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Two Out Of Three Babies Born En Caul During Triplet Birth!

Two Out Of Three Babies Born En Caul During Triplet Birth!

“Awesome! Yesterday we birthed the triplets! And Joaquim was born veiled (when the waters/sac does not break). We were delighted. But then came Adeline… she was also born en caul, and left us all admiring her as she slept soundly. We stayed (that way) for 7 minutes observing her behavior as if it were still inside her belly. It’s the magic of life. The perfection of God!!” —@dr.rodrigorosa

Incrível! Ontem fizemos o parto dos trigêmeos! E o Joaquim nasceu empelicado (quando a bolsa não rompe). Ficamos encantados. Mas aí veio a Adeline ( as mulheres sempre superam os homens) e arrasou! Também nasceu empelicada e deixou todos nós a admirando enquanto dormia tranquilamente. Ficamos por 7 minutos observando o comportamento dela como se estivesse dentro da barriga ainda. É a magia da vida. A perfeição de Deus!

Sortudos por presenciarem:
@dra.julianahalleyhatty @ornellaminelli@gicassavia @katiarochafotografa@marianacaniato
#partoempelicado #triplets #trigemeos#lindodemais #obstetrafeliz#birthwithoutfear #cesareanwithoutfear#cesareanbirthisbirth#optionssupportrespect

CBAC: The Birth of Ingrid Alexandra

CBAC: The Birth of Ingrid Alexandra

In the “birthy world”, CBAC or “Cesarean Birth After Cesarean” refers to a belly birth that was initially planned to be a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). In cases like this, sometimes simply saying “repeat cesarean” negates the significance of the decision to birth again via cesarean. As someone who has personally travelled this road, I share the story of my second child’s birth, a family-centered, gentle cesarean, in the hopes that it can bring healing and comfort to others whose birth stories may not have gone *quite* as planned.

The dense heat of the Florida summer air hit my face as I opened the car door. I was parched, despite sneaking a few sips of water to keep that nasty, constant companion of heartburn at bay. At 41 weeks 1 day, I was tired. Weeks of nightly (and daily) prodromal labor had left me exhausted, depleted. My whole body ached to finally hold my little girl.

“It’s your birthday, Ingrid!”, I whispered to my swollen belly, feeling its tightness once more and pushing that obstinate little foot, always stuck in my ribs, to a more comfortable position. I grabbed my favorite pillow and reached for my husband’s steady hand before heading towards the fluorescent-lit entrance of the Family Birth Center.

She wiggled in response to my voice and moved her foot right back.

As I completed the hospital admission forms and surgical consents, my birth playlist cycled through the carefully chosen songs that I’d accumulated over the last three years. The room was filled with laughter and love, as it should be when a child is about to be born, and I was calm and content. As my dreams of having a VBAC faded into the distance, I eagerly anticipated meeting my daughter.

The nurse unhooked me from the monitors, and I maneuvered my way to the edge of the bed, dangling my legs off the side for a second before I stood. I nervously fiddled with the ties of the gown that I’d brought with me, the one that I’d purchased for her birth before she was even conceived.

It was time.

My doula and birth photographer faded into the background, as my husband and I shared one last moment together before her arrival. Always my rock, he whispered tenderly in my ear, “You’re so brave. We’re gonna meet her soon, babe.” He kissed my neck, my cheek, my lips, and I smiled at him with tears in my eyes.

I, myself, walked to the OR.

It was cold.

I awkwardly climbed onto the slim surgical table, trying to center my very pregnant self on its tiny surface while shimmying my gown up to expose my belly.

I remembered the uncontrollable shaking from last time and tried to fight it as I felt the anesthesia taking hold, moving up my lead legs and climbing towards my chest. I’d forgotten that feeling, but it came rushing back as I gasped, “I can’t breathe; I can’t breathe”, knowing full well that I could if I was saying those words.

The nurse anesthetist put her hands gently on my shoulders, and said, “Bethany, I want you to think about your baby. What’s her name? What do you think she’ll look like? Does she have any siblings?”

I inhaled deeply and intentionally, blinking furiously as tears trembled on my eyelashes. As I answered her questions, my mind began to calm once again.

Seconds later, my husband was there, stroking my shoulders, kissing my forehead, whispering words of encouragement in my ear as he sat beside me.

“Everyone’s in here,” he said, “Samantha, Cassie…just how you wanted…”

I smiled, still shaking, thankful for his presence and the stability that he brought to my soul in that moment.

I heard the door of the OR open and the chatter of familiar voices as the remnants of the surgical team assembled.

“All right, Bethany,” I heard from the other side of the drape, “You ready to meet this baby?”

I nodded: “Let’s do this.”

I grasped Doug’s hand and held tight.

I visualized the whole process in my mind as the familiar smells of surgery filled the suite. I felt the pressure of my abdomen being stretched and pulled to accommodate her entrance. It felt like an eternity. Then, finally:

“Here she comes!”

“Drop the drape! Drop the drape!”

Doug ceremoniously stood to greet her, still holding my hand.

The blue curtain was yanked down, and I strained to catch a glimpse of her as she was lifted from my belly. She cried immediately, justifiably appalled at being forced to leave the warmth and dark of my womb. Dr. Graham held her wriggling body over the limp blue curtain.

Ingrid glared at me in all her newborn glory.

“You can touch her if you want…just don’t touch me because I’m all cleaned up for surgery.”

It was surreal.

My hand trembled as I reached out to grasp her tiny, wet fingers as she enthusiastically announced her presence.

“We’re gonna take her to the warmer, dry her off so she doesn’t get too cold in here, listen to her heart real quick, and bring her right back.”

My husband followed her.

I could see her the whole time.

My doula stayed with me, stroking my hair, talking to me, telling me how beautiful Ingrid was.

Barely a minute later, I watched as Douglas carried our daughter back to me, cradling her gently in his strong, capable arms. His brilliant blue eyes, accentuated by the surgical cap and mask, sparkled with tears of joy. He helped me open my gown, snuggling her onto my chest, skin-to-skin, just minutes after her arrival.

She melted into my warmth, half-heartedly rooting, alternating between protesting her arrival and staring at me and her daddy with her dark, wise newborn eyes. I kissed her – kissed her dark hair, her perfect button nose, the sweet curve of her cupid’s bow. I felt her soft, warm skin against mine. I breathed in her smell and marveled at her tiny fingers.

I smiled.

I cried.

Douglas wiped away my tears, as we laughed together, rejoicing in our daughter’s birth.

It was perfect.

Ingrid Alexandra, our sweet girl, our strong baby, born on July 12, 2016 at 07:53.

Birth experience submitted by Bethany B. 

Photographs by Cassie Ringl of New Light Birth Photography. 

 

Birth and Children Are Not All Balloons and Roses

Birth and Children Are Not All Balloons and Roses

My twin girls were born early at 30 weeks and five days. Yesterday I saw a friend posted on Instagram, the birth of his beautiful baby girl. The pictures were incredible. His wife delivered naturally, he got to help in the delivery of his baby, and immediately after, they put their first child on her chest. Both parents were able to cherish that moment, in what seemed like a magazine article on the picture perfect child birth.

I burst out crying.

Selfishly, I was NOT crying out of happiness for them, I was crying out of sadness for myself. I had an unplanned C-section, and upon delivery my babies were immediately taken to the NICU after I had just barely had a glimpse of them. As I looked at these pictures on Instagram of my friend’s perfect birth, I realized I would never have that experience. No vaginal birth, no holding my baby and I didn’t have that immediate feeling of “LOVE like you’ve never felt before,” you know the thing that all parents talk about when they first have their child.

Instead, I spent the first 24 hours after my babies were born feeling completely disconnected as if I was watching someone else’s life happen. I didn’t feel like a mom or have an overwhelming love and connection. Instead, I felt the complete opposite. I was scared, filled with anxiety and freaking out that this is not the way I am supposed to feel after the birth of my children.

My parenting comparison had already started. I questioned everything. Asking myself, “is this how I am supposed to feel? I’ve only ever heard about the overwhelming love and joy. What is wrong with me? Is this postpartum? Is it because I didn’t do it the right way, should I have pushed more and stayed the course of a vaginal birth?”

I continued with the self-shame: I will never get the experience of holding my newborn after delivery. Will this affect them and me for the rest of our lives? What does this scar mean and how will it affect my body? How long will they be in the NICU, did I do something to make them come early… Am I going crazy?

How come no one talks about this stuff? The doubt, the unstoppable crying, the night sweats. OMG, the night sweats. After 48 hours of pure anxiety, I woke up and realized something…..

Here are these two girls who were just brought into the world who know nothing but how to wiggle their toes, while they are trying to figure out how to breathe. I am already putting the pressure on them and myself on having the perfect birth. This is how parenting shaming starts, and this is how we create unrealistic expectations for ourselves and our children. Seriously think about it, our kids start out perfectly innocent, knowing nothing. With no standard on how they are supposed to look, dress or how they were meant to be born they are just working on staying alive at this point.

A lot of us are following a program to what our life is supposed to look like and to be honest; it’s a false program. We think if we just do it right, always give 100% and make it look like it’s supposed to look, then we are successful. The fact is, no one can give 100% a 100% of the time, it’s impossible. So why are we trying so damn hard to be perfect, to one-up each other? The expectations we have accepted from what society puts on us are FALSE expectations, and we have to stop.

Birth and children are not all balloons and roses. I don’t even have my girls home, and I’m already feeling the pressure of what’s right and wrong and what feelings I’m supposed to be feeling. What about being present in the moment my girls are alive and thriving. All they need right now is support and love. They don’t care if I cry or second guess myself they care I am here holding them, reading to them, kissing them and everything else is B.S.

I am committing to a platform of raw, open and real honesty. I have done this on all my other blogs about body image, food, and alcohol and I am committing to it as a parent. I will be honest about ALL the stuff. The good, the bad and the worse because I believe as parents and as a society, we need to talk more about the hard stuff, so we know we are not alone. We have to remind each other that the “perfect family” on Facebook is NOT real life.

If we want the best for our children it has to start with us, the parents. We would never want to pass our insecurities onto our children: our body issues, food issues, and low self-esteem issues. It all starts with us leading by example, and working on our comparisons of ourselves to others.

I want to change the message. Here are three things that hit me like a ton of bricks after childbirth:

Not everyone has the initial, “love like you’ve never felt before” immediately after childbirth, and that doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. However your babies came to you and however, you feel is exactly how it is supposed to be for YOU.

Comparisons, guilt, shame, anxiety, and uncertainty all are REAL. We all have negative thoughts. Don’t keep them inside. Find a tribe or one person to talk to, or even this blog to leave a comment on. You are not alone in how you’re feeling, let it out and let’s support one another.

No one and I mean NO ONE has a grip on parenting. The person you think has it all together could be a complete mess and just scared to share the struggle. It’s time we talk about the struggle.

My birth plan was NOTHING that I thought it was going to be and you know what? It’s OK. Every day is a rollercoaster but I’m on it, embracing it and I’m mentally committing to being present in it, ALL OF IT. Even the dark stuff.

To any parent out there struggling, to anyone, anywhere struggling, with or without kids, you are not alone! I am here for you. We NEED to be here for each other. Let’s talk about the REAL stuff, let’s stop judging one another and come together. It’s time we teach the younger generation and each other that self-worth comes from what we think of ourselves, not what society has put on us. It’s time to change the conversation and lead by example.

I love you thank you for letting me continue to be honest, real, raw and open with you. Thank you for allowing me to continue to tell my story. I love each and every one of you, we are in this together!

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Jenny Schatzle

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. 

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