August 10th of this last year brought our second baby girl to us. My postpartum experience this time was so much better than with our first! Baby slept better, so I slept better, and mixed with the medication I was taking for my PPD/PPA, I just bounced back with an insane and very noticeable difference than the first time. I didn't expect it to go that well, and was so grateful it did! Another thing I didn't expect was the emergency surgery I ended up having just 8 weeks after giving birth.To make a long story short, I ended up in the ER in excruciating pain on October 17th. After multiple scans and ultrasounds, it was concluded that I had a cyst the size of a large orange on my right ovary. That cyst had gotten so heavy that it twisted, which twisted my fallopian tube and cut off the blood supply to my ovary. Because of the blood supply being cut off, I was sent into emergency surgery. Due to the size of the cyst, it was an open abdominal surgery. So, just 8 weeks after having a baby vaginally I was left recovering from a C-section done to remove the cyst and the ovary it was growing on (they couldn't save the ovary, unfortunately). The day I got home from the hospital, I stripped myself down to take a shower and then proceeded to stand in front of the mirror staring at the 22 staples holding the jagged incision on my stomach together. All I could think about was everything I couldn't do; hold my toddler, drive, carry my baby's infant car seat, carry a laundry basket, workout, push the stroller through a museum. I know all of that stuff is typical stuff you can't do after a C-section, but it all stung so much worse because it was just barely after the six weeks I had mentally planned for to recover from birth. I am quite independent so I REALLY love working hard and doing things by myself. I was about to learn a big lesson!
Release your controlJust three days after surgery, one of my dearest friends sent me a text that said something to the effect of, "You are not good at letting people serve and help you. You have no choice right now. Let go and let us help!" That was exactly what I needed to hear! I truly tense up when what I think to be "too much" help is offered to me and I start to feel anxious. I knew it was going to be a continual job to keep myself from pushing away the help I needed, especially with my kids. I also found myself trying to control the help once I had accepted it. When I decided to just let go and let the wonderful people caring for me and my kids do things how they were comfortable doing them, we all were so much happier (sorry for the things I said when I was emotional, mom!).
Acknowledge your feelingsI was an emotional wreck after my surgery. The timing of it happening right after I was cleared for postpartum activity, paired with the fact that it was a complete surprise and I had never been through something like that before, really tipped the scales for me. The two days after I was discharged from the hospital, my mom and grandma stayed at our house. They completely took care of the kids and my husband took care of me and I slept and cried and slept and cried some more. Whenever I was awake, I kept saying "I don't know why I am so upset, sorry I am such a mess." After a day, my husband told me to knock it off and just be upset and not worry about it. So, I just let it all out and didn't mince my words when talking to my friends and family about it. A few days of immersing myself in my feelings and processing, I was feeling comfortable with where I was and was ready to just accept what was happening and live while I was going through it!
Take it one day at a timeWhenever I would think about the six weeks of recovery time I had ahead of me, I could not deal with it. But, when I just thought about that day I was in, it really wasn't so bad! This is not a new idea, but you hear it all the time for a reason, IT WORKS! Think about what you did get done rather than all the things you couldn't. Be there for your kids in the ways that you can! We explained in three-year-old terms what had happened to me and Penny was so understanding when I couldn't pick her up or take her to the museum to play. One day at a time, we played at home and had so much fun together!
Bottom line is, whatever you can do for your kids is amazing! If, for a time, all you can do is love them, that is enough! Life happens, and sometimes you need a lot of help to fulfill your duties as a mother. In those moments, celebrate your village of help! One day you will be given the opportunity to return the favor in one way or another, so just let yourself be helped. It doesn't mean you're not capable. It doesn't make you less of a mom. It makes you a human, and that is exactly the kind of mom our kids need!
Written by: Alyssa Liston