Friday, January 31, 2014

4th time's the charm

Warning, this post is a bit gory.  It's about the complicated birth of Luke, so if you don't like reading about birth, or are squeamish, now is your time to run.

I thought that since this was my 4th, that I was going to be granted an easy birth.  The roads had been paved, so to speak, by the older kids, and there wasn't anything I wasn't prepared for.  Or so I thought...

I was very anxious about this birth.  I didn't know why, I just assumed it was because of gram, and already being in a very emotional state, and having to go back to the same hospital.  I had my heart set on a natural birth, and perhaps the thought of that much pain scared me.  I don't know.  What I do know is that I wasn't feeling anxious at all throughout the pregnancy, and suddenly I was terrified.

On Saturday the 25th I was experiencing a boat load of braxton hicks contractions, and some were painful.  I knew labor was coming.  The contractions weren't rhythmic or consistent yet, so I knew it wasn't "time", but I also knew the time was soon.  I was looking forward to church the next day, so I had a feeling "time" would be the next morning, as I always went into labor in the morning.

Well, I was spot on.

All night long Hammy woke up every few minutes, until finally, at 3am he fell asleep.  Well, it was at exactly 3:37 that I started to feel uncomfortable, and decided to get out of bed and sit on the couch.  So, basically, I'd had exactly 0 hours of sleep.  I timed the contractions and they were either every 4 or 5 minutes for an hour.  Time to go.  I had the unfortunate duty to call my labor buddy at 4am, who, by some miracle, was actually smiling and looked as cute as ever when she showed up at my door.  I'm thinking she's a witch.  Nobody is smiling and cute at 4am.

Anyways, we went to the hospital, and I was only 4cms, but knowing my body, I knew we were in for the long haul.  I was getting tons of back pain, and I knew what that meant: back labor.  The odd thing was, as much as I was getting back pain, I was also getting intense front pain, and the majority of it was on my left side.  It was odd, and something I hadn't experienced before.  By the time we got to the L&D room, I was in so much pain I couldn't breathe.  The contractions weren't giving me time between, and I was very light headed and already sleep deprived, so I got the epidural.  As disappointed as I was not to be able to stick it out, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to handle it, and boy am I glad I knew myself well enough!

Once I was able to relax, my body progressed to the pushing phase quickly.  I kept getting pain seeping through the epidural, still on my left side, but I decided just to push through it.  It was 3 easy pushes before little Luke was out, and boy was I surprised at how big he was!  9lbs, 4oz!  No wonder I was having so much pain toward the end of my pregnancy!

We stayed in the delivery room for a little while while I got fixed up, and something happened that I didn't think much of at the time, but it was unfortunate foreshadowing for what was to come: I couldn't pee.  I'd only had the epidural for about an hour or so, so I didn't think it was normal, but then I thought, maybe I just didn't have to go.

We went downstairs to my recovery room and that's when things got bad.  I don't remember a whole lot of it, so the details are basically a combination of what I remember and what other people have pieced together for me.  As soon as we got in, a dr came to check me and get a baseline of what my "situation" was so they could keep track of my healing.  As soon as they lifted the sheet her eyes went wide and she said "Oh, we need to get you back upstairs right away.  There is far too much swelling."

The epidural was wearing off at this point, so I began to feel everything, and I felt like I had been shot in the butt cheek repeatedly.  Or kicked in the crotch by a pissed off horse.  They brought me back up to the c-section prep area and things got even more painful.  I don't remember much of anything from this point forward other than begging for pain medication, them telling me I needed surgery, and my husband trying as hard as humanly possible to get me to focus on anything but the pain.  Someone kept telling me to envision the word "calm".  Someone else kept saying they had to wait for the anesthesiologist.  I was sobbing and hyperventilating.  I was given dilaudid, morphine and a spinal to dull the pain.

Then I was in a surgical recovery room.  I just remember suddenly hearing my husband say "Alana, you need to breathe!" then waking up, sobbing, and asking if it was all over.  He said it was, and that I needed to breathe because I kept stopping breathing.  I cried and cried, and he said my mom was there, so she came in, he left to see the baby, and I cried some more.  That was the scariest, most painful thing I'd ever experienced.

It turns out, Luke was so big, he burst a vein under my skin and I developed a HUGE hematoma.  500ccs of blood was drained from the hematoma alone, and if you combine that with the blood I'd lost during delivery, I lost 1/3rd of my blood volume.  The hematoma was about 10 inches in length and 3 inches in diameter, and that's just what you could see.  They said it went deep beneath my skin.

After all that, I went back to my labor & delivery recovery room.  It was a long few days.  I couldn't find comfort any way I moved.  I had about a bajillion pillows, and nothing made the pain dull enough that I could sleep for more than an hour at a time.  I had a catheter because the swelling was so severe I couldn't pee.  Every time I fell asleep I had nightmares that would startle me awake with my pulse skyrocketing.  Because I lost so much blood my heart was working overtime, and my resting heart rate was between 120-145bpm.  Finally they recommended I get a blood transfusion.  It had been days since I got out of bed, so one nurse encouraged me to try to get into the bathroom to brush my teeth.  When I got there I saw myself in the mirror and it was awful.  I was SO pale.  My lips were white.  I ended up getting 2 bags of blood just to bring me into the realm of normal blood count, but even after the 2 bags, I was still warned that my blood count was low, and I'd need to take it easy so I don't pass out.  They said it would be at least 2 weeks before my body would produce enough blood for me to be considered "normal" again.

Finally I got sent home from the hospital, still with the catheter, because my swelling hadn't gone down enough for them to be confident I could pee.  All I could do at home was lay in bed and cry.  I couldn't get comfortable because of the catheter, and the baby kept needing me to nurse him and change him, which resulted in me being forced to do so in all these weird positions.  Everything hurt.  I was so discouraged and overwhelmed, all I could do was cry.

Finally today I went to my regular dr who told me my swelling was going down VERY well, and was far enough away from my urethra that I could get the catheter out.


I was terrified though, that it would cause more pain, or that the swelling would come back or something, anything, would happen to make me hurt some more.

It went much easier than expected, and here I am, sitting on my couch instead of my bed, after spending the afternoon with my babies that I missed so badly, so happy that I feel halfway human again.  And I'm wearing pants!!

Hopefully soon I will be back to normal.  I can't wait!

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