In my mind I was having a normal birth. I was petrified at the thought and was trying to block it out until nearer the time when I had to deal with it. So, being rushed to hospital and being in an emergency situation where I needed a Caesarean section 10 weeks early was a shock to the system to say the least.
I had not read up about it and it certainly wasn’t in my birth plan, so apart from what I had seen on TV I didn’t really know much about it. Some people choose to have a C-section, some need one for medical purposes and some people are “too posh to push” – however I can tell you whoever came up with this phrase needs there head looking at!
The pain after a section is horrendous. I’d had to have a hip operation 2 years ago, which was major surgery and was very painful for several weeks; however I’d say the C-section was worse. With my hip I got time to recuperate, with this surgery the midwives had me doing exercises and moving round very soon. In normal circumstances I believe you’re shipped out of hospital with your baby 24 hours or so later. As I was in critical care and needed medical care, I was in a bit longer, but they still encouraged me to move around. Hats off to all those ladies who get sent home to care for a new baby after a section. I’m writing this post 5 weeks after and I’m still sore, so I’m grateful that I’ve had time to get better before looking after a baby.
Anyway, I knew that after surgery I had to get to neonatal to see my baby. Initially I was taken on a bed, then wheelchair, but I was determined to get stronger so I could walk to get to her. Sitting up and getting out of bed for the toilet was excurtiating and Phil had to help me, but in the night, if I didn’t call the midwife I had to do it myself. My friend Emma (who is a midwife) text me instructions how to get up without using my stomach muscles and this helped me over the next few days pull myself up and out of bed. Gradually I managed to do it, but Christ it hurt! I didn’t have time to lie in bed…I needed to get strong for my baby girl.
The shower post surgery was bliss, but again hard work getting in and out of the shower and drying and dressing myself. When I was in the shower, I felt down to my scar as I hadn’t seen it and it felt awfully strange. That evening I was taken back up to ante natal ward and I broke down on the midwife as I wasn’t sure if it was right. She looked and I’d had a bleed. She redressed it for me and cleaned it up. The doctor also checked it the following day and it was fine.
When I walked for the first few days, I walked hunched over as it felt like my insides we’re going to drop out of my belly. I had to hold it as any movement hurt, but the sensation was very odd.
I also had a mirror in this room, so precariously balancing on the side of the shower I got a first look at what was hiding under my bump. I discovered a very neat scar about 10cm long. I am ok with the scar as it was hidden on my bikini line and the chances of anyone seeing it are very small. However the part I was not expecting was the ‘shelf belly’. I had never seen or heard about this before. Of course I’d only just had a baby, so I still had a bit of a bump, but this weird “shelf” that had appeared was horrible. Gradually ‘shelf belly’ has gone down as I’ve lost weight, but it is still there. It is still sore and tender to touch and I’ve reverted to ‘hold me in’ knickers to support it.
I never put on loads of baby weight (only 9 pounds to go until I’m back to pre-pregnancy weight!!!) and I’ve always had a bit of extra weight round my tummy (I like my wine too much) however the shelf remains. I’ve googled it and it looks like the “shelf ” never really goes. I am slapping on so much firming cream to the “shelf” whilst trying to avoid the scar, in the hope that it continues to shrink.
I will update again in a few weeks to let you know the progress of “shelf belly” however I fear this is something that I’m going to have forever and that no amount of sit ups will reduce. I am quite a body conscious person and having this deformed stomach on top of everything else gets to me. Every time I look in the mirror it’s all I can see. I have to cover it up with loose baggy tops and jeggings, which isn’t me at all. I know everyone says your body is never the same after having a baby, but I just wasn’t expecting this at all. Being emotional does not help me deal with this deformed belly, but I try to remember at the end of the day I have a beautiful daughter as a result…and if all all else fails Phil cracks a joke about ‘having somewhere to rest his pint’ and it cheers me up!
UPDATE: 30th May 2016 – 7 months later
“Shelf belly” 6 months on!