Monday, February 01, 2010

After Birth

I promise I will soon post my labor story and more tidbits about my daughter, who is lovely. But today I want to talk about what happened after her delivery.

After I had Rolo, I had a retained placenta. The OB had to go in and retrieve it, which took some time, but he was able to do it in the delivery room without surgical intervention. I had an epidural at the time and while I felt some pressure and mild discomfort while it was being removed, it was, in the grand scheme of things, no big deal.

For the record, one's placenta is pretty much supposed to deliver itself after the baby without much hoopla.

So...with my little girl, my labor was so fast that I had a natural delivery and my mind was so blown away by this development that a retained placenta was the last thing on my mind. Until, that is, my baby girl was being doted on by my husband in the delivery room and I noticed the OB team was becoming increasingly frantic about this placenta situation. "Oh yeah," I said, "This happened last time too."

The striking difference this time, of course, was the complete absence of pain medication. So for an hour I had to endure the OB's (a female, thankfully) with her entire forearm up my whoo-ha pulling the placenta out in pieces. Sorry, hope you weren't eating lunch. It was completely horrifying, hands down the worst pain in my life and way worse than the delivery itself.

But finally, it was over, recovery was pretty easy and I was back to my normal actitivies in no time. I slipped into a routine and being the mother of two instead of one was not the awful transition I anticipated.

Then, 12 days after my daughter was born, I started to bleed. A lot. More than one should safely bleed. I was home by myself with the two kids and more than a little panicky. I started to cry, alternating thoughts between "This is no big deal, panicking will not help" and "What will happen if the bleeding doesn't stop and I pass out? Who can watch the kids?" I was not so concerned for myself as I was for them. My husband rushed home and my in-laws rushed over to watch the kids. Ron and I headed to the ER, where I was convinced they'd just send me home.

But no. A pelvic exam (and trust me, I was none too pleased to see stirrups again so soon) revealed a concerning level of bleeding and an ultrasound confirmed "retained product" in my uterus. Basically, there was likely still placenta in there. could be a fibroid, an absorbed twin or a tumor. But likely it was retained placenta.

So, I was admitted to the hospital for a D&C scheduled for sometime the next day. The doctor explained the risks, since I was less than 2 weeks postpartum: it was possible that they wouldn't be able to control the bleeding because my uterus was so soft. And they weren't exactly sure what they'd find once they were in there. It was possible that I'd need interventional radiologist to go up though arteries. It was possible that I'd need a hysterectomy. Which displeased me because, even though I don't plan on having any more children, I am rather attached to all my lady bits.

The next day dragged on...I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything, which made me pretty grumpy. I kept fantasizing about foods like chicken parm and chocolate milkshakes. My husband, who is wonderful, would later bring me both.

I was finally on the schedule for the procedure mid-afternoon. More with the talking to me about risks, and about general anesthesia. Guess what? Turns out I have a total fear of "going under". I never knew this about myself. I did not, DID NOT, want to be intubated. A nurse, "my" nurse as it turned out, came over, introduced herself and what I can only imagine was her recognizing the terror on my face, said kindly "I'm going to take really good care of you." Ron stayed with me until the last minute and tried to distract me by talking to me about all the food I could finally eat afterwards.

I was wheeled away, trying not to cry again (I knew that a D&C was no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but bear in mind, post-partum hormones here. Greeting card commercials could make me cry). The route to the O.R. looked like the back room of a cafeteria to me, with lots of shelves and trays but minus any food. As they laid me back, I looked up at a very large light above me and thought, "That looks just like a light they would have in an O.R. on TV." The last thing I remember is someone cursing that I had two, TWO, hospital gowns on and then a mask going over my face. And then...nothing.

Later, I woke up with a nurse beside me. The OB came over immediately and started explaining to me what had happened. Something about losing a lot of blood..and I knew I wasn't really comprehending everything she was saying. She said she already spoke with Ron and I stupidly said, "He's a doctor, you can tell him the whole story and he'll understand." The OB look slightly horrified that she had probably dumbed down the story for a fellow physician and rushed off to find him.

The rest of the night was a blur. What I thought was the anesthesia making me weak and out-of-it was really anemia. Pink dots kept on appearing everywhere but I had the presence of mind to tell Ron, who stayed with me all night, when I felt like I was on the verge of passing out. The medical residents decided I needed a catheter and I was too tired to protest. You know what? Getting a catheter without having any paid meds? Yeah, undesirable. Turns out that I can grit through real pain, but I'm a total wimp as it relates to general discomfort. Between the catheter and an abandoned IV on the inside of my elbow that they wanted to leave in "just in case" they needed it, I was cursing like a sailor.

Ron checked my pressure regularly and was generally displeased with the level of care I was receiving. The next day, when I couldn't stand up without falling down, a different OB, the one who delivered Rolo and who I like a lot, came in to talk to me about a blood transfusion. So...a blood transfusion it was. Which, since I've often donated blood, I thought was an interesting "circle of life" type moment.

All in all, I wound up being in the hospital about 3 and a half days, which is actually longer than when I had the baby to begin with. I was shocked by how awful I felt. I missed my kids terribly. I wasn't worried about the baby, because I knew she didn't know if I was home or not, but I was worried about Rolo. He had a hard time when I went into the hospital to have the baby and now I was away again. When I finally saw him, he ran into my arms and gave me the biggest hug ever.

And I cried.

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