Part 2: Complications after birth

The next disruption to my plans ended up being very scary for both my husband and me. It’s something I’ve hesitated to share, because I’m not sure why I would want to, or why anyone would want to know. I certainly am not sharing this to be dramatic or to gain sympathy. But what happened to me in the hours after delivery scared me enough that I will never forget it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to affect me emotionally for years to come.

I do, however, feel fortunate to have found people who shared a similar experience. It was a relief to know I had friends who could empathize. So that is why I am sharing this part of my birth story, now. My hope is to offer that same empathy to someone else who may have been through a similar trauma.

Bleeding happens after you deliver. Our bodies produce so much more blood while we are pregnant in order to support the baby. Some of that blood is in the uterine lining. Your doctor tells you to expect bleeding for several weeks after delivery, but they also tell you what is too much.

I remember being exhausted after I delivered. My nurses encouraged me to rest. My son was getting excellent care in the NICU. All signs pointed to him being healthy and that the 12 hour stay he had ahead of him would end up being precautionary. As a new mom we don’t get many opportunities to rest. If you need it during those first few hours or days after birth, it’s okay to take advantage of the help the hospital offers.

My plan, of course, was to be super mom. I had even joked with my overnight nurse in the post delivery wing that sleeping would be nice, but the adrenaline rushing through me was not going to allow that to happen that night. I don’t know why I had it, but thinking back, I am so thankful for that adrenaline rush. It was why I was awake and was able to recognize something was wrong.

It was around 1 a.m. or so when it felt like my water had broken. The problem was, I had already had the baby. So I turned on my phone flashlight and looked to see what was going on. It wasn’t water and it wasn’t urine that was streaming out of me… it was massive amounts of blood. Way more than what I was told was normal. I rang the call button for the nurse. She was calm when she examined me, telling me it was a little more than she would like to see. The culprit… a huge blood clot, which she was able to help remove. We hoped it was the only one. Sometimes you don’t pass clots because you have to pee. So she had me get up to use the bathroom. Several more clots passed at that point, and then I laid back down to rest. They told me again, how much blood loss was normal. If this happened again I was to ring my call button.

Forty five minutes later… another huge gush of blood. This time it wasn’t just my call nurse who came in, but also the charge nurse for the floor. At that time I couldn’t wrap my brain around exactly what was happening to me, but I knew it wasn’t good and I started to get scared. My husband was still sleeping on the couch across from me. He had taken his anti anxiety medication before he fell asleep, so he was out for the count. But I was getting emotional enough that I knew I needed his support, and I had the nurses wake him up.

Shortly after that I started shaking uncontrollably. The nurses continued to push on my uterus to work out any more clots and that was extremely painful. Medications had to be administered which caused even more pain… and then I passed out. My husband said the scene was terrifying. At this point there were 6 to 10 nurses in our tiny room working on me. He was holding my hand, listening to my pain, watching me shake, and then I suddenly went limp. All I remember is feeling sick, not being able to hear well, and then suddenly having doctors and nurses in my face telling me I had fainted, was only out for about 16 seconds, and that they were taking me to an O.R. for surgery.

Past that point I don’t remember much. All I could do was tell them what I was acutely feeling and trust that they would get the bleeding to stop.

In the hours after I gave birth, I hemorrhaged. I lost between 900 and 1000 cc’s of blood. It turns out there are a few reasons your body will do that post delivery. I hemorrhaged because I had so many massive clots that had formed in my uterus, that despite the nurses efforts to help push them out, my uterus couldn’t pass them. The surgery was an emergency D & C. Once they cleared the clots and anything else that could have been i there, the bleeding stopped.

I made my husband call my parents before I went in to the O.R. I had no idea what was going to happen in there, but I knew that they would want to know what was going on. Selfishly, I needed them to know. My parents are some pretty fierce prayer warriors, and I needed as much help as I could get.

Just before they put me under I remember hoping to not see my dead grandmother… and telling God that I wasn’t ready to go. It seems dramatic to say that, but that’s where my mind was. I didn’t really know what was happening, and while I trusted my team, there was some belief that my body would fail me.

Hemorrhaging after birth is not extremely common, but it does happen. Thank God we live in a time where modern medicine exists and doctors know what to do to stop the bleeding. When it didn’t exist, the outcome was detrimental.

The blood loss left me borderline for needing a transfusion. My iron and blood stores are pretty depleted, leaving me with zero wiggle room when it comes to self care. Appropriate sleep and an iron rich diet are critical for me to be able to function. For the first couple of weeks I was home I didn’t understand that, and my body shut down forcing me back to the hospital for nearly passing out.

If I can’t take care of myself, then there are options. But for now, I’m much more vigilant. It is a slow journey. I can tell if I’ve pushed myself too hard. My doctors say it will take 6 to 9 months to replace what I lost, IF I take care of myself. In the meantime, I’ll continue to feel better every day. And I look forward to the new normal that comes with a family of 5.

Part 1 of my birth story: disrupted plans

I can’t believe that almost 4 weeks ago I had a baby. He’ll turn one month old before we reach his due date. It’s a miracle he is doing so well!

I had high hopes of making it to full term. In my mind, I had decided that he was going to come over Easter. That would have put me at 37 weeks. But it wasn’t meant to be.

April 5th was a fun day. Early that morning I had gotten up feeling contractions and a little more “off” than usual. But these things had been happening. So I just drank a ton of water and went about my day. I went in to work, shot a promo with Daily Blast Live for a mommy makeover, and had a lot of fun on the noon show in studio for the Rockies Home Opener. The station threw a big barbecue in the backyard complete with cracker jacks, peanuts, hot dogs and burgers… this mama was HAPPY.

There were no significant contractions coming, so I really wasn’t worried about anything… until late that afternoon. I was sitting at my desk having a conversation with a coworker when I briefly stood up. That was the moment I realized the back of my dress was soaking wet. I looked down at my desk chair and realized it, too, was soaking wet. In that moment I thought, “Crap, I think my water has broken, and I’m at work.”

It wasn’t the same gush of water like my previous 2 pregnancies, but it was obviously enough to be concerning. Lucky for me I was wearing the kind of dress where you couldn’t tell it was soaking wet. So, I finished my conversation and went to the backyard to call my doctor. Her thoughts were the same as mine. Sounds like my water broke and it was time to get to the hospital. After all, I still had that dang cerclage in!

I went to tell my news director that I needed to go. She walked me back to my desk and helped me close up my work station. In my mind I was going to drive myself there. My contractions weren’t bad! But we were quickly approaching rush hour and I needed to get to the other side of town. So, instead, we played it safe and decided Cory Reppenhagen, my friend, coworker and fellow meteorologist would drive me.

It had been my plan to arrive at the hospital inconspicuously. I didn’t really want people knowing I was there, especially if the baby was coming early. I wanted the chance to deal with it emotionally before blasting the news to the public. Hahahahaha… plans!

📸: Cory Reppenhagen

When asked to describe the 9NEWS storm chasing vehicle… WeatherTitan… inconspicuous is not a word one would use. It’s a ginormous truck with 9NEWS tattooed all over it. Yet, this was my transportation to the hospital. The same truck we go storm chasing in, got me to the entrance of labor and delivery. When we arrived Cory and I were laughing pretty hard at the irony. EVERYONE was staring. In fact, it was so awesomely obvious that it was a 9NEWS vehicle that security thought we were there for the 9Health Fair happening there the next day. Imagine her surprise when I continued to check myself in! So much for plans. At the end of the day, it got me there safely, and I am very thankful to Cory for that!

My husband arrived about 15 minutes later, and nurses quickly confirmed that my water had, in fact, broken.

We also could tell that my cervix had thinned and I was already 2 cm dilated, despite the stitch. Fortunately contractions, still, were not that bad so my doctor was able to, relatively easily, remove my cerclage without medication. I wouldn’t say that process was totally painless, but I’ve experienced worse.

After the stitch was out I immediately dilated to 5 cm, and then my OB/GYN broke the rest of my water. Unlike my other two babies, this time my water broke up high… that’s why there was no rush of fluids. Then, I was told that if I wanted the epidural, to get it now, because if we waited it might be too late. So I got that epidural, and we waited. It’s possible the epidural slowed the process down a bit… but a few hours later, after about 3 pushes, the baby was born.

My husband was phenomenal during the whole process. He was the one who got to announce to the room the gender of the baby. And the joyful shouts of “It’s a boy!” after his first exclamation were so cool to hear.

I think the kids were fairly excited for their little brother… the hospital setting scared my 6 year old a bit, especially when she saw mommy attached to all kinds of things. But eventually she relaxed and realized I was okay. Waiting for the baby to arrive was the hardest part for them. If I had to hear “when can we go home?” one more time… 😆. It was a good thing the baby came close to their bed time!

Jeffrey Thomas arrived at 8:30 pm. He weighed 5 lbs 12 ounces… the biggest of all my babies. Since he came early, he was required to spend the next 12 hours in the NICU. It wasn’t my favorite option, but his health was most important and I knew I could visit him whenever I wanted. That was my plan, to start nursing immediately and visit him every few hours overnight in the NICU. But that’s the funny thing about me and birth plans… they never seem to go the way I want.