The thing about Congestive Heart Failure (or CHF) is that after you have it, everything in your life is about it.
I played hard most of my life eating and drinking and smoking whatever I wanted. Of course in the far off distance was the worry of the possibility of the chance of cancer or chronic obstructed pulmonary disease or death, but heart failure? Really?
The day Roxanne was released to do a "room in" with me at the hospital was also the day that I really got sick. I was fighting a chest cold, or so I thought. I was having a few heart palpitations but that was due to the placenta pills I was taking that were giving me energy, or so I thought. I was pumping every two hours and not sleeping and praying without cease for my babies which was creating an exhaustion I've only heard about. I was so so tired, or so I thought.
I woke up the first morning after having my girl with me in my temporary "bedroom" on the Women's floor at the hospital and I knew something had to change. I thought congestion was making it hard for me to sleep, or lay, or breathe and I thought the hospital environment was keeping me down and not allowing me to fully get better. "I have to go home tonight," I told Trey. I had been staying the last 6 nights after my discharge on that floor where I would pump around the clock so my babies could have the best of my milk when they were fed every 3 hours.
The whole pumping thing was a process. Hot compresses, pump, cold compresses. Bleeding nipples and 3 seasons on Gilmore Girls later and I was making enough milk to feed them both at the rate in which the nurses felt comfortable and they were growing. After the Bradycardia event with Dru, they were dubbed "feeders and growers". This just means they are being watched while they grow. The watch would continue until the necessary 5 day waiting period was up, brought to us by Dru's brady. Most of this process was okay, unless I was alone. Getting around was hard because I had just had a C section but I was healing like a BOSS. I was up and down and all around and feeling better than I had in so long because PREGNANT WITH TWINS is hard stuff. No joke. Also, the hot water was out in the hospital for 4 long days which made getting hot water for the compresses...fun. Instead it was scalding water from the coffee maker and boob burning. Boob burning then crying while pumping then crying while cold compressing. Let's just say there were a lot of tears. Everything was happening so fast and I had already been in the hospital for a couple weeks and I was D.O.N.E.
I was tired of women telling me what to do when I changed my baby. I'm a new mom who isn't a new mom. I have helped and mentored friends and family for many years with their babies and I'm 32 years old. This was my first child but not my first rodeo. I resented women telling me they had to write a prescription for me to breastfeed- I hated it. I hated being told there was 1 hour in the day when I couldn't see my babies no matter what because of shift change. I resented being told when I could or could not bathe my child. I resented the nurse pulling off the umbilical cord and I resented the time those nurses were spending with my babies that I was missing out on. I hated every minute of it. It was simultaneously the best and worst experience of my entire life. I was overjoyed by my children but was beat down by the system.
Trey was so incredible during this time. The day I decided I needed to get better at home he hired a courier to deliver my breast milk 3 times that day to Dru who was still in the hospital. That day was a blur. It was my first day to be home with Roxy but I was overwhelmed to the max. I couldn't change her diaper without becoming winded. I couldn't lay down when I was winded because I couldn't breathe. Nine months of waiting to lay on my back again and I was hacked off. Up, down and everywhere in between I was miserable. My sweet cousin came to my rescue that day. She put together Pack and Plays and swings and organized clothes that had been put off since the babies came early. Trey started back at work that day and I was a HOT MESS. She will never know how she saved me that day- I couldn't do anything- but she could. She did everything. She took care of me and Roxy and set up my home and kept Trey informed and brought me food and sat me up to pump and saved me. She saved me that day. She was and is my hero. Forever grateful, Christiann. Forever.
That evening was a blur and I forced Trey to sleep when Roxy did. They were both out by 10 and I was up and up and up. Around 2am Trey woke up and insisted that because I still wasn't better (even after a prior trip to the ER in which I was discharged with Bronchitis and antibiotics) we were going back to the hospital. I fought him. I hated that place and the Ebola scare was abounding and I didn't want to go back unless it was to see my baby boy. He got up, showered, changed Roxy and put her in her car seat. "I'll be in the living room when you're ready." It was totally a God thing that he didn't relent. As the hospital neared I was grabbing on to the car handle struggling with every breath and realizing my breathing was getting worse. I had gone from full on denial to "can you drop me off at the door" in a matter of mere moments. We still had the room from my discharge so Trey was going to stay with Roxy up there until I was finished in the E.R.
I don't know if it was the color of my face or that my chief complaint was crackling in the chest (Hello heart failure!) but I was rushed back and put on oxygen. It was a needle, tube and test tornado. One group was in working on me while another was waiting in the hall. Doctors I knew and doctors I have never seen were circling me, rubbing their shaking heads and giving medication orders. Words were thrown around like "blood clot" and "congestive heart failure" and I wasn't wrapping my mind around the severity of the issue. I called Trey and he prayed. He prayed and then jumped into action calling everyone from my best friend to our pastors. My family lined and emptied my hospital room and my daddy just cried and cried. It was scary and I was struggling- but I was not about to give up. I had two babies and a husband upstairs who needed me and I was not going to waiver in my faith. I prayed the Lord's Prayer and things are spotty. I was forced to stop breastfeeding because of all the medications I was on and the pressure it put on my heart. I was brought to the ICU and began to heal.
My heart is still in healing mode. I'm not as sick as I was but I'm not as healthy as I once was either. Little life changers like salt and roller coasters and my whole life revolves around doing better by my heart. That's the thing about heart failure, it scares the crap out of you and then pushes you to be better simultaneously. It's everything in your life-but puts love into perspective so that it is nothing in your life. It is static and ever changing...and it basically means bland eating for life.