I know a lot of people are saying that 2016 was a horrible year for them, and I’m one of them.
From the month I became pregnant with Piper, I was sick. Not just your typical morning sickness, but truly sick. I had debilitating Hyperemesis gravidarum and I couldn’t do anything, including eating and drinking— which sent me to Labor & Delivery a couple of times so that I could have an IV to deliver fluids. I had never been so ill in my life and I hated being pregnant. I felt so guilty because it’s hard for me to conceive (both of my kids were Clomid babies), so in my head I was thinking that I needed to just be grateful no matter what because it was essentially a miracle that I could have a child.
So I was out of work for months, and even when I was working it was only for short periods of time. I also could barely take care of Oliver. In March our apartment lease was up and we moved into my parent’s home so I could have some help.
At my last ultrasound the technician let me know that I was going to have a big baby. This wasn’t news to me since Oliver was almost ten pounds and has a humongous head. But I started to freak out because my epidural didn’t work with him and I had a painful, traumatic labor with him and I didn’t want to go through with that again! So I begged for a scheduled c-section and they complied.
On July 6, Chris and I drove to Kaiser in Anaheim for my surgery. Even though I live super close to the Kaiser in Irvine, I had to go to Anaheim because they were all booked in Irvine. The check-in process was really easy and you could tell it was very much a routine process for them. During the actual surgery I was thinking that this was awesome! I didn’t feel anything except for some pressure and I could tell when she was removed from my body. I remember thinking that everything was going to be great from now on because I wasn’t going to be sick anymore! The doctor and team had music playing and a Coldplay song was on while Piper was born, which I loved. Now here was the kicker: She was an average sized baby. 7 pounds, 12 ounces. Normal sized head. I could’ve sneezed this kid out. Smh…
The night after the surgery I was feeding Piper in bed, my mom and Chris were with me when all of the sudden I couldn’t see anything and I thought I was going to pass out. Everything was fine and then boom! Nurses rushed in and everything was a blur after that (later a nurse told me that she thought she was going to have to call a code on me, not good). Apparently I lost a lot of blood during my surgery and my levels were really low. This was Wednesday night. I didn’t receive a blood transfusion until Friday. I also had a lot of pain. Yes, I knew this was going to happen, but I didn’t know how much. I couldn’t even move. Oh, and the gas pains were terrible! I was popping Gas X like they were candy. All I wanted to do was go home. I should’ve stayed longer.
I was discharged on Friday night. I was miserable. Every bump in the road hurt. I took a shower when I got home and tried to use the restroom. My insides were such a mess and I was constipated. I had to have help to lie down and to get back up. This is not to say that I had any stomach muscles to begin with, but it was like every single muscle had been removed. I was a mess and all I could do was sit in a chair and have someone hand my baby to me while I tried breastfeeding. Oh, and I had to keep Oliver away because he’s a rambunctious toddler who didn’t understand that he had to be careful around Mommy.
Maybe a week later I was sitting in my chair, feeding Piper when I felt some moisture near my incision. Now this was in July and it was hot so I thought I was just sweaty. I put my hand down there to fan my leggings when I noticed there was blood all over my hand. I freaked out and handed Piper to Chris. My dad and Kelly were also in the room with me and helped me up. Blood was gushing from me and pouring onto the carpet. Somehow I got upstairs and into my parent’s shower. My dad was with me and helped me get my pants off (this was just the beginning of my losing my modesty) to see if I was bleeding from the incision or from my nether regions. It was from the incision and it wasn’t stopping. Kelly called 911 and I, again, somehow made it downstairs to wait for help. The fire department arrived first and assessed me. Then the paramedics showed up and got me on the gurney. I was whisked off to Kaiser (thankfully, the Irvine location this time), and Kelly came with me. So I had a large hematoma across my stomach above the incision and it decided to drain out of it. The on call OB doctor packed the open area of my incision, and showed Kelly how to change the dressing and we were sent home. The next few weeks sucked. I’d have to get in the shower to remove the packing because I would still be gushing blood, and Kelly would have to help me in the shower. Then she’d repack the incision and I’d be on my way back to sit on the couch and hold my newborn. I was also struggling to keep Piper from crying because anytime she cried, Oliver would have a meltdown and we couldn’t calm him down.
Then I started to get fevers. Back to the ER! I was put on antibiotics because my incision was now infected. After my (now) third trip to the ER, I was finally sent to Dr. Moore, an OB doctor. I went to my appointment alone and when he saw my incision he said it was grossly infected and he would have to cut me open even more so it could be cleaned and packed even more. He numbed my skin and sliced me open. I remember quietly sobbing on the exam table and the pain I felt while he shoved the packing material into me. I left the doctors office with a Percocet prescription and an order for a home nurse to come to my house to change my packing. I put on my sunglasses and cried the whole way out of the building, I didn’t care who saw me. I felt so defeated. I couldn’t believe what I was going through. To have my incision reopened weeks after giving birth. To have to essentially start my recovery all over again. I’m sure my hormones were all over the place as well, but I don’t think I stopped crying for days. I’ll be honest, on my drive home I thought about crashing my car by running off the freeway. I was that low. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this; taking care of a newborn and an autistic toddler. It was too much for me.
The home nurse never came. I ended up going back to Dr. Moore for my next packing change and his nurse, Rose, got me in to see another nurse named Beny. Beny was my life saver. She works as the head nurse in the nurse clinic in Mission Viejo. Surprisingly, she went through the same exact thing as me with her c-section. The first thing she said was, “What took you so long to see me?” I gave birth on July 6 and I met Beny on August 12.
For months I would see Beny every morning. Oliver had started school, so I would leave Piper at home with my mom while I dropped him off and I’d swing by the nurse clinic after. She tried every type of packing material known to man, it just wasn’t healing. My wound was 10 centimeters deep and I can’t remember how wide. At one point I had to have a Wound Vac, which is what it sounds like a vacuum attached to a wound. On weekends, Kelly would be my nurse and do my packing. I was still crying everyday. I had to keep extending my pregnancy disability leave. Typical time off for c-sections is eight weeks. I had far surpassed that amount.
It’s the end of December now and I’m still not all the way healed. I don’t have to go in to see Beny anymore, but I still have to clean my (now small) wound and put gauze on it. I also wear an abdominal binder which is like a girdle to help with my stomach muscles. I saw Dr. Moore last week for an IUD (you think I’m going to have anymore kids?!?! Hahaha…) and he said my incision has healed like a crater. It’s like I have a second belly button. In six months to a year he said he will perform another surgery and fix it for me. The thought of another surgery scares me to death. I have this horrible fat fold over the incision and I’d like to get a tummy tuck but thinking about being sliced open, and then what if I don’t heal properly again, makes me get teary eyed. I used to love gross stuff, I could watch people get operated on, etc. but now I can’t even look at my own wound.
When I think about the past months and what I’ve gone through, especially the really traumatic moments: blacking out in the hospital, the blood gushing out of me in the living room, Dr. Moore re-opening my incision, having the Wound Vac attached to me, I just start crying. Of course, I know people go through so much worse events, and I have two happy, healthy children, but it’s really hard for me to be happy. Yes, I’ve had some really great days (the Wound Vac was taken off and I got to see Adele in concert!), but overall this has been the worst time in my life. I don’t know if I’m just going through some PSTD or if I actually have Postpartum Depression, but there are times when I’m by myself and I just wail. I’ve had clear thoughts about running away, like seriously running away and leaving my family. When I think about how going to Target by myself is a highlight of my current life, that just sends me over the edge. I think I should go see someone about this, but it makes me feel embarrassed because I feel like I’m being dramatic and I know I’m being dramatic so I should just get over it. I don’t have a clear answer, but I wanted to share my story and if anyone else is going through the same type of thing, you’re not alone!
If I could go back, of course I would change my mind about electing to have a c-section! But the fact is, I had one. And it was a horrible recovery. But life goes on. My take away is to be your best advocate. Push for help with your doctors. Both Kelly and I filed a grievance with Kaiser. I don’t feel that my surgery was handled well. They must have been extremely rough with me during my surgery for me to have such a large hematoma. And I was completely unaware about losing a lot of blood. And then to have to visit the ER three times before I was put in the proper care was unacceptable. So that’s my story. I’m sure I left out some details, which you’re probably thankful for, but I’m glad I got it out there. I do feel better for actually writing it down. I’m horrible at writing down my baby’s milestones; I have no idea when Oliver first walked or when Piper rolled over. But I wanted to document this time of my life because it was an important period of my life and I’m different because of it.