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Recovering from Hysterectomy with Small Children

From the Hysterectomy Recovery Articles List

Recovering with small children after hysterectomyI have a toddler at home. My husband is able to take a full week off work, but after that, I’ll be on my own. How can I take care of my little one while recovering from my surgery?

Many mothers of young children have faced a hysterectomy. As a mother, it is normal to want to get back on your feet and take care of your children again as soon as possible. It is important, however, to always to be mindful of the fact that you have only one chance to heal right. No matter what type of procedure you have, a hysterectomy is major surgery. If you do too much too soon, you can cause long-term complications that may take you away from your children even more. Not only do you need to rest and take pain medications, you will be restricted from lifting more than 5 to 10 pounds for several weeks.

This is the perfect time to ask for help—if not for yourself then for your children. If you have family and friends who can come stay with you or even help out during shifts, you’ll be able to rest and heal knowing that your children’s needs are taken care of. Caring for a small child for even an hour during the first two weeks after surgery may be quite difficult.

Even if you have assistance, you will probably want to be able to spend some time with your children.

The following suggestions have been shared by other members of HysterSisters.com:
  • "If you really want to be with your child when you are home, I suggest letting him/her "help" mommy. He can refill your water, "read" stories with you while you are lying in bed (even if you are dozing off), draw pictures to hang in your room to cheer you up, etc. You might even be able to have small containers of apple sauce, grapes, carrots, crackers that he can open and eat on his own and even share with you! You can let him know that you will need lots of rest time and to give him things to do---next to you--that will keep him occupied. Maybe think of a simple routine, similar to the one he has at daycare. Make a little chart with activities and "jobs" on it so he keeps busy but also can help you. Toddlers (and older kids) can be helpful and very compassionate---but you will need a few days just to sleep and not think about anyone else!"

  • “My daughter has gotten really good at climbing onto the couch to sit with me, and climbing up into her highchair, and even into her bed (we use a playpen). I would place a kitchen chair right next to the highchair and have her climb onto that first, then down. I also placed a small toddler bed at the end of my bed which lets her climb up onto my bed on her own as well.”

  • “Create a child-safe recovery space for your recovery. For us, this meant the living room and kitchen. We gated everything else off and moved unsafe lamps and furniture to another room.”

  • “Have your husband pack a cooler and a picnic basket to keep near the sofa for you. This should contain juice boxes or pre-poured sippy cups (even picking up a pitcher to pour from might be too much at first), baggies of snacks that your daughter likes, and drinks and snacks for you. Also, your husband should be putting your lunches in there for you. You may even want to move a small microwave into your recovery area for a couple weeks. The picnic basket should contain plates, napkins, silverware, etc.--everything you'll need. Also, have a trash receptacle nearby. And this is a good time to use disposable dishes so your husband can focus on cooking, laundry, and childcare while he's home and doesn't have to deal with the dishes, too.”

  • “Put the DVD player where you can reach it, even if it means you'll be watching TV really close-up. This is a situation where using the TV as a babysitter is essential. My son and I watched Barney, then Sesame Street, then Beauty and the Beast, and then a bunch of other shows until lunch time and naptime. Although that was pretty much all we did together, it truly was special bonding time.”

  • “Find some games you can play together. I used to have my son put a laundry basket on the other side of the living room. I would ball up socks and aim them at the basket, and he would fetch them back for me (yes, like a dog playing fetch).”

  • “Nap when your child naps.”

  • “Set up a diaper changing station close by, preferably something you can reach from the couch. Even if you have to sit up to do it, you aren't standing and that's important. Stock up on hand sanitizer so you don't have to go to the bathroom to wash every time. Or put a potty seat right there in the living room with you.”

  • “Get a playpen or jumpy chair that will keep your daughter safe. You will have to go to the bathroom. You will occasionally have to walk to the garbage to throw away a particularly messy diaper. You will not be able to chase or carry or pick up, so you'll have to figure out a safe (for you) way to get her in and out. Here's what I did: I sat on the couch, with the playpen about two feet away from me, and I tilted it forward. I scooted him in there (or held onto him while he climbed out) and then eased it back upright. While this wasn't ideal, doing it from a sitting position involved much less strain than from a standing position.”

  • “When your husband is home, he is to do all child care so you can be totally horizontal.”

  • “I would make sure, if I were you, to ask your doctor when and if you will be able to lift your little one. My DS and I are very affectionate so it has been very hard for me to not lift him...I have him stand on a chair by me for big hugs...and we have to cuddle on the couch while I am sitting.”

  • “I would think 'creative' is going to be the word of the day for you. Finding alternatives to where to change him, have him nap, eat, etc. Having neighborhood teens who want to help out/babysit with you there, alternating times with family members and friends, and your DH's work schedule—all will require some effort beforehand but should help on the back side.”

  • “For diapering, you may want to invest in some pull-ups. I have a 21-month old and we've been letting her climb up onto the potty with a stool and taking off her diaper and then putting on a pull-up. That way, I don't have to bend far, just sit on a tall stool like this one: You can make it taller by turning the lid the opposite way and then my DD uses one of the little Elmo stools to get herself on the potty. We added bribes by offering stickers for sitting patiently for mommy so that post-op we can have a method for my madness. Also we went with trying out a toddler bed. She loves trying to sleep in my three-year old son’s bed, so we got him a twin finally and moved his bed to her room.’

  • “I had a 3-year-old when I had my surgery, and my DH and I asked my 16-year-old DD to move in with us. My DH and DD took care of me and the toddler, and that was full-time for them! I didn't do anything more strenuous than read books, snuggle on the couch, and run the remote control on the TV.”

  • “To help keep the babies contained, what about a RugRats type of play yard? You know, the big ones with six or so sides that you can configure in different shapes like they have on the RugRats cartoon? For meals, what about travel booster seats with trays that they can get into themselves, if you have them on the floor?”

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

07-01-2009 - 10:08 PM


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