December 14, 2006 our first born son was born. Cutest little squish you ever laid eyes on, 7lbs 5 oz and 20.5 inches long. 2 days later, we were handed our postpartum care instructions (who reads those anyway, i have a new baby to look at now, no thanks!) took him home and he was ours forever! 10 days later on Christmas eve, (remember I just gave birth 10 days previous) we traveled out of town to see my husband’s great grandmother for Christmas. After you have a baby, you have some bleeding postpartum, it's a normal part of recovering from birth, whether your birth was vaginal or c-section, anyway my bleeding at that point was almost gone, i was thrilled. Before we left his grandmother’s house about an hour and a half away from our home, I stopped in the bathroom just to clean up and change before the long car ride, I noticed the bleeding had gone from brown (almost done bleeding) to red (like it was right after I’d had him).
I didn't think anything of it, just changed and went on. I was 21 years old and a proud brand new mom, this is probably just what happens after a little bit of travel and activity, no big deal i thought. When we got home that night, I went to the bathroom and changed again to get ready for bed, only this time my pants didn't even make it all the way down before a huge clot fell out and landed on the floor of the bathroom, not even in the toilet! EW! gross! I thought! I don't have time for all this mess, this postpartum bleeding crap is for the birds, how annoying. While I was in the hospital I had passed a couple of smaller clots and the nurse told me that was normal so this didn't alarm me. I cleaned myself and the floor up, put on a new pad and as i was standing up to pull up my pants to go to bed, more blood. Dang it, I thought, I JUST put a new pad on and now I have to change it again. (this should have been a red flag, but I didn't have time to read those postpartum papers, remember) So again, I cleaned myself up and tried to stand up again, only for the gush to happen and again, more blood. Dang it! Now I’m getting frustrated, this new mom postpartum bleeding thing sucks. I just want to go to bed because I know my baby is going to wake up in a few hours and we have to get up early and get to my mom's house for my baby’s first Christmas! So this time I put a pad on and a towel between my legs so I could at least make it to the bed where I had laid a chux pad (aka puppy pad) down to protect my sheets so I could at least just get in bed and sleep for crying out loud. (also a red flag, remember I didn't read the postpartum care instructions).
When I woke up the next morning, it was Christmas, (luckily I made it through the night alive) my poor bed looked like a murder scene. All I knew was that my favorite sheets were ruined and I needed a shower to clean this mess up and get ready to go to my mom’s house for Christmas. I was flushed feeling in that shower (another red flag) and had to shower with the curtain partly open so I didn't pass out. When I got out of the shower, another gush. Any time I would get up, or sit down, or move it felt like my water was breaking all over again and just gush after gush of blood, so I decided to call my mom and complain about not being able to stay out of the bathroom because I was bleeding. She said “Megan Michelle, call the Dr. right NOW!” geeze I thought what was her problem. We hung up from each other and later I found out she got right in the car and headed to the hospital because she knew that is where the Dr was going to tell me to go, and I got off the phone called the Dr office and when the nurse called me back she asked me what was going on and I filled her in and she immediately said, “ Do you have a ride to the hospital or do I need to call an ambulance?” meanwhile I still have no idea why everyone's freaking out and the hospital is the last place I want to be on Christmas for crying out loud this is why I got induced at 39 weeks so I wouldn't have to risk being in the hospital on actual Christmas ANYWAY! I told the nurse I had a ride to the hospital and she said “put your flashers on and get here as fast as you can, run the red lights, all of them.” (another red flag) It still didn't click to me that this was a life threatening emergency, so I finished blow drying my hair on my hands and knees because I couldn't stand up anymore (I know! I know! stupid!) and we headed out to the hospital new pad and a towel between my legs.
We did as we were told (finally!) and drove very fast, with flashers on, on Christmas Day, to the hospital. When we got there, and got checked in, it wasn't long before the on call ER doctor was elbow deep in my very sore vagina and uterus that had just given birth, 11 days prior, episiotomy and all digging and seemingly searching for something, clots, placenta, whatever he thought was up there to try and stop all this bleeding. That was pure HELL. By that time my blood pressure was 77/40 and my OB was on call and had come down to the ER and told me that there was a very good chance I would be having a hysterectomy and I need to “sign right here” on her clipboard. Oh my gosh! what is going on?! 21 years old. Christmas day. 11 day old newborn and everyone is racing around the room while I’m trying not to pass out.
I ask to kiss my baby before they inject me with general anesthesia and my mom can’t unlock the car seat, for me to kiss him. No time for baby kisses, I have to have surgery NOW. Seconds later she finally unlocks his car seat and I get to kiss my baby and I was out. Waking up in recovery I had warm blankets covering every square inch of my body and a blood pressure cuff around the pint of blood on the IV pole (there were several, as you can imagine). My OB was able to try “one more time” to save my uterus and she succeeded. Furthermore she saved my life. They inflated a balloon inside my uterus to hold pressure to stop the bleeding and I had to lay flat and move as little as possible for 48 hours. If I started bleeding at any point I would have lost my uterus. For the next 48 hours with the help of my husband, mother in law, and mom they helped me pump so that I could feed my baby still and stayed with him (the L&D unit brought up a baby bed for him and a pump for me) and while the grandmas kept him in the waiting room, Rusty stayed with me in my room, while I mostly slept and pumped.
Prior to and during surgery my hemoglobin level was at a 2 (that's gravely low) basically I was minutes away from death. My husband was minutes away from losing his wife and being a single dad to an 11 day old baby. My mom almost lost a daughter. My sisters and brother almost lost their oldest sibling. My baby almost lost his mom.
Moral of this story is to LISTEN to your care provider and take your postpartum healing and recovery SERIOUSLY. You just had a baby, REST, REST, REST, know what to look for and how to know if your bleeding is normal or if it is too much. READ the paper work they hand you when you are discharged even if they never go over it verbally with you as my nurse did not, nor did my OB (this was 9 years ago).
I had what is called a secondary postpartum hemorrhage, they send you home with postpartum care instructions so that you know what to look for and how to identify if this is happening to you.
Obviously I made it and my uterus survived (hello, Peyton, Violet & Bowen) and I am so glad I did!