I didn't really want to write our postpartum story in with your birth story. Partially because it would have been too long, and partially because postpartum felt just as hard as birth. Nothing about bringing you into this world was easy. It was God's beautiful and broken way of telling us "Hey, no for real, you're done here."
Right after you were born everyone was oo'ing and ah'ing over your complete adorable-ness. I mean, you were so. stinkin. cute. I felt pretty darn good and ate something. My friend Lorie happened to be at a birth down the hall so she came in and said "hi", too. It was a doula party! We called people and told them you were a girl (except your brother and sisters, who we wanted to tell in person)
After everyone left I started feeling a little unwell. I called Maria, our friend and nurse, and told her I thought I was sitting in a puddle. She came in, pulled back the sheet and then said "take a deep breath in" and before I could go "huh?" I got a very vigorous fundal massage. Um. Oh. Ouch. OK. Phew! Then I got some more drugs, and she inserted some Cytotec rectally. A good friend, indeed. There was a lot more blood than typical at this point, so Maria helped me get cleaned up a second time. I started feeling better and we continued nursing and loving on you.
That night we noticed you were happy as a clam as long as you were skin to skin and weren't moved. Moving you caused intense screaming. Due to your sister breaking her collar bone at birth, I asked two nurses and the on-call pediatrician to please check yours out. Everyone told me it was fine. (Spoiler alert: it wasn't.)
We left the next afternoon and were ready to get home. I look at the postpartum pictures and I look like I've been in a fight. I am swollen, pale but happy. I didn't feel as great as I usually do postpartum, but your birth had been quite different, so I chalked it up to that.
The first week home went so well. We loved snuggling you, I was starting to feel somewhat better and I kept asking people "How come I'm not bleeding at all??" Well, about that.
The Wednesday after you were born I went to church. We came home and your grandmother had just come into town to help. At some point I went to get up from the couch and felt extreme pain. I thought perhaps I needed to use the restroom. When I went into the bathroom I wasn't any better and I was starting to feel faint. I called Nicole our midwife and asked her if I could have a bowel obstruction. (Note to self: don't let postpartum women diagnose themselves.) She said maybe, offered to have me come to the hospital but I declined and told her I'd come in to the office in the morning.
At my office visit it quickly became apparent that my intestines were fine but I had developed a uterine infection. No hospital stay if I agreed to complete bedrest and two heavy antibiotics for the next ten days. Those days sucked. I was so grumpy. I wanted to get up and do things (but I was in a lot of pain and feeling quite yucky.) Time passed, I was feeling OK, they agreed again to let me stay home from the hospital despite not getting as well as I had expected. The most shocking part of this was that I was making a completely normal milk supply throughout the process.
Our family came into town and we hung out and I was able to mostly see them and enjoy their visit. I wasn't quite my usual self but everyone encouraged me to rest and let them take care of things. What a blessing it was to not have to cook, clean or tend to other children while I dealt with this stuff. In fact, I even spent a couple of days working at the pediatrician's office with Mary Esther in tow. <-- Dumb.
The next week things intensified again. I called and asked if the pain and other gross symptoms were supposed to come back within the course of antibiotics. They told me Dr. Wright (the doctor who works with the midwives) wanted me to come in. I felt like I was getting called into the principal's office. He told me the infection seemed to have spread out of my uterus and into the endometrium so now I would get a lovely course of IV antibiotics. OK, I have four children at home, I CAN'T go inpatient. So I walked myself over to the hospital, got the IVs (and called Mark and said "Hey, can you come and help me with this?")
At this point we had your two-week check up. I asked your pediatrician if he thought your clavicle could be broken as I had felt what I thought was a healing calcium. He said no, but he agreed to an x-ray so he could prove me wrong. The x-ray showed a healing fracture, very close to the neck. No wonder you didn't want to be moved. Mama intuition for the win. Or lose in this case.
I had another check up with Dr. Wright after a few days - which, btw - they do a very painful exam during - and he said since the pain was still there we'd do an ultrasound. Of course they saw some tissue remaining. Robin had taken my placenta home after the birth and had mentioned the lack of membranes attached, so it didn't surprise me too much. It was 11ish and I was awfully hungry but they scheduled my D&C for that evening. No eating or drinking. I drove myself home, Mark met me there and we worked towards getting ready for me to have surgery.
At the hospital people kept saying they were so sorry for me and I kept having to explain that I had not lost a baby. My baby just forgot to take all of her belongings with her when she left the uterus. My least-favorite anesthesiologist was on call but he was surprisingly kind. We had a male nurse, which meant there were three males in the room for my gynecological surgery. Weird.
Afterward I took more antibiotics and really felt amazingly better. It took a while for the emotional aspects of processing this birth/postpartum, but that's really a separate post. As I reflect now, I wonder if this wasn't God's way of making me tuck into bed and get to know you. I had no choice but to lay there with you (and watch Netflix while you slept.) Perhaps there was a purpose to all of this.