6 Days Postpartum
I had been told that my sweet daughter would teach me many things in my lifetime, I would be her true student. This, of course, shared by other Mamas and very specifically shared in a Vedic reading and a crystal grid chart.
Cue hippie shit, yep, I love it. All of it.
I guess what I didn't realize is how fast the learnings would come as soon as Evergreen entered Earth side. As you know from my birth story, my heart basically exploded the day she was born (along with my lady parts, truth). It was the most incredible and gnarly experience of my life and to be honest, a smooth and healthy labor and delivery.
The day they dismissed me from the hospital and removed the security tag off my sweet babe, they wheeled me out with Evi into the sweet fresh air to our JEEP. Through the Mom haze, I could not believe they were letting us just take her home. And it was eerie getting in that car that just two days before I was having contractions and yelling at Chris to slow the eff down over the bumps but go faster all at the same time.
Having a baby is absolutely surreal.
So we get home and we are settling in. My parents and one of my sisters arrive to help. Mom takes over in the kitchen filling up the freezer and requesting to hold her first grandbaby every second possible. My Dad had to sneak in snuggles. Hell, Chris and I had to sneak in snuggles.
I slept here and there but to be honest, not near enough. I did not take well to the whole you sleep while the baby sleeps thing. My family was here and it was all too exciting to watch (and so emotional). I remember experiencing and truly beholding the moments that my family held Evi in her first days. I would have to escape downstairs to breathe and capture the moments in my heart through ragged breath and tears. So much love, I didn't know where to put it all. I still don't.
So we are getting in a groove. My boobs are seeing the light of day more than any time in their life and they must be loving it because they are ginormous.
On day six, my dear pregnant friend and talented photographer, Anne Talhelm Bailey had offered to come over and take pictures of me and my family. I thought it would be so special to get pictures of my parents with Evi. And it really was.
I decided to be bold and put on some of my tight maternity jeans for the photo shoot. My friend Anne's eyeballs popped out and she told me I looked great. My ego puffed up and I thanked her as I secretly wanted to be one of those Mom's that just bounces back to her pre-baby weight (note: I am not one of those moms).
About 40 minutes into the photo shoot, something is not right with me. I excuse myself from the living room love session behind a camera lens and run downstairs.
Now, some of you may know this and some of you may not, so I will tell you. After you have a baby, you as Mama get to wear a diaper, too. When you think about it, it makes sense. You just pushed a watermelon out of your vagina. Chaos ensues after as you begin to heal. It is science people. Well, upon running downstairs to "check my own diaper", I see that I am bleeding quite heavily. I breathe, change up all the wrapping and come back upstairs.
Still bleeding. I go to the upstairs bathroom near all the family to call my doctor. They give me some advice and I figure I might be fine...sort of. In a matter of 20ish minutes, I call in my Mom to the bathroom. I am hemorrhaging blood and have filled the toilet bowl. It is beyond clear that I have to go to the Emergency Room.
Photo shoot. Over.
My sweet husband is at work, so I call him to meet me at the ER with tears filling my eyes and fear in every cell of my postpartum body. My family shuffles around to get Evi ready in her car seat, my Dad pulls the car to the front and I have my sister pack me a change of pants.
Chris is waiting for us at the ER and I am wheeled in and the nurses hook me up to IV's in both arms and begin to examine what is going on. I pass a few plum size blood clots and start feeling sick. They order an ultrasound to figure out what is going on.
Now, here is the kicker. I am wheeled down the hall to the exam room to get an ultrasound. These are so fun when you are pregnant, so NOT fun when you are not pregnant. The tech needs me to empty my bladder to be able to see. I get up to go to the bathroom with Chris by my side, I sit down on the toilet and I look at my sweet husband straight in the eyes and I say, "Chris, I'm going, I'm going". And my eyes begin to roll and everything starts to get really blurry.
He begs me to stay with him and I hold on as long as possible. And then I completely pass out. Chris tells me that he caught me off of the toilet as he was pulling the emergency chord and carried me back to the bed.
I wake up to all these chords being placed on my chest and what seemed like 22 doctors and nurses surrounding me. I search for Chris and I speak and sound so drunk. I have actually never passed out before in my life.
So as you can imagine, I am beyond freaked out. My body is shaking. My mind is racing and I'm thinking about my brand new baby daughter, my family, my future. I go to dark places and then shake them off as the sweet nurses remind me I am okay.
I get back to the original room and this sweet Canadian nurse is there to take care of me. God bless the nurses and Canada, for that matter. She is checking signs, pumping me with the goods to feel better and hydrate my body. Blood loss is no joke.
So to make a long and scary ass story a bit shorter, I pass a few more clots. Okay, more like 12ish and my doc finally calls it that we are going in for surgery, what is called a D&C. At this point, they are not super clear on what is causing the bleeding and it is time to go in and find out.
It is about 10pm at this point. My daughter is with my family and they say she is being amazing, of course she is. She has had to be fed formula as I am in no shape to breastfeed. Which you should know, I am so upset about. In that moment, I felt so helpless and like a terrible mother that I could not provide for my child. I cried about this often. Thank you Chris for reminding me that I had to take care of me first so that I can take care of Evi. A reminder I lean on again and again and again.
Planning for surgery, we are signing the paperwork. You know the documents that read about all the scary stuff when you have to take anesthesia and if you have to have a blood transfusion. Your life on a dotted line. I think to myself how ironic it was to have a drug-free labor and delivery and six days later I am being pumped with all of them.
Before they wheel me out, I get a wave. I get a wave of strength and human she power I have never felt before. I text my favorite people and I request prayers. I take Chris' hand and I look him in those big blue eyes and I tell him that I am going to be fine. And at this point, I know I will be. Even after my doctor had stated that they would wake me up if we need to talk further procedures, like a hysterectomy. I know in all of my being I am going to be okay.
I cannot say Chris knew, at that point. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to be him next to my bedside as I passed so many clots, passed out into his arms, and the docs have no real reason to tell him or for him to believe that I will be fine. Can you even imagine? I can't and I was living it. He is my rock, my all time favorite rock.
So I am wheeled into this all white surgery room with this ginormous light over the bed. It is like alien status light, one that seems it could just suck me right out of this planet. As you know, and as I shared, I wasn't going anywhere.
My doc was a champ and performed the D&C quickly. They found a blood clot in my uterus the size of an orange. Say what? I know, an orange. Basically, from what I can tell you in my non-doctor speak is that my body was thinking I was still pregnant due to the clot. It was sending blood to a placenta that no longer existed and the clot got so big I could not pass it. Hence, the hemorrhage and ER run. I have to think that it was those damn tight maternity jeans that made it happen when it did, the ego trying to prove and live into some dramatic expectation of a body that bounces back like a unicorn. Life lessons, damn.
At the end of the evening, my family came in to see me. They brought me my sweet Evi girl and within minutes I had her to my breast to nourish her and nourish me. It was like soul salve when she latched on and I stepped back into the Mother role in that very moment and my whole being sighed.
I had lost 1 LITER of blood. My doc told my Mother that I was operating on about 2/3 of blood that a normal human should be and we would see how I did overnight before considering a transfusion (more paperwork).
I was fucking exhausted. Physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I barely slept that night as every two hours the nurses came to check on all the vital signs. And you know, nightmares of thinking what might have happened. The next morning I woke up and was told that if I could walk to the bathroom by myself, I could go home. My blood levels were low and yet if I could walk, I could probably handle the number I was at.
Well, I tried and failed. Twice.
The first time I stood up and took three steps and felt the pass out coming on. When I am about to faint, I hear a train coming. And there I was telling the nurses, "Oh no, I hear the train". Kicked it in reverse and back to bed.
Tried the second time but only made it about 7 steps.
The nurses told Chris to leave me for two hours so that I could sleep. He and Evi could roam the halls or explore the family room and watch some TV there. Mama had to get some rest to try to walk it out.
Here is the deal, people. There comes a point in one's life where will power can kick in. This point in my life was at about 2:00pm that day when I literally had to go to the bathroom so bad I could not take it any more. So the will power to make it to the bathroom as to not have to shit in a bowl in my hospital bed was STRONG.
I got up. I breathed deep and I talked to myself with all the encouragement I could muster.
And damn, you know I made it to the bathroom that time.
My docs decided I did not have to have the blood transfusion while also sharing that the month of May was going to be one slow month of recovery. Very, very, very slow, said a sweet larger nurse in a Southern accent whom I adored.
I nodded in agreement that I would take it slow (realizing I had no idea what that even meant).
So I prove that I can walk again an hour later and I even take a shower.
We return back home and my family kicks it into overdrive with support. The flights are extended, my Dad is to fly back that next week to support. Chris' parents will be in the day my Dad departs and we will get through this. Together.
So just as that sweet and large-and-in-charge nurse had said in her Southern accent, May was slow going. The morning I woke up the next day, I begin walking upstairs with Chris by my side. By the fourth step, I start to hear the train a-coming. I lay down on the stairs, feet up the wall and I breathe with Chris until I feel stable. He carries me the rest of the way.
I could not walk up my own stairs for a week. My iron levels were so low and my strength was gone. A not so subtle reminder that I am human, that I will recover in time and that I have to slow the eff down even more.
And I did.
I slowed it way down and I sat on the couch for what seemed like an eternity. I let go of all the expectations I had for myself and my postpartum life. Expectations that included hikes with the family, pushing a stroller around the park, and losing the baby weight in 18 seconds. I learned a lot about meeting myself where I am at, accepting the present moment, saying thank you, leaning on my family and friends for support, slowing down and taking it day by day, maxi pad by maxi pad.
And here I am in July. I can climb the stairs by myself. I have hiked with Evi in a backpack. I take the stroller for walks in the park. And I have created a Facebook group for accountability for anyone training for a race in October, as I am signed up for the Blue Mountain 1/2 Marathon in Florida and I know I need help to get my training runs on these legs. To be clear, I have not bounced back to my pre-baby weight and I feel amazing. Softer, yet amazing.
Speaking of feeling, I feel different. My body looks different. My mind feels different. My being is different. And I am exploring what that means, ever so slowly, slowly, slowly.
Gratitude to my family for stepping up and carrying Chris, Evi and I to the finish line of recovery and showing us love like that, my heart aches in the best way thinking of you and the month of May. Thank you to my friends who prayed for me and sent love in all forms. Thank you to God, Universe and all the higher powers for teaching me lessons and keeping me honest. I will keep learning and if you want, you can turn it down a notch, just saying.