Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Clara is born and mommy is alive!

First introduction...LOVE!
Every mother has a birth story, sometimes it is the magical two hours of labor and two pushes, others offer a bit more work and turmoil, some are downright painful and others, well others are the kind that horror movie writers steal scream sound bites from (and possibly have actresses look at footage of the mother screaming just to get appropriate facial expressions).

No, I am not going to take you through a blow by blow of my labor and delivery.  I just want to document that I survived my last C-section.

Clara was due on October 26th, 2007 but when I went to get my weekly ultrasound at 36 weeks they discovered that she had a triple nuchal cord (meaning the cord had wrapped itself around her neck two complete times).  My doctor was AWESOME, (from here on she will be referred to as Dr. Awesome) since I had a history of stillbirth due to nuchal cord accidents (cord wrapped around baby’s neck) she decided to admit me for continuous fetal monitoring.  I checked into the hospital on September 27th, almost a full month before her due date.

Unfortunately, Dr. Awesome had already scheduled a vacation to England and left two days after I was admitted and my care was then turned over to her partner, we will call her Dr. A$$hat.  After 5 days of continuous monitoring Clara was remaining healthy but I was tired of being in the hospital so Dr. A$$hat ordered an amniocentesis to see if her lungs had developed enough for delivery.  They were developed but she had also passed her first meconium so it was GO TIME…stat C-section.

Ten Perfectly Long Toes
My beautiful, healthy and amazing girl was born 3:17 p.m. on October 1st, 2007.  10 perfect fingers and 10 very long toes.

After the C-section I never felt ‘right’, they could not give me pain meds or let me sit up because my blood pressure was too low.  The first night was absolute misery, I was in so much pain that I seriously thought I was going to die, but eventually it subsided (Dr. A$$hat said it was gas), useful information would have been that I had a rapidly dropping hemoglobin and hematocrit (she knew it, I did not). 

Dr. A$$hat's general attitude after the surgery.

The next two days were fairly uneventful, I was still in the hospital but I never regained my energy.  This was my third C-section and I knew that things were not quite right but Dr. A$$hat was certain all was well.

On October 4th, I woke up at 2:30 a.m., Clara was sound asleep in my arms but I was feeling a lot of pressure so I decided to use the restroom, I gave her a kiss and laid her in the bassinet…it would be a long time before I got to see or hold her again.  I stood up and IMMDIATELY I was in mind boggling, excruciating pain.  I went to the bathroom anyway just to see if it would help, after all, my genius Dr. had said the pain was probably gas.  No such luck.  Eventually I made it back to my bed to ring the nurse…there was no way I pulling the cord in the bathroom (too stubborn).

My amazing nurse (who saved my life) came in and in less than ten minutes had my stats checked, IV started, x-ray ordered, blood drawn and was pushing me down the hall to x-ray.  I could hear Clara crying as I was wheeled away in my bed, screaming in pain.

Her big sisters love her to pieces.
My initial H&H came back at 5 and 18…not completely compatible with life but very indicative of hemorrhage (internal or otherwise).  The Dr. decided to order an x-ray which does not show internal bleeding (she had decided I had an ileus and was just a whiner) and the x-ray was, of course, normal.  It showed that my lungs had partially started to collapse but it was not significant beyond that.

At some point while I was in x-ray the pain got so terrible that I literally had an 'out of body' experience.  The tech kept shoving the film into my back which is exactly where all of the blood had pooled.  My kidneys, liver, bladder and lungs had been displaced by the blood clot and she kept ramming the hard film right in to it.  Eventually it became too much and it was like I was floating in the corner watching it happen to someone else.  Ironically, I have never before believed in the 'out of body' phenomenon and I still am on the fence about it....even though it happened to me.

On the way back from x-ray (which took almost 90 minutes to get decent films since I was unable to move) I informed my nurse that I was going to die.

That got her attention.

My super awesome nurse trying to hang my blood products fast enough to keep my H&H stable.
Dr. A$$hat had said the films were fine, I was fine, she wanted her sleep.  My nurse decided to take my blood three hours earlier than ordered because she could see what was happening.  The nurse also told Dr. A$$hat she could send me for a CT or she would be heading to the ER to get a “real doctor” for me.  While in CT my blood work came back and I was bleeding out (internally) rapidly.  When I returned from CT shit got serious.  Bags of blood were hung, more IV’s were started, I had so many medical staff around my bed it was scary.  At this point I could hardly see, my O² sats were dropping, and I think everyone thought it was over for me.

The charge nurse's feelings about the doctor
shoving the consent form in front of her IV needle.
I will never forget when the Dr. tried to get me to sign the consent form while the charge nurse for the hospital was trying to start my IV.  She kept trying to shove a pen my hand and the nurse kept losing my vein.  The nurse stopped, gave her the dirtiest look I have EVER seen and said "this IV is far more important than your f-ing piece of paper."  Me, ever the peacemaker was all…”I’ll just sign it with my left hand.”

By the time they wheeled me into the OR I honestly did not care if I lived or died I was in that much pain.  I had always thought that I would fight for my life tooth and nail, and I did, but with no blood, no oxygen, and no pain control the struggle seemed futile.  It’s almost like your body knows you cannot use the energy to fight, you have to mentally stay calm and let it do its work…it is far more capable of making good survival choices than you are.

Visiting me in the ICU.
When I woke up in the PACU I was still intubated and panicked.  Nurse Smokey McSmokerson kept trying to calm me down but she just made me glad that something was breathing for me.  I was able to write that I wanted my normal Internal Medicine Group in charge of my care rather than the hospitalists but that was about it.

Eventually they got me settled in the ICU but I still had no clue what had happened and what a long road I was about to travel to recovery. 

Through this I ended up receiving more than 12 units of blood, 7 units of Fresh Frozen Plasma, multiple units of platelets and whatever else they could pump into me.  It was not until my husband was able to come see me and I could write to him “where is my uterus?” that I knew for certain I had a hysterectomy.  Of course, as the daughter of a pathologist I had to know *exactly* where my uterus was and why it was not already enroute to the AFIP...come on people, let's get it together.
Barely alive in the ICU...
but my sweet babies came to see me.

I can remember still being on the ventilator unable to speak and the nurse was counting my staples, 57 straight from my chest to my pelvis.  It took me over a week before I would leave the ICU and almost another week to come home.  They were very good about allowing me liberal visits with my baby (even in the ICU) but it was not the same.  I spent many moments in tears, lots of time in pain, but at the end of it I had the perfect baby I had dreamed about.

My parents and my reaction to
Dr. A$$hat, after they took
another 15 or so tubes of blood from
me...shocker, I had NO bleeding disorder.
She really is an A$$hat!
Dr. A$$hat kept coming in to reassure me that I obviously had a bleeding disorder, none of this was her fault, and since I had just had another major surgery I could bleed out at any moment.  Clearly, this was entirely a case of a botched C-section by an incompetent surgeon, who is no longer delivering babies thank you very much.

My student loan servicer just sent me a birthday card.
My Reaction to Dr. A$$hat!

For Clara’s first birthday party we had a huge blood drive at our church to celebrate the nameless, faceless, blood donors who gave me the gift of my first year with my daughter and an additional year with my first two miracles and my wonderful husband.

Clearly this was the beginning of a journey…there were funny moments, sad moments, and moments so tender and loving that I have come to love and appreciate my family in ways I never thought possible.  My body is still suffering the sequelae from this event, my most recent post hemorrhage surgery was just this past August…but I try with everything I have to be a loving parent, an active parent, I still run and teach aerobics and I REFUSE to stop.  If anyone can appreciate how precious and tenuous life really is, it just might be me.

Leaving the hospital, long before I did.
What has changed your perspective on life?

Have you ever thought about an out of body experience and do you believe in them?


  1. your story put my own (long, long) labor & (much less traumatic) post-partum hemorrhage into perspective...i think that even uncomplicated births can & should change a person forever. i know i have never been the same person i was before my daughter was born. pregnancy & becoming a mother is the most perspective-changing event i ever experienced. the threat of losing her / leaving her behind made me see how much i had altered in only a few days---previously, i had only myself to think about; now, there was this tiny, precious, utterly dependent being to protect. if i died, her entire universe would be shattered. & so, as i lay bleeding on a stack of towels in the back of a car headed to hospital, i put my hand on my baby in her car seat next to me & she grasped my finger tightly in her little hand. she never went to sleep & she never let go all through the 45 minute long car ride...she was the lifeline that kept me fighting to stay conscious & alive. i believe in many odd things, but what i believe in most of all is the power of love, & there is no stronger love than that of a mother & child.

    i think it is wonderful that you are blogging about your experiences---writing things out is cathartic for oneself & brings greater perspective, but it's also good to share our stories. we usually realize that we are stronger than we knew, or that others have had a worse time than we have, giving us reasons for gratitude. just as importantly, it connects us & lets us know that we are not alone.

    1. It's extremely scary having this new little life and suddenly realizing that you may have finished your role in realizing the awesomeness of that little person you just created. Very few women in the United States have that moment anymore and I am so grateful to live here. In third world countries the number of women that still die in childbirth is absolutely stagerring.

  2. Your story is the most terrifying birth story I've ever heard, but at least it had a happy ending :)

    1. I really should have posted a warning about pregnant women reading this one. At least Dr. A$$hat is no longer delivering babies...
      PLUS+++ I am having a blast learning how to do this whole blog thing. Graphics, video clips, and GIF's OH MY!

  3. What a heart wrenching story! Looking forward to reading more of your story. (I found your blog through Kara.)