Fool me twice...
I was never, ever, never going to have another baby. My first son came out perfect after 3 hours of pushing, tearing and epidural wearing off during the episiotomy. Two hours later I was in the bathroom with a nurse, watching more and more blood spread all over the place. I was sent home with iron pills, half my blood, a baby, and PTSD.
I don't remember anything about my baby the first year. I remember pain, exhaustion, doctor's appointments, gall bladder surgery and a host of friends who lifted my baby for 8 weeks while I recovered. I look at pictures of him and think, "wow, he's so cute! he was a good sleeper too. what was it like to hold him?"
I eventually healed physically and emotionally, with the help of my therapist and time, and vowed to never get pregnant again. I would hold all the babies at church, teach preschool Art for my toddler fix, and then go home to meet my only child--the third generation "only" in his Dad's line.
12 years later I finally thought I might be able to do this. Older, heavier, but infinitely less worried about the non-essentials of infant care. My pregnancy was mostly uneventful until the last month, when my blood pressure went way up(the same as the first time). Two weeks before my due date, we decided to induce labor because of preeclampsia. Things progressed almost the same way, step for step, except this time I didn't dilate at all. Meanwhile, my BP would skyrocket, then go back to normal, then crash when magnesium was injected--to prevent a stroke.
The baby came into the world via c-section, stretched his full length for the first time, and seemed to be relieved to be out of his cramped apartment. My recovery, stitches, etc was so much better, with daily monitoring of my blood pressure to be safe. I was so happy that relatively little had gone wrong--sure, I hated being hooked up to 13 different tubes and monitors for so long, but that was a small price to pay for not having a stroke and getting a baby out of the deal.
6 weeks later it was thanksgiving week, which to be frank, I overdid it with family visits and late nights. I thought I was just getting a bad cold--bronchitis, maybe, when we got home from dinner at my parents' house. I coughed all night long, sitting propped up in an armchair and breastfeeding every couple of hours. I went to my GP that morning, and was told I had asthma, and that my lungs sounded fine. It felt like a wad of phlegm was stuck in the very back of my throat that would not go away.
I spent another sleepless, miserable night coughing until I retched, with nothing to show for it, only being able to say one word at a time before taking another breath. I called my doctor again to say this wasn't normal, and she recommended going to an urgent care center if decongestants didn't work. I nursed the baby one more time, then drove myself to the closest urgent care. I didn't want to wake up the baby and my husband to make a 10 minute trip.
It was like an exponential deterioration. Getting from the car to the front desk was agony, giving my name and information was nearly impossible. almost right away, thankfully, the staff took me back and determined I needed to go to the hospital asap. My first ride in an ambulance, yay! In the ER, my O2 levels were very low, my lungs were full of fluid and I thought I just had really bad pneumonia.
It wasn't until that night in the ICU that a cardiologist said I had peripartum heart failure. I was hooked up to a cpap machine to fill my lungs, which made me panicky and claustrophobic, and I was scared about not being able to pump and getting sicker with mastitis, not having enough pumped milk for the baby at home, scared I might die. A nurse said it was "really important for me to calm down." I couldn't answer with a tirade of expletives because I couldn't breathe, so I said GIVE. ME. XANAX. THEN. They got a breastpump from the maternity ward, and notes from the lactation consultant about how often to use it, but it was another two days before I was able to talk to an actual person, in person about how to wean myself, because the medications for my treatment were not safe for breastmilk. "You could pump until you don't need the medications any more, and then resume..." she said. No, I said. Best decision of my life.
My heart is back to normal now, praise God. I have a lot of other health problems because my body REALLY HATES BEING PREGNANT and tells me so. This time I will listen, and enjoy two boys who made all this suffering worthwhile.