Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013
Everything that happened after delivery falls into one of three categories: recovery, bonding and breastfeeding. Christopher and I tried to fit sleep in there, when the girls were taken back to the nursery for some tests and then kept until the next feeding, but we both failed pretty miserably—he perhaps more than I. We were both too excited, too wound up (and were greeted with a revolving door of visitors).
But then, in the late afternoon, things took a distinct turn.
I had my post-op blood labs done about 4 p.m. My hemoglobin level was at 6.1—less than half of what it was Monday, when I had my pre-op labs done. I had another blood draw at 5 p.m., to double check the validity of the number, and my hemoglobin was at 5.8. The nurses were stumped: Someone with a hemoglobin of that low a level would be as pale as the sheets, listless, even unconscious. I, on the other hand, was my usual self—even carrying on conversation and smiling while doped up on Percocet.
The night would prove to be a frustrating one. Every nurse would marvel at my state. Even Dr. LeMay told us he had never seen anything like it. Where did all the blood go? He was pretty sure I didn’t lose it during surgery; he swore he cleaned me up well. He thought it could signal internal bleeding or pooling, but he pushed on my belly and felt nothing of note.
Dr. LeMay said he wouldn’t operate on “a number,” that is, he wouldn’t go in search of internal bleeding just because my labs came back low; I was asymptomatic, and he felt it best to just wait.
I had another blood draw at about 6:45 p.m. and, guess what, my hemoglobin still was 5.8. I had another the next morning, sometime between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., and my count still was at 5.8.
Amid all the hubbub about my “condition,” which included whispers in the hallway and bad bedside manner on the part of a nurse or two, the girls sort of lost it. They cried in unison, and we couldn’t console them. We later learned this was part of the “second night syndrome” that babies experience after birth.
We put them both to the breast, and they instantly calmed down. Turns out, they were scared and hungry.
They weren’t the only ones. I, of course, was worried about my state. Here I was in the hospital for the first time, experiencing complications of major surgery. Christopher, too, was scared—and it showed. Our nurses that night, Sarah and Vanessa, who helped me take my first shower post-delivery, reassured us everything was going to be fine. After all, I looked, sounded and felt like myself, albeit tired and sore.
We caught some Zs overnight, as Mary Jane insisted she take the girls to the nursery after the couple of late night/early morning feedings. We felt immeasurably better after even a few hours of interrupted sleep.
Monday, Aug. 12, 2013
Dr. LeMay checked on me about 8 a.m. after that last blood draw showed my hemoglobin holding steady at 5.8. He recommended I get a blood transfusion, if not to correct the “lost blood” issue, then at least to help me feel even better for my return home.
Katy, our favorite nurse, got my transfusion started about 11:30 a.m. She was careful and gentle. She talked us through everything and reassured us that everything was and would be fine.
The transfusion would take 4 hours. I was able to function, still, breastfeeding the girls and even getting up to use the bathroom. Katy left my IV in, just in case I would need more blood.
The rest of the day was uneventful. And eventually, we started to prepare for discharge.
Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013
Almost first thing, Dr. Iyer, our pediatrician came by. She was happy with the girls’ health, noting that they had passed all of their tests with flying colors, but used words like “borderline” and gave us strict warnings about their fragility.
Then, Jennifer, another one of the nice nurses, took out my IV.
We were cleared for discharge. I packed up our suitcase, then took a rest in the rocking chair, while Christopher took some time to look through the photos on his phone from the past several days.
I looked up to see him sobbing: He had reached the photos from the operating room.
“I sob out of gratitude, humility,” he wrote in the journal. “Kayla sobs, too, after I explain that she’s made my life complete. I reflect on the pregnancy. I think about our courtship, the first day we met. I think about all these things. How lucky I am. And I sob. Nothing has ever felt better.”
We ate lunch, then bathed the girls and had their footprints put in our baby books. We fed the girls one last time, too. Then, my mom arrived. She would accompany us home and spend those first few days with us.
Finally, about 1:30 p.m., we were ready to go home.