The Aftermath and Complications of Ryleigh's Birth

During my pregnancy I had tons of complications. I was dizzy, had headaches and blurred vision, shortness of breath, and I was gaining a lot of weight quickly. I had asked the doctors about these issues but I was constantly told it was a normal part of pregnancy and they didn't seem super concerned about the weight gain. I tried eating healthier without dieting since I was pregnant and also had been walking a lot more during the month of January at work despite the pain of doing so. The pounds kept coming on.
The swelling started in February and that coupled with being dizzy, not being able to hold a phone conversation because I would be out of breath, and everything else, had me worried that there was something wrong. Again I asked the doctors and I was told it was all an unfortunate normalcy of pregnancy. I also asked them to check her size since I had a feeling she was going to be big, but they told me that wouldn't be accurate and didn't check.

I had been right about something being wrong. I had pre-eclampsia and Ryleigh was a rather large baby. I wound up having an emergency C-section and gave birth to her on March 12th. We stayed in the hospital for 4 days and were released home. The day I left I had complained of trouble breathing and pressure on my chest when I would lay back, but I was told if I could get up and walk around that I was fine.

I was home for less than 2 days when I fell asleep and was woken up by shortness of breath and the feeling of pressure on my chest again. I decided I was going to go to the hospital. I wasn't pregnant anymore so that couldn't be blamed for these symptoms and I was having trouble breathing. Worst case scenario they send me home.

As I was being seen in the ER i was told I was retaining too much fluid and I would need to be admitted for them to get rid of the water. I had a chest CT (which I almost had to stop due to being unable to breathe while lying back), tons of weird blood tests done, and after a short while I was also told I had pneumonia. Sometimes my knowledge of medications works in my favor. This time knowing that I was going to be put on three really strong antibiotics was scaring me.

I was also terrified of being admitted into the hospital alone. Besides giving birth I had never stayed in the hospital for anything that I could remember. I had my tonsils taken out when I was about 3, but I don't remember this. Also, I knew I was going to be away from Ryleigh. When I was brought up to my room the nurse that was working wasn't normally part of that area of the hospital - the PCU (progressive care unit). Apparently I had to be in that area because of the antibiotics. They needed special monitoring while being administered. I had to wait an extraordinarily long time for them to get me pain meds - I was still super sore from the C-section - so any time I got in or out of bed I felt like my stomach was ripping open. I was on diuretics so this was causing me to have to go to the bathroom more frequently than normal so my body would get rid of the water.

Luckily the shifts changed and my next nurse was amazing. He explained everything that was going on, told me what I needed to do to help my progress, was gentle drawing blood, and was awesome at helping me in and out of bed. My anxiety level dropped drastically and I started to feel better.

The next day I was walking around my room as much as I could attached to the IVs. I was told this would help my lungs as well as help the C-section. I was taken downstairs for some type of chest x-rays that require you to lie on your side. This was super difficult with the incision, but the staff was great at helping me get comfortable. I was supposed to have some type of ultrasound done, but since I was in pain they were going to let me wait for my next dose of pain meds and then do it.

A little after coming back to my room I had an echocardiogram of the heart done and they were going to take me back down for the ultrasound. I was still feeling uncomfortable so they said they would get a mobile unit to come up. The ultrasound was on my legs to make sure I didn't have a clot.

During this procedure I was told I needed to lay back a little more than I was. The tech then ran the ultrasound wand over my leg and sometimes would push down. It was uncomfortable, but not painful. When they were about to start on the next leg I started to feel shortness of breath. I told them I needed to wait a few minutes to feel better while sitting up straight. The shortness of breath started getting worse. I couldn't breathe. I told them I couldn't breathe and they rang for a nurse. The nurse put the little oxygen tubes in my nose and told me to take deep breaths. This wasn't helping. They placed a monitor to check oxygen levels on my finger and the machine started beeping. I saw that the number was in the 70s. A patient care tech ran in the room and started calling for someone saying how my stats were dropping. Within a few seconds there were tons of people in the room.

I literally thought I was dying. I kept telling them I couldn't breathe and I was dying. I remember crying out for them to help me. At the time I felt like no one was doing anything and I was going to die. They were trying to do an EKG but I was shaking. I heard someone say they pushed morphine and ativan. I started to calm down but I was still having trouble breathing. Most of what happened after was a blur. I heard someone saying they needed to put in a catheter. I had someone drawing blood from the left and someone on the right. Someone was holding on to my right leg but I have no idea why. I heard different people shouting out possible reasons for what was happening. "Pulmonary embolism". "Heart failure". I started spitting up some pink stuff. "She could be throwing a clot."

I woke up in ICU on a breathing machine. I had flash pulmonary edema. My lungs had filled with fluid and I was basically drowning. The fluid was also squeezing on my heart so I had some heart failure and  the doctor said I had leaky valves. My iron was very low and I wound up needing a blood transfusion. I spent the next 3 days in ICU. Thankfully I had an awesome nurse while in ICU and I credit her with my ability to finally get switched to a regular room and finally discharged. She explained everything that was going on, kept me calm, and helped me to recover better than anyone else had in the hospital. 

When I was released I was told they would be sending a home health nurse to check on me. There is a high readmission rate so I agreed even though this made me feel like I was 80 years old. I would also need to find a primary care physician, which I never needed before, and follow up with the cardiologist and pulmonologist. I was just happy to be going home and seeing my little girl. 

After going through such an event like this you realize that life is short and you shouldn't take it for granted. I promised myself to try not to stress out about silly little things anymore and to just be happy and thankful for all the good things in my life - especially now with my new little family.