My uterus dropped the mic after my twins were born. No, really. About an hour after my twins were born, after my OB had sewn me up from the C-section, my uterus literally gave out. After my six years of me sending love to this uterus to give me a baby, she gave me a swift sayonara; she had given me what I needed, and she was gone. (Want some backstory? Here ya go.)
So many people had asked me what my “birth plan” was. Is that an LA thing or is that everywhere? I explained my birth plan was to take all the drugs and get cut open. Yes, I was partially saying it that way for effect because I don’t know why people felt the need to ask that question. But also, I had placenta previa (when the placenta is blocking the birth canal) and I was having twins. A C-section was almost guaranteed, which they told me early on. I could tell by the way they told me — delicately, with pause, as if they were bracing for blow-back — that many women adamantly fight the possibility of C-section.
I get it, kind of. People are entitled to whatever birth they envision, and most don’t envision surgery. But also — and I’ve sadly learned this from many friends having scary experiences — you really do have to allow for whatever is going to happen. I strongly subscribe to the “woman plans and God laughs” theory, which is even hard for me because I’m naturally a control freak. So many women go to the ends of the earth to have natural births (I say ANY birth is the most natural thing we can do!) and are crushed and devastated when they don’t or can’t for whatever reason. I digress, though. I don’t mean to be negative about vaginal births in any way. My point is that I legitimately had zero issues with the idea of a C-section. I don’t feel I’ve missed out on one of life’s experiences by not sending the kids down the old birth canal.
Two days before my scheduled C-section, I started bleeding, which my doctor had said was a warning sign of early delivery. I sort of but not really realized it was GO time. I called the doctor and my first question was whether I had time to shower. I mean if I couldn’t have my blowout the next day as scheduled, I at least wanted clean hair. The receptionist laughed at me and said “get your ass to the hospital!”
Yes, it was a couple of days early but I was ready and had done all the things. I’d packed my hospital bag (mostly), and, at the suggestion of a friend, had even packed up some makeup so I’d feel pretty when a million family members wanted photos. I didn’t feel rushed or scared, I just couldn’t believe after all the planning and talking about the C-section, it was about to happen. Not to mention the six years of painfully trying for this moment. To know that I was leaving the house and that when I came back I’d be a mother of two… it was too much to handle.
From this point, things moved quickly. We had called the doctor at 2:15 pm, and by 5:19 pm baby #1 was out, followed quickly by baby #2. It was crazy. The hospital was so incredibly calm, and the room was quite large, which was good because since it was a teaching hospital, there were a lot of doctors, nurses, residents in the room. Plus we were having twins which was an additional spectacle, and each got their own pediatric team. At every step, I kept imagining us doing everything in reverse. When we parked the car, I imagined backing out with two babies bundled in back. When we rode up the elevator, I pictured the four of us riding back down with our stroller.
Given the build-up — six years of infertility, multiple doctors, eight IVF cycles, a potentially high-risk pregnancy — the actual moments following my babies births were oddly uneventful. All of a sudden they were just here in this world with us. It isn’t that the emotion wasn’t there for me, but I’d imagined I’d be gushing with tears, blubbering at the weight of these tiny humans finally being put into my arms; I’d cried before I gave birth just imagining that moment. But then there we were in the moment we’d been waiting for, and it was just kind of fluorescent lights and staring at the ceiling. BTW I could sort of see my reflection in the operating lamp, and note to anyone having a C-section: don’t look there. They have a curtain in front of you so that you can’t see much and they held my son up over the curtain so that I could see him before taking him to get cleaned up. Same then, a minute later, with my daughter.
I got some skin-on-skin time. It was brief and then they had to sew me up. Once my OB was done, she blew kisses to us. My husband, a baby in each arm, was already FaceTiming his parents.
This is where things took a turn. First I started feeling nauseous. Of course, I’d been anesthetized for the C, which sometimes causes nausea, so I didn’t panic. Then I heard someone call for additional nurses. I wasn’t sure why, or what exactly was going on, as I was basically turning to the side and puking every few minutes, generally distracted. A nurse got up on the operating table. I remember her explaining that my bleeding wasn’t stopping (Even though I’d had C-section, there is vaginal bleeding. I mean, hello, your whole body is being sawed open and two humans are coming out) so she started going in and pulling out clot after clot of blood. Then I remember an oxygen mask being put over my face, which was especially tough because (if you’re still following) I was also throwing up. At this point, I just wanted to be knocked out, as I was confident they’d figure out what was going on and I’d wake up in my room when it was all over with my husband asleep at my side and my children at my feet. Kind of like “While You Were Sleeping.”
As if he was reading my mind, I distinctly remember the anesthesiologist saying loudly “Guys, things aren’t good here, we need to put her out.” One of the nurses who had been with me throughout the afternoon came over and grabbed my face and looked me square in the eyes and said WE ARE GETTING THROUGH THIS. That’s when I knew things were serious.
All of a sudden a woman in scrubs and a mask appeared on my right and mentioned the word hysterectomy. “I know that you and your OB talked about this briefly but we have to do it,” she said. BTW, yes, my OB had mentioned that with twins there’s sometimes an issue and a C-hysto has to be performed, but I assumed it would never happen to me and I mostly ignored it.
I distinctly remember giving the surgeon a thumbs up. I couldn’t talk as the oxygen was covering my mouth. I knew it meant I would be knocked out, and then wake up OK. I understood that I’d have no more uterus, but I didn’t think too much about what that would feel like, or what it would mean, or whether whatever was going on was related to a reason us so long to get pregnant in the first place. It was one of those three-second moments in life where you have one million thoughts and have to just push through. I knew it was “life or death. We throw that term around all the time and this was LITERALLY life or death… as in this is what women used to die from in childbirth.
So what my OB had been alluding to is a situation when the uterus doesn’t contract as its supposed to post-childbirth. This can happen to any mom, and it can be dangerous because there’s so much blood in that area to nourish the babies, especially with twins. Basically, I was bleeding out and I needed a massive transfusion. The seriousness of the situation was not lost on me, but I never once thought I wouldn’t make it out of that room to see my babies.
When I woke up it had been about 5 hours. I was in the ICU, and, weirdly, my husband and parents were walking toward me. It seemed almost like movie timing, like “wow she woke up when we got here!” but the ICU team had called my husband to let him know I was coming to. When they arrived at my room I was discombobulated but they told me they’d already met the babies. I was so excited, but also so sad that I didn’t get to see it happen.
The weight of that emergency surgery following my C-section took a while to sink in, and honestly, sometimes I think it still hasn’t fully sunk in. I think I’m at peace, as a hysterectomy really isn’t the worst case scenario. I won’t ever get a period again, is that so bad? I won’t ever have more kids…. which, let’s face it, given all that happened to get here, it’s an actual miracle I got the two that I did. I wasn’t planning for more kids, but, in moments, facing the fact that I’ll never have the choice is tough. I don’t feel like any less of a woman, though; I actually feel like a warrior. Within the week I was cracking jokes to the nursing staff about needing a large room at the hospital, considering “I gave my uterus to be here.” Sometimes all you can do is laugh and be grateful for what is.
So this is my birth story. Everyone wants to know everyone’s “birth story” — for all those who are lucky enough to have one to share. I didn’t expect this would be mine, but even the most seemingly predictable of births can end up taking an unpredictable path. I jokingly say that I like to keep the drama high for affect. I guess my uterus was on board. So this is how motherhood started for me. And now I’m finally in that next chapter of my life, the one I’ve waited for all these years. I can’t wait to tell you about that part.