Unexpected Birth Complications as a First Time Mom: Part Two of One Mom’s Story
As a first time mom, I never imagined my birth story would include an emergency c-section, followed by heart complications immediately after the surgery, blood transfusions, EKG monitoring and the first night away from my brand new baby boy. The first night of being a new mom was nothing like I planned. My husband, Adrian, bonded with our boy, while I laid awake on the cardiac floor.
The night seemed to crawl by for me. I received a blood transfusion and had several bedside tests performed on my heart. Eventually the in and out of doctors and nurses slowed down and the entire situation started to hit me hard. I just wanted to be with my baby, but the nurses on labor and delivery wouldn't let my husband bring him down to me. They couldn't figure out how to deactivate the baby-low jack alarm, which was so frustrating! I was so exhausted from prolonged labor and my surgery, that I didn't even have the energy to fight for someone to figure it out. It was nice to know that our baby was safe but baffling that I couldn't be with him.
At some point during the evening, one of my closest friend's came to visit. It was so nice to have someone to vent to. Once she left, I was thankful to have my knitting and random TV programs to keep me occupied. I had to ask multiple times for a nurse to contact labor and delivery, since I needed a pump. I knew the importance of early breast stimulation and I was determined to breastfeed. Eventually someone brought me a pump, although I had no idea how to use it. With nothing but time on my hands, I fumbled through the directions and set myself up. Throughout the evening, I pumped every few hours and collected very minimal colostrum drops. Around 10 pm I told Adrian to just give Alexander formula, since I had enough to worry about. I was pretty disappointed but was worried the nurses would eventually talk him in to it anyway.
I barely slept that night. I was so excited from the birth, frustrated that I couldn't see my baby, and scared about my own health. So many emotions for one mama! I had a male nurse throughout the night and he had no idea how to care for a postpartum patient. I ended up dragging myself into the bathroom, which was very, very painful and challenging.
Eventually morning came and I was starving. I still couldn't get any real food though. They did bring me a liquid diet tray for breakfast and I inhaled all of it. I was still feeling very dizzy though. Sometime after breakfast, I received 2 pints of blood and the dizziness improved. Shortly after noon, Adrian was able to talk to a patient advocate about our situation. The patient advocate was a retired nurse and purely an angel. She worked with the labor and delivery team to deactivate Alexander's alarm and wheeled him down to me. I was able to have some bonding time with my boy and Adrian got a much needed break from baby care.
The patient advocate was amazing in helping me latch Alexander and gave me lots of suggestions on how to keep him awake during feedings. She also helped me with the breast pump and in general made me a feel a lot better about breastfeeding. It was SO NICE to spend some time with Alexander. Adrian did an amazing job caring for our son during his first night of life! I was blown away with his ability to step up and take charge. The hospital does not have a nursery for healthy babies, so it was all on him.
After the patient advocate and Alexander went back to the labor and delivery floor, I was feeling much better emotionally. Early in the evening my blood transfusion was complete and my heart readings were looking near normal, so they transported me back up to my room. I was SO relieved!
The next few days and evenings went by quickly and were spent getting to know my son and recovering. We finally were able to go home on Day 5, in the late afternoon. By the time Adrian came to pick us up and we got my huge bag of prescriptions from the pharmacy it was around 6 pm. Instead of waiting in rush hour traffic, we headed to McDonald’s for dinner. I looked horrible, since I was so swollen from all the fluids, but honestly didn't care. I hobbled into McDonald’s with my fuzzy slippers and comfortable pajama pants. I couldn't even stand up straight, because my incision hurt so much. All of that just didn't matter though. It was so nice to be out of the hospital with our baby boy.
We got home around 8 pm and settled in for our first night at home. We were all exhausted and happy. My milk came that night and Xander latched so easily. I was relieved that breastfeeding turned out to be the easiest part of the the week.
My story doesn't end here though. It took me weeks to recover because of my lungs and heart and of course my c-section. Once I was feeling back to myself, I moved on with my life. Xander is now a happy and healthy four-year old and a big brother. When I was trying to get pregnant with my second son, I had to go to a fertility specialist, since my cycles were not regular. They referred me to a cardiologist because my postpartum discharge report said I had postpartum cardiomyopathy, which is essentially a heart attack caused by the birthing process. My follow-up EKG’s after Xander’s birth were normal and the follow up I had when I finally got pregnant was normal. I have since been diagnosed with postpartum pulmonary edema, due to a large fluid overload. This was the cause of my heart abnormalities after birth, but not cardiomyopathy. Both the cardiologists I saw felt that my complications were caused from the birth process (lots of fluids and prolonged labor/pushing). I’m so thankful it was not postpartum cardiomyopathy, as most women who have this need medication, a heart transplant or die following birth. I am so thankful for my health and the health of my two babies.
Image via Mindi Stavish