Monday, September 27, 2010

What I want you to know: Emergency Postpartum Hysterectomy

Here's a post I submitted to Kristen at one of my favorite blogs: She's doing a series called What I want you to know - don't know if it'll get posted, but it was a interesting to write - so I thought I would share it here.

My name is Marilyn, I am 32 years old. I live in a small town on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I’m a high school teacher at a rural high school. I love my students, but my number one priority is my family. Outside my fabulous extended family, my family is made up of my husband of 9 years and my sweet 4 year old son.

The day my son was born was the best day of my life, the morning after – the worst. The short story is that after he was born, my womb refused to recontract and hemorrhaged blood. The doctors tried their best, but in the end the only thing that could be done to save my life was a hysterectomy. For the full story -
I want you to know is it’s lonely. It’s (thankfully) uncommon. It’s hard to get firm statistics – they don’t really exist anywhere that’s easy to find. I’ve seen some numbers @ 1 in 30,000 births. If the average woman has 2-3 kids it’s 1 in 10-15,000. It’s not often that I meet another woman who has had a hysterectomy (under the age of 50) and even more unlikely that it was a part of their birth story.

I want you to know that my pregnancy was healthy… there was no warning, no I didn’t drink, smoke, or eat unhealthy foods. I was actually in prenatal yoga classes. I read every book and ate (and didn’t eat) whatever they told me was best. What I want you to know… is that I don’t regret being such a stickler for those rules when I was pregnant. Some may say it proves that “those things don’t matter”. To me… it shows that they did matter – who knows – maybe I wouldn’t have survived.

I want you to know that I don’t blame my doctors. It’s been insinuated that my doctors made a bad choice in deciding a c-section was necessary. Some people assumed we would sue. I have even had someone refer to complications with c-sections, look at me and then say “well – you know how dangerous they can be”. I remember being stunned and thinking how callous and presumptive. In my case, the c-section was due to a concern at the amount of blood they were seeing with a vaginal birth. I believe the c-section allowed the doctors to first see the extent of the issues, and later when they went back in, a quicker way to attempt to save my uterus. I want you to know I believe my doctors saved my life.

I want you to know BLOOD DONORS save lives. I have heard (and was guilty myself) of not donating blood due to a mild fear of needles. I now realize how selfish that is. It took 20 people donating blood to save my life. If I could thank them each individually I would. They gave me the opportunity to be a mom to my wild and crazy boy.

I want you to know it’s not my son’s fault. People have asked if he was “a big baby”. He was not. To me, it seems a strange thing to somehow connect him to my complications. I have heard a student I teach say that his brother almost killed his mother when he was born. It makes my blood run cold to even hear that joked about. I believe that my body was not created to carry more than one child. God has a different plan for how our family will be formed.

I want you to know when someone says “I am not able to have children” to regale them with stories of how God can do anything is cruel, you may not know what you are talking about. I have had sweet people tell me stories about how their neighbor’s granddaughter was told she would never have children and she has had 4 perfect births after they just forgot about it. That’s nice, but I have had a hysterectomy. There is no womb for a child to grow in. I believe God CAN do anything. But to tell me that I could carry a child, is like telling someone who has had a leg chopped off that God will regrow their leg. While I believe anything is possible, I don’t think it’s probable.

I want you to know I’m still grieving. I have a gorgeous little 4 year old boy, but every day I grieve. I grieve for the sweet birthing story. I grieve for the fact that his birthday is always a difficult day, we rejoice in his day… but I am overcome by sadness and fear on that day. I grieve for my dream children. The children I dreamed of carrying and birthing. I catch myself gazing at newborns, and I grieve that I may never again hold a newborn child I can call my own. I grieve for the first weeks of my days of my son’s life when I was in ICU and unable to be with my sweet boy. I grieve the first weeks of his life when I was in a haze of pain and grief so thick I could barely draw breath. I grieve for my husband who very nearly witnessed his wife bleed to death in a gruesome and horrifying manner. I grieve.

There’s so much more I want you to know… but just know that I exist… this does still happen today in this miracle age of medicine, childbirth is still a risky venture.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

wet eyes

it has been a rough week and a half...

i find myself listening to a sermon, bible study, teaching, working with my students, looking out at the class, looking at my cousin's newborn, thinking about visiting the newborn... and all of a sudden my eyes are wet.

i'm not sobbing, i'm not even crying - but tears are swimming

the sermon today was fabulous - Commentary on Revelations Chp 4. Not scary at all - the pastor centered the discussion around the visual of the throne and how it is representative of GOD being present and in control.

the combination of the unexpected death of one of my students and the continued longing for another child have combined and the result has been more than the sum of the parts

i breathe through the moments and continually remind myself HE is in control - i may not see the short term reasons ---- i already see how he is working in the lives of others students through the passing of one of their closest friends...

it is still difficult... and i have a feeling it'll be a continual battle with wet eyes

Monday, September 20, 2010

detached grief

this past week one of my biggest fears as a teachers was realized... i lost a student

5 students from my school were involved in a serious accident on the way to school 5 days ago, and a sweet girl i had as a sophomore and currently as a senior was killed - no one was wearing seatbelts and the driver was driving too fast

teenager stuff with adult consequences

talking to my father tonight about attending the viewing and the funeral he "reminded" me to stay detached at the funeral - that it needed to be appropriate.

i'm sort of chewing on that still - is that a good thing? of course i shouldn't become hystical - that would be hypocritical - i was not particularly close to this student, but the idea as the adult model figure to my students i should be detached - is something that makes me pause

many of the staff was concerned when i was crying at the short meeting we had to inform of us the students accident (i had already read it online)

the idea that it i needed to pull it together for the students is silly --- while i shouldn't be a blubbering idiot - for me to NOT shed a tear in front of them would be even worse. the truth is i lost it in there b/c i finally was away from the kids and could openly grieve - even then, i was holding back a bit...

I LOVE MY KIDS (aka students)- even when they are pains in the @$$es - i love them, they mean something to me and are important...

it's sad to think that culturally i am to "have it together" at an event that is meant for us to grieve...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guilty Thanks

Thankfulls that I am almost ashamed to post...

70. An unexpected nothing to do night --- guilty pleasure is that it happened b/c my Gma called and cancelled dinner tonight

71. A full day (practically) to myself on Saturday --- guilty b/c I had little time with my son who I don't get to see tons during the week

72. additional time for JUST me tonight --- guilty b/c my hubby went to work to get more stuff done

73. Was able to get a few things done at work today unexpectedly --- guilty b/c it happened because I stopped class 10 minutes early (forgot when the bell rang!)

74. Sweet morning cuddle time with my little man ---- guilty because we need to get him to stop crawling into our bed at night

75. RICE PUDDING --- 2-fold guilty -- happened b/c I was making dinner and forgot that 2 cups of uncooked rice = 6 cups of cooked rice AND --- I ate all but one serving by myself in 24 hours

76. to NOT live near certain family members --- guilty - self explanatory

77. that my son's school was open on Rosh Hashanna --- guilty b/c I had off work and sent him anyway!

78. for TV shows that are online - guilty b/c now i waste even more time (i dunno - maybe it's less --- ???)

**** seriously though - super grateful for all the above, mainly felt bad about feeling the relief that we weren't going out tonight - then felt bad b/c they cancelled b/c they aren't feeling well

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

How hard can it be??? Wow... Let me tell you a story...

As a history geek --- I understand what labor day is --- Grover Cleveland's PR following the messy Pullman strike, honoring the union workers who died for unionization rights and reform for workers...

but that is not what my labor day post is about...

i happened across a poster yesterday outside the maternity store MOTHERHOOD... it said "Labor Day... how hard can it be?" They are giving away shirts and bags with this logo

wow... don't want to be the uber sensitive type but that ad hit me square in the gut. I try to avoid walking by those stores because they are honestly never easy, but to see labor trivialized was  hurtful.

Besides the women who are in my shoes and unable to carry a child again, what about the women who had births which scarred them in another way, or a had a labor which led to the injury or death of the child, or the families of the women who have died in labor???

How ignorant of a company that makes it business to deal with pregnant women to trivialize the labor process! How shortsighted, close minded...

This is not even paying attention to the women around the world in developing nations who die in child birth or of infection or hemorrhage afterwards everyday.

I pray I don't run into a woman wearing this shirt... I also I pray if I do, I don't inform her just how hard labor can be.