A spanner in the uterus
When you take a newborn home from the hospital there’s a million things that swim around in your head. Is the car seat in properly? Will your other kids behave? Will the cat behave? Are they feeding properly? Sleeping?
One of the few things you don’t really give its fair due is how your wife is going. It’s terrible, I know. But the focus just falls to the one that wasn’t there the last time you left the house – the one that seems most helpless and vulnerable.
You forget how traumatic childbirth is on a woman’s body. You forget how quick they’re sent home, even if you do go Private. You just forget there’s a bigger picture.
When we took our daughter home from hospital on the Tuesday morning everything was going well. The cat was behaving and her big brother seemed quite pleased with the new addition. That Friday night we decided to grab a pizza. My wife had been having a little spot bleeding throughout the week, which is apparently quite normal, but in the 20 minutes it took me to go and pick-up dinner things went seriously pear-shaped.
When I came home there was blood everywhere. My wife was lying on the floor in the toilet. I grabbed the phone and called the hospital. To be perfectly honest, the nurse on the other end of the line couldn’t have been less helpful. “I’m sure there’s not that much blood. It often looks like more than there is.”
Well in this case, it looked like a lot because there was a lot.
“Should I call an ambulance?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “Just bring her in if you think you need to.”
Well, I ignored that advice. I called an ambulance and then called my sister-in-law who managed to intercept her husband on the way to pick up Chinese. (A bad night all around for fans of take-away food.) He came over and looked after the kids. In fact, he also cleaned the bathroom, removing all traces of blood like some kind of CSI master. Harvey Keitel would’ve been proud.
… it was a powerful reminder that even though you now have kids to look after, you still need to look after each other.
When the paramedics arrived I was glad I’d called. Even with their professional, panic-free movements you could tell straight away that it was very serious. I called the obstetrician who told us to meet him back at the hospital we’d left only a few days before. We didn’t make it there. When the ambulance officers called ahead they were told in no uncertain terms that the hospital couldn’t handle it.
We were diverted to the Royal Women’s with lights and sirens flashing and wailing. Sitting in the front seat of the ambulance was a truly surreal experience. Everything had slowed down despite the fact we were flying through the streets. No one would get out of the way despite the lights, sirens and driver hitting the horn. Maybe their radios were up too loud. Maybe they just didn’t hear them. I didn’t really hear them either. All I remember hearing was my wife asking over and over if she was going to die. Each and every time she asked, the ambo carefully avoided the question.
When we finally got to the hospital doctors and nurses came from everywhere. Through the chaos all I could hear was blah, blah, blah and my wife continuing to ask the question no one was willing to answer. After much poking and prodding and ultra sounds and whatever else, my wife was rushed into surgery. The theory was that a bit of placenta has been left in her uterus. Fortunately the theory was proven and following a couple of blood transfusions and some deft work from the surgery team everything was made right.
It was a damn terrifying experience, one that still causes us to shudder whenever we think about it. But if nothing else, it was a powerful reminder that even though you now have kids to look after, you still need to look after each other.
Even if your wife does have a lazy uterus.