How long did you stay in hospital for after your c-section? It’s varied for me, hugely in fact. From a lengthy first stay to an extremely short visit And I’ve come to wonder whether enhanced recovery really does work at all.
My first was 11 years ago and although it was classed as an emergency it turned out to really be nothing of the sort. Still,l my eldest was born in the early hours of the Tuesday morning, and we were told we’d be staying at least until Saturday. That’s five days, six if you count the previous day when I’d been admitted to be induced. We managed to get away on the Thursday, but only after convincing the doctor I’d be well looked after.
My second c-section was an earth shattering category one emergency, with my son being ripped from my body at lightening speed whilst I was forced under general anaesthetic. I woke up sore and confused. Numb arms. Itching body. No recollection of what had happened. This was in the early evening on the Sunday, and I was sent home on the Tuesday late afternoon. That makes it about two days. I was discharged with no pain relief and very much against my better judgement; in fact I asked to stay and was told not to be silly.
My third c-section was planned. It was calm. It was quite beautiful, in as much as it can be when someone is rummaging inside your body to find a baby. I was told that if I could get up and about within 8 hours post op (and empty my bladder twice) I would be allowed to go home the next morning. And I did. If I’d have been able to skip with joy, I would have. I was delighted to be going home!
My fourth c-section has been well documented here. The pregnancy was hugely stressful and I spent much of the last three months in hospital, having growth scans, doppler scans and being hooked up to the CTG. An IUGR pregnancy is no laughing matter. And when it came to mode of delivery, a VBAC was out of the question, so what we discussed instead was plans for my ‘elective’ c-section. I was told that I’d be given energy drinks and would take part in the hospitals enhanced recovery program.
Nobody I spoke to had heard of this program, so I quizzed the doctor and was told that they believed my recovery would be much better at home. So I’d drink energy drinks to speed up the process and I would be sent home the next day, no matter what. At this point, we were still unsure of how well Elsie would even be, but the plan was definite. If she was staying, I was not.
When it came to the pre-op, I was given two bottles to drink- one to take the night before, and one to take the morning of my op. I was told that I was going home. This was not a negotiable matter.
I was admitted the night before my section as I’d had repeated reduced movements and the hospital wanted to keep an eye on Elsie. And though she was born on her scheduled date, we very nearly found ourselves in another emergency situation a couple of times. Elsie’s first night in the world was not an easy one. She did not feed at all, and her temperature was very unstable. She was on 15 minute observations and I was on half hourly observations. After 12 hours we went to half hourly for her and hourly for me. The next morning I was taken from the enhanced recovery ward to the post natal ward and told I may not be going home after all, as Elsie was still yet to feed. This clearly was a problem.
On the postnatal ward, I finally managed to get something to eat (a good 18 hours since my last meal) and tried desperately to feed Elsie. Her blood sugar and temperature was now fine, but she still was not feeding. And me?
I was a mess. Exhausted. I’d been nil by mouth for most of the day prior to my section, and had eaten only a sandwich afterwards. That day I had only eaten toast around 12pm and had very little to drink. How I was expected to breastfeed a reluctant baby, I’ll never know. I was also in a terrifying amount of pain. My back had seized up, meaning that walking was impossible, and my scar was on fire. I couldn’t lift my baby, and yet on the postnatal ward I had nobody to help me.
And then they sent me home.
Just like that.
Oh, this is baby number four. You know what you’re doing!
You know what? I didn’t. I was terrified. And in pain. And exhausted. And confused.
And yet, I’d enrolled on an enhanced recovery program. I was supposed to be ready. Surely I wanted to go home, to see my other children? Yes, yes of course I wanted to see them. But I didn’t want them to see me. Not like that.
I spent the first night at home sitting upright in a chair because it was too painful to climb the stairs to bed. I waited all night for everyone to get up so that I could have help going to the bathroom and getting more painkillers. I sobbed. I was in so much pain, I wanted to disappear. I held my baby, and I sobbed.
Elsie continued to refuse to feed. We never saw her eyes open. She didn’t cry. Her lips were dry and cracked. Her skin was grey. Her body was floppy. She was literally fading away before my eyes and I could do nothing aside from express, syringe feed, and hope. Hope that she would wake up. Hope that being admitted to hospital for tube feeding would not happen. Hope that I would make it through another long and lonely night filled with pain.
Enhanced recovery? It didn’t work for me.