A little over a year ago, I felt like the luckiest woman on earth; I was a second time mother to a beautiful baby boy and had a sweet 3 and a half year old daughter. My marriage was great and I was coming up on my wedding anniversary. I thought that there was no way that things could possibly be any better than this but a thought that never crossed my mind, things being worse.
It was June 4th and I was in a terrible amount of pain. I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. After 3 hours of laying on the floor crying my husband finally took me to the ER. When we arrived, I sat in the car and debating going in. I felt better and figured it was nothing and would be fine. As we drove away, in my wildest thoughts would I ever imagine what would transpire in the coming days.
Fast forward 3 days, I am literally green, my color looks lifeless and I can barely move from bed. I haven’t eaten in 3 days and vomiting pretty frequently. I know that deep down something is incredibly wrong but everytime i looked over at the sweet little baby beside me, I stopped myself from going to get medical attention. Fear struck me, was I going to die? Will this affect my breastfeeding journey? Is this contagious? Will I need surgery? Will I have to be away from my children? The uncertainty and fear kept me bedside growing sicker as the minutes passed.
At 4 p.m. I could take it no longer. I loaded my one month old baby to date and drove us to urgent care. After seeing the doctor, she confirmed my fears that this was more than likely gallbladder related. She was calm and comforting in a very frightening moment for me but when she sent me for further testing at across the street at the nearby hospital. At this point, I called my husband to tell him where I was, he was at the pool with our daughter. By the time I got called back to register in the ER and was put in a room my husband had arrived. He sat with my son as they took me back to have an ultrasound done.
As I laid on the table, watching the screen as the ultrasound technician ran the instrument up and down my right side, I knew that my breastfeeding journey was at risk. I could see the imminent look at dismay on her face and when I looked back at the screen I could see why. My gallbladder was filled with many little tiny stones, more than I could even count. Infection and sludge surrounded every inch of it. When I returned to the room where my son and husband awaited, the tears poured from my eyes. When the ER doctor returned and told me I would be staying in the hospital for the night and possibly having emergency surgery, they continued to pour. My anxiety shot through the roof as I was wheeled to another floor to a room. I requested a rollaway crib for my son and they granted my request. If I had to stay in the hospital, my newborn was staying with me. It was hard imagining spending anymore time away from my daughter as I had just spent a few nights away from a month prior when her brother was born.
A few hours later, a nurse came in to tell me that it was against hospital policy for my baby to stay with me. I threatened leaving and they said they would make some calls and see what could be done. When they returned, I was given the best news I could have received in a troubling time, he could stay with me. I couldn’t hold him unassisted, and couldn’t feed him per orders from hospital (i was on morphine) but he was there and I needed him just as much as he needed me, if not more.
Another hour had passed without knowing what was going or what would happen. Finally, a doctor specializing in matters of the gallbladder, came in to inform me that based on my blood work, urine test and ultrasound; my gallbladder was to infected to immediately remove without taking the chance of damaging the surrounding organs and other measures would have to be taken to remove the infection prior to surgery. He immnformed me that I would have a drain inserted through my side and into my gallbladder the next morning. He wasn’t sure how long I had to have the drain in at that moment, could be days or could be weeks. During that conversation, he let me know that I would be on a very strong antibiotic via IV along with morphine for pain for the next 3 days and wouldn’t be able to feed my son. I was devastated at this news but expected it. I was in so much pain I didn’t have much time to feel sorry for myself.
Although I was sick and in pain and emotionally drained, there was a silver lining. When I had my son and immediate days and the 3 weeks following birth, I was blessed (or cursed!) With an oversupply. I pumped the excess milk and was able to store around 160 ounces the first month. Although it was a pain, a hassle and alot of work, I am so thankful for my oversupply of milk looking back.
My husband was still with me at this point, I had him take the baby to meet my mom and head home to get frozen breastmilk and to Walmart to buy bottles. I couldn’t be alone with the baby as I could hardly move even to go to the bathroom. We hadn’t planned on giving a bottle until atleast 4 months but fate had intervened. When they returned, they brought my pump along and I was able to pump some freshly expressed milk before I started the medicine. Aj took right to the bottle, so we’ll in fact, I worried he wouldnt latch again once I was better. During this time, to avoid any type of confusion, I never once fed him a bottle. I had a family member feed him every time and we never had an issue.
The first dose of medicine made me sick to my stomach and I thought this had to be the worst to come of the whole ordeal, I was so wrong. That night, I had a terrible gallbladder attack leaving me on the bathroom floor screaming and crying. The pain I was in was nothing I had ever dealt with. That night I pumped and dumped (per recommendation of two lactation consultants due to the medication) and it was hard to pour all that liquid gold away. I was lucky though that he had plenty of what he needed without ever having to have formula.
The next morning, I wanted to do skin to skin with my baby before I had my procedure to have the drain inserted. Since I wasn’t allowed to hold him on my own, my husband helped me and we both got what we needed, a healthy dose of oxytocin. I needed those snuggles and sweet little kisses, my nerves were through the roof and somehow despite that, I felt calm with my baby in my arms.
During the procedure, I had never felt pain like this before, it was worse than giving birth 100 times naturally in a row. I was in so much pain, i physically could not even speak for hours after. I could walk without screaming and a could even breath without feeling as a knives were stabbing my ribs and stomach. As the next few days passed, I could barely even hold my son for more than 30 seconds at a time. I know he missed me as much a I missed him. I was sick over the thought of him not latching when he got home but my lactation consultant ensured me that he would. Her comforting words made me feel better in a time that I really needed it. I continued to pump and dump and after 4 days in the hospital I was able to come home.
24 hours after my last dose of medicine (4 hours after I go home) I was able to breastfeed. I had trouble holding him and had even more trouble getting him into position but after a few minutes we were able to get adjusted and I offered the breast. To my dismay, he latched right away like we had never missed a beat. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was felt so many emotions in this moment, i smiled for the first time in days and felt so proud of this milestone.
Although I wasn’t out of the woods with my health issues, it felt so good just to be home. My family was an amazing support system during this time, not only by helping with my daughter but helping me feeding the baby, since I could lift him on my own. I am so thankful to have had people that. A red so much during this time of need.
In order to keep this post from becoming too long to read, I am going to separate into two parts. Stay tuned for part 2!
I am including a picture taken after the drain was inserted. The black in the tube is bile and infection.