Having a baby is a big deal. It changes everything and no one can be completely, 100 percent, full-on prepared for what it's going to be like when you bring your new addition home from the hospital. Parenting a newborn is hard under any circumstances, but parenting after a c-section comes with a unique set of struggles, all its own.
When my son was born, we had just moved to a new town and had no local friends and our closest family was over an hour away. My husband wasn't able to take much paternity leave so, after a week or so, I was on my own. Every meal, every load of laundry, every trip to the grocery store; it was all me. While I knew things would be different, I had no idea just how difficult it would be.
I had to figure it all out pretty much by myself. I didn't have anyone to help me change diapers or carry the laundry basket, and I had to come up with some pretty unique solutions (just toss the laundry over the railing and let it land in a pile right beside the washer! BRILLIANT.) and deal with some pretty painful situations. Thankfully, by the time I had a handle on it my incision was all healed up and the simple things were a lot more manageable. However, knowing about the following struggles associated with parenting after a c-section would have definitely been beneficial.
Getting Out Of Bed
You've just had your abdomen cut open. That's a big deal all by itself. Now, throw a baby into the mix. Not only are you healing, but there's a tiny person who is completely dependent on you for survival.
That means you gotta get up, and it sucks. Getting up sucks on a normal day, but with a big incision across your belly, getting up gives new meaning to the word agony. It hurts even with pain meds on board, but once the prescription is gone, look out. To make matters worse, you have to get up more than ever before; you're up to change diapers, up to nurse or get a bottle, up to pee, and up to tend to whatever it is your baby may or may not need. It honestly seems like you spend more time getting up than you do lying down.
Lifting Your Baby
Once you're up, the battle is only half finished. You still have to pick up the baby. When your baby is brand new, all you want to do is cuddle that tiny sweet thing and you may have idyllic, sepia-toned pictures in your head of days spent lying in bed with your baby or taking long walks with the baby in a carrier or stroller. First things first, though; you have to figure out how to pick him or her up without killing yourself. Those abs of yours that were stretched thanks to a 40 week long (or more) pregnancy — the ones that were just cut open and sewn back together — are the exact muscles you use to pick up your child. Lucky you.
In one of the most ridiculous examples of ridiculousness, your doctor will tell you not to lift anything over 10 pounds. I don't know about your baby, but mine weighed almost that much at birth, so not lifting that amount of weight (or more) is pretty much out of the question.
Breastfeeding is awkward enough in the beginning, thanks to uncomfortable positions, difficult latching, cracked nipples, pumping and a slew of other potential complications. When you add a giant incision to the equation, things get tricky.
How in the heck are you even supposed to hold the baby, much less hold him or her in a way that doesn't cause exquisite pain? I bobbled my baby too many times to count when I was shuffling pillows and taking out nursing pads. Then, when you're finally settled and not in too much discomfort and you think you're in it for real this time, you kid kicks you in the belly with his or her twitchy little baby foot. Thanks, child.
You've got to eat, and it's all on you after your partner returns to work (if you're parenting with a partner) or your family goes home. Not only that, but you have to eat healthy food that will assist you in recovering after a major surgery like a c-section.
Of course, if you're breastfeeding, you have to eat a lot. Like all. The. Time. You're freakin' starving. Constantly. Not just a, "Oh, I'm feeling a might peckish, la-di-da," kind of craving, but full on ravenous need to consume any and all sustenance. All that food, of course, isn't going to cook itself. Always, and I mean always, have snacks at the ready.
The pregnancy may have ended, but the laundry is just starting. If this is your first baby, get ready for your laundry pile to reach new heights. Even before your staples are removed, you're going to be doing laundry. Babies make a tremendous amount of laundry.
You'll quickly realize that your child's laundry will be (and remain) inversely proportional to their size; the smaller the baby, the bigger the laundry pile (up the back poop blow out, what?). Depending on the household, laundry responsibilities may or may not fall to you. Wrestling with that laundry basket while you're still healing is not easy.
Going Places And Doing Things
It seems so simple, doesn't it? You run out of milk so you grab your keys, get into the car, drive to the grocery store, run in to pick up a gallon of milk, then head back home. Easy peasy, right? A 15 minute errand, max.
Nope. Not anymore.
Going anywhere with a newborn is daunting. You have to pack for every possible scenario, even if you're only planning on running to the store and coming right back. Inevitably, Mt. Vesuvius will erupt from your baby's diaper as soon as you pull into the parking lot and you'll have change not only the diaper, but the onesie, the shorts, and the socks.
Running that simple errand while you're still healing from your surgery can seem like an insurmountable task. Getting into then out of the car? #Torture. Carrying the diaper bag and the baby carrier and your purse and the baby?! There are characters on Game of Thrones that would probably use such a torturous experience for their benefit.
It's like a complicated puzzle, but the pieces are actually knives.
Crying, Or Not Crying
Pregnant and postpartum women cry. A lot. It's not a secret; it's a fact of life. Hormones turn us into the weepiest versions of ourselves. Sweet commercials? Tears. Puppies? Tears. Romantic comedies? Tears. Sad movies? Wracked with sobs. Sarah McLachlan on any 30 second commercial? Change the channel before I die. Your baby's toes? Ugly cry complete with snot and drool.
However, until you've ugly cried with a new c-section incision, you have not cried. If you can keep it together so that tears just leak gently down your face, you'll be doing yourself a huge favor.
On the other end of the spectrum, there's laughter. There's nothing funny about the spasms your bruised and battered abs go through when you laugh. Nothing funny at all. Laughter can quickly turn into tears of pain if you're not careful.