postpartum infection

How do you like my fancy captioning? The black typeface looks very ominous. POSTPARTUM INFECTION.

Well, it is ominous. And something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. If you’re looking for the short shortcut story, here it is:

I got a bacterial infection in my uterus after the birth, spiked an insanely high fever, was hospitalized for two days on IV antibiotics and am supposed to really take it easy and just rest for the coming weeks.

Here’s the shortcut version:

One week out from BabyLoves’ birth, I felt my worst. Is this normal? After a week of a few different healthcare provider opinions, it was determined I should go see an OBGYN and find out what the heck was making me so sick. The OB was fabulous. Oops–this is the short version. She diagnosed me with “endometritis”–no, not endometriosis–but an infection in the lining of my uterus that’s very uncommon for vaginal births. She wanted me to go to the hospital ASAP for IV antibiotics to prevent, or treat if it was already happening, sepsis. Two days later, BabyLoves & I were happily discharged, bacteria-free. And now it feels like I’m just starting recover from his epic birth.

Longer version? Details on how awesome the OB was and how fabulous our nursing care was at the hoppy? Here it is.

BabyLoves’ birth was great and hard. Wonderful labor. Terrible pushing & tearing. But his girth worked in his favor for a great latch from second one, great sleeper, great weight gainer, and overall super happy baby. He’s up almost two pounds since birth already and we’re not even four weeks out yet.

SONY DSC

My recovery was slow initially. I kept wondering how long I’d need to ice and be on anti-inflamatories that first week back home. I’d shuffle around, lay on the couch and watch the big kids play while baby slept on my chest. AA stayed home that whole week and was amazing, of course.

But taking Motrin around the clock wasn’t my idea of fun and as the week’s end grew near, I kept thinking I should be done with this already.

Reality check: I did push out practically a 10 pound baby, and have almost two hours of repairs. Yes, I probably still needed Motrin.

Friends came by with food frequently, saving us from cereal for every meal, and I felt pretty normal as I chatted with them, showing them chunky baby and thanking them profusely for the food. AA’s sister & brother-in-law happened to be in town and I actually got out of my bathrobe to say hello briefly, and offer them brownies.

But by one week out, I felt so much pain and discomfort. Two baths a day with my sister’s wonderful sitz tea soak would dull the pain, but when I got out, it was back. My lower back hurt. Something had to be wrong. I smelled weird, too!

sitz2

On the one hand, I kept rationalizing it, thinking, well, you had a really big baby and lots of stitches. On the other hand, I’d think, well, you’ve gone through this twice before and never hurt like this nor felt sick overall. Just yucky. Just bleh. Just can’t-move-pale-cheeks-no-appetite-stabbing-pain bad.

I won’t bore you with the details of who was looking at my swimsuit area, but eventually I was referred to a lovely OBGYN group that works with my midwives.

I didn’t want to go. I’d get better. I didn’t want to pack up the baby. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t know if I could get out of bed. By Sunday, I was downright shaking with chills! Saying goodnight to SuperBoy, I had to turn off his fan. It was achingly cold in his room. I walked around, holding the baby, closing all the windows on the second floor. It was freeeeezing out. Until suddenly it was a sauna. I couldn’t breathe. Gasping for air, and dripping sweat a lllll down my legs. My armpits smelled like raw chicken gone bad. Open those windows! No, wait, turn on the A/C! How could the whole house be on fire?

Then it felt like my prescription suddenly not right? Was I wearing AA’s glasses? Stumbling around looking for what presumably could only be my glasses somewhere–not on my face–it hit me. You’re getting worse. You’re really sick

But I ignored the voice. I cried in the bathtub that night–ugly crying. Like the time my business professor in college shredded me after a presentation in front of a large class. Like my face was the inside of a watermelon. Hard crying. Maybe it’s postpartum depression that’s making me so sick? Maybe I’m a big wuss.

**This is why I’m sharing these all too personal details about my infection. If you’re feeling overall sick, and you have stabbing pain in your swimsuit region, run, don’t walk to your provider. And don’t leave until they’ve ruled out endometritis. If they figure it out early enough, you can just take a round of oral antibiotics, usually augmenten. You’re not a wuss and you’re not a complainer. You may have a very serious infection that can affect the rest of your baby-making-parts and go into your bloodstream and shut down your organs. No joke, ladies.**

Where were we? Oh, yes, the ugly crying. Followed by my mother the following morning telling me in no uncertain terms that I looked very ill and that either I go to an OBGYN or the ER. And it was her birthday. Happy birthday, mama. How could I tell her no? She was looking very cross. Very cross indeed.

Dragging my feet and hauling my baby in the sling, I sludged up to the doctor’s office with my sister, who kindly agreed last minute to come with–just in case he fussed and she needed to hold him while I was examined. Good thing she was there, because as it turned out, I was feeling worse and worse and could scarcely put one foot in front of the other to get into the office, collapse onto the examining table, and close my eyes, waiting, enduring, waiting for the doctor.

She was a fabulous practitioner, great bedside manner, and cousin to my other sister’s high school boyfriend. NO WAY–it’s a small world after all. After the pleasantries, she checked me out. Turns out I was very hot. Everywhere. Like a little human spa. VERY very hot, and with a fever clocking in at the amazing temperature of 102. My abdomen was spastically sore when she pushed on it, and oh, yes, I felt badly everywhere.

She explained to me that I was very sick. That I had a bacterial infection in my uterus. That she wanted to admit me to the hospital across the street–right away– for IV antibiotics. That I would need to be there a few days. That she wanted to prevent the bacteria from going into my bloodstream (sepsis) and then other organs. That she wasn’t kidding. Oh, yeah, and that I really shouldn’t be driving myself anywhere.

What? Endome-what? The hospital? Right now? I just want to lay down on the floor and sleep/die. The hospital overnight? What about my newborn?

Fast-forward to returning to the hospital we had just birthed at two weeks prior, with the world’s sweetest nurses, back to the maternity ward, with my baby and my husband, and my iPad, and some fresh fruit, and my lavender bathrobe. When we arrived, I could barely walk. This time, not due to contractions like the last. This time because the infection was sapping the life out of me. I wheezed my name at the nurses’ station and they hustled us into a room. They were expecting us, me, this. Sick mama alert!

I slept, got medications, slept, got more medications, and assuredly killed every bacteria in a 5 mile radius of me. It was exhausting but obviously urgently necessary.

BabyLoves was everyone’s fav baby, as most babies are not that big around there. At every shift change, the new nurse would say, Oh he’s just so big and look at how well he nurses! Small (big?) favors in so many departments with his personality and person.

Our beloved midwives stopped by and chatted. The nurses were capable, caring, and very attentive. But I gotta ask: who doesn’t feel guilty asking a woman with tons of education and expertise to fetch you water? Awkward servitude. We had the same nurses a few times go ’round and by the end, they felt like family. Hell, my mom even made them fudge.

The only unresolved matter was the results of an ultrasound before I was discharged. Thankfully, no sign of any remaining placenta, but there were blood clots. I’m supposed to let my doc know they emerge, or my fever restarts. Hopefully everything goes back to business as usual in the lady department and my body can turn to healing up. Fast. Because my poor mom & sisters & dad & husband. They’ve been carrying the big load of two squirmy, semi-naughty kids. And I’ve been eating food in bed. And hanging out on my computer.

Last, but not least, truly, truly, thank you. Thank you for your love & prayers. Thank you for reading & being here. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Big smooches, gentle readers!

kisses

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22 Responses to Postpartum infection, or my second-go-round at the hospital

  1. Bonnie says:

    That’s so scary! I’m glad your mom put her foot down and I’m glad you’re well.

    • Natural Mama Nell says:

      It was scary–especially in hindsight. My mom is a force to be reckoned with, so when she put her foot down, I knew it was all over! :) Thank you so much for your concern.

    • Angela says:

      I know this is old but I can’t find anyone going through what I am. First of all I am glad you caught it and are ok. I had my baby 9 days ago via emergency csection because during labor my placenta abrupted. After stay at hospital the day I was being released I had a fever of 103 and the said I couldn’t leave and started 3 Iv antibiotics then after two days of that I was released with oral antibiotics and Motrin then I keep having a fever breaking through no higher than 100.4 but it scares me because I have been on antibiotics for days shouldn’t my fever be gone? I don’t know what to do bathe blood work at hospital didn’t show one thing just a infection ??

      • Natural Mama Nell says:

        Hi friend!! I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I have no medical advice other than to keep calling your provider and don’t feel embarrassed about following up with lots of questions. That’s great if they caught an infection early!

  2. Peg Conway says:

    OMG, Nell!!! So glad you’re on the mend.

  3. Helen says:

    Wow. SO GLAD you got yourself checked in time and that you are (hopefully!) on top of the infection. It must have been so hard going back to the obgyn so soon after giving birth: one of the last things a new mum wants to do!

    • Natural Mama Nell says:

      Helen–that going back in was one of the toughest parts! But I’m really really lucky I listened to those around me & my own body and did!!

  4. Christy says:

    Omg Nell. That is so scary, and I can only imagine how awful you felt. I’m glad you’re on the mend. And he is looking adorable!

    • Natural Mama Nell says:

      You are so kind, Christy–he is big & happy! Yes–super scary and totally a lesson for all of us on listening to our bodies and continuing to ask questions even if a medical provider tells us we’re fine!

  5. Melody says:

    Nell! I have been so out of the loop that I missed this! I’m so sorry that you had to go through it and very grateful that you got the care you needed. I will add you to my prayers tonight for complete and total healing.

    • Natural Mama Nell says:

      Melody, you are so loving to pray for me! Thank you so much. It has been a long journey and I’m still fighting a residual infection as a result of all the antibiotics, but hopefully there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not another infection :)

  6. Tricia says:

    Love your blog. Praying for a speedy recovery.

    • Natural Mama Nell says:

      Thank you so much, Tricia! I’m on the mend from a different infection right now (sheeeeesh)! And hope to be fully normal (was I ever normal?) soon. Your prayers certainly have helped tons and loads.

  7. Kristen says:

    A little late to the ball game but I was just looking around your blog & stumbled upon this. So glad you are ok. :) It brought back several emotions from when I had my first baby 2.5 years ago. Long story short, I had retained placenta (a lot) that they discovered (or I discovered) at two weeks postpsrtum. Very scary! We had our second daughter almost four months ago & my body doesn’t like to give up all my placenta (sorry if that is TMI). Thanks for sharing!

    • Natural Mama Nell says:

      Never TmI here! They did a few ultrasounds thinking I had retained placenta. Thankfully I didn’t but I’m so sorry you did!! So awful.

  8. […] weddings, family visits. But I also was in bed for almost two months after I had him because of that pesky infection in my uterus that knocked me […]

  9. karley says:

    I was wondering if the infection made anyone infertile BC I got this infection after my delivery and have been trying for another and its not happening.

    • Natural Mama Nell says:

      Great question!! I haven’t been pregnant since but also haven’t had my cycles back so I don’t know first hand. What does your provider think? I’m so so sorry you’re having to deal with this :(

  10. Gina says:

    I stumbled upon your blog while reading up on Endometritis to better understand what happened to me. I pretty much went through this exact same experience a few weeks ago after having my first baby (a big baby boy just like you! And he is now almost 8 weeks and up nearly 4 pounds!). I was discharged from the hospital after what I felt was a smooth and pretty simple birth. I came home and gradually became sicker and sicker each day. I kept thinking it was just the effects of the birth and epidural, but as I gradually took on a fever I knew something wasn’t right. I ended up going to the ER, barely able to walk from lower back pain and zero energy, combined with all the swelling downstairs. I was admitted for 2 days and had the drip of 3 antibiotics, plus an additional 2 weeks of antibiotics at home. It’s a miracle that my son is breastfeeding successfully, given all that happened with the antibiotics and Mommy being unavailable at times, plus introducing a bottle to a 1-week old baby for those 2 days. I am so glad I read your blog because it makes me feel a lot better to know that someone else went through this. I have been struggling to accept what happened to me and have felt very alone about it, despite all the love from my husband and family and friends. In some beautiful way your blog has helped me with healing mentally and emotionally from this experience. Thank you.

    • Natural Mama Nell says:

      Dear Gina, I’m so so so so glad you stumbled over to this. It’s so so scary!! I’m so glad you’re alive and okay and you’ve been able to be where you want to on your breastfeeding journey. I think I really suffered some trauma when it was all said and done–and really didn’t know anyone else who had gone through it. I think the numbers are like 3% of vaginal births. So we are in this club together!

  11. Savannah says:

    Reading your story has made me cry. I just did a Google search for “recovering emotionally after uterine infection “, and your blog was the first result that came up. We had our third homebirth – a big, handsome boy – beautiful, easy, clean, smooth birth. Three days later I was in the ER with 102.9 degree fever. Ended up being a uterine infection, with the culture coming back positive for Strep A. Do you know what the bacteria infection was that caused yours, by chance? Thankfully, a ten day course of oral antibiotics cleared it up, praise God. I have been using supplements to clean up the resulting yeast and rebuild my immune system. But emotionally, at nearly 4 months post partum, I have still been dealing with the anxiety and fear over it. Little things remind me that my body was broken. The birth that was so easy and healing, compared to the first two, ended up scaring me emotionally and mentally. Birth is beautiful and babies are such a blessing, but this has caused me to question the strength of my body to do that very thing. I’m sorry for rambling on, but I am so thankfully to have read your story and know I’m not alone, and that you came through on the other side,and understand the mental and emotional battle that goes with it. As a praise though, our son was and is completely healthy, and has been a wonderful nurser since birth – he’s over 16 pounds now, and is such a happy baby who brings us so much joy!

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