written December 27, 2006.
It’s story time again. This story is at the request (well, I took it as a request) of a friend. I don’t normally talk about this part of my life. It isn’t that I’m not open about it. It’s just not a comfortable subject. I have found that bringing up tragedy without a rosy ending isn’t generally received well. And I am not at that point yet.
There are so many what ifs in life, and that’s never more apparent than after a tragedy.
Almost 3 years ago, when I woke up in the ICU, I knew. I knew that if I was alive, I was never going to have another baby. In fact, one of the first things I told my husband was that I can’t give him more children. I don’t know why I said that; maybe I wondered if he would leave me right then and there.
It was three and a half weeks after I had given birth to Chloe. My parents had just left. They came every single night after Chloe was born to give me food, and though it was partially an obligation my mom felt because she really feels women need to be taken care of exceptionally well after giving birth, I think it was also a large part to visit Chloe.
I started to bleed and I thought that I had started my period. Which is odd, being that I had a baby only three weeks ago and I was breastfeeding (which is supposed to stop that from happening so soon). It took several minutes of nonstop bleeding for me to figure out that it wasn’t my period and for me to start getting worried. I remember sitting in the bathroom discussing with my husband whether we should drive to the hospital or call 911. Looking back, that discussion almost seems silly, but I really wasn’t sure what to think – I was on the fence of being completely freaked out and wondering the big what if, what if I was blowing the situation out of proportion.
The ambulance got there and took me in, on a stretcher and everything. The only thing that I could think about was that it was almost time for me to feed Chloe. I think I told whoever was in the ambulance with me that my baby would be hungry. When I was in the emergency room I do remember trying to convince the nurse to let me breastfeed my baby – that didn’t happen.
Before my doctor got there it was bad. They couldn’t stop the bleeding (the nurses had to change the bedding 2 or 3 times because there was so much blood) and when I came in the emergency room doctor assumed that some of the placenta hadn’t come out and that’s why I was bleeding. He tried to scrap inside me to get it out. It hurt. Omygod, it hurt. I cried and cried and held on to the nurse tight.
I asked the nurse, “am I going to die?” I think she was shocked that I would ask that – minus the fact that I had nonstop bleeding and every single person in that room looked worried. She assured me that I wouldn’t die and they would try everything that they could.
My doctor came in and saved my life. After he got there it really was a whirlwind of events. He did tell us that it was a possibility that I could have to have a hysterectomy if he couldn’t stop the bleeding. I didn’t want to go through the pain of being scrapped again and was in a way relieved that I wouldn’t have to feel that again. Did I mention that it was painful? All my husband wanted was for me to be alive.
They got me ready to go into surgery. They didn’t have time to try to figure out what was wrong with me – they could only go in and pray. Before I went into surgery I tried to say good bye to my husband. It was the weirdest feeling. I told him that I love him. I started choking up. I mean, how do you tell your husband how much he means to you? I’m crying just thinking about it.
In the OR was when I felt really cold. I couldn’t get warm and couldn’t stop shaking. My body started to go into shock from all the blood loss. Before I fell asleep I told God that I want to watch Chloe grow up. My doctor looked sad. That’s what I remember before falling asleep, telling God that I wanted to watch Chloe grow up and that my doctor looked sad.
At the same time my husband was in the waiting room with his 3 week old baby. A little baby who wanted to breastfeed and refused the bottle, who wouldn’t stop crying. And while I asked that God allow me to watch Chloe grow up, my husband was demanding that God keep me alive.
I woke up in ICU. I woke up and knew that if I was alive I didn’t have a uterus anymore. I fell back asleep not long after I woke up. It felt like hours later (though I don’t know how long it really was) a nurse came to wake me up to check on me. I fell asleep again. My doctor woke me up next. He told me my body was recovering from the bloodloss and that’s why I slept so much and why he couldn’t wake me up after the surgery, he tried. He told me that I had a hysterectomy. We had a short discussion, and I don’t remember much of it. They let my husband come visit me, in between sleeping. I cried when I told him that I couldn’t have any more children.
The details of my surgery were told to me weeks after by my doctor and my husband. This is what I know from them: I got 40 units of blood; they couldn’t pump it into me faster than I was losing it. When he first saw my uterus it was surprising because from where he could see it looked completely healthy. There was no other option than to do a hysterectomy. The decision was basically, hysterectomy or death. My doctor admitted that at one point probably not one person in that operating room thought that I was going to make it.
There was a very small part of my uterus that had atrophied, and that very small part tore open. My doctor had it tested to find out what happened. It came back with no answers. No one knows why I had a small part of my uterus atrophy. They just don’t know. They don’t know why it started or when. For all they know it was just a matter of time. It’s not as open and shut as that. But I’ve stopped all my research and my wondering and my what ifs.
It’s been nearly three years. I have good days and bad days; I have more good days than bad days now – a year ago that wasn’t the case. I have days where I’ve come to terms with what happened to me and days where I can’t look at a pregnant woman or a woman with more than one child without wanting to cry. Luckily, as time goes on, the emotions become less raw.
My ordeal didn’t end with my hysterectomy. I was young and I both nearly died and at the same time lost my ability to have more children. It felt like too much for me to deal with. Time moves on. And like I said, the emotions become less raw. They’re still there, under the surface. And I rebuild. That’s where I am now. Rebuilding. Rebuidling a faith in God that was lost. Rebuilding a lot of my personal healing, emotional healing, and growing.
And that is the beginning of the journey that I am on now. The journey of being a mommy.