This is the first in my two part story of my experience with postpartum hemorrhage. Trigger warning: this post is written by a labor and delivery nurse and some wording may be graphic for some readers.
Thank you Mari for sharing my story!! You can find part two and more about me on my blog https://blissfullyburich.com/!
As a labor and delivery nurse, I thought I pretty much knew what to expect when it was my turn to be pregnant with my first child. For whatever reason my pregnancy was a breeze - I felt great (for the most part), looked cute and really couldn’t have asked for a better nine or so months. If I’m being honest it was probably the one period in my life where I felt the most confident in myself and my body.
I was anticipating a normal delivery and was fortunate enough to plan my birth at the same hospital that I worked at. This could be viewed as a positive or negative thing as all of my business was about to be displayed to my co-workers, but I was comforted by the idea of being cared for by my friends and the fact that I knew my doctor so well.
My Birth Story
Somewhere between 37 and 38 weeks pregnant I had my latest doctor appointment where I was dilated to 3-4cm and was told that my baby’s head was very low (in other words… sh** was about to get real). My doctor stripped my membranes per my request and I went home. Being the labor nurse I was, I then attempted every trick in the book to get my cervix dilating including a very long uphill walk with the dog and about a hundred squats in my kitchen (you know, in case my water broke). None of this seemed to be working and I was pretty bummed by the time I walked into my evening shift at 3pm.
It was about 5pm and I remember being assigned to a complex patient and feeling uncomfortable both physically and mentally. The unit was busy and I was helping out the charge nurse by answering a call light and right as I knocked on the patient’s door my water broke. Not just a little bit, but I felt a pop and water literally gushed everywhere. Luckily I was standing right next to the bathroom so I could run in there and had my friend bring me new scrubs and an ultra absorbent pad (work perks, am I right?!).
For those few moments in the bathroom I remember the reality of what was coming hit me like a ton of bricks. My whole pregnancy I thought I felt ready because I had all of this knowledge witnessing birth first hand but in that instant I realized I was just a 24 year old first time mama about to go through one of the scariest things in my life.
I was admitted to the room next to my complex patient which was an odd feeling because now it was MY turn. I called my husband and he kind of panicked but I told him to go home, shower, and eat something. He did what I said and got to the hospital soon after.
I didn’t really have a plan and I wasn’t feeling any contractions at that point so I did a lot of walking and bouncing on the birthing ball to help get things going. By 8pm my contractions really picked up and I was dilated to 6cm. I quickly got an epidural because I’d honestly never experienced pain like that in my life and looking back I know I was just scared more than anything.
My epidural worked well for me in the beginning, but I had a lot of hot spots and couldn’t really relax like I had hoped. By about 11pm I was feeling so much pressure and pain that I could hardly speak. My nurse checked me and I was completely dilated so I did some laboring down (waiting for the baby’s head to descend naturally) until I couldn’t take the pressure any longer. This was when the hard stuff started.
I pushed for over an hour until I was pretty exhausted and we could tell that the head wasn’t moving very much. Bless my sweet husband and nurse that was caring for me that night as we spent the next 6 hours switching between rotating positions (to help my baby’s head turn), resting, and pushing until I was completely out of energy. Every hour that ticked by sent my mind into panic mode. I knew by 6am that if this baby didn’t come soon I would be headed to a cesarean delivery.
This was one of those times where I almost wished that I didn’t know all that I knew. I knew from experience that this wasn’t looking good and my energy level was about empty. My doctor could tell that my son’s head was positioned occiput posterior, or face up, and also tilted to one side making his entry into the world quite a bit more difficult.
At this point I was so close to the end of either just getting this baby out or voluntarily heading to the operating room because I was so exhausted and scared for my baby and my body. However, my amazing doctor got me through the last, awful half hour that led to the vaginal birth of my son. We were at a point where it was optimal to use a vacuum to assist with delivery of the head and with the help of my doctor, my son was born.
Theodore (Teddy) joined us earth side just before 6:30am and I can honestly say the next few hours were a blur. I remember holding him and tracing every inch of his sweet face, hands, and feet as I recovered from the last several hours of labor and delivery. I’m tearful writing this because those memories just never seem to leave me even amongst the awful parts that were still to come. All of the horrid hours of pushing were absolutely worth his perfect little face.
Typically about two hours after delivery (with an epidural) a woman can somewhat get out of bed and be transferred to a postpartum room. After about three hours post delivery I was still feeling pretty bad: nauseous, no appetite, and severely lightheaded when sitting up. My nurse still helped me to the bathroom, reassured me everything looked ok, and I was transferred to the postpartum side. I wanted to believe her because I knew she was doing all of the correct assessments but I just felt that something wasn’t right.
My family came to visit us and meet Teddy during the morning and I continued to feel off. I was able to get up and use the bathroom and my bleeding all seemed normal but I was still constantly running through symptoms in my head to figure out why I was feeling so strange.
At about 2pm we were visiting with my parents in our hospital room and I felt a huge gush of blood, similar to that of when my water broke. My chest became tight with fear and my stomach was sick because I already knew what was going to happen next. I remember simply saying to my parents that I think they should step out of the room and that I was going to call for my nurse.
To continue reading head to my blog https://blissfullyburich.com/