Shocked, I looked at the nurse with my best Scarlett O’Hara brow. “You’re kidding, right,” I asked her. “No. You’ll be fine,” she assured me. Easy for you to say, I thought to myself, you weren’t just hacked in half.
I had delivered Tia via c-section only a few hours earlier and I was struggling to even sit up in an automatic bed—how was I supposed to stand up? I knew this was coming. I had read all the books during my pregnancy and was aware I needed to stand to protect myself from clots and to get things moving. Panicked, I looked at Kurtis. But the nurse wasn’t leaving until I stood up, so I willed myself to make the move.
I remember my grandma in her last years before she passed away. She had been an active, fit, mobile woman up until Dementia had robbed most of her mobility. I used to help her stand up and the whole process took a long time. He feet weren’t steady. He balance was gone. She was dead weight and she didn’t trust those holding on to her for fear she would fall. In that moment, as I tried standing for the first time since surgery, I understood how she must’ve felt during that time.
It took me quite a bit of time to turn over. After a c-section, your core is totally wrecked. Your muscles have been completely ripped apart and then put back together. Your gut is heavy and feels like it is being held together by dental floss. The pain was incredible despite the drugs–and I had no shame accepting the drugs. I had a little button I could push and it would shoot me up with something heavenly. I liked it so much the automatic check buzzed on the machine saying I was done for awhile.
I clicked my bed remote to raise the back part of the bed as much as possible. This put me in a sitting(ish) position so that I could ease onto my side without using much of my core. It was exhausting. Kurtis came over and helped me put my feet on the ground. “Watch out for my sweet catheter bag,” I joked. I always go to humor when I’m scrambling. He chuckled. The nurse didn’t.
From there, it was a matter of pushing myself up off the bed to a sitting position. You don’t realize how much you use your core—even if you aren’t an owner of six-pack abs, you use what you have. I got myself to an upright position. Sitting up felt odd and I was swaying. Every time I tried to hold myself up it hurt because I was resorting to using my abs for balance. I had to regroup for a couple of minutes from the dizziness or I was sure I was going to pass out. I couldn’t believe how weak I felt. I hadn’t even gone into labor and struggled with that, but I might as well have with how I was feeling. I watched my legs—firmly on the ground—shaking uncontrollably.
“You need to stand up now,” Nurse Ratched said from behind me. Kurtis gave her a kind, yet warning look. I’m the type that would say something less than kind in a moment like that. Sort of a snappy turtle if you will. I know she was doing her job, but she was being a little too pushy for my taste at that moment. He knew that and patted my leg and also gave ME a kind, yet warning look. Don’t do it, it said. We can talk about her when she leaves, it said. He grabbed my arm so that I could use him as stability to heave myself up. I sure loved him in that moment—the guy was rock solid. Years of farming and hockey left little room for fear of being dropped in those arms. I never for a second doubted his ability to stay steady for me—but I doubted myself being able to stand.
I heaved up with everything I had and immediately my legs almost gave out. Panicked, I looked at Kurtis, “Did my insides just fall out all over the floor? They did didn’t they?” I honestly asked him that question because I was fairly sure they had. Standing after a c-section is the strangest feeling—I am not joking when I tell you it feels like your lower stomach has opened up and you lost everything they stuff tucked back into you after grabbing your baby. Hey, there’s that ab I was looking for–oh and a Kidney, too. He chuckled, “No, hunny. You’re good.”
From behind me, the nurse told me to try and take a couple of steps. By now, I had steadied myself, so I took a few steps still hanging on to Kurtis, turned and sat back down on the bed. It hurt. Standing hurt, but so did sitting back down—especially if you basically fell into your sit like I had. That core, I tell you–you use it a lot.
Each day we repeated the process until I was strong enough to do it on my own. Eventually I would go for little tootles down the hallway. It was slow, but each day got better.
You’d think after three c-sections it got easier, but it didn’t. I came to know more of what to expect and how my body would feel. I knew how the whole process would go, but that first stand never got easier, nor did it change much. The formula always went as follows: Stand up already? I hate the nurse. Kurtis where are you. Get myself into a semi-upright position push with elbow and sit up. Almost pass out. Grab Kurtis and stand. Insides feel like they dumped onto the floor. Take a few incredibly shaky and unsteady steps. Sit back down way too quickly and feel like I ripped a stitch or ten. Lie back down. Repeat.
For those of you reading who also had c-sections, tell me below if you can relate. Did I miss anything? I feel like the stand is a memory permanently stapled in my mind and I’m guess it may be in yours, too.