After giving birth to Little Deer, I felt like I could take on the world. It was such a challenging yet empowering experience, one that left me truly in awe of my body and what I was capable of handling. Even though I had been awake for over 24 hours by that point, I felt such a surge of energy. I had done it; I had survived labor. Sitting there in bed, holding Little Deer with Mr. Deer at my side… we were finally a family of three. I remember saying a quick prayer and thanking God for giving us this beautiful baby. Even though I had spent the whole pregnancy wondering what she would look like, as I held her and looked upon her face, it was as if I had known her forever. It was such a wonderful moment.
Though I was so happy to be done with labor, as I snuggled with Little Deer for a few minutes, I noticed I was starting to feel a bit faint and nauseous. I had delivered the placenta shortly after LD was born, yet body wouldn’t stop bleeding. I had two second-degree tears, and the midwife believed one had nicked an artery.
Mr. Deer took Little Deer so that the midwife and nurses could work on me. By that point the room was starting to get a little busy. One nurse searched my arms to place an IV (I had one earlier but it didn’t survive the jacuzzi), one put an oxygen mask on my face and laid me back, and another gave me an injection of Pitocin and then began massaging my uterus. And it was not a gentle massage by any means.
Once I got the oxygen mask on I felt better, but I knew I was still close to passing out. I was nervous, but being a nurse, I knew what everyone was doing to help me and I felt that I was in good hands. After two nurses couldn’t place an IV (I was poked six times, ouch!) they called an anesthesiologist in from the ER. He was able to get it on the first try. They immediately began to give me lots of fluids and some Pitocin. By that point I had looked up at the monitor and saw my blood pressure was in the 70′s/30′s which was pretty low for an adult.
As all of this was going on, Mr. Deer tended to Little Deer. He told me afterwards that seeing me like that, with everyone rushing around me, was probably one of the scariest moments of his life. Since his arms were full with LD, my mom stayed by my side and held my hand the entire time. I was so happy she was there to support me. Being stitched up, having someone put all their weight on my stomach, getting poked by IV’s, all while laying there essentially naked and feeling sick… it was a lot to go through to say the least.
Finally, I was sewn up and the bleeding had stopped. The midwife estimated that I had lost over a liter of blood, both from the tear and my uterus. Once I had gotten a few liters of fluid in me I felt a bit better, but all of my post-birth energy was gone. My skin was pale, I was shaky, I had bruises all over my arms from the IV attempts, and my heart rate was very high. I hadn’t lost enough blood to warrant a transfusion, but they did give me two doses of IV iron. With the second dose, my IV infiltrated (the medication leaked out of my veins and into the surrounding tissue) which was another very painful experience. Still, I had made it through and was happy to finally have Little Deer in my arms.
Once the dust had settled, I was very anxious to breastfeed Little Deer. Though I had hoped that I had just been over-thinking it, I expected it to be quite challenging. I had read several books and felt as prepared as I could be, but I still has a nagging feeling that it was going to be a struggle. I was pretty swollen from all of the fluids I received, so it was difficult to get Little Deer to latch on correctly. Several nurses tried, but I knew it wasn’t right by how much it was hurting. One of them gave me a nipple shield to help get us through. Since LD was born on the weekend, our hospital didn’t have any lactation consultants available. That was something I had been counting on, so I was pretty disappointed that there wasn’t somebody like that to help.
Though breastfeeding was challenging and a bit painful, Little Deer was able to nurse with the nipple shield. It seemed like after each nursing session though, she would spit up everywhere. Everyone tried to convince me it was just amniotic fluid still making it’s way out of her tummy, but it really concerned me that she wasn’t keeping enough down. And each time she coughed and gagged. I was definitely a nervous new mama, but I tried to trust everyone and go off the fact that she was producing wet diapers, so she was obviously getting something. All of her newborn screening tests came back normal too, which was a relief.
Since I had lost so much blood, our nurse wanted to place a catheter to more accurately monitor my intake and output. Now, being someone that places catheters myself, I understood the reasoning behind it, but I didn’t want it. So I said no. She explained that since I had lost over a liter that it was protocol that I have a catheter. We came to the agreement that if I was able to go to the bathroom on my own then I wouldn’t need one. If not, then catheter it was. Luckily I could, but that was the first instance in our hospital stay where I felt like I had to assert myself a little bit.
Being both a nurse and a patient was an eye opening experience, and one that I will never forget. While sometimes I felt very comfortable with what they were doing, having that bedside knowledge also led me to question certain things and occasionally say “No.” At one point my IV tubing was about half filled with air. I called the nurses station and no one answered, so I stopped the machine. Once the nurse came in, she told me that I would have been fine since studies have shown that you can receive a whole line of air into your vein and it still won’t form an air embolus (air bubble). I told her I was aware of this, but why tempt fate? There was no need to let air run into my veins, right? Another time I was laying in bed, holding Little Deer, with my eyes closed zoning out. Though I was not asleep, and had all the side rails up, a nurse came in and plucked LD out of my arms and put her in the bassinet because it “was safer.” I picked her right back up after she left.
I’m by no means complaining about the care we received, or the staff doing what they thought was best. Overall I think Mr. Deer and I were very happy with the hospital we chose and the staff that took care of us. It was just surprising for me to now be on the other side of it all as the patient.
Not only was I a patient, but Little Deer was too. I often had the mindset that as a nurse, it was “my patient” that I was caring for. I knew parents always know their child best, but in the Intensive Care Unit, I felt that we, the staff, had all the knowledge and thus the claim to making decisions about the patient’s care. Now, day one of being a parent, my way of thinking had totally changed. I carried and birthed this sweet little baby; she was a part of me, mine to care for. I didn’t care if it was the policy that she receive antibiotic eye drops at birth. I had a negative STD panel, was married to my one and only, and knew that there was zero risk of LD contracting gonorrhea or chlamydia. So, we said no. LD did get her vitamin K injection and metabolic screening (we weren’t just shunning things left and right, really!). It was so new and different being the patient and a mother. In those two days I gained so much more respect for the parents of the children I had cared for in the past. All the ones that I had thought were a bit high maintenance and unreasonable at times… I totally get it now. And I would have done the exact same thing.
So though it was a little stressful and painful after Little Deer was born, we were all in one piece and so very grateful to be healthy. Family and friends came to visit us, and it was so wonderful to show off our sweet baby. And you know what else was wonderful? The hospital food! I know, right? How many people say that? But after I delivered LD, Mr. Deer and I called downstairs and got an order of french toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, and fruit. I’m not sure anything had ever tasted so good. And the chocolate milkshakes made with real hard ice cream… delicious.
Though the staff was great and the food yummy, we were definitely wanting to go home. I had faced a lot of painful challenges in the past few days, but I also had so many wonderful memories. Finally getting to meet Little Deer, watching as Mr. Deer and our nurse gave her a bath for the first time, swaddling her in the hospital bunny blanket… all memories I will cherish.
LD was born on a Saturday morning, and by Sunday late afternoon, we were in the car heading home. It was the day before Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t wait to be snuggled at home on the couch as a family of three. It was a crazy and life-changing journey, but we did it. I remember sitting in the back seat of our car as Mr. Deer drove home. We had put Little Deer in an outfit that Mr. Deer had bought for her soon after finding out we were pregnant. She was fast asleep, and she was beautiful.
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Did you have any challenges during your hospital stay?