The Postpartum Emergency

February 7, 2010

A narrative by Tiffany Dawn Keck (Warning: Gory)

It was around 11 pm on the day Joel was born and Brad and Kyle had gone home to get some sleep. The nurse came in to check my vitals and uterus. I made some joke and laughed which I thought for sure caused me to wet my pants. I was super embarassed! I hoped she wouldn’t notice and I would book it to the bathroom and change when she left. Then she started to massage my uterus down which made me wet my pants even more! What was going on? But then she wanted to check my bleeding and I thought, “oh no, she’s going to see that I wet my pants!” and she said, “wow, there’s a lot of blood! Have you changed your pads since the delivery?” I said no and that I planned to after she left. And I asked if it was all blood and she said yes which made me breathe a huge sigh of relief because I felt I had dodged a bullet with that embarassing wetting my pants scenario. She helped me up to go to the bathroom and went to get a new ice pack. So I take off my pads and blood gushes all over the floor! About half the bathroom was covered in blood and there were three blood clots in my pads that were between the sizes of plums and baseballs. I sat on the toilet and blood just kept pouring out of me.

The nurse came back and was outside so I told her I needed help. She came in and saw the huge mess. She asked if I was going to the bathroom and I said I didn’t think so and it was all blood coming out of me. She called her supervisor and suddenly there were about six nurses everywhere! Two helped me back to bed, bleeding profusely the entire way, some were cleaning and weighing the amount of blood, some were getting pads for the bed, one was calling the doctor to tell him I was hemorrhaging. The doctor told them to get me a saline bag with pitocin in it, so I was put back onto an iv, plus I was given another medicine by shot in my thigh and another by pills inserted rectally, that was awesome. Nurses started pressing on my stomach. You see, what they figured happened is that usually after giving birth, the uterus contracts and clamps down, shutting off the dozens of open blood vessels that ran between my body and the placenta, but mine didn’t clamp down and they remained open and bleeding, so the drugs were supposed to cause my uterus to contract and the nurses helped it along manually.

I stopped bleeding so much, but I was still bleeding and I was shaking uncontrollably (the nurses said it was adrenaline). By the time I had lost 1000 ccs of blood, the nurses had to call my doctor, and the doctor had to come in and check me. He got to my room around 1 am (ish). I called Brad and told him I needed him to come. He called Gretchen who went to the house and watched Kyle. She was a lifesaver because I don’t know what I would have done without Brad at the hospital. The doctor needed to check for lacerations in my uterus even though they check that when the baby is born. The idea was that since I was still bleeding, it might not have been their placenta theory after all. So, without any sort of anesthetic, he had to reopen the birth canal, insert some sort of pliars that kept it open, while a nurse pressed on my stomach, forcing my uterus to decend low enough for him to stick into my uterus what I imagine was kind of like a big dentists mirror (although I never saw it, it could have been a little more high tech, the idea being, something that showed him inside my uterus), and a light. He couldn’t find anything, but he removed around a dozen more blood clots, some as big as baseballs. What he figured and what seems to be right was that their original theory was correct but I had so many blood clots stuck in my uterus they didn’t allow my uterus to clamp down so it kept bleeding. Once he removed them, he left and the nurses had to massage my uterus down every ten minutes, then every thirty, then every hour along with taking my vitals. It was a long night. And my stomach was KILLING me from all of the prodding of my uterus. The doctor said I lost about a liter and a half of blood throughout the night.

By the morning, I was still bleeding, but about as much as a normal woman recovering from childbirth. Their biggest concern became the amount of blood I lost. It was pretty amazing because throughout it all, I was conscious, not lightheaded or dizzy, and my blood pressure got lower of course but not below a normal amount. I needed to be put on oxygen early in the night, but that was about all. They did a test called a hematocrit at 3am and 6am. The idea of a hematocrit is they replace the fluids I lost, and then test my blood to see how diluted it is. If the blood is too diluted, then a transfusion is necessary. My hematocrits were low, but not so low that I needed a transfusion. Since my bloodwork and vitals remained so great throughout the ordeal, Brad and I were allowed to leave the hospital when we wanted to after 24 hours. I have to go back to the doctor on monday or tuesday though to get another hematocrit and for him to check my uterus again, and I have to take iron supplements for a month which is about how long it’ll take my body to replace all the blood I lost.

It was all very scary and unexpected, but it was fast, everything just felt normal again by mid morning the next day (apart from the fact that I got at most 2 hours of sleep that night).

I added six more pictures to the picasa album. Also, the hospital people took a really cute picture of Joel that you can look at here: http://www.utahportraits.com/hospital/index.php?action=view&BabyID=020410jdk



  1. Poor, poor you! I’m happy everything worked out okay in the end. Let me know if you need any help this week!

  2. Wow. Blood clots the size of baseballs are no good. Poor Tiffany! That does not sound very pleasant, and I remember how much it hurts when they push down on your uterus. I’m so glad you’re okay, and on the mend. We will be happy to take Kyle on an outing any time!

  3. I can’t believe that! How awful! I am so glad you and Joel are okay.

    • Wow Tiffany. I’m so sorry that happened! I’m glad things are okay now. I hope you can just love and enjoy your baby. Let me know if we can do anything. We have a gift for you that we were going to bring the day we had to cancel…so we’ll get it to you sometime. 🙂

  4. Oh my gosh I’m so glad you’re ok now! Wish I could be there to lend a hand with Kyle. We <3/miss you guys.

  5. So glad you’re doing better! Love ya

  6. Oh Tiff!Oh my gosh how scary! Poor Brad! Good thing he didn’t see the initial bathroom scene of blood; that would have terrified him. I’m so relieved your body handled it well and you had competent doctors.

  7. wow, i didn’t get all that at the hospital! That sounds like more than chaos! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Oh tiffany, I am so glad I knew this had a happy ending before I read it! That is way too scary. I am glad you are okay. thanks to Gretchen for helping out. I am so excited to see you all next week.

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