The photos above were taken about 6 hours after Johnny was born. This was the first time Giada got to meet her new baby brother, a moment in which she had been preparing for months beforehand. It’s amazing how calm he got once she started talking to him, he definitely recognized her voice from all the times she sang to him and told him stories while in my belly. At the time these photos were taken, I was doing great. For just getting off the operating table that same morning, I was up walking around and feeling no pain, considering. The nurses were pretty shocked at how fast I was recovering, but warned me to take it easy and not overdo it. I should have listened.
It’s standard to go home on day 3 after a c-section, but I’m a bad patient and was in such a rush to get back home to my other two kids and resume my normal life that I begged them to release me on day 2. Johnny had already spent one full night under the phototherapy lights and his last bilirubin check leveled off, his poor heel had been pricked so many times at that point and since bilirubin levels typically fall within the normal range the older baby gets and the more he eats & poops, I felt confident that he’d be ok. I felt great too, just ready and raring to get out of the hospital and back in the comforts of my own home.
The next day, day 3, the visiting nurse came to my house as they usually do for all new mothers. It’s a great thing my hospital does, they come to check on both of us and it allows new moms to feel safe and secure while given the opportunity to stay home and bond with their new baby. My visiting nurse, Liza, also happened to be my midwife during Giada & Marco’s pregnancy. She recently retired from the practice and decided to continue working with moms and babies for the hospital this way, so since I couldn’t see her at all throughout this pregnancy I was really glad she got to come over and meet my new son. She pricked Johnny’s heel one more time to confirm his jaundice was a thing of the past, put his blood sample in her bag for testing once she returned to the hospital and then asked to see my incision so we could remove the staples. I felt perfectly fine, but to be honest I was so consumed with all the new changes going on and so thrilled that I was finally home that I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong with me anyhow. My focus was constantly on the kids and the readjustment to life as we now know it, and I was overly joyous in a blissful cloud of new motherhood again that I didn’t stop to think of- let alone worry about- my own recovery.
She took one look at my incision and changed her mind about removing my staples. It was obvious it wasn’t ready yet, and on top of that she was concerned with the swelling and redness I had. She knew right away it was infected, so she called my midwife who then proceeded to call my pharmacy to start me on an antibiotic. A couple hours later after I picked up my prescription, the hospital called with Johnny’s results. Bad news, I was gonna have to bring him back to be readmitted so he can spend another night under the phototherapy lights, only this time without me.
I was devastated, it felt like everything was hitting me at once and all of the emotional turmoil that escaped me previously throughout the last 3 days finally came around to taunt me. Like a tiny voice from a guilty bad conscience paid me a visit just to punish me for leaving the hospital way too eagerly & much too soon so it could say, “Uht-ah, you’re not getting away with childbirth that easy. Wipe that smile off your face because the joys of motherhood are just now beginning, darling.”
I mentally smacked that sarcastic devil off my left shoulder and went into my room where I had a breakdown. I was shaking, crying, overcome with anxiety and all. Not because of the news of his test results in particular, but because it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The lack of sleep, the kids making so much noise, the uncertainty of how I was healing, the fact that I’d have to be separated from my newborn overnight plus the hard time I was gonna have going back to breastfeeding after it was already a struggle being that we were supplementing in the hospital for his jaundice… Oh yeah, and the frenectomy I scheduled for Johnny to correct his tongue tie issue that couldn’t come fast enough, further making feeding difficult and contributing to his jaundice & weight loss which was nearing the 10% mark; all that plus much more hit me like a bag of bricks, and I just broke down.
Fast forward one week later to when these pictures were taken. John Fox was brought home the very next morning after his readmittance and was finally in the clear, now all that was left to do on his end was have his frenectomy performed so he could feed better and that was scheduled for the following day. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a painless procedure where they clip a tiny bit under his tongue so he can extend it out further. It was no big deal, he didn’t even cry. He was thriving, but I on the other hand was only getting worse. There I was a week post partum and I seemed to be in more pain then compared to the whole week prior. Once again, all the pain that I had escaped and successfully eluded me after my surgery somehow found me, and suddenly I was on the couch crying, unable to twist or move around at all.
That stupid little sarcastic devil showed his face again, wagged his finger at me and said, “Uht-ahhh, you didn’t think you were gonna get away with a c-section without a lot of pain, did you?”
I was supposed to be getting better, not worse, so I back handed that devil off my shoulder for a second time and then used it to pick up the phone and call my doc. I went in the same day and expressed all my concerns, explained how I was still taking the antibiotic like I should, and afterwards my doctor proceeded to finally remove my staples. The staples being gone really helped, I can’t believe how irritated they made my incision feel, but when I peeked down at my incision all I saw was a flap of skin and all the anatomy beneath it. It was completely open still, there was a big hole in which I could see everything inside my body through. The right side healed fine, but the left side looked like I was just stabbed with a sword and left wide open. It was the scariest thing I’d ever seen! Being somebody that’s never had any medical aliments or trauma besides my previous c-section, it was by far the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
“Oh no”, I thought. “This cannot be happening to me.” For the first time, I was actually scared.
As a non medical professional, my first assumption was that I’d have to get stitches. To me, that would seem like the obvious quick fix and one that would certainly be indicated judging by the appearance of my wound. However that wasn’t the case, I was told that these wounds have to heal from the inside-out and if I got stitches it might lead to further infection plus leave an empty pocket beneath it. Starting from that day, I’d have to go to a specialized facility (appropriately called The Wound Center) to address and care for my open incision. It would be a daily thing since my dressings would constantly have to be replaced, not to mention a huge inconvenience being that I’d have to leave the house every day and be away from the kids for about 2 hours each time.
My doctor did a great job of making sure I was seen by them right away, they didn’t have any openings until a week out yet he somehow managed to convince them to take me in the next day. By the way, thank you Dr. P, you are a fantastic physician and all your efforts and involvement in my care will never be forgotten and is greatly appreciated. Well, my very first visit to the wound center didn’t go quite as I expected. I thought they would just patch me up until the next day and send me home, but instead they ordered me to be on a wound vac. A wound vac is a machine that has to be attached to the open area of my incision and be left on 24/7, it applies negative pressure therapy on the affected area and ultimately heals the wound 50% faster than it would’ve on its own. Kinda cool, but kinda a pain in the ass having to be hooked up to a machine all the time.
The cause of my open wound: too much activity after surgery. Or at least that’s what I was told. I happen to think it’s more likely to be secondary to infection, but who knows. It’s probably both, however here I am now at 2 weeks postpartum and I’m still recovering. Technically, this story is still one in progress, but I’m pretty sure now I’m finally over the hump and on my way to being back to normal. So expecting moms who may be having a c-section, heed my warning and be a bum that first week. It may be boring, especially if & when you feel like your normal self again, but when they say no cooking, cleaning, driving or lifting anything heavier than your baby… listen to them. I’m extremely grateful for both the health of my newborn and for the great care I’ve been receiving from the medical staff at all three facilities I’ve been visiting so frequently, but God I am so ready for this to be over. Along with the pain and physical discomfort this issue is dealing me, I’m so mentally drained and in a constant state of paranoia that something bad will happen to me. If I get an infection again I’ll have to be hospitalized and since it’s still a wide open wound, the fear is always there to bug me. I have to be healthy and strong, not for myself but for my kids. I’ve been doing everything I can to participate in my own care because I know these kids need me here at home and can’t live without me. I remember the days when it was just me, and how having children changes things so drastically. Now, everything I do revolves around them, even taking better care of myself if only for their own sake.
Motherhood, what a journey. And to think my story of parenting 3 has only just begun. But you know what? I simply wouldn’t have it any other way.