Secondary Hemorrhage after the birth of Carrson
December 15, 2006: baby still won't eat, won't latch on breast, or bottle, or paci, even after visit from lactation, pediatrician keeps us for another day until we can figure it out. That afternoon, after rounds, the nurse comes in and helps me and he nurses! Success! (he went on to nurse successfully for 25 months)
December 16, 2006: released from the hospital.
December 16-23, 2006: normal postpartum bleeding to the point where it had turned brown and almost stopped completely.
December 24, 2006: That night at 10 days postpartum, I had gone to the bathroom after feeling a little bit of a gush, a small one, and noticed bright red bleeding. I didn't think anything of it because, i just assumed this was normal to do after having a baby. I walked back out to the living room from the bathroom and felt another small gush but knew i had a fresh pad on and my baby was hungry so I went ahead and ignored it and fed him. I changed one more time before we left our family’s house house for the ride home. This time the pad was soaked and it had only been about 45 min. I was frustrated but didn't realize I should have been alarmed by this new start of fresh red blood. I felt fine otherwise. We had an hour and a half drive home and i was soaked by the time we got there, leaking and just a mess. I went inside and pulled down my pants/pad to go to the bathroom and several large clots fell out straight on to the floor. I was shocked but also annoyed as it was about 11:00 pm at that point and I was just trying to get to bed because I knew my baby would be waking up soon to eat and I wanted to hurry and get to sleep before that happens. I changed clothes, got cleaned up, and just put a chux pad (aka puppy pad) underneath me in bed, laid down and went to sleep. I still felt fine at this point, just annoyed with the mess and constant bleeding. The night went fine I slept with my baby next to me in the arms reach co sleeper so I never really had to wake up or get up to feed him just laid him next to me and went on about our night. In hindsight, this most likely saved my life since I was horizontal the entire night.
December 25, 2006: 11 days postpartum, I woke up in a pool of blood, it looked like a murder scene, was covered, the bed was covered, the sheets, everything, my husband finally said “what is going on?” I responded with “I’m not sure I guess this is normal but it sucks” I still felt fine so I pressed on (also worth noting that I’m really stubborn and slow to decide on any medical intervention, definitely not one to overuse the ER) It was Christmas morning, my son's first Christmas! I jumped in the shower and cleaned up to get us all ready to go to my moms house for Christmas festivities. Before doing so during the shower I started to feel faint (finally a symptom!) so I opened the shower curtain to get some air and that seemed to help, so I just quickly finished my shower and assumed that once I was out of the hot steam and water I would feel better. Wrong. I put on a pad, but every time I went to stand up I felt large gushes, it felt as if my water was breaking over and over again, at this point I was annoyed that I couldn't get out of the bathroom to get ready. I crawled on my hands and knees and finally went and got my phone to call my mom. I told her everything that was going on and she called me by my entire name (that's when you know you're in trouble) and ordered me to call the doctor or she would for me. I reluctantly agreed and told her I would call and leave a message, it was Christmas after all and no one was going to be answering the phones. While I waited for a call back I made sure to take a few pictures of my baby in his first Christmas stocking, I can remember trying to figure out some way to get up and finish getting dressed and getting the baby ready so that we could go to my moms. About 5 minutes later the on-call nurse calls me back, asks a few questions about my bleeding and very sternly told me I needed to get in the car immediately, put the hazard flashers on, drive safe and fast and go directly to the hospital, that if I didn't have a ride she would call an ambulance for me. i still had no idea what was going on, she didn't tell me, I was confused on why she would need to call an ambulance at all, this didn't feel like an emergency.
A few things to note: after the phone call with the nurse, I finished blow drying my hair, cried about not wanting to go, or take my brand new baby to the hospital and spend his first Christmas in the hospital, called my mom and updated her and she informed that she was already halfway to the hospital and she would meet us there. She knew they would absolutely be sending me to the hospital. I packed a bag as quick as I could, threw some emergency formula bottles in the bag, even though I was exclusively nursing my baby but I wasn't sure how long we would be there or what was going to happen while we were there so I just threw them in just in case. I got dressed, put a towel between my legs because pads weren't working at all at this point, pulled my sweat pants on over the towel folded between my legs and off we went.
The roads were empty, it was Christmas, that ended up being extremely helpful in getting us there quickly and safely. We arrived and my mom was at the doors of the ER waiting on us. I got wheeled in, checked in, vitals taken. The triage nurse was really confused as to why I didn't have a pregnant belly but my last period was March 14, 2006 ... well ma’am, there is a newborn in the waiting room with his dad. She asked me one more time if I thought I might be pregnant and I told her it was impossible that I hadn't even been cleared to resume sex yet. It seemed to click once I said that and she dropped it. At this point my blood pressure was low but stable it was in the low 100s over 80s which for me is normal, I don't know how but it was. I didn't have a fever, I felt fine physically, just was bleeding like crazy and had no idea why.
I went directly in to a room, with my mom, husband and newborn (who was happily sleeping in his car seat) the doctor came in fairly quickly after that and had everyone, but me, leave the room, even though I said they could stay, he said “no, I need everyone out”. They left to the hallway, right outside the door to my room. The on call ER doctor lays me back in the bed and I am hesitant to do so because I know I am going to gush blood everywhere. I did. He sticks his hand up my vagina and is using a really large q-tip to try and clean out my uterus and find the cause of the bleeding. Let me remind you, I had stitches, on my perineum, from an episiotomy that only happened 11 days prior. I have a fairly high pain tolerance, but once I felt all of this I was screaming. I had never felt pain like that in my life. No one had ever hurt me like that in my entire life. He was digging, I was screaming, pleading for him to stop. He eventually did, his gloved hands were covered in blood, my energy felt completely zapped, my blood pressure was dropping quickly. They paged the on call OB/GYN and oh my god I can’t even explain to you how happy I was to see my very own Dr. walk in the door. We’d spent an entire pregnancy together and she was my GYN for 4 years prior to that. She knew me. I knew her. I was relieved. My family was allowed to come back in and I was just extremely out of it, plus I was pretty upset still about all the pain I was in. My doctor quickly realized after just a quick and gentle check that this was serious and I needed emergency surgery, a D&C. She told me that most likely she would be taking my uterus out and performing a hysterectomy and trying to save my life and I needed to sign the consent form quickly so that I could be put to sleep and she could get started. My husband and mom quickly kissed me goodbye and my mom was in a panic trying to get my newborn out of the carseat so I could kiss him but she couldn't do it fast enough, running down the hall she was able to catch up and I gave him a quick kiss and I fell asleep directly after that.
What happened while I’m in surgery is better told by my mom and husband at the time. The hospital was dead to the world, remember it's Christmas Day, everything happened in a rush and no one really knew what was going on, only that my life was trying to be spared and that I would need a hysterectomy to do so. Meanwhile they had a breastfed newborn in the waiting room with them who had never had a bottle and was going to be hungry soon. Luckily, my mom thought to wrap him in my shirt that I had been wearing and then feed him the bottle and that worked after he was initially reluctant to take it from her.
Waking up from surgery: I’m lucky I woke up at all, my hemoglobin level had dropped to a 2 and people have died at higher numbers than that. My doctor worked hard to save my life, she literally did not give up until I was stable. I don't know if another doctor would have done that had they not known me. I'd like to say they would but I have no idea. I woke up covered in warm blankets from my head to my toes, I was wrapped in them, around my head, my chest, my body, my legs, feet, and my mom standing right next to me. Once she realized I was awake and somewhat aware she told me I still had my uterus but there was a balloon inside of it. So not only did my doctor save my life but she also saved my uterus. I don't take for granted how lucky I am. I asked about my husband, my mom told me he was right there, but I really only remember my mom being there. There was a unit of blood being pumped into me with a blood pressure cuff around it. My mom told me that was the 3rd bag and that I’d be getting one more most likely. I was moved up to my room where I’d be staying flat, very flat and still, for the next 3 days so that I wouldn't start bleeding again. My husband helped me pump every 3 hours for milk for our baby and my mom and mother in law slept with him in the family waiting room every night while I was there so he could be close to me. Labor and Delivery brought up one of those clear baby beds, and diapers, and wipes, and the breast pump, and went above and beyond for me even though I was not their patient, technically.
Four days later I was released from the hospital with a clean bill of health and orders to just take it easy in the meantime. Moral of the story is that discharge instructions need to be gone over with the new moms. It needs to be talked about at the final OB appointments, hemorrhage needs to be discussed, normal bleeding needs to be explained. Taking it easy postpartum needs to be encouraged. As a new mom I was so wrapped up in my newborn and trying to get him to eat, if the instructions were gone over, i don't remember it. I went on to have 3 more pregnancies and 3 more babies, all born at home. I didn't hemorrhage after the second baby at all (2009). I did bleed pretty heavy initially after my 3rd baby (2011) but we were able to administer pitocin and cytotec and manage it at home safely. Same after my 4th (2014).
If you are ever unsure of what's going on, ask, reach out! I didn't have such easy access to the internet without logging on to the computer in 2006 and that was more difficult than it sounds when you have a newborn as a brand new mom, but nevertheless that is not the case these days so ASK SOMEONE!
Who am I? Then, I was a newly married 21 year old first time mom, who worked in the corporate world, the residential title industry at the time, with little to non existent knowledge of anything that had to do with my body, much less how it grew a human and birthed it. Now, as a divorced mom of 4, thanks again OB for my uterus and my life, I live and work in the Dallas Fort Worth area of Texas as a professional labor and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, placenta encapsulation specialist and a breastfeeding educator, most importantly, an advocate for better postpartum education for all birthing families. When I’m not working, I enjoy time with my kids, which involves their love and my support of their travel sports, live music of varying genres, and trying to find the best salsa and queso in Texas.