Postpartum Complications Scene 3: The Emergency Room

(Scene two is here.)

An hour after I hung up the phone with my doctor, I feel a new kind of bad—the kind where you reluctantly play out the idea of going to the emergency room. Then it dawns on me: I feel so bad that I’m not sure if I can walk to the car on my own.

I look at Nathan and tell him that.

“Then we should go to the emergency room. If you can’t walk to the car, we really need to go.”

He is right.

My parents drive back right away so they can watch Henry for us while we go to the emergency room.

I tenuously sit up on the couch and then stand, slowly and all wobbly-like. Nathan and my dad stand beside me as we begin walking down to the garage. I sigh with relief once I’m in the car.

And off we drive, back to the hospital—but this time I’m not having a baby.


“Oh, are you pregnant?” asks the cheerful emergency room nurse as we check in.

“I had a baby a week ago.” I don’t have the energy to feel insulted. And I honestly can’t blame her for asking. My round belly is begging the question.

She asks if I want a wheelchair.

I can tell Nathan wants me to say yes, but I cannot bring myself to.

“No, I think I can walk.”

Once I get to my room, a nurse comes and asks me a plethora of questions.

“So you’re in a lot of pain, and they prescribed you pain medicine after your cesarean, but you never filled the prescription?” asks the nurse, without hiding his obvious frustration with me.

I explain why I don’t want to take the narcotics and why I think something might be wrong.

As he leaves the room I hear him telling the emergency room doctor, “She won’t take her pain medicine.”

I cringe. All the questions that made me reluctant to come to the emergency room flood my mind. What if he is right? What if I’m here for nothing? What if I just don’t have what it takes to get through this recovery?

But the emergency room doctor is different. She takes me seriously. She asks me about my son’s birth and tells me she had a cesarean birth with her premature twins. She does not think my problem is my stubbornness toward pain medicine. She believes me. There is something profound about birth that connects women. We trust each other.

She looks at my incision and immediately states, “That looks infected.”

She calls my doctor to have her come and look at me. Then she orders a bunch of tests, blood work, and a CT scan—tests that paint a picture of how sick I am.

(Scene four is here.)

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