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Faith and Healing: A ‘Post Dates’ Home Birth After a Cesarean

Faith and Healing: A ‘Post Dates’ Home Birth After a Cesarean

(Editor’s note: this birth experience was originally posted on August 23, 2011.)

To gain a little insight of why I had a C-section with my first born, I have it written down as a “vent” on my blog. It basically started out as one intervention cascading into a ball of interventions that led me to a transfer from a “Birth Center” birth to the hospital that ended in a non-emergency C-section for being stuck at 5cm for hours and hours. I did a lot of processing and mourned the birth and post par tum bond of my beautiful baby girl, Alana.

I did my research, got in touch with my local ICAN Chapter and soaked up as much info as I could. I also found a lovely CPM who takes VBAC’s as I knew the best chance of a successful VBAC would to be at home with the least intervention and the most support. I did all my own prenatal’s, skipped the ultrasound, listened and trusted my body to grow my baby and prepare for birth. I was on top of my nutrition and got monthly adjustments from my chiropractor and even got a wonderful massage at the end of my pregnancy.

My VBAC Baby Born at Home
Wow! Where do I begin? Ethan’s birth has so many emotions attached to it. So many hopes and dreams came true the night he was born, on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010. It’s hard for me to even write what I really want to write here. Whatever I write, it comes from a deep place in my soul.

First, I just have to give praise and honor to our Heavenly Father…for knowing the desires of my heart, for loving me through some hard challenges in my life and for allowing them to grow me. Our Creator is so good. While Ethan’s birth was hard work for me, I have no regrets. I guess I could say I “wish” things had gone differently, but really I’m grateful for how it was. This is his story.

I woke up Friday the 14th (9 days after my due date) still very pregnant and no end in sight. Then around 10am I went to the bathroom to find “bloody show”. It renewed my faith in my body that things were progressing and that I would be having this baby. I was really hoping that I would be holding my baby within 24 hours, but no. Bloody show came and went and Istill had my all day, every day braxton hicks that would always go away when I went to bed. There was no way I was willing to do anything to speed things along. I knew that in order to have the best possible chance at a VBAC, I would have to allow things to unfold completely unhindered. While it was hard and uncomfortable being so big, I was so at peace with where my body was at and what it needed to do. I continued to have bloody show all through the weekend.

Monday the 17th, I felt different. Lots more bloody show and my contractions were slightly stronger. So I did some massive “nesting” and Alana was my sidekick. It was truly a wonderful day spent with my daughter for the last time just the two of us. We made a pot roast in the crock pot, went to Trader Joe’s for some shopping, cleaned the house top to bottom and made cookies! It was such a beautiful, peaceful day. A day that I will remember forever. Matt was in and out of the house throughout the day working and it allowed Alana and I some time alone together.

Monday night, as we got ready for bed at 11:30pm, I noticed that my braxton hicks were still coming despite how late it was. Usually they had died down by now. So of course I wondered. Went to bed and as I lay there, I couldn’t sleep. Contractions were still coming. I got up to find my phone so that I could start timing them. They were coming every 3-6min. Very short though.

After an hour of this, I decided to get up to pee and I woke up Matt telling him I couldn’t sleep, that I may be in labor. I went pee and had a huge gob of bloody mucus, so I knew that this was the real deal. I told Matt I was going to shower and asked him to pump up the pool. Actually, I think I demanded him to.

I felt really calm, but part of me wanted things ready in case things went quick (wishful thinking). Took a shower and tried to check myself, but everything just felt like mush. I couldn’t tell or maybe I just couldn’t reach my cervix. Matt and I then made the bed up with a shower curtain and a sheet over it while the tub filled. I went downstairs and made some raspberry leaf and nettle tea and grabbed a water and set up my birth snacks on my dresser next to the tub. I told Matt I was happy to labor alone if he wanted to sleep downstairs on the couch. So he grabbed his pillow and a blanket and headed downstairs. To help pass time, I blow dried my hair and did my makeup in between contractions.

I did some hip swaying to give room and even did some squats during the contractions. I made sure to empty my bladder every hour. I was drinking and eating to sustain energy. At 6:30 am, I text my girlfriend, Jessica, to give her the heads up that I had been in labor since 12 am. She was my birth photographer and has an almost 2 year old and knew she was up getting ready for work, so I wanted to give her time to plan for the birth and would keep her posted.

At around 7am Matt’s alarm went off, so I went downstairs to tell him he probably shouldn’t go to work. Matt then asked if I had called the midwife to give her a heads up. That kind of annoyed me because I felt like it was too early yet. Then Alana woke up and pretty much my contractions died at that point. Matt took Alana downstairs and told me to sleep for awhile. I was really distraught because I felt like things were progressing and then the moment Matt and Alana woke, it distracted me and labor had stopped. Ugh!

So I took some Rescue Remedy to help me calm down and I layed down and slept for a couple hours. Then I woke up and took a shower to freshen up. Matt and I had an “upset” so we worked that out (I was still mad over the comment her made about calling the midwife). Nothing like getting irritated at each other when you want to be laboring. Then we ate and decided to go for a walk around 3:30 pm. While walking, I timed my contractions and there were coming every 5 min. I had to stop and lean over something for every contraction or hang on to Matt, whatever I could grab first. I’m sure I was a sight to the passing drivers.

Contractions continued to come after walking and eating dinner. I called Jessica, my mom and sisters and let them know to head on over around 8pm. Even though I had planned to labor alone for the majority of labor, I was so ready for some support. They all showed up and my sister Callie announced that she was making brownies. Grrr. I really wanted some and I never got any. I called my midwife sometime after 8 pm to give her the heads up. She listened to me while I went through a couple contractions and said they are about 3 minutes apart, but only lasting 30 sec. She was currently at another birth and I agreed to keep her posted.

I labored all through the night. Everyone found places to sleep and in the early hours, I want to say around 2am, things were  intense. I think I was pretty tired and my contractions were getting painful. I was in the birth tub for quite a while at this point, but I had been in and out and changing positions every hour. I called the midwife around 3:30 am and was ready for her to come. She and her assistant headed over. I remember about this time feeling intense energy and it was quite overwhelming. I was getting very vocal and loud.

When my midwife came in, she prayed over me and told me where to release the energy in an effective way by vocalizing in a low/deep tone. What a difference that made. I really wanted to scream the pain away, but with the direction from my midwife I was able to welcome the pain and release the intense energy in an effective way. That is what gets me through the rest of my labor.

I ended up moving to my bed to lay down and rest. Contractions spaced out to allow me to doze and get some sleep. I held on to my mom’s hand and squeezed for every contraction. After an hour or so, I was up and ready to get back to business. I labored all over my room and in the tub. Mom made me some breakfast-eggs and hash browns. I layed down again and was able to get a good sleep. I decided to not vocalize and just relax during my contractions. That was hard, but I needed the sleep.

Around 9am, I got up and decided I was ready for a check. I NEEDED to know at this point what progress had been made. My midwife said that I was about 7cm. Yay! To me, that was a good thing. I had only progressed to 6 cm with Alana, so I was happy to be past that hurdle. It was just what I needed to hear to keep me going. My midwife needed to head out for a little while and so did my mom, sisters and Jessica. It allowed me to focus on getting busy with labor.

My mom and sister Kimberly came back around 1 pm and started timing my contractions. I was in the tub, on my knees, hanging over the side and contractions started getting closer, longer and more intense. I held on to my mom for every contraction. My almost 4 year old daughter pretty much stayed in my room. She was amazing. I rubbed my knees raw from staying in this position for so long. There was lots of pressure in my bottom and at the peak of my contractions, I wanted to push. It was so intense, its all I could do. We called the midwife and she was on her way.

About this time, it started to storm outside. It was really cool. I walked the hall, did some laboring on the toilet and would hang from mom’s neck. Midwife got there and I asked her to check me and she said I still have a rim of cervix (9cm) and that I would need to relax through contractions to melt it. “Yeah right!” is what I thought. She said another option was she could hold the cervix while I push the baby past it. I told her I would try “relaxing” to melt the cervix.

Well, an hour later, I hit my wall. I started having thoughts of going to the hospital. I just couldn’t go on. I was exhausted and there needed to be progress. So I yelled down the stairs to my midwife that I would like her to hold it back. She came upstairs and got prepped. She warned me that it would hurt. I didn’t care. What could hurt worse than those contractions? I got propped up in my bed with Callie and Jessica holding each of my legs, while my midwife massaged cervix in between contractions and held it up while I pushed during contractions. It was so hard finding the right place to push. Thank goodness I even had the urge to push. I pushed 4 times per contraction and pushed hard and at one point the assistant told me to hold my breath while pushing. I tried it once and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath in time for the next push so decided that wouldn’t work and I needed to blow air out while pushing.

During this time, I was fed yogurt and drinking Recharge and Emegen-C to keep me fueled. I think I even apologized for any toots I couldn’t hold in. LOL. Finally, the cervix was gone and his head was low enough that I was able to get into a different position.

I head straight for the toilet.  It’s amazing how intense the urge to push is. Our bodies our amazing in that it just takes over and you don’t have a choice. While sitting on the toilet, I was hugging the assistant and my mom and reaching for my midwife’s hand. I think I was reaching for help, for someone to just take the intensity away. For whatever reason, it made sense at the time. I really used some muscles in my body as I was hugging on them hard. I remember saying out loud “I can’t” and the assistant saying back to me, “but you are”. That was powerful and gave me the push to keep going (not like I had a choice, but I was able to rationalize it in my head to keep going).

Some of this is really hazy and I don’t remember much detail, but at this point I was sooo hot and sweaty. I asked for cool rags so the ladies started putting cold rags on me. Then I got in the tub in a reclining position and was still cooking so they brought in a fan and aimed it right at me. I pushed and pushed, then got onto my knees to hang over the side of the tub. I had Callie put counter pressure on my lower back and that was AMAZING relief. I could feel the head come down low during pushing and then suck back up in between contractions.

Midwives suggested moving into different pushing positions since its like trying to cork screw the baby out. So I said I wanted out of the water, but when it came time to move, I didn’t want to. The ladies said “lets go” and so I finally just did it. I really didn’t want to move in fear another contraction came while moving. I squatted on the floor at the foot of my bed and wrapped my arms over my mom and sister’s necks for support. There was a mirror on the floor so that I could see the progress. That was cool and kept me going! Then I decided I wanted to push in a reclining position on my bed. I really wanted to see the progress and my legs were tired so it was time to move.

Propped in reclining position and hanging on to my mom for dear life, I pushed and pushed. There is no pain like the ring of fire. I seriously dislike those ladies who’s babies come flying out and don’t feel the ring of fire. It’s so intense. I watched in the mirror the whole time and reached down and touched his head. It was incredible! I’m so thankful it was slow so that I could process the whole experience. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I just wanted to soak the experience in…the experience that I had longed for and what I missed with my daughter’s c-section. So even though it was painful, God knew that it needed to happen slowly. It was needed for my healing. I will never forget, I was the first one to touch my baby. I was in the moment and feeling totally connected to my unborn baby.

VBAC HBAC

My midwife suggested I grunt, to not push him out too fast and I did that to get his head out. Part of me just wanted to push hard and to get it done and over with. But I chose to ignore that thought since I really didn’t want to tear. Once his head was out (sweet relief!!), I reached down and started touching his face. I got a good minute of touching him and it was surreal. Then my last contraction came and out he came with some maneuvering by the midwives since there was a loose cord around his neck and wrapped around his body and then I reached down and pulled him up to my chest.

HBAC VBAC

He was born on Wednesday, May 19th, at 8:01pm. My sister Callie then saw his parts and announced “its a boy!” and we all squealed in delight! His apgars were 8 and 9 and he squawked when he was born and then it took him another 45 seconds or so to get out a good cry.

The “love cocktail” is real and I got to experience it with my beautiful son. I was instantly in love with him and I smelled, touched and kissed him within minutes of him being born. My daughter got to experience and watch the whole thing. She was right at my side within a minute of baby’s birth, talking and touching him. He knew who is sister was. When she talked, he looked for her and it was soothing to him. She has been so loving with him and I know that her being there for the birth, instantly bonded them. My husband had to walk out of the room because of the intensity, but I know that his heart was full and that he was happy with the outcome. And that he was a BOY!

HBAC VBAC

VBAC HBAC

HBAC VBAC

I had two small tears, one on each labia. I took the stitches in hopes of a quicker recovery. Baby boy weighed in at 9 lbs 10 oz (major shock), 22in long and a 14.5in head! Big, happy and healthy boy milked his time in mama. He came at exactly 42 weeks with no pressure from anyone to have him before then. He chose his birthday! And it took us a little over a week to choose his name, Ethan Matthew Wright. He is simply amazing!

I am forever grateful for my “hands off” midwife who became “hands on” when I needed a little bit of help at the end to get that pesky lip of cervix to move and for her patience and trust in my ability to birth my baby!!!

I also have a picture video here.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Melissa. 

That’s Why It’s Called a Birth “Preference” Instead of a “Plan”

That’s Why It’s Called a Birth “Preference” Instead of a “Plan”

I have long-struggled to like myself. I hated my body and lacked self confidence in many areas, so finding out I was pregnant just triggered a heightened sense of anxiety for me. Finding out I was diabetic at my first OB appointment made things even worse. As the doctor rattled off the list of awful things that could result, I sat there expecting each to all happen to my baby, and they would all be my fault. I wondered if I could live with myself if I caused such pain for my beautiful growing baby – macrosomia, dislocated limbs during birth, heart and spine defects, respiratory problems… One thing I had been told from the beginning – I would be induced at 38 or 39 weeks due to an increased risk of stillbirth for infants of diabetic mothers. I strongly opposed an induction but wanted to do what was best for our baby.

As the pregnancy progressed and my education on the issues increased, I became “a model patient” (the doctors’ words). My confidence grew as quickly as my sugars and A1C decreased, and for the first time in my adult life, I was actually feeling good about myself and my body. This new-found confidence gave me the ability to try new things (like yoga, which has been life-changing!) And maybe it was my “mama bear” instincts forming, but I was blessed with a feisty courage that I had not previously known to speak up for myself. Did that cause some tension between my doctors and me? Yes. Was it worth it? YES.

At that point, if I pictured our baby’s ideal birth, it would be in a peaceful environment outside of a hospital, calm, quiet, in water, with no interventions. My husband and I took a hypnoyoga birth class and hired a doula. I talked to several midwives; however, they couldn’t deliver my baby, due to the fact that I was taking insulin. I started researching natural induction methods to encourage baby out on her own. I drank red raspberry leaf tea, walked every day, faithfully attended yoga, saw my chiropractor once a week, got acupuncture, used essential oils on acupressure points, and visualized her calm, peaceful birth every chance I had. And still, the induction date (Sunday) arrived with no sign that baby Samantha was going to come out on her own.

As we walked the short hallway to the antepartum wing, I debated escaping. But I was with my husband and his mom, and really, pregnant ladies can’t run that fast. So we checked in, got settled in our room, and I was soon disappointed to learn that I wasn’t even ripe! After three doses of Misoprostol throughout the night, Resident S (that I ended up liking the most) tried and failed to insert a Foley bulb. Also throughout the night, our amazing nurse kept coming in and apologetically asking me to shift positions. He was noticing small drops in Samantha’s heart rate during the tiniest of contractions. (I wasn’t so worried, as that was a normal occurrence from the time I started attending my NSTs twice a week for the previous 2 months.) Finally, after one more dose of Misoprostol and lots of waiting, Resident K was able to get the Foley bulb in. I was hopeful that things would start happening that day (Monday), especially since they moved us to labor & delivery.

By Monday evening, the Resident K was somewhat surprised to learn that the Foley hadn’t come out on its own. So she gave it a tug and it came out…it was Pitocin time! My stomach did some flips thinking about all the stories I’d heard about the dreaded P, but at the same time I was so excited to meet Samantha and I was really ready for things to get a move on. After 24 hours in the hospital, I’d slept about 4 hours and had felt zero contractions. Thankfully we were blessed with amazing and fun nurses, which helped to pass the time. My husband put on my favorite Harry Potter movie, a few visitors came by, and we listened in excitement as the OB on call said we’d be meeting our baby by the end of the day tomorrow.

Here’s roughly how Monday night/Tuesday morning went:

Nurse: “Did you feel that contraction?”

Me: “Nope.”

Nurse: “Let me adjust the monitors; they are slipping.”

Me: “Ok.” (Try to sleep! Try to sleep!)

3 minutes later…

Nurse: “Did you feel that contraction?”

Me: “Nope.” (Try to sleep! Try to sleep!)

Nurse: “Sorry, I need you to move onto your side…her heartrate is not quite cooperating.”

(Repeat 5,000 times.)

And so it continued throughout the night. By Tuesday morning, they had adjusted the dosage of Pitocin more times that I could count – first increasing steadily, then backing off when her heartrate would drop significantly (from the 150s to the 60s…a few times it even went down to 20!) So when Resident K came in that morning, she explained that it was time to break my waters, in the hopes that things would pick up. I still hadn’t progressed beyond the 3cm that she had measured when the Foley bulb was pulled out.

After hearing her out, I told her that I wasn’t ready for them to break my waters. I explained that I was aware of the risks and benefits and that I just didn’t think it was time. (I had hoped getting up and about during the day would help things move along and that my water would break on its own. I’d given up trying to sleep by that point.) Then the OB came in and gave an even longer, guilt-laden explanation about why it was time to break my waters. She started talking about a “failed” induction. Truthfully, I wasn’t really listening. My mind was made up. Earlier my doula had prepared me for this moment and I followed her suggestion in saying to the OB, “I understand that there are risks associated with a labor that’s not progressing, but I am not ready for you to break my water. I would like to continue as things are for now, and if my baby does become truly distressed to the point where she needs to come out immediately, I know that you are very capable of performing a successful c-section very quickly.” After looking me up and down, “Um…actually for a woman your size, a c-section isn’t that quick.” If only there were words for how I felt at that moment. The only thing I managed to say was, “No. Not now.” A few tense moments later, the OB suggested that we take a break from it all. I wasn’t discharged, but they took me off all the monitors, stopped the Pitocin, and gave us 4 hours to walk around the hospital. “Just don’t go outside; it’s wet and you might fall.” (So the first thing my husband and I did after a shower was go outside. I didn’t care that it had been snowing earlier and was freezing…the fresh air felt amazing after 2 days of being cooped up in a tiny room.)

My husband and I ate some lunch, climbed (crab-walked, jumped, lunged) 10 flights of stairs, and visited the postpartum clinic to look at cute baby stuff…and not one contraction. I was so discouraged. I’d truly hoped that my body would take over and decide to bring Samantha into the world! I lost my mucous plug, but that was it. I am so thankful for the support my husband gave me during that time – he had my back through all of this and did everything he could to get me laughing and having fun. I’ve never had so much fun climbing stairs.

Defeated, we returned to the room and I told them I was ready for them to break my water. They did, and I was back on the Pitocin. Things finally picked up. OF COURSE there was meconium in the water, so I knew that she would have to come soon! As the contractions became much stronger, I bounced on the ball, walked the halls with my husband, and stayed on my feet as much as possible. Standing was the most comfortable way for me to labor, but I knew I couldn’t keep it up forever. My mom and my husband’s mom stopped by for a visit as they had each day, and it was sometime during their visit that I realized it was getting too hard to talk during the contractions. And that’s when all sense of time left me. Was it minutes before the doula came? Hours? Not sure. My contractions were lasting 40-60 seconds and coming a minute or less apart. Sometimes there was no break between them at all. Things picked up quickly and soon I wasn’t able to stand through the contractions. My doula suggested kneeling over the back of the bed so I could rest between contractions. How long had it been since I’d slept? Probably Sunday night. I was exhausted. And these contractions were no joke! And my back…my lower back started hurting so bad. Counter-pressure on my sacrum did nothing, hip squeezes did very little. But I was able to turn inward as I’d been practicing and breathe, focus. Through the toughest moments, I could also hear Samantha’s heartrate dropping. A few times during those drops, I panicked inside and I’d lose control. I felt myself crying out or breathing too quickly. I started to feel like I couldn’t do it. Finally, I asked to get in the tub, and the hot water felt amazing. My husband faithfully knelt by, feeding me ice and refilling the leaking tub.

At some point, I fell asleep. (My husband said I was even snoring and he was so relieved that I was getting rest.)  Maybe it was only for a second, but I felt so much better. Sure, some of it was the hot water, but mostly it was because my labor had slowed down considerably. Samantha’s heart rate had continued to drop with the big contractions so they were decreasing the Pitocin drip. Meanwhile, I heard some commotion outside the bathroom – my doula was packing up our stuff! The charge nurse had decided that she wanted to close the wing we were on, as there were only 3 other patients on the floor. My husband protested, asking her if she really felt like it was right to move a woman in labor. She relented and told us we could stay. Calmly explaining the situation, my doula told me what was happening and how they had already packed up everything, but we could stay if I wanted. She also suggested that walking to the other wing might help move things along without the help of the Pitocin. That seemed appealing, so they helped me out of the tub. I remember thinking it was funny that they were trying to help me into a gown…at that point I didn’t even care what anyone in the hallway saw.

As we walked through the corridors between the two L&D floors, I stopped to squat through each contraction. By the time we were almost to our new room, I was approached by Resident S.

“Things just really aren’t moving along like we thought they would, and Samantha is in quite a bit of distress during your contractions,” she explained. As I attempted to wrap my sleep-deprived mind around what she was trying to say, I remember sinking onto the bed and asking, “If you can give me advice, what would you do?”

After a long pause, a big sigh, and a bit of a frown, she said, “Well, I think I would have a c-section.” She really knew it wasn’t what I wanted, and I trusted her that at this point it was the best option for Samantha.

It’s shocking how fast you get prepped for a c-section. It seemed like only minutes went by before I’d expressed my “demands” (drop the curtain as soon as she’s coming out, immediate skin-to-skin with me or my husband if I wasn’t able…) and asked questions about the surgery, met the anesthesiologist, and walked to the OR. My doula and husband were both with me the entire time, which was incredibly comforting. The worst part of the surgery was the uncontrollable shaking! I felt a sense of calm going into this surgery, because I knew I was going to meet our dear, sweet baby so soon.

It’s just like they described…it feels like someone’s sitting on your chest. At one point I felt nauseated, several times I felt like I was hyperventilating, and the whole time I was shaking uncontrollably. But then I heard someone say “She’s out!” and I tried to wave my useless arms around and tell the anesthesiologist to move the curtain. I desperately tried to see my baby girl being lifted into the world, but I only saw her once the doctor was carrying her over to the warming table. It felt like an eternity that they were looking her over, and I was calling out “Is she ok? Why isn’t she crying? Stop wiping her down! Just bring her over here!” My doula reassured me that it was only a minute or two, but I was just so ready to hold her! My husband cut the cord and carried her to me. At that moment, I absolutely lost it. I was sobbing, still shaking, and loving my little girl in a way that I’d never thought possible. She was 5 pounds, 14 ounces of pure, seriously adorable perfection

My husband and I had joked throughout the pregnancy that Samantha was a stubborn girl. She just wasn’t ready to come out and wasn’t going to let someone make her! Born on International Women’s Day, Samantha came out literally holding her head up, quietly observing the world around her. My prayer for our sweet girl is that she will grow up a strong woman with the confidence that I only found once I became her mother.

_____

Every time my husband proudly handed off the stunning visual birth plan that I’d designed and he laminated, we’d joke that it was only a birth “preference” because we know that things can’t always go as planned. It still feels like the only thing that went as planned was that our little girl was born, happy and healthy. Today, her 2 month birthday, I’m still struggling with that. And I anticipate that I will continue to struggle for quite awhile. After a bout of high blood pressure and worries of postpartum preeclampsia, extremely low milk production despite 7 weeks of my best efforts and awful-tasting supplements, complications with my incision (two pinky-finger deep holes that aren’t not healing), and postpartum depression and anxiety, I look down at the often smiling face of our sweet Samantha and know it’ll all be ok.


Photo by Tricia Croom – Doula Services.

Photo by Bella Baby Photography.

Birth experience submitted by Melissa Rogers.

Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) & My Gentle, Family-Centered Preemie C-section

Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) & My Gentle, Family-Centered Preemie C-section

I had a typical, healthy pregnancy with my daughter, Priya, until I didn’t. Late in my pregnancy, I became very itchy, my urine was dark in color, I was overly tired and frequently nauseous. I had lamented to friends and family about how I was feeling but was typically met with well-meaning encouragement. I heard things like, “You’re pregnant and chasing a toddler around; of course you are tired!” or, “It’s common to experience itchiness and nausea in your third trimester.” Yet, I could not shake this feeling that something was off.

I started to research my symptoms and came across something called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP). As I quickly scanned the information, I knew in my heart I had this condition. As I read more, my worry began to increase. The treatment for this condition is to be on a medication that keeps your elevated bile acid levels from harming your baby, accompanied by frequent NST and ultrasounds to monitor the baby, and finally a delivery no later then 38 weeks, my worry grew because I was already over 35 weeks, and when left untreated, the complications can be serious and delivering past 38 weeks has a stillborn rate of 15 percent. Thankfully, I have a provider who excels at really listening to their patients, and when I called with my concerns, they saw me immediately. When I brought this up to him, he ordered the blood test and said they would call with results.

At 35w6d I laid down for bed. Anxious thoughts about receiving my test results the next day filled my head when I realized my baby was quiet. Where the usual kicks and tumbles that kept me up for an hour at bed time every single night, I was met with stillness. I did all the tricks to try and provoke some movement…nothing. Because we were waiting on the results of the blood test, and knowing what complications could arise with this condition, I didn’t want to take any chances, so we headed into Labor & Delivery.

Thankfully, our baby was looking great on the monitors, but right before being discharged by a nurse, my OB caught that the test results had come in. He told me what I had already known in my gut. That my bile acid levels were elevated above 10, which indicated a diagnosis of Cholestasis and that he would need to admit me and deliver her within 12 hours. He said waiting another week when we have had no treatment on board was not safe for her any longer and that she needed out very soon. Thankfully, the whole week I was waiting on my test results I had prepared myself for this scenario and even told my husband on the way to L&D that “I think we are having this baby in the next 24 hours.” So the shock I experienced was minimal.

Because of my previous emergency C-sections, her decreased movements, and the fact that my body had been essentially slowly poisoning her, we opted for a gentle cesarean instead of inducing labor to decrease the amount of stress she would experience during birth.

I have to admit, I mourned the birth I had been preparing and longed for. I had chosen a doula and had put in all the leg work to have my VBAC but sometimes birth plans and birthing your baby safely are not the same thing. Once I knew I would not get my VBAC, I was clear about my desire for a gentle cesarean. My provider explained that a cesarean with a preemie is unpredictable, but as long as she was doing well once she was earthside, my requests would be honored.

My birth plan requested the following:

• I did not want any medication that would make me drowsy for my birth.
• I wanted the radio on to help relax me while in the OR.
• I did not want any drape. I wanted to see my daughter being brought into the world. (This request was met with the exception of needing an air-filled warmer for her on top of us.)
• As long as she was breathing well on her own, I wanted skin to skin immediately in the OR.
• I wanted delayed cord clamping so she could receive her own vital stem cells, red blood cells, iron, and regain her full blood volume.
• I requested that she not be bathed at all but that the vernix should be rubbed in to aide in moisturizing her skin and help protect against infection.
• I wanted my catheter and IVs be removed as soon as possible.
• I requested breastfeeding-safe medication.
• I wanted the support of a lactation team to help me with the learning curve of breastfeeding a preemie and that she would also be evaluated for a lip and tongue tie.

My birth with Priya taught me three important things: First, to always trust your gut. When something feels off to you, listen to your body. Trust your God-given mama instincts. NO ONE knows your body and your baby better then you. Second, find a provider that supports you. Having a birth care provider who listens to you and supports you fully, even during less than ideal birth circumstances like this, makes all the difference in the world. Third, even if you have a less than ideal birth (like my four weeks early, emergent C-section), you can still have a birth that is a healing experience if you feel heard, understood, and your wishes have been respected. Though my story did not look the way I thought it would, I walked away from my less than ideal birth feeling at peace because my providers did everything in their power to give me the birthing experience I desired, and for that I am forever thankful.

If you or someone you know is experiencing itchiness while pregnant, please talk to your provider. Cholestasis of pregnancy, when treated correctly, almost always leads to healthy babies; but when left untreated, it can have devastating consequences. If you feel you are not receiving proper care or support or would like to be informed about this condition, please check this group for the most updated evidence-based research. This is a foundation that brings awareness and proper information to women dealing with this.

Experience and photographs submitted by Emily Russo. 

From Traumatic Cesarean to Postpartum Depression {Trigger Warning}

From Traumatic Cesarean to Postpartum Depression {Trigger Warning}

(Do not read this birth story if Cesarean birth trauma will disturb you.)

My entire pregnancy was hard, I was sick the first and last trimester. I struggled with even going to work daily. I pretty much lived off of Shells and Cheese for weeks at a time. I tried it all, peppermint oil, sea band and even took medicine from my doctor.

I went into pre-term labor at 29 weeks; the physician gave me a shot to stop the contractions along with an Rx to take daily. I went in at 38 weeks and nothing had changed, my OB knew I was miserable. Caleb was head down; I was swollen and taking hot Epson salt bath every night. That day she scheduled me to be induced, told me to report to the L&D at 5 p.m. on Monday, January 30th.

I took that week off work and planned any last minute things that needed to be done as well as house cleaning. Sunday night Pat & I had a date night in and just enjoyed each other’s company. I woke up at 3 a.m. in sharp pains, I took a hot bath but nothing helped. I called the doctor and we decided to wait as long as we could. My contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart at 8 a.m. they started to be 3-5 minutes apart and we headed to the hospital.

I arrived at the hospital and I was 2 ½ cm dilated. They let me stay and decided to start the IV and Pitocin. My contractions came with full force about 10 minutes afterwards. They checked and I was 4 ½ cm and begging for my epidural, mind you I had all intentions of natural birth! I got my epidural and my contractions were so fast the slowed the medicine down. Once I got to 5 cm I stalled. The baby was healthy and happy but me not so much. My labor had come to a halt! The night was long, we tried to rest and asked for no visitors. Tuesday morning came and I had finally made it to 8 cm and 75% effaced. They had me turn on my side, put the peanut ball underneath me and had me to everything but stand on my head!

My OB came in at noon and broke my water. I begged her to take the baby then but since I had come so far and she knew how bad I wanted to try and have him we decided to keep going. At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31st I had finally reached 10 cm and 100% effaced! I started pushing! I had never been more excited in my life. It felt so good to push.

After pushing for an hour they called the OB. Caleb was crowning but face up. They tried to get him to turn and he is stubborn like his Mommy and wasn’t having it.

Around 5:30 p.m. my OB said “I don’t like this, we’re going to have to take him.”

I wasn’t scared at all; I was ready to hold my precious little boy in my arms!

Dad scrubbed up and they raced me down the hallways (have I mentioned I work at this hospital as well?). I knew everyone on my team; I was so comfortable having them all by myside.

They wheeled me into the OR and started prepping me, Pat met me in there and him and I were just talking away. I felt some pressure but nothing that I couldn’t handle; after all I had been in labor for almost 37 hours!

At 5:47 p.m. my son was born, he weighed 7lbs 15oz & 21 inches long! My husband and I both cried the first time we heard him. It was the most amazing feeling in the whole wide world. But that is where my journey had just begun.

They brought Caleb over to me and let me see him for the first time, I kissed him and the nurse said Daddy and baby would meet up with me later. I remember asking the OB if I was okay and I got no response. Next thing I knew I was waking up 6 ½ hours later in recovery!

The OB had cut my bladder during my C-Section & it had to be repaired along with me bleeding out. I woke up in recovery with a SP tube, drainage tube and foley cath. I had never been so scared in my entire life. I got to my room about 3 a.m. on Wednesday; I went into shock around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning due to blood loss and loss of electrolytes. I stayed in the hospital for a week; I did not get up out of bed until the 4th day. I received 2 units of blood, magnesium and potassium several times a day until they could get my levels up.

I had my drainage tube removed on the 4th day, foley on the 5th day. I went home with my SP tube for 6 weeks. I wasn’t allowed to pick my son up for 6 weeks. My mom came to visit for two weeks and my mother-in-law flew in from California and stayed a month with us.

I had my SP removed on March 7th and also found out that I had an issue with me left kidney due to the surgery. That’s when the postpartum depression took over. I had signs up it beforehand but thought it was just due to having the trauma of what all had happened. I had been having some blood pressure issues and sever weight loss due to being severely malnourished.

I went to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack to later find out it was a post-partum anxiety attack. I seen my OB the next day. Whom I must add has taken excellent care of me during all of this. It took me a few weeks to get back to “normal” and I’m still not certain I’m there yet but postpartum depression is REAL. I had heard about it before but never understood it. I was so disconnected from the world, my life, even my own son. It was scary! I look at him now and I can’t imagine that I felt so disconnected. I pray that he doesn’t remember it or felt any of it at all.

I found out on May 24th I would have to have a stent placed in my left kidney. The doctor is very hopefully this will correct the issue.

I look at my scars (pictured below & took a lot of courage) & stretch marks daily, some days I don’t want to look at them. I can’t stand for my husband to see them or touch them but he loves me, he loves them, he loves that OUR son came from all of that.
Not a day do I regret it or wish I could change it. Everything happens for a reason & God blessed us with a healthy, beautiful baby boy!

But always remember to stay strong; being a new mom is hard enough, don’t make it harder for yourself! Embarce your scars! Let your husband tell you how beautiful you are with them and your stretchmarks! You’re super woman and don’t let anyone tell you any different!

Story and photo submitted by Lorie W. 

5 Twin Birth Stories – Variations of Normal

5 Twin Birth Stories – Variations of Normal

A Birth Story of Twins {IVF}

The first week was hospital bed rest and I begged to go home. Around then is when my husband was able to feel the boys kick, so it was then more early tracking to be told that the hospital doubted I would be carrying them past 22 weeks. Well, they sent me home on strict bed rest and had to make appointments with my MFM to see him once a week. We lived 45-50 minutes from the MFM and the hospital we were planning on delivering at.

Twins Born at 27 Weeks {A Mother’s Story of the NICU and Coping}

I had a doctor appointment that morning. I was so excited because it was an ultrasound appointment and I was going to get to see my little boogers. I met with the doctor after the appointment and he kept me a little longer because he was afraid that I had twin to twin transfusion. They tried to hook me up to heart rate monitors but said I wasn’t far enough along for them to work…. So he sent me on my way and made an appointment for the following week.

C-Section for High-Risk Twins

There are many aspects of my pregnancy which I did not share because I was scared to do so. I did not want to fall apart every time someone asked me about it. There were only a few people who knew what we were going through, not even all of our families knew.

Simple Hospital Birth of Twins

Today is officially my due date so I thought… no better time to post my birth story. It’s taken me a while to get into a groove and to be honest, it’s taken me even longer to wrap my brain around all the events that transpired. Alas, here it is…

Traumatic First Birth Followed by an Empowered Surrogacy Birth of Twins

I was scared, I was tired, and I felt like I was drowning. I sobbed and begged to be admitted. I had hardly slept in days and wanted something to take the edge off. They agreed to keep me over night and give me a dose of Stadol. After it wore off, I danced, rocked on all fours in the shower and I vocalized with determination in the dark until sunrise.

Overcoming Placenta Previa, NICU, & Hospital Policies to Birth a Beautiful, Healthy Baby Boy

Overcoming Placenta Previa, NICU, & Hospital Policies to Birth a Beautiful, Healthy Baby Boy

I was 16 weeks pregnant when I thought I was miscarrying. It would be my second miscarriage. I was on a business trip in Minneapolis, 750 miles from my home in NE Ohio. Seven hundred fifty miles from my husband and family. As soon as my plane landed, I realized I was bleeding more heavily than the light spotting I left home with earlier that morning. My cramps were worsening. I climbed into a taxi and awkwardly told the driver I needed to get it the nearest ER as I texted my husband the warning that I thought I was losing our baby.

I managed to hold back tears until I entered the ER and started to explain my situation to the registration desk. I was immediately offered a wheel chair and whisked back to a room. After a painful internal exam, I was finally taken to have an ultrasound. My baby looked great. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. I texted my husband the good news as soon as I made it back to my room in the ER. He had been an emotional mess, frantically searching for airfare to Minneapolis as we tried to determine whether he should come out to be with me.

The doctor came in a short while after my ultrasound and confirmed I had placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta forms low in the uterus and fully or partially covers the cervical opening. I was told that ninety percent of previa cases resolve on their own as the baby and uterus continue to grow throughout pregnancy. If unresolved by late pregnancy, however, I was destined for a scheduled c-section around 37 weeks. Women with placenta previa have a high risk of bleeding with labor and delivery. To avoid hemorrhage, previa cases are typically delivered via c-section before a woman has the chance to go into natural labor. I was diagnosed with a marginal previa, the least severe and most likely to resolve. My baby’s placenta was on the very edge of the cervix, but not quite covering the cervical opening. In partial and complete previas, the placenta partially or completely covers the cervical opening respectively, blocking baby’s way out. I was optimistic that the previa would resolve on its own so I didn’t dwell on it too much, though I was terrified of the thought of having a c-section. My first-born came into this world through a stress-free vaginal birth and I hoped my second would do the same.

At my twenty-week growth scan, I learned we were having another boy. My marginal previa persisted, though the ultrasound tech assured me I still had plenty of time for it to resolve. The rest of my second trimester went smoothly. I was insanely busy with work, helping plan for my organization’s annual conference. When the conference started, I spent the morning of the first day excitedly setting up and preparing for a full two days. By lunchtime, I was starving. I scarfed down a huge meal and had just sat down to prep for my upcoming breakout session when something felt off. I scurried to the bathroom where I realized I was bleeding. Heavily. I was 28 weeks pregnant.

I made my way back to the conference and tearfully explained my situation to my supervisor, who offered to drive me to the campus medical center (I work for one of the largest universities in the nation). I once again found myself away from home in a medical emergency. I spent the night in a hospital two hours from home as nurses and doctors monitored my bleeding. The bleeding quickly tapered and I was discharged the next evening. My baby boy was doing great, but the previa persisted.

A week and a half later, another bleed. This time, I was home. My husband left work and we rushed to our community hospital five minutes from home. I stayed overnight for monitoring. The bleeding tapered and the baby looked great, but the previa persisted. I remained optimistic that my previa would resolve and I could deliver a full-term baby vaginally. I was shocked to learn at my 32-week appointment, however, that if my previa didn’t resolve by 36 weeks my doctors would have me deliver in Cleveland or Columbus since our local hospital doesn’t have the resources for a blood transfusion. Because of the previa and because I had a posterior placenta, I had a high risk of heavy bleeding during surgery. My doctors explained that they were more comfortable having me deliver in a hospital that could better handle a blood transfusion.

As I tried to wrap my head around the idea of having a c-section two hours from home with a doctor I never met, I still tried to remain optimistic that the previa would resolve. My optimism came to a screeching halt, however, when I was 35 weeks pregnant. I had just arrived home from teaching my last big program before maternity leave. I was tired and contracting every 2-3 minutes. The contractions were normal for me. I was diagnosed with irritable uterus earlier in the pregnancy and suffered from periodic episodes of regular contractions. I crawled into bed hoping for a decent night’s rest. Within 20 minutes, I felt a gush of fluid. I thought my water had broken.

I made my way to the bathroom where I realized the gush of fluid was blood. My husband and I woke my two-year old son, Milo, and loaded him in the car before making our way to the hospital. Upon entering the labor and delivery unit, the nurses at the registration desk notified us that the hospital had a restriction on children under 14 due to RSV. Despite telling the nurses that my in-laws were currently on their way to get my son, we were told my son would have to leave. The hospital refused to allow my son to stay in my private room for the hour it would take for my in-laws to drive to the hospital. I refused to be admitted without my husband by my side so we angrily left and decided to drive an hour to a larger city hospital, where my family could be together. At this point, I was still operating under the assumption that, like my previous bleeds, I would spend the night in the hospital and be discharged the next day.

We arrived at Akron City Hospital and I was quickly taken to labor and delivery triage. I was hooked up to the monitors the doctor performed an excruciating internal exam. After looking at my records and consulting with my OBGYN over the phone, the doctor advised that I would need a c-section. We assumed we could wait until morning (it was about midnight at this point), but the doctor explained they were going to start prepping me for surgery and I would deliver within the hour. I tearfully called my parents to let them know we were having a baby as my in-laws made their way to the hospital to pick up Milo.

Before I had time to process what was happening, my beautiful baby boy was born. Doctors held him above the drape just long enough for me to catch a glimpse of his face before he was whisked away. He was taken to the NICU for what we hoped would be a short transition. I remained in surgery with my husband by my side as doctors began to close my incision. I was losing a lot of blood and I remember feeling lightheaded and nauseous throughout the almost hour it took to put me back together. Once in recovery, I continued to lose blood. Each time the nurse massaged my uterus, more blood would pour out. I begged to see my baby, but was told I would have to wait until the bleeding subsided and the feeling in my legs returned before I could go to the NICU. At one point, the doctor came into recovery to break the news that I would need to go back into surgery and have a D&C under full anesthesia to stop the bleeding. I tearfully asked if I could see my baby boy before surgery. The nurses graciously wheeled my bed into the NICU where I was able to see and touch my boy for the first time. At this point, it was about 6 hours after delivery. Little Leo was in an isolette with tubes and wires covering his little body. He was 5lbs 8oz.

After holding his hand for a short while, my doctor advised me that they would try an injection of Methergine, a drug meant to help the uterus contract, before taking me back to surgery. Fortunately, after several injections of Methergine and lots of massaging later, I stopped bleeding enough to be taken to a room. At some point amidst the chaos of the early morning, we were told that Leo had been admitted to the NICU rather than just being there to transition to the well baby nursery. When asked how long he could be in NICU, doctors told us it could be one week or three, depending on how well he does.

Leo would spend two full weeks in the NICU as a “feeder/grower.” He didn’t have the stamina to take a full feed by mouth so much of his food was given via a feeding tube. My milk supply was very slow to come in, most likely due to a combination of blood loss and stress. Our hospital did not offer a guest room program for parents of NICU babies, so once discharged, I would not have had a room to stay in while Leo was in the hospital. I would not have a private bathroom, a shower, or a bed and I didn’t have time between feedings to go home since we lived an hour away and I was attempting to nurse every three hours for each feeding. In addition to having no guest room program, the NICU lacked a bathroom (parents had to go to the hospital lobby to use the bathroom) and although I was told I was welcome to stay at Leo’s bedside, I barely had room to recline my chair. The facilities weren’t exactly parent-friendly, especially for any mother dedicated to breastfeeding her baby around the clock.

After conversations with numerous nurses and doctors, I was allowed to stay in my hospital room for three nights beyond discharge at no cost. While I was appreciative of the accommodations, I was reminded multiple times each day of how lucky I was for the hospital to have made “unprecedented” accommodations for me. The floor was half-empty for the length of my stay, so I couldn’t fully understand why it was such a big deal. For three days, I worried non-stop that I would lose my room. During that time, Leo’s NICU doctor attempted to facilitate a transfer to our local community hospital in Wooster so we could be close to home. Our local hospital has a “special care nursery,” which is a step-down from a NICU. Wooster, however, only has five beds and they were full. It would take three days for a bed to open and for us to be transferred. Ironically, once transferred, we were the only family in the nursery for the remainder of Leo’s stay. The space we had in Wooster was massive compared to what we had in the NICU at Akron. The lights were dimmable and noise was kept to a minimum, which allowed for my family to get much needed rest. I was also provided a free room and two free meals per day since I was breastfeeding (Akron also offered two free meals per day for breastfeeding mamas).

After one week in the NICU at Akron and one week in the special care nursery at Wooster, Leo was discharged. He was finally taking all his feeds orally. In a matter of 48 hours, we went from thinking we’d be stuck in the hospital forever to preparing to come home. We were elated that Milo would finally be able to meet his baby brother and we could return to some sense of normalcy.

Although hospital policies made our first week in NICU a nightmare, the nurses and doctors that cared for me and Leo were nothing short of amazing. It’s a shame that hospital policies prevent staff from subjectively assessing each patient’s unique situation. From not allowing our son, Milo, in our local hospital for an hour while my in-laws made their way to pick him up to making me fight for a guest room so I could be near my son in the NICU at Akron while I continued to recover from my c-section, stagnant policies added unneeded stress to our already stressful situation.

In the end, Leo is a beautiful, healthy baby boy. He’s eating well and gaining weight accordingly. Our nurses and doctors listened to our concerns, provided emotional support, and fought to have our needs met and for that we are forever grateful.

Story and photographs submitted by Danae W. 

NICU, Transfusions, & the Prepared Doctor: A Triplet Birth Story

NICU, Transfusions, & the Prepared Doctor: A Triplet Birth Story

I knew pretty early into my triplet pregnancy that a C-section would likely be my birth story. And honestly, I was perfectly fine with that. After struggling for so long to have a child of my own, I didn’t care too much whether I delivered vaginally, naturally, cesarean–I just wanted my babies to be healthy. And I was beyond grateful that I had life growing inside my womb.

My pregnancy was a breeze for triplets. I had no morning sickness and felt pretty good the majority of my pregnancy. I had a cerclage at 14 weeks to help my cervix stretch to help keep my babies in me as long as possible. I was put on strict bed rest at 27 weeks and managed to make it to 34 weeks 1 day. My pregnancy was nothing short of a miracle. In fact my initial Doctor believed I would have an unsuccessful triplet pregnancy. According to her, I was “too short, too thin, and it was my first pregnancy.” I learned pretty quick to find Doctors who supported me throughout my journey who were supportive of my situation and willing to help me have a successful pregnancy. Not only did I find a Perinatologist who delivered my miracle babies, but she saved my life too.

Delivery Day finally arrived.

After my Doctor did an ultrasound and checked on each baby and the remaining fluid in each sac, my Doctor told me “You can go a few more days if you want to.” But I absolutely didn’t want to. My body was tired and the pressure of carrying my tiny humans was a lot on my body.

All of our family waited at the hospital with extreme anticipation to meet the newest additions. This meant a lot to me. My husband was finally taken back to a room in the OR while our nurses and Doctors prepped me. And my Mom waited in the recovery room so I could have someone with me after the babies came.

I remember walking into the delivery room. It was hard to walk because the pressure of the triplets felt heavy. My heart was so full of anticipation and excitement. After the spinal block and prep, my husband finally came in. I was feeling numb and a bit shaky, which I didn’t know would happen, but other than that I really couldn’t feel much. I felt better having my husband there with me holding my hand. He stared directly into my eyes and told how beautiful I was. I could feel the joy in him. He was about to become a Dad.

In a matter of moments, I felt a tug as my Doctor was about to deliver our daughter, Charlize. “I think something is happening,” I told my husband. And in that second Charlize was born. Our Doctor held her up for a quick second. She was beautiful with dark hair and bigger than what I expected. Our Doctor then pulled out Sawyer, I didn’t get to see him. And then finally, Jax. When she showed me Jax I thought he had the cutest little nose I had ever seen. The NICU team was moving quickly to stabilize them and see what their needs were. My husband walked across the room to dote on the newest loves in our lives. My heart felt so satisfied. I was finally a Mom.

I was kind of going in and out. My husband headed to the NICU to be with the babies while my Doctor stitched me up. I woke up in the recovery room with my Mom and my labor and delivery nurses. I kept asking for pictures of my babies but there was a mix up and Mom didn’t have her phone. It wasn’t long after that that my world became a blur and my memory of my delivery became more of a fog and what I was told happened rather than what I remember.

Every so often my nurse would press on my stomach to make sure my uterus was contracting back to it’s original size. This was incredibly painful. I do remember that. My Mom told me I would squeeze her hand so tight it turned deep red. I could barely keep me eyes open. Blood clots the size of golf balls were coming out of me. My Mom knew something was wrong. I was losing a lot of blood. My nurses called my Doctor who agreed that the situation was life threatening and I needed to get back to surgery right away. It was a whirlwind. And my poor Mom was in the midst of it all.

“I need an OR. If it is not available we are going to have to do this now, right here” My Doctor said as she turned to my Mom. “Please go find Ryan and pray. She has lost a lot of blood.”

I was rushed back to the OR. My Doctor needed to stop the bleeding and I needed blood transfusions. I was experiencing uterine atony, which lead to excessive hemorrhaging. My mom had to tell my family what was happening. My husband was in the NICU at the time, along with my sister and her husband. He was beaming as he walked toward her, she said. Talk about a high of highs and in an instant low of lows.

Fortunately, my Doctor was really prepared. I remember prior to my delivery she talked about the risks of delivering triplets, she mentioned I was high risk for uterine atony and that it could lead to death. I thought nothing of it. I just never thought it would happen to me. My Doctor, even prior to my c-section, had my blood type ready for me in case I needed transfusions and thank God she did because they had to move quickly to stop the bleeding and stabilize me.

It was hours later when I woke up in the recovery room. I was so thirsty and my husband was feeding me ice chips. I couldn’t even keep my head up to look at him, I was just so tired and really had no idea what had happened to me. Nurses checked on me all throughout the night taking blood, re-bandaging my c-section wound, and changing my hospital underwear and padding. It hurt every single time. My body was so weak. My husband slept next to me on the couch and left every hour or so to go check on the triplets.

In the morning our Doctor came in to share with me what had happened. I could barely keep my eyes awake to really understand. At one point I even said “I am so sorry I am trying really hard to pay attention but I just can’t keep my eyes open.” I lost two liters of blood that night. I could have died. My Doctor inserted a vaginal pack to help stop the bleeding. And I have experienced nothing more painful in my life than having it removed.

Nearly a day had passed and I was desperate to meet my babies. I was so weak, but I knew I had to use all the strength I could to somehow get out of my bed and get over to the NICU to meet my long awaited miracle babies. With the help of one of my labor and delivery nurses, she was able to help me get to a wheel chair. The heart of this nurse in particular was like nothing I have seen before. She was with me the night before and stayed after her shift just to make sure I was okay. She was determined to help me get to the NICU. I remember crying through every movement as my nurse helped me to the wheelchair. “We don’t have to do this now, if it is too much.” She told me. But I needed to meet my babies. I needed to see them, to hold them. My nurse wheeled me into their NICU room with my husband right beside me. Talk about a moment. I don’t think I ever understood the power of love until I for the first time finally met my hope babies. They were so wanted, so loved, and they were finally here. I first saw Sawyer, then Charlize, and finally Jax. My heart was truly overwhelmed with some of the greatest love I have ever felt. I was able to hold Charlize and Sawyer. We had to wait a couple days to hold Jax because he needed breathing treatment. The triplets were healthy for the most part. All weighed about 5 pounds each and needed to work on growing and feeding. One of the hardest things I experienced in my first days as a Mother was leaving them in the NICU. I ugly cried the whole drive home. I knew they were in the best of hands. I firmly believe NICU nurses are angels. The triplets only spent two weeks in the NICU and all came home with us on the same day.

My birth story was not what I imagined it would be and I wish I could remember more, but it is my story and it has made me a stronger woman. I know how terrifying the situation must have been for my husband, for my family. However, for myself, I think it took me some time to realize and understand how terrifying the experience really was. My birth story could be considered traumatic and truthfully, if my Doctor wasn’t so prepared I could have died. Thankfully, I had nothing to compare it to and because I was so out of it, a lot of my delivery and the days following are kind of a blur. Even those moments I met my babies are fuzzy. However, nothing can take away that overwhelming feeling of love that was planted in my heart the moment I became a Mother. I brought life into this world, three lives. I am proud of my journey. I am proud of my story and what my body did. I could never repay my amazing Doctor who took care of me so well throughout my whole pregnancy and delivery.

Being a Mother is undoubtably one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced. My journey to become a Mother is one of Hope. And my heart rejoices in this absolutely undeniable love I share day in and day out with three of the most precious tiny humans!​

Story and photographs submitted by Desiree Fortin

Laughing Gas, a Cesarean, and a Double-Edged Sword

Laughing Gas, a Cesarean, and a Double-Edged Sword

Saturday morning, June 1, 2015, I wake up with this crazy urge to pee.

I get up, or rather I roll out of bed and head to the bathroom (I am on my 38th week of pregnancy).

Everything goes as normal, so I head back to bed.

Check the time… it’s 3:30 am.

I’m lying there WIDE awake at this point, just trying to flop around and get comfortable when I feel a small warm surge flow out of my “va-jay-jay”.

Whoa… Felt like I went an extra tinkle, it happened before.

No biggie.

Then, this warm surge happens again and once more but on the latter, it went from a wee bit more to a LOT more!

I whack my partner on the bum and say, “I think my water broke!” Of course, I have no clue and I was freaking out. Normal, right?!

I roll out of bed and the moment I stand up completely, a much larger surge flows out! Yet, I am still clueless and asking out loud if my water broke because, again, I am freaking out.

Could it be true?

Is this really happening?

I don’t know what to do, what to think and want dearly for this not to be happening.

Back to the story, I went into the bathroom to see what this was and my bottoms were fairly soaked with a slimy type substance. And as I am standing there, more is coming out.

By this time, my partner is up and waking my mom up because it’s time!

I make the call to my OB office and they said for me to come in immediately.

I change while my mom is getting ready and I am standing there chanting, “I can’t do this, please, why did I do this to myself, I don’t think I can do this!”

Over and over…

Side note: I was saying why did I do this to myself because I went through a IUI process to become pregnant.

My mom, just listening to me, calmly says, “Get in the car because I am not calling the wambulance to come get you.” Yes, mom, real funny.

Oddly enough, amongst all my chanting and on the drive, I was feeling NO pain.

When I calmed down, I was still feeling nothing. The car ride was filled with even more chanting and just talking to myself about how I can’t believe this is happening.

My mom, just smiling.

At The Hospital!

We get to the hospital and check in.

At the hospital, everyone is being so nice. Too nice. I wasn’t expecting this kind of treatment. I actually didn’t know what to expect.

All the nurses were just making sure I was as comfortable as possible. (Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA was where I had my baby girl.)

My OB came in, did the ultrasound and tested my amniotic fluid. It’s a GO!

Next I am being hooked up to all the many monitors to make sure the baby has a heart beat and mine hasn’t exploded!

Next, they need to know how far along I am. Pelvic exam.

Let me preface this by saying I am NOT a fan of pelvic exams. Who is? But for me, it’s just not a happy time for me. Painful.

So when it came time to see where I was at in dilation, well it wasn’t pleasant.

My OB attempted the exam and an epic deathly scream filled the air. Failure.

My OB walked right out of the room saying only, “get the epidural!”.

She stated I was NOT dilated past 1 cm.

As a result, the nurses had me going through a 10 hour regime of walking, squatting, bouncing on a medicine ball, hugging that medicine ball and just trying everything under the sun to get my body to dilate.

Not happening.

After all was said and done, I never dilated.

By then 15 hours passed, exhaustion set in and I was asked that dreaded question (meaning I knew it was going to be a c-section), “Do you want to have this baby?” I replied, “Yes.”

I was truly and utterly exhausted though.

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Quick side story, leading up to getting myself and the epidural ready, I was being induced with Pitocin. (My water broke only but I was not in labor. If that is even possible?!)

With being induced, I started to feel the twisting and straining of labor. Not bad until the dosage was being raised higher and higher and then the pain. I was then offered, laughing gas.

Never heard of this and surely didn’t think this would ever work for the pain of labor.

I had a myriad of questions about this but the main one, will this hurt my baby?

They assured me that inhaling this does not hurt the baby but helps with the pain.

I was given the mask and told to breath it in very deeply. I remember taking 3 deep breaths in
and on the third I felt my entire body just instantly relax.

My hand holding the mask dropped and I began to literally laugh. Laugh in a tone I have never heard before.

So loud that the nurses had to ask my mom if this was normal! It was not normal, I could not control this screeching high pitched laugh at all. I had NO control over my body.

It struck me as so funny that I could not control a thing and felt so relaxed.

Of course, here is my short video of this happening. Thanks, mom for recording this!

As you can see, I was just as fine as can be with no pain. All I could feel was extreme pressure. End quick story 🙂

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So it began, the preparation for getting ready for the c-section. Just breath, the anesthesiologist said right before he slid the needle in my lower back. I didn’t jerk nor did I feel any pain. Just a prick.

Felt like a rush of cold water flowing down my back but from the inside.

Almost immediately my legs went limp and felt as if they weighed 100 pounds each! It was the oddest feeling to see my legs yet couldn’t move them or have control.

While the team was prepping for the procedure, I started to regain feeling in my right leg. Not sure why but the anesthesiologist had said that my spine was twisted slightly in the middle of my back.

So right before I was taken into the birthing room, I had ANOTHER epidural done. I was completely numb at this point.

My legs felt like lead weights, made me laugh that I could not move them no matter how hard I tried.

Into the operating room I went with only my partner. Upsettingly, my mom was not allowed in the room.

It was a small room with white walls and 1 door in and out. I had one hand on my OB, Christina T. Thomas, M.D, the entire time. I was scared and felt so alone…

I was also administered a spinal tap at this point. I was so out of it by now that I didn’t question why I even needed that… as well as why I needed morphine.

What I Was Feeling?

I felt so drugged up and my mind was just so distant. I felt alone and so very nauseated. I was throwing up the entire time. Especially during the c-section.

The only things I was feeling physically were the shaving, the harsh pushing (she was pushing hard on my chest for a while, knocking the air our me moments at a time) and a vacuum of sorts (for the blood I am guessing).

What Was I Hearing?

The first words I heard from my OB was, “Look at all that hair!” Yes, she had a full head of hair.

Then moments later, I hear my daughter’s first sounds… her cry. The most beautiful sound I heard and I just lost it. I started asking for her and crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t see anything but my blue tarp!

Then she came around the side and was brought right to my face to kiss, feel and just love.

I almost don’t remember after this. I also never got skin to skin right away either.

I felt so sad because they took her away and I didn’t see her for almost 45 minutes later.

I was also so exhausted that I think I was sleeping most of that time, I was in and out.

Granted, post birth, the doctors had to stitch me back up, make sure I was ok and clean up but I figured I would get some time with her right away.

I felt a bit of a disconnect. Is that normal?

Overall, after all was said and done my little girl was healthy and well, just wanted to sleep.

The next 5 days were of recovery and just learning the ropes of motherhood.

I am sure that the mommy reading this knows all the highs as well as the lows.

For having a c-section, I couldn’t get out of bed for the first couple days, so thankfully my mom was a huge help with feeding, changing and caring for my baby…

I also got extremely nauseated and had vomiting for the first day post birth as well.. I couldn’t eat anything. Just drink water.

BUT loved all those nurses, all hours of the night, who brought my pain meds every 4 hours because healing from this was extremely painful.

But amongst all that pain, I had no feeling in my legs for a long while but I noticed they were put into a compression device, constantly being massaged to keep blood flowing for a good 24 hours post birth.

It did feel good and after the feeling came back into my legs I was instructed to begin walking around… noting that my feet would most likely begin to swell.

It was a double-edged sword here because when I would walk, my feet became so swollen that it merged with the width of my calf!

Then they told me to put my feet up but yet I was supposed to be walking as much as possible.

That double-edged sword.

Home

After this week at the hospital was over, I headed home with my new baby girl and began a life changing feat that I just absolutely love. Well, sometimes.

Anani Pearl 7 lbs. 9 oz. 20 inches long

Story and photo submitted by Toki T.

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