After a pretty traumatic high risk birth and pregnancy experience, I thought that delivering my son would bring a little bit of peace to our lives. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
We almost died. I’m suffering through PTSD from my high risk birth. It’s hard to just type those words. The last two months of my life have been a whirlwind that I never expected.
Recently, life has become very hard because of it. I don’t have a safe space to talk about things. Everyone else experienced almost losing me and Liam too, so it feels selfish to bring them back to that experience just so I can talk about it.
Admitted to the Antepartum Unit
My high risk pregnancy complications took a turn for the worst and landed me in the antepartum unit at our hospital. I was just about 32 weeks pregnant at the time.
Since my blood pressure was through the roof, I was put on magnesium to stabilize and I was also given steroids to accelerate and strengthen Liam’s lung growth.
My High Risk Birth Story
My heart almost stopped 6 times the day Liam was born. The first time it happened, I was alone and the alarms started going off and I grabbed my wrist and there was no pulse.
I was quickly getting lightheaded and I couldn’t breathe. My pulse rate was 15. I started kicking my feet in sheer panic because if I died, Liam died and I wasn’t going to let that happen. I thought I need to speed my heart, so I need to make blood flow faster.
“There is no more time.”
The nurses came running in followed by my doctor who said “you’re having this baby today. There is no more time. We are bumping the next c-section”.
The nurses had me on oxygen and five of them starting prepping me as I texted Travis in a frenzy to get to the hospital now. I started panicking that I would need to do the c-section alone. My heart dropped again followed by Liam’s heart. “Please God don’t let him die” I kept praying.
Stable, for now
My heart dropped one more time while they were prepping me and pumping things into my body to help stabilize us. Finally, it worked and Travis got to the hospital.
Things slowed down a little since we bought some more time and Liam and I were stabilized for 15 minutes. Nurses that had taken care of me for the last month were lined up and running to wish me good luck as we entered the operating room.
“Toni, your placenta is crap!”
The c-section went really well despite my irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. Liam was born with a true knot in his cord, swimming in over 24hr old meconium, and the umbilical cord wrapped 4 times around his blue little body.
My placenta was calcified and covered in lesions. My doctor referred to it as “garbage, junk, and crap” and sent it off to be analyzed. Turns out it was 30% calcified and was 40% covered in 14 parenchymal infarctions ranging in size up to 4cm.
A parenchymal infarction is an interruption in the blood supply to a part of the placenta, which causes the cells to die.
These are considered life-threatening if there are more than 3 and they are one of the leading causes of fetal death.
It’s no wonder Liam stopped growing and I had every high risk pregnancy complication in the book. It’s even more of a miracle that my placenta functioned for as long as it did.
Liam Goes to the NICU
The NICU team was there to assess and take Liam right away after I got to see his face for 30 seconds. He actually started breathing ok on his own and only needed a little bit of oxygen to get him going.
It was truly a miracle. I made Travis go with Liam since I was terrified for him and I knew I would be fine and didn’t want him fussing over me.
I’m the stubborn and annoying patient who likes to fly through checklists and get better fast. The sooner you walk after a c-section, the better.
In recovery, I had 3 Bradycardia events and my heart rate plummeted to under 20 beats per minute again. I got really lightheaded and dizzy.
Fortunately, my heart returned to normal after the third steep drop and they didn’t have to inject me with anything. My blood pressure was rising though and was hitting incredibly high numbers.
The team started pumping me with medicine again to stabilize. They asked me if Travis could come down to recovery and if I wanted him to be with me. I told them I wanted him to be with Liam and that I would be fine.
If there’s a will, there is a way
The next hour, I willed myself to be fine. In my mind, I sat on a beach and I breathed slowly and steady and decided that today was not the day that I said goodbye.
I was determined to go see Liam and hear my girl’s voices again. After a while, I was stable.
My blood pressure was high, but not life-threatening and they decided not to put me on magnesium since the blood pressure medicine they had pumped into me started working.
I Got to See My Boy
Finally, I was on my way to the NICU where I could hold my boy. They put him in my arms and I cried and cried.
After a month of being in the hospital wondering whether we would die and then getting to the point where I thought for sure that was it, we had survived.
Trying to Cope After Birth
I haven’t shared this story with anyone because I can’t bring myself to talk about it.
I stand in the shower and I cry and I try to process everything that happened. I’m stuck in some sort of survival mode.
The hospital keeps calling to check on me and my doctor keeps calling and I can’t answer the phone. My kids are sick with the flu this week and I’m terrified that Liam will catch it.
Would God really get us through the ordeal of Liam’s birth to take him away from me a month later? I’m so scared.
No Safe Space to Talk About It
So what do you do when you don’t have a safe space to talk about these things? I know this post is more therapeutic to me than beneficial to you. Maybe it’s a story of hope and the beginning of healing that will resonate with other moms.
Update: I am going to see a doctor to discuss coping skills for postpartum and PTSD. Talking about it doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong and that’s what I keep reminding myself.
Some things I’m trying to let go of:
Feeling like I need to be the rock for everyone
I need a champion for me right now. I don’t know how to ask for help though.
Dwelling on the what-ifs
I’m going to focus more on being present and try to let go of my fears and trust God.
Hiding my feelings from Travis
I need to share this with someone. I don’t feel like I can cope if I don’t. This happened to both of us and I should be able to talk to him about it.
Dreading the future.
There isn’t a lot I’m looking forward to right now and that needs to change. I’m terrified to go back to work to a situation that brought my health to the place it was and I’m so scared and sad about leaving my kids.
I spent my whole maternity leave wondering if every time they visited me in the hospital was the last time they’d see me. I just want more time with them.
Thinking I’m not worth it.
It’s about damn time that I acknowledge that I deserve the life I want for myself and my family. I work so hard for my family and I always second guess that things don’t work out because I’m not worth it.
I’ve got to change my mindset. I’m worth everything that I achieve and I need to stop hiding and take hold of the life I want for my family.
I lived. Liam lived. It’s time we all start living again.
This post was originally published on OurFamilyCode in January 2018.
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