WARNING: this post might be a little "too much information" or graphic for some of you. Please stop here if you are not interested in hearing all the gory details of my postpartum scare. Also, I think what happened is pretty rare, so I am not trying to scare anyone, just sharing my story!
THIS IS A NO PICTURE POST | there are no memories from these two days that I want to remember.
Day 8: We'd been home from the hospital for one day. We were over the moon happy to be home and blissfully enjoying our own space and new life with our boys. But, I couldn't help feeling that something wasn't right with how I was healing. The days leading up to our discharge from the hospital, my postpartum bleeding had really started to pick up. I had been told that by a few days after delivery, the bleeding should have levelled, or started to subside. I knew that I might bleed on and off for weeks, but I didn't think it should be this heavy after having days of nothing really. I had asked the maternity nurses about it, and even showed them one of my pads. I wanted to make sure what was happening was normal. I had thought since I had gotten a c-section, that while they were in my belly, they would remove all the placenta and extra "stuff". I thought I was in the clear...
During the time that we were at home, every time I stood up or went to the bathroom, I worried about the bleeding. There were a few times that I stood up, and I would feel a GUSH. I would panic and run to the washroom to check out the situation on my underwear. Or, every time I wiped, I would check the toilet and toilet paper for blood. Sometimes there would be nothing at all, and other times, thick blood.
The first morning that we were home, we were going to have a home visit with a public health nurse, J. We had formed a bond with her when we met her during our flu shots and also through our prenatal course. I felt really comfortable with her. So, when she came to visit, after she weighed the boys, I told her about my bleeding and my anxiety over it. I asked if she would check out my pad after I went to the washroom. When she saw the thick blood, she did agree that it was quite a bit, but that it didn't seem too serious. She had me lay down on the bed and she checked out my uterus. She said that it was shrinking normally and felt appropriate for being a week postpartum. She said that it was totally normal to bleed for weeks after delivery, but that it'd be different than a period. She told me that the more active I got, the more common it was to bleed. She put my mind at ease temporarily. For the rest of the day, I felt pretty good and tried to just rest and not over-do it.
That evening, my parents were over, and I started to get really anxious. The nights were the worst for me. I hated the dark. I could handle long, hard days, but being up at night was super hard. Especially since it was only our second night at home. I started crying, worrying about the night ahead, worrying about the bleeding. I told my parents that I thought something was wrong. I had a feeling something bad was going to happen. I thought maybe I was just tired and overwhelmed, and that this was making me more anxious. For the nights, Tim and I would take turns sleeping on the couch, with the boys in a bassinet beside the couch. One of us would get a couple hours of sleep, and the other would handle the boys and all their little baby noises! I didn't realize how much noise babies actually make while they sleep!! We still hadn't really figured out nights and days, and it was easier to sit on the couch and watch a movie while the boys slept. I had just gotten the boys settled (it was about 2:00 a.m.), and I lay down on the couch. I forgot that I had to pee, so I sat up quickly and felt a huge gush of blood. I ran into the bathroom and there was blood everywhere. I started to clean up the mess and felt another huge gush land in the toilet bowl. I looked in the bowl and to my horror, a blood clot the size of my palm was laying at the bottom of the toilet. Without even hesitating, I scooped up the clot from the toilet. It was disgusting. It was huge. Then a couple seconds later, another clot passed ... this time about the size of a golf ball. At this point I was screaming for Tim. I went into complete panic mode. Tim told me that we should call up to maternity. On the phone with me was nurse C. She was incredibly calm and said that this could be completely normal. I was so upset and irrational and thought I was going to die. I have never been to scared in my life. Nurse C said that since I had been discharged from maternity, that I should go to the hospital, but that I would have to go to emergency. After I got off the phone, I bagged my clot, got dressed (outfit complete with slippers). My mom came to get me so that Tim could stay home with the boys. We weren't really sure what was going on, and not sure how long I would have to be at the hospital. Also, I wanted to get to the hospital as soon as possible. With newborn twins, I knew that it'd take awhile to pack up everything we'd need. Before I left, I looked at my tiny babies and had a flash of a thought of complete sadness leaving them and what if I never saw them again?! (I was still so scared I was thinking worst case scenario).
On the drive to the hospital, my whole body was shaking uncontrollably. I was so anxious I couldn't say anything as my mom drove. We got to the hospital, and I ran into emergency while my mom paid for parking (how stupid that you have to pay for parking at a hospital?!). I was distraught trying to explain my situation while I got admitted. I was explaining the whole story to the first nurse I saw, and showed her my clots. I can't say that she was all that comforting. After she examined my clots, she threw them away. It was weird seeing them just tossed into a regular garbage can. Like isn't there a proper "waste" bin for gross things like blood clots?
After I was admitted, the first nurse took me into a room to wait. The bleeding was still quite heavy, so I had to keep changing pads because I was going through them like crazy. I was still sore from my c-section, so moving around was still a bit of a struggle. I guess the nurse didn't think my issue was all that severe, because things really didn't move quickly. She did say there was quite a bit of blood, but that it wasn't a huge amount. I was told to relax and rest on the bed. This was almost as bad as the OR. The lights were horribly bright, the bed was a narrow, tippy thing, and I was given a thin sheet that they called a blanket.
Another nurse came in to administer an IV, "just in case" I needed a D&C. and hook me up to monitor my heart rate and oxygen levels. Then a lab tech came to take blood. Even after getting so many needles through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, I was still scared of them. And the nurse and lab tech sure weren't gentle! Ouch!! Next in came a student doctor. He had absolutely NO knowledge on women/pregnancy/babies/postpartum. I was annoyed and frustrated with him. He was asking the most ridiculous questions at a very slow rate. He was asking a lot of the same questions that the first nurse had asked me and documented. He asked something like, "so you bleed after having your baby?". Well yes doctor, that is something that happens to all women. He just came across as an idiot (I'm sorry, I am sure he isn't an idiot, but he gave no indication that he had any clue about anything). After he left, the lab tech returned. He forgot to get all the blood he needed. Another poke, great. Doctors, nurses, and lab techs were in and out of the room. At this point, I was asking every person that came in to see an OB. They kept saying that no, I would see the on call emergency room doctor because they didn't want to bother the OB. I then specifically asked for MY OB. They told me that he was actually the OB on call that night, but again, they didn't want to bother him. This is when I started to get really pissy. Not only was I scared, I was frustrated that I was not being treated properly. If I had just been discharged from maternity, and now was returning for a postpartum issue, why the hell was my OB not being paged?! Ridiculous.
So after awhile, the emergency room doctor came in. He said he wanted to do an internal exam to see the bleeding. He decided to manually remove a whole bunch of clots. After that, he told me I'd have to wait until the morning to get an u/s. It was around 4:00 a.m. He told I'd be staying the night in the emergency room. He told me to try and sleep. I looked around at him and the nurses and asked, "Where do you want me to sleep?" He pointed at the small cot/bed/surfboard thing. Okay, yeah sure, I'll sleep on this thing. Yeah right. At this point, Tim was arriving with the boys. So I asked the doctor for a bassinet from up in maternity. "What for?", asked the doctor. "I think they will be fine sleeping in their carseats". Okay doctor, my 8 day old preemie twins are completely fine sleeping in their carseats. Idiot. I told him no, they needed a bassinet. Also, I told him and the nurses that I needed a pump. "What for?", asked the doctor again. Wow, really. Finally the one nurse said she would go and get a bassinet and pump for me. I told them that the maternity nurses knew I was in the ER and that they would know what I needed.
I was shocked and astounded that I had to practically beg for these essentials. I understand that the ER staff isn't specialized in maternity, but if a new mama is asking for something to care for her babies, GIVE IT TO HER. It wasn't like I was asking for something ridiculous and unreasonable!
Anyways, after awhile we got what we needed and got "settled" in to the ER room. Tim tried to sleep and I tried to pump as I watched the clock. It was 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning now. Next thing that I knew, there was a knock at the door. In walked Nurse T from maternity with a wheelchair in tow. "Come on, let's go, I am taking you guys upstairs... where you should have been from the get go" Wow (again, I cannot even come up with all the words to describe how wonderful the maternity nurses are, how they go to extraordinary measures to care for you and your babe(s)), I was completely blown away by this gesture. I immediately felt at ease and cared for. We got up to maternity, and settled into a room with two beds! At this point, the bed felt like a cloud! So comfortable!
We now had to wait a few hours for an ultrasound and to see an OB. Thankfully, the maternity nurses called our OB to update him and he was coming to see us. They also were going to contact our maternity doctor. By this time, the bleeding had definitely slowed down, but I still needed to wear a pad. The nurses encouraged us to sleep, but I was content to just sit in bed with my family. So glad that we were all together.
Our OB came in to do rounds around 9:00 a.m. He did an internal exam. He asked me what had happened, and I explained the whole story to him, including our experience in the ER. He was displeased that he had not been called sooner, and that the ER doctor had manually removed a bunch of clots. He said I likely had a case of late postpartum bleeding. He said that we would start an IV of antibiotics and treat the bleeding and clots as if they were my body reacting to an infection. Then, we would go for an u/s to determine what was going on and if I'd need a D&C. He treated us very respectfully and with kindness. I cannot say enough about our OB. He is truly amazing.
So, got my IV drip going with antibiotics, and I was wheeled down to the imaging area. We didn't have to wait long because we were pushed to the first appointment of the day. I had my internal u/s done (which I was so used to from being pregnant with twins, my cervix was constantly imaged), and then was back up into my bed. The lovely maternity nurses watched the boys while we were gone.
We had chosen to stay at the hospital for the antibiotics. We had the choice of staying for the antibiotics administration, then leaving and coming back 8 hours later. I had to receive 4 rounds of antibiotics, which took an hour to drain the bag, every 8 hours. Since we just had twins 8 days ago, it was much easier to stay at the hospital with the boys!
The antibiotics started. This was painful through the IV, it felt like a pulsing pinching sensation every time it dripped into my arm. I hated it. I tried eating, watching t.v., pinching and clawing at my own skin to just distract me from the feeling of a needle pinching at me. I hate needles!
Our OB came back to give us the ultrasound results. He explained that there were two small (about loonie sized) pieces of placenta tissue left in my uterus. The clots I passed was my body's reaction to trying to get rid of the leftover tissue. As my uterus was shrinking, it was getting rid of the leftover stuff (things kind of get blurry and I've forgotten on the postpartum jargon) by flushing me out. I guess this is where the clots came from. Don't quote me on any of this. I've tried to block this terrible 24 hours out of my mind. He said that I would continue to have some light postpartum bleeding after I went home, but it shouldn't be anything like the palm-sized clots I passed the night before. He also instructed us that if anything were to happen that was postpartum related, I was to go straight to maternity, where he would be paged, instead of checking into the ER. He was pretty much saying that we shouldn't have had to experience what we did in the ER and he should have been contacted right away and I should've been treated by him instead of the on call ER doctor. Just more stories for my books, I guess!
On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling much healthier, and received my last dose of antibiotics. Our OB was out of town this day, so the on call OB came in to check on me (another fabulous OB). He was so kind and calm, and reassured us that everything was looking great and I was good to go home. For good this time!
It was weird being discharged again from the maternity unit. We hugged everyone goodbye again and they said they hoped not to see us again soon. We hoped so too!
At home I had to continue taking some oral antibiotics for about a week until we were sure the infection was gone. We were home for good!
We started to actually settle into this new life of newborn twins. It was hard, it was tiring, it was exhausting, it was full of joy and love, it was tough. The first weeks at home with twins on the blog coming soon, but the next post will be happier as I share some newborn photos! I can't believe my beans were that small.
Thanks for sticking with me, friends.
I love you all for reading this.
mrs. + mama