Friday, November 21, 2008

what happened next

You know, I was completely on fire to tell you the whole story of what happened the week following Fry's birth in complete and gory detail and why we ended up staying nine days in the clinic, but now that I've had some time away from it I can safely say that the fire has dulled down to a dull burn. Plus, I'm really tired and stuff. So here's the Vivi's Digest abridged version*:

Two nights after Fry was born, the day that I was getting up and moving on my own without having to call for help, and coincidentally the day of the US Presidential election, I woke up twice with a massive headache. I didn't think much about it and instead just sat up and watched Fry sleep (which any mother will tell you is better than any other form of media ever invented) (and also I'll have to tell you another time about Elections funnies in the clinic). Over the next two days, the headaches got increasingly worse, and the staff at the clinic were hard pressed to explain them, as they were accompanied by a fever spike. It was originally thought that it was a reaction to the spinal block but that was eventually dismissed. Things really went downhill one afternoon when the headache changed to a throbbing on the right side of my head whenever I went from a sitting to standing position, which was sometimes so strong I nearly fainted.

On Friday, the day after my milk came in, I was told to stop breastfeeding because they were afraid that I had an infection that could be passed to the baby. My milk was late coming in and we were still having to compliment with artificial milk so this was very discouraging for me. On top of everything else, I had to start pumping and dumping. I was put on an antibiotic, and for some reason they didn't have in their records that I'm allergic to penicillin, so we can thank our lucky stars that I didn't have a reaction after I took the first dose (when I was about to take the second dose, I actually read the package and called a nurse right away). Then I started a battery of tests, some of which I can't even explain, but included several blood tests, a urine test, a Doppler test the check the veins in my legs and an ultrasound. I was diagnosed with having had a hemorrhage somewhere around my uterus, which was not so dangerous as to warrant a transfer to the hospital but was likely the cause of most of the problems. Stéph and my MIL decided that I needed to eat more so they started bringing me snacks (I had stashed some cookies in my suitcase which until that time I hadn't touched and they brought me a ton of clementines). Friday night, the pain was so intense that I was put back on an IV and given two rounds of analgesics and an anti-inflammatory.

Saturday I was given a blood transfusion. That was also the day we started noticing a pattern with the headaches - they would arrive at the end of the morning, the end of the afternoon and the very early hours of the morning. Then I realized that they would practically disappear after I ate. The more I ate, the less intense the headaches were. But no matter how often I told this to the nurses or doctors, they said it was a coincidence. I finally got the IV out of my arm on Sunday but still heard no sign about being released. At this point, Fry had had his exit exam but I was still being observed because they couldn't explain the fever spikes.

Everything came to a head on Monday evening. I had been told all day that I could possibly be released Tuesday morning, and out of nowhere a very young midwife came in and gave me paperwork for a CAT scan I would have to do on Wednesday (since Tuesday was a public holiday) and I would be lucky if I were released before Thursday. Well y'all, I am not at all proud to say this, but I basically lost it. I called Stéph crying so hard that I'm sure he thought something was wrong with Fry. I felt so trapped in that room, with so much conflicting information in a culture that does not expect its doctors and nursing staff to explain to their patients what is happening, and I was on the edge of a very serious breakdown. Stéph took the initiative to call the doctor on duty and they finally agreed that if I could get through the night with no fever and without needing medication for a headache, then I could be released the next day. And while the night was not totally headache-free, I did get through the night and was finally released the next day. We still had to go back to Troyes the next day to have the CAT scan of my head, but even after passing one night in my own bed I felt like a new person and it was absolutely no surprise that there were no problems with the scan.

Now, over a week later, the headaches are gone and we are desperately trying to get breastfeeding back on track. I actually had the go-ahead to start breastfeeding again before we left, but the taste of the antibiotic in the milk was too strong for Fry and he wouldn't take it. I finally finished the antibiotics on Sunday and Fry and I visited the midwife here in Tiny Town, who is also a breastfeeding consultant, Tuesday. Right now I'm not producing near enough for his needs and we still have to use artificial milk after nursing but I have the support of some really great breastfeeding friends and I'm using every trick in the book so we'll see what happens.

* Which ended up being hella long anyway, sorry about that!

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