November 18, 2009

Lesson Learned

Well I'm officially a terrible blogger. I'm smug and obnoxious if I post about how life as a family of four is just grand and I'm a drama queen if I only post to tell you about the minor catastrophes. This one, though, seems worth telling because I learned something that could help someone else, and that I found very little info about online.

It happened in Target. I'd gotten my Starbucks, chatted with a friend in the holiday aisle, and was well on my way to finishing my errands for Piper's second birthday party. I could feel the clot come out. And then the gush. I hoped the jumbo pad was enough while I headed to check out. I realized pretty quickly it wouldn't be and while I waited behind the woman whose card was declined five times, I tried to disctretely check that at least the leak was small and well hidden. It became clear it wouldn't be as I grew faint and queasy. The baby was crying in her carseat so I picked her up with her blanket draped down in front of me to help cover up. I managed to pay and push my cart to the car with her in that position but by now I noticed people noticing. No one offered to help the crazy bloody woman with the crying infant.

At my car I saw that the leak had expanded to roughly the size of a red diaper over my khaki cords. I got us all in the car and returned a call to my sister. She lives in another time zone so as I felt fainter I hung up and called my husband and told him to stay on the phone with me while I drove home and to meet me there. In my garage I stayed in the driver's seat to avoid passing out while I pulled the still crying baby up front to nurse her and called my OB. There is a lot of multitasking with a newborn.

My OB said I should have a sono to check for retained products of conception. I remembered that the placenta hadn't delivered naturally and the OB had to reach in and yank it out. J was home in minutes and with the baby fed, we left her and Piper with the sitter and went to wait in the ER for 12 hours. My heart rate was very high when we got there because of the amount of blood I'd lost and had been losing for weeks. They put me on IV fluids and I fought to keep from passing out.

Eventually I had the ultrasound in the same room where I'd had so many during my hospital bed rest. It revealed a rather large peice of placenta still in place. When we realized they would keep me there until they could remove it, J went home and got my pump. Pumping in triage wasn't exactly the sort of "me time" I'd been dreaming of. About 9 hours in they got us ready to head to the OR. On the way in for the D&C a nurse asked if I had kids and their ages. When I said five weeks I could tell she thought I was confused about the baby she assumed I'd lost and felt sorry for me. I figured they don't have many post-partum D&Cs and after fretting all day about having to leave the infant I was still nursing every few hours, I counted my lucky stars knowing my baby was safe at home.

There is a lesson here. I should have known. I should have called my doctor weeks before. When your doctor tells you to call if your bleeding continues heavily for several weeks, do it. If you pass a softball-sized clot after leaving the hospital, call. If you're going through 5-6 pads a day a month after delivery, this is not normal. Be particularly suspicious if there was anything abnormal about delivery of the placenta. It's true that postpartum cramping is much more intense with subsequent pregnancies, but this doesn't mean you should have excessive bleeding. You may feel perfectly fine, but If you continue to have large clots for several weeks, just call. Maybe it's nothing but at least ask. Don't be the crazy bloody lady with the crying baby in Target. Lesson learned.