In the days after welcoming my daughter Sohana into the world I have had many people reach out to ask how I’ve been doing. My response has been pretty standard…aside from the sleep deprivation I was doing well. This was the truth…until about two weeks postpartum when things took a sudden turn.
The first two weeks after giving birth were pretty much textbook for me. Thankfully, I had a smooth and uncomplicated labour and delivery. I was healing well, producing lots of milk and Sohana was doing great. I remember saying to my husband on several occasions that I couldn’t believe how great everything had been going. Well, fast forward to 15 days postpartum and things changed.
I didn’t know at the time but I was having a postpartum hemorrhage and things escalated quickly. I am going to spare you all the details, but it’s the first time I’ve truly been confronted with my own mortality. Within hours I was in the emergency room waiting for a doctor to tell me the next course of action. I lay there hooked up to an IV, nursing my daughter while trying to fight back the tears. I was in and out of the emergency room over the next few days - ultimately waiting for a procedure to prevent another hemorrhage. As a new mom of two who was riding the highs and lows of postpartum hormones, I was TERRIFIED. All I wanted to do was be at home with my babies, but instead I spent many days in hospital.
By the end of the week, I finally had the surgery I had been waiting for and spent the weekend recovering at home. Aside from a few side effects, physically I am doing well. Emotionally, however, I am still working through the events of the past couple weeks.
It’s been difficult to process this rollercoaster while also battling sleep deprivation, but there are a few clear takeaways I want to share:
Even though it may be stretched to its limits because of COVID, I am eternally grateful for our healthcare system
Had I experienced this hemorrhage in a country without our exceptional healthcare, I am not sure how things would have gone for me. This thought haunts me and also highlights how privileged I am to have access to healthcare. Even in the middle of a pandemic, when our system is stretched and stressed I still managed to get the acute care I needed.
Medical professionals are my heroes
Over this entire ordeal I was left in awe by the warm and compassionate care I received. From my team at Pacific Midwifery, to the nurses and doctors who treated me in hospital - they’ve all had to balance the challenges of the pandemic while continuing to stay focused on their patients. I spoke to many of them about how stressful the past 19 months have been, and despite being emotionally and physically taxed they all still managed to dig deep within themselves and selflessly care for me in my time of need. I don’t know if I would have the same strength. A big thank you to all our courageous healthcare professionals!
Postpartum is really, really hard
I’ve said this before and I will say it again, in my opinion postpartum is the hardest stage of pregnancy. I know what some of you might be thinking - it’s not really part of pregnancy - but it most certainly is. For myself labour and delivery was the easiest stage, followed by 40 weeks of pregnancy and lastly the 4th trimester, postpartum. Not only are you recovering from the toll that pregnancy, labour and delivery have taken on your body, but you likely haven’t had more than a couple consecutive hours of sleep, you have a newborn life that’s relying on you, and in my case I’ve been adjusting to breastfeeding once again while also tending to the needs of my toddler. All of this, if things are going well. Then add on top of that any complications and it’s a recipe for crisis. Simply put, the postpartum stage (with my first and second pregnancy) has been one of the most difficult periods in my life and the past few weeks have left me feeling shook. My memory is completely shot, self-care is a luxury and all I want to do is sleep — and this is all with lots of family support. It seems postpartum gets the short end of the stick when it comes to awareness and attention. So much of the focus seems to be on pregnancy, but I think we need to have more conversations about the 4th trimester and offer all the support we can to people who’ve just had babies. Maybe for some this stage is easy breezy, but if you are like me a struggling through the sleep deprived days know that you are not alone.
Motherhood is full of days that have me feeling accomplished and others that have me feeling like I have no clue what I am doing. As complicated as this sounds, I wouldn’t want it any other way because with the chaos I’m also experiencing the most profound love and gratitude for my beautiful babies and my growing family. Postpartum is a messy time but I know it’s not forever and sleep is waiting for me at the end of this tunnel and if this postpartum scare has taught me anything it's that I am grateful to be at home with my children -- despite how exhausted I might be. If you are struggling through these foggy postpartum days, know that you are not alone. Birthing a child is serious business and it takes a massive, and sometimes dangerous toll on your body, so if you've had a baby give yourself a pat on the back for the incredible job you are doing and don’t be afraid to ask for help — we all need it.
****So what’s a postpartum hemorrhage? It’s when a woman has heavy bleeding after birth. It can happen anywhere from the day you give birth to 12 weeks after. It’s considered to be a serious, but rare condition with only about 5% of people experiencing this after having a baby.****