Recovering from cesarean delivery after perinatal bereavement

by Claudia Ravaldi

These are the words of a mother, who gives us her story, her experience and her reflections on a little-dealt topic, what happens to the body after a caesarean section that arrives with the death of the child.

“One of the things that haunts me and that accompanies my bereavement after the loss of my only child in the ninth month is the search for information.

I felt his movements disappear, immediately keeping a diary of the movements I realized that something was wrong, with his favorite song he did not dance, with the cuddles on that specific side of the belly he did not respond and did not kick hearing the voice of his father as he had always done.

The rush to the emergency room only showed that her heart wasn’t beating and I saw her floating on a dark screen.

This is the point of no return, a before and after as profound as an eternal stripping.
I remember being alone for hours, sitting, motionless on the hospital bed that seemed to be suspended over a muddy water of fear.
I had to wait until the evening to “empty” myself before the operation even though the terror and crying had already immediately had that effect on my body. I stared at my big stiff and twisted belly hoping to wake up early from the nightmare. a form of perennial ordeal made up of “oneself” and gigantic “but” has been and has begun.

Besides the devastating psychological burden, the physical situation did not help in the recovery which after ten months is still questionable.
So I wondered what should be done after a caesarean in which we find ourselves with empty arms and the body beaten.

The standard phrase that comes out of the moist mouths that surround you is that after a cesarean delivery the baby will absorb your time and needs will speed up the healing process from the cut.

Any research on the internet about the cesarean begins with a smiling photo of a very young mother who declares that breastfeeding will help in recovering from surgery.Each forum collects the testimonies of mothers who are up to a week from the hospital bed long walks with the new stroller. But we who, on the other hand, have closed the stroller in the cellar and hidden from view, how do we recover our bodies?
For a long time I felt offended by doctors and online research that take it for granted that the cesarean is only a small step to get to the birth: for those who cannot hold that child, it is often the prolongation of an ancestral pain.

I will therefore go in order to tell my experience so that other women who have gone through a caesarean section and perinatal bereavement can have an authentic point of reflection from which to start.

I start with the feeling of absolute loss, the baby is not there, I am the center of universal horror, everyone in the room gets their words wrong and my body is literally cut in half. cash desk.

The day after the operation the nurses, as usual, tried to get me up because “the earlier you stand the better “, the better for those who don’t know, since my interest in life at that moment was comparable to nothing.
If you are lucky (LUCK is a word that completely alters its meaning in one day), word has already spread about your situation or, as happened to me, you find yourself the nurse who invites you to “get a move on!” because then with the child you will not have time to do so many scenes .

In front of this exclamation, I gently specified that my baby was in the cold room and the staff looked down.
In short, I had to stand up, it didn’t matter if the feeling of free fall of the guts added to the constant weeping of loss.
If not on two legs at least sitting, so I remember perfectly having stared at the edge of a table for an indefinite time listening to the noises of the real world that invaded the silence of my soul.
The next day I still had to wash myself and so the nurses one on each side supported me while I used the fantastic glove with incorporated soap (10 and praise invention) trying to bend towards the suspended vagina that in my head had not fulfilled its duties.
– It is intact but my belly is torn, something is not right –
The rest is awaited, syringes to counteract blood clotting, teasing on the back of the hand and thighs, a little water, tea in the evening, pasta, finally!
Not even a meteor that falls from the sky to open my head can shake me.

They get me up and walk around and the worst thing is to do it outside the room and if anything, meet someone’s relatives all smiling, all joyful and excited for the beauty of life while I just want to hole up in bed and never get out again. I have drops of blood running down the nightgown I bought to give birth and I find myself wearing I don’t even know when. I really don’t remember at what point he covered me and why.

Then they give me pills that will definitely stop the milk. I don’t have to produce it, nobody has to suck it so we block it. I have just the image of the doctor at the foot of the bed that guarantees me this thing and in parallel I see the silent dinner with my parents 3 days after returning home in which I suddenly realize that I am crying from my nipples.
That wet through the robe that slips up to my aching belly was for me the symbol of the real end of my mommaura story (I loved feeling like a mommaura).
So I find myself for a few days cleansing myself of the useless nourishment that my body could not help but create. With a small seat under my ass, I pretended to be present at my Lilith’s funeral even though I had been out of the hospital for 24 hours . I did, I stained my pants with blood but I had to see where they put my baby forever.

I am at home, I walk badly, I am constantly amazed that I can make it, I limp, I lean on, my guts are turning but I walk while I dream of lying down. The rooms are silent, the husband is corroded by evil, the relatives do not meet my gaze.

We would like to be alone me and him, imagine our little ghost nestled between our bodies, instead, rightly, someone tries to be close to us.
At that moment I don’t have the strength to rebel against the attentions and as soon as they leave us “in peace” he and I collapse into each other’s nightmare.
My body hurts, period. Every spasm, every sneeze and every sudden movement are like stabs on open flesh. I cry, I can’t help but cry, every tear is due and crying it hurts even more this sagging but swollen belly that bounces on the severed tubes of my body.
In the evening I have to change the dressing. Now, the damned hospital plasters also tear away the hair bulbs of my soul, so I recommend to those who are at this point to moisten the edges of the horrible brace with a rag and lift it gently cm after cm. You will need someone to help you and be patient, it hurts terribly and above all you don’t want to see what’s under that white ribbon.
I throw my eye and there is hardened blood, remains of amniotic fluid and no desire to wash away that white bond that makes you rethink the creature that they will have you leaning on for a second to finish the job. Those points then … black teeth of thorns that come out from the bottom of the ego / mother and symbolize all the sadness that will accompany me from that moment on.

The ritual is like this for 15 days, syringed on the thighs (it is recommended on the stomach, because according to you one in these conditions wants to have her belly touched …) and dressing.
Constipation is a sore point.
After six days without going to the bathroom, I felt the weight pushing against the laceration. I was constantly between the chair and the bathroom without completing anything. I drank herbal teas, took pills, ate vegetables, NOTHING! Then finally the body rebelled and I think I had damage to the anus due to the abnormal size of the feces that I dug away. Even the bidet will be difficult between bending over and above all getting up. Nothing oplà but an arm or a support are essential. While you go up the body seems to go down.In the meantime I vegetate between the armchair, the bed and the sofa with the desire to live of a Paleolithic stone and surrounded by people who remind me that I have to get up and walk to heal first.

The question I ask myself most often is what is the use of healing first. Before what? According to what?
I highly recommend postpartum pads for post cesarean discharge, not so much for the amount of flow as for the convenience of a sizeable diaper to sit on even though at the same time it’s sad to think that I should have used them differently. Writing about this physical note I communicate that improbable things have come out of my tortured body. In the sense that color and density of uterine materials have learned me every day for the 30 days that followed the arrival / departure of my baby. In that chaos, asking who can calm me down, the doctor, the pharmacist, Aunt Clotilde, etc. .. all have repeated to me that: “it’s normal”. Normal thing in my totally abnormal situation?
Then the flow slowly, clearly slower than I was told, subsides. I don’t understand this need to lie about the timing and probabilities of pain.

“In 10 days everything passes”, “it lasts a moment” “the necessary time”: all phrases that should be banned from any human communication.
The pain in my body will remain for quite some time, I understand it, but the one in my heart, well that’s all mine and I’ll protect it with my teeth.
The abdominal band leads me to raise my head towards the world and literally holds my uterus.
When I wear it it immediately relieves me of the pain and I trust it totally. It costs a lot and I hope to never use it again but in the moment it is better than a paracetamol.
I’m afraid in taking a shower. What if the cut gets wet? What if I slip and break all? If I lift my arms and tear the stitches? None of this happens but I am aware that I will have the exact same fears until the next wash.
In my case then the mocking universe wanted the day I finished “motherhood” (a definition that has always annoyed me not a little since my motherhood exploded into an infinite love towards a sweet “impresent” being and that above all will never end) if the lockdown begins. Forced like everyone in the house that I have embellished for my little girl and in which my husband and I find ourselves alone, I have decided to give a stir to the situation. Not so much for my sake as for hers and especially because I need to go back to putting on my socks on my own without fear of breaking in half.

This is the standard situation, I’m afraid of breaking or rather of tearing myself in two parts, as if those small points don’t seem strong enough to pay off the immensity of my pain. I search the internet for videos with exercises for a post cesarean, finding only slender and joyful girls who wish me good wishes for the new born and who seem professional contortionists on neon yoga mats. On the other side of these energetic girls is me fat, depressed, bruised, crying, disheveled and with the motor skills of a packet of pasta at the bottom of the pantry.
I jump them all until I find the self-confident Leslie Sansone who in a nice Pennsylvania accent makes videos that last between 15 and 45 minutes, dedicated to walking.
I do them all in a crescendo of sweat and satisfaction, I don’t lose a pound for 40 days but I start picking things up from the ground like a professional smargiassa. I feel I have walked more in quarantine than in the previous 4 months.
I also start small push-ups to strengthen the abdominal part a little. I also have the obsession of “abdominal diastasis” so I constantly stare to find it!
The stitches have fallen by themselves even if the word fall is not right, I would say that they have slipped off leaving a nice big and red sign of a fly. recommends a product that I would have expected presented by someone in a white coat. Let’s say that the doctors have lost a lot of enamel in my eyes and that I buy an expensive but miraculous scar cream.
Every day I stare at the cut, I see it overbearing as the protagonist of my tired body and the Contractubex® cream forces me to touch it, make it mine again and at the same time “lower” it. Let’s say that I really see it decrease in thickness and the constriction of touch leads me to establish a relationship, whether it is fear or hate is still a link with what happened. But I also still feel the tension in getting out of bed. By the ninth month I was used to pushing with my arms to get up and turn around, I tend to do it again but because in the morning I just have the feeling of a lot of organs coming down. I feel like I have a six-pack of water bottles inside that weigh me down when I stand up. However, this particularity is also fading.

The first period after you finally stop bleeding comes with a gigantic sense of guilt.

My body returns to its normal while my heart broken into infinite pieces is not ready.

Meanwhile, everyone compliments this menstruation because it means that “everything is fine”.

Nothing is okay, my daughter is dead, I wish I was dead and the period is never beautiful.

I realized that I was peeing a lot in extended times. If I sit in the bathroom for 20 minutes on my cell phone, I can urinate four separate small times, which did not happen before. At the check-up visit six months after the caesarean, a visit that I decided to book with a doctor other than the one who followed me during the pregnancy, not having the strength to lie down on the same bed in which there were two of us, I am told that the constant peeing is not related to the cesarean, that the feeling of weight coming down is only in my head and that it would be the ideal time to have another child since the internal points have been perfectly absorbed. Clearly I am not in the mental condition to start another pregnancy, I am convinced that the urination other than that experienced in the last 32 years of my life is linked to pregnancy and the caesarean section and that all my organs are clearer business for me. than for those who controlled me.
As of this writing I am 10 months after my Lilith’s death, my belly is still swollen, vaguely hard and pointed, I have not lost a single pound and I am not putting much effort into making this happen, I am still afraid to bend over quickly and I try not to bang too hard at work. I don’t run but I walk fast, I don’t do push-ups but I can tie my shoes and day after day between a cry and a visit to the cemetery I try to make this new body react that I find myself.
At the moment this blessed Caesarean is something that I would not recommend to anyone. Yes, it is a much more invasive type of operation than they explain to you, those who after two weeks from the cut go to marathons are special beings because I would not do it even normally imagine after this experience and the physical pain is constant precisely because there is no joy. No little mouth to breastfeed, no little body to squeeze and no good reason to get up from that couch. The good reason should cry to get our attention instead it is silent lying in our minds.

The caesarean is difficult, it is bitter and heartbreaking and in full mourning alone or as a couple it does not help in any way to deal with the situation.

No website or doctor can explain and advise really well on how to live the difficulties of this post-op in a state of mind altered by grief.
But what I think is that if I had found a clear story online like the one I just wrote I would have felt less alone in the center of my new hated and suffering body.
Fundamental note: sex.

If the desire is already canceled in death and in the contact of eyes with eyes full of unexpressed love and shed tears, with the post-operative the fear increases. It hurts to get up from the tablet to imagine bending over for a penetration. Even in that you will go by step, love will be terribly static and you will feel insecure and awkward in your movements. Hold on! , the physical pain will dissolve together with the surgical tensions.

For the mental state there will be a lot more work to do but at least I am starting to move again as a sapiens and this is so much in my infinite nothing. “

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