That time trusting my OBGYN nearly killed me, part 6
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If you’ve stuck around long enough to get to part 6 of this series, you’re pretty much a superhero in my eyes. Writing this all out has served as something of a therapy for myself. I don’t talk to many people about what happened. Heck, I’m willing to bet most people don’t even realize what happened. Some probably don’t even care. But, you’ve taken time out of your days to read about my experience and I totally and completely appreciate that. Thank you. It’s my hope that writing this series can result in bringing increased awareness to how screwed up postpartum care can be. That doctors will actually pay attention to their patients when a concern or symptom arises. That patients will be strong enough to advocate for themselves if need be. That my story and experiences can actually HELP someone. south jersey obgyn cherry hill family new jersey childbirth pregnancy
So, I had just been moved into the rehabilitation section of the hospital. At this point, I had spent 5-6 days in the hospital already. The Mister had run out of vacation days, so, if I got to see him at all, it was at night. My family was watching my babies while I was in the hospital and The Mister was at work. Thank goodness for them. Inside, I was already heartbroken that I couldn’t spend time with the boys, but it certainly helped knowing that they were safe, loved, and with family.
I was finally off of oxygen and I could walk, slowly, by myself. It must’ve been quite a sight. I remember, when I had to use the bathroom, it felt like it took forever to walk the few feet across the room to get there. There was a tv in the room, but, despite receiving a $40 bill to pay for tv use during my stay, I don’t even remember watching it. (Can you tell that still annoys me?!). I still had a slight fever and was getting antibiotics through an IV drip. At some point, The Mister had brought me some of my own clothes so I could be more comfortable than the hospital gowns allow. I’ll never forget putting on a pair of gray sweatpants – I have had these sweatpants for what seems like forever. They don’t make the kind of fashion statement I’d prefer to, but they’re comfy and oversized. At least, they’re usually oversized. When I put on those sweatpants in the hospital, I finally realized how much fluid my body had taken on from all the IV drips. My legs were so swollen from the liquids and I’m willing to bet that laying in a bed for days didn’t do much to help with my muscles. Those pants were SO tight on my swollen thighs, but just the fact that I was wearing something from home was somehow comforting to me. I still had no idea what was happening inside my body to make me feel so awful, but it was, at least, reassuring that I was starting to feel better.
Since I was in the rehabilitation section, that meant that I was to start taking rehab classes, too. Once a day, for the 3 days I spent in that room, I took a rehab class. It was humbling to say the least. We take our bodies for granted while they’re healthy. Walking? Piece of cake! Bending over? Easy peasy! Doing such simple tasks and movements was now a struggle and rehab was going to help me to get stronger. I was so embarrassed. I was a 30 year old woman and doing these things had been so easy for me up until that time. These rehab sessions were hard!
I’ll never forget when the Physical Therapist asked me how much my baby weighed at birth. Little Dude was 8 pounds, 7 ounces when he was born. I told her this and she brought me a weight that resembled a bag of flour. It weighed 9 pounds because that was probably about what he weighed at that point. The floodgates opened and tears started pouring out my eyes and down my cheeks. I don’t like crying. I consider myself a strong woman, but, at this point in time, I felt weak and defeated. Just imagining having Little Dude in my arms instead of this weighted bag absolutely tore me apart. I was supposed to be HOLDING my baby. I was supposed to be soaking in all those newborn snuggles and marveling at his long eyelashes and sweet little lips. I was supposed to be letting his little hand grip my finger while we watched the snow fall outside. I was NOT supposed to be walking around a rehab room, holding a weighted bag, learning how to walk without dropping my baby! As tough as rehab was, though, I had to do it. I practiced walking up stairs, one hand on a railing, and one arm cradling this weighted bag. I practiced walking IN GENERAL while holding this weighted bag. You guys, that was tough. I was still so weak and so tired – I pretty much had no energy. But, I had to keep trying because, in the end, I was going to get all better and I would get to go home again to my babies. There WAS going to be a light at the end of my tunnel.
On February 18, 2014, I was supposed to go home. After spending all that time in the hospital, I was finally to be deemed well enough to go home. The pain was subsiding, I was getting better, and, as long as I didn’t have a fever that day, I was going to get to go home. I remember this exact date because, on February 18, 2012, I was baptized. Without getting into too much detail, I grew up without religion and, once we had moved down to Florida, I was comfortable enough with myself that I decided to look into church and all that it entailed. I ended up being baptized about a month after we had Big Dude dedicated. Now, fast forward 2 years and I figured that there was absolutely no coincidence that I would be considered “all better” on the anniversary of my baptism. You guys. I had a fever that day. YOU GUYS! I was, once again, absolutely devastated because I was holding on to that day as THE day that I’d be able to go home. The day that I could start living my life as a mom of 2. The day that I was all better.
Nope. It apparently wasn’t meant to be. I cried so much. I was so let down, again, by my body. The doctors, however, told me again that, if I could keep the fever down, I would be able to go home on February 19. The rest of February 18 was a blur. I remember going to sleep, though, and praying so hard that I would wake up fever-free. Call it luck, call it divine intervention, call it science…whatever you want to call it, it worked. I woke up fever free on February 19 and was cleared to leave the hospital. Seriously the best news I had heard in a long time.
It took some time to get things packed up – I needed some prescriptions for more antibiotics for home and needed to schedule some follow-up appointments, but I did end up going home that day.
I don’t remember what time I left, but I do remember being at home and sitting on my sofa. It was dark outside and The Mister and I were the only ones in the house. My brother and sister in law still had the boys. They were going to feed them and then bring them over. It felt like it took them forever to get to my house. I was excited to see Big Dude – I had missed him so much. Waiting to see Little Dude, though? I was nervous as heck. It was like I was waiting for a blind date to arrive. I knew that I loved him, but, at this point, he was 2 weeks old (to the day) and I had only had a few days with him. I felt like I had already missed so much. I missed out on all those snuggles. I missed out on the bonding. I missed out on holding him and watching 2 weeks worth of watching the snowflakes fall outside our family room window. It was like I was meeting a stranger, but I already knew I was in love with this stranger. Does that make sense? It was such a strange feeling. Like, I was thrilled and grateful to finally be home, but I was still filled with worry and sadness and, somehow, regret.
I heard the front door open. Big Dude came through the door and ran into the family room to give me a big hug. To him, he was just excited to see his Mommy again. I don’t even think it had registered to him – he was only two and a half and, after all. He had no clue what had been happening. But, he was happy and that’s all that mattered.
Then, my sister in law walked over to me, holding Little Dude, and put him in my arms. I don’t even know how to explain what happened next, but it’s like all the emotions totally took over me. I was BAWLING. It was the best feeling EVER to hold my baby in my arms again. I didn’t want to ever let go of him. He was beautiful. I was so happy to be holding him again, but, at the same time, felt like such a failure. Why did I get sick? Why didn’t my doctors take my symptoms seriously? Why didn’t I make a fuss after I was sent home from the hospital the first time? SO MANY EMOTIONS. As much as I never wanted to let him out of my sight, my brother and sister in law took the boys back to their place for the night so that I could get a good nights rest. That’s ok, though – this time, I knew that I was absolutely going to see my babies again the next day.
There is so much more to this story, but I’m going to leave it with this article for now. Ironically enough, I truly do believe that I developed post-partum depression after this experience…kind of crazy that my doctor’s office had diagnosed me with that previously, when, at the time, I was really “just” trying to get them to take all my symptoms seriously and help me. As a result, I really don’t remember much of Little Dude’s first year. Like, I was there, but I wasn’t THERE, you know? Another story for another time, though.
What was I diagnosed with? (You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging, did you?!) My uterus had gotten infected and, because my doctors didn’t bother to actually LISTEN to me and ACT on my symptoms, that infection went septic. You guys, people can die when infections in their bodies go septic. That is some serious stuff! In addition to that infected uterus, I somehow also got Group A Strep in my blood. People can die from Group A Strep, too. I have absolutely NO CLUE how these issues started, but I do know that my doctors were not there to help me in a time when I needed it most.
So, there you have it. What was originally thought to be a series of 3 articles telling my story ended up being (at least) 6. Writing it all has been something of a therapy for me, so this series *has* been a little selfish in that sense, but I also wrote it all out in hopes that, once you guys read my story, you’ll share it with others. I know that I am NOT alone in this story, either – so so so many other moms have come forward and shared their experiences with me in relation to doctors not taking their symptoms seriously. This is not right at all.
Thank you so much for reading my series. This will not be the last time I write about my experience, but it may be a bit of time before I write about it again – it’s so exhausting and emotional that I can’t write about it often, but it’s also a story that deserved to be told.
Do you need to catch up with the rest of the story? Here are links for parts 1 through 5: