Yes, we’re back here again everyone. You were probably thinking, yay, all the bum talk is finished. Or maybe you were thinking . . . oh no, all the bum talk is finished. Either way, the bum talk continues . . .
If you’ve just joined us, to recap, about 5 weeks after Ziggy was born I went to see a specialist about all the issues I was having going to the toilet, and a day later I was in surgery. For a few days after having surgery, life was wonderful. I could, for the first time in a long time, poo without pain. If you are one of the blessed people, who has a poop without any issues, then you cannot comprehend the relief to finally be able to visit the toilet without tears. It was amazing. I would waltz in and dance out. I felt like a new woman.
It didn’t last.
Within two weeks I was constipated again. I’m not sure why. I had been taking my laxatives daily, been drinking so much water I was growing gills, and had a diet full of fibre; bran, fruit, grains. You name it I was eating it. But it didn’t work, and once again a trip to the toilet became torture.
For a while I toughed it out. I thought maybe my body would recalibrate and the constipation would go away. I really didn’t want to have surgery again. But after three weeks of blood, ripping, haemorrhoids, re-opening my fissures and roughly 5 hours of pain after every bowel movement, I couldn’t tough it out any longer and I hobbled my way back to the proctologists office.
He was not happy with me. Aghast I had left it so long to come and see him. Horrified I had been dealing with it for more weeks than I needed to. He told me off, I felt like a naughty child, and then he called the hospital, pulled some strings and scheduled surgery for the following day.
Fuckery. More bloody needles, more time off work for my partner that we couldn’t really afford, more goddam hospital. Blah. I just felt blah.
We had another issue this time round. Ziggy was refusing to take a bottle. After the first surgery, I had been pumping regularly in the hope of building up a small stash in the freezer incase a situation arose (like this one) where the boobies may be out of action for a while.
We were also going through a rough patch with getting Ziggy to sleep at night. The kid fought sleep. He would cry and cry and no amount of white noise, bum patting, rocking and boobing would get him to nod off until he was well and truley ready (often around 11pm – 1am).
We had been told by well-meaning people that we needed to ‘top him up’ before bed, and that the reason for his nightly irritability was because he was ‘hungry’ and I ‘had no milk’. So, one evening when when was having a ‘I’m going to cry and not go to sleep’ night, we prepared a bottle. He refused it. He smooshed his lips together, shook his head and kept crying. I squirted a bit of milk out of the teat and tried again. Nope, no such luck. He wasn’t having a bar of it. We did this at least 4 times in a week and not once would the little hua take the bottle.
One part of me was relieved, you see, as well meant as the advice that had been given to us was, it was wrong. He didn’t need topping up, he wasn’t hungry, my milk didn’t run out in the evening (this is a common problem first time mums have when their boobs are soft in the evening and bub is crying, they second guess their milk production ability . . . please don’t). He was just irritable and didn’t want to go to sleep. It was a phase, and it eventually passed as all phases do. But, another part of me was now freaking out. He wouldn’t take a bottle . . . how would we feed him while I was in surgery, and after I came out and had to ‘pump and dump’ my first lot of milk?
I got home and did some speed research. I had seen posts by both The Milk Meg and Breastfeeding Mama Talk about surgery and the fact that ‘pumping and dumping’ was outdated advice. I googled and speed read every article I could find. They all came to the same conclusion . . . it was safe to breastfeed after surgery. I messaged a friend of mine who is a midwife up North and called my midwives, even though we had parted ways at 6 weeks. They both said something to me that made sense . . . ‘Em’ they said. ‘A mama that has a c-section is under anaesthetic, and the first ting we try and do after baby is born, is give mum and bub skin to skin, and get baby to that breast’. Well duh, why had that not occurred to me before, that made perfect sense. But, because I am a bit of a worrier, I also called and spoke to the anaesthesiologist at the hospital. He was a different anaesthesiologist than at my first surgery, and he basically confirmed to me what everyone else has said. Breastfeeding after general anaesthetic held no risk to Ziggy. The levels of medication that would be in my milk were small, and if there was to be my side effect, he could possibly experience a bit more tiredness than usual. It would make him sleepy? Oh hell yes! I was all for that, I would have given anything for my little boy to sleep for longer than 2 hours.
I felt so much better after all of this. I had been stressing about how Ziggy and AJ were going to cope with no boobies for 4-5 hours, but knowing I could nurse him as soon as I woke up, it made walking through those hospital doors the next morning that much easier.
My second surgery was such a different experience to the first. Well no I lie, some of it was the same; the needles were still horrible, I still tried to crack stupid jokes as they wheeled me into theatre, and this time I got two iceblocks when I woke up (score!). But the mothering side of it was a lot different.
Ziggy and AJ stayed with me, right until they wheeled me away. I fed him and fed him, and, thankfully our little boy crashed out. As soon as I was out of theatre and in recovery, AJ was called to come back, and, Ziggy was still asleep! The tyke had slept through my entire operation. He woke as soon as they got to my bed, it’s his spidey senses at work, and, before he could even scrunch his face up, we had him out of the carseat and onto the boob.
I would like to tell you that he slept well that night. That any residual drugs in my system passed to him through my milk and he gave me a decent night sleep. But this is real life, not a fairy tale, and we had no such luck. He continued his ‘I want to stay up and play with my mama all night’ routine as normal, and I didn;t get to bed until something horrible like 1am. So there goes that theory huh.
Two surgeries and a bout of mastitis before Ziggy was three months old was a rough introduction to parenthood. Especially after such a breezy pregnancy and a wonderful birth experience. I felt like it was some sort of payback for having things so easy in the beginning. I am aware that is a stupid thing to think, but it’s what it felt like – the motherhood gods has said ‘right, she had enough wonderful, let’s give her some shit’. I had days where I felt very low. I missed my friends and family, my sister lives on the other side of a different country, my brother, mum and nana are all a 4 hour drive away, AJ’s family are even further, and my friends were working 5 days a week. I was lonely, and I felt like I was struggling through it all on my own. I wasn’t of course, because I have AJ. He was there for me all the time, he gave me support, gave me love, gave me encouragement. I would have turned into a blithering mess without him.
Now, you’re probably hoping this story has a happy ending. That after two surgeries my bottom was fixed and I no longer dread trips to the toilet. I would love to give you a happy ending, I really would. But, I can’t – because I promised to be real and that would be lying. It’s been nearly 3 months since my last surgery and nothing has changed. I’m still constipated more often than not, I’m still taking 3 different laxative type medicines every morning, I’m still eating bran and fibre and fruit, drinking 2-3 litres of water a day, and I’m still sitting on the toilet, crying in pain, and limping around wounded for 5 hours after. It’s bloody rough.
I have considered a third surgery, but there are few things that put me off. Mainly, that the first and second didn’t work, so why would the third be any different? Also, as I found out a few weeks after my second surgery, health insurance doesn’t cover everything. Those bloody botox injections are not cheap, and there is a shortfall of about $500 per surgery left over that we have to cover, that adds up fast. And finally, one suggestion for my constipation, is that I am breastfeeding, and it’s dehydrating me faster than normal. I don’t know how accurate this is, but I am nowhere near ready to give up our breastfeeding journey. So I’m just going to continue to tough it out, and maybe once Ziggy weans, whenever that may be, I’ll look at my options again.
Please note; if you are breastfeeding, and you have to go for surgery, look at your options. There is often a knee-jerk reaction to anything (drinking, certain foods and activities, medicine etc) while breastfeeding, and I have found some of the information is outdated, or just old wives tales. Kellymom is a great source of information, as is The Milk Meg, your local lactation consultant, your midwife and your doctor.