HealedPosted: June 30, 2012
Six days after my c-section I was holding Henry and noticed a little drop of blood on his foot. He had no cut or scratch that I could see, so I gave him to my husband to investigate while I continued to visit with my parents and sister who were in town. A minute or so later Tim reported that he couldn’t find any cut or scratch on Henry. I checked myself and couldn’t find anything – until I peeked under my skirt. I had blood down both of my thighs. Only then did I notice the large wet spot on the front of my black skirt.
Into the bathroom I went. It turns out my surgery incision had opened up, almost all the way. This led to my very first New York City emergency room visit. Luckily with my family in town I had a ride to the hospital and someone to watch Henry while I went to the ER. We were not going to bring our 6-day-old baby to the emergency room, and this meant Tim could come to the hospital with me, which was a very good thing, because I didn’t handle the news I received very well.
I thought I had just a busted stitch and that my visit would entail a quick cleanup and sew job. While waiting in the ER I was trying my best to be cool, but I was still raw from the birth experience of a few days before and I was away from my newborn baby who was hungry. The hospital was not where I wanted to be, for any reason.
The on-call OB/GYN attended to me quickly and assessed the injury immediately, telling me that blood had pooled under the incision and thus we were dealing with a ruptured hematoma. That it had ruptured was a good thing (relatively speaking, of course), as pooled blood is the ideal environment for bacteria to grow; had it not burst I would have eventually ended up with another hospital stay to get rid of an infection. I am glad she shared this with me because I tried to use this information to soothe myself once I heard that I was not in fact going to be stitched up and on my way but that instead the wound would take a month or more to heal and that I’d need daily wound care from a professional. It was a very deep wound. And it hurt. Oh my God it hurt.
Cleaning the wound entailed scraping out the old blood, cleaning it with saline, packing it with gauze, then covering and taping it with more gauze to protect it. It also meant me using some of the Lamaze pain management techniques I didn’t get to use for Henry’s birth – so we didn’t completely waste our money on the Lamaze class. (Luckily the pain from the wound care subsided pretty quickly. A week later it barely hurt.) I had a visit with my doctor the next day, who set up home nurse visits for me. Unfortunately, our insurance didn’t approve the visits until four days later, so it meant I had to go back to the ER or an urgent care facility for the next three days. I could barely walk. When my doctor found out that I wasn’t going to have home care for those days she met me on her days off and opened her offices specifically for me over that weekend. When she called me and told me she’d take care of the wound it felt like she’d saved my life.
Luckily my mom was able to spend that next week with me. She watched Henry while I went to the doctor. Henry’s immune system wasn’t ready for the subway, and I wasn’t physically cleared to carry even my tiny baby for too long, so I was very, very lucky that my mom could come and stay with me while Tim went back to work to finish the school year. When I picked my mom up at the bus station I looked like an a-hole making her carry her bags all by herself up the subway stairs, but I am so happy I got to look like an a-hole. I was also scared to be with Henry by myself. This so far is the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced in my life.
So I was a bit of a mess Henry’s second week in the world, physically and mentally. At this point I still had very swollen legs and feet – picture my legs and feet in a fat suit and then double that size – and now had a bulging wound cover sticking out over my still-paunchy stomach. It was hard finding appropriate clothing to wear in public. Tim’s flip-flops barely fit my feet, and I really should have been walking with a cane. And I put on quite a display trying to function without using my stomach muscles. As far as describing my mental state, I’ll just say I cried a lot.
So after a month and change of being homebound until the nurse had visited (yet being very happy the nurse could visit), of being physically restricted, of worrying something was going to go wrong, last Friday I was declared healed by my doctor. I now have a big, beautiful, ugly scar to show for it, and I couldn’t be happier.