TW: Birth Trauma, Blood Loss, Sudden Infertility
We came in for the scheduled induction at midnight on September 22nd. I slept just a little bit that night. The painful contractions really didn’t begin until the sun came up. My doctor had told us typically first-time mom inductions take about 24 hours, and she was spot on. I labored most of the day and got the epidural late in the afternoon. The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men playing on our speaker was calming. Around 9:30pm, it was time to push. Three hours later… and I’m still pushing. I can’t say it really hurt all that bad because the epidural is magical, but it was exhausting. I was running out of breath between contractions. They asked me if I wanted to use the vacuum and I reluctantly accepted. There was no getting him out with my own energy left at this point. The vacuum literally suctions to his head and helps pull him out. It was a little terrifying for Avery and I when the suction was released and we heard a scary sound, but the doctors reassured us he was fine. And he was! Finally…he was here. Nine pounds, 13 ounces and 23 inches long. He was huge!
Huge, but beautiful and healthy in every way. Poor little guy though came out looking like he was (and I’m not exaggerating) wearing a party hat. All babies born vaginally come out with cone-shaped heads because their skulls are still soft in order to pass through the birth canal. However, he had a bump on top of his cone because of the vacuum. All I could think when I saw that was, “Poor guy. I did this to you.” This went away within a day though, thank you Jesus. They laid him on my chest and I held him in such disbelief that he was finally here. This is our son. He was very alert but calm. His eyes spun around looking at me and looking around me, but he just laid there calmly. This lasted for about 20 minutes until I started to feel light-headed. Not thinking much of it because birth is exhausting, I asked a nurse to pass him to Avery because I didn’t feel like I had the strength to hold him anymore. Then the unexpected began.
A lot of my memory starts to become fuzzy at this point. My doctor, Dr. Penick, told me I had a “pretty significant tear” and that she was calling in another doctor to do my stitches since apparently there is a certain training needed to stitch up a fourth degree tear (from vagina to rectum and very deep into the muscle tissue). Dr. Long at some point walked in and worked on my stitches for a while. This part I don’t remember but Avery told me later. “Uhhh,” he said, “I don’t know where it’s still coming from.” He was referring to the bleeding. Avery got scared at this point. I was starting to feel pretty out of it I guess because I never heard this. More people came in the room. I started feeling sick. A nurse held a bag while I threw up a few times. Then they started pressing on my stomach in different places trying to get my uterus to contract. This stressed me out as it was pretty painful. I didn’t know why they were doing this. At some point they put another iv in my arm. I didn’t realize they were giving me blood. Avery kept walking back and forth between my bed and Levi’s saying “I’m right here.” I wanted to tell him to remain with our son who was just a few feet away, but at this point I was starting to feel scared. I needed him there. They lowered my bed and accidently dropped it too quickly. “Easy!” someone shouted. They continued to press on my stomach. Then they poked me again for some reason with another IV. I’m not sure if I was receiving two bags of blood at once or what was happening there. At some point I heard the words “possibly a hysterectomy,” but I faded out again. Apparently all this happened in the span of a few hours. I felt a little more with it again when they started to roll my bed out of the room.
Avery stood by the door, took my hand, and said, “I love you.” I said I loved him too, and then they kept rolling me out until we were moving down the hallway. I mustered the strength to ask someone what was going on. They told me I was being wheeled back to OR since I might need surgery. It was either a really short trip or I passed out again. Suddenly I was being lifted onto the operating table. I was cold, shaking, and still throwing up. Dr. Penick remained with me and held the barf bag. I was embarrassed that I threw up on her hand at one point. (Later on we laughed about this when she told me Levi pooped on her immediately after delivery.) There must have been at least 20 people in the room. There was a lot of shouting. I sensed the stress and it finally hit me. I don’t really know what’s going on, but my life is in danger. They kept putting an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth but I kept squirming to let them know that I needed to throw up so they would keep removing it. My heart felt like it was going to stop. I anxiously worried about having a heart attack. I finally came to my senses slightly and began to pray. All I could think to pray were Hail Marys and Jesus I trust in You, over and over again. I asked someone if they were going to put me under anesthesia anytime soon and they said, “Yes, soon. We’ll let you know.” They didn’t right away because my blood pressure was too low. More shouting. I saw a bag of blood come into the room at one point and they shouted for someone to bring more and the right kind. I heard someone saying to someone else, “he wanted to know more details but I told him there wasn’t time. We needed to act now.” I didn’t know if they were talking about Avery or some random person they were getting the blood from. I continued to pray, and worried about Avery and Levi. Eventually, I faded again and went to sleep.
The Next Morning
I woke up in a different room (ICU) with an extremely dry throat. I tried to ask for a drink of water as I began to take the oxygen tubes out of my nose. They put them back in. I took them out and again asked for a drink. They put them back in… I was not a good patient coming off of anesthesia… At some point Avery told me rather sternly, “Kasey, listen to them. You have to keep the oxygen in your nose.” All I wanted was a drink of water for my throat. They told me I couldn’t have water this early and kept trying to give me ice chips. I was not happy about this. Then they brought in little sponges on sticks to suck water from. I wasn’t happy about this either. But in that moment, my mind went to Jesus on the cross, being given vinegar on a sponge. At this point I think I calmed down and tried to offer it up. Turns out my throat felt as bad as it did because at one point they had me on a ventilator. I was still coming down off the anesthesia so I don’t remember much else. Fr. Carson, the priest who married us, came in the room and gave me Anointing of the Sick as well as the Apostolic Pardon. He left and came back I think a few hours later with Avery and two doctors I didn’t recognize. Dr. Weingartner (surgeon) introduced herself and came around the other side of my bed. I think in that moment, as unprepared as I was, the Lord still prepared me for what I was about to hear. I had a flashback to the night before when I heard the word “hysterectomy.”
Dr. Weingartner explained to me how in order to stop the bleeding, that was what she needed to do. Avery took my hand – I cried for a while. Dr. Weingartner took my other hand. Then I felt bad. “Thank you for saving my life. I’m in no way upset with you or do I distrust you. I know this is what you needed to do to save me.” I said through my tears. She was so nice and understanding. Eventually she and the other doctor left.
There were and are still so many feelings to process, all that happened in one night. I almost died. They later told me I lost my entire blood volume twice. It is super weird to think none of the blood in my body now is original, rather, every ounce was donated by generous strangers. The event that I think will take me longest to process is the loss of my fertility. This news was shocking, and I think I’m still in denial that we will not be able to have more biological children. Don’t get me wrong, I am filled with gratitude to have my life. I begged God to live that night. Although I look for Heaven in joyful hope, I just couldn’t imagine not getting to watch our son grow up. Plus, we were only three days away from our first wedding anniversary. I just wanted more time. God gave me that, and I am forever thankful. However, this is a huge loss for our family that will take time to grieve. Our standing joke (though with much truth behind it) has always been that we wanted enough children for a volleyball team plus alternates. If you’re not familiar with one of the greatest sports to have been invented, there are six players on the court at a time. A big family was a dream of ours, and it feels like this was taken from us. Before you say anything, we always have been and still are open to adoption if the Lord wills it, but it will be a few years probably before we explore this.
The future is unknown and scary. Our plans for our family have been shattered. But God’s plan has always been better than my own, as He has shown me time and time again. So, now what? The only thing I am certain of is that God has willed Levi into our lives, and we are thrilled to now be a family of three. What are we called to do? Love. We will love him with our whole hearts and hopefully be a reflection of the Heavenly Father’s love for him.