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Sep 18

Bethany’s Birth Story, Part 3: Recovery

 

Tuesday night, after my surgery, I learned that the D&C had gone as expected. A portion of the placenta had been retained, and the surgeon had removed it, finished the curettage, and then had even come out to talk to Tim and let him know I would be out soon. But meanwhile, in the OR, I started bleeding again. The surgical team had to call the surgeon back in, and they found a laceration on my cervix. No one knows where the laceration came from–either during the delivery or during the curettage. My poor cervix was quite soft and stretched out and the surgeon had a very hard time with the stitching. Stitches kept falling out. In the end I had 30 stitches in my cervix.

 

Tim did not know what was going on; he only knew I was supposed to be out of surgery, but I wasn’t. A real angel, my original labor & deliver nurse, somehow found the time to come to his room and tell him what was happening.

 

It was about 11:00 p.m. by the time all of us–me, Tim, and Bethany–were in a regular postpartum recovery room. That night is a blur. I was not able to sit up, so I nursed Bethany lying on my back, with her kind of stretched across my chest. I hardly slept. I was not in any pain, but mentally I was completely wound up and just couldn’t relax, even though my body was exhausted.

 

The next morning my midwife and OBGYN came by very early. I was surprised at how shaken up they both looked. They told me that I had lost, in total, 5.5 liters of blood. 3-3.5 liters of that was lost in the delivery room and the other 1.5-2 liters was lost in surgery. I had received, by that point, 5 units of blood and 1 unit of platelets by transfusion. My hematocrit level was at a 25; it would later drop to a 23, and I would end up getting 2 more units of blood.

 

Though I have had trouble finding a conclusive answer, I believe from my research that the average pregnant woman has between 5 and 7 liters of blood–total–in her body.

 

Wednesday morning was when I understood how serious everything had been. My midwife told my husband that the two main causes of death in childbirth, the two things she fears most, are eclampsia and hemorrhage. She told me that if I’d had a home birth, I would have died. When every doctor who visits you starts their visit by smiling at you and calling you a “lucky girl,” you begin to understand that you’ve survived more than just a minor complication!

 

That afternoon, two nurses would help me to stand up for the first time since 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday when I started to push during labor. I managed to get upright, felt extremely unsteady, my heart started racing, and I was back down on the bed before anyone suggested trying to take a step. After that, they made the decision to give me two more units of blood. Late Wednesday night I would be able to stand and walk to the bathroom for the first time, and on Thursday morning I finally, finally got to take my first shower.

 

Thursday I was doing much better, but Bethany was dropping a lot of weight. At 48 hours after birth, they were getting ready to technically discharge her (I was staying an extra day, and she was going to stay with me, but she would no longer be a patient herself). But when she was weighed, her weight had dropped to 7 lbs 15 oz, after a birth weight of 8 lbs 14 oz–an 11% loss of body weight, and anything over 10% is not good in baby world. So Bethany earned herself an extra day’s stay in the hospital as well!

 

Even though she was nursing frequently, my milk wasn’t coming in, likely due to the blood and fluid loss I experienced. On Thursday evening, I started doing the “three-step feeding” process that is probably so familiar to any moms who’ve ever had a baby in NICU or had problems with milk supply. Nurse, pump, supplement; repeat. It was a nightmare, honestly. My hat’s off to all the moms out there who used this feeding system for days, weeks, or even months; I know some of you, and now I have had a taste of how demanding it was for you to feed your baby, and how determined you were to do the very best you possibly could. Whether you kept it up for a day, a week, or months on end, I applaud you!

 

For us, we only had to pump and supplement for one night and part of a day. Bethany was able to receive 3 supplemental bottles of donor breast milk, which meant the world to me. If you have ever donated breast milk, you’re awesome, and I thank you. My milk mercifully began to come in Friday. At the time of our discharge mid-day on Friday, she weighed 7 lbs 15.5 oz. That seemingly-insignificant 1/2 oz weight gain meant she not only had stopped losing weight, she was also starting to gain it back; and I wouldn’t have to continue pumping and supplementing over the weekend. I only had to concentrate on nursing, nursing, nursing, which I was more than happy to do. And on Monday, at 6 days old, at her first newborn checkup, her weight had increased to 8 lbs 6.5 oz.

 

I don’t like thinking about “what-if.” But I know things could have turned out very differently. There were several factors working in my favor on Tuesday: My blood count at the start of labor was very good–I didn’t have anemia, which many pregnant women do have; my midwife immediately recognized what was happening and called in the Rapid Response team; I was already in a hospital when the hemorrhage started; and not at all least, many people have told me they were prompted to pray for me in the days leading up to Bethany’s birth. We have much to celebrate and much to be grateful for! Above all, I am so thankful to be here, with all my girls, and my husband. 

Going Home! Sept. 12

Going Home! Sept. 12

Cuddle time with the little ones

Cuddle time with the little ones

Big sisters Sarah, Rachel, and Naomi being silly

Big sisters Sarah, Rachel, and Naomi being silly

About the author

admin

I am a 30-something mother of 5 girls: Naomi, 10; Rachel, 7; Sarah Joy, 4; Joanna, 2; and Bethany Promise, born Sept. 9, 2014. My husband is a bivocational pastor of Living Hope Community Church in rural Colorado. I love being with my girls, playdates, Settlers of Catan, Rook, Inductive Bible Studies, and reading. Prior to moving to CO in 2010, I lived in Alabama my entire life, and I love Southern culture, literature, food, and Alabama football!

4 comments

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  1. Ginger

    Thank you for sharing so much of your story. I LOVE to read your thoughts! I feel so connected to you through reading all of this, not bc I can relate but because you shared your story/heart in such a raw/pure way! Knowing what you went through makes me extremely grateful for my healthy births along with making me want to donate blood!(I never have, blood majorly freaks me out!) I’m so grateful to have spent such a small time with you at genesis, you were a major part of me getting back involved at church and I never got to thank you for being a vessel for God pulling me back in. With that being said, I’m so glad you are back home now with your family, healthy and well.

  2. admin

    Wow, Ginger, thank you so much! That really means a lot to me.

    I have only donated blood once (in high school), and I just recently found out that receiving a blood transfusion makes you ineligible to donate for one year following the transfusion…but after that year is up, I’m going to be a donor too!!

  3. Ginger D

    You have two Ginger’s reading your blog and I too thank you for sharing your story. I am so grateful to God for His hands with you – through all the teams and their attentiveness. I will continue to pray for your full and complete healing.

  4. admin

    Thank you Ginger!

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