Meeting Charlie

Meeting Charlie
I was induced with Henry, our firstborn and experienced a really great 13.5 hour labour with the help of an epidural and a whole exhausting 2 hours of pushing.

That moment where I first held our perfect creation on my chest was the most heartwarming moment I will never forget. I couldn't wait to do it all again, and then… 2 days under 12 months after the birth of Henry, we welcomed another beautiful baby boy Charles.

A completely different experience that ended up in me suffering from post-traumatic stress. Here is my story, a story that still brings me to tears when I revisit the happenings of this day and the days that followed after Charlie was born. I went into spontaneous labour three days before his due date, which was meant to be the exact same date Henry was born. On the 26th of Feb ( crazy )!

I had never experienced going into labour on my own before as I was induced last time, but it started with light cramping on and off at around 9 pm. I was timing the contractions, but they were all over the place, so I thought perhaps it was Braxton Hicks until they became a little more intense and 8 minutes apart. I called the midwife at my hospital, and she offered that we could either stay at home a bit longer or come in… whatever we felt comfortable with!

I called my parents, and they were over within 15 minutes and ready to stay the night as Henry was fast asleep in bed. My hubby packed the hospital bag in the car, and off we went to the hospital at around 11 pm. I had a beautiful bath for three or so hours and sucked on the gas, hopped back into the bed when the contractions were intensifying and after 6 hours and only two cms dilated, I asked for an epidural. A total labour of 17 hours, and our second bubba was born at 1:05 pm on the 24th of Feb… a beautiful, healthy baby brother for Henry!

A couple of hours later, we were taken to our suite on the maternity ward, and we FaceTimed my parents and Marks parents. While on the phone with them, things started to go pear-shaped. I began experiencing horrendous pain that felt worse than an intense contraction with shooting pain down the backs of my legs and my lower back. I was screaming like an animal.

It was the worst pain I had ever felt. I was thinking, what is going on? I have just had a baby. Why do I deserve to be going through this sort of pain again? I'm meant to be in a newborn love bubble and bonding with my baby; what the hell is happening to me?!

My obstetrician was called in, and he administered a shot of morphine into my thigh and proceeded to 'scoop' out large clots from my uterus. I felt a gush and immediately felt relief and no more pain until about half an hour later; the horrific pain returned, and my obstetrician was called back in to see me. My uterus was 'bogging up', which meant it was not contracting down as it should after childbirth and kept filling with blood and large clots, causing me to bleed out. I was told I would have to go to the theatre for a curettage to 'clean out' any possible retained placenta and have a balloon inserted into my uterus to stop the bleeding.

I was so scared, but you've got to be brave and do what's best right? Off I was wheeled down to theatre. My husband was left behind in the maternity suite with our newborn baby, and I was so confused about what was going on with my body.

I had a spinal for the procedure, and I can vividly remember looking up at the big light above me in theatre, and all I could see in the reflection was blood. I was told the balloon procedure was unsuccessful and that I would be monitored closely overnight in a DIFFERENT ward to my husband and new baby, attached to IV drips of antibiotics and Tranexamic acid, which would help stop the bleeding.

I mean, I know I'm in the best hands, but wtf! My husband would bring Charlie in for feeds, but I was so out of sorts from blood loss and the morphine that I was literally falling asleep sitting up mid-conversation and saying some really random things! I was constantly checked during the night, and I remember the midwife coming to check my vitals and bed pad at around 2 am, and there had been significant blood loss.

She called my OB to come in, and I was wheeled to theatre once again.… all I felt was total utter fear! My obstetrician had called in another OB to help him; he would attempt the balloon again. My wonderful obstetrician is known for his bubbly, fun nature that makes women feel at ease; however, I could sense his stress and anxiousness. He then proceeded to tell me that It was a possibility that I would wake up with a hysterectomy and that I will be taken to ICU after the procedure, and that I would also need to have a blood transfusion.

I mean, I think of ICU as a place for critically ill people and for those who are at the end of life. I had to sign a consent form for the blood transfusion 'for preservation of life' fucken hell, what is HAPPENING… I am going to die, aren't I?!

The anesthetist warned me that there is a possibility I could aspirate because I hadn't fasted. Ok then, just great!!!! I realise they have to mention all of this as a worst-case scenario, but seriously, I just couldn't believe what I was going through. I was now thinking of the worst-case scenario. I will never see my boys again; I won't be there to watch them grow up! I broke down, and the beautiful midwife held my hand and said she would go and bring my husband and Charlie down to see me before I went under.

They came down, I cuddled them, and I said to the nurses, 'ok, just take me' I honestly just wanted to be put under so I could be put out of misery. I woke up very groggy in recovery and was wheeled to ICU, where I would spend the next two nights hooked up to ECG monitors, an IV in the artery in my wrist to monitor my extremely low pulse and blood pressure. I had a catheter coming out of me as well as the tube from the balloon, which was thankfully was successfully put in and filled with saline that would slowly be drained over the coming days. I had 5 IV points in my arms for different medications, and for 'just in case', I would have to go to the theatre again. I had nurses coming in regularly to give me oral medication, check my blood pressure, temperature, oxygen levels, empty my urine bag and change over IV drip bags.

I was only meant to stay in ICU for one night; however, my blood levels were not where the doctors wanted them to be, so another blood transfusion was required overnight. I had hemorrhaged big-time… a whole 3 litres of blood was lost from my body. My body that only has around 5 litres of blood in total!

After the two nights spent in ICU, the doctors were happy with my vitals and bloods, and I was able to go back to our maternity suite to be with my husband and baby. I broke down to the midwife that came to check on me early that night in fear that it might happen again over the coming days.

And guess what? An hour later… I got out of the bed to feed Charlie, and I could feel myself losing what felt like a huge blood clot. I instantly pressed the call button, and the midwife was there in a flash. I was a mess… shaking and hysterical; she lay me down and put pressure on my belly, and then she pressed the emergency button on the wall…. 4 other midwives rushed in. NO, not again, I thought.

My OB was called in to check me yet again, and thankfully it was just a large clot with no further bleeding. I was in such a state, and I asked him, 'could I have died the other night?' He held my hand tight and reassured me that he wouldn't have let that happen. The worst-case scenario would have been a hysterectomy, and he wanted to do everything he could to save my uterus.

In the past and in countries these days that don't have modern medicine and equipment, that is the most common cause of women dying after childbirth. I absolutely loved the hospital where I birthed both of our boys, and I couldn't wait to go back there after having Henry; however, this time, I could not wait to get out of there.

Everything about the room I was in bought back horrible memories of what had happened a few days previous! Finally, the day came where I was able to be discharged, and off we went to begin our journey as a family of 4. And I couldn't wait to see Henry again; I had missed him so much.

Five weeks later…. I was at home feeding Henry dinner, and I felt a gush… I was hemorrhaging!!! I yelled out to my husband, and he followed me to the bathroom. I called the midwife at the hospital, and as I was talking to her, I felt myself passing something. I caught it with toilet paper and put it in a snap-lock bag. It was the size of a tennis ball!!! We were told to come back to the maternity ward, and my OB was called in to check me out AGAIN, and the mass was sent off to pathology.

I had to stay in overnight for monitoring and have an IV drip of antibiotics. At my six week checkup, the results were in, and the mass was retained placenta, which caused the hemorrhaging in the first place. How it was missed after two curettages, I don't know, but I do know my OB is one of the best, and he was gentle with his curettage approach to preserve my uterus.

I'm not blaming anyone, it's just one of those things, and I am just happy my body was so clever to expel the remaining placenta; otherwise, I could have become very ill. It was an extreme rollercoaster ride of emotions for not only myself but my family.

The unknown, not knowing if that clot was going to be the last of the bleeding. Every ache or niggle or more than normal amount of blood on my pad would have me full of anxiety and worry. Driving past the hospital and seeing the ICU building and the window of the exact room I was in gives me shivers and makes me feel so sad that I was in there; that my husband had a fleeting thought that he would be on his own raising two boys and that little baby Charlie had to be bought to me for feeds in that room even though my body and mind had no energy to do so.

The beautiful midwives, my obstetrician, nurses and ICU staff were all absolutely incredible and so caring. I can't thank them enough for taking such good care of me and helping me recover through such an ordeal. In 2 days, I had received an epidural, morphine, spinal, general anesthetic, IV drips of antibiotics, transexamic acid, fluids to keep me hydrated, two blood transfusions, and oral antibiotics.

My body had been through ALOT but thank god for modern-day medicine and blood donors… you saved my life! Has this experience turned me off wanting more babies? Well, initially, yes, the thought of it did scare me, but now I know that the cause of the bleeding is something that will now be checked immediately postpartum. Once I have had time to mentally heal, it could be up for discussion as we would have liked to add one more bubba to our family. I will be honest in saying I did struggle to bond with Charlie for a few weeks after he was born because I didn't get to share that beautiful one on one time with him. We missed out on that special bonding time in hospital, but now it's like he was always a part of our lives, and Henry absolutely adores his little bro, as do we! Thank you for reading my story. The more you can openly talk about your not so good experiences in life and your feelings and emotions, the better you feel to mentally move forward.

I thank my lucky stars every day, and I am thrilled to mention that I have been accepted into Uni to study nursing and Midwifery and to one day pursue a career in Midwifery, something I have always felt passionate about but even more so now! They say there is always a silver lining to everything x

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