Written on April 2, 2021, a year later and it's still difficult to process through this time in my life as I sit to write this.
April 2, 2020
The pandemic is in full swing. Everything is shut down. I was almost 2 months postpartum, 7 weeks and 2 days to be exact.
I had been in so much pain during the recovery from my c section. I had chest pain and had spent months feeling like I couldn’t breathe due to my respiratory infection. I had double pneumonia. I had pain in my upper stomach area, but it was horrible in my shoulder and back. I could hardly lift Stella. I was in tears, still throwing up. I didn’t understand why HG hadn’t stopped after the pregnancy. I was struggling to say the least. My PPD and PPA was full swing. The world felt out of control and totally unstable and I was stressed about what I just brought a brand new soul into the world with all the p(l)andemic crisis going on.
My body was failing. I had moments when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I was scared. The pain, the puking, the not being able catch my breath. When I went in for my 6 week postpartum check, my OB suggested that I might be having aftermath problems from HG, and perhaps it was my gallbladder, so she referred me to a gastroenterologist.
He turned out being a super nice doctor. He listened to what I had been through, felt around belly and suspected a couple things going on and sent me for an ultrasound, among some other tests. A week had gone by when I got in for my ultrasound. I was a wreck driving myself to the appointment. Tears forcing their way down my cheeks as I worked to breathe through pain. The tech could barely get through my ultrasound. My pain level was intolerable, I could barely move. She wouldn’t say what she saw on the ultrasound, but said with a very concerned look on her face, “I’m stopping this now, and going to get the doctor to look at this. “ I waited for what felt like forever, and they both came back and said I would need surgery. I needed it immediately.
However, insurance would need to be worked out. I was instructed to wait for a call. The call came a couple hours later while I was sitting at home, nursing Stella.
Insurance was going to decline the surgery, because of new Covid policies that basically stated gallbladder surgery isn’t essential and unless I’m dying they won’t cover it. My doctor said he would work on it and call me back. Seriously, this gastro doc was really advocating for me and I appreciated it, because I was in no shape to do it myself at the time. He told me it was an emergency and was worried if I didn’t get it that it would become life or death situation and there was no reason to let it get to that point.
He called back, disappointed, stating there wasn’t anything he could say to have insurance cover me, so the plan was then to wait it out. He gave me symptoms to look for and keep an eye on and said if any of this happens; get right to the ER, because I’m fearful that you won’t make it much longer through this without it becoming an emergency situation.
Some time passed and it indeed did get worse. So much worse. I couldn’t stop throwing up. I had diarrhea, I couldn’t catch my breath not just form the recovering from pneumonia, but from the overwhelming pain. It was after midnight the night I went in to the ER on April 2nd. I was passing out and then would come to and sob, because I was terrified to go to the hospital.
I was already dealing with PPD/PPA.
I was still in pain from my csection and dealing with postpartum bleeding.
I was scared to leave my new baby.
I was scared to go alone to the hospital because they wouldn’t allow anyone in but me.
I was then scared what if Covid really is as bad as they’re making it out to be and I get it?
What if I die?
My anxiety was spiraling.My pain had totally taken over my body. I was sweating through my clothes.
My husband woke up our 15 year old to keep an eye on the baby and 3 year old Clara. I was seriously scared that this might be the last time I see my children. What if? It crossed my mind so many times as I drug my heels about going to the ER, but knowing I had to go.
Gallbaldder surgery shouldn’t be so scary. But now it was. For me, in that state of mind I was in, in a pandemic, with a new baby, recovering from a very traumatic pregnancy and birth, only just starting to heal from pneumonia, and a doctor’s warning that this could be life or death. I was angry, too, with how insurance and the medical industry was classifying who and what was essential.
I was passing in out of consciousness in the car drive there. I barely remember seeing my husband as he drove off and I woke up with the nurse wheeling me in to the ER. I wasn’t coherent when they put me in the wheelchair. But now it was like shock had set in. I had pain but felt mentally numb and confused.
They immediately started pumping me with high does pain meds. I was still coming and going consciously from the pain and infection. The pain meds weren’t even touching the pain I was in. All the doctors and nurses were in bunny suits, gloves on, masks on with face shields over the masks, some with goggles on. I could barely understand them when they talked to me. I couldn’t identify a single face. They ran tests and confirmed I had a severe infection going through my body, and infection in my liver, too. There were hundreds of gallstones, so many that it’d be impossible to get them all out, and my gallbladder was a couple hours, estimated by the ER doc, from “blowing up.” He was pissed with the covid policies and insurance, too.
After a few more rounds of pain meds, I was able to talk through the pain. My breasts were getting engorged. So a nurse brought me a pump. She was very kind to me. She stayed with me to try to talk with me, small talk about baby, and anything that wasn’t stressful, just surface talk, and she worked to get my mind off everything. I was so thankful for her kindness and it did help. It wasn’t easy. I sat there pumping milk, tears down my face as milk let down and I missed my baby, but I was also in pain and throwing up.
She put her hand over mine and said, “You’re a strong momma, you’re going to be okay. I’m sorry you have to go through this without anyone here for you, but I can see you’re a fighter. You’ll be home with your baby before you know it. “
They wheeled me up to a room where I’d be prepped for surgery. The surgeon talked with me. She told me all the options and what would happen. She explained the severity of the infection and state of my organs. There was no putting it off, because my organs would begin to fail if the infection was left any longer.
She knew I wanted to be home with my baby as soon as possible. She told me they typically keep patients overnight for observation, but with covid policies they’d have to release me as soon as I am wheeled out of surgery. As much as I wanted to be with my baby and family, I also was in disbelief that patients were not getting the aftercare they needed. They wanted me out of the hospital within 30 minutes of being wheeled out form surgery. I wasn’t even coming to yet.
A young make nurse kept trying to get me to wake up and put my shoes on and call for my ride. I was still under anesthesia and feeling heavily sedated. My husband wasn’t picking up his phone. After an hour, they started getting very upset that I wasn’t gone yet. “It’s new Covid hospital policy. You can’t be here. Who else can get you?” I was groggy and really wasn’t sure what to tell them at that point.
Another 15 minutes went by and my husband finally answered his phone. He wasn’t happy. He seemed upset that there was a rush to get me out, because he was busy with working from home, something he wasn’t used to yet, and managing a new baby with our other 2 kids. He was exhausted and grumpy. It made me feel like shit that he wasn’t more compassionate towards me, but looking back I put myself in his shoes and see how exhausted he was as well with taking everything on while I was down and then having the hospital down his throat to come get me.
Another hour later he was there to pick me up. He seemed rushed and irritable, which upset me, which then upset him more. I wasn’t happy with him either, because I had tried calling him numerous times before I went in for the surgery and he didn’t answer the phone. I felt very alone, and at the time it felt like he didn’t care what I was going through, when in reality he was overworked and stressed out. It wasn’t a highlight moment for us. Dealing with so much for a year at that point, the emergency gallbladder surgery I think was just like, well how many other things are going to go wrong kind of feeling; along with all the new adjustments with the baby and life during a worldwide crisis.
It took a few months to feel like I had recovered from gallbladder surgery. I started physical therapy because I was having a lot of dysfunction from the csection and gallbladder surgery. I still have tender spots where the scars are, even a year later; sometimes I get spasms or cramps where the scars are, too. I did about three months of physical therapy, only to get kicked out because I wouldn’t wear a mask. My therapist told me it would take about a year of PT, but I got about 3 months. So a year later, here I am. I practice some of the things I learned, and I’m holding up pretty well, I think. Sure there are things that need work, but I’m holding my own.
Hell, I even started roller skating and a week ago I took my first roller derby class. I’m going to keep working on my healing journey, and I’m going to keep working to improve my physical strength, no matter what that timeline looks like.
But seriously, after that experience with fucked up covid policies, all I can say is fuck the p(l)andemic. Okay, I can say a lot more, but that sums it up.
It’s been a year. A year ago I was hanging by a thread, at my worst emotionally and physically. I had a baby during a pandemic. I had a lifesaving surgery, alone. I had just come out of a horrendous high risk pregnancy, pneumonia, and recovering from a C-section. A year ago I was a whole different person. A year ago I was fighting for my life. I couldn’t see past the present moment. Everything was day by day, hell hour by hour. I honestly felt hopeless and couldn’t even imagine what a year ahead would look like.
I cannot believe it’s been a year. It’s starting to feel like a lifetime ago with the changes that I’ve seen physically, emotionally, and with all the chaos in the world. A year later, I am so thankful to be here after surviving through so much. I’m going to live my life and do the things I love, pandemic be damned, restrictions be damned, I will live my life. I will fight always. And I won’t forget how strong I am. I swear it’s so hard to recognize how strong we really can be in the moment when we feel our weakest.
I'm so sorry, Stella that I haven't been good at documenting everything as I was with your big sister. This journey has been tough for me, but I promise I'll get there and I'll write your story. My first attempt to look at and share photos from Stella's birth. I put it off for just about a year now. I'm still barely ready.
It's that time of year. Family Christmas photos. I really missed William not being here to be in the images. Since he moved out in the Spring I don't see him much. It's strange to feel like a part of me is missing when I look at these family photos.
I just adored the girls dresses. They both look like sweet little dolls. Clara loves to match with her sister or with me, so it worked out perfectly, especially since her dress came with a matching dress for her doll. She screeched when she saw all three of us had gold glittery shoes. It's so much fun having little girls.
Clara is already starting to not want to take photos though. Call it photographer kid syndrome. She has her moments when she lights up for me in front of the camera, when its on her terms.
I guess I can't really not mention that it's Christmas during a p(l)andemic. The world is still strange. Some people are still not willing to see their friends and family, some will be visiting via Zoom. It's sad and crazy to me. We aren't letting all this nonsense change how we do Christmas around here. We will still get together for meals, laughter, and hugs with our family and friends.
We found a place about 45 minutes from where we live that had a totally normal experience for the girls. There were at least a 1,000 people, no social distancing, and maybe 2 were masked. Everyone kept talking about how happy they were that there was a normal place to take their family to see Santa and make memories. I think there were extra smiles and conversations with strangers among most people, just because we were all so grateful.
Clara got to lead a pony around, and visit the petting zoo while we were there. She wouldn't ride the big pony. It surprised me, at least a little, because she's been doing pony riding lessons with smaller ponies for the last few months. I thought and hoped she'd want to, but it was still intimidating for her to be near a bigger horse. It's okay. As I said above, Clara does things in her time, her way, and she'll get there someday and ride a bigger horse. Both girls were a bit overwhelmed with all the things going on and all the people. Of course not one, but both of them had meltdowns when we brought them to Santa. So Jack and I jumped in the pic with them, and let's just say it wasn't easy getting a photo. One day I'd love to have a pic of Clara not crying when she sees Santa, now that she's 4, so maybe next year. But I adore the crying ones, too.
And because it's 2020 I'll throw in some bullshit for posterity of the sickening year it's been ( and no not because of a virus). Masked up teddy bears for sale at Fred Meyer in Boise. This is disgusting.
You're 7 months old already. How did we cross over the halfway hump on our way through the first year?! It makes my heart ache how fast time is going this year with you. You're an absolute joy. You smile at everyone. You just want to make friends everywhere you go, my little Aquarius. You really love to watch people, so much so, that it makes it nearly impossible to nurse you. You'd much rather have a bottle so you can keep an eye on everything going on around you. You have been a great sleeper since birth, with only the normal disruptions during teething and growth spurts. Which by the way, you got your first tooth on August 25th! We saw signs of it coming right around the 1st. But it popped through on the 25th.
You poor girl, not only did your cut tooth that week, but Monday, August 24th through Sunday, the 30th you were sick from Roseola. Your fever got to 104.5 for the first 3 days. We were really scared to see you fighting so hard through that fever. Your breathing was labored and you were out of it. You're such a trooper and pulled through though. We didn't get much sleep all that week.
Also during that week, I was spending time on and off at the Capitol in Boise for the extraordinary legislative session. I made my first two testimonies that week. One to the House of Reps in a committee hearing on Monday the 24th, and another on Wednesday to the Senate in a committee hearing. I'm working really hard to do my best protect our state and future. I love you and your siblings so much, and I'm really concerned about how things are going in our state and country.
You started sitting up on August 19th, and got really good at it within a week. You started your first semester at the Little Gym. It's really fun to work with you in your class, and your teacher, Miss Cat, has been your big sister's teacher since she was 9 or 10 months old. Unfortunately, when we go everyone wears masks, but I don't, so none of the other moms want to be around us or bring their baby near us. I'm really sorry about that. It's a crazy world you have been born into, during a really strange and outrageous year specifically. People are scared. It still makes me sad that this happens at your infant class though. But I promise you, you and I have fun nonetheless, and your teacher is wonderful and is super sweet. She always talks with mom, and comes up to chat with you, and even pops her mask down for a second to peep a smile at you. That makes you light up, because you love seeing other people smile.
You've started eating new foods. Avocado was your first food on Aug 16th and then you had peas on the 29th, and sweet potatoes on Sept. 7th. You really like sweet potatoes. You make some funny faces eating avocado and peas. You love eating though. You sit in your high chair at the table with the family, and you're so happy being able to do this now. You're constantly grabbing at everyone's food and drinks, especially Clara's. You want everything she has. She's eager to share with you, so we have to watch that she doesn't give you anything you aren't ready for yet. You're very motivated to eat and try foods, so we're having fun trying more foods out.
Well, that's your update for now. You're so dearly loved, sweet girl.
*photos taken 9-13-20, turned 7 mos on 9-12
Jack and I hit our 5 year wedding anniversary on the 11th. We decided to finally have our first date in over 4 years a few nights after our anniversary. With Clara, Jack was always too hesitant to let us leave her to be babysat. But he finally said okay, and we had grandma Lynn and Grandpa David watch you and your big sis for a couple of hours, while we went shooting at the range. It was good for us to go out, but we missed you and your sister a lot in just a couple of hours. You girls had a lot of fun though, and your step cousins were there to play with.
Stella you're a great sleeper so far. You're so taken with Clara and just adore her. You babble and like looking at yourself in the mirror. You roll front to back, and are starting to do this in a way that moves you in a circle.You are curious about emotions, like when Clara cries and you respond to laughter with a big a smile.
Everything Allison Attitude 2020