The Long Road to Recovery

It’s been quite a week in the Swank household! After 9 months of preparation, anticipation and the hormonal roller coaster, at 40 weeks +3, I was induced Monday, March 13, 2017 at 6 a.m.!

Bryan Vu-Danh Swank

Our doctor (and to be honest, us, as well) thought that in the final weeks I would go into labor on my own. She even thought that a delivery she had earlier in the week was going to be us, but I guess Baby Bryan was just too comfortable (and God had another plan for us)!

I was a nervous wreck right up until we checked in at the hospital! Tory was the complete opposite (opposites attract, I guess, and we’ve certainly learned that several times throughout our relationship)! He was so cool, collected and excited for the arrival of his son. I was so scared about what I was about to go through and no one ever really talks about how scared you would feel right before it happens or even while it’s happening!

Even though we were induced, I still wanted to go as natural as I could with the labor. I had so many people telling me that I wouldn’t be able to do it and that I would absolutely need to get the epidural (I also had family telling me that I shouldn’t get an epidural at all), it was honestly very discouraging. They didn’t know the level of pain I could tolerate. They weren’t me. Every pregnancy is different, so isn’t every labor and the way a person experiences labor different too?!

I was determined that I was in no way going to get the epidural and that I would be able to go through the pain, no matter what anyone said about my stature being too small to handle the pain or me regretting not asking for the epidural at the very last minute of labor.

file3Thinking back, I think I did really well dealing with the contractions at first. They really just felt like regular period cramps. I could definitely do this, I thought to myself! Towards the end though, the contractions were coming in hot and were unbearable to the point where I was crying… I could see the look in Tory’s and my mom’s eyes. They could see the pain I was in, but couldn’t do anything to do to help me.

When we hit about 4 cm dilated, I was crying for the IV medication (not an epidural), I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew that the IV medication would make me drowsy, but I could still feel every contraction coming on. As soon as the IV was given to me, I felt myself dozing off, my eyes were getting heavier and heavier and I stopped crying as much, but could still feel the pain of each contraction.

Within 15 minutes I went from being 4 cm dilated to 9! I kept telling everyone that I needed to push, but the nurses kept telling me that it was just Bryan pushing down and making me feel like I needed to, but didn’t really have to just yet. Bless my sweet husband for not settling with that answer after I kept telling him I needed to push and insisted that they check! In the next 20 minutes of pushing (and I’ll admit it, screaming), our sweet little boy was born at 12:26 p.m. at 6 lbs. 10 oz. and 19 inches long!

Now, we start the month long road to recovery. No one ever mentioned how sore, file4bruised and exhausted you would feel after delivery. I’ve heard about the exhaustion that baby would bring on because of the lack of sleep, but I never heard about how drained your body would feel right after delivery (those Hollywood movies don’t help much either, making every mother look like she’s completely happy and glowing). I was so out of it, until Bryan was placed in my hands.

Tradition vs. Modern Day Postpartum

Growing up, I had always heard stories about how my grandma took care of my mom after having me. Mom was on a certain diet that consisted of mostly rice and vegetables, drank only water and hot tea, she took only steam baths and rolled a hot bottle of water on her stomach everyday for a month. She also stayed at home the first month and only left the house for doctor’s appointments. The article “Post-partum practices among Vietnamese and Chinese patients,” written by Ethnomed explains in detail the type of recovery my family has me on.

When I was told that I would be doing the same thing I was very skeptical. I hadn’t seen any of my cousins do it before and I always saw my friends going back to their routines before baby, or at least as much as they could. Why couldn’t I do the same?

There are days when I’m still unsure why I have to be on this diet or do things the way I’ve done it so far for the past week, but I guess only time will tell what the benefits really are, and I guess it doesn’t really hurt to try?

I know that everyone has their own way of recovering, but should it just be on way or the other? Should we be shaming each other on how we do things to take care of ourselves and our newborns? Who’s to say that one way of recovery is better than file2-1another? After all, every pregnancy is different, so why can’t we put that into consideration when we talk about recovery road?

I’m taking it day-by-day, and I’m completely thankful for all that my mom has done to help me and Tory while she’s here for a month. Even more so, I’m completely thankful for my loving husband. He’s constantly been checking up on me to see how I’m feeling physically and emotionally (a lot of people seem to forget that it can also take an emotional toll on a woman). Recovery is definitely no picnic, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. For now though, I’ll just have to take it as it comes.

If you had asked me during labor (and Tory did) if I would ever want to go through this again, my answer was a definite no! But after holding our son for the first time and seeing his big (not sure what color his eyes are yet) eyes, the 6.5 hours of labor, 9 months of anticipation and month long of recovery will all be worth it! file-6