In October of 2020 my family and I stepped into the scary yet life changing world of prenatal fetal surgery. Long story short this means they opened my stomach and uterus and performed a high risk operation on my unborn child. Sounds crazy right? But, we did it and I would do it a million times over if it means seeing my sweet child everyday.
But, this groundbreaking surgery did not come without psychological, physical and emotional consequence. With my child’s father still commuting from another state, taking care of a mini pig, and going to the hospital twice every week, it was important for me to stay sane in any way that I knew how. This was crucial not only for me but for my daughter.
Every mom is valid in their experience. I learned that I had to feel everything that I needed to feel without apology. And bearing children, yet alone having a preterm surgery as my very first surgery in life, was not easy.
It was even easier to feel alone throughout the process. But, keeping the needs of my child at the forefront, along with using these simple tips and tricks, I successfully made it through. So I want to share with you these tidbits that I used before, during, and after my fetal surgery to help you on your journey.
Let Me Clarify.
As my boyfriend puts it, I can be difficult for no apparent reason. I did not want to introduce excess drugs into my system that made me feel sick. I still wanted to work out for 2 hours everyday with 20lbs weights.
I wanted to work, work, and work some more because I don’t know how to sit still. And to top it off I wanted to do everything on my own because I thought I knew better.
But, I learned that my way is NOT always the best way. Therefore, I came up with my own balanced regimen between medicine and external forms of healing. The word “natural” in my case meant not heavily relying on prescription drugs to survive; because I did not want to survive. I wanted to THRIVE.
Tip 1: Don’t Be Afraid to Live After Surgery.
Get fresh air, have sex when cleared by your doctor, take walks, breathe, or whatever suits you best. You did it ! You are almost to the finish line (aka the starting line for raising your bundle of joy).
This was the BEST piece of advice that I received from my child’s fetal doctor, Dr. Emanuel J. Vlastos. Right after surgery you may or may not feel like a million bucks. Either way TAKE IT EASY. I am a mover and a shaker and was eager to prove to myself that surgery was a piece of cake. I was wiggling my toes and showering straight out of the operation room and boy did that come back to bite me.
You will experience pain. But, listen to your body and trust that your doctors and nurses have your best interest at heart.
Therefore, take all of the breathing equipment, medicines, pillows and whatever other tools and suggestions they provide. At the same time if certain pain or contraction medicines make you sick, like it did to me, talk to your doctor. Reduce your dosage or find an alternative medication that works for your needs.
When you leave the hospital you may fear reopening your incision. I get it, you can barely lay down or sit up without discomfort, you can’t use the bathroom without strain, you may not be able to even lift your arms past a certain point. But, that is okay and normal. Your body is fighting to heal while also stretching to accommodate your growing uterus. Give yourself some slack and know that your body is doing the best that it can under the circumstances.
After you’ve given yourself a few weeks to heal, enjoy life again. Don’t stay in that fear. Baby needs you to “get up and at 'em”. From Facetiming a friend to writing in your pregnancy journal, whatever it may be, don’t neglect your needs as a person.
A part of pregnancy is enjoying it … eventually. Embrace your body, bond with your partner, read to your baby, etc. The joy you create for yourself will pass on to baby so create a healing routine early.