We learned something pretty interesting after Shiloh was born. As I mentioned in Part I of this story, Dr. H left the room a few times after making comments alluding to thinking I needed a c-section. He told our doula afterwards that when he feels the need to intervene, he removes himself from the situation. He knew how much I wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and he respected that. He thought a c-section might be easier – or better, or whatever – but he left us with our doula and nurse to figure it out on our own, and we did.
My family practitioner, Dr. A, who saw me for the first 33 weeks of my pregnancy and who also knew how much I wanted a VBAC, told me at Shiloh’s 2-week checkup that on one of those times that Dr. H stepped out of the room, he called Dr. A and told him he was headed towards sectioning me. And Dr. A – also knowing how much I did NOT want another c-section – urged him not to… and Dr. H respected that and let us keep trying.
I only met Dr. H three times before I went into labor and am so grateful that he did what he did. Another doctor likely would have just wheeled me to the OR, but Dr. H recognized that I was ok, Shiloh was doing ok, and other than the fact that it was taking a long time, there were no indications that I needed a c-section.
The morning after Shiloh was born, Dr. H came to check on me. He told me my iron had dropped really low, which was odd since I didn’t lose a lot of blood during the delivery. But I’d dropped low enough that I was on the verge of needing a blood transfusion. He said I had two choices – stay in the hospital another night and take it easy, or go home and take it easy. He said there really wasn’t anything they would do for me at the hospital other than have me rest, and since we had three very excited big siblings at home, we opted to leave.
Prior to our discharge, they told us Shiloh’s bilirubin was a bit high, and since the other kids all had jaundice, they would send a home care nurse to our house in two days to re-check her.
We went home 21 hours after Shiloh was born.
Once at home, I tried to take it easy and was doing a good job of taking my iron pills. But Friday morning – when Shiloh was two days old – I went to get out of bed and got horribly dizzy when I sat up. I couldn’t stand at all, and I was weaker than I have ever been in my life. I started to hyperventilate and cry, as I was completely taken aback by this… and scared. I remember feeling so weak that I thought “this must be what it feels like before you die”. It was crazy scary to me.
I laid around and did very little the first two days home. I couldn’t do anything. I had to hold someone or the walls to walk to the bathroom. My feet were so swollen they hurt. I couldn’t carry Shiloh for fear I would be too weak and drop her, so I mostly sat around and did the only thing I could do, which was nurse her.
In the meantime, Shiloh had only pooped once – Thursday night, 24+ hours after she was born – since being discharged, despite all of the nursing we were doing. And she was vomiting; not a normal baby spit-up, but some very forceful vomiting. I was getting worried why everything seemed to be coming back up and not going through her.
Saturday morning a home care nurse came to re-check her bilirubin and her weight. Shiloh had gone from 7 pounds 13 ounces to 6 pounds 15 ounces. A few hours later we got the call that her levels were high – somewhere around 20. The nurse came back with a bili bed and a bili blanket. The bed was a flat bed with lights and we had to put Shiloh in this sleep sack type thing that then velcroed her flat on her back to the bed, allowing the light to go through the back of the pajamas and help her body break down the bilirubin.
In addition to the bed, we were given a blanket, which is meant to wrap around the baby’s waist like a cumberbund and uses lights as well, but since Shiloh’s numbers here so high, they wanted us to tuck that down the front of the sleep sack type thing for additional phototherapy.
Shiloh HATED it. So did I.
To make it worse, we did before and after weights of her nursing, and after she nursed on one side, she was weighed and took in… nothing. After the second side, she’d taken just 1/3 ounce. All I could do for my baby was nurse her, and it wasn’t working. I felt like a complete failure and just cried.
Our friend L came by to help me a bit after she’d emailed to see about visiting and I told her what a mess I was. She stayed for a long time and helped me with nursing and just hung out. It was nice to have the extra support and friendship when I was feeling so low.
On Sunday, when Shiloh was 4 days old, the nurse came back to check her bili levels again. As she was visiting, Shiloh forcefully vomited huge yellow chunks all over me. The nurse asked if that had been going on and I said yes, it had, and reminded her we still hadn’t seen a poop from Shiloh since day 1. The nurse, who had been so encouraging and supportive the whole time suddenly had a change in demeanor and said she was going to call the doctor. Now that she had seen Shiloh vomit, she, too, was concerned that maybe things just weren’t getting to her intestines and out.
We got a call an hour or so later that her levels had gone down a bit, but that we needed to check in with Shiloh at the hospital at 1:30 PM. She was being readmitted for jaundice and dehydration. We called our friend L to come back and hang out with the kids so we could go back to the hospital.
Hopefully, I can get to Part III of this story soon…