Somehow, the baby finally was out. I have no idea how. The last moments of the delivery were a blur. The pain was intense, the fear was even deeper. This was not the scene I had hoped for. It was not what I prepared for…and it was about to get worse. All I remember was something was not right. I can’t put into words how I felt. Pain, fear, exhaustion, and something I couldn’t put my finger on. And then I saw his face. Dr Onuigbo was not smiling. Not. At. All. I looked to Paul. No smile…more like confusion. I looked at my nurse. Fear was on her face. I then saw Dr. O hold up our baby….she was limp. Completely lifeless, and the most hideous color I had ever seen. It was grey. It was not right. I knew in a moment what was going on….I had yet another angel baby. I died a little in that moment. Maybe more than just a little. The world crashed on top of me. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even cry. I was done. I had nothing left. I just couldn’t face this again. I couldn’t do it. I was so tired. Tired wasn’t even the word. I closed my eyes. I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell. I wanted to jump up out of that bed and just run. Run away from it all. It was too much. I heard my nurse’s voice. “They’re doing everything they can.” Never once did she say things would be okay. Never once. I watched them all. Moving so fast. Fear was thick in the room. This was it. This was our story. Another baby gone.
That was the last thing I remember inside that room.
I closed my eyes and gave in. I wasn’t feeling right.
And I coded. I’m not sure how soon I coded. But I coded. Dr. Onuigbo told me later that it wasn’t very long. I was down less than a minute. By the time team members responded to my room, I was back up. But I was bleeding out. I was hemorrhaging. (Kind of funny to hear him tell it…it was like it was no big deal. “I was only coding for less than a minute.” Gee, coding at all seems like a big deal to me. But in comparison to what was to come….it wasn’t I guess!)
(Oh, and a side note…..most of this story, the details of what happened are all second hand. It is what was told to me or what I discovered from reading my charts after the fact….and yes! Yes, I did read all of my charts after. The science nerd in me snuck back out and I really enjoyed reading the charts!)
They started looking for the cause of the bleeding. It wasn’t terribly clear at first where the blood was coming from.
The decision was made to take me to surgery. I woke at this point. I looked at Paul. I cried. (At least I thought I cried….turns out, I probably didn’t, I just thought I was crying) I had no words. Our baby was gone. I felt like a failure. I felt empty. I felt horrible. I just wasn’t strong enough to do this. It seemed as though we were in a sprint down the hallway by this point. The lights above me were flying. (I’m sure we weren’t actually sprinting, but I was told in no uncertain terms, that they WERE indeed moving fast. Very fast!!) I was nauseous…but I’m often nauseous. I looked to Paul. He’s always the one who warns the nurse that if I say I’m nauseous, be ready. He was there, but he wasn’t saying anything. We got to the elevator, Paul gave me a kiss. I tried telling him I was sorry. And that I loved him. And I hoped he could still love me after yet another failed pregnancy. He wasn’t listening (more to the point, I wasn’t actually talking….funny thing about being medicated and having oxygen strapped to your face, you think you’re talking, but you’re not!)
Next thing I knew he was gone. But I felt it. I felt the rosary in my hand. He put it in my hand and made sure I had it with me. In having that, I knew I had him too! I don’t remember getting out of the elevator. I don’t remember getting to surgery. I don’t remember as much as I wish I did.
I do remember opening my eyes and trying to get up. I wanted to leave. But the pain…..oh my gosh the pain. It held me to the bed like 10,000 pounds of lead on my chest. I wanted Paul. I wanted my baby. I wanted anything familiar. I heard voices. They were panicked. Almost mad. I heard them yelling because my eyes were open. Why were they yelling? Things didn’t make sense. Orders were flying across the air back and forth above my bed. Some voices seemed familiar…most did not. I couldn’t understand why they sounded so mad. I wasn’t feeling good. Okay….that’s an understatement, even for the state I was in at the time, but I had no idea why all the fuss in the room. In my head, my baby was gone and I didn’t feel good. And I just wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to close my eyes. Why couldn’t they all just go away and just let me be. It’s not a big deal that I was feeling so crummy…I just had given birth….right? My head tried lifting off the pillow. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I closed my eyes. I wanted this all to just end.
But in that moment I heard a voice. It was a woman. And it was close. I felt her. I know she was there. And I knew the voice. Her voice felt like a hug. And all she kept saying was “Jordan”. Sometimes it was a whisper. Calm and patient. Other times it grew impatient, almost pleading. “Jordan”. That was it. My first born’s name. Constant and in a way, urging. I heard it often. I heard it in the chaos. I heard it in the quiet. I heard her over and over. She needed me to hear it. I didn’t want to. I wanted quiet. But I heard her. (I will talk more about her in a later post….those that know me well, may have an idea of who “she” is…)
Little did I know how severe things were. I had no idea I had already coded once. I had no idea that I was bleeding out. I had no idea they didn’t think I was going to make it.
I coded a second time. Things were grim. Very grim. Paul was busy trying to deal with Josephine. She was in bad shape, but apparently I was worse. The poor guy had to deal with all of this. In a matter of moments, his worse nightmare was coming true. Not one, but both of us were in critical condition.
I was bleeding faster than they knew what to do with. They were giving me blood, but I was losing it faster than they could put it in. They were putting out a request to everyone in the hospital to donate. Even some of the nurses I found out later were calling spouses and friends and asking if they could donate. The whole hospital knew on some level what was going on and they ALL rallied around my team.
The operating room was bursting at the seams. Every available doctor had been called. Nurses were lined up outside the room since there was no space left just waiting to be called on for service. Three OB/Gyn doctors were frantically working. Trying everything they had tried before, trying everything they had even heard of. The head surgeon was there, doctors from ICU and anesthesiologists were there. The whole hospital had turned their attention to this one mom. Me. Talk about humbling! The first code had gone out throughout the whole hospital and I was told that there are certain departments that get people’s attention. Code’s don’t happen from Labor and Delivery very often and when they do, it brings the entire hospital to it’s knees. Codes are never okay, but when it’s on a brand new mom….well, nobody wants to think about that!
I woke again. Oh the pain. I wish I could describe it. It’s frustrating to not have the words to fully express what it was I was feeling. Once again there was panic in the room. I started getting a touch frustrated. No one seemed to be listening to me. And they definitely were not leaving me alone like I wanted. I was tired. I didn’t feel good. I just wanted everyone to go away. I hurt. Every part of me hurt in a way I can’t explain and I was telling them this and no one would listen. I felt comforting hands across my forehead. I heard a voice assuring me I would be asleep soon and to just hold on. He told me that he knew how much I was hurting and it wouldn’t last much longer. He kept talking until I was indeed back asleep. (I figured out later that I kept coming to because the medicine to knock me out….the anesthesia, it is in your blood stream….you know…the blood stream that was bleeding out faster than they could replace it. So I kept coming to. And that was NOT what they wanted. The chaos and “anger” I kept hearing was them wanting me to be sedated again….for obvious reasons!)
They continued working. Trying every trick they knew. I coded a third time. My doctor said at one point, it just got to be too much. He had to step out. I wasn’t just a patient to him. He had delivered Noah, he was there when we found out we lost Stephen and he was the one who delivered our beautiful little angel. He had shared in our grief and we had learned of some of his own grief as well. We had cried together many times, for countless hours. We had a bond. He and Paul had spent many appointments chuckling about jokes and pondering life. He wanted to save me. He needed to save me. And he didn’t think he could. He called on the best surgeons in the hospitals. He turned to all the staff he knew and trusted and they worked for hours….seven hours that day to be exact….trying to stop the bleeding, trying to save my life. They had already made the decision to remove my uterus. Not that there was much choice, they had discovered that it had ruptured in my attempt to do a VBAC. That was why I was bleeding. But removing it didn’t solve the bigger problem. I had developed a condition called DIC. DIC is short for Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation. This is a condition brought on by trauma and can cause a person to bleed out due to clotting issues.
I was told many stats by many staff. DIC is often fatal in my circumstance. In fact, somewhere I did some math and figured that I only stood a 0.013% chance of surviving.
The nurses and staff that were monitoring the surgery from different parts of the hospital, kept expecting the team to call it. Declare me dead. Stop operating. But the team that was in that room working on me never gave up. From the sounds of it, they had every right too. No one who was watching and knew what was going on would have questioned it. The facts were there and this was not in my favor! But they didn’t give up. Not when it mattered so much!
The truth of the matter though was that after hours of operating, it was clear there was nothing more they could do. As I was told, every time they touched part of me, it would burst and start bleeding. I had gone through 42 units of blood product. FORTY-TWO!!! (A human body holds 5-6 units for reference) They decided it was time to see if somehow my body would or even could take over. They stopped surgery. As Paul describes it, they packed me full of gauze, saran-wrapped me close to try to prevent infection and said a prayer. (Lots of prayers!!!)
Again I came to. I had no idea where I was. I heard voices. This time one in particular stood out. I knew it. I recognized it right away. It was Fr. Ken, our priest. I was glad to hear him, but I couldn’t quite figure out why he was there…it took a moment…oh yeah. The baby. The memory came crashing back. We had lost another baby and someone had asked him to come. (Well, that’s what I was thinking anyway) He was talking to me, repeating himself. “Amanda. It’s me. It’s Fr Ken. Amanda. It’s Fr. Ken” I know he said other stuff but I don’t remember what it was. I kept answering him, but he kept saying the same thing over and over again. Things just didn’t make sense. Once again the frustration set in. Why was no one listening? Why did they all seem to ignore what I was saying?
Fr. Ken recounted what he witnessed in that room with me later. He shared with me that he’s been with many people as they are dying and there is a sound they make. It is the unmistakable sound of dying. He told me I was making that sound. Hearing him say that now…makes my heart skip a beat! It scares me to know how close I was to dying. How I could have not been here to grow old with Paul. I wouldn’t have been here for my boys. I would have never met Josephine. She would have grown up never knowing me…
They monitored me closely all evening, and somehow, against all odds, my stats started improving. By 7AM the next morning (after about a 12 hour break) I was stable! They went to work putting me back together. After a few hours, surgery was complete and I was holding steady….for the most part.
I remember waking up sometime later on Monday. Dr Onuigbo was there. I remember waking and seeing him and making the joke that I wasn’t doing a VBAC next time. A c-section for the next baby would be just fine. He didn’t laugh (Once again remember, I wasn’t actually talking….I just thought I was!)
I dozed in and out a lot. I couldn’t quite keep my eyes open. Paul was there. Afton and Matthew were there. Lisa was there. I think my sister was there….wait. My sister was there? She lives in Florida. Why was she there? And my mom and my brother were there. Nothing was making sense. How did my family get there. In my mind I had JUST had the baby. I needed answers. But I finally realized I couldn’t talk. At some point I realized I was intubated. Not cool. Not talking for me is not an option. I mean seriously. This was not an option. A nurse got a clipboard so I could write. But I couldn’t hold a pen very well, let alone write. They wrote out the alphabet and a few common words so I could point and spell. It was slow. But I could do it.
(This picture was Wednesday morning when I was allowed to look at my computer for the first time since I went into labor on Sunday)
Paul told me our baby was alive. I didn’t buy it. I had seen her and knew there was no way she had survived! “She was” he assured me. She needed a little help and was in the NICU, but she was alive. (Oh Lord….he’s good. Didn’t actually lie to me, but wow did he leave out a LOT of the story, like the whole life flight to Iowa City….understandably so though!) They showed me pictures. I was foggy enough to let it go and stop asking about her. (I still didn’t believe them frankly and didn’t want to keep talking about it!)
I was still in rough shape. I was fighting the oxygen and I kept slipping into little spells. I know I gave my family and friends quite a few scares throughout the evening.
I remember “talking” with them. I remember laughing a lot. But I remember tension in the room too. At this point. I still had no idea how sick I had been. NO IDEA!
Dr. Onuigbo came in the next morning. (Tuesday now) He was smiling, but he was more serious than he usually is. He looked tired. He told me we needed to talk. (Well, he talked, I listened) He told me no more babies…I got it. I had stressed him out with that delivery. He didn’t want to go through that again. I nodded, but in my head, I was agreeing to disagree. I could tell he thought it wasn’t a good idea for me to have another, but I knew I could do it! I really wanted at least one more. One more pretty little baby. I would let him think I was done, but I knew better! He went on to tell me they had operated on me. I had a lot of recovery ahead of me. And he was gone. Doctors and nurses were a constant stream of activity in my room through the day. Finally they were talking about extubating me. They would pull the tube, but I couldn’t try talking right away. Really? They would let me know when I could try. I was sick and tired of pointing to letters to spell words, so I would agree to any progress, but I was impatient to get talking! The tube came out and I was free. Sort of. There was a lot of pain. A LOT of pain! It hurt, but I kind of didn’t care. My feet were the size of watermelon. They put massaging wraps on them. They seemed to be concerned about lots of stuff. My feet. My incisions. (That I hadn’t really seen or realized just how many there were) Everything hurt. And I was still tired. But I was glad to visit with people. So many people came in to check on me. It was another day before I even realized I was in the ICU. I thought I was just in a hospital room. Afton got a big picture of the baby and put it on the wall. But I couldn’t see it most of the time. So she taped a smaller one to my bed. Right by my head so I could see her. But it was just a picture. I still didn’t believe she was alive. My sister took video of her so I could see her breathing. And hear her pathetic little cry. Softest cry I had ever heard. And everyone asked about the baby. It was sinking in that the baby was alive. Our little girl was alive. But I was realizing that she was very sick. I somehow figured out that she was in Iowa City. I don’t even remember figuring it out, but somehow I knew.
At some point I was talking with a friend and something she said took me off guard. She asked how I was doing with the news. Okay I replied. She continues on and said she had wondered how I was going to take the news of not being able to have any more kids….
I kind of smiled, but on the inside something clicked. I can’t have kids. Dr Onuigbo. He wasn’t telling me that I SHOULDN’T have any more kids….he was trying to tell me I COULDN’T have any more, but I didn’t understand at the time. Oh my gosh. The tears were threatening to overtake me. Luckily, I didn’t have the strength to even cry. But I died a little at that realization. There were no more babies in my future. At least not from my body. I asked a nurse later about it to be sure I understood. She gently laughed and said “Sweetie,…that beautiful baby girl literally broke the mold.”
I’m not sure what was more painful in that moment….my body or the thought of no more babies.
Dr. V came in and sat on the edge of my bed. He was one of the doctors assigned to my case. I liked him. He had a ton of energy. But he liked the Packers. Oh well, can’t have it all I guess. 🙂 I enjoyed his visits though. Very honest, very real, but very fun and lighthearted at times too! On one visit he asked if I was ready for the recovery I was facing. I grinned and told him I’d had a c-section before. I was good. “Oh honey. What we did to you was nothing like a c-section!” was his reply.
They did a scan at one point to be sure I didn’t have any blood clots in my arm. It seems I was showing some signs of possible clots. Another dr came in to read it. He looked at it and saw a small clot in my right arm. That freaked me out. Was I in line to have a heart attack or stroke? I point blank asked him about. His response. “Yes there’s a clot. But it’s not like it’s going to kill you or anything.” And he just left. (mic drop!) That was his response? I looked at Paul who was in the room at this point. “Did he just say that?” Yep. He sure did. Okay…so I must be out of the woods at this point if that was his reaction to seeing that. We laughed quite a bit after that. It was what we needed. We were scared for Josie. Paul was still scared for me and I just didn’t know it. The poor guy was beside himself. He was running back and forth between Covenant and Iowa City and trying to be with the boys too. In fact he took them by himself on Wednesday to Iowa City to see her. They all saw her before I did. That was a bittersweet pill to swallow. I was glad she was alive for them to see, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact I hadn’t seen my own baby. At least not alive. And at this point I didn’t even know when I would. Conversations started happening about transferring me to Iowa City. Nobody seemed to know how long I was going to be in the hospital. There were many more questions than answers. One thing was becoming clear. We still had a very long road ahead of us…..