While in recovery, I got to do something I've never done with any of my kids.
Alexis went straight to the NICU. Addie went straight to the NICU. I hemorrhaged with Emily within 15 minutes of getting out of surgery.
But with Sofia, all was well. I got to have my newborn baby on my chest for the first. time. ever. I'm not sure how long we got to hang out, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Shortly after I arrived in recovery, the nurses started doing their "thing". "Thing" meaning massage the uterus from the outside. This is normal for every woman who has a baby. Lest I remind you, I'd just had abdominal surgery. Now, I've endured this type of thing without having had surgery (with Addie, if you'll recall), and it's tortuous then. But, I've done it three times after a c-section and I can state, without any doubt, that it's almost unbearable - even with the pain reducing left overs from the spinal. It's enough to make even the toughest woman want to jump off that table and punch a nurse in the neck.
So, they were doing their "thing". They are pretty firm about it all, too. They say it's to help the uterus clamp down and stop bleeding. They take the responsibility pretty seriously. They massage with some gusto. On your poor uterus that's been stretched to smithereens over the last nine months. And on your stomach that's just been cut in half.
When they pushed down to help with the clamping, a liter and a half of blood came out. I, of course, saw none of this. Allen did and he remembers the flurry of activity that commenced after this started.
They pushed down and there was a huge gush of blood. It was enough they decided to weigh it (hence the 1.5 liter remark). Within minutes, I had 4 nurses and the surgeon at my bedside. The nurses kept doing their thing and the doctor started doing her own thing. The surgeon's "thing" is much more invasive and embarrassing to write about than the nurses. To be extremely graphic, they did tell me there were "baby sized clots" involved. How they got those out, I'll leave that up to you to figure out. All I can say is nothing is sacred after you've had a baby. They don't care if you've been cut in two. They take no regard for privacy or dignity.They did whatever it was going to take to shut my uterus down. And boy howdy, they did.
At this point, the pain was immense. I remember not caring how foolish I sounded. I cried out in pain. I was writhing around like a big baby. I kept asking them to stop. They were coming at me from all sides and I was miserable.
The bleeding was bad; they were not backing down. Because of the pain, they were giving me mega doses of many different types of narcotics. I don't remember any of them working to reduce the pain. But, my memory is really fragmented of that night so I know the drugs were doing something.
|The view from my bed in recovery. See the big feet over the bed? That'd be Allen sleeping.|
I have no idea how long this went on. The next thing I remember was being scolded by the nurse, "BREATHE, Traci! BREATHE!" I took a deep breath. Then, what seemed like 10 seconds later, "BREATHE, Traci! BREATHE!" I took another breath. Ten seconds later. Over and over and over. All through the night.
I was so tired all I wanted to do was sleep. But, every time I'd fall asleep, I'd stop breathing. One of the side effects of narcotics is that they depress the respiratory system. I'd had a lot of narcotics in the last few hours. If I was awake and focused, I would remember to breathe. But, I was neither awake nor focused (again, due to the excessive amount of narcotics). Thus, I was not breathing regularly. They had an oxygen cannula in my nose to help, but that wasn't really doing the trick.
I remember looking up and seeing Allen passed out on a gurney across the room. The nurses said they'd sent the baby to the NICU hours ago so she would be taken care of because I was out of commission. They told me they were giving me blood to help replenish what I'd lost during the hemorrhage.
Finally, after 6 hours in recovery, they decided to put me on an a different form of oxygen so it would breathe for me.
I think it was just after 4 a.m. (Sofia was born at 8:55 p.m. the night before), they took me to my room to get some much needed rest.
Around 7 a.m., a nurse came in to my room. I looked around, noticed I was alone, and asked, "Um, has anyone seen my husband?" She said, "Um, I don't think anyone has, as a matter of fact." I told her I bet he was asleep in the NICU with the baby. She did some checking around and sure enough, Allen had gone down to be with Sofia and fallen asleep with her there.
All told, I lost about 2.5 - 3 liters of blood during the ordeal. They gave me two bags of blood during the night to help replenish what I'd lost.
Because I don't remember the whole incident very well, I don't have a sense of how serious it was. Allen, however, remembers all of it. He was scared. This was the second time I'd responded to a c-section with a hemorrhage. I'm sure in the far reaches of his mind, he wondered if he'd be raising 4 daughters alone. It never got that bad, but when an emergency like that happens, those fears are quick to cross our minds.
This type of thing slows down the recovery process a bit, too. I mean this in terms of the level of soreness one will experience. I'd literally been beat up inside and out. I had physical bruising on my body from all of the efforts that were made to stop the bleeding. Two weeks later, I still have bruising and am really body sore. Part of this is just the adjustment after having been stretched out during pregnancy, but some of it is due to the measures that were taken to stop the bleeding.
|A bruise from one of the needles they put in my arm.|
This time, I felt much better in matter of days. Even though I'd lost a lot more blood and it had been much more serious than with Emily, I had a lot more energy after I got those transfusions. I could walk earlier and farther. I wasn't falling asleep mid sentence. One doctor pointed out that my body probably had a better chance at healing because blood is essential to a scar healing properly with major surgery like a c-section.
While in the hospital, I made a pretty fast recovery. In fact, they let me decide if I wanted to come home after being there only 2 days. Typically, a c-section is 3-5 days. I figured with a hemorrhage, I'd be there at least 4. However, I was doing really well, moving around, and walking the halls. I was pretty ready to leave - I was having to remind the nurses to give me my meds or they were sometimes hours late, the food was mediocre at best, and I wanted to take a real shower (not to mention get Sofia her proper medication - yes, reflux had already set in while we were at the hospital and the pediatrician there told me I was crazy and refused to help us. Yes, I'm serious. In fact, the head nurse came in and told us point blank, "We're not going to help you here so just stop arguing." Don't even get me started about that interaction.) Needless to say, I felt it was time for me to take control of our care so when they offered, I accepted, and packed my bags.