“There she is,” someone said.
I was awake. There was no passage of time. I was back in the operating room. I was freezing cold again.
I wasn’t really awake, though. Someone was talking to me, telling me that everything went well, the boys were here, and they were both healthy and strong. The babies were born at 6:54 and 6:55. I was groggy and disconnected. I barely understood what people were saying to me. I couldn’t move, and I don’t think I had the ability to talk.
Presumably, they woke me up not long after all my guts were back in place. Stitching everything up takes about 45 minutes. It had been explained to me that general anesthesia was not something where they wait for you to “come out of it,” or they wait for you to wake up. It’s more like flipping a switch. They can have you out, or they can wake you up within a matter of minutes.
I barely remember this, but one of the nurses put a baby’s cheek against my cheek. She said “Here’s one of your sons.” I think I sighed or moaned, because it was all I could do. In a flash, he was gone. They began rolling me out of the operating room.
In the hallway, I was told that we passed by Dave, and I reached out my hand to him. He was unable to take it because he was holding one of the babies. I just barely remember any of this.
The labor and delivery unit has their own recovery room, but for some reason, I needed to go to a recovery room on a different floor. Dave was unable to follow me because the baby already had a tracking device on his ankle. They were very strict about security. The tracking device set off alarms and froze the elevator we were all going to take to the recovery room. So I was taken to a different floor, and Dave followed the babies to the nursery.
I don’t remember anything about the recovery room. I only remember that I was FREEZING. I was shivering uncontrollably. Someone asked me if I wanted some warm blankets. I must have nodded or said yes. I don’t remember responding. But my brain was screaming, goddamnit, YES, BRING ME WARM BLANKETS! Besides that, I don’t remember the recovery room at all. Not a moment of it.
Dave stayed with the babies in the nursery. He said they were on opposite sides of the room, as nurses worked on them both. He oscillated from one side of the room to the other. After a while, he was asked if he had gone to see me in the recovery room. The whole time, he didn’t know he could visit me there. But by then, I was about to come back upstairs anyway. I was out of it, and didn’t remember anything, so it was better he was with the babies.
The next thing I remember was being wheeled back into our room at 10 o’clock or so. It was dark outside. I feel like I was fully present from then on. I got oxygen. I had some squeezy leg cuffs put on my feet and calves to prevent blood clots. I already had the IVs, and it was explained to me that I should push a button to get pain medicine. I was also on magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures relating to pre-eclampsia. I didn’t know that until later.
I slept in the hospital bed, and Dave slept on an uncomfortable pull-out couch. I had a nurse who was a sweetie pie, and she seemed to check on me constantly. As it turned out, she was checking on me every hour. I was her only patient. She came and took my blood pressure, did some other fiddling, and pressed on my belly, which was incredibly painful. In the hours after the delivery, they were trying to help push the uterus down, and trying to help it shrink back to size.
After the babies are delivered, and the placentas were removed, there is still vaginal bleeding. Even with a c-section. Basically, shedding the placentas creates a wound in the uterus. And getting the uterus to shrink and contract helps control the bleeding. Did you want to know this? Maybe not. But now you are smarter, so you’re welcome.
So the nurse was checking on all my vitals every hour, and I snoozed in between. I don’t remember what kind of sleep it was. I was completely encumbered by tubes and wires. And pain. I couldn’t move any part of my core without pain. No sneezing, no coughing, no clearing my throat.
I didn’t want to think about the state of my belly. I had seen the videos. I need not elaborate here. But it is safe to say that a c-section is major abdominal surgery. And I did everything I could to remain completely immobile.
The next morning, the nurses had their 12 hour shift change and I got a new nurse. I was amazed at how wonderful all the nurses were. Nurses who weren’t even assigned to me came in to say hi, or to check on me. There were so many, I had a hard time remembering names. But they were all so nice, and so supportive. I was able to joke with them, and they made it so easy to be in good spirits.
As the new shift started, my day nurse was still checking my vitals very frequently. Lab techs came and took my blood multiple times. It was a blur to me.
I don’t remember when the nose bleed started.
I had a couple little nose bleeds in the previous week. One was just barely there. Just some bloody mucus that went away. Another was a bit of blood, but not a gusher. It went away after a few minutes. I didn’t think much of them, since nose bleeds can happen during pregnancy. It’s just another of those weird side effects that can be normal. Or they can be a sign of something else.
I had the something else. And the nose bleed I got was epic. It was something that the nurses said they had never seen before. Nose bleeds don’t normally sound dangerous. But mine was bad. It was very, very bad.
The nose bleed deserves its own damned chapter. So that next.