Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rachael's birth

I have previously posted Jacob's birth story and Eli's birth story so now it's time to tell you about all the craziness we've experienced in the last 9 days.....

I'm really going to try to make this as short and simple as possible because A LOT has happened in this time frame and it would take days to write out a detailed account of those events.

Rachael's birth was a planned c-section because of the previous 2 c-sections I've had. We arrived at the hospital on Friday, September 12 at 5:30 am so I could have my IV's started, finish some last minute paperwork and be prepped for an 8:30 surgery. The surgery went as planned and Rachael arrived at 8:47 am screaming and very healty!!

I spent a couple of hours in recovery and then was reunited with Michael and Rachael and proceeded to my new room for what was expected to be a Sunday afternoon discharge.

Saturday night I started experiencing some mild pain in my right ribcage (near the bottom of the lung) but the nurse and I both thought it might be gas pain because when you have a spinal it kind of shuts down your digestive system for a while and when it starts up again it causes lots of gas and gas pains. However, by Sunday afternoon the pain had increased and had also radiated to my shoulder. Pain medicine helped for a while, but each time it would wear off the pain would come back stronger. I finally got to the meltdown point where it hurt to inhale and the pain was just so excruciating I had my nurse call the doctor who was on that night to come check me out.

The dr. came and then decided to send me down for a CAT scan thinking that it was my gallbladder giving me trouble. However, the CAT scan revealed a BLOOD CLOT (pulmonary embolism) in my right lung in the exact place where the pain was. YIKES. (I was on injectable blood thinner throughout the entire pregnancy with Rachael as a precautionary measure since I had had a clot after Eli was born so no one thought that it would be that since I had been off the blood thinner for less than 48 hours when the clot developed).

The treatment for blood clots is a couple of different types of blood thinner until you get to an anti-coagulant stage, then the injectable blood thinner is removed and you take a pill for several months. So another dr. came in and talked to me about all that and how they caught it early so the pain should subside quickly since they started the blood thinner back up. By Monday afternoon most of my pain was gone and we thought I was on the mend.

THEN Monday evening my pulse dropped really low (to the low 50's) and stayed there so the dr. wanted to do some tests to make sure nothing was wrong with my heart. They sent someone up to my room to do an EKG, which came back normal rythym, just a slow heart rate.

The dr. wanted to monitor my heart on a telemtry machine for 24 hours so I was sent down to ICU for Monday night and all of Tuesday (at least). This separated me from Rachael. However, they did let her stay admitted and kept her in the Mother/Baby Unit and brought her to me for feedings!!

While I was in ICU I also had an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart to measure electrical activity and check valves and vessel sizes, etc.) which came back normal.

I ended up staying until Wednesday morning when the dr. came in and gave me the all-clear to go home. He said they couldn't find anything wrong with my heart other than my heart rate being low and couldn't find any reason to suspect something serious.

I was home early Wednesday afternoon and proceeded to try to adjust to life with 3 children while healing from a MAJOR SURGERY. I was feeling better every day.

UNTIL SATURDAY mid-day. I was standing in the kitchen (not doing anything strenous or anything I shouldn't be doing) and felt like I was trickling blood. When I went to the bathroom is was definitely more than a trickle and more like a river. (I'll spare you the details of how much blood there was, etc.). I came out and called the hospital and they said to head to the ER because I might be hemorraging.........SCARY. This is when I started to feel a little frantic.

Michael got the kids ready and loaded in the van while I got something to sit on - because there was more blood than I have ever seen in my life. I called a friend and asked her to meet us at the hospital to take the boys or something (at that point nothing was discussed - just that it was an emergency and we needed help). I also called my mom and told her I needed her to come out from Florida and she got on the internet and started looking for flights for that day. Then Michael drove me to the ER at break-neck speed with the flashers on. I cried all the way to the hospital freaking out about what the outcome of this major blood loss might be. THIS WAS VERY SCARY FOR MICHAEL AND I BOTH AND THE THOUGHT OF ME NOT SURVIVING WAS JUST MORE THAN I COULD BEAR - BUT A VERY REAL POSSIBLITY.

We arrived and I was immediately seen and the dr. and nurse put me very much at ease because they were not frantic or panicky in the least. This made me not worry quite so much. The dr. did an ultrasound of my uterus and determined it was full of blood and had actually expanded since I had gone home from the hospital.

I had lots of clots in there and rather than my uterus contracting all the way down as it should have, the clots couldn't be expelled to allow the uterus to contract down and stop the bleeding.

I was then re-admitted and started on a medication to try to make my uterus clamp down properly. After 7 hours and 2 doses, the dr. came back and did another ultrasound and determined that it was actually getting worse rather than better. He decided right then to take me to the OR for a D&C to manually clean out my uterus so it could contract back to where it should be. The risks of this surgery were greater for me than most people since I had the clot already. If the D&C didn't work to control the bleeding, he would take me back in and open me up and do a complete hysterectomy to save my life. HYSTERECTOMY is not something I ever thought I'd hear, especially at 27. There was also a real possiblity of death from this situation. However, I told the dr. to do whatever he thought was necessary to make sure I made it through this because my husband and children need me.

The surgery started about 10pm and I was awake around 11:20. I ended up getting 2 units of blood to keep my blood levels stable and make it easier for my body to recover and not have to reproduce the lost blood.

Let me just say that as soon as I woke up I felt like I was completely better. Nothing felt even the slightest bit 'off'. My belly was 'deflated' and felt so much better than it had before - when I got to the hospital I looked like I was still 6 months pregnant. The dr. told me after I woke up that he cleaned out 1.5 litres of blood and clotting from my uterus. WHOA - that's a lot of stuff.

After the surgery, I spent the rest of the night in ICU on all kinds of monitors, IV's and even a morphine pump for my pain. The dr. came back around 11 this morning and performed another ultrasound and gave me the all-clear and told me my uterus looked and felt wonderful and that I was free to go home once I got my catheter out, walked around and went pee!

The nurse got me all unhooked and while she was working on my discharge paperwork, I walked around with Michael, my parents (who had arrived at around 11pm last night), the kids and a couple of friends who had arrived while drinking a lot of water!! I completed my requirements and then was released to go!!

Let me just say that I am so blessed to even be alive to tell this story today and that I also still have all of my reproductive organs - thought I doubt I'll ever be reproducing again. More than one dr. in the last week has recommended I not ever get pregnant again and though it's hard to swallow, I definitely agree that my health and the needs of my family should come first.

I think I'll have to ask Michael to write a post on what this whole experience was like for him because his mom was here for a few days and could help out with the boys, but I'm sure he felt split in 100 different ways and I can't imagine what was going thru his mind when I was going thru all these difficulties. Thankfully, I'm still in one piece and God is so good to have allowed me to pull thru this.


Bryan said...

I had no idea you had been through such a horrible experience! I knew you had had some complications with Jacob and Eli. You are in our thoughts and prayers as you continue to recover. Please keep us posted. Love you, cuz!

meredith said...

whew--i'm so glad things are better now!!! take good care of yourself and that precious new baby. she's gorgeous!!

Alyce said...

I'm so glad you're ok! That was scary to read; I can't imagine what it was like to go through!

kristy said...

Oh my goodness, Laura, this post made me tear up! I am SO GLAD that you're okay!!! There is not way I can imagine how frightening this must have been for you and Michael. I'm just really glad that you're okay and that both you and Rachel are healthy :)

Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home said...

Wow, what a crazy story. I'm so glad to hear you're ok, though I'm sure it was a scary time!

I noticed your comment today, and you mentioned a 3 week old and I realized you'd had your baby! How exciting! Congrats! And I just love the name Rachael, including the way that you've spelled it.