There were a few things that happened during and right after Thora was born that didn’t seem like they fit into the birth story, so here’s the down low on those things:
At my 20 week ultrasound, the tech thought I had an accessory lobe on my placenta. Usually, accessory lobes are like an extra little “bloop” of placenta connected to the main one. After Thora was born and they took the placenta out, we discovered that the accessory lobe was essentially a whole placenta of its own, nearly as large as the main one! This is really unusual. Daniel had the presence of mind to take a photo for me and it’s disgusting and wonderful. I’d post the photo here, but it’s kind of gory? I mean it’s an internal organ in a plastic tub with some blood, basically. I texted it to a couple friends so we could marvel over the weirdness though!
During surgery, I overheard one of the doctors say something about “sending it to the lab” and “seeing what Pathology had to say about it” and at that point, I could probably have declined the testing, but I was also curious as to why I might have a double placenta. Like maybe I was supposed to have twins but one of them didn’t work out? I don’t know.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the pathology report was disappointingly normal. They essentially said it was a variation of normal and still classified it as an accessory lobe.
I had somebody lined up to encapsulate my placenta, so I was disappointed that I didn’t get to do that this time around, especially since the pathology report didn’t reveal any juicy information like an absorbed twin or anything. On the bright side, I’ve been doing really well emotionally and I didn’t lose very much blood during surgery, so I don’t feel like I desperately needed the placenta pills.
Upon my admission to the hospital, they took some blood for lab work. Oddly, despite having none of the obvious signs of preeclampsia like severe swelling, proteinuria, high blood pressure, headaches or visual disturbances, my liver function and kidney function tests came back with HORRIBLE numbers. My liver function test should have been somewhere in the 30s and it was 250+. Kidney function was also terrible, but I don’t know the exact numbers.
Because I had none of the other symptoms, they tentatively classified it as “Atypical HELLP Syndrome” and the OB on call, Dr. S, opted not to give me magnesium sulfate because my follow-up bloodwork showed my numbers were improving steadily. I am ENDLESSLY thankful to her for making that call. It was kind of a controversial one, given that the risk for skipping the mag was me having seizures – the OB I saw the next day said that had she been there and seen that first lab result, she would have put me on the mag straight away, no questions asked, even if the follow-up tests showed I was improving.
I really credit the lack of mag sulfate for my dramatically different recovery. I was able to get on and off my hospital bed earlier than I did after Wesley, with a minimum of pain and suffering, and I felt like my body was my own. With Wesley’s birth, I basically felt like I was wearing a fat suit and it was so hard to move.
The fact that I ended up with the “worse” version of preeclampsia is kind of scary to me. I assumed since I didn’t have any symptoms that I managed to make it through this pregnancy without any pre-e complications, but then I ended up with this weirdo version of HELLP.
Remember when my feet got really, really itchy a while back? We chalked it up to an estrogen spike, but knowing that my liver was basically toast at the end of my pregnancy makes me think that my liver was the cause of the itchy feet like the internet said it was.
It probably sounds really irresponsible, but I’m kind of thankful we didn’t investigate it further. Like, had I really pushed things, Denise could have done bloodwork and it probably would have showed poor liver function and then we would have had to make a decision about early induction, and I likely would have ended up with an emergency c-section and wouldn’t have gotten to labor at home at all. So! I’m kind of glad I didn’t follow up on that hunch.
I actually just got a call today saying my repeat bloodwork from my 2-week incision check was good – my numbers weren’t back to normal yet but they’re definitely trending that direction.
I touched on this in the actual birth story, but my two surgery experiences were so vastly different that I wanted to expand on this a bit more. With Wesley’s birth, I really felt it was something done to me instead of with me, and I was treated like a weird baby-carrying vessel that was entirely ignored during the procedure.
With Thora’s birth, the hospital staff definitely made both Daniel and I feel like we were part of the process. It’s actually hard for me to articulate how nice it felt to have somebody acknowledging me during the surgery and checking in to make sure I was comfortable. Even something as simple as where the anesthesiologist stood during the surgery! It’s such a small thing, but it made such a huge difference in my experience. JJ was right next to me where I could see him instead of standing behind my head, out of my view.
The atmosphere in the OR was also sort of jovial and friendly. It was probably technically an “emergency” c-section because it was unplanned, but it didn’t feel crazy or rushed like Wesley’s did. My mom works at the hospital, so I think a lot of people involved in the surgery knew I was her daughter. It didn’t get me VIP treatment or anything, but it did make the surgery less scary knowing that those people knew me (and I knew some of them). I could hear the doctors talking and everybody seemed cheerful, which helped it feel like a happy occasion versus the kind of dour atmosphere everybody had during Wesley’s birth.
I did know several of the OB nurses I had over the next few days, which was kind of fun. My mom was actually my night nurse the second evening we were there!
This birth story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention how amazing Daniel was throughout my labor and the subsequent hospital transfer and delivery. With Wesley’s birth, neither one of us had any idea what we were doing and we both felt panicky and unsure of ourselves. With Thora’s birth, we took Bradley birth classes that made us both way more confident in the labor process and what to expect.
Daniel spent basically eleven or twelve hours squeezing my hips with his hands to help me through contractions. It took a lot of effort and I am so appreciative – he didn’t complain about it at all. I’m not the sort of person that needs a lot of verbal cheerleading – it usually feels really artificial and silly to me. Daniel did a great job of recognizing when I needed supportive things said to me, and for the most part simply provided a comforting presence and the ever-important hip squeezes.
I obviously have no idea what it’s like watching your partner experience something as crazy as labor, but when we’re talking with people about the labor process, he’s quick to jump in and say how awesome I did. I haven’t really talked with him much about his experience specifically, but I get the impression that he is proud of the effort I put in and he obviously knows how important trying for a VBAC was to me so I know he’s glad I got to experience labor and pushing even if it didn’t end how we expected it to.
ALSO: I have to mention his expert hospital bag packing – we were seriously out of the house in about five minutes after we made the decision to transfer, and he managed to grab me a totally acceptable going-home outfit of yoga pants and two shirt options. Really the only things we missed were our phone chargers and a going-home outfit for the baby, which wasn’t even a big deal given that we live about a minute and a half from the hospital anyway so he could just go home to get stuff we forgot.
Long story short, he was the exact kind of labor support I needed and I love him to pieces.
On Monday, I got off the couch to use the bathroom and as soon as I made it in there I got full-body chills. My boobs were huge and hot, which is normal after your milk comes in and you get engorged, but I knew that the fever chills were a sign of mastitis, so I took my temperature: 99.5. I drank some water and took a nap, but when I woke up an hour later and took my temperature, it was 101.6, and I was already on ibuprofen and oxycodone + acetaminophen which should have done something about the fever.
Mastitis is a breast infection and the symptoms make you feel like you have the flu. I felt awful.
I got a doctor’s appointment for the next day. I did feel better that morning and my temperature was 98.2, but when I went in for the appointment the doctor was like, yep, I can see exactly where the infection is! She prescribed me some antibiotics to take for a week. I was nervous about getting thrush, but we seem to have avoided that for now (knock on wood).
Mastitis is absolutely no fun. Now I just have to hope I’m not one of the unlucky people that gets recurring mastitis! Gah.