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.
Milestone photos of Stella 1 week to 3 months old.
One Week Old
February 18, 2020 ( photos taken at 9 days old 2-20)
;weet girl, you're here! You eat all the time and just want to be close to mommy. You're first day home was February 15th. It was overcast and sprinkling outside. In the first 9 days we had some concerns with jaundice. We were worried as we went through a lot with your big sister, Clara, when she had jaundice. However, we were able to get your bili levels down to an acceptable range by the time you were 5 days old.
I had milk coming in quite a bit when we were at the hospital, but it quickly dwindled, so since this wasn't my first rodeo with nursing and expected I'd have trouble with low supply issues, I had set up an appointment with our lactation consultant, Lynelle, but she was busy so her assistant came over. Sharina and I have had some previous interactions which we both got a kick out of. When I was pregnant with Clara, Sharina was introduced to me through my friend and doula, Chelsea, she was learning to become a doula. So she came over to the house with Chelsea one time when we had an appointment.
Then, a little while later, Clara was getting speech therapy sessions at home for a year, and Sharina was her case worker for her sessions.
So when Lynelle told me her trainee would be coming over for our appointment and told me her name, I knew it had to be the Sharina I know. Sure enough it was her. We had two visits day five and day nine. You weighed 7 lbs 5.5 oz. We still needed to get your weight up 9.5 ounces to get you to your birth weight, so we increased your formula to supplement for what I wasn't producing in breast milk for you.
At nine days old we had a relaxed photo session at home with my friend, Edith.
I love watching your sleep and cooing over your expressions.
One Month Old
March 12, 2020 (photos taken 3-14)
Through your first month
Day 5, Feb. 17: Your first pediatrician appointment and we had to go straight to the hospital to get your bilirubin levels checked after seeing your doctor. I was very worried about taking you out with Covid going around. I also didn’t feel well, as I had pneumonia, lots of swelling from surgery, and no sleep.
Your umbilical cord fell off at 7:30pm on Feb. 24, 12 days old
Day 15, Feb. 27: Had your ECG, echocardiogram, to check for heart problems. You were so upset the entire time, but your big sister really tried to comfort you. Mom got XRAYS today too to check on my status from pneumonia. Everything looked okay on your ECG. You have a heart murmur, and we will check it again when you’re four months old.
Day 16, Feb 28: Sharina comes to visit for a weight check and you are up to 7lbs 10.5 oz
Day 19, March 2: We saw you pediatrician again for a weight check and you were up to 7lbs 14.4 oz. we did it, just about at your birth weight. We found the sweet spot for your supplement needs with formula in between breastfeeding.
Day 27, March 10: Weight check at Lynelle’s office and you’re up to 8.7lbs.
I'm still only getting about 2 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Baby girl, let's get some sleep soon.
The world is turning upside down from the Covid pandemic.
Some developmental milestones:
I'm struggling with PPD/PPA and PTSD.
Two Months Old
April 12, 2020 ( pics taken 4-11)
By week 5, March 17 you are definitely smiling. You're getting more of a voice, too
March 24, 41 days: We had a teleconference video chat with your doctor to check on your skin problems. You are covered head to toe in seborrheic dermatitis. We had to start changing your formula to see if it helps.
March 25, 42 days: You're up to 9lbs 3.5 oz at your weight check with Lynelle. I had to see a GI dr for pain and ongoing nausea and vomiting. HG did a number on me. Idaho also declares lockdown today because of Covid19. The world is going crazy, baby. It's been so overwhelming to bring you into this world at a time of crisis. You're a brave soul to choose to come now. I love you so much. Thank you for being such a blessing to our family. It's dark times out in the world, but you, my precious baby, are a joy and light in our home.
March 30, 46 days old: I needed an ultrasound on my gallbladder. I was in so much pain and so so sick.
March 31, 47 days: Emergency appointment with dentist, my teeth are in bad shape from HG and I need to have dental surgery very soon.
April 2, 49 days: I ended up in the ER at 1 am. I was in tears and passing out. I was throwing up a lot and had horrendous pain. I had to go alone, because of the pandemic and new hospital policies. I had emergency surgery today to remove my swollen, infected gallbladder.
April 6, 53 days: Started a rx wash to help your seborrheic dermatitis. You had an in person appointment with your pediatrician for your 2 months well baby check. You are up to 9.11 lbs and are 55cm/ 21.6" long
April 8, 55 days: I have root canal surgery on a tooth that's badly affected from pregnancy. I am only 5 days post op from gallbladder surgery and really not feeling well.
April 10, 57 days: William moves in with his dad.
I'm struggling a lot still with PPD/PPA and PTSD from HG. I;m doing the best I can, but I'm exhausted. I love you immensely. Your big sister is over the moon, head over heels in love with you, and you watch her. You light up seeing her.
Three Months Old
May 12, 2020 (photos taken 5-9)
April 19, 2 mos and 1 week old. You meet your great grandparents today. It was your uncle's bday get together. We almost didn't go to my dad's house for the BBQ. I have been protective of you and our family as we continually evaluate decisions and outings during this time. But I realized it hadn't been since November when we last saw family or friends. Clara hadn't had interaction with other kids. and honestly, I just needed to get out of the house. I have already been so isolated during the pregnancy and this postpartum time. Covid19 hasn't helped this vulnerable, tender time of the fourth trimester. It was so good for me, your dad, and your big sis to get out of the house. Months of isolation, and it felt so nice to go to my dad's house and be around family. I was concerned in the back of my mind, but we're all healthy. No one got sick. And no neighbors turned us in. It's really strange times. I remember walking into my dad's house, on this beautiful, sunny day, and feeling like it was almost criminal to be leaving the house. This whole Covid pandemic has everyone on edge, the media is always enforcing the NLP to get us all to stay home, and mayors and governors are encouraging people to call in people that break the lockdown rules. But we all needed this get together so much.
I haven't been great about taking notes lately. I'm just trying to focus on getting sleep and meeting my basic needs with eating, drinking, and healing from surgeries. We're finally getting more sleep. You sleep great. You take naps. I still struggle with getting enough sleep, but in May I started averaging about 5-7 hours of sleep in a day, not all at one time, but it's so much better than the 2-3 hours I was getting for months, even before you were born, because I was so sick.
I'm still struggling with PPD/PPA and PTSD from HG.
You are amazing though, my darling bay. You are in awe of your hands. You have started drooling a lot and we can feel where your first teeth will eventually pop up.
May 9, your big brother turned 16. We said screw the lockdown and invited family over on May 10th for William's bday/your great grandmother's birthday ( May 15)/ and Mother's Day all in one get together. Let's jsut call it calculated risk. Good to know we have decent neighbors that didn't' report us for having our backyard party. Yep, big brother wants us all to tattle on each other if we leave our homes or break lockdown rules. it's the crazy world we're in at the moment. But those are thoughts for another post.
You love when we go for walks outside. You smile and are content for some time. You like looking around.
We were having a lazy day at home while it was overcast and cool outside. I wanted to get some video and photos for the week. We danced, played with puzzles, and watched the newer version of Mary Poppins. Clara loves dancing to the sweepers musical scene. She has since we first watched the movie when it came out back in 2018.
Stella is making more sounds and coos. She smiles a lot. Clara and Stella both adore one another.
Today ( 5-18-20) marks 13.6 wks since Stella was born. We're still in fourth trimester, still considered the postpartum time frame, and it's flying by. She's changing so fast.
The vids and pics are from May 18, but the blog was written today, May 30th:
I couldn't sleep so I got to sorting through some pics early this morning. These are recent shots. I'm all over the place with my photos and vids. I suppose it'll be that way for a while. I don't take a lot of time to sit down and go through everything anymore. But at least I'm feeling like working on something. Having been in a slump with a lot since Stella was born, it feels good when I take time to do something I enjoy like taking photos or putting together a blog for our family site. I feel like some of the PPD fog is lifting a bit at times. I'm enjoying Stella even more. I'm finding myself wanting to attempt to get back into the swing of things, but I have to take things in small steps, because I'm still not feeling fully immersed in everything.. I mean, I guess just still working on getting back to feeling like me.
I hope the kids will enjoy this website someday when they're older and can look back.
Everything Allison Attitude 2020