Cesarean Recovery Part 1


Recovery from Rein’s cesarean birth has been most humbling. While I know my body is healing beautifully, it has not been an easy journey. There has been much pain—physically and emotionally—but day by day, I’m getting there. It’s not linear—there are days I feel I have taken two steps backward but at 2.5 weeks post partum, I’m able to walk several miles, lift my 3 year old, and do light weight work.

In this post, I’ll outline the first two weeks of my recovery.

The first 12 Hours:

Holy helplessness. For the first few hours after the c-section, feeling slowly returned to my lower body as the spinal wore off. It was the weirdest feeling—wiggling my toes, sliding my feet up and down to ensure my brain and body were able to speak to each other. Adjusting in bed was nearly impossible, especially while holding a baby. My core had just been sliced open, after all. I still had a catheter in (which was nice not having to pee).

My night nurse that first evening was actually my neighbors sister. Even in my shocked, drugged, low blood state, I recognized her even though I had only briefly met her a couple of times. She was wonderful.

Reinger was officially born at 1:56 PM on June 30th. They wanted me to get up out of bed around 12 hours post surgery. So, sometime in the wee hours of morning, my nurse came to help me out of bed. Oiy. It was painful and awkward. I moved my legs, rolled my ankles and flexed my feet. I felt a little light headed—from blood loss and laying down for so long. After I delivered Leif, I was up and walking right away—nursing and bouncing him around my hospital room. This, however, was a completely different ordeal. I literally thought I would never be able to walk on my own again. She assured me I was moving really well. Ha.

I believe the catheter was left at this point—a relief since the idea of getting up to pee sounded awful. They would take it out in the morning and I would attempt to pee on my own for the first time.

Someone came to check my vitals every 4 hours and I had things on my legs making sure I didn’t get a clot (this was one of my main paranoia’s with a c-section).

First 24 Hours:

My catheter was removed, I peed on my own and took a shower! I got to take the bandage off my incision and I was surprised at how anti-climatic it was. It didn’t look nearly as crazy as I expected it to.   The shower felt amazing.

I was encouraged to move often but getting out of bed was a huge ordeal. Sitting up or adjusting in bed remained difficult and required I pull myself up using the side railings.

Like a vaginal birth, I had bleeding and was wearing the super sexy mesh panties and GIANT pad/diaper. I had a few clots that came out of me that made my eyes open wide, like “OH my stars, I just birthed another baby…” I remember bleeding a lot with Leif, a vaginal birth, but these clots seemed odd. I saved them in the bathroom for the nurse to check. She did and assured me they were normal. Wowza.

A pediatrician came and checked Rein and an OB came to check me. All was well with both of us but the OB was very apologetic for such a difficult ordeal. She said she’d heard what a shock it was to everyone and how difficult the “extraction” (getting baby out) had been. She said I was very lucky I didn’t have a vertical incision.

The gas in my shoulder remained a problem and if I didn’t stay super on top of the meds, the pain was a serious issue. Thankfully, I had a nursing staff serving me. I was on oxycodone and 800 mg of ibrophen to manage the pain.

Day 2

I started “exercising”—walking around the hospital wing very slowly and stretching my shoulders and chest to try to help move the gas out of me. It was the most painful aspect so far.

Not pooping is so horrible for me. I’m a very regular person so even a day (really a morning) without pooping is uncomfortable for me. With my hip surgery for a torn labrum in 2014, this was one of my least favorite side effects of the drugs. Bring on the stool softeners!

I hired a doula to encapsulate my placenta. She was amazing. She came to the hospital andIMG_7721 picked it up after Rein was born and then brought it back the next day in perfect little capsules, along with an amazing smoothie with all sorts of berries, fats, and of course some raw placenta. Placenta has so many amazing benefits! Most mammals consume theirs after they give birth—including many humans. I’m not messing around with my physical and emotional recovery—placenta is a part of my healing regimen.


Eating: VegaOne Bar, Kombucha, Tofu and bean wraps, fruit, dates, probiotics, coconut water, Vega protein powder with almond milk.

Day 3:

We came home. I asked if I could walk home—they advised against it. “But I walked here in labor, surely I can walk the 4 blocks home!” Mmmm… walking to the car actually took a good deal of energy. The blood loss and the fact that my tummy had been sliced open may have played into this.   Leif came home with us—which I desperately needed but it was A LOT to manage and I was in a good deal of pain. There were many tears that first night. I ended up in the guest bed with Rein because getting off our floor bed was NOT an option. I called for Josh when I needed meds. Getting off the bed was excruciating.


Proud Big Brother



Real Deal.

Day 4:


Leif went to the beach house with my family so I could rest and he could party. The next IMG_7909few days, although painful, were pretty calm. Rein pretty much slept, ate and pooped. There was very little crying. People brought us food and I pretty much stayed in pajamas.

I began my belly breathing exercises- literally, just breathing into my belly. Believe it or not, this was difficult. I couldn’t find my belly! This was such a strange feeling as I’ve always been pretty connected with my core—as a gymnast, a yogi, a runner, my relationship with my core has allowed me to stay strong and healthy. Now, its been sliced and pulled apart. When I touch my belly, it looks like a water bed—not the strong belly I’m used to.

Day 5

I attempted a “walk” with my grandma. I suggested we go around the block. She suggested we walk to the end of our block and back. Boy, am I glad she was there to tame my overly ambitious athlete. We walked to the end of the block and back and I felt like I’d ran a marathon. I was exhausted. I’m sure this mostly had to do with all the blood I lost. It was an eye opener and a reminder I need to continue my nutrient dense diet to rebuild my blood.

I believe this is the first day I pooped. It was scary. Like really scary. I held my incision for IMG_7836dear life. I was pretty sure my guts were going to fall out. Thankfully, they did not! It still took a few days to really get my bowels semi regular again but that initial poop—although horrifying—was such a relief!


Week 2

I started walking more… a little bit more each day. First around the block, then twice around the block and slowly built up to a slow 3 miles—carrying Rein in the ergo, pushing Leif in the stroller, and holding Sochi’s leash.

My amazing chiropractor did a home visit to check up on me and Rein. She adjusted both of us. Interestingly, she told me when both had a very chemically tone about us. I have been smelling a very potent chemical scent every time I bend forward. Each time I’ve been adjusted since the birth, the smell becomes almost overwhelming. My body is detoxing to the max. I don’t even want to think about everything that was put into my body during the cesarean but I’m thankful its on its way out.

Each day is different. Some days, I’m exhausted and my incision hurts like hell. I ordered a


Two Weeks

belly wrap to help me feel “put together” but found that it was a little too intense so I sent it back and just received this one today! Much better.


Week 3:

I built up to a 5.5 mile walk with Rein strapped on me and also some light lifting. It feels good to move and to work my muscles but also quite exhausting. On days I over-do it, I feel awful by the evening—my incision hurts and I remind myself of all the trauma inside my body as well.   My core is literally stitched back together and trying to heal.


3 Weeks


Protein and fat have been my main focus. I get plenty of healthy carbs with all the fruit and whole grains I eat. I have been using Vega products along with Arebonne and adding extra servings of protein to my smoothies along with heaping spoons of nut and seed butters. Yum.

Smoothies: I’m drinking a daily morning smoothie—loaded with protein, fruit, greens, super greens like chlorella and spirulina, extra iron, placenta, cocoa nibs, and topped with an immune boosting cereal blend.

We have an incredible community that has made sure that we are well nourished. Having IMG_7822delicious nourishing food delivered to our home has allowed me to rest more while ensuring we all get the nutrients we need! Curries, sauces, salads—its all been amazing.


Essential Oils:

I’ve always enjoyed the use of essential oils but I finally decided it was time to get a bit more serious about them for my physical and emotional healing and also to bring some extra “calm” to my family. My neighbor sells Young Living oils and has used them herself to help with autoimmune healing. I reached out to her and ended up purchasing a starter kit as well as signing up to be a distributor! I’ve been diffusing calming oils like lavender in our home as well as applying oils to my incision and to both the boys in the evening to help them relax.


Many women are anemic post partum. I lost an above average amount of blood so I’m really focusing on rebuilding my blood. In addition to iron rich plant foods, I’m also supplementing with iron. I continue to take B12 and Vitamin D. I’m taking about 8000 IU of Vitamin D per day. I’m also taking a daily probiotic by Garden of Life. I was clear minded enough to take all my supplements to the hospital so I started all of them, except for the iron, right away.   I’m sure my between the antibiotics I received during labor along with the trauma to my system, my gut flora got a whoopin’. I’ve also been adding L-glutamine to my smoothies for some gut rebuilding.

Pain Management: The first 24 ish hours I think I received meds via an IV. After that, I was on a steady course of oxycodene and Ibprophen for the first 6 ish days. After that, I switched to 800 mg of Ibrophen every 6 hours. I really feel it if I miss a dose. My body is quick to remind me that it is still dealing with the trauma of cesarean. I hardly took anything after my hip surgery but this is sooooo different. The pain feels so much deeper and layered.

We’re three weeks post partum today. I was running by this point after Leif’s birth. There is no way in heck my body is ready for running at this point. I intend to wait until the 6 week mark before making the decision to start running again or to wait even longer to allow for more healing and strength in my core. I also plan to start a Beach Body program at 6 weeks—probably 21 Day Fix to ease back into it. I’ll be hosting a challenge group for those interested in joining the fun!


Taking it slow these days










How to tell this tale. Where to begin?

All of June I felt like I was in the early phases of labor. Strong contractions and a constant need to pee. There was a lot of stress in June. There was a week at the beginning of June where I couldn’t eat or sleep. I lost weight and feared for my sweet baby boy inside of me. As the month went on, I slowly began to gain back some of the weight I lost and by the last week of June, we knew baby was head down and fully developed. I was ready. He was ready.

I went for acupuncture on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday’s session was intense and when I left, I could feel that my body was moving. When I got home, I started nesting like crazy. I mowed the lawn, watered, mopped the floors, took a shower and even washed and dried my hair (gasp). I made sure that our bags were ready and snacks were prepared. I made a list of things that needed to be taken care of over the next couple of days and noted who to delegate the tasks to. After everyone was asleep, I felt the contractions becoming more regular and the bloody show started. I squatted, I lunged, I went up and down the stairs and then I’d rest. I did this all night. I didn’t wake Josh or call my midwife or Mom. I just excitedly worked on my labor, my heart growing more and more sure with each contraction that labor was imminent.

When Josh woke up, I told him I thought I was in labor. I called my midwife and they told me it was probably time to go to the hospital to get checked. “There’s no way!” I thought! I was still laughing and feeling pretty calm and peaceful. With Leif, by the time we left for the hospital I was cursing and moaning and swore I was dying. Not this time. My mom arrived to be with Leif and Josh and I WALKED the 4 blocks to the hospital—telling jokes and laughing along the way. Side note—Josh was in a full suit, ready for work. We went in through the ER and I was actually embarrassed to be there—how could I possibly be in labor and still laughing and smiling?

A nurse from labor and delivery came down with a wheel chair. There was no way I was getting in it—but Josh took the ride, which the nurse and everyone we passed along the way enjoyed.

Its a really good thing I was in such good spirits 🙂 

They checked my cervix and found that I was 5 cm dilated and baby boy’s head was in position -1. I asked if we could go home for a bit as I felt so great and they laughed and told me I was crazy. Sigh. I sent Josh home to get all of our things, asked my mom to cancel my dentist appointment and pay the yard guy and started back at squats and lunges. The contractions grew more intense with each set of squats. I breathed through each one and said “Open, open, open”.

I felt strong. I felt empowered. I felt peaceful. My body was working beautifully to bring Reinger into the world. It was everything I imagined labor could be.

After a while, Josh returned with our things. I set up a snack bar for myself and my team and kept working while I messaged family and friends. My nurse was wonderful—an earthy, compassionate woman in her 50’s or 60’s who encouraged my peaceful labor and validated my work.


Mom arrived. Chelsey—my friend and photographer—arrived. We laughed between contractions and all fell quiet during my contractions so I could focus on my Blissborn hypnosis CD and working through the intensifying contractions. During my labor with Leif, I couldn’t eat but this time I snacked on rice cakes and plantain chips. I giggle thinking about how I would hand the rice cake to my mom every time I felt a contraction coming. My mom timed them and kept family in the loop. At one point, Chelsey suggested a birthing ball and the nurse brought a peanut shaped contraption for me to straddle. It was way too intense and we all laughed and agreed it looked like a giant penis. A birthing ball soon arrived and it was heaven (thanks Chelesey—I feel like I got a doula out of the deal too). The contractions lingered in my hips and being able to circle and swivel and rock alleviated some of the pain. Mom pressed on my shoulder trigger points to help move baby down and on my hips to help with the back labor. Women are incredible. It is so amazing to be surrounded by strong women who love me when I’m doing difficult things—especially birthing a baby. It feels extremely sacred—like a secret society of sorts.



The contractions were close together and intense and I asked the nurse to get my midwife to check my cervix. A while later, the midwife came in. Having someone put their hands in your vagina while in labor is NOT fun. I knew something was up when I needed to change positions and she didn’t have an answer for me right away. She told me I was at a 7 but Rein’s head was not presenting anymore. My heart started beating faster. She went to get an ultrasound machine to figure out what was going on. Josh, at this point, had stepped out of the room and I sent him a text to come in because I was scared. A few minutes later, we were looking at a breech baby. “CRAP,” is all that came out of my mouth as tears began to stream down my face. My first thought was, “I can deliver a breech baby. I’m strong.” I later learned that they had considered attempting a breech birth.   But when she called in the other midwife to confirm, we discovered he had moved to transverse. Babies cannot be born shoulder first. It just doesn’t work. It was too late in my labor to try to manually turn him as my sac was bulging and the risk of his cord prolapsing if my sac broke was high. A prolapsed cord is dangerous as it cuts off the life flow to the baby. I sent my close friend a text to tell her what was happening. She was so sweet to encourage me and tell me what a rock star I was for being able to send coherent messages at this point in my labor. My mom messaged Josh’s mom and she also sent encouragement. Again, women are incredible.



Heartache. This is right after we found out Rein was transverse and a c-section was our only option.

The midwives stepped out to give us a moment to process. My sister-in-law, Megan, arrived and I had a few moments to cry with family before they began prepping me for the OR. The nurse shaved me, IV’s starting going in, the anesthesiologist came and briefed me. They gave me drugs to stop the contractions—both a relief (why work that hard when they’re going to cut me open anyway) but also a heavy feeling of grief as my contractions felt empowering and connected me to Rein.   I was helped out of the pretty gown I was wearing and into a hospital gown, a cap covered my hair. The anesthesiologist was so generous to allow not only Josh but also my mom and Chelsey into the OR.



The amazing Chelsey Hawes–I seriously scored.


My incredibly good looking and well dressed support team


Josh lookin’ all stoic and ready for the OR.

A few moments later, I couldn’t move my lower body. The anesthesiologist poked me to make sure the spinal had worked. I could feel the pressure but it didn’t feel sharp like when he poked my arm. The medical team began their routine of verbalizing the details of the surgery. “Expected Blood loss—600 units…” Jesus. My midwife advocated for me—delayed cord clamping, baby on mama right away. NICU was there—“As long as he comes out crying…” I responded, “He better coming out crying!”

My team arrived in the room. I have vague memories of the OB talking about her new puppy. My mom held my hand. Josh behind me, the anesthesiologist to my other side asking me about my comfort and nausea and keeping me alive. Thanks for that, buddy. Then, it started. The first slice was terrifying. I was so scared I would feel it and was so relieved when I didn’t feel the sharpness of the scalpel slicing me open. I watched in the light fixture as they sliced me open and blood ran out of me. Oh. My. God. These memories are blurry. I’m sure partly because of the drugs but also because the trauma of watching your body being opened. I squeezed my mom’s hand tight and when I needed a break from watching, I looked back at Josh for reassurance and also to say, with my eyes, ‘do you see what is fucking happening?’ I do have faint memories of the medical team discussing my lack of tummy fat! A whole conversation about how I was not a typical American (had I not been completely mortified by what was happening, I would have shouted out ‘Whole Foods Plant Based diet and exercise, folks! Grab my card on the way out the door!’). Its not every day you get to have your insides examined. Nice to hear they’re looking good.



Dr. Sapico and other OB trying to dig that trickster out.

My Mama.

My Mama.

I was open. All the way open.   To the OB’s surprise, Rein stuck is arm out of me. Not good. He was face up and had wiggled himself to the far back corner of my uterus. She needed his butt and his butt was nowhere to be seen. She pushed his hand back in. Suddenly, there was another doctor with his arms elbow deep in my body. The nurses and midwife were pressing hard on my stomach. The pressure was so intense, so violating, and violent. It felt like a rape…a rape I had consented to out of necessity to keep me and Rein alive. This was not the fault of the medical team. They did exactly what they needed to do but it was painfully traumatizing as I felt their hands in me and on me and watched my blood spilling and them struggling to get my baby out. Then, he was out. I saw them rush him to the NICU table. He wasn’t crying. I started crying, “Why isn’t he crying?! Why isn’t he crying!? Oh my God, Oh my God, please let him be okay!!” Josh said, “he’s breathing… its okay.” My mom comforted me but I could see in her tear filled eyes she was also scared. 60 seconds. No crying. I felt like my world was collapsing. I couldn’t move. I laid there, paralyzed from the chest down with my body still open while I thought my baby was dying. It was the most helpless horrid feeling I’ve ever felt.



Then—he cried. The horror turned into sheer relief. They gave him 2 minutes of oxygen and Josh offered to let my mom cut his cord (Thank God for his cord pouring life into him during that first minute of life).   Soon, Sweet Rein, was laid of my chest and not long after he was searching for my breast. He latched on like an old pro. My terror began to melt into relief as I kissed his head and he suckled.


Music to this mama’s ears


Grandma checking out her grandbaby…me saying, “Mom! Move, I can’t see him!”

Dying to hold my baby...

Dying to hold my baby…


Gimme that Baby.




After all that drama–this kid knew exactly what do to.  Thank God.




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He has since been a relaxed newborn, allowing his mama the rest she needs to recover physically from the ordeal. Emotionally, I have a lot of work to do. The trauma—both physical and emotional—has left me raw. I have flash backs and nightmares and cry every time I think about it. I feel an incredible sense of grief—Rein’s peaceful birth was taken from him. That first rush of intense euphoria that you are supposed to feel when your baby comes out was instead one of the most horrifying feelings I have experienced. Of course, I was flooded with love and joy when they placed him on me…but the relief that he was alive was the most intense emotion.

The recovery process is hard. The first night, I was so blessed to be cared for by my neighbor’s sister—a nurse at St. Josephs. The compassion I was showed during my entire hospital stay was moving and had I had some fresh air, I probably would have wanted to stay an extra night to be cared for. Just sitting up in bed required so much effort. I had to pull myself up by the side rails and grunt to adjust in bed. The first time the nurse got me out of bed I thought “Surely, I’ll never walk again…” She told me I was actually moving really well. Oh Lord. I had the most painful cramp in my shoulder, which I was told was gas. What? Gas in my shoulder? I was encouraged to move and to fart as much as possible.  I lost more blood than expected—almost twice the amount. I felt weak, depleted, ghostly. The next day, an OB came to check me. As she read my chart, she said, “Oh, you’re that one. I’m so sorry…” What. Shit. Luck. She encouraged me that my body is strong and healthy and that I was lucky I didn’t have to be cut up my center—which would mean I could never deliver vaginally again. She said she thought my next baby would be the perfect birth and I was a perfect candidate for a vbac.   Too soon to talk about baby number 3? Probably, but I don’t think I’m done. I won’t let this experience rob me of having another child.

There is guilt too. Not only do I catch myself taking the blame for the c-section at moments, I also find myself feeling guilty for my grief and trauma. Shouldn’t I just be joyful that both me and Rein are okay? That I have two beautiful healthy boys? I have friends who have tried for years to conceive. I have friends who have lost babies. My incision is healing. My energy returning. I’m eating well and sleeping better than I expected with a newborn and a toddler. My community is feeding us and loving on us. But physical healing is also dependent on emotional healing. My body cannot fully heal until my heart has also healed. I am most fortunate to have access to healers—from a great counselor to chiropractors, acupuncturists, reiki healers, massage therapists and of course incredible nutrition, oils, and friends and family that will listen and validate my experience.

So, now, we heal. We process. We rebuild our broken places. We give thanks that we are safe and healthy. Most importantly, we love.


To see the beautiful photo story created by the talented Chelsey, click here!