Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breastfeeding

People say breastfeeding is natural. I know someone that even said that breastfeeding shouldn't take any longer than a week to master because the baby is born with the sucking reflex and the will to survive and all women have boobs that produce milk after delivery. Really? Of course it was a man that said this. Yes, women were designed to breastfeed and yes, babies were born knowing how to suck, but that doesn't by any means mean that it's easy or comes naturally. If it was easy everyone would do it, and I know just as many women who stopped breastfeeding before their kid was a year as women who made it the entire year. There are lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, classes, and about a billion websites and books; if it's so natural then why are there so many resources to help people who are having trouble?

I love how all the books offer such practical solutions to breastfeeding problems. One book said that if your baby bites, put the baby down and come back 20-30 minutes later. So after ignoring baby's screams for 1/2 an hour, I'm supposed to come back and try again when he's even more hungry, ravenous, frustrated, and now resembles a barracuda? That sounds like a fantastic idea. One website said that if your baby is distracted and won't eat regularly during the day, do frequent feedings at night. Ok, so what the hell is the working mom supposed to do? Work all day and stay up all night with the kid to breastfeed him because he's distracted easily? What about the mom who has other kids? She's supposed to take care of her other kids all day and stay up nursing the baby all night? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

Lactation consultants are even hit or miss. Just about every woman I've talked to that saw a lactation consultant was told that her nipples were flat. Well, let's think about this. I've never breastfed before, so obviously I've never had a human being sucking so hard on my nipples it would cause them to protrude outward and stay that way. Obviously my nipples are going to be "flat". The lactation consultant I saw at the hospital told me to just give up breastfeeding Tyler until my milk comes in, and then try again. In the meantime I would need to supplement with formula and bottles cause nipple confusion and a poor latch later. Awesome advice. Another consultant I spoke to on the phone said that I should never use a bottle even if Tyler won't nurse. Soooo, after trying to nurse for 30+ minutes I'm supposed to look at him and say tough noogies no milk for you? Another lady told me to never use pacifiers in the first month, that it causes nipple confusion. Ok, so if sucking is a natural thing for babies to do and it's also how they soothe themselves, what am I supposed to do if he wants to suck? Let him use my boob as a paci? Not only do I already feel chained to my son every three hours but let's let him suck so that my nipples aren't just sore but now raw. So much for the whole self-soothing thing. Seriously, no wonder there's such a thing as baby blues.

I totally see why so many women give up on the breastfeeding. Not only are we dealing with some sort of birthing recovery-whether that be through C-section or vaginal, but we're up with a fussy baby, we feel like all we do is try to calm our kid down, change diapers and feed him, and now we have sore nipples, trying to make sure our baby is latched on correctly and getting enough milk and we do this every 2-4 hours. The demands on a new mom are high, add breastfeeding to that and it increases 10-fold.

All the books and advice seem to make sense until you have your newborn. I remember reading the books and thinking, "Ok, that makes sense. That's logical." Logical and babies doesn't always mix. No one tells you that it can take breastfeeding an hour or more, and by the time you finish breastfeeding for that hour, you have about 20-30 minutes before your newborn wants to nurse again. No one tells you that, they just say to nurse for 10 minutes on each side. Then there's the people that say don't time it, just go with the flow, but make sure you swap sides. Well, if my kid actually latches on well, isn't biting me and is swallowing I'm not moving him until he unlatches himself. It's not worth unlatching him to try to get him to latch onto the other side. After about 45 minutes of trying to get him to re-latch, both you and the kid will be covered in milk, very little of which will have gotten in the kids mouth, you're now low on milk and the kid is still hungry. That, my friends, is reality, not this illusion of your baby gazing into your eyes as she gently and happily suckles at your breast. She might do that later, but it's highly unlikely in the first month.

I'm shocked at the lack of support I've gotten on breastfeeding. I'm not talking about my family or friends, they have been the only support I've gotten. La Leche won't return my phone calls or emails, which isn't completely uncommon for the South, but I thought for sure after leaving two voicemails and emailing three people I would hear from someone. The lactation consultants at the hospital weren't exactly helpful, unless of course I was willing to come in and pay them $90/hr. to watch me nurse Tyler and attempt to diagnose his latch issues. He's having the same problems now that he was at the hospital, if you couldn't help me then why would I think you could help me now? Apparently for $90/hr. they MIGHT have other ideas they didn't tell me about when their services were free. An older lady I talked to had a few ideas but other than that she too told me that not all babies can latch and nurse, and it sounded like Tyler was one of those babies.

*Sigh* So right now I'm pumping. The pediatrician, the consultants and the research I've done have all said that exclusively pumping is possible, you just have to be disciplined. Marina even emailed me tips from a girl she knows who exclusively pumped for her twins for almost a year. It's all supply and demand. If your body thinks your baby needs it, it will continue to produce it. Whether the kid is taking it out or a machine is, your body doesn't know, it just knows it's being drained every three hours and needs to produce more.

Every time Tyler eats I have to pump to maintain my supply. It can be very easy to get distracted and forget, so I've set the alarm on my phone so that I remember to pump when Tyler eats. So far, so good. Being hooked up to a machine instead of my son every three hours isn't exactly how I envisioned this, but neither was my labor and birthing experience; and frankly at least the machine doesn't bite, pumping only takes 15 minutes, I'm not covered in milk afterwards, Tyler is a happier baby and momma isn't stressed out. I plan on doing this as long as I can. I was planning on pumping when I went back to work anyways, I'll just have to pump at night and on the weekends too, no big deal. My son is getting the breast milk and that's the most important part.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Part 2

The next day after the delivery/surgery I noticed the stretch marks on my belly were raised and fire red. I also noticed what looked like a small patch of hives on the inside of my arm. When I asked my doctor about the mess on my belly she grimly looked at me and said, "That, my dear, is PUPPP." What in God's name is PUPPP?? Well, it's a pregnancy induced rash that stems from a mass of stretch marks. I was stretchmark-less until week 38/39, at that time Tyler grew by leaps and bounds and caused my belly to stretch to astronomical proportions. Apparently, if your belly does this to the degree that mine did there's the potential for your body to go into "shock" cause a rash. PUPPP is not common, and typically it flares up right after you give birth and disappears a day or two later. My doc said that if it starts itching to use hydrocortisone cream on it.

Over the next few days I noticed that my belly stayed the same but the hive like things on my arms were spreading. About a week after I delivered Tyler the hives were covering my arms, legs, bottom, and back, and it was continuing to spread. I was using a bottle of cortisone cream a day beacuse the hives itched so bad. Imagine trying to take care of a newborn, trying to get this whole breastfeeding thing down and being so itchy that scraping steel wool across your skin seemed like a good idea. I originally thought that it was the pain meds they gave me when I left the hospital, so I cut those out after two days, and started taking Benadryl for the itching. The hives continued to spread. I kept track of what I ate, drank, I couldn't pinpoint what the heck was causing the hives to continue to spread.

July 3rd, I came into the living room crying, the hives had spread to yet another part of my body. I had no idea what this was, or if I was putting my husband or son in danger of catching whatever it was that I had. We went to the ER, they admitted me immediately. I saw a total of five doctors and one pediatrician. Not one of them knew what it was. I was told that they were going to have to take skin biopsy's, that what I could have was auto-immune and my body was on self-destruct mode, that Ryan could break out with it at any time and Tyler was also at risk and because he was a newborn it was severly dangerous. They told me they couldn't let me leave due to the safety of others, they couldn't have me spreading what I had. I understood, but I can't say that I wasn't happy about it.

I had just had a less than happy experience at one hospital, my baby's and husband's health was at risk because of me. The last doctor I saw was the only one that made any sense. He said that he had no idea what this was, but it was unlikely Ryan or Tyler would catch it because they would have already. He was calling in one of the dermatologists that work with the hospital but I did need to stay the night.

Ryan ran home to get a few things, while I was brought up to my room. The nursing staff at this hospital was like night and day from the other hospital. They were nice, kind, and truly cared about my comfort. I was so impressed. The next morning I was wakened by a doctor rushing in and opening all the miniblinds and turning on all the lights. He looked at me and said, "I'm the dermatologist." I sat up and said, "Oh thank GOD, I hope you can help me!" He looked at me and said, "You have PUPPP. An extremely severe case of PUPPP. Take these meds and come to my office on Thursday. Have a good 4th of July."

About an hour later I was discharged with a prescription for a topical steriod cream and steriod pills and specific instructions not to breastfeed while on the pills. One of the side effects of a C-section is that your milk comes in later than if you vaginally deliver. Mine came in almost an entire week later than it should have. Tyler was ready to start nursing, not just colostrum but actual milk and I had none to give him. So we had to supplement with formula. I was crushed. I so looked forward to being able to breastfeed my baby. We struggled a little at the hospital, but I was determined to make it work. We went about a week on the formula before my milk came in, and as soon as it came I started breastfeeding right away. We struggled some more but had finally got most of the kinks out when they told me I couldn't breastfeed on the meds. I asked the dermatologist what would happen if I went without the meds. He said that eventually the PUPPP would clear up but it would take several months (6 or more) and the itching would continue. I was so miserable and desperate for the itching to stop that I took the meds. For another week, while on the steriods we supplemented with formula. Concern about nipple confusion was a main concern, but we were able to overcome the formula issue before, we could do it again.

The forumla we used messed up Tyler's tummy so bad. He screamed for almost an hour straight everyday because he was in pain. The amount of gas he had was similar to what you would imagine would come out of a grown man. My poor baby. I saw the doc again that Thursday and my skin was cleared up quite a bit. The doc said I could breastfeed as soon as I finished the meds, which would be on Sunday. He did say that there was a slight chance that once I got off the steriods the rash might come back. If it does he said to call him and he'd set me up with more steriods and I'd have to stop breastfeeding again.

One day after I stopped the steriods the rash came back, ONE day. It wasn't nearly as bad as it was, just a few spots here and there, but I couldn't put Tyler back on forumla, so when I saw my OB, she set me up with some creams so that I could continue breastfeeding. My skin is almost cleared up, three weeks later. Because of all our issues and having to give him a bottle so much, breastfeeding has been a challenge. I'm sore A LOT. Tyler fights it sometimes, sometimes his latch is great, sometimes it's not. He bites. It's very frustrating and emotionally exhausting. I cry a lot and when feeding time comes around again, I dread it. It sucks. This is not at all how I envisioned anything from the time my water broke until now. I feel like everything has been a struggle, and I haven't enjoyed my son much at all.

Everyone tells me that it gets better around month three. My fingers are crossed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chapter 6-Mommyhood and Tyler's Birth Story Part 1

You think you know what to expect. You think since you've read tons of books, subscribed to all the magazines, researched the internet, and are the last one of your friends to have kids and listened and took note of all their troubles, hiccups, bumps in the road, and victories that you MIGHT have an inkling of what you're doing. Well, you don't. At least I didn't. I guess I thought that since I had such an easy pregnancy that my delivery would be easy and Tyler would be an easy baby. I shouldn't have assumed.

Tyler was born June 27th; it was the best worst day of my life. My parents and my sister Lauren had been down for several days waiting for Tyler to make his arrival. As most first time mom's are I was past my due date. I was uncomfortable, irritable and getting impatient. I loved being pregnant, but when you're almost 41 weeks pregnant, huge, uncomfortable, and can feel your skin tearing and stretching, it doesn't matter how much you loved being pregnant you're just ready to be done with the whole process. My dad had to fly back Sunday morning to be ready for work on Monday, Sunday night my water broke. My dad has yet to meet his grandson, it's a total bummer. This picture was taken about 15 minutes before my water broke.



That whole, "Only 1% of women's water breaks on their own before contractions, so don't worry about it because it won't happen to you" is a bunch of bullshit. AND that whole, "If you are one of the 1% it's highly unlikely it will break if you are sitting or standing" is also a bunch of bullshit. I was in the car on the way to Walmart, I bent down to get my purse and it felt like a water balloon inside me burst. I was told that the bag of waters is maybe as much as a half pitcher of water. That person either doesn't remember or had an epidural when her water broke because it was enough water to fill about 7 or 8 pitchers of water, at least. It was ridiculous.

I had read books on labor, talked to women about the labor, took birthing classes the whole shabang, so when I started feeling cramping I had no idea those were contractions. I was told that contractions were in the front, they start at the top of the uterus and work their way down and it would feel like my belly was tightening. I didn't feel that at all. I felt menstrual cramps in my lower back. I figured it was normal, but wasn't contractions, so I took a nap, hung out, played cards and waited for the contractions to start. I figured they would start in an hour or so. Five hours later I was still only feeling some minor back pain. I called my doctor's office and spoke to the nurse on call who told me to get my ass to the hospital. After we got to the hospital and got checked out I was told that I was 3cm dilated and the back cramping I was feeling was back labor. I looked at Ryan and said, "That's not good, we need to get this baby turned around." Back labor occurs when the baby's head is positioned backwards. The baby will eventually turn, but back labor is extremely painful and my plan was to do this whole birthing thing with no meds.

Another concern I had was that I was already five hours into labor and only 3cm dilated. I was also GBS positive which meant that I was at a higher risk of infection and had to have the baby within 24 hours of my water breaking. The race against the clock began. Once I got in my room, got the Penicillin to counteract being GBS positive I started walking. The contractions started to pick up, and walking was the only thing that I could do to handle the pain. Laying in bed wasn't an option, sitting wasn't an option, not even on the stability ball. I tried various positions recommended for back labor, nothing helped but walking.

Around 6am my doc came in to check me. At this point I was about 12 hours into labor and no matter what position I tried and how much walking I did I was still having back labor. Back labor is excruciating. I have never felt pain like that. Pain that can take your breath away and make you wish that you would die. The contractions were about two minutes or less apart at that point, which is barely enough time to catch your breath before the next one hits. To be checked for dilation you have to get back in bed, I almost cried; not because the doc was hurting me but because laying on my back during a contraction was that painful. I was almost 6cm, and Tyler's head wasn't fully engaged in my pelvis. Red light. Tyler's not ready, I'm only at 6, and I've been in labor for 12 hours. My mind raced, why was it taking so long for me to dilate. I haven't had any meds, my body should be dilating quicker than this, especially since my water is already broken.

My doc said that it could be that I was in so much pain my body wasn't able to relax enough to dilate faster, and since Tyler's head was slightly swollen that was a concern. I didn't want meds, but at that point I was struggling with the pain a bit and swelling on the baby's head could be a beginning sign of distress. I opted for a small dose of Staydol. Basically it made me sleep. I could still feel the contractions but it felt like I had a little too much liquor, woozie feeling, and it lasted about 45 minutes. I crossed my fingers that the drug helped. It did but not enough, it brought me close to 7cm, and when the drugs wore off I could still feel I was having back labor. I didn't have one contraction in the front, not one, I felt all of it in my back. I was not going to give up on having Tyler naturally. So out of the bed I was and back to walking.

My doc came back after a few hours to check me again. At that point I had been in labor for 16 hours, all of it back labor, and 15 hours of it was without meds. I had been up for more than 24 hours. I was exhausted. I remember looking at Ryan, gasping after a contraction and saying, "I don't know how much longer I can go without some sort of pain relief." My sister looked at me and told me how proud she was of me for handling all of this so well, and with no pregnancy turrets. At that point I had no idea how long we had been at the hospital. I had no idea what time it was, or that it was Monday afternoon, or that I hadn't eaten in over 20 hours, or slept in over 24 hours. When my mom told me how long it had been, I started getting worried. Natural labor shouldn't take this long, surely something was wrong.

My doctor suggested an epidural and Pitocin. I shook my head, not able to speak because I was in the middle of a contraction. She pointed out that the Staydol did help me dilate but it wasn't strong enough or lasted long enough to make me fully dilated. I wasn't dilating on my own, I was still at 7cm, and when you hit 4cm and going natural you should be dilating a cm an hour, I had stopped completely, it had been a few hours, Tyler's head swelling was worse, and he still wasn't where he should be on my pelvis, which would explain why I had stopped dilating, and why it was taking so long to dilate in the first place. My doctor was 100% right, I wasn't dilating on my own, and Tyler's safety needed to be my main concern. I reluctantly nodded for the epidural and Pitocin.

At that point I might as well have tossed my birth plan out the window. Goodbye to privacy, goodbye to natural delivery. I felt so defeated. I did everything I could to get Tyler turned around so I wasn't having back labor. Maybe if I could have gotten him turned around I could have handled the pain better and maybe my body would have been able to relax and dilate more. I had no idea if that was the reason I wasn't dilating or if it was because Tyler wasn't descending like he should have been, or a combination of both. They made my mom, sister and Ryan leave the room while I got the epidural. I hated it, not because it was painful but because for me it was like I was giving up, I had failed at having a natural delivery. Even though I was giving up for Tyler's safety, I was still giving up and I felt like I could still fight it.

For whatever reason after I had the epidural the nurses completely forgot my requests for privacy. They "forgot" that I had requested minimal pelvic exams, they "forgot" that I didn't want to be just laid out exposed, even if it was just them and my family in the room. It's like they "forgot" I was a person with feelings. A person who was already upset at how her labor was going, a person who had been in labor for many many hours, a person who was just in pain for 16 of those many hours. Being numb from the waist down I couldn't even close my own legs after the exam, there were times that my family would cover me up because the nurses would just leave me there exposed while they typed away on their computers. It was awful. I felt helpless. I will never deliver at that hospital again. I love my doctor, but I'll have to come up with something else if I get pregnant here again, because the nurses were awful. I guess doing this stuff everyday desensitises them. That's the only reason I can think of as to why they would treat people like they did.

I was only on the Pitocin for about 15 minutes when the nurse assigned to me came in and started rolling me around in the bed. Again, I was completely numb so I couldn't even get up and move myself. I cannot begin to describe how awful it is knowing that you are 100% dependent on this random person that you don't even know. She said Tyler's heart rate dropped slightly and it could be a number of things. She got me on my side and his heart rate went back up. About 10 minutes later the monitor started beeping, and six nurses came rushing into the room. No one said a word to me, two of them started turning me, one started putting a catheter in, none of which were my regular nurse assigned to me. I finally yelled out, "What the hell, would someone tell me what the fuck is going on?!?! I'm a fucking person!" The older nurse looked at me shocked, like how dare I question her, and said, the baby's heart rate is dangerously low, he could be having a reaction to the Pitocin. My nurse finally came running in and said that they were putting in an internal catheter to track my contractions internally, a regular catheter in case they have to do a C-section (WHAT!) and they were turning the Pitocin off and calling my doctor.

The older nurse said they were going to put a transmitter on Tyler. I looked at my nurse. A transmitter is a wire they actually screw into the babies head to track his heart rate. I specifically put on my birth plan that I did NOT want that. The staff already knew his heart rate was low, screwing a wire into my unborn child's head was not going to fix the problem it was only going to tell them what they already knew. The first time all day my nurse treated me like a person. She grabbed the older nurses hand and said, "No, she doesn't want that." The older nurse said, "Too bad, it's not about what she wants, it's about the baby's safety." My nurse told her that they both knew his heart rate was already dangerously low and putting the transmitter on him wouldn't resolve the problem. The older nurse scowled at me and went back to rolling me around the bed. They finally got Tyler's heart rate back to normal.

My doc walked in and I burst into tears. She checked me, I was still 7cm, Tyler's swelling was worse and he still wasn't descending into my pelvis. She explained that my options were to try the Pitocin again but there was a very good chance that Tyler would react badly to it and if he did I would be wheeled in for a C-section, or I can opt for a C-section now. So basically, I can knowingly put my child in danger, or get him out of there now. Did I even have a choice? Putting my son in danger wasn't an option. I looked at her and said, "Those are options?" She held my hand and said, "I know this isn't what you wanted, I did not want to have to come in here and tell you any of this, but that is where we stand." I nodded and signed the sheet for the C-section. Again more nurses, more exposure, more defeat, more tears.

I was asked if I wanted drugs, even though I had on my birth plan NOT to ask me if I wanted drugs. I was petrified and worried. The reality that I was not going to be able to birth my son not only naturally but not vaginally was hitting me. I was not going to be the first one to hold my son, or the second or the third, I was not going to be able to nurse him right away, I was not going to be able to see him being born. The entire birthing experience I had been dreaming of was being ripped away from me and I had no idea why. Was this my fault? My body was the one who wouldn't dilate. I couldn't blame it on the drugs, my body stopped dilating before the drugs were even administered. I nodded yes to the nurse and closed my eyes.

I remember being wheeled down the hall. I remember being put on the table and Ryan and my mom sitting next to me. I remember hearing my doctor's voice. I remember nurses asking me what seemed like every 10 minutes if I wanted more drugs. I was so scared, they said the drugs would calm me down, so I said yes. I should have said no. The entire surgery is a haze. I remember feeling tugging and pulling, I remember hearing the herd of nurses in the room all talking at once and wanting to scream out, "SHUT UP!", but not being able to form words. I remember shaking, and being told that that was normal and everything was fine. I remember looking at Ryan and him smiling at me and telling me he loved me. I remember crying, a lot. I remember looking at my mom, tears streaming down my face saying, "This isn't what I wanted." I remember my doctor saying, "I've almost got him, you're going to feel pressure." I remember seeing the look on my mom's face when my doctor pulled Tyler out. I remember thinking, "Someone PLEASE let me see my son, please", but not being able to form words. I remember seeing the nurse walk to the corner of the room with Tyler and Ryan looking back and forth from me to Tyler. I had to focus to tell him to stay with our son. I remember the nurse yelling out "9lbs. 4 oz.". I remember thinking "Jesus Christ, no wonder my belly is covered in stretch marks." I remember seeing Ryan hold our son for the first time and him beaming with pride.

I don't remember much after that. I don't remember being sewn up. I don't remember being wheeled back to the room. I remember nurses all over me and me telling one of them to get off me I've had enough. I remember looking over and seeing Tyler laying in the bassinet. I remember holding him for the first time and thinking he was perfect. I remember Ryan telling me he loved me. I remember my sister telling me she loved her nephew. I remember Ginger coming to see me, but I have no idea if we spoke. I don't know how I got to my room, but I remember Ryan and Tyler were already there. I don't remember the first night other than I said I wanted Tyler with us, not in the nursery.

Later on I found out that Tyler was crammed in my belly so tight that my 5'11" doctor asked for a stool so that she could have more leverage to get him out. I found out that both my doctor and the assisting doctor struggled to get him out because he was so crammed in there and my doc didn't want to cut across my entire belly. My doc was thoughtful enough to make the incision as small as possible, and as low as possible so that if I wanted I could try to have a vaginal delivery with my second child.

Recovery at the hospital was exactly like after I had the epidural. No privacy, I was treated like a thing not a person. My feelings, my privacy, and my comfort were not taken into consideration. I was told by lactation that I should just give up nursing until after my milk comes in and even then I would struggle, but she wishes me the best. Every hour there was someone in our room doing something, taking out the trash, changing the sheets, taking mine and Tyler's vitals. I finally went ape shit and was told that I could have put a sign on the door asking to be left alone for a bit. I wasn't told that until our last day at the hospital. How considerate of them to let me know hours before we were discharged. I was discharged after two days, but not before I was told by one of the nurses that discharge after two days with a C-section was unheard of and I would regret it. I looked at the nurse and said, "This is for YOUR safety sweetheart." Discharge took forever because they "forgot" to take Tyler's IV out. I waited for the questionnaire lady to make her rounds to my room, she never came, big surprise.

I always hated hospitals and my birthing experience reminded me of why. Not because I had to have major surgery, or because of anything my doctor did, she actually was wonderful during the entire process, but because the nursing staff was just plain terrible. Yes they did their job, but as a nurse I would think you would need to have compassion and be sensitive to people, there was one nurse that was like that. She was in her young 20's, and was part of the nursery. She was really great. She's young though, I'm sure in a few years she'll end up just like all the other nurses we saw.

My water broke at 5:45pm June 26th, Tyler was born June 27th at 4:35pm. I look at my C-section scar as a badge of honor. It's a reminder of what I went through to try to give me and my son the best birthing experience I could. I don't regret my decision to attempt non-medicated birth. I don't regret getting the meds, at the time it was the best option I had to try to get my body to dilate. I don't regret the C-section I had no other option. My doctor said that she had no idea Tyler was so big, she guessed around 8lbs., not 9. Other than his cheeks, he's not a chuncky baby, I have no idea where he puts it! I'm glad my doctor was considerate enough to make my incision low so that I could attempt VBAC with my second child. Looking back, there was no way I was going to be able to vaginally deliver a 9lb. baby. Tyler had swelling on his head from trying to push through my pelvis which is just too small for a 9lb. baby, because he wasn't able to descend he wasn't able to put pressure on my cervix which prevented me from dilating any further. My doc thinks that if my next kid is average size I'll probably have no trouble.

Recovery from a C-section hasn't been too bad. Some pain the first few days. You don't realize you use your abs as much as you do until someone has to cut through them. Sneezing, coughing, getting out of bed, walking, all of that had to be done very carefully otherwise the burning would set in. While at the hospital I noticed what looked like hives on my arm, and the stretch marks on my belly were raised and enflammed. On my arm was a small patch and when I asked the nurses they said it was more than likely a reaction to one of the billion drugs I had taken. When I asked my doctor she said she didn't know about the hives on my arm but the mass of what we thought were stretch marks on my belly was actually PUPPP, a pregnancy induced rash, and that it would go away in a few days. What ended up being something minor put me in the ER overnight. More to come...