Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Double Hernia Repair Surgery

I've known quite a few pregnant women whose belly buttons "popped" during pregnancy. Isn't it one of those things that people comment about quite a bit? When I was pregnant with Brianna, my belly button never "popped", and - to be honest - I was a little disappointed. I thought it was a pregnancy rite of passage or something. 

However, when I was carrying Brenson (who was almost two pounds heavier than Brianna at birth), my belly button did pop out. I thought I would like it, but I surprised myself by being kind of grossed out by it. It was really distorted looking, and I'll admit that I was a bit horrified when my OB told me that it may never completely heal or return to normal. I was also surprised to learn that it was actually a hernia. I had no idea! (I'm not sure what I thought caused it.) My OB also told me that after I was finished having children, I would likely have to get it surgically repaired. 

After Bren came, my belly button did look really weird for a long time, but it eventually healed for the most part. I wouldn't say that it looked like it did before, but nothing in my midsection did. I definitely have some battle wounds from carrying BIG babies (or two at a time!). When I became pregnant with the twins, I was only a bit surprised when my belly button "popped" very early on. 

At each check-up with the twins, my OB would look at my belly button, sometimes feel it, and remind me to really monitor it. He said that it was a fairly severe hernia, and that I needed to make sure it always stayed soft. As my pregnancy progressed, so did the hernia. By the end, it was very prominent, but it didn't bother me at all. My OB told me all along that I would need surgery on it not long after I delivered. 

When I went to see my OB at 7 weeks postpartum, it was a whirlwind of an appointment (like it always seems to be with him :-). He had just walked out of the room when Chris stopped him and asked him about my belly button. At that time, it would cause me quite a bit of pain on and off, and it was still visible through my clothes. I was able to push it back in when it was bothering me - and that would generally help - but it was certainly concerning to us. Dr N took one look at it through my clothes, felt it just a bit, and said, "I'll send a referral to a surgeon today." 

I had just left his office and was on my way home when Tiffany (Dr. N's nurse) called me. She said that they had an appointment set up for me for the next morning with a general surgeon. Ummmm, WOW! I was shocked at how quickly they were able to get me in.

My general surgeon's name was Dr. G, and I had my initial consult with him on Friday, March 27th. I was 7 1/2 week postpartum at this point. Chris stayed home with the children while I went to the appointment alone. I was a bit nervous . . . really, I just didn't know what to expect. I also didn't like the idea of seeing someone that I knew nothing about. However, as soon as Dr. G walked in the room, I was comfortable with him. After talking briefly, we discovered that we both have four children including a set of twins. He has kids who are 10 and 8 years old and twins who are 5. So, not only do we both have four and both have twins, but our kids are the exact same age split, as well (he's just 5 years ahead of us). THEN, we discovered that he and his wife saw the same fertility doctor that Chris and I saw. I felt like it was a good sign to have so much in common with him. During our visit, he asked how we were adjusting to life with twins. I told him that things were pretty crazy, but oh so sweet at the same time. He replied that they still feel like it's crazy, just a different crazy than when the twins were newborn. He also told me that the thing about having four is that you always have several different moods going on . . . two will be doing great while one is grumpy and one is hyper. OR, two will be doing great while one is sleepy and one is hungry. He was positive about having a "big" family, but real at the same time. 

Anyhow, he confirmed that I would definitely need surgery because I actually had a double hernia. One hernia was above my belly button (the more severe one) while the other was located in my belly button. He planned to do the surgery laparoscopically, but wanted to allow my body to continue to heal from pregnancy for a few more weeks. The surgery was scheduled for Thursday, April 16th.

Dr. G had told me that I needed to plan to have full time help for a minimum of two weeks as my lifting would be completely restricted. My mom took off from work to come down and be with us during the day of the surgery and for a few days afterwards. Chris took of work on the day of surgery so he could be with me. My surgery was scheduled for 7:00am, but we had to check in at 5:30am. This meant that we had to leave our house at 4:30am!

Prepped and ready for surgery!

One of my biggest concerns (even bigger than the surgery itself) was my milk supply and Brecklyn eating. Brecklyn was completely refusing to take a bottle at this point, and Dr. G had told me that I would have to pump and dump for the first 24 hours after surgery. I talked with the girls' pediatrician about this, and he also recommended that I pump and dump for 24 hours. Regarding Brecklyn and the bottle, he basically said that she would take one when she was desperate enough. Sigh. I had also been working really, really hard to build my milk supply up enough where I was able to pump and store milk for those 24 hours when I wouldn't be able to nurse. I needed roughly 60 ounces stored for the girls. I was concerned that with not being able to eat OR drink anything after midnight on the day of my surgery that my supply would be affected.

I explained my situation to the nurse that prepped me for surgery, and she made time for me to pump right before I went back. Fortunately, my supply was not affected too much by not being able to eat or drink.

It wasn't long after being wheeled back to the OR that the anaesthesiologist came to put me to sleep. While drifting off, Dr. G stood and held my hand, reassuring me that he would do his best to take care of me.

Surgery went well, though I woke up in severe pain and very nauseous. I pumped again in recovery (strictly adhering to a 3 hour feeding schedule), and we were on our way back home by about noon. I continued to feel very nauseated on the ride home, and ended up throwing up in our yard as soon as I got out of the car. I quickly snuck in the house and to my room. I didn't want the babies to see me since I couldn't nurse them at that point, and I really couldn't even hold them. Despite my efforts, Brecklyn somehow knew that I was home. She started crying not long after I got home and continued for almost two hours. It was horrible! I had no choice but to lay in bed and listen to her fuss and cry, knowing there was nothing I could do to help her. My mom and my sister were taking care of my kiddos, and I felt bad for them, too! Chris finally got Brecklyn to take just a couple ounces of a bottle which was enough for her to fall asleep.

Meanwhile, I had my alarm set to wake up and pump every three hours. It was so hard to rest like I needed to when I had to continuously pump! And really, it was SO sad to have to dump all that milk down the drain :-(.

I dumped roughly 70 ounces that day!

Truly as painful as it looks!

While I was resting, my mom and sister made these super-cute fish cupcakes with the older kiddos. Adorable!

That night, Chris decided to put the babies in Brecklyn's crib to sleep for the first time. At this point, they were still sleeping in the pack-n-play in our bedroom at night, but we didn't want them in there with me (because we felt like it would be harder for them since I couldn't nurse). I didn't know how they'd do, but they both slept well! And, Brecklyn FINALLY gave in and took a full bottle during the night. We were ALL relieved! 

The next morning, Chris went on to work while my mom and sister stayed with me and took care the of the kids. The babies were so happy to be able to nurse again (and so was I!), but I had to nurse them laying in bed with a pillow between us protecting my tummy. I was extremely sore for several days, and I tried to rest as much as possible.

Mom & Brooke

On the Tuesday following my surgery (April 22nd), my Uncle Justin, Aunt Cindy, and my Granny came to visit. They had been trying to come down since the twins were born, and our plans had fallen through twice. This time, it worked out!

Aunt Cindy and Brecklyn:

Granny and Brooke:

Brecklyn, Granny, and an unhappy Brooke:

Still unhappy!

Mom holding Brooke, Granny holding Brecklyn:

The girls were born on Aunt Cindy's birthday, so this is a photo of the birthday triplets :-).

Brecklyn, Aunt Cindy, Brooke, and Uncle Justin:

Brecklyn, Aunt Cindy, Brooke, Uncle Justin, Brianna, and Brenson:

While it was wonderful to have visitors, I didn't rest like I should have and needed to. I ended up feeling really run down that evening and noticed that one of my incisions (I had 7 small incisions) was seeping and had an odor. This concerned me, for sure. I ended up going to see Dr. Griffin the next morning to have him check it out. I was super afraid that it was infected, but thankfully it wasn't. At this point, it had been one full week since surgery, and I was surprised at how slow I was still moving. I know that Dr. G had said to plan on a two week recovery, but I generally bounce back pretty quickly. I think part of the reason for my slower recovery was that my body was still healing and recovering from twin pregnancy AND that it was working so hard to produce milk for two babies. I was still a bit disappointed with the slow healing, though.

My Mom left to go back home right after my appointment with Dr. G. It was so wonderful to have her here, and we are forever thankful for her help!

G-Jo with Brecklyn:

G-Jo with Brenson and Brianna:

For the next week, I had lined up various friends and family to come help me. Chris took two days off from work and his mom came to help during that time as well. I thought it would be really difficult to not lift the babies, but I truly did not feel like doing much of anything, let alone any lifting. My core stayed very sore for the entire two weeks!

My friend, Angie, also came one day to be with us. She actually took off work to be here! I am truly blessed with wonderful friends!

Another day, my friend Amy was here. She also took a day off work to help us out!

My friend Kendall's mom came and helped for a day, and my sister was also a huge help to us. I'm sad that I didn't get photos of everyone! We had several others who brought food over, and we were grateful for that!

After two weeks, Dr. G released me to lift again. He said that I just needed to follow the rule, "If it hurts, don't do it!" I was very careful at first, but slowly worked back into my normal activities. Dr. G told me that I may feel sore every now and then for a while, but I only remember feeling that way one time about 6 weeks after surgery. For the most part, I felt great after those first two weeks!

During recovery, we took several family walks in the evenings (nice and slow) to help me work back into activity. The babies loved them!

Really, it was refreshing for us all!

It was about two full months after surgery before I would say that I felt 100 percent normal and free to bend, twist, and lift without hesitation. My belly button looks great, and most of the scars from the incisions have really faded. I am so glad that we got this taken care of early and that it didn't turn into an emergency situation. And, I'm very thankful for a great surgeon and successful healing!


JoJo said...

Glad things turned out great! Its tough dealing with an incision wound. Sounds like u had wonderful people helping u.

Cheryl said...

I'm glad you're doing well after the surgery. You're fortunate to have so much help while recuperating!
Take care!