Monday, June 22, 2009

Roller Coaster

We welcomed Emily Elizabeth into the world on June 15th! She weighed 7lbs 11ozs and was 20 inches long. She has a full head of dark, dark hair (like her dad) and seems so tiny! When she came out, Dr. T announced that he cord was wrapped around her neck twice, which scares the shit out of me. I'm so glad it was a planned c-section. Here she is!

M's mom came down to help and Luke seemed to do ok. He had moments where he seemed a little off, but he was quite a trooper. As soon as they could unhook me from all of the IVs, he came to visit and our little family was complete.

I checked out on Thursday and we headed home. Then, the roller coaster started.

Friday I noticed that my swelling, which got worse after Em was born, was not improving at all. I also noticed that when I took a nap it felt like there was a weight on my chest. I turned to Dr. Google, of course, and saw some things that convinced me I should call my OB. The on call Doctor told me to go to the ER. We left Luke with my MIL and M, Em, and I all went to the emergency room. As they took my vitals I nursed the baby in triage, convinced that this would be taken care of quickly. If only that were true.

M left because all of this was a little too much for Luke, so he took Em with instructions on how to feed her the formula. (I just want to say that I normally make fun of the formula samples that the companies give you when you leave the hospital, but never again). One hour passed, then two. They called me back, gave me a room and hooked me up to measure my heart rate and O2 levels. My O2 was fine, but my pulse was low. They gave me a CAT scan, a chest x-ray and an ultrasound on my legs to check for blood clots. In the mean time, my phone was dying. I left my charger in the maternity room and hadn't had a chance to fully charge it. I was alone, cold and cut off from the world. After receiving a diuretic, the ER Doctor came in and told me that I had some fluid around my lungs and it looked like everything I received post C-Section was just a little too much for my system to handle. Oh, and they were admitting me. It was something about my heart.

As soon as he left I burst into tears. I couldn't call M because there was ZERO signal in my ER room, so I waited and waited. There was no room on the maternity ward, so they took me to the general surgery floor. Around 1am I arrive in my shared room, next to a poor older lady who was obviously in a lot of pain and on a lot of pain killers. SHe talked in her sleep constantly with bits of conversation from her everyday life.

"Are you going to the mall? Sour cream."

All I could think of was that my little girl was at home without me. I should have been up feeding her, but I was in a freezing hospital room with someone who pooped the bed every half hour and had to have her sheets changed all night. Lights were coming on and off and even with the curtain drawn there was no chance of sleep. At about 3am I went to the nurse and told them I was checking myself out. The charge nurse told me that I could do that, but 1) insurance wouldn't pay and 2) they really needed the cardiologist to check me out. They wrote "congestive heart failure" on my chart. Congestive heart failure?? WHAT???

So I cried and waited until morning. When morning came I met my day nurse and begged her for answers. When will I see the OB? When will I see the cardiologist, AKA the only person who can sign me out? After two doses of diuretics I felt much, much better. M brought me a new charger and held me while I cried my eyes out. I missed home. I missed my children. I missed my brand new baby. No one could tell me when the Doctor would be there. God forbid anything happen to you on a weekend because no one seemed to give a shit. My friend Maura, who has twin girls of her own, took Luke for the morning so that M could visit and I will always be so grateful for her help. My MIL took Em and we are so lucky she was there. I just don't know what we would have done.

I saw the OB around 3pm Saturday and she said that she thought everything looked ok, but she wanted the cardiologist to rule out postpartum cardiomyopathy. It dawned on me that when I said my chest felt tight, they may have thought I meant pain, as in a heart attack symptom. Swollen ankles is another symptom, but I hadn't been passing out or having shortness of breath. At 5pm, as Luke and Emily were visiting (with Maura's help) the cardiologist finally came by and released me. He said that he didn't see anything wrong with the low pulse since it went up when I walked around. He thinks that it's normally low. I don't really know since the only time I've really monitored it was when I was pregnant.

Almost exactly 24 hours after I walked in to the ER, M came and got me and we headed home. There is nothing that will give you an appreciation for your life like an experience like that. Being apart from my newborn was one of the worst experiences of my life. I've never really liked roller coasters and getting up for night feedings is all that I need in the way of excitement at the moment. Breastfeeding is right back on track and out family is intact once again. The swelling hasn't gone completely from my ankles, but it's much more normal. I am making more of an effort to put my feet up and appreciate this time at home. Life is good and I am trying to enjoy every minute of it.

(If you have ever had a postpartum experience with swelling or anything like that, let me know. I would be interested to hear what you were told by your Doctor...)


G said...

Kate, I am so sorry you went through all of that. I hate that for you and am so thankful your home!
I swelled with both girls more after giving birth than before. I was told my the nurse and OB it was completly normal. Actually with Cassie as she was 6 weeks early I didn't swell till about 8 hours after she was born. With both babies it took about 1 week for normal feet!

darcie said...

Oh Kate ~ so VERY glad that you are home with your family where you belong.
I was so worried it would be a clot when you first went in - I'm glad it wasn't.
I know it wasn't any fun but it's in the past now - keep resting, put your feet up when you can and enjoy those beautiful beautfil babies of yours!
oh, and thank heavens for awesome husbands and great friends & family! much love!

Aimee said...

I am sorry you had to go through that; my post C-section experience wasn't great; I woke 7 days later with a 105 degree temperature and it was the first day back to work for Will; my lips were purple and my eyelids blue...once I got a hold of Will, he came home and took me back to Texas Woman's where I had to stay for 3 days. I was nursing Caitlyn and sent home my pumped milk for it to turn her bright like you I totally appreciated the hospital samples. In the end just a serious internal infection of some sort. I am so happy that you are home and seem to be doing better, I know how scary it is. Keep your feet up and take advantage of all the help you can get!

blissfulteal said...

Whewww...I am exhausted just reading your story. Sweetie, I am so sorry you had to go through all that and i am SO glad you are back home getting to enjoy Emily and your whole family. xoxox

aimee said...

wow!! what a scary few days you went through. i can't even imagine. i'm so glad you're home and ok now. congrats and she is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are okay now! SO,so scary, I can't even imagine!!!

You baby girl is just beautiful! Love her name!!!

Aunt Becky said...

I haven't had the swelling (all mine were vaginal deliveries), but I know all about how much it sucks to be stuck in the hospital. With the baby and without my daughter.

seussgirl said...

Wow - what a ride! I'm glad everything looks okay.
And you're all just beautiful!

Kate said...


I can't believe you were going thru all this while I was away on vacation! You poor, poor thing. I know what it's like to be at the mercy of health-care "professionals". To say it sucks is a massive understatement. It's fucking TERRIFYING.

I'm so sorry you had to go thru all that. :-(

Marissa said...

oh honey i'm so glad you're ok & home again!!!!!

rest, nurse, eat, sleep. repeat.

love to all of you!!!

Somewhat Ordinary said...

Wow, Kate, I'm so sorry you had to spend Emily's first night home away from. I'm so glad you are home and everyone is doing well now. I know after I delivered M (vaginally)I swelled terribly. My last few days pregnant I was getting more and more swollen. I had a least a half dozen women tell me it would get worse after he was born and boy did it.

Congrats again!

Fertilized said...

Kate - I am so glad that you are back at home. I was very worried about you there for a while

Karen said...

My swelling got a bit worse before it got better postpartum (vaginal delivery though). I made a point of having my feet up every time I nursed, which ended up being a decent amount of the day. That with them being level with my heart when I slept probably helped.

So sorry that your first few were so horrible though! Hopefully it will end up being just a small blip in an otherwise wonderful time together!

Courtney said...

Oh my. I can't even wrap my head around what that experience must be like. I'm so sorry you had to deal with such a crisis, not to mention that is happened only mere days after having Emily. Hopefully the swelling will resolve itself (or already has at this point) and you can fully devote your time to loving and proudly watching your new family of four.

Hugs to you Kate.

Nine said...

I'm so glad you are ok and home now with your adorable family!! Emily is beautiful and Luke is going to make a great big brother!

Katie said...

Luke and Emily -- adorable. Your baby girl is beautiful. Congratulations!!!!
I had swelling (no c-section) that was worse after I left the hospital. I didn't have any other symptoms, I didn't tell anyone. It slowly (7-10 days) went away.

Aimee said...


I had a very similar experience. At 6 months pregnant I went to the ER because of trouble breathing and chest pain. I had a enlarged right ventricle and abnormal EKG that was ignored by my OB-saying it was anxiety. As my pregnancy went on I get sicker and sicker. I could barely breathe and was swollen I could barely walk. One morning I woke up to try to get to work and collapsed on the ground. My husband is an ER nurse and took me right to the hospital. They tried hydrating me and through me into Pulmonary Edema. Later that day not breathing on my own after testing I was told I was in congestive heart failure. My heart was operating at 4% and I was 8 months pregnant. I was told they needed to take the baby and I wouldn't survive. I felt the entire c-section because any medicine would have killed me instantly. The baby got out safe, but I soon was in total organ failure. I was given a pacemaker and defibrillator and eventually a VAD. I was in the hospital for monts trying to qualify for a transplant. I finally started responding to the VAD and was put on the list. In two weeks, I had a heart. I was in the hospital a total of 4 months and am now at home still recovering. My daughter is healthy and perfect and I'm as well as can be expected. I'm happy to be home with my loving husband ad daughter. However, I am writing a book aboutmy experience to let women know what can possibly happen. I had no previous health issues.

Hope you find comfort in your daughter as I do mine.

God Bless!

Amanda said...

First of all - Congrats! Emily is so gorgeous and I think she looks a lot like Luke!

And OMG, so sorry for all that you had to go through. What a scary, horrible experience. I'm glad you are back at home now!!

Caro said...

Oh wow! Sorry about that but glad you are home safe now.

Sol said...

Omg Kate! How terrible experience!
So happy that everything is okey right now!
The little angel is so beautiful! Congrats!
Take care

Chris said...

Oh my gosh! What a roller coaster!

Your daughter is gorgeous. I'm glad Luke is relatively unfazed by her existance.

Glad you're home and together. I can't imagine how awful that must have been.

Artblog said...

Congrats, you all look gorgeous and glowy!

My friend K. had lots of problems after the birth of her daughter two weeks ago. she's still recovering, it happens but I'm sorry you're going through it too!

Very glad you're ok now!



MrsSpock said...

So glad you are OK!

Cardiomyopathy of pregnancy is a rare complication, but it does happen. The circulating fluid volume in our bodies increases so much during pregnancy, that sometimes during pregnancy, like your anonymous commenter, our hearts pumping ability is overwhelmed. Usually, our left ventricle pumps out about 55% or greater of the blood that fills its chamber with every beat. (The ejection fraction.) When it drops below 55%, it means the heart's pumping ability is becoming compromised.

A typical c-section will add 5-6 more liters of fluid to your circulating volume over the course of 24 hours. Generally, they will rapidly bolus 2 liters prior to your spinal, give another 2 liters over the course of the surgery, and then a slower infusion of fluid infused over the next day. The average, healthy woman can handle this extra volume, but sometimes not.

The symptoms of swelling and shortness of breath are caused by the heart being unable to pump out all the blood. It backs up into the lungs, making you feel like you can't breathe, and into the venous system, causing the fluid to go the only place it can, into the tissues.

When I was pregnant, I developed a racing pulse and palpitations at rest, and being a paranoid nurse, asked my OB for an echo. We discovered I had a small hole between my two atria. The excess fluid had put enough pressure on the wall of the heart to cause symptoms of this defect that I'd never had in my life.I also developed edema postpartum ( I had a c-section too, and had an extra 40 lbs of fluid.) My ejection fraction is still 55%, an OK number, but I continue to have edema 1 yr later. I'd be interested to hear if they plan to do an echo to check yours.

andrea said...

oh goodness! i am glad everyone is home now - get some rest (if you can!) your little girl is beautiful!!

serenity said...

Omigoodness, I'm so sorry to hear about the unplanned hospital visit - scary. I'm happy to hear there was nothing seriously wrong and you're back home.

I had swelling too after having my c-section with Baby O - you could see it in my FACE even, but it went away very quickly, so they weren't all that worried.

Your little girl is beautiful, by the way. I love her name.



Cibele said...

OMG, I am so sorry for this experience. I am glad that you are okay. I had a LOT of swelling after Lylas as born via C-section. It was vry bad for at least one week but it went down. One thing that helped was to keep my feet up. You baby girl is so gorgeous! Congratulations on your gorgeous family.

Cassandra said...

Here from LFCA...

Congratulations on Emily's birth! Sorry to hear about your scare -- hopefully it will be smooth sailing from now on as you all recover and adjust. Best wishes!

Dreamer4agift said...

Emily is adorable:-)

I'm sorry for that horrible experience but SO glad to hear things are okay.

I had HORRIBLE swelling after my csection...I was shocked b/c no one warned me. My blood pressure had been up when I first came in, and was gradually going up before I was released. I went in to my OB for a check up a week later and my bp was still elevated and I was still swollen, but the dr. wasn't concerned. It gradually got better and the swelling was gone after 2 wks.

docgrumbles said...

I am a little late reading this, but congrats on your beautiful daughter... and sorry for your ORDEAL! I thought the four hours I had to be away from my newborn daughter was cruel! I cannot imagine being kept apart from her for so long!

Anonymous said... is the best support and informational site on PPCM. Drs. often misdiagnose, so the patient must be very aware. It is treatable when caught and instantly deadly when not.