April is cesarean awareness month and I can say, without a doubt, that I wear my cesarean scar proudly. The span of it goes across a large section of my lower belly (about 5 or 6 inches to be exact), it’s uneven, and most of that area is still numb to this day, but through all that imperfection, I am glad to say that I am blessed to be here. I gave life through that scar; my life seemed to have a sense of being renewed through that scar; and I learned just how strong I was because of that scar.
When I gave birth to my oldest (Marley) via c-section, I thought that I had gone through one of the toughest situations physically, that I could possibly go through…my healing process decided to show me otherwise.
About three days after giving birth to Marley, I was using the bathroom and when I got up from the toilet, there was a gush of light orange colored fluid leaking from my body. At that point, I had no idea where the fluid was coming from and I was TERRIFIED. I asked my Grandmother to look and she told me that the fluid was coming from my incision. She then told my (then) husband what was going on and told us to go to the emergency room and that she would handle things at home with Marley. By this time panic had set in, my incision felt like it was on fire and it was constantly leaking this weird smelling fluid.
We arrived at the emergency room, and after signing in and telling them how urgent things were, of all things for the nurse to tell us, she said that they had NO ROOMS AVAILABLE; this is the last thing a 3-day post-partum Mother who feels like she is dying, wants to hear. By this time, I am bleeding through the towel that I had on my stomach and everything is leaking onto the floor, so when the nurse stood up and saw that the ER floor looked like a gunshot victim had come in, they immediately made a room available and took me back.
Upon arriving in the back, the ER doctor informed us that, for whatever reason, my incision had become infected and she was about to attempt to drain the fluid. This was scary and painful, and it was only a temporary fix. The next day we went to my OBGYN and were told that they would not be able to surgically close the incision, and that it would have to heal on its own. They taught my (then) husband how to “pack” the wound, and keep it cleaned out until it healed on its own. For those who are not familiar with the technique of “packing” a wound, let me just say…IT HURTS! I was having to go through the pain of someone removing old gauze and then cleaning my wound, and re inserting clean gauze inside the wound at least twice per day and then having to put a menstrual pad on top of the wound to catch the extra blood. Having to go through this, and still care for my newborn was hard, depressing and painful. This was the beginning of a long bout of depression.
Weeks went by, and I was having weekly appointments with my OBGYN to monitor my wound and track the healing. I was weak, depressed, and had lost a significant amount of weight; I was smaller than I was before I had even gotten pregnant. After about 3 weeks, the most disappointing thing that I could hear at a doctor’s appointment was “I’m sorry, but the wound is not healing and there’s not much more that we can do for you here”. These words hit me like a ton of bricks…What do I do now? What are my options and where do I go? We were sent to a wound clinic for further testing. This process was just as painful; being poked, prodded and examined made me even more depressed; waiting those few minutes that I had to wait was scary, and for the doctor to walk back in tell me that after all these weeks that I thought I was healing, I had staph infection. I didn’t know how it happened, but the most important thing I wanted to know was “Why was all of this happening to me?” I asked this question over and over again; I cried, I prayed, and I panicked. I didn’t know what the outcome would be or how long this extended healing would take. I was hopeful and I was nervous. I was blessed to only have staph in the wound and not my blood stream. I was given a high dosage of antibiotics and continued the packing process, and it eventually healed.
Most people have not heard of, or even given a second thought about the fact that a c section scar can reopen, but it can happen. This month of awareness is one that I hold near and dear, because as I brought life into this world via that incision, that very same scar put my life in grave danger; my body was in a fight with itself, so when I say that my scar is my war wound, it literally is just that.