Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Beginning: The Painful Part

So, here I am. Almost 15 months later, with no visible scars except the self-inflicted ones from bicycle accidents, cooking mishaps, and that weird line on my cheek you can only see in certain lights that I'm told came from an unfortunate interaction with the mean Siamese cat we had when I was a baby.

My recovery, though, wasn't a walk in the park.

In those first hours after leaving the OR, I had IV tubes everywhere. I was the colour of a sheet of paper with black holes for eyes. My sister-in-law brought the Mogrunt over to meet his baby brother in the morning. I was still in the delivery room at that point. I'll never forget his wild bed-head hair and his little concerned face when he saw his mama like that. It still breaks my heart. He was just two months shy of turning 4 at that point. He was and is a wise little soul. He was so gentle and sweet with his brother and a little intimidated by what was going on with me. I explained that the tubes were all medicine to help me feel better, which they all pretty much were, except that, as my little boy met his little brother, I suddenly realized I was gripping the rails on my bed and holding my body off the mattress.


I suggested, in what was possibly the most manic of voices, that he go and get a snack with his dad at the cafe and off the two of them went. That left me with my sister-in-law, to whom I turned and said, "I just realized how much pain I'm in and I can't let go of the bed rails, can you please ring for the nurse?" She paled, grabbed the button and did her best to comfort me while we waited.

Thankfully, I was a "special" case and the team was by my side in no time. When they arrived, I explained the problem to the on-call doctor, who had been my OB when I was pregnant with the Mogrunt. Dr. D tut-tutted when I told her I had chosen to take only one of the pain pills offered to me post-surgery. How was I to know that I would need more? I've never had any kind of surgery in my life. She ordered up some meds and left the nurses to it.

Moments later they were attempting to insert a small sub-cutaneous port into my arm, a new piece of equipment that they weren't quite sure how to use, but thought it would be useful should I need more than one injection. While I understand that teaching hospitals are important, at that very moment, I did not need them to take the time to make me a test subject. I needed the meds. I was still holding myself up off the bed at this point - only my heels and my hands were touching anything. I was just about to scream when they finally got everything working and gave me the medicine.

One moment, pain, the next, HIGH AS A BLOODY KITE! Awesome.

Later on, when my dad and SM arrived, I was still high, eyes crossing and all. The doctor came in and suggested that they weren't going to give me another injection as I had been quite "Fruit-loopy" and changed my orders to something less powerful, but equally effective. I was relieved.

When I was wheeled up to my room, they hooked me up with this wonderful device to help prevent blood clots. Here, I took a video because I found them quite delightfu (in case the video doesn't work, click here)l:

My husband, on the other hand, didn't find them as enchanting. He was sleeping on a cot in the room with me and the pump for these things was running right by his head. All. night. long.

Surprisingly, I slept through it.

The Bunny was born in the wee hours on a Wednesday, and on Friday morning they were talking to me about going home. I was thrilled at the idea they felt I was ok to go home, but scared at the thought of going home.

My blood count was frighteningly low when they gave me blood and had dropped a bit after surgery before levelling out. Total blood volume of the average pregnant woman is around 6L. I am not average height, so my total blood volume was likely closer to 5L when I started bleeding. I lost about a litre of blood, so that's a pretty big percentage of my total volume. (This is the stuff I calculate when I want to freak myself out, knowing full well that people lose a lot more blood in more frightening circumstances like car accidents, and need many more units than I did before the doctors get the bleeding stopped.)

I was told to come back to the hospital immediately if I didn't feel well, but the thought of going home was wonderful. I wanted to be home in my own bed with my family. So off we went, with a tiny baby covered in handknit love.


That first night at home was not the best. I had a hard time getting to sleep as I was scared to shut my eyes. Sleep did come and nothing horrible came of me being at home. We passed the night as one does with a new baby in their bed, waking for feedings and changings, with nothing too eventful.

My concern, after losing so much blood, was about my milk supply. Thankfully, I had no troubles there and the Bunny nursed well.

The first six weeks of his life were a challenge for me. I was having problems as a result of nerve inflammation. Just walking across the room was incredibly painful. I felt pressure with every step and sunk into a depression. I started to have anxiety as I didn't know how I was going to look after both children when we pulled the Mogrunt out of daycare for the summer. I had spent almost all of the six weeks in bed at home. Friends would come to visit and would hang out with me and the baby in bed. The only time I was comfortable was when I was lying down. As a result, I spent a lot of time knitting and hating my bedroom with every fibre of my being. I redecorated that room so many times in my head!

My Mother's Day tea

During my 6-week checkup, I got a diagnosis of vestibulitis (you go ahead and Google it) from my doctor. She touched me with a swab and I scrambled backward on the examination table like a wounded animal. Yes, it hurt that bad. I went home with a couple of prescriptions in hand and a bit of optimism. That afternoon, back in my bed (going to the doctor's office and then the pharmacy had drained me), I spent some time researching it, crying over it and then realizing the cause of my inflammation was not trauma, but an allergic reaction.

I stopped using the product I was using and I was feeling better within a week. A month later and I was running and biking again. Ladies, if you ever have a need to use feminine hygiene products for an extended time, please be careful about your choices. The brand I was using is notorious for causing problems.

We had a wonderful summer - running away from home every chance we got, either to the cottage for extended long weekends, or on adventures close to home:

The family at Peggy's Cove
Our first family photo, taken by a tourist at Peggy's Cove, NS

I'm physically, for the most part, fine now. The scars you can't see, the ones that make me react to regular situations with my adrenaline already pumping before regular people are even off the couch, those aren't so nice. But I'm working on it. It doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes I feel like I've lost my ability to judge how to react to some situations.

I've read up a bit on traumatic birth events and stress disorders. And I'm working with my doctor, who, after reading through the surgery report with me said, "Huhn, I think maybe we should check some bloodwork to make sure you're doing ok after all that."

Yes, let's do that. And let's keep moving forward.