I had my first c-section in 1997. It was an emergency surgery after 4 days of labor. Between the laboring, the medications, and the c-section (not to mention how young I was... a whopping 22 at the time), it was an extremely traumatic experience. The recovery took months and the emotional scars lasted for years.
In early August, 2012, I had my third c-section. At 37 years old, I was much more quick to be up front about my needs before, during, and after delivery. Here's my revised advice for anyone dealing with s planned c-section:
1. Anxiety. Own it. Going into this delivery, my anxiety was heightened by the fact that I was still dealing with the loss of Andrew and I was terrified. So I said so - to anyone who would listen. Finally, they were willing to give me something for the anxiety and everyone was much happier.
2. Fear. Address it. After the epidural, I couldn't feel myself breathe. This happens to some people. It's rare, but it happens. Again, I spoke up. The doctor put his fingers on my chest and told me to watch them for a minute. His hand rose and fell with a normal breathing rhythm. Then he turned the monitor and showed me the oxygen level in my blood. Apparently I took a deep breath (and that made him chuckle) and stopped worrying.
3. Pain. Embrace it. Here's the amazing thing about c-sections in 2012. Or third c-sections. Or (most likely) my doctor. The pain goes away much faster than it used to. I have no idea what to attribute this to, but it's been my experience that something magical has happened in the last 15 years and this process - while NOT fun - isn't nearly as bad as my previous experiences. By 6 days post partum, we took the family to the diner around the corner for breakfast. Then I took a 2 hour nap, but still! I felt good enough to want to feel the sunshine on my face.
4. Move. I know I said to plan to stay in bed for a good bit immediately after coming home. That was entirely old school. Be gentle and careful, but moving is good.
5. Don't overdo it. I'm guilty of that. At 2.5 weeks, I thought I'd do a little yard work. Not the brightest idea I've ever had. Even if you feel great, try to remember you're still recovering from major surgery.
6. And most importantly remember that infancy is fleeting. Sleepy smiles and newborn sighs grow up all too quickly. Revel in them, enjoy them, and document everything.