Its been a while. I had a baby! In fact, its been one month since our Alfie boy was born.
I’m not sure I can convey the feelings in my heart this last month. It has been a special time. A month ago just after giving birth to our fourth child I came closer to death than I care to at this time in my life.
After the birth I received many texts and messages inquiring about the events that ensued. I left them mostly unanswered. I couldn’t even think about what had happened without feeling anxiety, let alone retell the story over and over. The more I learned about my situation, the more anxiety I felt. Even though I was okay in the end it was a little difficult to stomach. But I’m doing better now. So, I decided to write a little bit of Alfie’s birth story here on my blog for you to read.
Our sweet Alfie was born. My doctor missed the rapid birth. Alfie had a rough start and needed some monitoring due to low oxygen levels, but before long he was doing well. We moved to a recovery room. Things seemed to being going well...
Donny and I sat talking and Alfie nursed when suddenly I felt a gush of blood. I mentioned to Donny that I felt like I was gushing blood and without even thinking about it I phoned the nurse. “How can I help you?” “Umm, I think I’m gushing blood.” Seconds later my nurse came in. She checked my pad and immediately showed signs of concern. “Yes, you are.” She called in the CNA looking after Alfie and asked that they take him to the nursery. Immediately she started pushing on my tummy in an attempt to shrink my uterus and hopefully stop the bleeding. “Your uterus is tight, yet you are still bleeding…” More nurses came in and soon our room had turned into a panicked rush. Nurses went back and forth from me to the bathroom with blood and clean pads and new sheets. I felt a strange sensation of life in slow motion and fast forward all at the same time.
I kept asking if everything was okay. I wanted to know that I was going to be fine. Everyone seemed to be masking panic. Like they had been trained to remain calm. But I could see past it. And no one would assure me that everything was okay. Minutes later my doctor and a PA rushed through the door. He immediately started asking for tools and asked how I was feeling? I responded, “I’m nervous.” “That’s understandable.” He replied. Then I asked again if everything was going to be okay. He dodged the question and let me know that he would be putting this giant metal tool up me and working aggressively to get the bleeding to stop. He was somewhat impatient with the nurses and had a look of concern.
I knew at this point that things weren’t okay.
My body went into shock and started shaking uncontrollably. D stood next to me and held my hand. The Dr. worked inside of me and the nurses continued to scurry around cleaning up messes and keeping a close eye on how much blood I’d loss. They measured everything that gushed out. At one point the Dr. pulled out something and mentioned to the PA that it looked to be a piece of membrane. I asked what that meant. He clarified that it was a piece of the sac. Then he continued to work vigorously.
I’d lost track of all time. It must have been 15-20 minutes that the Dr. had worked on stopping the bleeding in our room before he stepped back from the situation and looked at Donny and I. He said, “We are going to need to go to the operating room. The bleeding is not stopping and we need to be able to work more aggressively by putting you under anesthesia.” We nodded our heads. I asked if I was going to be okay. He said, “It should only take 20-30 minutes.”
At this point our food had arrived (which I would not be getting to eat at this point) and my mom had arrived to the hospital with the kids. They were anticipating seeing the baby with flowers and balloons they had no idea what was happening to me. The medical team working on me wheeled my bed down a hall and into the operating room. I checked with Donny to be sure he was taking pictures of all this action. He wasn’t and he didn’t. Apparently he didn’t think that was as good of an idea as I did.
I was scared. My whole body was shaking. I was still losing blood. At this point the doctor was racing against blood loss to save my life. He had to stop my body from bleeding before I bled to death. They continued talking to me and somehow I refrained from passing out, but had a strange out of body experience.
The medical team prepped themselves and me for surgery. I lost count of how many were there to work on me. I watched my doctor put on his jacket and mask. Everything at this point seemed to run in slow motion. The anesthesiologist who had administered my epidural came in and I joked to him that I wasn’t hoping to see him again (getting an epidural is my LEAST favorite part of giving birth.)
While still alert and awake lying on the surgery table, I tuned out the hustle bustle for a moment and looked straight above me. I plead with God to save my life. Although at the time I didn’t understand the severity of the situation I knew it was bad. As attempt after attempt to stop my body from bleeding failed I became a little more concerned. I wasn’t ready to leave this earth life. I wanted so much to be with my husband and babies for longer. A room full of nurses and doctors were fighting for my life in that moment. Among them were angels. I could feel them, I could sense their presence. Many people were praying for my life and for the doctors. I felt the prayers. While my body shook rapidly in shock of blood loss my heart was calm. It felt like an out of body experience. Almost like I watched the events escalate from afar all while being in the very real situation.
The anesthesiologist told me he was going to give me something to calm my shaking body down. Seconds later the shaking stop. Next, he told me he would be there through the entire surgery monitoring my vitals to be sure everything was okay. I’d never been put under anesthesia but I knew what it meant. I stared up at the ceiling and soon I was out.
I slept, the doctor worked inside of me, and Donny waited, and waited. Twenty minutes passed, 30 minutes passed. He assumed it was almost over. He was greeted by a nurse who said that I should be out any minute. Those minutes eventually turned into an additional hour. He had no idea what was going on, whether or not I was still alive, or what state I was in. An hour and a half after starting the surgery the doctor and PA emerged from the surgery room and beckoned him to a room, “Lets talk in here.” At this point his thoughts went to places I never want to experience. He was expecting to hear I had died. He was prepared to be told he would be leaving the hospital with a new baby, without his wife.
Quickly the doctor assured him I was alive and that they thought they finally had the bleeding under control. He did however warn him that I looked very rough. “She has lost nearly 4 liters of blood (the average human only has 5.) She is white. She looks rough.” He prepared him well so that seeing me would be less of a shock.
I cannot imagine what it felt like inside for him to go through this from the sidelines or to see me for the first time. This is a man who nearly passed out seeing an ultrasound. He is queasy at even the mention of anything medical. He was surely strengthened from above to endure this situation.
I was incoherent for a while after surgery. I remember waking up with an oxygen mask on and nurses and doctors all over, many of whom spoke to me but I don’t remember what was said. My first memory was my sweet husband by my side. He held my hand and kissed my forehead. I felt immense love coming from him. I could sense it in his face and the way he held my hand.
After a few hours in the recovery room we were wheeled back to our room. I was too weak to even have my baby lay on me. I couldn’t lift my arms or legs on my own. I couldn’t sit, in fact I couldn’t even bring my bed to an inclined position without getting light headed. A day and half after Alfie was born I was able have him lay on me for the first time. I will forever remember that moment. It was physically difficult to have the weight of a newborn on my chest, yet healing to every fiber of my being. I spent the next few days in the hospital laying flat and mostly lifeless.
(the first time after surgery that I could hold him, a day and a half later.)
My medical team was prepared with a transfusion to be administered at any moment. However, the doctor had hopes that since I am a young and healthy individual I would be able to manage without it. Before we could leave the hospital without a transfusion I had to be able to walk three feet to the bathroom without my heart rate spiking and without passing out. That was a lot to ask. My first attempt was rough. I had nurses on both sides, a giant belt around my waist for them to catch me if I fainted, and Donny in front to assist. It was rough but I succeeded.
The day we went home the doctor came in to visit with us. He explained that it would take at least six weeks for my blood levels to come back to normal. They had even dipped lower than he had anticipated. He said I would be very weak, short of breath, and dizzy for several weeks. But we all agreed it would be best to avoid a transfusion if possible. A transfusion is a blessing if necessary but can also bring on other side effects.
We went home to a quiet house. My mom had taken our kids to Idaho for a few days. I cried every time I thought about them or talked to them. I needed them home. They came back the next day and my mom moved in for a couple of weeks. In the beginning I could literally do nothing. If I sat up too long I was short of breath. I had to lay in my bed. Walking down the hallway was too much. Even visitors for too long wore me out. Day to day I saw little progress and wondered if I would ever feel normal again. However, as the weeks passed I noticed myself making strides. When Alfie was two weeks old I managed to sweep my floor one day. I was so proud of that feat! Occasionally I would have set back days, but I was consistently getting stronger.
Here I am today, one month out and my room still spins, I run short of breath, and I see plenty of “stars” when I stand up too quickly. But I am doing my thing on my own. Four kids, four and under. We are managing quite well. Alfie is a dream and the kids adore him. The older three are still making adjustments but we are discovering our new normal. As I feel more capable, I am adding more and more things into our daily schedule. We have gone from a simple goal of getting everyone fed, to making trips to the park and stores and getting on with our homeschooling. In a couple of weeks I should have all of my blood back and I’m sure with each week things will run more smoothly for us.
I’m happy to be alive. I’m happy to be well. I’m happy to be a wife and mother. I’m suddenly more aware of my blessings and so grateful.
Life is so, so good.
**Post Update -- Over all it took five months for my levels to normalize and my blood to restore and even longer for strange side effects to subside. But one year later I am doing great!
And now for the good part. A few pictures taken with my iphone.