That bloating the Good Nurse promised happened by Saturday night. The whole time I was in the ICU, nurses kept coming in, constantly, both the ICU people to change the six pints of blood they ended up giving me and the four bags of frozen platelets, and the maternity nurses who kept arriving to “check my fundus,” which means they were making sure my uterus was shrinking properly. However, after the beating my stomach took during the hemorrhage, the pain in their prodding felt severe and worsened with every examination. My stomach turned into a hot air balloon, blowing up bigger and bigger, and thus facilitating the nurses’ need to press the air in there even harder and harder to “check the fundus.” I still hadn’t eaten anything even though it had been four days since I went into labor in the first place. I know I hadn’t eaten because I remember my husband taking a break at some point on Saturday afternoon – he needed to just get away from The Complications, I’m sure – and he’d gone to Izzy’s or somewhere hideous like that and when he returned, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, he found me throwing up air and bile into a bedpan, uncontrollably. All of the sudden, my body just had to purge the excess air in my abdomen and since I’d pushed for about twelve hours, the “Rectum? It nearly killed him” joke my Dad always quipped was no joke for me and nothing was leaving my building in the south part of town. My body had to release the gas and so up the esophagus it purged, and purged and purged and purged. I’ve never thrown up like that before, a constant dry heave over and over and my husband was holding the bed pan and I asked once “what’s happening?” and then I barfed again, bile and water. The nurses ran around gathering more bedpans, they were surprised, too, I think, and they let me throw up because, I guess, there wasn’t much they could do to stop me. The whole situation was absurd, and as I was gagging and coughing and then barfing again, somewhere in there I said to my husband, “I’m like that guy in Team America,” which made us both laugh, and by now I was also crying and laughing at the same time all while throwing up. Seriously, I only watched Team America once (once was enough), but that scene where the hero is barfing in the alley uncontrollably, with ridiculous barfing sounds and total exaggeration of spew and jerking movements was exactly what was happening there to me in the ICU, except I didn’t even have the excuse of being out- of-my-mind drunk. If you need a visual, you can see that here, which is a crazy thing about the Internet, that I can on the spot provide you with the visual, which no one really needs to see, so don't click that link. The only difference between me and that guy was that I didn’t have anywhere close to the volume of vomit that he did, but the convulsions and sounds are remarkably similar.
Anyhow, after this new turn of events, to top it all off, that night I met Evil Nurse, a young nurse with a sharp pointed haircut who looked snarly about the fact she had the night shift. She decided putting a tube down my nose would be the best way to get the gas out of my stomach. My poor nose, the only orifice of my body that hadn’t been completely violated during the past forty-eight hours besides the oxygen they gave me after the hemorrhage. Evil Nurse came in with this nose devise, the name of which I’ve completely blocked out, sat me up and told me to breathe out through my nose and then in again really fast while she poked my nostril like a chimpanzee digging for ants with a stick. I flinched. I started to cry. She shot me the evil eye like I was being a baby. I let her try again, because I did have to relieve the gas in my abdomen. But when she prodded again with all the grace of a gorilla and the device poked the back of my throat, I gagged while simultaneously holding myself back from punching her in the face. Then I started to sob. “I can’t do this,” I blubbered and she backed off, looking annoyed and not the least apologetic.
An older nurse came to assist Evil Nurse. I could see the older nurse had some wisdom in the lines in her face and she suggested a good old fashioned enema. I’d already pooped full frontal in the doctor’s face while trying to push my baby out, so what was yet another indignity to my lower end? The older nurse’s idea worked and finally I was relieved of the most hideous bloating in the history of many lives and my peristalsis started finally working on its own and the next thing you know, my lovely husband was wiping my lower end every other hour because I could barely make it to the little bedside toilet much less turn around to clean myself up. I said to him then, “Remember in our vows when we said, ‘have faith during the difficult times’? I think this experience is what we were talking about.” We laughed, he wiped. The humility.
The one good thing, yes there is one good thing, about all this chaos was that my husband got to do some serious bonding with our daughter. He changed her first diaper, which, I have to note, he put on backwards, a fact I’ve always thought is both baffling and endearing. And he spent many an hour holding her while she needed to be held those first days, the two of them sleeping together in the room that the Good Nurse had wrangled for us in the maternity ward, my girl curled up on her daddy like a big baby frog.
My body finally stabilized, and I was released from the ICU Saturday evening, and only thing I wanted to do was get out of the hospital. But, I still had to wait another night for the doctor to take out the staples from the c-section. Burned Out Nurse was back on duty and she said she could take the baby any time in the nursery if I needed. One of the worst moments of my new motherhood was that night when I was too exhausted to deal with my new daughter’s crying – she was changed, clothed, warm, fed and totally inconsolable. My husband was asleep and I had to let him sleep since he was exhausted, too. I wheeled my screaming new baby in her plastic crib down the hall to Burned Out Nurse at the front desk of the nursery and I cried as I turned away to plod back to my room and get some rest myself. My second night of being a mom and I couldn’t be there for my new little girl.