Tuesday, April 22, 2014

C-Section Recovery Numero Dos

Alternate Title: Eatin' Mah Ute Meat

Or, If That's Too Graphic for You: We'll Be Better The Second Time Around

{Virtual Nerd High-Fives for all my fellow 90s-kid TGIFers!}

I didn't write much about my recovery after L was born {sensing a theme?}, although I touched briefly on some of my post-partum emotions here.

Pain-wise, I remember still being pretty damn uncomfortable after we left the hospital {6 nights total stay}.  Changing position while laying down was difficult for a while, and a walk around our block definitely left me feeling spent.  I know I refilled my Percocet Rx {I alternated Percocet with Motrin}, although I didn't finish the entire second bottle. I don't recall exactly what the "down-under" situation was like, but I think bleeding persisted somewhat consistently for three weeks or so.  It took an entire two weeks for my milk to come in completely {which I attribute to my body not being ready to give birth + L being a really lazy latcher and not fully stimulating milk production}.  At the time, I think I probably would have said my physical recovery overall was pretty easy {other than the milk issues} or at least typical, considering a cesarean is major surgery. 

As I've mentioned before, emotionally, I was a bit of a wreck.  I cried a lot.  I felt truly overwhelmed a lot.  There was definitely some baby blues going on, and our feeding schedule for the first three weeks {to get L's weight back up} was stressful and exhausting.  Plus just straight up being a parent for the first time, especially with a "sassy" baby, makes you a touch crazy.  But weeks and months after L was born, way after we had more of a loose "routine," way after we had established good nursing habits, I had mega anxiety... and, in many instances, over really irrational things.  Carrying L downstairs {even the three from our entryway / master bedroom into the kitchen / dining room area} was terrifying.  I didn't like to bring her into the kitchen for fear that the oven would magically (a) turn itself on, (b) open, and (c) suck my baby inside to be burned.  I lay awake at night for hours after feedings coming up with actual game plans to implement in case L were to be kidnapped by drug lords on our upcoming trip to Mexico {and this coming from someone who is the Anti-Oh-Mexico-is-So-Scary Traveler... I was happily signed up to attend a conference in Juarez whilst 7 months pregnant before my boss said "are you insane, absolutely not."}.  I was sure every Law & Order SVU and Criminal Minds episode I'd ever watched {without a second thought before} would happen to us.  I started thinking of everything in "worst case scenarios," because I reasoned "terrible things always happen when you least expect them... if I anticipate catastrophe, surely I will ward off the Bad." 

With a {brief} past history of depression and a family history of PPD, I'd been on the look out for signs of something deeper than just the "baby blues."  My feelings of anxiety didn't seem normal, but they also didn't fit the criteria for PPD, so I basically just muddled through for a while without mentioning anything to anyone. Right around 4 months post-partum, I received a Lucie's List e-newsletter outlining the symptoms for PPD and Post-Partum Anxiety {here's a great checklist for both}.  I'd never even heard of PPA before, which is somewhat shocking to me now considering I've suffered bouts of anxiety for 15 years or so. I debated getting back on anxiety meds but, in the end, wasn't super comfortable with taking my prescription while breastfeeding.  But just knowing PPA was A Thing was incredibly helpful, and I was able to employ techniques I learned in counseling in my late teens and early 20s to break on through to the other side. {Cue The Doors!}


My experience this go 'round really couldn't be more different... in the best possible way! 

I will say my first 36 hours post-surgery were really, really rough. Several nurses told me subsequent sections make for more difficult recoveries, and, based on the pain I was experiencing, I believed them.  I was up and walking ASAP just as I was with my first {I think I took my first steps only 3 hours post-op with L... it was more like 5 hours this time}, but the pain was excruciating.  I really think this was mostly due to poor pain management -- after the Morphine Incident in the recovery room, the peeps in charge of my drugs continued to play Goof Troupe, and things really didn't start to turn around until my second full day in the hospital when I pretty much told my nurse to REMOVE THIS BLASTED IV AND I'LL ROTATE ORAL PERCOCET AND MOTRIN FROM NOW ON I DON'T CARE WHO YOU HAVE TO CALL TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN PLEASE AND THANK YOU. 

It was all uphill from there... By Discharge Day {only 3 nights and 2 full days this time}, I was feeling really good.  A little bit of incision pain {mostly pulling}, but my range of motion was great. I took hydrocodone 3x a day for a couple of days, and then 2x daily for a couple more.  One week post-op I was completely off meds.  With an active toddler, we were out of the house right from the beginning; our first full week home included trips to the Arboretum, Toddler Open Gym, and park {E was with me... Super Solo Parent I am not}.  We even did 3 miles around White Rock 9 days post-op {admittedly, this was pushing it}.  Bleeding stopped after a week, but will rear it's ugly head if I get lax about my lifting restrictions {as expected, not being able to pick L up is the absolute worst result of the RCS -- both practically and emotionally speaking}. 

My overall energy level is high, all things {like sleep} considered.  My milk came in like a boss on Day 3. 

Emotionally, there have been loads less tears. The crying jags I have experienced are mostly due to feelings of guilt regarding L during some of our more difficult "transitional moments" {aka: "No, I don't want anything to do with you, Mommy" moments}.  Interestingly, I also tear up at "powerful" music... which makes L's requests for "Let It Go" a little dicey sometimes {Idina's high notes get me every damn time} {this phenomenon isn't new to me... when I was weaning off a large dose of evil, evil Paxil in college, I bawled throughout the entire three hours of Simon & Garfunkel's reunion tour like a total fruitcake}.  I've yet to feel totally overwhelmed or completely inadequate {although I've yet to wrangle both kids by myself for longer than an hour, so... time will tell!}.  There have definitely been moments of frustration, but things are relatively even keel over here. 

Anxiety-wise, I've only had one real "episode," and it's so incredibly ridiculous that I have to just laugh now.  One of our first nights home, I had a dream wherein a very fat {?} and very naked {???} Scott Foley attempted to break into our house via sky light {of which we have none} and murder me. I lay awake for hours sure some sort of burglary or attack was imminent.  It has been suggested that perhaps I should cut back on the Scandal watching, but, um, that's crazy talk.  Visions of Nude, Rotund Mr. Foley haven't bothered me since, nor have any other irrational thoughts. 

There are several explanations for what I'm so thankful has been an amazing second recovery...

... I knew what to expect this time.  Sure, every newborn is different and B has definitely thrown us for a few loops already, but Teeny-Tiny Baby #2 isn't nearly as terrifying as Teeny-Tiny Baby #1. 

... I'm well educated on PPA.  Again, just being able to identify my specific brand of crazy is therapeutic for me.

...We've had little to no issues nursing.  B was a great latcher and nurser from the get-go, and my milk came in early. I was prepared for the first weeks / months of breastfeeding to suck big hairy ones again, but things just really fell into place for us this time.  

...We lucked out with one of those mystical "easy second children" people talk about.  This kid is so super mellow; it's really incredible. I refuse to Internet Jinx this one. 

...I embraced self-cannibalism {DRAMA!} and encapsulated my placenta. 


I've had a lot questions on this one. I know it's not for everyone -- I wasn't even sure it was for me when I first reserved the services of our "encapsulator."  But while I thought my first physical recovery was pretty standard, I was willing to embrace all the crunchiness of dehydrated uterus meat {I mean that figuratively... unless you're making placenta jerky or something} if it meant less PPA and a better milk supply {read about all the supposed benefits here}.  Hell, I was even down for a good ol' placebo effect!  

And maybe that's what I'm experiencing.  I can't say definitively that placenta pills are magic... The ease of this recovery could be a combination of the first four statements above or simply plain good luck. But! {And maybe I'm ingesting Hippie Koolaid along with placenta} I'm inclined to think there's something to encapsulation.  Enough so that I'd recommend them to anyone who is looking to have a better post-partum recovery.  

For us, the process was super simple... I researched service providers in our area and contacted the one that was the most highly spoken of in reviews {that's her link above for any interested locals}.  She had me sign a contract for services and sent me an instruction sheet for packaging the placenta.  We had to coordinate the placenta's release from the hospital {MEDICAL WASTE JAILBREAK!} ourselves, which ended up being ridiculously easy {I have heard other hospitals can make this step quite difficult so definitely research the procedure before delivery if you plan on encapsulating}... I told my OB of our plans at one of my appointments and also informed the nursing staff once I checked into L&D.  Our hospital holds all placentas for a number of days before discarding them, and we just had to wait 24 hours before requesting it. We signed one piddly little form, packed that sucker up on ice in a brand new Styrofoam ice chest, and our encapsulator picked it up from our room at the hospital.  Less than 48 hours later, she delivered the pills to our doorstep... along with, um, the dried umbilical cord in the shape of a heart as a "keepsake." {WTF}  This went immediately in the trash.  Sorry B. No umbilical cord Christmas tree ornaments for us. 

The pills stay in the fridge or freezer.  They are smaller than your average multivitamin and look like they are filled with tiny red flakes.  An average placenta yields 160 to 200 pills; mine was right smack in the middle with 181.  I took 2 pills twice daily for the first two weeks and am  now down to 2 once daily for the next two weeks.  After that, I can take them "as needed" based on my energy level or emotional state.  Some women also like to save a week's worth for their first PP period.  And, no, they don't have any funky aftertaste. 

Does that adequately cover my Weird Overshare Quota for the year?  Probably so, yes?  I'll shelve all Placenta Talk for now on unless y'all have questions in the comments!

Aaaaaaaaaaaand I promise to be back soon with the link to my new favorite Yay These Don't Make Me Look Too Fat shorts and maybe a recipe or two...ones that don't involve human organs, PINKY-SWEAR.  

38 comments:

  1. I'm super interested in this. I heard about it, but shied away with #2 last year, but I definitely had some PPA and milk supply issues and just hormone emotional off balance. Reading about your journey with it and now finding out a friend in town is doing it too, I'm so ready to jump on board when and if we are blessed with #3. My local friend just shared link to who is doing her's in a few weeks. Their site talked about giving people the pills, cord keepsake and them Mother's Broth. Did you get that and if so did you use it? I can handle the pills, not so sure about the drinking the broth so now I'm even more curious :)

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    1. For an extra fee, I could have gotten "tinctures" which I'm assuming is the same thing as broth... I declined, thinking I'd be grossed out by that; now, I'm kinda bummed I didn't just go for it!

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  2. Hmm PPA is interesting... I had some major baby blues and nursing HELL in the first weeks but then for months I had overwhelming anxiety about Margot. She slept with us for the first 4 months and when we moved her into her room at 4-5 months I started waking up in a complete panic. I was convinced someone was going to break in and steel her! And we shared a bedroom wall. I'd check on her every couple of hours. And I wouldn't put her in the stroller for fear someone would walk up and snatch her while we were on a walk. And I never let people hold her at church and forget about the nursery! I chalked it up to wacky hormones and too many episodes of 20/20 growing up.

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  3. Reading your post was like re-living my life. After our son, I went nuts. Irrational scenarios of people pulling him out of his carseat on walks and throwing him in the pool abounded. I couldn't sleep because I knew the minute I let my guard down he would die. But I couldn't have PPD because one of my besties did and she couldn't find the energy to do anything for her children - almost didn't care about them. That was not me - if anything I loved him TOO much. When I found out about PPA, it was like the angels sang. So THAT'S what it was. I did take anti-depressants the first time around because I didn't know what else to do. With #2, I did everything different. And for the same 4 reasons above had a much different recovery. After my placenta pills were out, I did have a resurgence of anxiety, but it was nowhere near as bad as it was with #1. I took a bunch of homeopathic supplements {including GOAT placenta - eating your own placenta? child's play!} and saw a counselor and rebounded much faster and it never got nearly as bad. I now also use essential oils {LOVE, LOVE, LOVE} and there are a few I use for anxiety now {my 'day' job is going to be the death of me} that I know should we be blessed with a #3 {I say yes, hubs says no...hmmm} will also be in rotation of my anti-PPA arsenal. I'm so glad things are going better for you and I hope they stay good!!! I love that you are so open about your experiences, I think more women suffer from PPA and don't know about it because it's the 'lesser known PP', so the more it is talked/blogged about the better!

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    1. Oooo please tell me more about which essential oils you like for anxiety!! Also...where does one procure goat placenta pills?! I am so intrigued!!!

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    2. I just started getting into EO, would love to hear what's working for your PPA!

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    3. I don't have PPA now, but I do have some general anxiety I think that just comes with life with a full-time job, a husband and 2 kids. Ha! I LOVE Stress Away, Peace and Calming, Clarity (not really for anxiety but helps me stay focused and get the task at hand done which anxiety sometimes prevents), and I'm getting Joy next month to try!

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  4. I encapsulated too, my thoughts are the same as yours (like, exactly). I even yielded 180 capsules and threw the umbilical cord heart immediately in the trash as well.

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    1. I mean, I felt almost bad about tossing the umbilical cord, but...no. I just...no.

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  5. I clicked over to Feedly in the middle of writing my own recovery-style post and I can relate to so much of this! I had a PPA/PPD mix after my second, although I didn't recognize it for being a clinical thing until my son was 9 months old. I did get on meds and for me it was a good call. Then I weaned off them after several months without an issue but started up again in late pregnancy (so a couple months ago) when I could feel some of the old symptoms creeping back. I don't love that I took meds during pregnancy or while I'm nursing but at the same time I'm feeling sooooo beautifully even keel this time around. Like I still have emotions (and like you it's been about my other kids, just feelings of some guilt/sadness about them feeling upset by things) but I'm not crying all the time for no reason. I'm not totally overwhelmed like I was in the past. It's been good.

    I'm glad you are doing so well and I can't believe you busted our a 3 mile walk!

    PS - I must warn you that the placenta pills might get a little funkier as far as an after taste goes as the weeks go on...

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    1. Oh goodie, funkified pills! That just means their magical powers are increasing, right? ;)

      I think you do what you need to do to feel good - guilt free! - when it comes to medication. I wish I'd been more open to it last time as I'm sure it would have helped me feel better sooner. If I backslide this time, I'll readily open my arms to my old friends SSRIs!

      So glad you're feeling great this time!

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  6. So curious about this too. I had a horrible recovery (due to many factors I think) and would definitely want to do whatever I could to make a possible next time easier.

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  7. I just have to say that I LOVE your blog. I don't even remember how I found it, but i'm sure me and all my girlfriends have passed it around as a good one to follow.

    You're so real and so relatable! Love all the updates!

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  8. I almost spit my coffee out reading ute meat! Great info, I was intrigued and thought about doing the encapsulation with Harper, maybe next time! Glad you're feeling better this time around and congrats on baby #2!

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  9. Congrats and glad you are experiencing an 180. I just realized a little over a month ago that I've been experiencing PPA..... for 2 years! I started having panic atacks and once I realized it was anxiety ( the type I hadnt had since my loss before A) I started reading about PPA and realized I had it after A and just though it was normal or just me. Insane.

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    1. Isn't is crazy how little people talk about PPA? Makes me kind of angry -- I received all sorts of checklists on PPD (from my OB, from the hospital, parenting newsletters) and nothing about PPA until Lucie's List!

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    2. I really wasnt sure if it was happening from the mini pill I started, seasonal depression ( baby born 11/30 + worst winter on planet earth), or actual PPD. I googled and found the postpartumprogress site and read into the PPA and PP OCD which both fit like a glove. Downloaded Dropping the Baby and other scary thoughts and realized the author lives somewhat locally and has the Post Partum Stress Center here, so I'm in the midst of getting an appointment. I'm almost embarrassed to say these thoughts and feelings have been going on for so long. If you ever have time, I'd love to hear some of your coping mechanisms (ehayes1183@gmail.com) :) And thanks for posting. I shared a bit last month, I think it really helps others when we can be honest and not all it's honkydory and life is perfect.

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  10. Love reading how successful this all was for you! I had issues with milk supply so I'm sold on doing this for baby 2. (You may or may not remember, I kept my placenta in the freezer at home with baby 1, which was almost mistaken for a roast). Definitely check out essential oils for moods and homeopathic treatments. I'm the crazy friend always yelling out, "There's an oil for that!" We use them to make sunscreens, insect repellants and have even found it to be the most effective treatment for our 2yo's seasonal allergies.

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    1. I am definitely looking into EOs now! Thank you so much!

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  11. Bet this will shock you- I'd totally do this if I had a baby. IF.

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    1. ANOTHER REASON FOR A SLYNNRO BABY!

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  12. I had a lot better recovery with Deeds than Dh- largely I think because I was able to exercise throughout my second pregnancy. I'm so glad that things are going better this go-around. He is such a darling!

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    1. While I didn't do much "formal exercise" (oops) during pregnancy, I think I was definitely in better shape this time just from hauling L around and being on my feet all day / not stuck in an office chair!

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  13. I'm so glad to hear things are going better for you this time! I have to say, the placenta thing is not something I ever would've entertained before reading your posts. You've totally normalized it for me and I'm excited to research it when it's time for our next rodeo.

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  14. Thank you *SO* much for sharing so openly and honestly (as always). I'm 11 weeks pregnant, and the anxiety I've felt during the first trimester has taken me back to my college ED-days level of anxious...not very fun. I know I need to watch myself for PPD, and had no idea PPA existed before I read this post. Again, THANK YOU-I've bookmarked it for November when I'll need it. Congratulations on your second beautiful bundle of cuteness-I hope you're enjoying the beautiful chaos:-).

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    1. p.s. Loved your "Step By Step" shout out.....Full House, Perfect Strangers, Boy Meets World....the best!

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    2. You are welcome! I hope the anxiety abates as you head into that glorious 2nd trimester! Congratulations on your pregnancy!!

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  15. Thanks for sharing your experience and so glad the second time around has been better for you! I was singing the Step by Step theme song in my head as soon as I read that line, so loved that blast from the past! I wonder what sit-coms our kids will watch and remember like that...

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  16. Hi Kate. I've been reading your blog since you were pregnant with L and enjoy your writing style and honesty. My son is just a few months younger than L and I had some PPD issues that I didn't recognize at the time. Now that the fog has lifted I'm not sure how any of us survived that first year!
    When I got pregnant with the girls (born in February) I knew I wanted a different experience and when you posted about encapsulation I started looking into it. If anything I just wanted a placebo effect....anything was better than the first time around! Since I had fraternal twins I actually had TWO placentas to encapsulate and we yielded over 250 pills. I started them day 5 of my c-section recovery and have felt better than I have in years....TONS of energy (which people don't believe since I have three under two), I'm so very happy and haven't even shed a tear since their birth, and am producing over a GALLON of breast milk a day, in addition to what I'm breast feeding. I just need to say "thank you" because your post is what pushed me to seriously look into placenta encapsulation. I'm now recommending it (or it's placebo effect!) to all my pregnant friends!

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    1. I am so thrilled to hear how much you've liked your encapsulation experience and PP experience in general! That is awesome!

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  17. First things first, I am so so glad things are going so well for you this go round!! I have the opposite fear. M was the world's best newborn and and now I just know my second will be a holy terror. But back to you! I am so happy that you're in a good place now!

    Secondly...loved reading about our placenta encapsulating experience. Even thought my first experience was great, I have still considered it for the milk benefits since next time I won't go into labor and will be having a scheduled c-section. This scares me a tad.

    And third....that Scott Foley dream had me rolling. Thank you for sharing it with the good people of the internet :) So glad fat and naked Scott Foley hasn't made his way to Dallas lately.

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    1. I definitely would recommend doing encapsulation with a planned CS! I feel like it might just help tell your body "hey, we've had a baby! Kick it into gear!"

      Naked, fat Scott Foley was TERRIFYING...which is hysterical because who can reasonably be afraid of NOEL?? He couldn't even manage to deflower Felicity!

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  18. I'm so glad the ute meat is working out for you! Hee hee. In all seriousness, I think this sort of thing is great (obvs) and what's even greater is that you're able to proactively help yourself this go-round in the best way for YOU. High-fives and ute meat cheers to that!

    PS: I have a weird placenta story I forgot to tell you! Dammit I need to write a birth story.

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  19. I saw this card and immediately thought of you: https://www.etsy.com/listing/128242910/mothers-day-card-placenta. Love all the encapsulation info...not sure I am brave enough to try it, but very interesting nonetheless!

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  20. I had terrible PPA with my daughter and had no idea. We live in california and had a small earthquake when she was a couple days old. For months I would lay awake at night thinking we'd have a earthquake and she's get smashed in the rubble. I couldn't eat near her for fear I'd drop my fork and stab her eyeball out. I could list more irrational fears but I'll spare you. I never even heard of PPA until you talked about it. She is 6 now and I'm just realizing how bad it was when I had her and how I needed help. I really hope more people learn about this and help new mothers. Oh and I didn't have it at all with my second. Thank The Lord!

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happy little comments!