Wednesday, February 03, 2010

It's not like I thought

I keep not writing about something. Lots of somethings. I want people to like me. I want to be normal. I don't want to be the weird lady who writes scary things and freaks you all out.

But I am scary. Not normal.

A little over a year and half ago Julius was born. And it was not a good delivery. It was horrifying and terrifying and there is not one good memory I have of it. Nothing clear anyway.

My husband broke down crying and told me something about that delivery a while ago. The docs and nurses were there checking my IV and my epidural drugs, because I was screaming and it wasn't normal contractions, but there was no blood, nothing out of the ordinary. No one knew what was happening.

He said that I was screaming and begging to die. Then my head fell back silent.

And then I did.

Die.

No heart rate, no BP, no nothing, on me, and the baby too. Zip.

I thought I passed out, but when I looked on the hospital records, turns out, I was dead.

He says people starting pumping on my chest, and I have a vague sense of noise and chaos. I also remember feeling the cold scalpel across my skin. I thought I said, "May I have some painkiller?" Then nothing but blackness. It was probably a dream. The records say I was unresponsive, so I guess that means not talking.

I felt myself being moved, shaken, talked too. I know they got me breathing and said I had a placental abruption. I lost huge amounts of blood, almost all the blood in my body. They had no clue I had abrupted until they did the crash section.

The baby was born dead. They suctioned him and gave him oxygen and he was alive. Just like that. Dead. Alive. Like throwing a switch.

The OR looked like a crime scene afterwards, the senior resident looked like he had been punched, and my OB actually cried and begged me never to get pregnant again.

The placental pathology report? I stopped the heparin at 34 weeks, and delivered at 38. In that 4 weeks, my formerly "beautiful" placenta became half dead, shrunken, calcified, covered in clots and barely attached to my uterus. The pathologist said it was likely to have abrupted at any time. Or just stopped working completely. Maybe throwing a clot and killing me and Julius.

There is no white light by the way. In case you were wondering. It's not like in the movies. Since I've been dead and all I get to say that.

He's fine now. I'm fine. We're just fine.

But I'm really not. And I have no idea where to go from here.

Not a fucking clue.

69 comments:

  1. Aurelia,
    I know there's not a light. I'm very glad you're still here, and so are 3 boys, one husband, 1 resident, 1 ob, several nurses, and at least hundreds of other people. I get the not being okay, although you might feel you should be grateful and feel all "saved" and such. I think we all know enough people who weren't to decide to turn such experiences into someone's will. I really don't have any advice, I just wanted to say, love you, and I'm here.

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  2. I seriously have no words.....except maybe hello PTSD.....and I'm very glad you survived.

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  3. Oh, Aurelia. No words either. Just ((((hugs))). Glad you're both here too.

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  4. I am utterly speechless. All I can muster is some virtual hugs and some prayers your way.

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  5. You sound like me after I had Nate. It's very likely PTSD. It's fucking awful and you "live" in fear and panic of death for a while after. It's been 5 years and I finally feel better. It took a lot of work and a lot of expense to pay the right people to listen to me and talk some sense into me. And now it's daily practise in living in the present, which can be very hard to do when the mundanity of the every day creeps in.

    It's OK to grieve your birth experience. But for your own sake, I really suggest you set your mind to getting out of the scary. Because we only make the scary more real by giving it our thoughts and our energies. We become a self-fulfilling prophecy, wallowing in negativity and awfulness, and for what? Just so we can say "I told you so!"?

    Speaking as someone who walks in your "too smart for her own good" shoes. I didn't die, but I almost did and so did my son. Not the same, but I see me in your words. I think we should meet for coffee sometime.

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  6. If feel shocked and at a loss reading this, I can't imagine how much harder it is for you. Let me add my voice to the others in saying I'm very very glad that you and Julius survived.

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  7. Wow. I have no clue what to say. If you were here, I would just hug you. ((hug))

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  8. wow, you always said it wasn't a good birth, but I never imagined it was this bad. I'm so sorry you went through that. But I'm glad you are here now, on the other side of it, able to tell us about it.

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  9. Holy crap! How could you be normal after that? Very glad you and Julius did not remain dead. (Huh, that's kind of an odd thing to write, isn't it? But appropriate. Guess I'm not normal either.)

    Where to go from here? Probably a therapist for PTSD, as others have suggested...

    Or maybe to Italy for gelato, because you can.

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  10. I had the same birth. Placental abruption that came out of nowhere and announced itself as the doctor held the scalpel to me. Baby born lifeless, then suddenly alive. I came to hours later and my husband still won't tell me all that happened because it brings it all back to him.

    For a long time I expected to find her dead in her crib - because if she was given life in such a traumatic, terrible, chancy way, how could I expect her to stay?

    You're not abnormal, and you're not alone. I do still feel like a pariah whenever I'm in a room of moms talking about birth experiences, because I'm the one that nothing went right with, but...well, there's no way to end that sentence.

    I talked about my daughter's birth here:http://jessalogic.blogspot.com/2005/10/tumultuous-birth-of-baby-girl.html

    Peace to you.

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  11. Well it was clearly awful, just awful. I'm so sorry, i had no idea it was that bad. I'm with some of the others here, think it will take some getting over and getting some help with that might help?

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  12. I also had a life-and-death scenario with Little A's birth (after a uterine rupture) and in some ways, regard us *both* as just three years old. Because my life started over from scratch that day, just as Little A's did. It is hard to claim this sort of story as your own. People think that if your baby lives, it's the end of it. You should just skip forward, buy the pretty baby booties, and take lots of pictures. That can be very isolating.

    Be patient and kind with yourself. You mourned your lost babies, right? You also have to mourn for yourself. Many little steps go into walking forward. Many little steps.

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  13. I had a terrible birth too. Not as awful, but terrible none the less. Reaching through the intertubes to give you a hug.

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  14. Wow. I can't imagine you're fine aftert that. That's OK.

    Glad you're here, and I will consider liking you anyway. (-;

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  15. "Since I've been dead and all I get to say that." I think you get to say and feel and do a lot of things since, you know, you've been dead and all.

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  16. Glad you were able to finally write about it because that's a start. It's pretty understandable that you don't feel normal. ((hugs))

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  17. Wow. I really have no idea what to say except I'm glad you're both okay now. Take the time and get the help you need to work through this. Find someone good that you can talk to.

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  18. I hope it will help some to share this here.
    What a traumatic experience. I think PTSD is likely, I have it myself although mostly healed, and now how hard it is.

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  19. It's the stuff of nightmares all right. Yikes. I'm baffled.

    Sometimes I read your blog and secretly hope you're making it all up.
    If only.

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  20. What I tried to say this morning when I tried to leave a comment but couldn't is that as I've told you, I have some baggage following birth number one. I received too much painkiller or something, or too much spinal or whatever, and I actually thought I was dying. I grabbed some nurses hand and told them I was dying, that I couldn't breath - it was like the numbness had gone to my lungs and now they didn't work anymore. And they had been trying to get him out for so long and nothing was working, and he was failed ventouse (nice giant purple bruise, baby) and then foreceps and it was frigging scary.

    But I wasn't actually dying and neither of us died. But I still have the trauma.

    So. OF COURSE you have the trauma. How could you not?! How could it just be okay?? Don't feel like you're not normal. Sounds to me like a perfectly normal reaction to a pretty damn horrible situation.

    I'm sorry.

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  21. Wow, crap. I knew there were complications but man that really is a nightmare.

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  22. Well I just thought I was going to die and I have never been the same, I can't imagine having actually done it. Yikes.

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  23. No words--but raised hairs down both arms.

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  24. I would hope that no one is expecting you to FEEL fine. If so, feel free to kick them in the face for me.

    I can only imagine how frustrating and painful it must be to read about births that are perfect and serene and all that other crap. While mine wasn't one to complain about, listening to those women who "demand" a trauma free birth for themselves by staying at home and in the bathtub and listening to Kenny G while braiding the infant carrier out of hemp makes me feel THAT side of stabby.

    I don't know where you will go from here, but I hope that you know we will be here to help.

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  25. I think "yikes" is the word I'm going to echo, kind of helplessly. I'm glad it worked out. Don't know where to go from here? Well... what were your plans before you found out? How do you feel about them now?

    Bea

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  26. wow...sometimes there is so much that lies beneath the surface.

    i sometimes wish there were roadmaps for stuff like this, signs, pointers or even instructions...but unfortunately there are not.

    even though this is not straight grief (it is far more complex and deep and well beyond what most people can imagine) i suspect it will require a similar process involving time and emotional healing.

    this is hard...i wish i had more to offer...what i can say is that i hope that writing about it helps and i also hope that this post helps someone else who is "thinking about writing it down" get it all out.

    i think it is perfectly ok...that you are not ok. it doesn't mean you can't try to get there one day. let us (me) know if there is ever anything that I (we) can do to help.

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  27. Holy shit. I knew it was bad, but that's beyond what I imagined.

    On a lighter note... does this make you "undead"?

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  28. Well, and for the record I don't think you're crazy. I think you have a propensity to have crazy things happen to you though :(
    Over and over, especaially medically.

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  29. shit woman, WOW, SO glad your both fine in the end, I'd also recommend therapy of some sort! Def. not crazy, certainly traumatised, who wouldn't be. xxx

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  30. I have the chills.

    When I think about what can go bad during a birth, your placental abruption usually comes to mind, but I always was comforted by the thought that the delivery was "just in the nick of time" for you and Julius. Apparently not quite.

    I'm so glad that in the end you're both here safe. I agree with the others who've suggested PTSD. I know you're smart enough to not be surprised that lots of women get it after births that were much, much less traumatic that this one, so it's damn probable after what you went through.

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  31. Aurelia, I'm so sorry your birth was so traumatic. I had no idea it was that bad. I'd wish I could cross cyberspace and give you a great big hug. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers that you'll heal in every way from this.

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  32. I'm so sorry...that is just so scary. I got nothing. Or, rather, i had a long vaguely- amusing-if-you-happen-to-be-drunk story about what was going on around me when i read this post. So, um, i'll save it for future reference.

    I am so very glad you are both alive.

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  33. Oh my. What a horrific experience. Definitely PTSD, how could you not be? I mean, gracious, I am working through some residual anxiety related to my third birth last year, which was an elective c-section that went OK apart from the spinal anesthetic that was bungled and left me with spinal nerve damage. No-one came close to dying, though, and yet I feel all kinds of conflicted about that birth.

    You and Julius didn't stay dead. That is very good. But that's not all there is to the story by a very long shot. A *lot* of processing and time to come to terms with what happened is absolutely needed.

    (Although I didn't die in this or any of my births, I have actually "died" once during an asthma attack when I stopped breathing and my heart stopped beating - albeit extremely temporarily, as in less than 1 minute. I didn't see a light either, but I do remember some pretty but odd musical sounds, like I was listening to an orchestra in an echo chamber. The brain is a strange and wonderful thing).

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  34. Damn, girlfriend! Sorry I'm late to the party, such as it is...
    & decemberbaby already made a zombie comment, so I can't even try to make you laugh ;-)!
    Hang in there & lightly brush off unwanted commentary on Your Eternal Gratitude (a big fact of life in Cancer-Survivorland)...

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  35. Wow. just. wow!

    I'm so sorry.

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  36. I think it's great you were able to write about this... I hope it helps you process this very scary & complex thing that happened to you and your family. And really, what IS normal? You sound pretty 'normal' to me all things considered.

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  37. Dear Aurelia, I am absolutely struck dumb. You poor, poor thing. What an impossible thing to reconcile with... anything, really. Losing your life, losing your son, and both of you living to tell the tale because of some... razor-thin technicality of timing, is too much for brain, soul and heart. I hope you get help sorting through all this, and figure out how to move forward.

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  38. Wow! I am sorry. I can think of nothing to say here, but I am glad that you both made it.

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  39. This really shook me. What a crazy intense experience. Thank G-d you and the baby are alive. Thank G-d. But I visualized everything you described in your story. You're a vivid storyteller.

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  40. Reading this is the closest I can come to imagining what it would be like to not only die, but be spared. (If, in fact, you believe that staying alive means to be spared).

    Here's to both you and Julius, who obviously are meant to walk the planet awhile longer.

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  41. Not sure what to say. Just glad for the switch, I guess.

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  42. You have every right to be thinking scary thoughts. I can't believe you went through that. It's amazing that you are all doing well. I hope you can see how amazing it is that you've both survived this. If you feel like this often, you are talking with someone. That is a lot to go through including post-partum hormones.

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  43. 珍惜當下..活在當下..祝大家都平平安安健健康康! ..................................................

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  44. im going to go out on a limb here and u can slap me if you want to. are you a person of faith? you're a very courageous woman to blog about something so painful and traumatic,you're helping people, youre giving others permission to speak their truths, you're invested in the lives of your children heck even other people in your situation, youre politically active and out there. there was no white light bc that is when the angels carried you both. nxt time your feeling anxious scared and like a freak, focus on the miracle, look to Him to help you heal.dont let your suffering and fears stop you from living the life you were meant to live. i think youre on kick ass woman - even on your bad days. i hope you experience more healing and blessings in your life.

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  45. 成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人..................................................

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  46. I've been browsing though through your blog posts and have discovered that I can only read one or two at a time and then I have to take a break, the similarities between what we've experienced is giving me chills.

    I, too, had a placental abruption with my twins and I lost a ton of blood. We all almost died. I went to the hospital a BUNCH of times (started having problems at 16 weeks!) and no one ever caught it. They, literaly, told me I was crazy. And then I started bleeding. A lot. And we had an emergency section.

    No one died (not even for a minute - well, my twins both "died" many, many times after that day...but that's another story). Anyhow - I just wanted to say that I'm here and I've been there and if you ever need a shoulder or a hug you know where to find me. xoxo

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