Hi! Well, here is the update...
It was not an umbilical hernia, but was called a ventral or incisional hernia, which I got because the c-section scar from my delivery of my son (i.e., the abdominal muscle incision) never healed properly.
I got it fixed (supposedly) in May 2006. The surgery SUCKED. I waited over a year to get the surgery, which I think 20/20 hindsight was a huge mistake because it just gets bigger and bigger the longer you wait. I was all obsessed with how could I be away from my baby for 4 hours, etc. so I just delayed it as long as possible. So it went from a small hernia (i.e., a simple surgery) to a big hernia and a pretty complicated surgery. I still was nursing and so pumped etc. but it did make it easier that my son was walking and so could get himself into position to nurse and I didn't have to hold him ALL the time anymore like when he was an infant. But still, it was more a complicated surgery. I did not get general, just a local (and obviously a sedative so I was asleep) and it was "outpatient" so I went home a couple of hours later, and I ended up in A LOT of pain. Recovery was WORSE than the c-section, hands down. If I had gotten surgery when he was say 4 months old, I would have had a few days of my mom getting gobs of baby time in, staying in bed, nursing propped up on pillows. Big deal... it's like having a baby! lol But 3-4 days later and I would have felt great. Instead I was in a lot of pain for over a month. I could barely lift him even 2 months later. I pumped diligently immediately before my surgery (to give to him) and after surgery (to dump) but he didn't even want to nurse because I was home 5 or 6 hours later and he was fine. If he'd have been a newborn, I would have just asked my dh to bring him to the hospital and get the nurses to prop me up to nurse him. I can see that I had options back then but I was too focused on not being separated from him for the hour or whatever of surgery--- anyway, understandable I suppose but in hindsight, totally stupid and totally the WRONG decision.
Fast forward to last summer (June 2007). A bulge was reappearing - kind of like a golf ball in my lower belly and I got a note that the mesh patch used to fix the hernia was RECALLED by the FDA.
Not something you want to hear about a medical device that is inside your body. I had a CT scan to check it and the surgeon (a new surgeon this time
) said it had migrated and was failing but we'd check in in Dec. So in Dec 07 (this past xmas) I had a follow-up CT scan and the mesh had migrated further and this time I had a full recurrence - i.e., I had a hernia AGAIN.
So... I went in in January 08 (2 mos. ago) for a repair of the hernia. It was a mess. General anesthesia, I was in the hosp. for 4 days, the repair was a MESS. The mesh had migrated into my abdominal cavity, I had to do this crazy bowel prep because they thought they *might* have to do a bowel resection because there was a loop of bowel they thought was attached to the old mesh. It turned out it wasn't (thank god). The surgery was serious - my scar goes all the way across my lower belly. But it was repaired. I am crossing everything I have that it holds - it was a straight surgical repair (just sutures, no mesh) because the abdominal tissue was so badly destroyed the risk of infection was too great to insert a foreign body in there just to have to take it out again if it got infected. So we're hoping this one holds. The recovery from this one I liken to a c-section. Even though it was a more intensive operation, I had general, and the scar is bigger. It just felt RIGHT from day 1, unlike last time when it hurt badly and felt weird from day 1, probably because the mesh failed as soon as it was inserted.
Anyway, my lessons learned:
1.) DO NOT WAIT to get surgery. The nursing baby will be (more than) okay. Moms who delivery newborns can breastfeed so it makes ZERO sense to avoid an operation out of fear of the baby getting a little anesthesia in the breastmilk. Get the surgery you need as soon as you need it.
2.) Get help during recovery for at least 2 weeks. That means dp stays home for AT LEAST 1 week, your mother comes to stay, whatever. You can't lift a darn thing (not even a bag of groceries) or even drive, so don't plan to do anything during your recovery. Hire a mother's helper or whatever to take older kids to the playground, etc.
3.) Insist on fabulous pain control THROUGHOUT. Do not wean yourself off Motrin or whatever (even harder drugs) because you are worried about it getting to your baby or toddler through the breastmilk. It's such a tiny amount and again, if a 2 hour old 6 lb. newborn can nurse after general, you can nurse your toddler taking some Motrin to make you more comfortable. Being in pain is the worst thing in the world.
4.) Get a surgeon who specializes in abdominal surgery, not just any old general surgeon.