Sunday, June 5, 2011

Birth Week: Postpartum Complications

About 6 days after having Gunnar I woke up in the middle of the night completely numb.  I felt like I was paralized, I could't feel my back. I needed to feed Gunnar but I couldn't even sit up in bed. I asked John to help me sit up and I fell completely forward. I didn't have the ability to use my back muscles at all. This scared the bejeezes out of me. I fed Gunnar with John's help...and went back to sleep hoping it would go away. Luckily, it did.

But the symptoms continued the next night...this time on the left side of my body. Terrifying. This time the symptoms hadn't completely worn off by morning. I called my doctor and she referred me to a rehabilitation center...where I spent over 2 hours undergoing many physical tests. After conducting of these tests it was clear to them that I wasn't making this up...I was exhibiting signs of numbing paralysis...but they couldn't determine why. So they referred me to a Neurologist and ordered me an MRI with contrast.  I really didn't want to take the MRI because they said I'd have to pump and dump my breastmilk for 2 days...and that got me nervous about disrupting the I put off the MRI and just scheduled an appointment with the Neurologist.

The Neurologist couldn't see me for a few days and the doctors at the Rehabilitation clinic made it clear that if my symptoms got worse to not hesitate going to the ER. Secretly I was hoping the symptoms would disappear before going to the Neurologist. But sure enough my symptoms got worse. My arm went completely numb while I was nursing Gunnar after his circumcision operation the next day.  My face started to even feel numb and that's when it got really scary.  Despite my protests my mom insisted that we go to the ER. So with Gunnar in tow...I ended up at the ER in downtown Chicago. Several tests later...and still no one could explain why this was happening to me.
Over the next few days my symptoms got worse and better, worse and the time I met with the neurologist I felt like I was truly on the mend. But the neurologist wanted to figure out why this was happening. So he did some shock tests and found that I had some symptoms of carpol tunnel syndrome and told me to wear a brace on my wrist at night...but this didn't answer all of the questions he had with my symptoms. So he went ahead and ordered the MRI.

My aunt Lisa, who happens to be a lactation consultant, found plenty of research that proved I didn't have to pump and dump for an MRI even with contrast.  That the dye that seeped into my breastmilk would be no more harmful (in fact significantly less so) than a baby getting an MRI with contrast (and babies do get MRI's with contrast).  So I brought my research with me and showed it to the technician and she agreed...I'd be okay continuing to breastfeed. But just for caution sake I did pump and dump once directly after the MRI...and I gave Gunnar one bottle of pre-pumped milk.

One week later my results came back...and NOTHING. By this time my symptoms had only occured sparingly. There was some discussion that this could have happened due to all of the water weight and pregnancy liquids bumping around and knocking some nerves off center. Or quite possibly that the high levels of oxytocin in my body was not allowing certain signals such as hunger to reach my brain and I just wasn't eating enough. Regardless...this was a pretty scary time for me...and I'm so glad that all of these symptoms eventually disappeared.


  1. Scary! I've heard of some people attributing similar conditions to epidurals. So glad it got better!

  2. Oh, my god. This sounds terrifying.

  3. Wow, so scary! I'm sorry you had to go through that!