This homecoming wasn't nearly as exciting as the first time we brought Ella home, but it was just as sweet. Thank you so so so much for all of your prayers. It was quite a scary situation.
So here's the story of why I ended up in the hospital in the first place. On my original discharge papers, it said to call if I had any clotting larger than a ping-pong ball. On Wednesday evening, I passed a sizable clot, but it was smaller than a ping-pong ball, so my mom and I decided it was fine, and everything went back to normal after that. On Friday afternoon, I changed my pad when I went to the restroom like normal, but felt that it was full within about 30 minutes. Since it was Friday at 4:00 pm, I figured perhaps it was best to call the nurse before the start of the weekend, just to be sure. She asked me to just monitor the bleeding and call her back. About an hour later, I passed a much larger clot (perhaps the size of three ping-pong balls), but did not have a temperature or any pain. Again, the nurse asked me to just monitor the bleeding and call her back. She figured that my body had done what it needed to do by passing the clot, and since the bleeding did totally slow down, I agreed with her.
The rest of the early evening was uneventful, until about 10:00 when I nursed Ella on one side. During that 15 minutes or so, I could feel the blood flowing, and sure enough--I soaked a brand new pad in 15 minutes. I called and spoke with the on-call OB doctor, and she encouraged me to come in. Her concern was that there was part of the placenta still in place, and that I would need a D&C. I nursed Ella on the other side while my husband packed up her diaper bag and a bag for us. Again, I could feel the blood just coming and coming.
I was starting to get light-headed, so sat down on a beach towel in the car while my husband loaded Ella and everything in. Before we left, I had him grab me another towel, as I could tell that I was bleeding heavily. Sure enough, by the time we got to the hospital (about 30 minutes away), the blood had soaked through the pad and was pooling in my lap. By the time that they got me into one of the rooms and pulled my pants down, the adhesive from the pad was so saturated that it complete detached from my underwear. I had them just throw the towel, shorts, and underwear away.
The doctors did an ultrasound, assuming to find part of the placenta in the uterus. But aside from a little bit of fluid in my uterus, it was clear. So they did an internal check, which was extremely uncomfortable, and determined that I must have a tear in my vagina. They decided to operate, and prepared me for some of the various scenarios that might play out--anything from a D&C to a hysterectomy. I remember them washing off my bloody hand so that I could sign the consent forms, and being amazed at how ashen and pale my skin looked. I was able to kiss my husband and Ella as they wheeled me into surgery.
I woke up from the surgery in pain, but relieved to hear that although the situation was bad, that it was probably the best-case scenario for which I could hope. They did not have to do a D&C, as they initially feared. Rather, they determined (and I hope I'm getting this right) that I must have sustained a tear in my vagina during delivery, and that the injury has been slowly bleeding and creating a clot. So they lanced the hematoma, drained it, and then created a "Vag Pack"--which means that they stuffed my vagina full of gauze so that it would create pressure on the tear and help it to heal. I was told that the "Vag Pack" was about the size of an apple, and that it would be removed on Sunday morning.
By about 3:00 am, we were moved to a recovery room where my husband and Ella could be with me. Though I was in horrible discomfort, I was able to nurse Ella (I kept double-checking with the doctors and nurses that all of the meds would not interfere with breastfeeding). I was incredibly weak, so my husband fed me a sandwich and carrots from one of the hospital sack-lunches while I breastfed. They also started me on two units of blood, since I had lost so much. After feeding Ella, I was able to sleep a little bit. I remember waking up half-way through the first unit of blood to allow the nurse to take my vitals, and finally feeling alive once more.
Then came a really long 24 hours of waiting with a "Vag Pack" stuffed inside of me. The pain eventually subsided a bit, and I just became extremely uncomfortable. My poor butt hurt, no matter which way I tried to lie down. My heart goes out to the women who endure bedrest in order to protect their unborn babies, because I really struggled with just that one day.
We did the best we could to make things "normal" for Ella, but it's hard to do so when she needs me and I'm so incapacitated. My husband was amazing. He had yet to change a dirty diaper (I know, a little hard to believe--but remember that we had all four grandparents here until Thursday), but he definitely had "trial by fire". There was even one episode in which Ella continue to poop once he had undone her diaper (he eventually started stealing gloves to make the clean-up a little cleaner for him). In the early afternoon, I fed her, and he then took her over to the home of our very-dear friend (who is due, herself, on Wednesday) so that he could take a shower and she and another friend could give Ella a bath and help with wake/play time. These friends also brought us lunch and dinner as well, so that we didn't have to eat hospital food yet again. While eating, my regular doctor came by, and was as perplexed as me as to why this all developed nine days after delivery. It would make sense for it to happen right away--but I didn't have any symptoms until everything happened so quickly on Friday evening.
We tried to stick to our routine as much a possible, but it's tough in a hospital. I could nurse her, but I was stuck to an IV on one side and a catheter on the other side, and things on my legs to prevent blood clots. The nurses were amazing, and helped as much as they could. But typically, my husband was the one left to hand me Ella to feed, pick her up to burp, hand her back to me for the other side, burp her again...and then play with her, change her diaper, comfort her, or put her to sleep, depending on what was needed at that particular moment.
I was scared that removing the "Vag Pack" would be extremely painful, but the resident doctor did a good job of going slowly and carefully. Sure enough--the balled-up gauze was about the size of an apple. But it seems to have done its job, as the bleeding seems to have subsided. We were released early this morning, and have been trying to recuperate at home. My husband and I are both physically and emotionally exhausted, but Ella is our first concern. We're doing all that we can to get things back to normal for her. I'm also so grateful that my mom is going to come back tomorrow to help out. Her initial plan was to come back next week once my husband goes back to work, but given this experience, she is going to return sooner to help us out. We just need to make it through tonight on our own, and then we'll have some extra help again.
Ella's umbilical cord fell off today--which seems a little early. I know that I did all that I could to care for her while I was in the hospital, but I still can't help but worry that it wasn't enough. We have an appointment with the pediatrician tomorrow, and I really pray that everything is okay. I know I can't beat myself up--I really did absolutely everything that I could, given my condition.
My blessing is my husband. I don't know what I would do without him. He's such a good daddy to Ella, and he's a wonderful husband to me. I'm sure it must have been hard for him to see me like I was, but he's always so strong for me when I feel so weak. I love him dearly.