Postpartum infection, or my second-go-round at the hospital
How do you like my fancy captioning? The black typeface looks very ominous. POSTPARTUM INFECTION.
Well, it is ominous. And something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. If you’re looking for the short shortcut story, here it is:
I got a bacterial infection in my uterus after the birth, spiked an insanely high fever, was hospitalized for two days on IV antibiotics and am supposed to really take it easy and just rest for the coming weeks.
Here’s the shortcut version:
One week out from BabyLoves’ birth, I felt my worst. Is this normal? After a week of a few different healthcare provider opinions, it was determined I should go see an OBGYN and find out what the heck was making me so sick. The OB was fabulous. Oops–this is the short version. She diagnosed me with “endometritis”–no, not endometriosis–but an infection in the lining of my uterus that’s very uncommon for vaginal births. She wanted me to go to the hospital ASAP for IV antibiotics to prevent, or treat if it was already happening, sepsis. Two days later, BabyLoves & I were happily discharged, bacteria-free. And now it feels like I’m just starting recover from his epic birth.
Longer version? Details on how awesome the OB was and how fabulous our nursing care was at the hoppy? Here it is.
BabyLoves’ birth was great and hard. Wonderful labor. Terrible pushing & tearing. But his girth worked in his favor for a great latch from second one, great sleeper, great weight gainer, and overall super happy baby. He’s up almost two pounds since birth already and we’re not even four weeks out yet.
My recovery was slow initially. I kept wondering how long I’d need to ice and be on anti-inflamatories that first week back home. I’d shuffle around, lay on the couch and watch the big kids play while baby slept on my chest. AA stayed home that whole week and was amazing, of course.
But taking Motrin around the clock wasn’t my idea of fun and as the week’s end grew near, I kept thinking I should be done with this already.
Reality check: I did push out practically a 10 pound baby, and have almost two hours of repairs. Yes, I probably still needed Motrin.
Friends came by with food frequently, saving us from cereal for every meal, and I felt pretty normal as I chatted with them, showing them chunky baby and thanking them profusely for the food. AA’s sister & brother-in-law happened to be in town and I actually got out of my bathrobe to say hello briefly, and offer them brownies.
But by one week out, I felt so much pain and discomfort. Two baths a day with my sister’s wonderful sitz tea soak would dull the pain, but when I got out, it was back. My lower back hurt. Something had to be wrong. I smelled weird, too!
On the one hand, I kept rationalizing it, thinking, well, you had a really big baby and lots of stitches. On the other hand, I’d think, well, you’ve gone through this twice before and never hurt like this nor felt sick overall. Just yucky. Just bleh. Just can’t-move-pale-cheeks-no-appetite-stabbing-pain bad.
I won’t bore you with the details of who was looking at my swimsuit area, but eventually I was referred to a lovely OBGYN group that works with my midwives.
I didn’t want to go. I’d get better. I didn’t want to pack up the baby. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t know if I could get out of bed. By Sunday, I was downright shaking with chills! Saying goodnight to SuperBoy, I had to turn off his fan. It was achingly cold in his room. I walked around, holding the baby, closing all the windows on the second floor. It was freeeeezing out. Until suddenly it was a sauna. I couldn’t breathe. Gasping for air, and dripping sweat a lllll down my legs. My armpits smelled like raw chicken gone bad. Open those windows! No, wait, turn on the A/C! How could the whole house be on fire?
Then it felt like my prescription suddenly not right? Was I wearing AA’s glasses? Stumbling around looking for what presumably could only be my glasses somewhere–not on my face–it hit me. You’re getting worse. You’re really sick.
But I ignored the voice. I cried in the bathtub that night–ugly crying. Like the time my business professor in college shredded me after a presentation in front of a large class. Like my face was the inside of a watermelon. Hard crying. Maybe it’s postpartum depression that’s making me so sick? Maybe I’m a big wuss.
**This is why I’m sharing these all too personal details about my infection. If you’re feeling overall sick, and you have stabbing pain in your swimsuit region, run, don’t walk to your provider. And don’t leave until they’ve ruled out endometritis. If they figure it out early enough, you can just take a round of oral antibiotics, usually augmenten. You’re not a wuss and you’re not a complainer. You may have a very serious infection that can affect the rest of your baby-making-parts and go into your bloodstream and shut down your organs. No joke, ladies.**
Where were we? Oh, yes, the ugly crying. Followed by my mother the following morning telling me in no uncertain terms that I looked very ill and that either I go to an OBGYN or the ER. And it was her birthday. Happy birthday, mama. How could I tell her no? She was looking very cross. Very cross indeed.
Dragging my feet and hauling my baby in the sling, I sludged up to the doctor’s office with my sister, who kindly agreed last minute to come with–just in case he fussed and she needed to hold him while I was examined. Good thing she was there, because as it turned out, I was feeling worse and worse and could scarcely put one foot in front of the other to get into the office, collapse onto the examining table, and close my eyes, waiting, enduring, waiting for the doctor.
She was a fabulous practitioner, great bedside manner, and cousin to my other sister’s high school boyfriend. NO WAY–it’s a small world after all. After the pleasantries, she checked me out. Turns out I was very hot. Everywhere. Like a little human spa. VERY very hot, and with a fever clocking in at the amazing temperature of 102. My abdomen was spastically sore when she pushed on it, and oh, yes, I felt badly everywhere.
She explained to me that I was very sick. That I had a bacterial infection in my uterus. That she wanted to admit me to the hospital across the street–right away– for IV antibiotics. That I would need to be there a few days. That she wanted to prevent the bacteria from going into my bloodstream (sepsis) and then other organs. That she wasn’t kidding. Oh, yeah, and that I really shouldn’t be driving myself anywhere.
What? Endome-what? The hospital? Right now? I just want to lay down on the floor and sleep/die. The hospital overnight? What about my newborn?
Fast-forward to returning to the hospital we had just birthed at two weeks prior, with the world’s sweetest nurses, back to the maternity ward, with my baby and my husband, and my iPad, and some fresh fruit, and my lavender bathrobe. When we arrived, I could barely walk. This time, not due to contractions like the last. This time because the infection was sapping the life out of me. I wheezed my name at the nurses’ station and they hustled us into a room. They were expecting us, me, this. Sick mama alert!
I slept, got medications, slept, got more medications, and assuredly killed every bacteria in a 5 mile radius of me. It was exhausting but obviously urgently necessary.
BabyLoves was everyone’s fav baby, as most babies are not that big around there. At every shift change, the new nurse would say, Oh he’s just so big and look at how well he nurses! Small (big?) favors in so many departments with his personality and person.
Our beloved midwives stopped by and chatted. The nurses were capable, caring, and very attentive. But I gotta ask: who doesn’t feel guilty asking a woman with tons of education and expertise to fetch you water? Awkward servitude. We had the same nurses a few times go ’round and by the end, they felt like family. Hell, my mom even made them fudge.
The only unresolved matter was the results of an ultrasound before I was discharged. Thankfully, no sign of any remaining placenta, but there were blood clots. I’m supposed to let my doc know they emerge, or my fever restarts. Hopefully everything goes back to business as usual in the lady department and my body can turn to healing up. Fast. Because my poor mom & sisters & dad & husband. They’ve been carrying the big load of two squirmy, semi-naughty kids. And I’ve been eating food in bed. And hanging out on my computer.
Last, but not least, truly, truly, thank you. Thank you for your love & prayers. Thank you for reading & being here. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Big smooches, gentle readers!