Complications | Post-delivery


The day I had my daughters was not story book like I had imagined. I mean let's be honest, laboring twins is generally not story book since it is done in an operating room instead of a laboring room. They do this just in case anything goes wrong. In my situation, I was in the hospital for pre-term labor and was within a half hour from being discharged to go home on strict bedrest when my uterus ruptured and the Zabies were delivered via emergency cesarians section. You can read about my birth story here.

After the Zabies were born my earliest memory was being wheeled out of the recovery unit and being told by Josh that he was cutting up the credit cards indicating that the babies were girls! I remember getting to ring the bell outside of the recovery unit. I rang it twice, once for each baby. The bell played twinkle twinkle little star and was rung every time a baby was born. 

They wheeled me up to the ninth floor where the NICU was located. I barely remember being wheeled past each of the girls beds. My eyes were so hazy that I couldn't focus on them to see what they looked like to save my life. They were just blurs to me causing me to cry on the trip to my room. I fell asleep somewhere between the ninth and eighth floors from the morphine that was given to me.  

Once I awoke, my OB stopped by to check on me. I had lost a lot of blood and she was very worried about me. I didn't understand the severity of things in that moment but soon realized that I was about to start one of the hardest fights of my life. 

There were doctors in and out of my room constantly. A different doctor each time but all with the same cold, stone-faced stare. Each of them walked in and place their stethoscope on my belly. This is pretty normal after having any kind of abdominal surgery. Each time they hovered in the same place for minutes. Not seconds. It was only suppose to be seconds. I was just about to take a bite of a cracker when the same 5th year resident that assisted in the delivery of the Zabies told me not to eat anything and placed me on NPO restrictions. NPO- Nothing per oral. NO FOOD. NO WATER. NO ORAL MEDICATIONS. I was livid to say the least. My mouth was dry and all I wanted was water or ice or something to dampen it. Why had he done this? I didn't understand. That is when I first heard the word that would haunt me for the rest of my life. Ileus.  "You have an ileus," he said. What the heck is that?? An ileus is an non-mechanical bowel obstruction. It is where your bowels stop working. There are many causes of an ileus, learn more here. In my case it was a combination of things, major abdominal surgery being one of them but mainly due to the lack of blood flow to my intestines and having major abdominal bleeding. Major.  With as much blood as I lost the remaining blood went to my heart and brain to preserve those vital, life-sustaining organs. It's just how our bodies are programmed. Every time a doctor came into my room they listened to my belly to see if they could hear bowel sounds and they heard nothing. Nada. Zilch!

Treatment? NPO until it resolved. 

What did all of this mean for me? Hell. I was living a torturous hell on earth and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Not necessarily because of the lack of food or water but because of the series of events that took place afterward.  Within an hour of this diagnosis I started vomiting. Not like your drunk hangover vomit or any vomit I had ever experienced in my life {I only vomited three times in my life that I remember from being sick: 5th grade and twice while pregnant.} I know weird that I remember that. I have a memory of an elephant. I digress. I mean 200-400 cc {sometimes 600 cc} {1cc=1ml} of vomit every half hour! Remember I wasn't eating or drinking anything. I was vomiting bile and stomach juices. It was awful! They continued to monitor me for following 24 hours listening to my belly in the same spots each time and continually asking me if I had passed gas. Every thirty minutes I tried my best to hold back the vomit but it had nowhere to go. It couldn't go down since my intestines weren't working which meant it had to come up. 

After the 24 hour mark one of my best friends who is an L&D nurse, Ashley, arrived from NYC to relieve Josh from trekking back and forth between floors that the girls and I were being housed. She was my life saver. She empowered me in ways I never knew she would. She advocated for me and helped me to identify when and how to advocate for myself. That night the residents tried placing an NG tube twice. Two times. The first time it coiled and ended up down my trachea causing them to suction my lungs. I gagged and vomited through the entire process. The second time they got it in and successfully suctioned my stomach for about 3 minutes as I continued to gag and vomit the entire time. Josh sat behind me silently rubbing my back. After the second time I expressed how I couldn't do that again and asked Ashley and another nurse what I should do. They both advised me that I had the right to refuse any treatment. So I did. I refused to let the 1st year resident place another NG tube and demanded they call my primary OB in to make the decisions of how to move forward. They did so and she came in around  1:00 AM. I'm sure I was her favorite patient that night. I told her to think outside of the box because an NG tube was not coming anywhere near me again. Ashley educated me on what medications would inhibit the recovery and which ones would help. I stopped the morphine and decline any pain medication from that point forward. NONE. 

I continued to painfully vomit for the next 12 hours, remember I had a c-section? I was starting to become numb to the abdominal pain. The burn of the gastric juices hurt worse at that point. Then my doctor came in with an outside of the box approach. She had consulted with a Gastrointestinal Specialist who shared with her that sometimes a CT scan with oral contrast can restart the intestines or get things moving along. So that's what we did! Within 15 minutes of drinking the oral contrast things were moving. The entire floor celebrated this small win and I cried. 

It was still a long road to recovery for me and took 10 days to resolve with no intervention such as an NG tube. I walked around and around the delivery floor trying to wake up my intestines since they say walking is the best "cure" for these things. There were many of nights that Josh and I walked together and I cried because other parents were walking the same walk only they were pushing a bassinet with their new baby in it. As I got stronger I walked up to the NICU and the staff on that floor celebrated with every improvement that I made. 

In 10 days I delivered two amazing, healthy miracle babies, lost over half of my volume of blood, had two blood transfusions, two nasogastric tubes placed and removed, vomited on average 400 cc every half-hour to hour, had two CT scans, an ultrasound and so many medications via IV that my vessels burned with every injection towards the end. All while recovering from major abdominal surgery. The hardest part for me looking back is that I felt like I was dying and all I was trying to do was survive. For days I didn't want to see my babies because I needed to focus my energy on not dying.  If it hadn't of been for Ashley I probably would have suffered more than I did. I am forever grateful for my sweet friend. She is an angel on earth. Without her I would have never successful breastfed my babies. At 3 days post-delivery she selflessly held each flange to my breasts and pumped for me, every three hours, while I focused on not dying. I'll never forget her words, "Tash, I know how important it is to you to breastfeed your babies. I'm going to hook up the pump and if you'll let me I'll hold them for you." I breastfed my babies to 1 year because she helped get me started. No words could ever express how thankful I am for her and her actions. 

I was discharged one week before the girls. The only silver lining to this story is that I was only one floor down from them for most of their stay in the NICU. 

That, my friends, is my post-delivery complications story. Everyone at the hospital where I delivered knows my story because it is so rare and the first time anyone had ever seen such a thing there. Of course it is a complication that can come with any abdominal surgery but not common at all. Would you believe me if I told you that I had another emergency surgery only two months later and heard the same word ileus, again?

Our First Family Photo taken by Ashley.

Above is a photo from the first night I saw the girls for the first time after the day they were born. It was on August 24th at 2:36 AM. Sixty-one hours after they were born.  Notice how bloated my stomach was? It is one of the symptoms of an ileus. Sure I just gave birth but that was being bloated. I lost all 40 lbs of weight I gained during pregnancy in my 10 day stay in the hospital. 

1 comment:

  1. What happened to you seems larger than life! I could hardly imagine those difficulties you’ve gone through during the treatment. But it’s good that you spoke up and demanded another option to treat your condition, one that will surely fit you. Just reading on how the process will eventually happen sends shiver down my spine. Anyway, I hope that you have recovered fully after that, and that there weren’t any further complications that occurred. Take care always!

    Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney


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