First things first: it did not all go wrong. I have a beautiful baby girl and she was healthy and strong and perfect from day one.
Mom, however, is a different story.
The labor part
My son was delivered via emergency C-section which left me with a very bitter memory of my first delivery. I really wanted to avoid that this time and wanted to try and have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section). The plan was the following: if labor started naturally before the due date, we try for a vaginal birth, if not, we have an elective C-section on the due date. In the end, our little bundle of joy decided to arrive in this world one day before her due date.
It started in the middle of the night and got really painful already at the beginning which made dropping off our little one at grandma’s and the journey to our chosen hospital quite difficult. Luckily I was able to get an epidural early and slept through most of the night. But this is also where my troubles started. It worked all too well and I couldn’t feel anything below my waist so they had to take it out. It still worked for the next couple of hours so I was pain-free but by the time it started wearing off we were nowhere near delivery and already 10 hours in labor.
After all this time things still weren’t progressing so we had to go for a C-section anyway.
The beginning was horrible because I had a hard time breathing. It is a terrifying feeling and I truly hope I never get to experience it again. It wasn’t dangerous or anything, just scary. As soon as our daughter was out, the pressure was relieved and I was breathing again.
And then I saw it: my partner’s face as she emerged from behind the curtain and was carried towards the table for the first checks. I will never, ever forget his expression. A mixture of surprise and relief but most of all sheer joy. The next moment I heard her cry and a minute later she was carried towards me so I could see her as well. We touched cheek to cheek and even got a photo of it. It was priceless.
Turns out all my fears regarding an elective C-section were unfounded. Yes, it still required a longer recovery time but the birth experience itself was still pretty amazing. I am very grateful to the hospital staff for making it this way. When I was finally ready to leave the operating room and we passed our birthing room, I saw our baby daddy already cuddling up to our daughter. It was a beautiful sight.
For the next couple of hours I was kind of drowsy, but when I finally came to, the bad news started pouring in.I had very low hemoglobin and needed a transfusion but also had some blood in my uring that needed to be cleared out. This meant an extended stay in the ICU and a total of 7 days in the hospital but luckily all parameters improved quite quickly so that was a relief.
What wasn’t a relief was my headaches. From the moment I first stood up from my hospital bed I had a debilitating, killer headache that made it impossible for me to do anything. It was fine while lying down, but made it impossible to do anything. I even ate my meals in splits, I had to lie down for some relief every couple of bites. It lasted two whole weeks.
At this point, I have to mention how fantastic my partner has been during this time. My boys visited us every day during our extended stay and even after we came home he stayed at home and did pretty much everything while I waited for this headache to go away. He truly was the best support system ever and a really proud and sweet dad.
But the story sadly does not end here.
When Zala was about three weeks old and I was finally starting to feel like I was getting better, I got a UTI. At least I thought I did. A couple of days later I started bleeding a lot more and a sharp pain appeared on the right part of my abdomen. Even though I was feeling much better the next morning I still went back to the hospital to get checked out. Just in case. I ended up staying for another 10 days.
The culprit was a hematoma that slowly formed after Zala’s birth and got infected. That had to open me up again to clear it out and after that, I was on heavy duty antibiotics to clear the rest. This meant two things: recovering all over again and no breastfeeding.
At least Zala was able to stay with me at the hospital. This was a tremendous morale boost for me. The staff took care of her while I couldn’t but also took fantastic care of me and I will be forever grateful for their care, their sweetness, and their support during this tough time.
The light at the end of the tunnel
We are now finally home and I’m still recovering but already feeling much better. I am still on antibiotics but with this kind, I am able to breastfeed so our precious baby and I are working really hard on establishing that again. I am still waiting for some check-ups but I am very hopeful and getting stronger every day. But I still have to conquer my fear. With every step, every new task, every hour Zala is fussy I am terrified of the effort it takes and the toll it takes. Mostly I feel fine but every sting or movement or spasm starts a wave of panic. It’s so hard to distinguish regular recovery from the signs of a relapse. I have finally started enjoying our little princess and I don’t want to let go of this feeling.
Hopefully this time it sticks.