(Can I get an award for this shit?!)
⁃ Gave birth October 14th @ 12:54 am
⁃ Placenta did not come out fully on its own
⁃ Midwife called Obstetrician in to check placenta
⁃ Obstetrician, his resident doctor, and two student nurses came in to oversee the manual placenta removal
⁃ Resident doctor was able to manipulate the placenta so that it disengaged from uterine wall and came out
⁃ Midwife, OB, Resident Doctor, Two Student Nurses all inspected the placenta and deemed it ‘very large, very healthy, and intact.’
⁃ Moved to Postpartum unit
⁃ Multiple fundal massages by multiple nurses (ouch!)
⁃ Some concern that my fundus had not gone down to the level they thought it should be; but I also had a very full bladder every time my fundus was inspected
⁃ Sent home October 14th @ 5:00 pm
⁃ October 16th @ 12:52 am; went to pee, felt a POP!, and a giant blood clot the size of the entire volume of my postpartum uterus popped into the toilet
⁃ Terrified; woke up Ryan
⁃ He fished it out with a pair of tongs and plopped it into a salad bowl (God, do I love this man!)
⁃ We took pictures of it with his deodorant beside it for scale
⁃ It was smaller than a volleyball; huger than a softball. Like a Giant grapefruit. EW!
⁃ Called my midwife
⁃ She gave us options to go to Rockyview L&D, or continue monitoring
⁃ We chose the latter and went back to sleep
⁃ October 16th @ 4:20 pm; felt cramping, passed multiple clots of blood and fibrous tissue.
⁃ These clots were half the total volume as the giant clot 15 hours prior, and more fibrous.
⁃ Called midwife again. Same options. We don’t want to go back to hospital. We want to be at home with our children. We take pictures, monitor, look for signs of fever or chills or future clots.
⁃ I fold. Something doesn’t feel right, but I don’t wanna go far.
⁃ We head to Airdrie Urgent Care at 6:00 pm.
⁃ At this point I can’t walk and I can barely keep my head up.
⁃ It takes alllllll the strength in my body to hold my head up in my wheelchair so that my head doesn’t smash into the floor when my body crumples over in the urgent care triage waiting room.
⁃ We see a lovely doctor and a lovely nurse. We crack jokes. We’ve brought our smaller clots in a ziplock freezer bag inside a walmart bag. Yummy.
⁃ The doctor checks my Complete Blood Count (CBC) and tells me my hemoglobin is 62.
⁃ A healthy person’s hemoglobin is 120.
⁃ That’s bad.
⁃ She calls the Rockyview OB/GYN on-call that evening; Dr. Mannorfeldt.
⁃ This is where I First get screwed.
⁃ A CBC of 50 or less means an automatic blood transfusion of at Least one unit.
⁃ A CBC of 60 or less means you should definitely probably err on the side of caution and give that person a blood transfusion. Mine is 62.
⁃ A good doctor would also want to know- why is this person hemorrhaging in the first place? And on the second occasion? Is there continued internal bleeding we don’t know about? A good doctor would demand that I leave Airdrie Urgent and head to Rockyview L&D for a blood transfusion and an ultrasound to ensure there’s no continued internal bleeding.
⁃ Dr. Mannorfeldt does Not say either of these things; she instructs Airdrie Urgent Care to Send. Me. Home. No further care. No transfusion. No follow-up care at Rockyview with an OB/GYN.
⁃ Airdrie Urgent seems reluctant to let me go; but they have no ultrasound machine or blood bank at their rural outpost. They know I’m being followed by a midwife. They’ve been told to send me home. So they do.
⁃ We go home and I try my best to ‘rest’. Everyone telling me to rest. Pretty hard to Rest when you Know something is Dead Ass Wrong inside of your body.
⁃ October 18: Woke Ryan up at 5:00 am and was checked back into Rockyview General Hospital (RGH) on October 18th @ 7:00 am because I felt like I was dying.
⁃ Healthy hemoglobin count is 120; my hemoglobin count upon arrival at RGH was 59.
⁃ It had dropped since last night’s number of 62 at Airdrie Urgent. A surefire sign of continued internal bleeding.
⁃ Was given one unit of A+ blood over a course of three hours. One unit of blood should add 10 points to my CBC; bringing it to 69. Still basically half-dead, but the blood transfusion will give my body the little extra pick-me-up it needs to begin recovery.
⁃ Given a transvaginal (internal) ultrasound (@4 days postpartum vaginal delivery! OUCH!) to determine the presence of retained products of conception.
⁃ Ultrasound showed areas where there are more clots than should be present at 4 days postpartum. The hypothesis is that after birth, a small section of my placenta had broken off and remained in my uterus, causing the uterus to fill up with blood and resulting in the hemorrhage.
⁃ Was given 4 sublingual chemical abortion pills (Misoprostol) to force contractions and clean out the remaining clots inside the uterus.
⁃ Had an atypical (likely anaphylactic) reaction to the Misoprostol; my body went into shock for the next 90 minutes.
⁃ Convulsions, muscle seizures in my thighs and stomach, allergic reaction, swelling, itching and burning in throat and tongue. Dry mouth. Exhaustion. Aches and chills. For an HOUR AND A HALF straight.
⁃ Worst experience of my life.
⁃ Should’ve been given Lorazepam to combat the reaction to the Misoprostol; poor little student nurse on shift at the time didn’t know that. She was on her own in L&D when I had the reaction. She could have paged someone, but I told her not to worry. Everyone else on L&D was assisting in a birth or on break when it happened. I just suffered through it.
⁃ Given an iron transfusion over the course of the next 1.5 hours.
⁃ CBC results showed that my hemoglobin levels were now at 79. (From 59 in the morning). YAY! Blood transfusion Wildly successful. I felt Alive, and More than ready to go home after 16 hours away at the hospital, suffering from some pretty traumatic shit.
⁃ Outpatient instructions to continue with oral iron treatment (300 mg/day) and on October 25th will meet with OB to review latest hemoglobin count. We get to go HOME!
⁃ October 19: Really terrible stress tension headache from 4 pm-11:45 pm. Treated with food. Low light. Nap for one hour. Woke up from nap pouring sweat all over the place; headache at worst point at 11 pm, post-nap. Treated with cold ice compress to the forehead and a mini can of Diet Coke for the caffeine. Maxed out on Advil and Tylenol. Feet freezing cold and clammy; really annoying when trying to sleep. Everyone says to Rest. I feel there is no rest for the wicked. I must be Very wicked indeed.
⁃ October 20th @ 12:00 am: Took lithium 900 mg, and one over the counter sleeping pill and one 50 mg Gravol to make damn sure I fell asleep. Fell asleep at 1:00 am when I powered off my phone.
⁃ Woke up at 3:15 am; powered on my phone to check the time. Had heard my baby screaming her lungs out from the living room. Hard to stay in bed for that, but I did it. Headache gone. Feet back to normal. Drank some water. Very hungry cuz my breast milk is coming in with nowhere to go and my metabolism is ramped up trying to produce milk for a baby that my body can’t feed.
⁃ I Really want to go to kitchen to eat food, but I don’t want to risk arousing my body during a sleep window, and don’t want Ryan to wake up and ask me what I’m doing and why I’m up and make me feel like I’m crazy for trying to eat a snack at 3:30 am.
⁃ Really fucking hungry. Wish I had some snacks in my bedside drawer. I am way too skinny. I really hope this Hell is all over soon. Can I be done yet? Am I done suffering yet, Please?
⁃ Turned phone back off, went back to sleep.
⁃ Hoping to sleep straight through until 6:30, when the sound of my children wakes me again. Haven’t been able to sleep any more than 3 hours in a row due to medical issues and doing night feeds.
⁃ Since birth, tonight is the first night I’ve A) had a real meal at dinner time (day 6 postpartum), and B ) not had any medical issues requiring hospitalization or medical consult tonight and C) have not had to do any night feeds all by myself between 12 and 6 am.
⁃ Sleeping from 10 pm- 11 pm was a good start; sleeping from 1:00 am- 3:15 am was even better; and now I am hoping to be able to resume sleeping from 3:45 (time as of now plus 10 min to fall back asleep) straight through to at least 6:45. That would be a combined sleep total of 1+2.25+3= 6.25 hours in one night. That would be amazing. Good luck to me; powering phone off now.
⁃ October 20th @ 6:15 am: woke up to the sound of Sadie’s magnet tile castle falling to the ground. And it had taken me til 4 to fall back asleep. So I only got 4 am- 6:15 am. Damnit- 30 minutes shy of last night’s sleep goal. Total sleep last night: 1+2.25+2.25= 5.50 hours.
⁃ Woke up sooooo dehydrated; pasty, dried out tongue, zero saliva in mouth (lithium does this to you. So does Gravol that I took to help me sleep. So does dehydration.)
⁃ Woke up having to poo for the millionth time in the last 5 days (I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome; I shit when I’m nervous; I shit when I’m nervous or stressed. On a normal day, I might have two giant, almost- diarrhea like bowel movements.) These days have been some of the most stressful days of my life; so I woke up Starving-hungry, Super-dehydrated, and had a giant diarrhea. How can I possibly be pooing this much still when I’ve barely had anything to eat in the last 5 days!!?? I don’t even want to see my own reflection in the mirror. I am so, so terrifyingly skinny.
⁃ Misoprostol (the chemical abortion pill I had to take on the 18th) also makes you really have to shit because it induces peristalsis of your bowels via cramping- other than being used for chemical abortions, it is also used as a medication in the treatment of stomach ulcers. I can’t afford to be shitting this much- this rapid weight loss has got to be so hard on an already overburdened body.
⁃ BUT- it’s 6:30; I’m still in bed, and I am pretending to still be sleeping because Ryan has both kids to himself and I’m too weak to get up and put a housecoat on and pretend I’m ‘normal.’ Sadie will want to play with me; Ryan will look concerned because it’s only 6:30 am. He’ll say “Get back to bed. I’ll bring your breakfast to you. What do you need??” It’s nice- but he’s like a prison guard with his Thou Shalt Rest commands. It’s exhausting to be told what to do all the time.
⁃ I could tell him I want a glass of OJ with a cupful of Restoralax stirred into it (don’t want to get constipated from the daily iron pills I’m taking) and a piece of toast with peanut butter and jam on it. And one of those fortified milkshake things from Costco. That’s what I went to sleep dreaming of getting to eat. But I can’t do that yet. I need to make a plan for someone to get me to the blood lab in Airdrie for 12 pm. I took my lithium pills at 12:00 am and want to have them measured at exactly 12:00 pm today to have the exact 12-hours-post-dose amount of lithium serum concentration in my blood.
⁃ I don’t want Ryan to be the one to drive me- he hasn’t been sleeping or eating well either. And I want him home with the kids. They need some consistency and I want Ryan to be with them all day today.
⁃ I need some time away from this house. There are too many people in it. My toddler is amazing, but she’s so busy and loud and has so much energy, I can’t keep up with her right now. The baby is easy to handle, but I’m never alone with her. I can relax in my own home only if I stay in my bedroom and have Ryan bring everything to me. It’s like prison.
⁃ I want food and a warm Epsom salt bath and to sit in the sun on the couch in silence with my newborn. This isn’t a possibility for me right now.
⁃ I sent Victoria and my midwife Hannah some texts last night to this effect. Hannah is supposed to do a home visit today. I’m hoping I can get her to drive me to the lab in Airdrie. She was at a birth last night though, so she might not be able to be my driver to the lab. Everyone else I know is at work, and I don’t really want to be spending time with Anyone today, except for my newborn, by myself, on the couch. But that can’t happen.
⁃ Ryan, Kate, Bob, and my two needy children are going to be here, all day, every day, until Ryan’s parents leave on Saturday morning. My house is busy as shit and I don’t have the energy required to keep up with it all.
⁃ It’s 6:45 am now. My body is starving. I really need some food brought to me in bed. Maybe I will text Ryan now and ask him to deliver my breakfast. I don’t want to talk to him though.
⁃ We went to bed fighting last night, and I don’t have the energy to argue right now. I just want breakfast dropped off at my nightstand and then he can go away.
⁃ Yay. Ryan dropped off breakfast. Slept from 8:25-8:45 am. Then woke again cuz I had to poo. Maybe I need to ease back on the Restoralax?? So much pooing for someone who hasn’t eaten much! Nap from 8:45-9:10.
⁃ Woke up for more pooping. Lots of diarrhea. Very, very loose. Definitely pulling back on the Restoralax!! 💩 50 min more sleep gained though; so that’s awesome!
⁃ 9:30 am: took a 250 ml bottle of Hydralyte we had kicking around in the closet (Yay for keeping the party-favor bags from Mariah and I’s 10K Run for Women’s Mental Health last year). Can take up to 1400 ml per day of the electrolyte solution; will get 6 more of these after the lab today. And will def stop taking the Restoralax for today and possibly tmw. Might be nice to be constipated from the iron pills now, haha.
⁃ Ryan brought me oatmeal and brown sugar for fibre in bed after I was done with all the morning diarrhea. I’m very, very skinny. It freaks me out to see my own reflection. White, dehydrated and starving.
⁃ Saw my psychiatrist over noon hour. Had an impromptu couples counselling session over her lunch break to address where Ryan and I could have done better with this postpartum period. We made a plan for how to move forward. It was the hardest talk Ryan and I have ever had with each other; I couldn’t have done it without Dr Scott guiding the conversation and keeping it in a safe, warm place. She made it easy to tell each other what we really needed to say. I am SO Effin Lucky to have Dr Heather Scott as my psychiatrist. Must remember to thank Dr. Marc Ascione for finding her for me. She is a friggin Gem. Good psychiatrists are hard to find; she is a Great one. I am so fortunate.
⁃ 2:00 pm: got my lithium and CBC levels drawn at the Didsbury hospital. Booked Lucy’s public health vaccinations while I’m there because I’m getting better at this newborn baby game. So many medical appointments to keep track of!!!
⁃ Hopped back into the truck with Ryan and he started telling me a story about how Lucy wouldn’t stop squeezing shit out into the diaper while he was trying to change her last night. He had me laughing my ass off. It was sunny. We were together. We were laughing. I Finally began to see the light.
⁃ 3:00 pm: came home. Ryan went to Walmart with his dad to restock all of our supplies and make us a healthy dinner.
⁃ Sadie, Kate and I had a Diet Coke picnic party on my bed with fun polka dot shot glasses from Mom’s old apartment. We all wore matching socks from the Flying Squirrel trampoline park with hot pink squirrels on them, and then we had a dance party in the kitchen to the Skeleton song. Yay! Joy!
⁃ Kelly tried to visit us that afternoon but Sadie’s penicillin for her chest cough hit her on day 2 of antibiotics and she had a terrible diarrhea straight up her back in her onesie pyjamas and she was Mortified. Poor little girl. It was diarrhea day for both Mommy and Sadie, it seems.
⁃ So Kelly and her kids visited Lucy with Ryan and his parents in the kitchen and Sadie and I had a lovely bath together. Water babies! Soul sisters! I Love bath time with Sadie. She’s my firstborn, but she’s also my Homie. We’re always on each other’s level emotionally.
⁃ Kelly and the kids left; we’ll try that again on a better day for Sadie.
⁃ Ryan made an absolutely freaking Delicious steak and power bowl rice dinner with Glory Bowl dressing and Tons of different cut up veggies. This is the first time he hasn’t overcooked the steak in 7 years. Amen! There is a God.
⁃ Halfway through dinner, I got my first alcoholic cider out of the fridge. I was saving my celebration drink until I felt ready. I felt Ready. I met Ryan’s eye and said ‘Cheers.’ And I drank half the cider, slowly, over the course of the next half hour and it was nice. Warm and fuzzy. I’ve earned it.
⁃ Then I sat with my toddler in the nursery and told her that she used to be a baby and that I used to rock her in this very chair. She laughed and said ‘I wasn’t ever a baby.’ It brought so many tears to my eyes. When did she grow up??
⁃ Then she said ‘what is that?’ And pointed to the watercolour purple/green/gold/white clock from Mom’s old apartment. I said ‘that’s a clock. From my Mom. She gave it to me before she died.’
⁃ Sadie stopped rocking and looked at me- eyes wide. ‘She Died?’, she asked. My voice broke and I said yes. ‘Did she drown in the water?’, she asked. A reference from Babe the pig movie, when all the sheeps die in the water during a flash flood.
⁃ I said ‘No. She died in the hospital. And it made Mommy very sad.’ She hugged me while I cried and said ‘you can have my twins; they’ll make you feel better.’ And she gave me her two favourite stuffies these days; GoldenBear and Lulu the Baby.
⁃ Then she went and got Nanny Kate and told Nanny I was ready for the baby now. I didn’t even have to ask for Lucy; my big girl just Knew.
⁃ Ryan took Sadie to her bed; I took Lucy to our bed. It finally feels like we’re Home.
⁃ Postpartum Number Two: Fuck You. I’m done with you. Mic drop. I’m Out.
⁃ October 22: Slept from 12 am – 2:45 am. Woke up to pee. Told Ryan to take Lucy to living room for her 3:00 am feed.
⁃ Made a deal with Kate that she would feed Lucy at her 6:00 am feed. 6:00 am feed is also when Sadie wakes up.
⁃ Ryan has been instructed (by me 🙂 to come back to our bed and sleep as soon as Kate’s alarm goes off and she wakes up and take over the 6:00 am feed.
⁃ If all goes well- it is 3:00 am right now- I will get 3 to 4 consecutive sleep hours beginning at 3:00 am and lasting til my body needs to wake up for some other purpose (eat/drink/pee/poo.)
⁃ Will take two more extra strength Gravols now with my banana and water to ensure that Sadie and Lucy’s 6 am noises don’t wake this tired Mama up.
⁃ Let’s hope Ryan comes to bed quietly at 6 and does not wake me.
⁃ I’m hoping for 3:00 am – 8:00 am. That would be FIVE straight hours of sleep in a row. AND I would get to wake up beside my handsome man, in the same bed. When our bodies naturally wanted to. No small child needing us at the time- just us, waking up like it was Sunday morning and we had no plans.
⁃ Like we used to be, before kids. Waking up slow. Asking each other if we had a good sleep. Being quiet and sleepy and very bad breath-y, with terrible mussy hair and dry tongues from sleeping with our mouths agape all night. Our speech thick with sleep, and heavy with rest and relaxation. Heaven. Even despite the halitosis ;)-
⁃ Ryan has already precooked two packs of bacon; I got Kate to say last night that she would make pan-fried potatoes for us when we woke up; I’ll do the eggs. Over easy, just like I like them. Scrambled for Ryan, with cheese.
⁃ Ryan and I can eat a healthy, balanced breakfast. Bacon, fried potatoes, eggs, cheese, avocado slices and fresh strawberries and blueberries.
⁃ I’ll wash mine down with a glass of orange juice (or 5… I’ve always loved sugary, cold fresh fruit drinks), and I’ll take my iron supplement with the OJ (acids help iron digest quicker and easier).
⁃ We will have (Both- at the same time) had five hours of consecutive sleep.
⁃ We’ll start our day with a great big healthy breakfast. Proteins. Fats. Vitamins and minerals.
⁃ Just Imagine what kind of people we will feel like then??!! Dare I say it?! Might it be possible?! Will we feel- on day 8 of postpartum- like Ourselves?!!!
⁃ Let’s hope this 3 am feed goes well for Ryan and that Sadie doesn’t wake up.
⁃ Let’s hope Kate comes up the stairs from the basement at exactly 6 am, and orders Ryan back to bed.
⁃ Let’s hope my Gravol works and I manage to sleep from now until 8 am.
⁃ Let’s do this, Team.
⁃ We Got This.
⁃ Xo, Em
(Worked on my blog 3-4; it’s 3:54 now. Bedtime!) 🙂
⁃ 4-7: Woke up to poo; need Gatorade times 3, only have 1 beside bed. Have no water bedside either. Want to sleep longer but am going to keep pooping, can feel that. And am super dehydrated.
⁃ Pooped. Snuck out to kitchen. Filled thermos with three Gatorades and a pile of ice cubes. Snuck back to bed. Katie feeding baby. Sadie still asleep.
⁃ 7:15 back to bed with Ryan. Took 2 more Gravol cuz I have to be able to sleep through Sadie waking up and being sad that our door is closed. Mika already whining outside of it.
⁃ I need the sleep too much to not drug myself. Mika and Sadie will survive another three hours without their Mama. So will Lucy. Let’s hope I can sleep through to 10:15!
⁃ 7:50 am: Even two Gravol can’t stop me from wanting natural light. Blinds are drawn for Ryan. I’m going to try and sneak downstairs to Ryan’s office to do some light stretches and savanasa on my yoga mat. What are the odds I can get downstairs uninterrupted?🤞🏼🤞🏼
⁃ 8:00 am: Bleeding again. Stringy clots. Yuck. Need a sitz bath and a shower. Need to leave the house and feel human, alone. Need to process the last 8 day’s events. Haven’t even had time to speak with a friend for more than 7 minutes yet. Very isolating, these constant medical appointments.
⁃ 8:45: went to Sorso coffee shop with camping friend and ex-ICU Nurse Steph to get out of house and speak with a woman. She’s a fellow Mama and ex-ICU nurse and major hemorrhage survivor- I knew she would know what was going on with me. Of alllll the friends I have, I knew I could trust telling her my story without fear of judgment, and more importantly for my sake- without having to worry that my postpartum story of the past 8 days would somehow scare Her.
⁃ She was a great audience; she took the whole chain of events in stride. We laughed a lot. She looked at pictures of the Mega clot from 48 hours postpartum and was like ‘Holy Shit Emily- that IS huge.’ The validation felt really nice, especially from an ICU nurse. They see a Lot of shit. The fact the size of my clots fazed her was validating.
⁃ On the plus side, she let me eat her deep fried hash-browns. She ordered my meal for me cuz I didn’t have the energy to make a choice, and so I had a nice big warm chai latte, a cold Italian soda with vanilla, a glass of water with ice, a ham n cheese n egg sammich on really yummy in-house-made English muffins. And a side of fresh fruit.
⁃ A perfect ‘last meal’ as it were, because it was at the end of this wonderful chat and meal that I went to the bathroom by myself (Steph had left after she paid our bill. I had told her I needed to take a shit- we laughed and said ‘well on that note, goodbye! Haha.’)
⁃ I went to the bathroom in the coffeeshop and passed another long gelatinous stringy clot. I realized then that I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes anymore.
⁃ I got in the car. I called my midwife. My midwife told me to go back to Rockyview and get a D&C.
⁃ I called ahead and told Rockyview I was coming for a D&C; they told me to stop eating or drinking. So- 11:45 was my last meal and last time to drink any fluids. It was a perfect last meal. Small Victories.
⁃ Also received a call from my psychiatrist in the parking lot of said coffee shop while trying to leave for said D&C.
⁃ She told me that my lithium level 12 hours post-birth was 0.48 (great news- my therapeutic range is 0.6-1.0). But my last lithium level blood draw 2 days ago on October 20th shows that it is now only 0.27.
⁃ I have no idea how this is possible, as I have diligently been taking my lithium these past 8 horrible days. 900 mg, reliably, every day.
⁃ I tell her such and she says ‘I know but you’ve also lost a lot of blood.’
⁃ She asks how I’m feeling. I tell her that I’m exhausted. That I’m physiologically a complete wreck. Too many traumatic events over too short a period.
⁃ But somehow, mentally, I’m still coping.
⁃ I start thinking of my list of traumas in the past 8 days: An epidural that didn’t take. I birthed my daughter while in shock; diarrhea from one end, puking into a bucket from the other. And pouring sweat and shaking violently the whole while; 20 minutes of physiological trauma, until the moment she started suckling at my left breast. Birth was my Trauma #1.
⁃ Trauma #2 was three hours later that morning when I had to get up from my postpartum bed to pee and I felt myself lurching forward dangerously into the tile of my hospital floor. I yelled ‘get in front of me’ just in time for Ryan to get his body in front of my falling one and to break my fall.
⁃ Trauma #3 was three minutes later, when we reached the toilet as a team and I squatted to sit and I felt another whoosh of blood and lightheadedness and almost smashed my head into the tiles from a squatting position as my piss-soaked maxi pad hit the floor, covered in thick blood clots and laying at my feet. It was then that Ryan caught me again. And pulled the call bell. It took three nurses to get me back to bed. I’m sure my hemoglobin level at that point was already significantly lower than it should have been; I was released from hospital by 5 pm that day.
⁃ Trauma #4 was 48 hours later when I went to pee in my safe cozy home and a blood clot the size of a grapefruit/softball/not quite a volleyball came Exploding out of me and into my toilet.
⁃ Trauma #5 was 16 hours later when I thought I had to poop at my safe cozy home and instead of pooping, 4 dill pickle sized clots of fibrous tissue came exploding into my toilet.
⁃ Trauma #6 was waiting in the urgent care centre in a wheelchair and feeling myself slump forward and seeing all the colour leave my extremities and having to just bear witness to all of this, helpless to do jack shit about it because I had to put all my energy into managing to keep my head up and not crash into the tiled floor of the triage waiting area. With all those symptoms, I should have been admitted right away, ahead of the rest. I wasn’t. I had to wait. Hours. Just struggling to not fold over and hit the floor. At the very least, I should have been put on a bed or a gurney or something. Pretty hard to fall out of a bed; I could have stopped working so hard just to hold my own head up.
⁃ Trauma #7 was being told to go home. To know that my hemoglobin count was 62, supposed to be 120, and told to go home. I knew everything was wrong, but I’m not a medical professional. I was just so tired. I wanted to hold my newborn. I wanted my own bed. So I went home. But I knew it wasn’t right. But I went home, because that’s what the OB/GYN consult they had called (Dr Mannorfeldt) had told them to do with me.
⁃ Trauma #8 was at 5 am that morning, feeling myself seemingly begin to seep into my own bedsheets I was so tired and so faint and so skinny and so weak. I knew I wasn’t actually Dying, but Lord did it Feel like I was.
⁃ Trauma #9 was getting the blood transfusion and then the iron transfusion and then a transvaginal ultrasound at 4 days postpartum and being told I had two choices to help clear my uterus: Misoprostol or a D&C. I told Dr Mannorfeldt and her resident that I wanted the D&C. She told me I was getting the Misoprostol. I told her again, in no uncertain terms, that as her client; I Wanted the D&C. She responded ‘you’re getting the Misoprostol.’ I said ‘can you confirm to me that the risks and benefits of either Misoprostol or D&C are comparable?’ She said ‘yes- they’re comparable risks. But the D&C is more invasive.’ I said, again, ‘from a client-centred care perspective, I would like the D&C.’ She said ‘you’re getting the Misoprostol.’
⁃ Trauma #10 was taking said Misoprostol and having an anaphylactic shock reaction to it. I shivered, shook, teeth chattered, convulsed and clenched every muscle in my battered little body for 90 minutes straight. Calorically, energetically, mentally and spiritually, I did Not have the energy reserves for such a great physiological exertion. The only medical person available to me during that time frame on L&D was a student nurse. She had No idea what to say or do with me; I spent the time she was in the room trying to comfort Her that I was okay. Exhausting.
⁃ Trauma #11 was having to come back to Rockyview again today at 4:00 pm, when I thought the worst was behind me. This entire day, from 11:45 am when I passed more clots til midnight when I had my D&C and subsequent hemorrhage; and now it is 12 hours since hospital admission, so this entire last almost 24 hours has been traumatic for me. I’ve cried non stop. I’ve been too weak to even make noise. Tears have just been streaming down my face silently for hours on end.
⁃ October 23 8:30 am: Dr Grossi comes to my post-D&C recovery room and tells me that I hemorrhaged all over the damn place during what was supposed to be a routine D&C. He tells me that the rush of blood from my uterus filled his Crocs. He estimates that I lost 800 ml of blood in the OR. That’s a Lot, for someone who didn’t have much hemoglobin left in the first place. He said no one has this many problems in postpartum. He said I have made it really hard on him. He said all of this jokingly and with swear words; I love him, he’s great. I tell him he’s hired; Dr. Grossi is my new OB/GYN. Yay. At least I found a new continuum of care doctor for my uterus!
⁃ He took my balloon down 75 ml. Dr Rosengarten is going to deflate my balloon another 75 ml at noon. Then I can go home. HOME. The only place I wanna be.
⁃ October 23: 3:10 pm
⁃ Darn. Not good. Second blood transfusion complete. Iron transfusion near complete. HoboGoblin (new name for hemoglobin; please use in future convos with me) levels just back. Only 76. Indicator of continued internal bleeding. Stay tuned.
⁃ Free to go. Will check CBC level in three days and see if it’s on the up and up. Will continue to meet with midwife. Seeing Dr. Grossi in 2 weeks.
⁃ October 23: 5:00 pm. I’m Free!!! My family is outside RGH in the fire lane; waiting for me to step back into my life.
⁃ I line up the chorus to Drake’s ‘Going Home.’
⁃ I get dressed by myself; my amazing nurse is on her dinner break. I walk by the nurse’s station. By now; they’ve all heard my story. Healthy, textbook delivery. Then not one but Three severe postpartum hemorrhages over the next 11 days. Two blood transfusions. Two iron transfusions. 40 hours spent in hospital on the 18th (16) and 22nd (24).
⁃ Too many precious days and moments away from my newborn and my toddler.
⁃ 12 hours of weeping. They’ve all heard me weeping over the past 12 hours in my room, alone. This hospital stint was 24 hours; Ryan had to leave me at 5:00 am to go home and take care of our children.
⁃ They see me coming towards the nursing desk. They look at me with pity and admiration. I’m wearing my boss boots. They’re brown leather. They make me feel confident, despite everything.
⁃ ‘Ladies!’ I say. ‘Will you allow me this moment??’
⁃ I press play.
⁃ Drake pipes up ‘Just hold on, we’re going home.’
⁃ I dance my way out of there. I’m still basically half-dead and I have Absolutely no rhythm on a Good day, but who fuckin cares. This is my moment.
⁃ I have endured it; I have suffered through it; I have learned from it; I have been deepened by it; I have benefitted from it;
⁃ My Postpartum is Over. I’m on the other side of it now. Amen.
Footnotes and Afterthoughts:
A note on birth and its associated physiological trauma.
Birth is physically traumatic:
Birth is traumatic.
It doesn’t matter if you have just given birth in a one-room shack underneath a tropical storm somewhere in Myanmar, or whether you walked into a hospital in Canada on a Friday night with a duffle bag for a planned C-section-
Birth is hard.
Birth is traumatic.
I know that there are people who will want to argue with that statement, or think that it sounds abundantly negative.
In saying that birth is traumatic, I don’t mean either of those things.
I mean that by its very physical nature, birth is intense physiological trauma on the female body-
no matter how you do it.
No matter how you got there to the birthing place, no matter what the birthing environment looks like, and no matter how the birth ends, the simple physical act of getting a human child to emerge from a human body is traumatic in its very essence.
If you are one of the lucky ones- and you manage to have a picture-perfect, textbook-worthy, wonderful delivery- (like me!)
You will leave that hospital room or that birthing tub or that jungle shack floor with a small human either in your arms or somewhere close to your body.
Maybe someone else is carrying it for you or wheeling it down the hall beside you in a bassinet- maybe you are fortunate enough to have that luxury.
But either way- you will leave that room with a small human child that is now entirely dependent on you to meet all of its physical, emotional and social needs.
You will also leave that birthing space with a Significant injury-
For a vaginal delivery; there in your uterus where your babe was curled up sleeping just minutes ago is a gaping, bleeding hole the size of a dinnerplate; the maternal/fetal placenta freshly ripped from your uterine wall; your uterus is the now-aching place where your baby gained strength and life from you for months prior to this moment.
Statistically, with a vaginal birth, you are also quite likely to be leaving your birth space with at least some form of physical damage to your pelvic floor and/or perineum area from the pushing act of labour.
All that pushing and straining to get a human head out of such a small space is likely to have left you with some very painful battle wounds. Fourth- degree tear; episiotomy, lightning crotch, stitches. It’s a mixed bag of fucking Ouch that can usually only be soothed with Epsom salt baths, rest, and time.
If you are a C-section Mama who was lucky enough to have the surgery go as planned, you have left your birthing space with an army of stitches holding all of your formerly intact midsection together.
Your muscles have been sliced wide open, you’ve had your organs laid bare in an operating room, and you’ve had your baby plucked from the deepest of chambers within your body and lifted out into the light.
You leave your birthing space in significant physical trauma.
End result- you both have babies.
You both need time to recover.
You both have trouble walking and exerting much extra strength.
You are deliriously happy; but you are wounded.
This is why humans live in community.
You both need rest.
Your baby will wake every 1-4 hours for the first little while; sleep is for the birds.
But Rest- that’s what you need.
Birth is Hard.
Mothering is Hard.
You need time to recover.
Let yourself rest; let your people take care of you.
Two identities have just been born;
The new baby,
And the new Mama.
Let people take care of you.
You deserve it.
All of these potential birth outcomes that I’ve just described- these are the Lucky ones.
These are the wounds that we pray for, and that we welcome, and that we can survive.
I am currently dictating this future blog post to my phone via audio from my bed, because on October 14th 2021 at 12:54 AM, I was fortunate enough to have just birthed my second live child.
My voice is breaking even seeing those words in front of me-
because just down the hall, on the same night, in the same hospital, in the same city, at the same time, another woman had just given birth to a baby who was born still.
I got to leave my birthing space with a baby and a gaping hole where my placenta used to be and a second-degree tear that’s going to take a while to recover-
but I got to wheel down the hallway with my child and my partner, through the doors into postpartum recovery with my family intact-
and she didn’t.
I haven’t told anyone this yet- only Ryan knows, because we were at the hospital at the same time and we both saw the butterfly on her L&D door.
Ryan didn’t know what the butterfly meant, but I did.
When the nurses wheeled me past her family’s room with my fresh little girl in my arms, I tried to pour as much of my heart and my love through her door as I possibly could, because nothing that I do could make any of what’s coming for her any better.
Birth is Hard.
Birth can be really, Really Hard.
It just is.
No matter how great your birth went; birth, and after-birth is Hard.
Physical trauma often unearths psychological trauma; whether you’ve already unpacked that trauma in therapy and seen it for what it was; your body and mind don’t care. The physical act of birth unearths both resolved and unresolved psychological former traumas. It Just Does.
Closing Comments on Postpartum:
Do not pity me because I have just walked through Hell.
Congratulate me for having done so, as the Heaven of my Home seems that much sweeter to me now.
Each moment that I get to spend now with my babies; even the mustard-squirty end-over-end newborn poos of Lucy Naomi, and the ‘Where the Fuck do I fit in my family dynamic Now, and is my Mother going to fucking Leave me AGAIN for the hospital?’ Big-time emotions of Sadie Greta my firstborn;
Each and every moment I’ve had with them since I was released from hospital is sweeter than honey and more precious than rubies.
Do not pity me;
You may even Envy me;
if you must.
I feel Alive.
I look Alive.
But take Pity on me for these events??
Me and Pity parted ways a long, long time ago.
There is no time for Pity.
It’s time to rip open the blinds and let alllll the sunlight pour back into my life.
It’s time for Joy and celebration and Love.
For good food and laughter and community.
I hope to see you soon!