If you missed the first part of James’ birth story, feel free to catch up here. Then, allow me to continue…
Two weeks after James’ birth I was still feeling great. I was heading in for an ultrasound appointment that I had requested. I had requested the same appointment after Will’s birth to make sure there was no placenta left. All was clear after Will, and I was sure all was clear this time.
That morning, I put in extra care getting ready. I showered. I put on makeup. I found the one pair of shorts that seemingly fit. I was proud to walk into that office and declare that I had not cried for over a week. I was feeling great, recovering well, and had put those postpartum blues that I was so very afraid of to bed.
I met with the ultrasound technician, and we chit-chatted about babies and lack of sleep. She waved the little jellied wand thingy over my stomach. Then I saw a twitch in her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “There’s something there,” she told me.
I started to cry. For the first time that week.
I have a pit in my stomach right now as I’m writing about it. I knew what that meant. It meant another out-patient surgery. General anesthesia. My fifth D&C. I was becoming an old-hat at something you never want to become an old-hat at.
The day between my ultrasound of bad news and the surgery was a day of limbo. Mostly, I stayed in bed with my baby and tried to pump as much as I could knowing that I wouldn’t be able to nurse James for a while after the procedure.
Bright and early on Friday morning, we arranged for the boys to be with grandparents and James to be with our postpartum doula. My husband held my hand as we went through the pre-op hell of signing paperwork that outlines all of the awful things that can happen to you. Then I got my gown, my IV, and chatted with the doctor. She walked us through the worst-case scenarios: mostly that they might not get it all and we’d have to repeat this again and a very unlikelihood of a hysterectomy.
With that, my husband went out the waiting room and I was sedated.
Next thing I know, I’m waking up in a room surrounded by curtains. My stomach feels funny. I put my hands down on my stomach and feel a bandage. I’m groggy and confused.
“You had a hysterectomy,” comes from somewhere around me. I can’t form words, but in my head I’m thinking, “What? She’s not talking about me!” But, apparently, I dropped the F-Bomb. I faintly remember a nurse chiding me that “we don’t use language like that in the post-op area.”
Pardon me, but if you wake up with an organ missing, I think you have permission to say whatever the “F” you like.
Wish I had thought to say that then…
The doctor came in and told me that I had hemorrhaged during the procedure and they had to perform an emergency abdominal hysterectomy. This type of procedure during a D&C is so rare that in her 20+ years of experience in OB/GYN, she’s only had this happen twice. Apparently, I’m really good at being the 1%.
The next few days were a awful blur. I remember being doped up on morphine and various other medicines. I remember kids coming and going as they were dropped off from one grandparent to the other. I remember trying to pump milk for my newborn and trying to nurse him despite the pain I was in.
I wasn’t able to walk. I wasn’t able to use the bathroom. I got a cold virus, and every time I coughed, it felt like someone pushed the pulse button on a blender inside of me.
After four days, I was dismissed from the hospital. My bladder still wasn’t working properly which meant several terrible things that I’ll refrain from going into here. I could hardly walk and was told not to go up and down any stairs. No worries there – I wasn’t getting out of bed.
I was told I couldn’t hold my newborn for two weeks. And, I was told it would be about a month until I could drive a car. Six weeks, and I could expect to be more or less capable of normal life.
I’m now two and half months out from my surgery. Normal is a new normal. A good portion of my lower stomach and pelvis is totally numb and still swollen. I have a lovely new scar. But, I have my life. And I have my babies. I have my husband, my family and my friends.
I cannot say enough to thank all of the people both close to me and those I hadn’t spoken with in years that came and helped me when I couldn’t help myself. My husband cried with me when I was in the depths of despair and pain. My family spent hours rocking my baby and sitting with me in bed so I wouldn’t be alone. My neighbor Libby held baby James for hours on end while I dozed in and out one long Saturday afternoon.
My in-laws came and lived with us for a month, taking the boys to and from school, helping us with the baby, and just generally keeping our lives moving in a forward progression. Without them, I’m not sure how we would’ve gotten through September.
Finally, so many people brought us meals. Not having to cook took a huge burden off of us every day. We had a wonderful meal every night, and even more importantly we all felt loved.
I’m so grateful to have this blog as an outlet. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point that I could put this down. Admittedly, it’s not my best writing, but I’m proud that I can share this story. I hope that it might help another mother. Another friend. Someone…
And now, I need a drink.