April 05, 2004
permalink Post birth complications

My god, it's now over three and a half years after my daughter was born and I've just discoverd that I never wrote about the post birth complications I experienced with that birth. It's probably just as well in a way as I would have written so much. To be honest, although the birth of my first child was unmatchable in terms of joy, relief and euphoria, some of what happened over the following days was extremely distressing and quite traumatic for me and my husband.

I guess, with 27 kg of mostly fluid on board, something was bound to happen. So what happened was this:

On day two my caesarean scar burst open, leaving a gaping wound. My husband saw it, my newborn baby girl probably saw it, but I was oblivious to it. Just lying there. I kept wanting to touch the wound but my partner, almost gagging, obliged me not to. The obstetrician was called in and she decided to stitch me up in the ward room rather than have me put under a general anaesthetic in the operating theatre. It seeemd that the massive amount of fluid (oedema) in my system was trying to get out through the fastest route possible, my scar.

Fluid kept leaking from the wound at around 100ml an hour, which was quite disturbing, and a drain was put in. Soon, some of the midwives who were meant to be looking after me seemed to prefer avoiding me and would take a very long time to respond to my calls. I needed help draining the fluid. Very distressing. Very difficult trying to establish breastfeeding during this period as the wound would leak whenever I sat down. So I had to feed lying down or standing up for the early days. This didn't bother me as I was so keen to breastfeed, but midwives were overheard to say "Can you believe she is trying to breastfeed". I'm so glad I did.

It was really messy for days. Body fluids of various types leaking left right and centre. I felt awful. There were some lovely midwives but some were unkind. "How do you feel about yourself dear", seeming to be almost blaming me for the outrageous amount of fluids etc.

I was vomiting from the Nephetidine and who knows what else, leading up to the birth and had diahorrea afterwards. I was put on about five different types of antibiotics which were probably compounding my feeling of ill health.

I began getting visual disturbances and language processing disturbances, saying one word when I meant another. It was very difficult to communicate for a day or two and due to my patchy vision, it was hard to see my beautiful baby clearly at times.

In hindsight, I believe, as do my doctors, that I was experiencing cerebral oedema as part of pre-eclampsia. I had fluid everwhere in my body. Perhaps as the fluid was leaking out of me, the changes in fluid level or possibly blood pressure were affecting everything? Who knows. But it was pretty scary.

When I questioned my doctor about it again over a year after the birth, he said he believed I had experienced Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES).

Thank goodness my wonderful partner was there to do so much of the baby care and to care for and advocate for me. Thank goodness also for my wonderful lactation consultant.

My obstetrician at one point had to restitch the drain which was quite painful, and it finally took one fabulous nurse (my guardian angel) to call in a stoma therapist, who was finally, after multiple attempts, able to secure a drain to my wound that would not leak all over the place.

My vision and langauge disturbances disappeared after a few days, although my fine reading vision took a bit longer to recover. Within five days, the leaking from the caesarean scar had stopped.

My memory was of feeling alone and alienated during this time. But once it was over it was over... thank god!

By the time we left the hospital, we were desperate to get out. I still have a photo of myself snipping off the hospital ID band with almost maniacal gusto.

When we returned home with our darling, beautiful baby girl, it looked and felt like heaven. So good to be home.

I was healthy (well, getting there!). My daughter was alive and healthy. And we were all together. These were the important things.

Posted by M.A. at April 05, 2004 03:07 PM


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