Thursday, March 15, 2012

Emergency C-section scar

 I am always curious to see what other women's ceserian scars look like. So here is mine.

It was an emergency c-section. It was a matter of life and death. They had to get her out of me so I could breathe. Poor little thing. Yanked out of there, 5 weeks before her scheduled arrival. Made to have a birthday close to Valentine's Day instead of Saint Patrick's Day. Lots of red hearts in her future, not green clovers.

The scar is about a centimeter above the hairline. Reaches almost from hipbone to hipbone. Is almost straight but not quite, kind of curves up on one end. Draw two eyes above my navel and you've got a face with a smirk on it.

That is where my daughter came out. Where they cut through seven layers of me to get to her. While I struggled for breath. While my body fought to keep going. How I wish I would have been able to give her that extra month inside of me. Time to plump up and get ready for the colder temperatures in the outside world. She was taken so early that I never felt her hiccup inside me. I experienced that with my son, and I miss that with my daughter.

I say 'taken' because that is what it feels like. I don't feel like I gave birth to her. It wasn't my doing. I didn't have contractions, I didn't feel any pain. Someone else was making decisions, granted, they were medical professionals, but still, someone else.

Even after I'd gotten home from hospital I'd still put my hand on my belly to feel the baby. The baby that was sleeping in the crib or feeding from a bottle, nestled in her grandmother's arms.

I don't mind the scar. It saved her. It saved me. And it's not too bad looking.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wedding ring

It wasn't until quite a few days after they woke me up, that I realized that I wasn't wearing my wedding ring.

I got upset, where was my ring? I couldn't remember. They took it off before the c-section, but I hadn't gotten that memory back yet.

My husband told me that is was OK, the ring was safe back home.

I was upset that I didn't have my ring. I know that we aren't just connected through our wedding bands, we are so much more. Still, my left hand just didn't look right to me.

I was angry at myself that it had taken me so many days to realize that my ring wasn't on my finger. My body was such a stranger to me that I hadn't noticed.

My husband soothed me and said that as soon as I'm back home, he'll place the ring back on my finger.

To be continued...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Physical therapy

There wasn't any pain. Isn't that weird? I almost died, I was in a coma for 3 weeks, I had emergency c-section and ECMO, but I was never in any pain. Sure there was discomfort but nothing I can call painful at all. It wasn't until a couple of days after they woke me up that I figured out why, I had a fentanyl patch on my right arm. A patch that got progressively smaller in order to wean me off the pain killers.

I had just had a baby, after which you can have vaginal discharge (bleeding) for up to six weeks. I was still bleeding when I woke up. They had me in one of those net/mesh panties so I could wear sanitary napkins. Someone had to change those for me while I was in the coma. To lift me up and pull them down and change the pads. That is such a weird feeling, knowing someone had to take care of me like that. My pubic hair was clotted from all the blood and after I woke up it took a very kind nurse to help me work out the knots with a sponge. Gives the word sponge bath another meaning to me anyway. After I woke up I couldn't sit up, let alone lift up my hips so they could change the pads for me. So two nurses would come in to help me and even though they were so professional and I am just in awe of everything that they do, it still felt like a funny moment so I would usually try and say something funny like 'yeah, these mesh panties are super sexy!'. My husband, bless his heart, would usually leave the room when the nurses had to do stuff like that. I wouldn't have minded if he stayed, he's definitely seen all of me, but I also didn't mind that he wanted to retreat to the waiting area.

Because I had a c-section and hadn't moved for over three weeks, I couldn't just sit up. That requires using your abdominal muscles and mine were just too weak and sore for that. Everyday I had a physical therapist visit me in my room, also an occupational therapist and the speech therapist. There is something called 'the log roll', and that's where you roll from your back onto your side, and from there you sort of prop yourself up on your elbow and use your hands to sit up in a sideways fashion. I was so weak that when I tried that for the first time I rolled on my right side, and I had to have help to bring my legs to the side of the bed and then I could put my right elbow under me, and that was it. I couldn't bring the rest of my body up. The physical therapist put a sort of belt around me to hoist me up. I would sit for as long as I could tolerate and do exercises with my arms and legs. Putting my hands in the air, moving my legs from side to side. All this is very challenging when you're covered in wires and leads and if you accidentally move something you shouldn't have, a machine beeps and a nurse comes in to check on you.

I was so anxious to get out of the hospital as soon as I could that I did everything the therapists told me to do. I did exercises in bed. I was so tired and so exhausted, and everything was monitored, my oxygen saturation, my breathing, my heart rate. It usually took only a few minutes for me to get winded and would have to stop to catch my breath. All I wanted to do was just lay down, on the soft pillows, pull the blanket up and fall asleep. But I knew that I had to move my body, I needed to be well to take care of my babies. I wanted rest but needed work.

My speech therapist was a wonderful woman with a thick German accent, how wonderful is that, I loved her. She made me eat ice cream, and I hated it, food had lost all taste to me, I didn't want it. She would make me sip water, teeny tiny sips and she would hold her fingers against my throat and feel how I swallowed. She said she had x-ray fingers and could tell if I was doing it right or not. I actually didn't like doing the exercises she told me to do, saying AAAAA and EEEEE, and sucking air through a device to see how I was progressing. My husband would tell me to do the exercises and I didn't want to, and I'd sort of growl at him because my voice was just so raw still and he'd smile and say ''good job, doing your speech therapy, except that's not exactly the sounds you're supposed to make...'' and I'd laugh and be all resentful and then I'd do the stupid exercises.

I don't know why I was so reluctant to do the speech therapy, I was fine with putting in work for the physical therapy. Maybe because I felt my voice really wasn't improving at all, and it was so frustrating.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I'm finding myself having difficulty writing here. But I'll keep going anyway.

The thing is there have been some big days now, my daughter turned one, a fact that is jarring for me because I had only known her for 11 months... I turned 32 yesterday, my 31st birthday I spent in a coma... Today it's been a year since they woke me up from the drug-induced coma...

I've been having flashbacks. Imagine if you will, that you're looking at your life, just turn your head right now to the right or to the left and look at what you see as a picture. Now imagine that you see something out of the corner of your eye, or you smell something different, which immediately propels your whole existence into question. The image that you are seeing is not certain in your brain anymore, you can't know if it's real or not, if you really are laying in a bed somewhere making this up in your head or not.

It's an awful awful feeling, and not much I can do when it overwhelms me. I just repeat to myself ''this is real life, this is real, you are not in the coma anymore''. I also have the need to inject humor into my situation and say ''if this were some fantasy concocted by your brain wouldn't the children always be perfectly well behaved, the house spotless and you'd cook gourmet dinners every night?'' Which is certainly not the case let me tell you ;)

But it is a panicky feeling and I just have to ride through it.

I'll write more frequently, it helps me.

To be continued...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My parents

When they extubated me, I saw my father sitting in a chair in the corner of my room. For the first couple of days after they brought me back from the drug-induced coma, I could hear my dad playing with my son out in the hallway. They were always just out of sight, but I heard them and I saw other people see them and smile at them. I didn't mind that I couldn't see them, I could hear that they were having much fun together and everyone was admiring my boy. It felt good to have them near and hear them laughing, I didn't want my son to see me like this though, so I was relieved that they stayed out of sight.

This didn't happen. My dad was back in Iceland and my son was back home with my mom. I was shocked when my husband told me that my dad wasn't here. I was so sure he was. There had been a commercial cycling through the TV channels about a monster truck rally in Indy and I had been wondering if my dad could take my son to see that, something fun for them to do together. My father was definitely with me, even though he was physically on another continent, and it brought me great comfort.

When my mom came to see me for the first time after I woke up, I was woefully unemotional. I don't think I had grasped yet the enormity of everything that had happened. I was still putting all the pieces together and still hadn't gained back the memory from about a week before my daughter was born. In the ICU, the wall with the door is just a big window, they need to be able to see you when you're in there, even before they get into the room. So I saw my mom coming down the hallway towards me, with her hands high up in the air, waving them around, smiling and crying at the same time. I was like ''really mom, control yourself'', I can only imagine how I would act if it had been my daughter caught between life and death for three weeks. I was still very clueless about the severity of everything that had gone on and so proceeded by calling my mother a big drama queen. Sorry mom. I then berated my nurse for not feeding me and asked if she couldn't just stick a hamburger in a blender for me. I was so hungry!

While I was in the hospital I missed my son so badly, it ached in the core of my being. It was a heartache. I knew he was being well taken care of but I missed him all the same. I wondered how this would affect him, affect our relationship, I had never been away from him for longer than 5 hours before this happened. I wanted to hug him and tell him that mommy would be home as soon as she could, that everything would be fine. My mom told me that he would take every single one of his books, out of the shelves and throw them on the floor, spreading them around him. I imagine it was sort of an outward display of inward emotions. Everything scattered and nothing like it was supposed to be. My poor little guy. I'm told that he would say that mommy was in the hospital, in the same tone of voice he said that daddy was at work. Like, that's just how things are now. I missed him desperately, but I didn't want him to come to the hospital. At least back home, he was familiar with his surroundings and the people around him.

I didn't miss my daughter. At all. This feels awful to write down, but it's true. I had never met her, I didn't know her, I didn't miss her. I had no memory of giving birth to her, so my hands would unconsciously seek my tummy, only to find that she wasn't there any more. She was only a two hour drive away, but really, it could have been a lifetime drive away. I wondered if/how/when we'd ever bond together. Then I just sort of pushed those thoughts away, I couldn't think about that then, I needed to get better and then I'd deal with it.

To be continued... 

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Here is a picture of me and my husband, at the hospital after I woke up, and you'll notice the feeding tube in my nose.

Now I know it's not the most flattering picture of me ever taken, but give me a break, I just almost died. So considering, I think it's actually a very nice happy picture. Plus it was taken by a person I will always hold very dear to my heart. My perfusionist, a wonderful woman and we have kept in contact. She does amazing work and saves people. I am so thankful to her. Keep up the good work girl!

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feeding tube

After I woke up they had to put a feeding tube in me. My throat was not ready for food or liquids and I needed speech therapy. So a feeding tube needed to be threaded up my nose, down my esophagus, through my stomach and into my small intestines.

First they tried to thread it normally I guess. There's a sort of machine that spools it up into the nose and it's supposed to go its merry way all the way down to the small intestines. But that didn't work so much with me. We tried the right nostril, we tried the left one, we tried the left one again, and let me tell you, the numbing gel they use does very little. It is extremely uncomfortable having something rammed up your nose. I kept thinking about my baby girl who needed a feeding tube at the NICU before she got the hang of the bottle. If she could do it, so could I. But because this method didn't work with me, they needed to take me down to x-ray, and keep me continuously zapped while a technician threaded the tube up my nose, down my esophagus, into my stomach, and that's where she found out why the other method didn't work.

My stomach had partially collapsed. I guess not having any food in my belly for over 3 weeks just made my poor tummy collapse down on itself. The technician was very nice, she was wearing that big bulky x-ray vest and was sort of straddling me on top of the x-ray table, trying to feed this tube in, while watching it on the screen. It took a good 30 minutes but she finally got it and I got a good long view of my internal organs. She noticed my birth date on my hospital bracelet and told me her mother had the same birthday. I told her to wish her mom a happy belated birthday from me.

Because I was so weak when I woke up and was still connected to so much, lines and tubes and all sorts of machinery, they couldn't just plop me into a wheelchair to take me to where they threaded the tube. So they wheeled me down to x-ray in my hospital bed. A porter had to come because this was such a big hospital and my nurse would just have gotten us lost she said. So a very nice man came and sort of punched my husband in the shoulder all manly and said ''she's awake!'' and he kept complimenting my smile. Very nice guy.

This next part is very surreal but it did happen. I even asked my husband afterwards, to make sure it hadn't been one of my hallucinations. They started to wheel my bed out of my ICU room, and as we started down the ICU hallway, everyone, doctors, nurses, orderlies, technicians, hell, maybe even the patients, they all started applauding and whooping. I sort of looked around to see what they were clapping about and realized it was me. Little old me. I felt like I was in a parade, a one ICU bed parade, and all I could do was just smile and wave. It was the most amazing experience.

After they hooked up my feeding tube they hung up a sort of big bag filled with yellow stuff. The bag had the label ''protein''. It was the most unappetizing looking thing ever. This bag was then pumped through my feeding tube at a regular interval. But wait, because the feeding tube went straight to my small intestines, my stomach was still empty and I was therefore still hungry. So hungry.

To be continued...