Birth, Bonding, and Blood Transfusions
What was supposed to be the happiest day of my life quickly turned into the scariest.
I’m ashamed to say that I have never donated blood. I don’t really have a reason why, other than I just didn’t think about it.
A few hours after the birth of my twins in January 2019, my life was saved because of blood donors.
I had a C-section scheduled that day and woke up anxious and excited. We went through the procedure as planned, and everything in the operating room went well. My babies were born at healthy weights, we heard their first cries, and my husband got to cut their umbilical cords. Then we were back in the labor and delivery room, and we were over the moon.
We had two hours of skin-to-skin time with our babies, and for the most part I felt good. I remember my husband kept asking me if I was OK, and he looked like he didn’t believe me when I said yes. The nurses would comment on my blood pressure and heart rate, I would get medicine through my IV, and then they would say everything was stable.
I figured this was probably just the norm of what people go through after giving birth. I remember asking the nurse to let our visitors in because they had been waiting for hours to see the babies. Our family was in the room for maybe five minutes before I started to feel really bad.
I started seeing stars. I felt dizzy, and I began to vomit.
Once everyone was out of the room, the nurses checked on me and realized I was losing a lot of blood. It felt like within seconds the room was filled with nurses and doctors scrambling in a mad dash while I was trying to keep up and understand what was happening.
One of the nurses looked at me and said, “Jessica, we’re going to have to take you back to the OR. Just give us 15 minutes, and you will be back in here with your husband and babies.”
Then she yelled into her nurse’s phone, “We’re headed to the OR. Postpartum hemorrhage!”
I immediately looked up at my husband and he mouthed to me, “You’re good, you’re good.” and I thought, OK, I’m fine, I’ll be back here in 15 minutes. As they were wheeling me out of the room, one of the nurses stopped and asked my husband if he wanted to say goodbye to me before they took me back, and he snapped back, “Just go take care of my wife. Please just go take care of my wife!”
The last thing I remember that day is the anesthesiologist saying, “Jessica, this may sting a little.”
I woke up the next day, 20 hours later, hooked up to a ventilator in the ICU. I was informed that I had lost 40 percent of my blood volume and received a blood transfusion through a PICC line. The nurse told me that it was very touch and go for a little while, but luckily my body accepted the transfusion without any reactions. I kept thinking: Now I have someone else’s blood in me, probably multiple people’s blood in me.
Every night in the hospital I cried. I cried for my babies because I wasn’t strong enough to hold and bond with them like I needed to be. I cried for my husband, thinking about how scared he must have been, not knowing whether I would be OK and facing the possibility of leaving the hospital without me. And when I got home, every night when I would take a shower, I cried. I cried because I was thankful to be home, to be with my babies and husband, but also because I was so thankful to those blood donors.
People, total strangers, decided to donate their blood, which saved my life.
My cousin came to visit a few weeks ago and asked if I was in therapy after going through what I did. I laughed it off, thinking, That’s a little extreme. I don’t think I need therapy. She then suggested I write it down, to get it out of my head and on paper. I thought that was a good idea.
So, this is my story about the birth of my babies. I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last to go through something like this. Everyone has their own takeaway on certain life experiences. As for myself, I was taught a number of life lessons that day, and one of them is that as soon as I’m able, I will donate blood. It truly is a gift of life.