(Read the first part of the birth story here)
*** Warning ***
*this post contains graphic information and is not for the faint of heart.
Part 1: Right After the Birth. (end of my birth story blogs)
I had been warned that passing clots was not abnormal after labor. I was expecting it.
But this felt different.
Sam can you call the midwife and tell her I just passed some substantial clots? I asked.
I am feeling a little light headed.
Sam checked in with her. I had delivered our healthy 6lb 2 oz baby girl about 4 hours earlier and the midwife had left our home about 30 min before.
She’s in Elkins; do you want her to come back? he asks
I am not feeling quiet as hot as I had a few minutes earlier. I was fine. My heart wasn’t racing quiet like it had been. I was just nervous.
No, tell her I am doing better and just going to crawl back in bed, drink fluids and rest. I reply.
We enjoy the next 20 min as we wait in anticipation for the rest of our family, who are on their way, to join us! It was a gorgeous day. Warm and balmy, it was like summer but in the middle of October. Suddenly, I was hot all over. My head was swimming; I was sick to my stomach. Then I felt a loss of blood that felt similar to her shoulders exiting my body only a few hours earlier.
Something was wrong. That was too much blood.
I asked Sam to come around and help me to the bathroom, thankful I was laying on a chuck pad. I thought I could get up and walk with it underneath me. I quickly realized that wouldn’t work, and asked Sam to bring the trash can. Placing the plastic trash can between my legs, I tried to walk to the bathroom.
This is the last thing I remember.
RACHEL! RACHEL! RAAAACCHHHEEEELLLLL!!!!!
Sam is yelling in my face as I feel the cool breeze hitting my skin. I am slipping back and forth. He has my shoulders. He looks terrified. I have never seen him so scared.
What’s wrong? I manage to get out
YOU ARE! he screams in my face YOU ARE WHAT’S WRONG!!!
In this moment, somehow seeing Arden though she lay 25 feet away through a wall, I willed myself to consciousness. Sam and I spent a minute or so discussing options. It felt like an eternity. I wanted him to drive me to the hospital. He called the midwife and she suggested cutting the placenta and eating it, calling 911, etc. she was too far away at this point. He knew he couldn’t carry me and take care of our infant so he called his dad to have him come help carry me to the car.
Sam asked me if I could stand. I thought for sure I could. I was sliding but didn’t realize it was from the blood that was running out of the sides of the toilet, covered my feet, and stained the tile. Somehow, I made it to the bed, raised my feet and began massaging my uterus, hoping it would clamp down and the bleeding would stop. Suddenly my husband came in.
There is an ambulance, down the street. It was taking someone home. It was just sitting there. They are on their way.
Apparently at this point, Sam’s dad had arrived and was having a panic attack on our front porch, called Sam’s mom, and then my mom arrived. No one realized that Arden was there. She lay there perfectly calm in her swing bed, swaddled, awake, calmly taking it all in. At this point, the EMTs come into our bedroom. They have a stretcher and are trying to get it in the door. It won’t open all the way because of a thin black dresser behind the door. I think “oh god…of all the things…why is my lingerie dresser behind the door…they are going to move it. they are going to see. what if one of my students is working today.”
Thankfully they got it in the door without moving the little black dresser, but my one thought was quickly replaced with sheer wonder at how these two men were going to get me and this gurney out of the house and down the stairs. It seemed an impossible task! I completely judged a book by itscover while I lay there, slowly bleeding out. They were two of the most wonderful men I have ever met in my life. They are/were my angels. They helped to save me. But they were almost as wide as they were tall and the task of getting a 155lb woman out of a house and down the stairs seemed daunting, to say the least.
I remember each excruciating step because with each hit of gurney wheel, I felt myself loosing more blood. I felt bad for my husbands robe. I knew that was a goner at this point. Finally, in the back of the ambulance, they radio the local hospital to check and see if they have blood (they did) and they begin the short trek to the ER.
PART 2: The ED Purgatory
At some point, it was decided that my mom would go with me to the hospital and that Sam and his parents would stay at our home with Arden while Sam checked in with the midwife who was frantically calling. When we got into the ED, the doctor immediately began to question why the baby wasn’t there. He wanted to see the baby. For some reason I got very scared and was worried they would try to take Arden away from us. They take some labs ( I don’t remember this) and my vitals.
My blood pressure was almost 200. My WBC was 41. Something was wrong. I offered the answer, lyme, for the elevated WBC and the ED doctor stated that he knew all about Lyme and that wasn’t it.
The next two hours I remember very little about. Apparently they let my husband bring Arden there so I could nurse her. When they arrived no one was massaging my uterus. My mother-in-law asked for pitocin and they stated they “didn’t know what it was.” The only persons of true help with the EMT personnel who took exceptional care of me and checked on me, got a zofran script to help stop the vomiting (which was increasing the bleeding).
During this time, my husband was talking to the midwife who had turned around and gone to the hospital closest to us with a labor and delivery surgeon and prepped them of my case. The ED I was at was notified of this and then the mystery begins. I was told the ED doctor and the surgeon on call got into an argument and my bed was cancelled. Regardless, I laid in an ED for almost 2 hours, bleeding, with almost no care while two ego maniacs battled something out. Before being wheeled out, the doctor made a point to come in and tell me what an idiot I was for having a home-birth before hitting on my mom and strolling cocksure out of the room.
Part 3: The Transfer
This was my first time in an ambulance. I really didn’t want to take one because I wasn’t sure if insurance would cover it or not. Turns out, I didn’t have a choice. I had lost three-fifths of my blood volume.
As we wound around the curvy roads of West Virginia, the nausea came back with a vengeance and the vomiting began. Not even Zofran was helping now. Things really became a blur. I remember little but that sunset and those firey orange trees. Those two things I remember, as we sped up I-79.
Part 4: From Bad to Worse
I remember very clearly how bright the room and how many people there were. I thought surely all these people aren’t here for me. it is like goddamn stadium lighting in here. i have never had so many people looking at my vagina. oh my god those lights are so bright. A man in blue scrubs and a face masks talks to me about when I last ate and drank. I realize it has something to do with intubation and asphyxation. He seems surprised. Next I think I am telling people the story of story of the recent hostage situation at the school at which I taught.
You lost three-fifths of your blood volume so we are going to be starting some transfusions.
damn those lights were bright.
The rest of this is pieced together based on what I have been told.
It is now almost 8 hours since I have delivered my daughter and they take me into surgery. Apparently there was some sort of complication with the placenta and the uterus. I had some blood clotting issues to say the least. My labs, however, were what was terrifying.
I had HELLP. It was a bad.
An hour or so later, out of surgery, I was back in the room with my husband and a couple other family members (maybe sister and mom or mother in law).
All of the sudden, I can’t breathe. I am crashing. I can’t breathe. I am trying to tell the nurses, the doctors, someone. There 9 goddamn people standing around my bed.
I can’t breathe why can’t you hear me! Help me!
Apparently, I was getting some of it out as I terrified my waiting husband and family. I was in bad shape.
- I had been experiencing seizures as a result of the blood loss.
- At the second hemorrhage, I seized, passed out, hit my head on the wooden window sill in-front of our toilet and received a concussion.
- My Liver Enzymes were almost 600.
- My platelets were at 4.
- My blood pressure was still through the roof.
- I needed more blood transfusions.
- They started a magnesium drip to prevent any more seizures.
I woke up the next morning with 5 IV ports in me, monitors everywhere. My skin was literally black from all the bruises where I had been poked, drawn, and transfused. I was a mess. Everything was blury and bowing towards the middle. My husband looked terrible. I knew something must have happened.
I sat up and tried to hold my perfect little 6lb daughter, but I couldn’t. Something didn’t feel right. I called the nurse and asked if it could be anesthesia.
Next thing I knew, two guys showed up to take me to CT scan to check on my concussion. Going down the hallway, I saw my dad talking to someone, but didn’t know who. (It was my best friend) When I returned to the room, I couldn’t sit up. Everything was dark. Something was wrong.
Next thing I knew, I was paralyzed. I started vomiting. I was on my back. I was terrified. I couldn’t move.
At this point, my sister who is an ICU nurse, jumped up, turned on the suction machine and began suctioning me. My mom called the nurse while they tried to turn me on my side.
Over the next hour, my heart began to slow, I couldn’t catch a breath. I heard someone talking about magnesium toxicity and what it would do to the body.
That! That’s it!!! My muscles can’t move. I can’t move them! Stop the magnesium! my brain is trying to yell
An hour and a half hour later, thanks to an amazingly quick thinking nurse, I was still paralyzed but quickly coming round once she turned off the magnesium drip. I had become toxic as result of my liver not working and the magnesium had slowly paralyzed my muscles.
It has been 28 hours since I had given birth to my daughter. Just 24 since the hemorrhage began.
In all of this, the hospital apparently tried to force my husband to take our daughter to the ER. He was terrified as he watched me quickly go from bad to worse once I was admitted and told them so. After some time, his family and mine talked him into admitting her. My sister and brother-in-law, who thankfully worked in the children’s hospital, worked with the charge nurse to have her directly admitted so she wasn’t exposed to anything in the ER.
She was perfect. She scored a 10 on her APGAR (a 9 after birth). I was terrified of being treated like an imbecile for how our birth occurred but our midwife worked with the hospital to show the care we took for protocol, pre-natal care, testing, etc. and we were treated with EXTREME respect.
Five days later, we went home after the first snow the season, a family of three together, barely, but forever.
Picture from bruising 10 days after leaving the hospital.