Sunday, July 8, 2012

Liam's Birth Story - Part 2, Postpartum Hemorrhage

My plan was to write about Liam's first week but my body had other plans.  One week after delivering Liam, I suffered a secondary postpartum hemorrhage.

As a warning to my readers, this post may be graphic and/or disturbing.

Last week, thursday morning at about 3:30am, I had just finished breastfeeding with Liam asleep on my chest, when I felt a gush.  I woke up my husband and told him that something was very wrong.  I looked down at my shorts, and noticed they were soaked in blood, as were part of the sheets.

I made it to the bathroom, onto the toilet and that's when it got really bad.  I immediately passed a huge blood clot and then blood just kept flowing.  I was frantically trying to think what to do.  I was just hoping that it would stop.  I screamed for Steve and asked him to call the doctor.  Half awake and carrying Liam in his arms, trying to figure out how to call a doctor who's number he doesn't have.  Realizing that this is more serious, I told him to instead to call 911.  At first he thought I was over reacting.  But then he later told me that he saw all the constant flow of blood coming from me and made the call.  I kept thinking in my head... Why is this happening? What did I do wrong?

The police came, then the volunteer paramedics.  Everyone was very calm and it made me think that they weren't taking this serious.  The paramedics even told me to "shove two pads on and put some sweatpants on" because apparently they didn't want to carry me out in just my bra.  I was still bleeding quite a bit and thought they were nuts.  There was no time to waste finding pants or an attire suitable for a trip to the mall.  Steve grabbed me a skirt (my sister's skirt no less), I shoved two pads between my legs and hobbled down the flight of stairs to the waiting stretcher.

Once they put me on a stretcher, I looked at Steve and asked him to ride along, not wanting to be alone.  The truth was evident when he said he couldn't... he had to take care of Liam.  And that's when I realized Steve and Liam weren't coming with me.  I was so scared but surprised and becoming alert.  With the amount of blood loss, I was sure I was going to pass out.  While in the ambulance, the paramedics kept asking me questions, I answered and then they put in a pic-line into my arm.  I told them about my bad veins, that medical staff always seem to be unable to take blood, let alone stick in an IV.  The ambulance crew didn't really listen and my poor veins later suffered.

Once I got to the hospital I was put into this very tiny triage room, enough room for a bed and monitors... the two residents on call for OBGYN could barely fit, the doctor stood mainly outside the room.  The same questions were asked as were in the ride to the hospital, the entire time I kept saying, "I'm still bleeding".  Finally the two residents decided to look for themselves on how much blood I was loosing.  They gave me some medication (I don't remember what now) and I started to feel really funny.  The room was dancing and the nurses said "I think we need to red-line this and move her to the OR".  The residents tried to stimulate my uterus manually to get it to contract and stop bleeding.  It hurt so much and Steve, who arrived with a diaper bag and formula in a cooler, said he could hear me from outside the room screaming.  Finally they decided that they couldn't wait for my OB and that they were heading straight to the OR for a D&C.  I saw Steve and Liam as they were wheeling me out of the triage room.  I looked at him, said "I am scared" with a response of "I love you" from him before the residents sped me away.

On the way to the OR, the residents got lost.  I was wheeled down this hallway and that hallway and the whole time, I kept thinking, please let me make it to the OR.  We made it, thankfully, and as the residents were setting up, my OB came into the room.  She was the same one that I had when my water broke in the exam room (see Liam's Birth Story - Part 1).  She was really sweet, held my hand and told me it was going to be OK.  I was still so scared.  They told me that I was going to be put under and that I would feel some burning in my arm as they prepared the general anesthesia.  "Some burning" was an understatement.  It felt like they had put a lighter to my arm and I continued to F-bomb the doctors the entire time until I lost consciousness.  The next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room.  I was still pretty groggy and was still bleeding.  The doctors were trying to decide what to do next as my consciousness regained.

They said I had two options, first was an uterine arterial embolization, which had a 99% chance of working or, second, a hysterectomy.  I told them I was too young for that and they assured me that the first option would work.  They took me up to radiology for the second surgery, put me under local anesthesia (thankfully no more burning arms) and through an incision in my groin, put a special gel through my uterine arteries to stop the bleeding.  The gel dissolves over time.  After three blood transfusions and two surgeries later, they had managed to stop the bleeding.

Through the two surgeries, Steve was experiencing the hospitality of the hospital.  After I was wheeled away and the "I Love You"'s where said, he was escorted by the hospital Chaplin to the Operation Waiting Room where he sat waiting for any news.  He was with Liam who was fed the formula made in haste, changed and put to sleep in the carrier.  Eventually, the residents came over and updated him, then came my OB and eventually the OB who took over.  The new OB, seeing Steve was with a newborn, relocated him to the wing where Liam was for two days after his delivery a week prior.  The OB said that it was a more sterile environment for Liam while waiting for me to get to the recovery room.  Around 11:00 AM, Steve received a call from the OB saying that I was out of surgery and will be in the recovery room.  The maternity ward staff loaned us a crib with swaddles, towels, clothing, diapers, wipes and formula.

When I arrived at my room, Steve and Liam where there waiting for me.  It was a double room with two beds.  The staff told us that the bed I was in was obviously for me, the empty one is for Steve.  That night, Steve stayed in the hospital room with me and Liam, who had the crib (of course).  It was a very LONG LONG night with Liam needing lots of attention and I was unable to get out of bed.

The next day they decided to give me another blood transfusion as well as an ultrasound and further blood and urine tests to make sure all was ok. I met with another lactation consultant who was helping me with breastfeeding and getting our little boy back up to his birth weight (I will go into detail in his 1 week post).

I was able to go home Friday night. It's been such a long recovery, both mentally and physically. I feel so lucky that I was able to make it through everything but I am now so scared that this could happen all over again. My little boy sure has an eventful birth story. I just hope he knows how much he means to both his mother and father.

For more information on an uterine arterial embolization, click here.