I assumed labor was the end of my gut-wrenching pain, doubling over from cramping agony, but cue ruptured ovarian cyst.
I delivered my beautiful baby, naturally. I dilated quicker than expected and therefore, could not receive an epidural. People have asked, “What does natural, childbirth feel like?” Well, have you ever been set on fire? Labor was long, exhausting, and painful but I kept telling myself that when it was all over, I’d be able to hold my precious baby. I love my daughter and I’m so grateful that she is here and healthy however, the birthing experience is not something I look back on with a smile.
Fast forward 14 weeks and I started back to work. My Wednesday was interrupted when I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my abdomen. I gasped, grabbed my gut, and leaned forward. Appendicitis? Cold sweats, dizziness, nausea – the pain wasn’t going away. I had to stop teaching, I didn’t want to pass out in front of my students! All too soon, I found myself laying in a hospital bed again with my post-traumatic-delivery-anxiety triggered.
After I told the nurse that my left arm was best for IV insertion, she persisted to dig around in my right arm, fishing for a vein. Why?! She switched arms and the IV went right in. I told her so. The saline flush had a skunky smell and the IV fluid made me feel cold. The pain meds were inserted and I immediately felt delirious. I was given additional meds to help subdue the nausea that the pain medication caused. With both medications administered, I couldn’t help but to worry about what was being filtered into my breastmilk. The doctor thought it would be safest if I would, “pump and dump” for the next 24 hours. This was an issue – My body does not create excess milk and while working full time, my storage isn’t built. I knew with this hospitalization, we’d go though every ounce that was stored.
I was wheeled into the CT scanning room and was given an iodine-contrast through my IV. My body felt warm for thirty seconds as the contrast entered my blood stream; my throat, bladder, and ears especially. Unfortunately, this was another med that one probably shouldn’t breast feed on. I was instructed to lay still as the scan took place; it didn’t take long, but the stillness allowed my mind to wonder about scary what-if’s. Once the scan was complete, I was wheeled back into my room and instructed to drink lots of water to flush the contrast from my kidneys.
I had dozed off waiting for the CT results. Wow did it feel nice to sleep without a baby. All too soon, I was woken up by the doctor with the results of the scan. Due to the amount of fluid in my abdominal cavity, he could conclude that I had a 2-3cm ovarian cyst rupture. He informed me that this is not uncommon 6-12 months after pregnancy, due hormone irregularities. Apparently, cysts occur often during ovulation but they don’t always burst nor cause horrific pain. Naturally, I wanted to know how to prevent the cysts in the future and he gave me two options; get on birth control to stop ovulation or get a hysterectomy. What?! I’m not ready to kiss my reproductive years goodbye! I also was not about to start taking birth control pills – hormone altering, cancer causing, weight gaining, mood swinging, “birth control” pills. As grateful as I was to not need my appendix removed, the possibility of painful ovulation every month was concerning.
Now, it’s just a waiting game; will the cysts return? Will they continue after I finish breastfeeding? It’s possible that if the cyst is 7cm or larger, it could twist my ovaries during rupture and cut off my blood flow to my reproductive parts – terrifying! The heating pad helped, so did hot tea and the fetal position however, dealing with that intense pain every month will significantly decrease my quality of life. The doctors don’t know the future anymore than I do, and in the meantime, I will be diligently praying big. Go away rupturing cysts; I have a life to live and a baby to raise!