So we had been home from a week and Lachlan, Jamie and I were loving spending time together as our new little family. I was still expressing 3 hourly during the day and 5 hourly overnight. Lachlan was being bottle fed EBM and then being topped up with formula as still at 2 weeks old I did not even have close to a constant milk flow. I was feeling very tired and off – which I just put down to being exhausted from sleep deprivation between a new born and constantly expressing, feeding, sterilizing etc….new years eve came around and I couldn’t possible bear to be around people who were drunk, happy and not exhausted so Jamie went to his mates house around the corner and I stayed at home and basically cried all night out of what I thought was pure exhaustion.
New Years day I had me follow up visit from the home nurse to review how Lachlan was going and to review my c-section wound to see how that was healing. I found out later that she could see from the moment she saw my face and Lachlan’s face that something wasn’t right. She carried on with her appointment and when she was pressing on my c-section wound to see how it was healing I felt like she was attempting to push her hand through my entire mid section and I screamed and just about jumped through the roof! She was very concerned about how it was healing and suggested I needed to see a doctor straight away and since it was a public holiday that it would be best if I head back to WCH where I had birthed to see a doctor there and that until I had seen the doctor I was to stop giving Lachlan any breast milk and continue with only formula….I didn’t at the time know the severity of what was yet to come, however I thought maybe just maybe I should pack a bag for both Lachlan and myself just in case I needed to stay overnight to observations. Well when I got to the emergency department they said we have been expecting you and I was rushed straight through to a single room to see a doctor to be told within 10 minutes that I was going to be readmitted for further post natal care and that I had a c-section break down and a severe infection. Needless to say the tears started to flow! I was lucky that my sister was there with me to not only drive me there but to keep me composed (as Jamie was home with Lachlan). So we were transferred to the post natal ward once again into a special quarantine room with warning labels and all protective garments everywhere in the vacuum sealed foyer of my room.
To say this all was beyond daunting doesn’t even begin to cover it as at this stage I still was not aware of what was going on, all I knew is that I was back in hospital and my baby wasn’t with me! After me making a bit of a scene it was clearly by the Shift Coordinator for Lachlan to come into hospital in my room with my as a “boarder” as opposed to a admitted patient which means that I was to be the carer as opposed to the midwives on the ward. So Jamie bought in Lachlan and his bag that I had packed – so despite feeling like crap I was relieved to have my little man back with me!
That night (well technically the next morning) at about 2am I woke up screaming and crying in chronic pain buzzers were going off everywhere and before you know it I had about 5 people run into my room prodding and pushing my belly – which incidentally made me cry and scream even more. They managed to calm both me and the pain down with a serious amount of pain killers and sleeping tablets and I was scheduled for an ultrasound review at 8.30am as soon as the radiologist was in. The midwives look Lachlan to the nursery for the night because I was in no condition (all drugged up) to be caring for a new born. I rang Jamie at about 3.30am and left a message for him to come into the hospital as early as possible as I needed him here to look after Lachlan.
After my drugged up coma sleep I was woken by the doctors who told me that they expected that I had an haematoma that ruptured overnight and they wanted to do an ultrasound on my belly to see what was happening internally. I was rushed to ultrasound where the sonographer was making a lot of unusual facial expressions and odd noises – I knew when she disappeared to go and get the radiologist to look directly that something wasn’t right. With 2 very worried people looking at my ultrasound it’s safe to say I was “shit scared” about what was going on. They send me back to the ward with a sealed report and I was going back to the ward my doctor was urgently paged to my room. The doctor explained that I had a HUGE abyss caused by the infection in my c-section wound break down and that I needed emergency surgery to drain the fluid out of the abyss, a normal abyss is between 2cm-5cm cube – my abyss was measuring in at 20cm x 10cm x 6cm. Within 2 hours I was back on the theatre table having to have my entire c-section wound re-opened and this damn abyss drained.
Waiting up from surgery I was back in my little quarantine jail cell with my baby, Jamie and my mum all waiting for me to come around. I still had a wound drain (and catheter) hanging out of me on one side that would be there for the next 24 hours to get any residual fluid and the other side I have an IV drip in. I was very groggy and sore but all I was worried about was how was I going to be able to look after a new born when I couldn’t even get out of bed on my own thanks to all these monitors and cords coming out of me at all angles. That point it was organised that Jamie and mum would constantly stay with me to help look after Lachlan, as I wanted him with me. Jamie did the day shifts from 7am to 7pm and my mum stayed in with me overnight from 7pm until Jamie got in the next morning at 7am. I was so lucky to have such love and support around me as it is the only thing that kept me sane.
The surgeon came back to check my wound post-surgery, he explained that the abyss that was drained was abnormally large and that they drained over 800ml of fluid as opposed to the standard 300ml. Furthermore because of the abnormal size that the fluid had been sent of for an awry of testing – the results had come back to determine that yes it was an infection but it was a very severe infection of anti-biotic resistant bacteria (known commonly as superbugs) and the quarantine ramped up and everyone who came near me had to have a full gown, gloves, face mask and shower nap on and then do a full scrub down as they left my solitary little room.
The doctor explained that it was critical that I stopped breast feeding as my infection was in the breast milk and I was putting Lachlan at risk giving him infected milk, from this point on Lachlan was only ever going to be a formula baby, I admitted breast feeding defeat that my body just wasn’t built to do it. This is what my milk was doing to Lachlan (red blotchy face and rash all over his body)
At this point the doctor also explained how luck I was to still be alive – because of the severity of the infection if the haematoma that burst had of ruptured the abyss I would not be here to write my story and Jamie would be a widowed single father….needless to say when I was told his I prompted lost my shit and cried for about 3 hours non stop.
Once I pulled myself together and stopped feeling sorry for myself, I realised that I need to get over myself and concentrate on Lachlan, he needed me fit and healthy so I would let myself heel by doing everything I was told to do, take all the medication I needed to take (which at one stage was 6 different types of oral and IV antibiotics due to the different strains of bacteria in my infection). After 5 days the wound drain was removed, it was supposed to only be 24 hours but because of the constant amount of fluid still coming out it stayed in for longer, I started to feel a bit better as I was more free to move and able to take more of an active role in caring for Lachlan.
Ten long days after I was admitted, another surgery, a copious amount of antibiotics and pain killers, a lot of tears, I was ready to be discharged as we were able to go home as family…ROUND TWO. Over the next 4 months I had daily, twice weekly, weekly to fortnightly appointments for infection swabs, dressing changes, antibiotics script and pain killer refills and to check that this time it was healing properly. And it wasn’t until May 2012 I was discharged from the WCH post natal service – by this time Lachlan was 5 months old!!
While I endured a very trauma c-section recovery – wound break down – and recovery. I would not change anything that I went through in a heartbeat because to change what I went through meant that I would not have my gorgeous little boy.
I am so very grateful still to this day for the constant love, support, dedication and help from Jamie, my mum and my sister Kim during this time to help me through my healing process by being there to take the lead in caring for Lachlan. One of my friends only asked me a week ago how I didn’t end up with Post Natal Depression with everything that I went through – the breast feeding nightmare and the near fatal c-section wound break down. Well that answer was simple – firstly I was too sick and exhausted to feel sorry for myself and secondly it was hard to feel sorry for myself was I was surrounded by such amazing love and support.