It’s Friday, January 22nd, 2021 at 6 am. I’ve been awake since 4:30 AM. I decided I would write until my computer died and then I too would return to sleep. This is the first morning in 17 days that I have woken up in my own home. This is the first morning in 17 days I have been able to see the sky outside my windows. Right now it is dark, but last night, the foggy moon welcomed me slowly to rest; an old familiar friend out here on the farm.
I’m not sitting here writing pain free. In all honesty, my back is pretty much killing me. My incision is sore. The suppression of my milk is painful and I have a terrible crick in my neck from the central line. But at this point, I am used to the throbbing sensations to a certain extent. I have plenty of pain medicine on deck. And unfortunately there is a level of “uncomfortable” that I am going to have to endure for several months.
But there’s a mental side to all of this that I am not used to. And I’m struggling with. And I need to process; mostly with my counselor (sorry nosey rosie’s). However, I also want to continue to be transparent as well and in my writing want to document these feelings too. Because though the peace I had before surgery still remains true, and matters tremendously, the post op anxiety is just as valid.
I began contracting upon entering the hospital on January 6th. We never could quite get them under control. On January 15th, once all of my visitors for the day had left, I began a contraction spell that would eventually throw me into active labor. My team was called in. It was time to deliver.
I was apprehensive but I was not afraid. I was alone. I contracted as Jon raced to the hospital and was wheeled to labor and delivery to begin magnesium before he would ever make it. I never saw him before the surgery, though he called and comforted me over the phone and I knew he would be there fighting all of hell on my behalf.
Once in L&D, I began taking the magnesium and all at once different medical teams began rushing to my bedside. I saw Dr. Nick, my surgeon; Dr. Scott (my favorite) from Maternal Fetal Medicine; Dr. Samples, my OBGYN; The anesthesiologist along with several CRNA’s; labor and delivery nurses and more. The anesthesia team began inserting several (large, mind you) IV’s into my arms looking for as many access points as possible. They would sympathetically look at me and say “I’m so sorry-this is a big stick” or “You are doing so well. I am so sorry, but this one is going to hurt a bit”. Soon enough my arms were covered in needles and a bloody mess where a few veins had blew in the process. I was changed into a gown, had my messy hair threw back into a surgical cap and whisked down the hall to the main OR.
The room was cold and had blue tile around the walls. There were cases and cases of medical equipment and it was buzzing with chatter. I’m not sure of the exact number but there were at least 20 people all hard at work. Dr. Crowe squeezed my hand and smiled at me lovingly as we met again for another surgery (She assisted in the delivery of Jack and Wade as well). My heart began racing faster as they pulled my bed up next to the operating table and asked me to scoot myself over. The table was thin and black. There were arm boards that extended to the sides and I laid in a “Jesus on the cross” style across it. I don’t remember my hands being strapped down or anything but I did feel “paralyzed” in a sense during these moments.
Ryan, a CRNA, and very important character in all of this, put an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. Full panic set in as it seemed to suction to my face. I jolted my eyes quickly from Dr. Crowe to Dr. Samples who was stroking my head telling me it was all going to be okay. Though I may have known that deep in my heart, my head was telling me I couldn’t breathe and my heartbeat became louder and louder in my ears. Dr. Samples continued to smile and her eyelashes were the last thing I remember seeing before the medication inserted in my arm caused my body to relax into a deep, deep sleep.
The surgery, slated to only last a few hours, crept well into the early morning. Jon became apprehensive and eventually the doctors walked through the door to the room he had been sleeping and waiting to reveal though successful, the surgery had been anything but easy. The delivery went well and the removal of the percreta and uterus were successful. However, to my understanding, the blood loss I encountered was beyond predicted. In total I lost 8 liters of blood (think 4 (2) liters of coke) and as quick as they could pump it in, I bled it right back out as Dr. Nick put it “at fire hydrant speed”. It was said to me that I lost all of the blood in my circulatory system-twice. And then some. There was a moment-or several perhaps-the team was concerned I would not make it through.
I woke up semi coherent in ICU the next day. I was on a ventilator. Again, I don’t remember being afraid or panicking-as if I knew it was supposed to be there-but I remember being uncomfortable and frustrated that it was. I would slip in and out of consciousness and beg for the nurse to wet my mouth. I wrote lots of notes as I couldn’t speak. Sores formed on my lips and my tongue as I irritably waited to go into my next procedure. Apparently, because of the blood loss, I was “packed” to control the bleeding and laid with a closed but not stitched incision in ICU until Sunday morning. When the surgery time finally came I remember thinking “Praise the Lord” as I was being wheeled down the hallway but don’t remember anything else. The bleeding had stopped, the packs were removed along with my Fallopian tubes, and I was stitched. My incision begins right below my rib cage and extends to the top of my pubic bone, cross-crossing my c-section scar at one point.
The ICU stay continued all day Sunday . ICU was cold and lonely and I laid in the dark most of the day. I coughed a lot from the effects of the ventilator and stayed in a fair amount of pain pretty constantly, despite doses of morphine throughout. Several doctors and nurses from my delivery came by to see me and expressed their gratitude that I was in fact, “here”. My body ached as I was extremely swollen from the blood loss and I longed to be back with familiar faces. Eventually I was taken back to my room on the Antepartum floor.
I am home now, but the week following surgery was anything but easy. I developed an illeus (super common with abdominal surgery) so basically-I couldn’t digest anything fully. Thanks to the amount of narcotics, antibiotics and downright “touching” my bowels had experienced, my lower intestinal track ceased to work. No digestion-no BM-food has nowhere to go, so it just came right back up. I spent all night Monday in extreme pain due to the amount of air in my abdomen and all night Tuesday night throwing up. Not a great combination when you have an incision running the length of your abdomen. The illeus seemed to correct itself but there is still a list a mile long of potential “could be” situations from the effects of surgery.
Throughout all of this, I never felt like I actually had a baby. There were no moments of crying in “missing” my baby, because I never even felt he was gone. That’s probably weird and probably means something awful, but I never did. Perhaps I was too tired. Jon kept me updated daily with photos and information, and he was always my first concern, but I definitely didn’t feel the same this go around as I did with the twins in a birth sense. This didn’t feel like a birth. This felt like a narrow escape from death, followed by a week wondering if it was sure to come knocking again.
Since everything has happened, I feel “out of control” so to speak. My mind races, and often times the anxieties overtake my knowledge of reality. “What ifs” and constant replays of the past week play over and over in my head. I wake up at night gasping thinking I’m on a breathing tube again and pray and pray my stomach heals so not to be put on an NG tube and readmitted. I have terrible night sweats and I can’t sleep. I toss and turn (slowly). I panic over the slightest things. I don’t feel equipped to handle all of this at home and yet don’t think mentally I could handle one more hour in a hospital room. Seeing the sun alone rose my spirits like never before. And yet, as comforting as it is to be home, I’m writing down what I can so everything doesn’t feel so threatening.
My instructions are to simply “rest”. Apparently, that word means a great deal when healing. And ironically, for me right now, it’s so hard to do both physically and mentally. I know everyone is dying to know about Banks-how he is, when he’ll come home, etc. We met yesterday (one of the most cherished days of my life) and he is doing so well. As I rocked him I told him he was “Banks the bravest boy” and perhaps, despite how I feel today, that’s what God is singing over me as well.