After getting out of the hospital it was so nice to finally be home and start figuring out this parenting thing! David and I were both pretty stressed because of Emily (of course) but also just the sheer amount of stuff we brought home from the hospital. They really loaded us up with lots of supplies, diapers, and drugs. Emily and I were figuring out breastfeeding, and David and I would try and sneak in a few naps here and there.
The day after we got home from the hospital I started getting the chills and running a fever. My temperature spiked up to 101, but then I’d recover and feel OK. A few hours later it happened again, but with more violent chills/shaking and a fever of 104.5. We headed to the emergency room and my mom watched Emily.
I was quickly admitted to the ER (my temperature was still 103 at this point and my blood pressure was very low) and they began to take blood and urine to determine what was wrong with me. The 1st ER doctor came in to check me out and somehow came to the conclusion that I had endometriosis. Then an OB from my practice came in and she was convinced I had a kidney infection (I had some really minor pain on one side). The lab results confirmed the kidney infection and they sent me off to the main hospital for antibiotics and David went home.
At this point I was feeling decent, but pretty bummed about being back in the hospital (alone!) but it seemed like they could just fix me up with some antibiotics and I’d go home the next day. Unfortunately it didn’t work out like that. Some of the initial blood cultures were showing that the infection had spread to my bloodstream (sepsis). Additionally the cultures also showed that the particular strain of E. coli that caused my infection was resistant to antibiotics (and subsequently everyone who now entered my room had to wear a robe and mask). I also received a CT scan to check for infections in other organs. Luckily, the CT scan was negative (besides the kidney infection) and the blood culture results finally came back without the blood infection and a plan for antibiotics that would be effective and still allow me to breastfeed. I had been pumping around the clock to be able to keep up for when I got home to Emily, but unfortunately had to throw out a large portion of what I produced because of certain antibiotics and the contrast dye used during the CT scan.
The major caveat to my treatment plan was that the antibiotics to treat my infection could only be delivered intravenously. Oral antibiotics were available, but they weren’t safe for breastfeeding. On my 4th and final day in the hospital (and the final step before I could go home) I had a PICC line inserted into my arm. Basically it’s a temporary IV that would allow me to give myself the antibiotics 1x per day for the next 2 weeks. Essentially they shove a tube up through your arm that goes directly into a major vein in your heart. It’s kind of freaky, but you gotta do what you gotta do. After the PICC line was inserted, they did a chest X-ray to confirm the correct placement, and then I was finally able to go home! I had spent almost 4 full days in the hospital.
Luckily I was not physically uncomfortable or ill-feeling for the majority of my stay, but the mental part of being away from Emily during most of her 1st week of life was really, really tough. I am pretty sure I had a crying meltdown on the phone with David every day when the doctors would make their rounds and tell me they needed to keep me another night. Luckily I had lots of people checking in on me via text, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. so that kept my spirits up. I also had a few great nurses (that made me really appreciate how hard nurses work!).
After 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment my PICC line is gone and things are mostly back to normal. Emily refuses to breastfeed after taking a bottle almost exclusively in her 1st week, so it seems like I’m destined to be a slave to the pump for the next several months. But we’re getting the hang of things, albeit rather slowly.
The OB from my practice had commented that the ultimate cause of the infection was likely from the catheter used when I delivered. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that David and I don’t joke about suing the hospital for pain, suffering, and lost wages due to constant bottle washing!