It was big.
It was fucking awesome cause that’s when the twins arrived and they kicked much ass and it’s taken me all this time, I thought, because the story was really hard. But, why? Why was it really hard to tell? Because I kept waiting for it to have a happy ending. But that’s now how life works, is it? There isn’t really an ending until the end. And this blog isn’t about happiness, either. It’s about life.
And I know that.
This story was still really hard to tell.
So then I thought maybe it’s because it was so traumatic.
Cause there were some parts, some moments that were really fucking traumatic.
Flash back level, nightmare inducing, horror story traumatic.
Let me get to the punchline, though – the twins are healthy.
They’ve always been super healthy.
During every scare, they come through super healthy. I still utter the mantra often, “Please be healthy. Please be fine.”
But their delivery.
The other day I started working again and part of coming back to work was to officially declare that I’m still sick to the Dutch government.
Due to delivery.
It means that I’m only working two hours a day and have an incredibly gentle ramp up to full time work over the next three months. It means I have space to recover, to heal.
Part of that official declaration is a phone interview with the particular department that decides whether or not there’s a medical need and during that call I told someone exactly what happened. With as little emotion as possible. As efficiently as possible.
To be clear, this is the same someone who handled my case when I was super sick before delivery – during the entire pregnancy. He knew my history. And he said, after I told him everything, “This case is obvious. I’ll call you in six weeks. Rest and recover. And, I mean this from the bottom of my heart, I wish you all the best.”
And when we hung up, I burst into tears.
I had been holding my breath. Cause there was a chance that all the things I went through weren’t enough to slowly ramp up. Weren’t enough to be sick or have space to recover.
There was no guarantee of compassion.
It was obvious.
Therefore, I’ll try to do the same thing for you. To write with as little emotion as possible. As efficiently as possible.
And hope for your compassion as I continue to recover.
The twins were induced at thirty seven weeks due to obstetric cholestasis at six in the morning. I requested an epidural at four centimeters, however, within thirty minutes, I was eight centimeters. I delivered without any pain medication whatsoever. Both twins were head down and the girl was born first at lunch. Once she was born, the contractions stopped therefore the active delivery stopped. She passed her apgar with a seven the first time and then with a nine. Once the contractions resumed, the boy’s heart rate slowed with each contraction. As he was also tucked on the right side of the uterus, the midwife pushed to the left at the same time that I pushed during a contraction.
His umbilical cord came out before him and the doctor, midwife and nurses began to discuss surgery. The doctor opted for a suction attempt first which worked and forty minutes after his sister, the boy, who was not breathing immediately upon delivery, was whisked out the door to the waiting pediatrician. He immediately began breathing and passed his apgar with a nine.
Both placentas were delivered and I received one stitch.
I continued to have lighter contractions, but nurses confirmed this was perfectly normal and administered paracetamol. The contractions became more intense and then blood clots were passed. Each blood clot larger than the last. Each one was met with, “ah, that’s why you were in pain – now it will stop.”
It didn’t stop.
After dinner a nurse massaged my uterus and a blood clot the size of a softball came out.
At ten that night, I calmly told the Dutch nurse that I wanted to kill myself because the pain had not stopped since six that morning and she nodded and left to ask for stronger pain medicine. Thankfully, her assistant understood english better than she and explained what I said outside my room which meant she came back in seconds later to confirm that I said I wanted to kill myself.
“Yes. I have suicidal thoughts when I want to escape an extreme physical or psychological trauma. I am in constant pain. All I have been given is paracetamol. I feel as thought I’m being ignored. The cramps are not stopping. I want to speak with a doctor. I need stronger pain medication. Now.”
A resident arrived. He used an echo to see that I still had several clots in my uterus and suggested massage. Or surgery. He paged the doctor on duty who also looked, gave me a sedative and massaged out a one liter blood clot bringing the blood loss total to two liters.
I was given a blood transfusion.
The twins and I remained in the hospital for three days for observation due to fluoxetine taken during the pregnancy, however, on day two I had a panic attack and the psychiatrist on duty was paged, so it was determined that we would remain for an extra day to arrange psychiatric home visits.
We received extended (normally seven to ten days – we received five weeks) kraamzorg help because we don’t have local family support plus I was having previously never experienced panic attacks plus PTSD plus twins plus breastfeeding. I continued to have panic attacks, nightmares, and flashbacks to the twins’ delivery.
One night I had a fever of thirty eight degrees, but it went away with paracetamol. The next night the fever returned, but again left with paracetamol. The third night it started while the kraamzorger was still there and spiked to forty point three. She called emergency services who came to the house. My fever started dropping because of the paracetamol, but the doctor sent me to the hospital immediately for testing – I had an infection, but she couldn’t tell where because there wasn’t any localized pain. She called the ambulance and ran an IV. At the hospital, they swabbed, drew blood, and collected urine.
I still had a clot.
The paracetamol stopped working and the fever continually spiked to thirty eight, thirty nine, and forty. I was put in line for the emergency operating room. I had surgery on December twelfth at four in the afternoon and woke up without fever. The doctors confirmed that I had a piece of placenta still in my uterus and it had become infected. I stayed in the hospital for another twenty four hours for observation.
And we lived happily ever after.
Thank you for your patience. For your compassion. For your support.
It’s been an absolutely incredible adventure and I’m so very thankful that as DIFFICULT as it has been, it has also been UTTERLY JOYOUS.
Thank you for being healthy, little ones.
We’re all going to be just fine.