One benefit of having had a C-section is that lying down is the most uncomfortable thing you can be doing. You can’t really lie on the side, and how much time can a person spend lying strictly on her back without changing the position? So the temptation to stay in bed crying all day long – which is obviously very strong at this point – is impossible to put into practice. You are physically forced to get out of bed, get dressed, and stay out of the bed all day long.
Today is very hard because Eric was supposed to be born today, at about this time right now. This isn’t something that bears much dwelling, so I will tell you about the operation instead.
I had an all-female team for the C-section, except for the anesthesiologist. I heard that this was one of the few remaining professions that required no people’s skills, and it seems like some anesthesiologists are enjoying the freedom from the constraints of sociability way too much. Our anesthesiologist had either learned a single, ultra-cheerful formula of initiating and maintaining human contact or was having the best day of his life. He beamed when he met us, remaining completely oblivious to the mood in the room, and kept making comments of the “Check out this really cool screen we have for you. How neat is it?” variety throughout the operation. I even felt some guilt that I was incapable of responding to his cheerful overtures with the same glee he seemed to be expecting.
I know that most people will find this strange but being arranged on the operating table in the position of a Thanksgiving turkey felt like a relief. The thirty minutes of being incapable of exercising any control or bearing any responsibility for anything were welcome. There is this moment during the procedure where the anesthetic puts you in a state of perfect indifference towards everything, and that felt very restful. These were the only drugs for physical or emotional pain that I would accept.
It turns out that I’m one of those weird people who don’t feel physical pain after an operation. All of the prescriptions I have been given are lying around unfilled. Maybe the reason why my body processed the operation so well is that it was what I had chosen and wanted from the very beginning. I can see how a non-elective C-section might be very traumatic to a person. In any case, I was standing up and taking a few steps on the very next day and walking outside on the day after that.
We feared that the stairs in our house would prove difficult two days after the operation but I walked with great ease up and down the quite steep staircase we have. What was really hard was getting out of bed. N had to place one of those portable lap desks you use to hold a laptop under my back and heave me up like a shored up whale. In the middle of the first night at home, I invented a way to get out of bed on my own and felt enormous relief. More than the actual difficulty of getting up, it was the knowledge that I couldn’t get out of bed whenever I wanted that was intolerable. Of course, by morning I forgot the magical method I had come up with during the night.
The advice I can give to people who undergo C-sections is to stay at the hospital for the three nights they are entitled to because by that time the body becomes ready to perform simple daily tasks on its own. Unless one has somebody big and very strong physically at home, I have no idea how one can manage to get in and out of bed, shower, car, etc. before the first 3 post-op days are over. Of course, this might be easier for people with good upper-body strength which I definitely do not have.