Disclaimer: What you’re about to read is graphic. And really is gross. It was real and really scary. I tried to write this in a very factual standpoint, especially the graphic parts. Part one of this birth story can be found here.
Picking up where we left off. Saturday, I get discharged from the hospital. I had a home health nurse come every other day that coming week to check on the JP drain. That drain that I loathed with all my being. Digsby, the toddler, returned a different and very naughty child. He thrives on consistency and routine and he had none of that the previous week. The adjustment to two children was SO hard, because of the toddler. His world was turned upside down in the past several months and then he had just spent a week being spoiled and passed around to several people who love spoiling him! He would look me dead in the eyes as he would do something I just told him not to do. That was hard. I didn’t feel well. What was going well, was Digsby’s love for Winston. He’s obsessed.
I go in for my third and final iron transfusion.
I go in to see if the drain can be removed! It had been in for almost two weeks and not much was draining anymore! I get checked in. We go over all the possibilities: removing the drain or repositioning it for better outflow. I had the upmost faith it would be removed because nothing was coming out of the drain as I was secreting it naturally. They get me prepped. I go into this surgical room, on a bed they x-ray the tube’s position and my uterus. They shoot contrast into the tube to test if there is still a tear in the uterus. There was. It hadn’t healed yet. They tell me they are going to have to insert a larger tube and drain in me. This was NOT the plan! It wasn’t even an option! Cue me losing my shit. Like I could not control my emotions. I wanted all of this to be behind me. It wasn’t. I could not quit crying. I was mad at myself for not being able to control myself. I was mad that this was such a big deal to me. The insertion of the larger tube hurt…SO BAD. I got out of the surgery room, painfully get dressed and still not able to control myself. The bag was no longer the size of my hand. It was no longer discreet. It looked like an IV bag. The tube length was WAY longer. There would be NO way to conceal this. I kept thinking people who see this are going to think I have one of those poop bags. This thing I hated just got way worse. I go next door to my see my OBGYN. I lose it more. I couldn’t walk standing straight up, I was in so much pain. He was surprised. I was shocked. He wanted to examine my lady parts, but because of the pain, we postponed.
Winston’s due date! He was 17-days old. My niece and mother-in-law stayed the weekend to give us some rest. Josh was set to return to work the next day. He had been off work for three weeks. I’m sitting on the couch, pissed that Josh wouldn’t get up so we could go to church. (I just wanted to be normal, do normal things.) I’m sitting on the couch, next to my 15 year-old niece, drinking coffee and texting my best friend, Jestyn about Trumps latest round of craziness.
“Um….. something just happened.” I tell my niece. I look at the clock, It was around 10am. There was a gush…a BIG gush. She looks at me, with her eyes asking how she can help. I ask her for towel. She brings a beach towel. I try to get up with the towel between my legs to make it to the toilet. I can’t. More gushing. Each time I move, more blood gushes. I’m barely moving and there is a pool of blood on the floor that has dripped off the couch. I’m calm. She is calm. I’m freaked out, but we’re both calm. I tell her to go wake up Josh. As she does that, I call the doctor. Voice shaking I tell the answering service what is happening. Josh comes in, eyes wide, he helps me to the toilet. I soak through two beach towels. Blood is everywhere. A lot of blood, is everywhere. I’m weak. He helps me change my pants-so I didn’t leave the house naked However, there really was no point to pants. He puts towels on the front seat and we were on our way to the ER within 10 minutes of it happening. He has to use his GPS because he isn’t familiar with this part of the city. The GPS isn’t working that well. He is speeding and honking and taking the long way. We are about 5 minutes away from one of the hospitals that are in the same network that we had just been in. There wasn’t enough time to make it to our hospital. He took the 7 minute way. More gushes. My breathing starts getting death-like. He’s speeding telling me to stay with him. I’m losing his voice. I’m calm. I tell him, his voice is getting far away and that I’m seeing “the light”. I try to keep talking to him to tell him what’s happening so he can tell the ER what I was experiencing. The light. All the light. Every place that had light kept getting lighter and it made all the darkness leave. Like a high exposure on a photo when all the dark fades. I’d seen this in movies. I start losing consciousness. I’m in and out. When I’m awake, I’m telling him where to turn. I’m calm. I’m not sure if I was going to live. After the fact, I find out that because of the excessive amount of blood loss, I was experiencing shock. I didn’t know shock was an actual thing. I though it was more like something emotional, not a physical result of blood loss. By the time we make it to the ER I had soaked through another beach towel. I remember Josh running into the ER and some random lady on the sidewalk talking to me, asking if I was OK. I remember thinking…does it look like I’m OK!? (Josh told me later that some lady was walking out the door and he yelled at her to keep talking to me as he went in to get help.) A man (Josh later told me: he was that man) picks me up and puts me in a wheelchair. All of the sudden I’m in an ER bed.
I’m not going to get into all the details here. I received AWFUL and neglectful care at this hospital. I had to be the one to ask about getting a blood transfusion because I knew I was already low and these gushes were large amounts. My blood pressure was so low that I was in and of consciousness. They were working on an ambulance transport to the hospital that my OBGYN had rights to. Blood continues to gush, it gushes so much that it’s dripping off the table as just Josh and I were left alone in the room. It was scary. Like, I didn’t know if I was going to live scary. The nurse was scared. Her hands shook. When I asked if I was going to be OK, they were not very reassuring. I was losing lots of blood and very large clots were coming out. Several of them. The size of organs…that large. Finally, the paramedics arrive, we wait for my two-units of blood to arrive. And I get rushed the hell out of there. The paramedics tell me that they are going to turn on the lights and sirens because I needed to get their fast. I remember thinking that was insane she cared if my trip was loud. I told them to do, what they need to do. I needed to get to a place that would help me. I needed to live.
On the ambulance, I held the paramedics hand. He gently rubbed my hand with his thumb. Josh had drove the car there. I still remained calm, but in and out of consciousness. I really thought this could be the end. I felt a literal fight for my life. Not that I was fighting, but that there was a war happening and it was happening to me…around me…about me. It was weird. My only way to fight was to remain calm. If I got worked up, my blood would pump faster and would result in blood spewing faster. Calm. Stay calm. That’s all I could do.
The ride seemed very quick. They rushed me into a room. Jestyn and Josh were there. A different doctor, from my doctor’s practice was on call that day and she was there waiting too. A room full of nursing staff was waiting for me. The room was huge. There were probably around 15 people in the room (compared to the 2-3 in the last hospital). That’s when I knew I was going to live. I was given blood pressure medicine that stop me from passing out. I have the feeling like I needed to push…like in labor. I didn’t want to because I was going to poop…like in labor. I pushed another large blood clot out. I get prepped for surgery. The lady doctor was a God-send. Her bedside manner was such a warm welcome. She said they were going to open me up to see where the bleeding was coming from and went over all the possibilities. One of them being…I may not be able to have children once they are done. To that I said, “I DO NOT care. I need to be here for my babies.” I looked forward to being put out of my misery in surgery. I told Josh and Jestyn goodbye.
As I was in surgery, my friends and family were all waiting to see what was going to happen. My mom passed away in her early thirties, leaving behind four young kids. This was a very traumatic and scarring event for my family. The anniversary of my mom’s death was exactly one week prior to this day, so the re-lived memories were fresh on the mind. There were a lot of parallels between the situations that caused some heighten fears for my family. But nay, nay, nay…it was not my time. I am not my mother.
I wake up in Cardio Vascular ICU (I think that’s what it was called, this is the highest level of ICU) around 3am. I had the vent tube in my mouth. I was calm. I had had lots of practice. I signed to the lady, the best I could, that if she didn’t get this tube out immediately I would kill someone. She understood. It was like a blade that got pulled out. I immediately ask for Josh. He was in there. Poor guy. I can’t even imagine what he went through. He told me what happened. The surgery was supposed to take 3-4 hours. At hour 4, my doctor (he came in to join the surgery as soon as I was asleep) told my family and friends in the waiting room that the bleeding wouldn’t stop, so they were going to have to take my uterus. As soon as he returned to the room, it had miraculously stopped. My uterus was saved. They re-cut wide-open, my 4th degree tear and cut me open the way you would a C-section and performed a DNC. The original tear had healed and the drain was removed. I had been given 8 units of blood in the previous 12-hours. The human body contains 8-12 units. I had been low, from before, as they like to give you enough but not too much to allow your body make the rest. My life was saved by people donating blood. If there were no blood donors, no blood banks, I would no be here. How amazing and totally unfathomable. My blood pressure and the acidity of my blood was monitored before I was released that afternoon to the Mother/baby floor. It was the best staff/and floor who knew how to handle my recovery care. The rest of the week was kind of a blur.
I remember not wanting/ being able to look at pics of either one of my kids. It hurt too much. I missed them. I barely knew the new one. The week prior I was so focused on resting as much as I could before Josh returned to work. I didn’t take much time to just enjoy the new baby. At some point, Josh went and brought Winston to stay with us. (On Tuesday, I think) Depression left a little more on whatever day that was. I had been pumping, trying to maintain my supply, so bringing him to the hospital was supposed to help with breastfeeding, but it’s biggest help, was to the emotional and hormonal mother’s heart of mine.
The recovery. Oh God, the recovery. When you have a tube inserted down your throat, it causes coughing for at least a week. When you have a C-section incision, it hurts to cough. When you have a group of stitches holding your undercarriage together…well…you get the picture. Recovery was rough.
My doctor starts talking about releasing me from the hospital. I lost it. I bawled and bawled. I was SO afraid! The pathology reports hadn’t returned yet. We didn’t know what caused this. I was so scared to return home. What caused this? What if it were to happen again? There were talks that there was placenta left over causing this fiasco. So why didn’t anyone see it?! I just had a scan three days prior of my uterus. “Did you know I saw the light? The light that dying people talk about?” I ask him. That was news to him. I asked him if they could scan everything….all my lady parts. We needed to know everything was OK before we even talked about releasing me! He more-than-happily obliged even though he kept trying to reassure me that, this wouldn’t happen again. I just didn’t understand how he could say that. I did NOTHING to result in this. I followed instructions to care for myself to a T! The blood stopped miraculously, which I’m all for, but he didn’t stop it and he didn’t know why it started in the first place. There were too many questions.
All my lady parts were inspected. All looked well. We get the pathology results. This was not connected to first round of craziness. It was not retained placenta, it was a severe postpartum hemorrhage. The place where the baby sac attaches to the uterus, is basically like a wound the size of your palm. It didn’t “scab” over properly and was pumping blood into my uterus, thinking it was giving blood to a baby.
I get released. Again. We were cautiously optimistic. We had left before only to return. We were so thankful for the amazing care, but ready to leave, but afraid to go. I get into the car and it all starts flashing back. I started getting hot flashes and re-living the fears, the thoughts, the peace, the whole thing. PTSD.
I called to ask my sister if she could move in with us for a while. She said she was already planning on it. Oh, thank God!
My body was such a mess. I was so weak, so tired. I took these coma naps, like an old man I could fall asleep anywhere. I physically felt the same from Friday through Tuesday. I remember feeling so depressed about that because nothing was changing, no progress was being made. Wednesday, I woke up and had a very measurable amount of re-found energy.
It took weeks to feel normal. To be OK to be left alone. When Josh returned to work, I was terrified to be left alone. What if something happened?! Friends came over everyday that week to help out. So much food was brought. So much love. So much help. I don’t know what we would have done without all the friends and family who helped us. It truly is something special to have such quality people around.
I continued pumping and trying to nurse for several weeks. I would have to pump every two hours to increase my supply. If we ran errands in the morning and I missed a session, my supply dramatically dropped. At my max, I was pumping no more than 8 ounces daily, when Winston consumed 4 ounces every three hours. After medicines and various natural remedies I decided to stop. It was too much. Too much emotionally. Too much physically. My toddler needed me. I needed to eat, to sleep, to not be reminded of what my body can’t do instead of focusing on what it did do…survived! I still find myself, explaining myself to others on why I’m not nursing. I know it’s OK. I know it’s more than OK! My body’s extra energy was used to heal itself. My baby is healthy! Oh…he’s healthy alright. He’s two months old and already in 3-6 month clothing!
As of today, I’m getting stronger- physically and emotionally. Because of all the help, I’m just now starting to get used to having and managing two kids alone. I did get a mini-makeover, cutting my hair and buying new makeup after the chaos was all over. When I tell the story, it’s still raw…still emotional. To write it all down is a sort of release.
Here are some pics of the last month or so as out new family of four.