*Please note that this post involves some disturbing medical details and blood (a lot of blood). Be warned.
Despite the euphoria of little Prim’s arrival on May 9th, the whole ordeal has not been without complication. First, we ended up having to be in the hospital for four days post-delivery due to my high blood pressure not cooperating (it still hasn’t gone down — angry face) and little P getting jaundice:
However, after going a little stir-crazy in our tiny hospital room, we were finally discharged on Wednesday and allowed to go home. We thought we were through the worst of things and tried to settle in to some semblance of a normal routine (y’know, as much as you can with a newborn).
The first night we were home was uneventful. I actually got into a good rhythm overnight with feedings and KC caught up on sleep. We went into Thursday feeling fairly rested and confident. KC’s mom, Yvonne, came over to help out for the day since she was off work. We even managed to get outside and take a (very short) walk to the corner of the street.
Later that evening Yvonne headed home and KC and I sat down to watch some TV after I nursed (this was around 10:30pm). All of a sudden I realized that I was bleeding heavily and jumped up from the couch. I had bled all over the couch cushion (which KC promptly started stain-treating) and I ran upstairs to deal with the mess. I called Yvonne to tell her that my bleeding had suddenly become very heavy and I wasn’t sure what to do. She told me to call my doctor and lay down. I called the doctor who told me to monitor the bleeding for the next three hours and to call if it continued.
Yvonne ended up coming back over (thank goodness) and checked me out. The bleeding seemed to have stopped so I laid down for a bit. I had to get up shortly for the next feeding, which Yvonne stayed for. I was nursing Prim and I realized I was bleeding heavily again. I stood up in a panic, handed Prim over and headed upstairs to try and clean up. I needed to finish feeding Prim, so I came back downstairs and sat in a kitchen chair and finished nursing her, planning on calling my doctor when I was finished. While I was burping Prim, I suddenly felt very light headed and dizzy. I looked up at Yvonne and said:
“You need to take her.”
Yvonne jumped up and grabbed the baby, then shoved my head down onto the table, telling me to breathe. Everything slowed down and got sort of foggy. Yvonne asked me to describe how I felt. I felt like my brain had kind of stopped working and all I could manage to say was, “I just feel really… bad.”
I heard Yvonne yell to KC to come downstairs. She sounded panicky. I knew that if Yvonne was nervous, it probably wasn’t a good sign (given that she’s a postpartum nurse). She pressed cold washcloths to my neck and face and tried to keep me talking while telling KC to gather up some things for the baby. Yvonne asked if I could make it over to the couch. I didn’t think I could even stand up on my own, so KC and Yvonne supported me and managed to get me over onto the couch, then Yvonne called 911. An ambulance and fire truck arrived shortly after and EMTs and firemen filled the living room (oddly, I know this happened, but I don’t have any real memory of it). The EMTs asked me questions and asked if I could walk to the ambulance. I couldn’t, so the firemen loaded me onto a chair and got me into the back of the ambulance, which rushed to the ER.
Once we arrived at the ER I was brought into an exam room and transferred to a bed. I was conscious but really out of it, and was aware that I was lying in a pool of my own blood that went from hips to knees, and still continuing to bleed. Doctors and nurses were rushing in and out of my room, and each person who came to check me would say something along the lines of, “Woah, that’s a lot of blood.”
Finally, the on-call OB doctor was brought in to examine me, and he informed me that I was having a delayed postpartum hemorrhage, most likely due to a large blood clot or retained placenta. He did an ultrasound and determined that a clot was the cause and informed me of the treatment options. He explained that they could book an operating room and put me under anesthesia to clear out the clot, but he didn’t know how long it would take to get an OR booked and he was concerned about how much blood I’d already lost. He explained that the other option was to do the procedure there in the ER without anesthesia. He said that they would give me a shot of medicine to make me feel a little loopy and then clear out my uterus by hand.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty painful,” he told me. I asked him to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to transition in labor. He said he couldn’t quantify it, but that he did know it was painful — but it was quick, only about 20 seconds. Having had complications with anesthesia in the past (and feeling like nothing could be as painful as going through labor), I quickly determined that I would just get the procedure over and done with there. No need to book an OR. I remember thinking, “I can do anything for 20 seconds — 20 seconds is nothing compared to hours and hours of intense contractions!”
The doctor looked at KC and said, “Are you sure you want to stay for this? I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty disturbing.” KC said he was fine and stationed himself up by my head. (KC told me later that he had kind of given the guy a look, like, “Listen man, I just saw her go through labor and give birth — how bad can this really be?”)
I got the shot of medicine, and the doctor started the procedure. Somehow I had failed to compute that having someone reach their entire arm up your birth canal 5 days after giving birth to sweep the inside of your uterus would hurt like nothing has ever hurt in your life. Having been through labor, let me tell you this — this hurt worse than labor. I was literally screaming throughout the procedure (and please note I am not a yeller — I didn’t raise my voice once during labor, even a little). I was attempting to climb the bed to get away from the pain as I screamed over and over “Please be done soon!” (Apparently I’m fairly polite while in unimaginable pain.) After he removed his hand (arm), I felt a rush of blood cover the bed.
The whole ordeal felt pretty crazy, so I can only imagine what it was like for KC to witness it all. (KC told me later on that driving behind the ambulance with Prim in the backseat was maybe one of the scariest moments of his whole life. Oh yeah, and seeing the doctor’s glove after the procedure in the ER was apparently like something out of a horror movie.)
The doctor informed me that I’d have to have a blood transfusion, as they estimated I’d probably lost about three pints of blood (and, uh, you’ve only got about ten pints total in your whole body). I signed the consent form and they started me on the first of two bags of blood. Over the next several hours I was admitted into postpartum and given the second transfusion and an ultrasound which showed that my uterus was clear, so I was eventually discharged.
Not really an ideal way to start off life with a new baby, but the good news is Prim and I are both home and healthy now (thought I suspect KC is a bit scarred by the whole experience.) And lesson learned — next time when they give you the option of anesthesia, take it.