I’m going to start by telling you what was supposed to happen.
I was supposed to have my gallbladder removed on May 20th. It was supposed to be an outpatient procedure. I was supposed to hospitalized 8, maybe 10 hours. I was supposed to pump breast milk so Scott could feed Matthew with a bottle, that we were supposed to try out a few times to make sure he would take them.
Now, I’ll tell you what actually happened.
On Saturday, April 30th, I woke up at 1 am having the most extreme gallstone attack I’ve ever had. Scott got up to run the bath and help me get through the pain, and all the while we prayed Mattie wouldn’t wake up for a feeding while I was suffering. I ended up taking some pain medication and got through it, fed Mattie and went back to bed. The pain remained muted but constant all weekend and I continued taking medication every 6 hours or so. I made it through the weekend up at my Mom’s house (for my Dad’s memorial service) and then we headed home on Monday. Throughout the weekend I had some more intense attacks, and realized it was when I ate regardless of the fact that everything I ate was completely fat free. Around noon on Monday I had lunch and then really didn’t eat again after that. Tuesday morning I called my surgeon’s office and they told me to go to the ER.
Scott came home from work early and his mom, April (who happened to be in the area), came over to help Mattie and I get ready to go. I washed the bottles and packed up the frozen milk and wished for the best!
Of course, the ER wait was long and I was in a good amount of pain. It annoyed me that it wasn’t clear that I already had a diagnosis. When the nurse asked where the pain was, and I told her, she said “Well, that’s where gallbladder pain is, but you’re not the typical gallbladder patient.” I know that’s where gallbladder pain is, because I’ve had gallbladder pain for MONTHS! I kept saying “I know I have gallstones, I have surgery scheduled next month but I would like to do it now.” I kept refusing pain medication, because I didn’t want to risk something that wasn’t safe for breastmilk.
Meanwhile in the waiting room, Scott gave Mattie his first bottle and he did great. Finally, a PA from the surgery department came to talk to me. He kept telling me they were going to send me home and hope the inflammation went down. I was crying and begging him to do the surgery now. I kept telling him “I can’t even eat, and I am nursing a newborn. I need this out!” He showed me charts and diagrams and pictures (as if this was a new diagnosis) and told me about medications that could help.
The nurse was compassionate and nice, but I was still frustrated. An actual surgeon then came in and did his exam. He told me that because my gallbladder was inflammed it upped the chances of having to do the invasive surgery rather than the laproscopic one. If I had the invasive one, I’d have to be hospitalized for 3-4 days and it would take 6 weeks to heal (as opposed to 1 day and 7-10 days). He said they could send me home and hope the inflammation goes down or go ahead and do the surgery now. I asked what he recommended and he said it wasn’t likely the inflammation would go down and he’d just get it out now. I said “Done! Let’s do it!”
The nurse suggested I bring Mattie in and nurse one last time before going in. Scott came back and we prepared for surgery. They sent me to pre-op and then the nurse there called Scott and told him that they could come wait with me there. I was ready to go, I had the gown, the socks, the cap … and then they asked what I drank last. And I said milk.
Apparently, milk counts as a solid and they can’t do anethesia within 8 hours of eating. 8 hours would be 10:30. The surgeon went home at 10. So … they postponed my surgery until 3:30 the following day. The pre-op nurse was so amazing and had the surgeon request a private room for us so Scott and Mattie could stay the night and I could continue to nurse him through the night, with safe pain medication. However, it still hurt to eat and after midnight they wouldn’t even allow me to have water or ice.
The next day, they took me to pre-op at 2:30 and got me ready to go again. The OR was delayed and I didn’t end up going in until about 5:30. While I was in surgery, they discovered that I had stone stuck in my bile duct and would need another procedure the following day. They told me they wanted to run some labs to make sure, and they would consult me in the morning. Another night in the hospital.
That night, our friend April (amazing, selfless, beautiful April, do you know her? Because you should.) drove down and let Scott take Mattie home and stayed with me overnight … in an incredibly beastly and uncomfortable chair. I was so grateful that Scott took Mattie, because I really needed the rest. It’s not every new dad that will take a 4 week old baby overnight without mom near by. He did amazing and is the best dad and husband in the world for it. Gold star, Babe.
The nursing staff was … let’s just say … frustrating. They would say “Let me check on that” and not come back for hours. I was promised a clean gown and didn’t get one for 6 hours. We kept asking when we would get the procedure done, or see my lab results and we just got vague answeres like “later this morning” or “before the afternoon”.
At about 9am the GI doctor came in and evaluated me. He told me I looked miserable and I assured him I was. 🙂 He was very thoughtful and had great bedside manner. He told me he would get me in as soon as possible. Later, the nurse told me “as soon as possible” was 1:30. Still no food, no water, no ice chips. When April reminded the nurse I hadn’t eaten since Monday and was nursing (at this time, pumping) she said “We’re giving you fluids.” Oh thanks.
At this point, I had run out of stored breastmilk and we had to give Mattie formula. I couldn’t nurse yet because of some medications I was taking, but he was still taking the bottle just fine. Around 11:30, the nurse told me they were taking me to the procedure now! Thank goodness for the nice doctor who got me in early!
After my procedure, I slept for a few hours and April took care of Mattie (Scott went to work). Finally, around 3:00 they let me try some jello and some really gross Italian ice thing. Since I handled those okay, they started my discharge orders. Shift change in awesome friends, Shannon came down and let April leave. Shannon took me home and stayed there with me and Mattie for a few hours.
On Friday, I was still in too much pain to pick Mattie up. Nursing was painful because of the incision sites and my milk supply tanked. Mattie was grouchy because the formula made him constipated. Scott went to work Friday morning and our friend Kim came by to help me with Mattie. Later that afternoon, Genessa and Emery came by, helped with Mattie and even threw in some laundry for me. Scott asked on Facebook if any one could come by and help after 2 (because he was at work and Genessa had to leave). Since no one responded Scott had to come home early from work and finish the day working at home with Mattie on his lap. I’m pretty sure from all the times Mattie has sat on Daddy’s lap while he works, he’s going to be programming before he can crawl!
So, while you see it was supposed to go differently (as was much this month), we managed. I’m still healing and some things are still painful, but I’m a mom now and I don’t get to “not feel well”. I have to take care of my son and we are getting through it together. He’s such a joy to me and he is the best snuggle bug. We’re still recovering on the couch this week – and not trying any outings – hopefully next week we can start doing some Mom Meet-ups and get back to doing errands and chores again!
PS – I’ve decided to write the Birth Story in parts – it was 40 hours after all – and it’ll be easier for me to write and sort through if I don’t try to conquer the whole thing. Keep your eye out for those next week!