Thank you all for your love and prayers.
The fever came out of nowhere and was the worst one I've ever had. I don't typically get fevers. It was 101.4 when I finally decided that my excessive chill and shaking meant I should take my temp. When Katherine felt my uterus it was extremely tender to the touch. So, we called our midwife and she said "Go to the hospital." Throughout the birth there were three things I didn't want to happen- a trip to the hospital, the need for antibiotics, and catheterization. O.K., so there were other things I wanted to avoid as well... but those were the three that felt most likely to be needed and for various reasons I was really not interested in any of them, and had the greatest anxiety about the last of them. So, in one night, once it seemed we were well clear of the birth, within 12 hours of a postpartum check-up which was utterly non-eventful- absolutely no uterine tenderness midday, and no fever either (though, in retrospect, I didn't mention to the midwife that I had taken tylenol for a headache in the morning and my temp was slightly higher than normal, so maybe I did have a mild fever then). But, seriously 12 hours earlier, no body shakes, no high fever, no uterine tenderness. My mom asked in the evening how the check-up had gone and I said "Fine. There are really no issues with either of us."
Now I did look in the mirror at one point and said out loud "I look like death warmed over." And Katherine concurred that I was greyer than usual, but we chalked this up to not enough sleep or something. Really we didn't know what to make of it. Until I was shaking to hard to effectively feed Caroline... until the thermometer read 101.4. When we got to the hospital we weren't sure whether to go to the regular e.r. or to the women's hospital that handles births, etc. It turns out we should have gone to the women's hospital, but they took me into triage right away where the man on night duty was dumbfounded by the fact that I had given birth at home. "You a Marine, or something?" When he gave me my arm bracelet he said "This should have gold stars on it for what you've been through. No epidural? Wow. People are such wimps today. You did it the 19th century way." (O.K., so I think I combined several statements made throughout the intake process into one... and... friends... I don't think that having an epidural makes one a wimp... at all. I dreaded having a needle inserted into my spine. One could say that makes me a wimp.) My temp was 101.6 in triage, and my pulse elevated. Anyhow, they took me by wheel chair to the women's hospital. Katherine walked by my side carrying Caroline, who was looking cuter than ever in her bear bunting, and under that various stripes from head to toe, and who was sleeping soundly and had been, after being quite agitated, since the moment daddy stepped outside into the crisp night air and settled her into the car. Kevin drove around to the women's hospital to meet us there.
They put me in a private room and a WONDERFUL nurse, who, as it turns out, is a good friend of our primary midwife. My temp was 101.7 by the time I "settled" into the room. Our nurse was clearly working through a mental check-list trying to make sure she considered all the possibilities- she didn't say them out loud, but as she checked various regions of my body, for the most part, I knew what she was looking for. Pretty early on she said she was going to need to catheterize me to get a clean urine catch. I knew this was not a u.t.i., because I have had so many u.t.i.s in my life I usually detect them coming on before a test can even identify them, but... I understood her need to be thorough. But the only other time I have had a catheter was associated with an operation I had when I was five years old. I was under when they put it in, but awake, and traumatized, when they took it out. So my anxiety shot up as soon as catheter entered the conversation. When she came in to do the catheterization it shot up even higher. My sister simply said "She has a lot of anxiety about the catheter." And then she became super nurse, very gently and slowly talking me through what was going to happen and how it would feel, and completing the procedure quickly and smoothly, with no trauma whatsoever. My sister said, in retrospect, that it was a privilege to watch her work through that. So, by 2 a.m. I had confronted two of the things I had hoped to avoid.
And before we left I had to embrace the third- antibiotics. I wanted to avoid antibiotics because they almost always disturb various other systems in me, which now, could make life unpleasant for beautiful, precious Caroline and not just for me. But... by 5 a.m., all they had to go on was the fever, still high even after tylenol, and the uterine tenderness, only on the left side, only when pressure applied. There were no other symptoms of a uterine infection, but that was the best guess of the moment. She did decide to take some blood at the last minute to see if that gave any other cues, but she called my midwives back-up o.b. and he recommended 10 days of augmentin, supplemented by yogurt, and a follow up visit to his office. As my fever was still up, and my heart rate still too high for the nurse to comfortably release me, she asked me to drink a whole lot of water and take one dose of the antibiotic before leaving. So I did. And my heart rate came down.
We were discharged with instructions to call the doctor if the fever stayed over 101 even after a few doses of antibiotic and regular consumption of tylenol every four hours. If I didn't feel markedly better within two days, again, I was to call the doctor. I was also encouraged to call the hotline at the women's hospital for input any time. If the temp didn't go down, likely I was wrestling with something viral, or, my impression was, something more serious or scary. The hope was that whatever was going on would be addressed by a strong antibiotic... and we wouldn't worry so much about the what as about getting me better.
So by the time we headed home around 6:15 a.m. I had confronted all three of the things I had hoped the most to avoid. And yet I survived. Caroline fed a bit in the hospital and we received a good nursing tip while there, but she remained calm and sleepy for the trip home and slept through much of the day. Just before leaving the hospital our wonderful nurse said "You are the princess, and these" she pointed to Katherine and Kevin, "are your subjects. Your job is to sleep a lot, eat a lot, and drink A LOT, let them take care of the rest." So I was in bed ALL day yesterday. We took shifts with Caroline and sleeping. I was awake and feeling o.k. in the afternoon, so she stayed with me then. And, of course, I fed her throughout the day. My temp was cycling between 99 and just below 101 all day. But when I took my temp at 4:30 this morning it was 97.7. It was a bit elevated at 8:30 this morning (up two degrees), but I had been bundled up under a few layers and perhaps this gave me a slight bump.
Caroline had a bit of a rough night last night. She had some painful gas and seemed to think that eating, rather constantly, would help, but she'd pull off my breast and scream. Eventually I decided she wanted to suck for comfort, but didn't need to eat anymore and so let her lay across my breast and suck my finger. This calmed her substantially. Eventually I asked Kevin to take over this task because I desperately needed sleep and she was too agitated to allow me to sleepily comfort her or even to comfort her while sleeping. He worked to comfort her for awhile in the room, able to do pretty well while sleeping at first, but as she grew more agitated he left the room and eventually he passed her off to Aunt Katherine who had offered to take a stretch of the night if need be. Aunt Katherine and Caroline are sleeping side by side now and have been for some time. Apparently once Caroline got the gas out of her system she settled right down. (O.K., Kev clarified that Caroline was wailing when he passed her off to Katherine... we all did time last night with an uncomfortable baby.) I imagine I'll be seeing her soon, but I took advantage of this quiet moment to capture some of the mysterious 36 hours prior.
Our midwife is utterly stumped. We are stumped, but... so far, it seems the meds are working and my sister is supplementing them with strong pro-biotics, not just with yogurt, though I'm also eating plenty of that. So... here's hoping my temp stays down, Caroline and I avoid the nasty side-effects triggered by antibiotics, and that, within a few days, we begin to feel well rested again.
The one major discomfort in me right now is a headache that I've had all week. It is like headaches I had frequently before pregnancy, and occasionally during pregnancy, unfortunately, the only ways I know to stop these headaches involve adding more meds to a cocktail that Caroline is alright taking in through my breast milk, and unless I become incapacitated by the headache, unable to sleep, function... that is something I want to avoid. So... all things considered I guess I prefer the devil I know to the devil I don't know. And I still don't know what devil grabbed hold of me... but I'm glad that it seems to be losing its grip.
I hear Caroline.... I need to attend.