space to deal with all your physical issues, plus oh yeah, the hormone drop and sleep deprivation! And 2 kids and … It does get easier, but when you’re in the thick of it? Phew. SO hard.

  • And this is the stuff few people talk about. But usually they have one or two of them points you mention, not all! I do hope you feel better soon. Those blisters sound bad. I sent you an email about the rrhoids – it’s just too much for just one comment. What can I say, I’ve been there and know my shit. :-)

  • ugh. I had one of those wombs too. one procedure 7 yrs ago revealed that my tubes were twisted and an ovary fused to the back of my uterus, along with part of my colon. I remember my doc was fascinated. `

    and yes the healing after a c-sec at as you get older is tough! hoping everything goes more smoothly soon.

  • Laughed out loud at your last thought: No stretch marks! Godo for your for acknowledging the small victories too! I will be thinking about you and hope you feel more rcovered soon!

  • Sarah

    Oh honey, it’s all a big mess, isn’t it. I had hardly an edema either during my twin pregnancy, if you can believe it! But afterwards, lots. My doc, who I saw very day when he came by the nicu said that it’s nit the fluids they give you during the surgery, but your body trying to equilibrate the blood volume after the pregnancy. Get your feet up as much as you can. Oy.
    As for the engorgement, that’s also not milk, it’s swelling, ibuprofen and ice were the saviors of my sore breasts. The nurses would load a disposable diaper with crushed ice and then I’d ice after or before I pumped…can’t recall. Dr google? Are you massaging before you nurse or pump? Also, if you think you may be pumping long term, try the pumpin’ pals flanges. They are much more naturally shaped and helped with my pain level. Biiiiig hugs mama!

  • Tireegal

    This sounds like its so hard. You need time to feel your feelings, tend your wounds and let your body heal. I know after my c section I was flat on my back for two days because if the magnesium. By the end if the second day I needed to poop and fart so bad that when the nurse sat me on the toilet in some strange position because of my stomach pain I just cried and pooped and farted into oblivion. I didn’t care that my modesty was being compromised. I was so tired and emotional and couldn’t put a brave face on it anymore.
    My advice to you, which might seem weird is to please consider hiring someone to take care of you and to help with H while you get your strength back. There are post partum doulas just waiting to be hired! I know it’s expensive, but it’s a necessary and fruitful investment. They do all the stuff that you don’t have energy for, dishes, simple meals, baby care ( to give you a break) fold laundry, etc. and if you get the right one she will listen to you as well and be supportive and sympathize and bolster you up.
    We had one when Susan went back to work and it gave me a break and something to look forward to. I hate asking people for help who aren’t close to me, but I got better at it.
    So that’s my advice. All of it will get better with time, but that’s if you can white knuckle it through the hard times which are very hard.
    When I had horrible PPD I sent an email to all my friends and said I needed a sitter while S was gone. I arranged them to come in shifts. You could get hubby to do this for you or have him sign you up for Meal Train and get all your friends to sign up. Everyone who has congratulated you on baby or said they are there for you or want to see the baby are fair game. Don’t give up the baby care / bonding, but give up the mundane tasks and maybe some other stuff you don’t feel like doing.
    Ok, that’s my two cents.
    PS I know this could be costly but soon you won’t need the help as much, while now you do.
    Big hugs my friend!

  • Well, congrats on the no-stretchmarks! I was amazed to not get them, either. Kind of a waste on me, though, because my abdomen will never see the light of day.

    Be gentle on yourself. This is a such a huge transition, and a major physical recovery as well. While much of what you mention sounds familiar to me, I don’t have much wisdom to offer.

    Hemorrhoids, though — I’m betting yours will shrink down within the next few days. I’ve been blessed with some here and there since having my son (and I recall about 1 yr post-partum thinking my butt took much more of a hit than my vaginal area, which seemed so strange!). I am always freaked out when they pop up (sometimes grape-size) but it seems by the time I run out and get something to try to relieve them, they are shrinking away. The whole thing is still very mysterious and weird, but so far hasn’t been the huge thing I’ve feared. Yet!

    Best wishes and healing!

  • Meg

    The pumping may not be the best method for relief. Try warm compresses to stimulate flow before you pump. And oddly try cabbage leaves in your bra. Weird, but it works.

  • Ugh! No advice, just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you & hoping things smooth out!

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