- There is never a comfortable way to answer your mom’s questions about stds.
- Nothing says “trashy” like camel toe.
- True love and true friendship are equally hard to find.
- Someone will always be better, smarter, prettier, stronger, ballsier, (fill in the blank_______) than you.
- Too much of a good thing will always be bad, (i.e. too much vit C = UTI.)
- Never wear white to a wedding, ever.
- Never judge a book by its cover. (or Sarah Jessica Parker is gracious enough to look the other way when you poop pants.)
- Never let your partner deliver your baby….the things they see….you will not live this down.
- Never give yourself a bikini wax … And if you must ….
- ALWAYS Make sure your partner turns off their Xbox live mic before helping you with the hot wax accident.
Disclaimer** I am not a doctor. This is just my story of how I managed my disease during pregnancy with the help of a plan developed specifically for me with a LLMD. This should not be used as protocol for anyone else; I am sharing it to share the hope of a Lyme FREE child!
Antibiotic Protocol 1st and 2nd Trimester:
- Prescribed: 1200 mg of Omnicef 3 times a day.
- I couldn’t tolerate it and and was herxing constantly.
- After 4 weeks of approximately 0-1200mg of Omincef a day, the dosage was lowered.
- Prescribed: 1200 mg of Omnicef 2 times a day.
- I still typically only got down 1200mg ONCE a day due to vomiting and herxing.
- On the days I couldn’t get anything down, I was given shots.
Antibiotic Protocol 3rd Trimester:
- Prescribed: 1200 mg of Omnicef 2 times a day
- Prescribed: 500 mg of Zithromax once a day
- I typically only got down ONE dose of Omnicef and the Zithromax dose.
Supplements, Pregnancy, Lyme, and Gene Mutation MTHFR:
MTHFR Gene Mutation is SIGNIFICANT to pregnancy as regular Folic Acid can cause embolisms in women with this gene mutation. It is incredibly common, especially in those with chronic illnesses. Wellness Mama, does a great job explaining this mutation, its significance, treatment, etc. at her blog, here.
- Methylated Folic Acid (Methyl-Folate)
- Potassium (powder)
I was prescribed several more supplements but these were the only ones I could keep down. I am guessing because they were primarily soluble.
Flares, Herxing, Whatever you want to Call it:
These were a daily (normally 2-4 times daily) occurrence. For me, my flares appear in the form of simultaneous projectile vomiting and diarrhea, muscle spasms, intense anxiety, muscle weakness, and migraines. Coupling this with morning sickness made it almost impossible to eat food, take meds, or function. This is why I lost over 50lbs through out the course of my pregnancy.
To manage daily Herxing/Fare Reactions:
- Activated Charcoal /Epsom Salt Baths
- I would use about 6-10 charcoal tablets (560mg)
- Along with 4-6 cups of Epson Salts
- Soaking for an hour or more.
- Herbal Drops
- Parsley, Pinella, and Burbur
- Take 10 drops (each) in purified water every 10 minutes
- Parsley, Pinella, and Burbur
- Calming the Child Oils
- I stayed away from Zofran until week 29 of pregnancy, worried about cleft pallets.
- Sea Bands
- Rubbing Alchol Swatches
- You name it…I tried it.
After Birth Lyme Testing
After she was born, the nurse and midwife collected placenta samples as well as cord blood samples. These were sent to IGeneX Lab . The test kit had been previously ordered through my LLMD and I kept it on hand with me throughout the whole pregnancy. Originally I had been told to expect 6-8 weeks for an answer but 22 DAYS after she was born, I got a call at 3 minutes till noon telling me that my sweet baby girl was LYME FREE! It was the second best day of my life.
I share this because I know the fear I had when I found out what Lyme could mean for my dreams of becoming a mother. I searched high and low for successful pregnancies. I was desperate for info, I was desperate for a child, I was desperate for hope. Please feel free to reach out with questions, share your own stories, etc. Understand as new mother, I may not be the quickest in getting back to you. But the hope, there is hope.
My Lyme free daughter will be 15 weeks old tomorrow and will be 15 weeks since I experienced 4 blood transfusions that have left me feeling completely symptom free. I am baffled, excited, and hopeful. The CDC even suggests dialysis and blood and exchange transfusions for severe Babesiosis patients. Blood work is still coming in, my LLMD is still working on me, but something has changed and healing has begun. I am excited to share my journey with you.
(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.
After giving birth to my daughter, I experienced a hemorrhage that, unfortunately, has left my milk supply a little on the low side.
Supplements I have tried:
- blessed thistle
Food and Drinks I have tried:
- lactation cookies
- lactation teas
- Yogi – 2/5 stars. I didn’t notice a huge difference with this tea. I ordered it originally because of it’s price.
- Mother’s Milk – 4/5 stars. A little pricey but it definitely helps support the nursing supply.
- Welda – 4/5 stars. This one only gets a 4 out of 5 stars because it is so expensive. It is by far the best nursing tea I tried and I noticed immediately results. As far as results go, it receives a 5 out of 5 stars.
Ideas not yet tried:
- Placenta Encapsulation – I originally didn’t do this because we were unsure if I had passed Lyme through the placenta to Arden. As it turns out, I didn’t!!! I have recently begun considering that as a option to help support my nursing supply.
- has anyone had any experience with this for their own nursing supply?
- Other ideas? I am open to suggestions!!!
I want to write about this in a way that capture the feeling of these two days, but the emotion is still too raw to share. I can merely recount what happened, from my perspective, over these days.
Sharp pressure woke me up. Contractions were nothing new, but this was intense. I was nauseous and tired.
I drank castor oil the night before. My water had broken. I walked more than 5 hours. I had thrown up anything I ate or drank in the last 12 hours and finally I was 1 stinking centimeter dilated after all that.
Exhausted, I grabbed a pillow, repositioning myself in the child’s pose, hoping to cope and distract myself, I put something on the IPad to watch. I have no recollection of what.
An hour later, the pain and pressure were getting intense. I woke Sam up, I don’t know if it was from moaning or because I woke him up.
Trying a few different positions to cope with pain was nothing new. I had passed multiple kidney stones (sans medication) in the last month and been sicker than I had been in the history of my disease for the last ten.
In the bathtub, listening to Sam talk about being in an ocean (or a ball pit 😂😂😂 ) I remember little but the sound and feel of the water. Sam says I was making noise, lots of noise. At this point Sam called the midwife to let her know that we thought we were in labor. She asked Sam to time the contractions and call her back, she was getting ready and on her way. She had left just 5 hours early to make the 2 hour drive back to her home. I had only been 1 cm only a few hours earlier, after having contractions for days and other labor signs.
I feel a need to push. It is more primal than anything I have felt before in my life. There was no way I could have done anything in that moment other than push. I felt suddenly like I needed to get out of my bathtub. Sam moved me to the couch, worried the baby would hit her head on the floor 😂😂😂😂.
At this point I should say that I have the most incredible, supportive, rock of a man in the world. He was out of his mind with fear and still calm as a cucumber and ready to deliver our daughter on his own.
He called the midwife back and she was on her way, about an hour out. I remember specifically Sam telling me that she was an hour away. This is one detail that rings clear for me. At this point, I willed my body to slow down for the first time the entire pregnancy. I breathed, I pushed, I tried not to.
The midwife arrived.
There had been a few different plans, including delivering at a local hospital, throughout the course of the pregnancy. I would be lying if I said I didn’t WANT a home birth. Sam and I are deeply private people (says the woman with a blog) and have always done things as quietly and simply together as possible. I had fears of interventions among other things. I should have known not to let my fears ever drive a situation or decision. It seemed my body was giving me the labor I wanted when it had so surely denied me the healthy pregnancy experience I craved.
The midwife, Sam and a nurse move me into the birth tub. I remember thinking there is no way I can lift my leg up to my hip to crawl in there. Somehow I did.
Down on all fours, head on Sam’s chest, he sat on the piano stool in front me. The cardinals were pecking at the feeder in the window though we couldn’t see them through the tapestry hung up, diffusing the morning light.
I feel true pain for the first time as Arden crowns. The midwife applies counter pressure and I feel a small tear happen.
A moment later, I am flipping over, taking my screaming daughter out of the midwife’s hands. A warm wet towel is placed on top of both of us. She is beautiful. She is bluish pink, pooping, peeing, squalling, perfect baby girl. Sam was in the moment enough to snap 3 or 4 of the most incredible pictures.
It was truly the happiest moment of my life. The most distinct memory is that of her crying and Sam laughing and how incredibly similar and joyful the two sounded.
The joy, adrenaline, and rush of labor were truly euphoric. Calm and warm, holding my child, I delivered the placenta easily and it seemed fully intact. The cord blood drawl began. (Because I have Lyme and co infections I had been on 2400mg of omnicef and 500mg of Zithromax a day for the duration of the pregnancy. The goal was not to pass it through the placenta to Arden. It had felt like an impossible task most days. When I couldn’t keep the meds down, a shot was what awaited me.) after the samples were collected and packaged, the midwife cut the cord, wrapped Arden up, assessed her, weighed her and gave her to Sam to hold while I was examined, showered, and crawled in bed.
Arden on my chest, Sam beside me. The midwife and nurse cleaned up the house, started laundry, checked in on us, took vitals, packaged the blood and placenta samples for Arden’s Lyme test and left about 4 hours after delivery. This time was a blur and really feels like about 60 min. We had called family and told them to come to the house though we didn’t tell them the baby had come. I remember texting my brother, who is a musician in Houston and my best friend to let them know the baby was here.
As we laid together, a family of three. We were high on the joy of birth. It had been an intense but beautiful and powerful experience. It had seemed all to perfect, too quick. We looked at each other and said “why would anyone do this any other way or place?” It was in that moment that God decided to answer us and hemorrhage number one began.
To be continued. (Read Part 2 Here)