Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This is why you have babies in hospitals

WARNING: A very long, somewhat graphic post involving childbirth that includes my possibly controversial opinion against home births.

I guess now that a whole year has gone by, I can share this story.
It's been on my mind a lot lately because I see over and over again first time moms opting for home births and it really strikes a bad chord with me.

So here we go...

I've already blogged about Avery's birth story and for the most part, labor and delivery was a straightforward, exciting experience.  No major problems.  Nothing to worry about.  I decided not to include this experience with her birth story because I wanted it to be about Avery and I wanted it to be positive.

Soon after delivery, the nurses wheeled me into the mom and baby room where I would spend a night or two recovering.  I got to hold Avery while they pushed me down the hall (since I'd had an epidural, there was no way I was walking anywhere for awhile).  When we got to our room, they walked me through some instructions and right away someone brought me my lunch.  If you've had a baby, you're familiar with the really super attractive GIANT mesh underwear/diaper/ice pack bandage contraption strapped to your nether regions. Well, just a few minutes after the nurses left me, Kyle and Avery to ourselves, I started noticing blood seeping through the bandages.  They warned me I would be bleeding for awhile and I didn't think much of it but it was starting to get uncomfortable so I called the nurse just to have her tell me I was okay.  

Side note:  the night before I went into labor I had a long talk with my oldest sister, Kelli about how excited and nervous I was about giving birth.  She gave me the best advice I think anyone ever gave me.  She told me something to the effect of:  "Listen to your body and speak up if you think something might be wrong or if you're uncomfortable or anything.  Doctors often expect things that are routine and can usually only guess at what's going on with you unless you speak up.  If something doesn't seem right, say something!"

I really believe she was inspired to tell me that because when I had a hint of concern about the amount of bleeding I was experiencing, I thought right away I should call someone.  You know, just in case.  

A nurse came within moments of me calling for her but by the time she got to my room, I was already in a lot of pain.  I was having contractions and they were growing in intensity by the minute.  When I told her I was not only bleeding a lot, but also in a lot of pain, she decided it'd be good to help me to the bathroom to see if emptying my bladder would ease the pressure.  

And then things got much worse.

As soon as I tried to sit up the pain became unbearable, even more painful than what I'd experienced in labor (before the epidural, that is).  I could tell the bleeding was just getting worse too.

The nurse called for more help and they decided to give me a catheter.  Avery was sound asleep in the bassinet and Kyle had come by my head to hold my hands.  The pain was so bad I was sobbing and trying to hold back my screams.  As soon as they tried to insert the catheter, I felt a huge gush of blood and I knew it was bad.  I didn't dare watch because I was already so scared for my life and I knew what was going on anyway.  Kyle said it was a football sized blood clot.  Like someone had taken a bowl of blood and was dumping it out.  And it just kept coming.  

I was bawling my eyes out, crying from the extreme pain and fear for my life.  Almost instantly more nurses and doctors appeared in my room and everyone was focused on stopping the bleeding.  No one was saying anything to me.  I just stared at Kyle, squeezing his hands and asking him if I'm going to be okay.  Of course I knew he didn't know and he was probably wondering the same thing, but I kind of hoped that one of the nurses or doctors would overhear my worries and ease my concern.  They didn't.

The medical staff was focused and shouting things to each other that I didn't understand.  My panic grew worse as I started to wonder what was going to happen to me.  Surgery?  Transfusion?  What's Kyle's blood type?  Aren't we the same?  Could he give me blood?

Minutes went by like hours and eventually a nurse got really close in my face and nearly shouted "I'm going to give you a shot in your hip.  It will help the bleeding."

More hour-like minutes went by and eventually the contractions seemed to die down.  When things apparently were under control, the nurse who gave me the shot patted me on the arm and said very firmly, "THIS is why you have babies in hospitals."

I knew what she meant.
Had this happened at home I probably would have died.
I have no doubt about that.

She also said, "This isn't normal for you, but this is fairly normal for us.  You've lost a sizable amount of blood but you won't need a transfusion.  You're going to be okay."  Finally someone told me I wasn't going to die!  Until that point no one had told me anything about what was going on.  The nurses began cleaning my room and weighing medical pads soaked in blood.  They wrote a large number on the white board by my bed.  I found out later that was the amount of blood I lost.  In grams.  I don't remember what it was anymore, but I figured out it was the equivalent of several pounds.
Football-sized blood clot.

I was given more medicine to stop the bleeding as well as heavy pain killers.  The combination of which made me incredibly sick because at that point I hadn't eaten anything for nearly 24 hours.  I spent the next few hours extremely weak, shivering and trying not to throw up.  

Every hour for the next day or so a nurse would come in to push on my stomach and make sure I wasn't developing any more blood clots.  I experienced a few more large ones, but nothing like before.  I was so weak and sick I had to have 2 people help me to the bathroom.  It was a full day before I could make it on my own.  

 Thinking about that day still makes me sick to my stomach and brings back twinges of panic and fear.  I'm so scared to go through that again.  There's no guarantee it will happen with my next baby, but that experience will haunt me nonetheless.  Kyle and I don't like to talk about it much.  It was a lot for us to handle and we'd like to never think about it again.  He probably won't be too excited I decided to share it on the blog either.  

I've debated for a long time whether or not I wanted to write about it here.  I've told some friends about what had happened, and I can even joke about it now but I wanted to write about it because it makes me so frustrated when I read about how many new moms insist on having home births.  I feel like it's such a trendy thing to do now and most of the time I would say "To each their own" and move on with life.  However, I think many people are very naive about what could possibly happen during or after childbirth, especially if it's their first child.  Certainly many, or even most women will have non complicated deliveries and could have all their babies in the comfort of their own home.  But what about one like me?  What would have happened?  I can tell you, I don't think it would have ended well.  

I'm not at all opposed to natural childbirth and I think it's a great experience for those who choose to do it that way. But you can have a natural childbirth in a hospital.  You can even have a water birth in a hospital!  Just for heaven's sake, please have your babies in hospitals.  And also, never be afraid to speak up for yourself.  


M said...

I had both my boys naturally, but have opted for hospital births for that very reason. What if something happened to the baby? To me? I have enjoyed the natural birthing process despite being in a hospital and I am so glad that I did. Nothing ever happened, but I felt so much better knowing I was somewhere with people who knew what to do if such a thing were to happen. I'm so sorry you had such a horrific experience after birth!

Mrs.B said...

The same thing happened to me after I had my daughter. I remember thinking I was going to die and my husband was going to have to raise her alone. I was so weak and miserable, all I wanted was to hold my daughter but I could even pick her up on my own. When I got pregnant with my son I was worried the same thing would happen all over again, and there is a good chance that it could have. But I told the nurses and doctors what happened and they have me a shot as soon as I delivered to help stop the bleeding. Recovery was so much better and I can actually look back on my sons birth as a positive experience.

Rich and Brianne said...

Wow! I'm glad you were in a hospital. And what a blessing it was to have your sister share her insight the night before.

I agree with you completely. That's what Western medicine is for. And though I had "natural" childbirths, I was happy to be in a hospital where I could be taken care of if the need arose.

Kourtney said...

M - I'm so glad you had a positive natural birth experience, and in a hospital too! I just feel like it's so much safer to have medical staff there just in case.

Mrs. B - I'm totally going to ask for that shot before delivery. I've wondered if they would take any precautions with the next one. It'd be nice to have a more positive birth experience as a whole :)

Brianne - Western medicine is such a great thing! It makes me sad that some people take it for granted. Maybe we don't always need it, but it's a blessing to have it available for when we do.

Marlies said...

Thank you so much for sharing. Wish I could say it changed my mind, but I already agreed with you. :) I had both my boys naturally in the hospital with a Midwife who WILL NOT deliver in a home. She even turned down delivering her own cousins child for this exact reason. You just NEVER know. With the right support you can have a wonderful natural child birth and still have medical help close by when you choose to birth in a hospital (I'd imagine even in a birthing center, but I know very little about that topic.)

Chantal said...

I have found that many (most) women don't talk about the super nitty gritty stuff about giving birth, so maybe also most women don't realize what COULD happen. I wish more people would share their horror stories - I want to be prepared for every possibility. Thanks for sharing your story, and I am glad that you were in a hospital!

Katie Chorak said...

Did they say exactly what caused it to happen?

Kourtney said...

Katie - No one was ever able to give me a sure reason for why it happened. I'll pry a little more next time in hopes that maybe it can be avoided.

vickyj said...

Pitocin has been known to cause intrauterine hemorrhaging. This happened to me twice -- with Pitocin. Or could it be hereditary -- since it happened to me twice, and then to you? I am impressed you remember the details. I'm sorry I wasn't there until after you were out of danger, but I'm pretty sure I would have needed medical care myself had I been there. I get a stomach ache and some tears remembering it. I am so grateful you were in the hospital, and that you spoke up -- in time to get proper care.

Anonymous said...

Read the book "Pushed" by Jennifer Block. I believe you are a little naive regarding the risks involved in hospital births, especially those involving pitocin, cytotec, epidurals, vacuums, etc. Didn't you schedule your induction WEEKS beforehand? Electively? Have you educated yourself about the risks of pitocin/cytotec on yourself and your child? Do you understand that the use of pitocin typically leads to epidurals, episiotomies, forceps, cesareans, etc.? Birth is not a sickness! Hospitals and drugs are for sick people. Maybe if you had let your baby decide on her own birthday, you could have had a better experience. Try getting a doula next time and letting your baby come on his/her own. Home birth is NOT completely nuts. Electively inducing a baby is COMPLETELY nuts. And before you take this the wrong way...I was induced with my first and had a miserable time. A very similar experience to your own. With my second baby I prepared with Hypnobabies and got a doula. I delivered without any interventions and had THE BEST experience ever!