Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Long Road to Recovery

**Just to warn you, this post consists of a lot of information most would consider TMI. I'm sharing this while blushing just a little, but I'm passionate about telling the raw, honest truth, in hopes even one person finds encouragement. Plus, I had so many friends honestly share with me information about labor and delivery and recovery, and it prepared me so much for my own experience...for that, I'm so grateful. So, go ahead and read if you wish. Otherwise, go stalk someone on Facebook or play Tetris or something ;)

After you give birth, there's this rush of adrenaline that comes over you. At least it did for me. A million thoughts and emotions came over me. I couldn't believe I just had a baby. I couldn't believe how hard it was to deliver a baby. I couldn't believe he came as fast as he did. I couldn't wrap my mind around how cute the kid was! It was so surreal. I had an unreal amount of energy and exhaustion all at the same time. I always thought I'd want to shower shortly after I had my baby so that I could feel a little cleaner and put together when visitors came. I had absolutely no desire to do so. I was swelling up, which surprised me since my feet and hands were relatively free of puffiness throughout my pregnancy. Speaking of pregnancy, it felt so weird to not be pregnant any more! My belly went from round and ginormous to soft and squishy in a matter of seconds. Then, things move around in there as your other organs have room to finally start to go back to where they belong. You also have contractions (similar feeling to Braxton Hicks) as your uterus begins the shrinking process. Between the contractions and organs moving around, I swore I felt my baby kick, then I'd remind myself that I was holding my baby and that I wasn't pregnant any more. It made me happy and sad all at the same time. Like I said before, a million thoughts and emotions engulfed me. And so began my headache.

I'm not one to usually get headaches. Maybe a few times a year I'll get a headache bad enough to make me want to take some Tylenol. That's about it. When this headache began, I immediately chalked it up to being overwhelmed with adrenaline and exhaustion, plus maybe the strain of pushing was catching up with me. Regardless, I didn't say much to my nurse that night. For one, I was a first time mom and kind of felt stupid having just given birth then complaining that my HEAD hurt. For heaven's sake. Plus, I figured it must be normal. Also, I had this REALLY cute baby and amazingly handsome husband who I just witnessed become a father to focus on. I was happy. Exhausted. Hurting. But happy, nonetheless.

That night around 9:00pm, the nurse came to take Levi to give him his first bath (they usually do this in the recovery room, but his temp was a little low so they bathed him under the warmer in the nursery.) He was gone for maybe 45 minutes, and during that time Brett and I talked about how amazing the day was. He said over and over again just how proud he was of me and how well I did. What a hunk. I kept thanking him for all his help and support as I couldn't have done it without him. After about 30 minutes, we were both like, "Aww, we miss him! When will he be back? Shouldn't he be here by now?" ha Suddenly our lives were consumed by a 7lb 5oz human being. But alas, Levi returned where I was able to feed him one last time before he went to the nursery for the night. My head was still pounding, but my heart was so full, I disregarded the pain and tried to enjoy every moment.

Around 2am, Levi was brought back to me so that I could feed him again. Thankfully our little boy was one heck of a nurser because by this point all my strength was failing me. It hurt to sit up, it hurt to hold him. I couldn't move my head from side to side. The nurse did give me some meds for pain in hopes that would ease the headache. I was convinced if I could just get a little more sleep I'd probably feel better. Levi went back to the nursery and I fell back asleep right away.

By the next morning, I knew something was wrong. I was hearing the loudest noises in my head. I was unable to even move my chin up and down slightly without feeling my head pounding more and more. The back of my neck was harder than a rock, and I felt a radiating pain down through my shoulder blades and up through my skull and onto my face. Tears began to flow as I told my nurse how bad I was hurting. Right away, she said she believed it to be a spinal headache. She explained the blood patch procedure to Brett and I and said that would probably be our best bet. In the mean time, she suggested I lay flat as much as possible and that I drink a lot of caffeine. What a great remedy for such a crappy diagnosis. Brett went to the pop machine to get me my first of many Mountain Dew's and my nurse paged the anesthesiologist on duty to come to my room to assess me. Also, an IV pump was started to give me fluids and more caffeine to ease my pain.

The next 20 minutes were pretty foggy for me. Thanks to my husband, I'm able to tell you what actually happened. My brother in law and sister in law stopped in for a few minutes before they had to leave for work. Brett had told them I wasn't feeling well so they were quiet and gracious as they gave Levi a few hugs and kisses before taking off. (They also spent the night at our house and took care of Sophie the night before. PLUS they brought Ivanhoes milkshakes for us the night before. They are well on their way to becoming my absolute favorite people haha!) Right as they were leaving, a lady came in to perform a hearing test on Levi. All the while, I was feeling an instant reaction to the IV. My heart began racing and my vision became blurred. It was hard to hear what people were saying because of the pounding/ringing in my head. I felt like I was becoming a little delirious. The lady finished Levi's hearing test and gave Brett paperwork explaining how his hearing was perfect. It seemed as though she spoke to him forever, because I was panicking and needed him right away. Finally I told him I didn't feel right. I told him something was wrong and I needed the nurse. Poor Brett became worried for me, and as he goes to page the nurse, the hearing test lady CONTINUES to explain the results of the test. Then I told Brett I was feeling nauseous and needed to go to the bathroom. I tried to get out of bed but forgot how sore I was due to the stitches from delivery. Brett grabbed me a trash can and fixed my IV as I had moved it when I was trying to get out of bed. (The next few details are a little TMI, just warning you...) I began dry heaving as Brett handed me a trash can. My nurse ran in and asked what was wrong. I told her I was scared to throw up. She said, "Why? Because of your headache or because of your stitches?" I responded, "The stitches!" She quickly said, "They will be fine!" and before I knew it, I was throwing up a ton. It's like I almost needed permission to throw up, I couldn't understand it.

By the time I was done, my headache was out of control and I struggled to lay back down as my neck and back were frozen completely. I instantly told Brett to tell people not to come to the hospital. As much as I looked forward to visitors and "showing off" our son, if you will, I wanted to crawl in a dark, dark hole and go into a coma. We decided our immediate families could still visit (they weren't there to see me anyway haha,) but the rule was they had to be super quiet as I laid in bed completely flat with towels over my face to block the light. When my IV was finished, I needed to eat lunch, but was told I wasn't allowed to eat lunch until I finished my Mountain Dew. Again, loving these doctors orders! ha But they were very serious that the caffeine would help take the edge off of my headache. Whatever ya say, Doc!

The rest of the day, I rested as much as I could in between feeding Levi. I was so sad because I had to use all my strength and energy in holding him and learning to nurse him. I couldn't even turn my head down to look at him while he was eating because my neck wouldn't allow me to. As soon as I was done burping him I would hand him to Brett or a nurse and lay back down and beg God to take this pain away. At the end of the day, however, the anesthesiologist from earlier in the day (not the one who performed my epidural) came in to talk to me and brought me surprising news. She told me, after talking to the anesthesiologist who gave me my epidural, they came to the conclusion that there's no way this could actually be a spinal headache. She explained that when he gave me another dose of medicine shortly before I started pushing, if in fact my blood hadn't clotted properly, the medication would have numbed the top half of my body and not the bottom half. Therefore, my blood was clotted like it should have been and they believed the pain I felt was nothing but strain from pushing. It was hard to believe, but I was too exhausted to argue it and I thought for sure that if she was in fact telling the truth, by morning I would likely begin to feel relief. So I went to sleep that night filled with hope for the morning! (Sidenote: it was nearly impossible to fall asleep that night after all that caffeine I took in that day...I haven't consumed that much caffeine since I was in high school!)

The next morning came way too soon and sure enough, my headache and neck and back pain were in full force. I tried taking a shower, and I remember standing there, holding onto the rails. Every drop of water hitting the shower floor sounded like thunder in my head. I thought for sure the hot water against my back would ease the pain, but the water kept hitting the back of my head causing even more pain. At one point it felt like someone was literally taking a hammer and pounding it against my skull. Every noise felt incredibly loud and close yet fuzzy at the same time. I knew the afternoon was approaching quickly and we would be sent home. I made my pain clear to my nurses, but they were told it was muscle strain and encouraged me to hang in there for a few days until it subsided. I wanted to go home but I was scared all at the same time. I remember about an hour before we left, Brett was packing up our stuff and I just sat in a chair, using all my might to hold Levi, and I just sobbed because of the pain. As our nurse wheeled me out to our car, I told her I was still hurting and she just explained how sorry she was and told me to hang in there. We all believed the anesthesiologist's conclusion. How naive of us.
This was actually a time when I felt good enough to get out of bed for a while.

The next few days were nothing but a blur. I spent 99% of that time in bed with a heating pad on my neck and a cold washcloth on my forehead. My mom practically moved in and she and Brett took care of Levi until it was time for me to feed him. When he was hungry, they would bring him in and help sit me up in bed. I propped up pillows all around me so that I only had to use very little strength to keep Levi propped as I nursed. When he was done, one of them would take Levi to burp him and change him, and the other would usually help me up to use the restroom then back to bed again. The whole process would take a little more than an hour, then I'd rest until it was time to start all over again. 

During this time, so much was on my heart. I prayed so much that I would get better. I
Napping with Sophie and Levi
cried knowing I was missing out on so much of my little guy's first few days here with us. I'm teary eyed now thinking about how I missed some of his first smiles and sighs and hiccups. I felt like I should probably ask how Levi liked to be held the most because they were learning those things while I laid in pain. At the same time, I praised God for a healthy child and for such a wonderful husband and Mom (as well as other family members) who loved me and Levi so much. Never in my life had I hurt so much, both physically and emotionally. I needed a miracle.

Monday morning I woke up feeling different. Not good different. Bad different. I remember my sister stopping over to help for the morning. I was just getting ready to feed Levi when I began to feel nauseous from the pain. I had had enough. We called my doctor and begged to be seen as soon as possible. Within no time, I was leaving my baby for the first time as Brett took me in
Pic my mom and sis sent while we were at the docs!
to be seen. When we got there, we quickly realized that the office had lost power. My heart sank because I was afraid they'd send us home until the power came back on. I decided before we even walked to the front desk that I was NOT leaving without being seen. I clung to Brett as he guided me inside. Every step made my head pound. I was still hearing this piercing weed whacker sound in my head. I felt nauseous. I wore my sunglasses into the dark office with my hands over my eyes to keep out as much light as I could. Thankfully, within 15 minutes our doctor called us back. On our way to the room, I had to stop yet again in the bathroom due to nausea. This was out of control. Within 30 seconds my doctor told me that indeed this was a spinal headache and that I needed a blood patch right away. I was relieved and ticked all at once. How was this overlooked in the hospital? If the blood patch would kick in right away, why couldn't I have had this done at the hospital before I ever came home? Why have I had to go through 5 days of misery if there was a simple solution?

By 2:00pm we were at the hospital. Of course I still had to go through the basic check in procedures before I could see a doctor. The receptionist quickly learned to just ask Brett for all my information as I had my head laid on the desk with my hands over my sunglasses yet again. The light hitting my eyes felt like laser beams burning my eyes. So stinkin' painful. Before I knew it we were back in our room. The nurses turned off all the lights, laid me down and covered me in blankets. One even went and got me another Mountain Dew to drink while I waited. They were so accommodating. Of course there was a delay in getting the anesthesiologist there, but once he came, the procedure only took about 15 minutes. Within an hour, I could open my eyes again. Within 24 hours the weed whacker noise began to fade. By hour 36 I was able to pick up Levi and look down at him as I nursed. I was healed! You better believe that for the next week, I volunteered to change almost every diaper because I was so excited to finally be able to! I cuddled him so much and just cried as I praised God for healing me. I was finally able to do all the things moms get to do!

Once my headache was relieved, I felt brand new. Of course, since the most obvious pain had finally disappeared, I realized I still had a ways to go to be completely 100%. I had a 3rd degree episiotomy that needed time to heal. My back hurt from the blood patch procedure. I dealt with engorgement and constipation. As if that wasn't enough, I also wound up with a bladder infection that gave me 102 degree fever. My headache was gone, but the battle had just begun.

All that being said, every day I would feel a little better. There were little victories popping up all over the place. If you would have asked me two days after my blood patch, I would have told you I felt amazing. Of course, a few days later, I felt even more amazing. Every passing day would become sweeter and sweeter. No amount of pain or sleep deprivation would rob me of my joy. I was a mom. One of the highest callings was granted to me, and I was humbled and flattered and grateful beyond belief. We didn't deserve such a sweet baby. All the glory goes to God, who fought my battle for me and declared victory. Every day I just pray that God smiles and receives glory as he watches me be a mom. Praise to You, Jesus!

1 comment:

  1. oh you poor thing kayla!!!! I thought back labor and a big tear was something! I am so sorry and so glad you have such a great family that was there for you!! I cant wait to meet that little Levi, he sure is cute!!