My Birth Journey: From Broken to Empowered

I found out I was pregnant with my first son late February of 2014. Me and my husband were so excited and filled with a range of emotions as I imagine most first time parents would be! Although excited, I quickly remembered the unwritten rule of waiting until 3 months to reveal to the world I was pregnant because after that time the rate for the chance of miscarrying would be lower. I remember telling our parents in cute little well thought out ways and then finding a birth announcement idea on Pinterest (My absolute FAVE!) to tell the rest of the world. During my pregnancy things went well up until about the start of my last trimester. My baby boy had landed on my sciatic nerve and at times it became even painful to walk. I was miserable for a couple weeks but I made it through! On top of that I completely loss my hearing in my right ear! I legit had to go and see a ENT doctor. They ran several test and the conclusion was “yup it’s gone…not sure why but this type of thing happens to a small percentage of the population” the ENT doctor stated. I was devastated thinking I was losing my hearing and would not be able to hear the sweet first cries of my baby boy! Those next few weeks were pure hell. My equilibrium was off and I often felt like I was always bracing myself for a fall. My family prayed over me as we believe in the power of prayer. Thankfully a couple weeks before my due date my hearing started to come back.

As many first time moms do I went to the hospital twice prior to my son being born. Each time they confirmed I was having contractions and had dilated 3 cm however they wanted to give me medications to induce me. I was 100% against that and wanted my baby to come when he and my body was ready. Well the third time’s a charm as it was the third visit to the hospital when I had my son….and I had him on his due date. It was a Tuesday in the early morning hours that I started having painful contractions. I had been having contractions for weeks as I later found out my son was positioned incorrectly and I was having something called cuplets (); so I never had any true relief. I labored in the bathtub, rolled around on my birthing ball and watched out sitcoms throughout the night until I could not tolerate the contractions any longer. I woke my husband, we a little breakfast, called my mom and headed to the hospital. I was checked in and put into a room around 8 AM. I met my nurse LeeAnn; she was amazing and immediately made me feel so calm and ready to get the show on the road. I was aiming for a unmedicated delivery however because of the cuplets my body never had the opportunity to rest like with normal contractions. I hesitantly requested the epidural; but once receiving it I had immediate relief. By that time I had dilated to 9 CM and it was almost showtime. Unfortunately also by that time there was something called shift change taking place and it was time for LeeAnn to go home. I panicked and remember my husband even offering to pay her to stay. She assured us we would be fine and would have an amazing delivery. So we tried to remain hopeful. However when we got our next nurse our hopefulness quickly diminished. The new nurse was nice but she was nothing like LeeAnn. There was no connection there and although essentially we were, we just felt like part of the job. When they say the energy from your birth team makes all the difference in your birth I could not agree with that statement more. I got to 10 CM and it was time to push. My doctor had just gone off of call that previous evening so I had another provider who I had just met once or twice. I hate how that works in big practices as I could honestly careless about any of the other providers as my interactions with them felt forced and cold. So mentally I was already bummed just knowing I didn’t have LeAnn or my OB-GYN there by my side. Despite all that I tried to remain positive reminding myself I would be meeting my baby boy soon and that thought trumped all the negative ones. The provider came in and checked me (I hated being “checked”) and she then broke my water (which later I learned was a no no). She then just nonchalantly left the room. She didn’t even tell me she was getting ready to do that. So invasive and careless, in my opinion. This is my body, tell me exactly what you are doing before you do it, were my thoughts in hindsight. Of course during that time someone could’ve asked me did I want an elephant to eat and I would’ve said yes, as during labor many times you are not able to think clearly and on your toes and that is another reason why having the right support and someone to advocate you there is so important (GET A DOULA)!

I began pushing and after what felt like 15 minutes I was able to see his hair. Yes, I was that mom that wanted a mirror to see what was going on! My husband had one leg and the nurse had the other, my mom was standing by my side. After what felt like hours of pushing my son had not descended any further. I was exhausted by this point and had to have oxygen applied following each push but I was determined to push through it and bring my baby earthside. Looking back I learned they should have tried to put me in different positions if they saw baby was having a hard time, however the entire time I laid in the same position (here’s another reason to hire a doula on your team). The room started to become flooded with people coming in and out and I immediately in my heart knew something was wrong. I looked at my husband and I could tell he was trying to be strong for me. My mom was doing her best as well to soothe me. The nurse even told others that came in “she’s pushing as hard and best as she can she’s exhausted…” I had been actively pushing for 3 hours. The doctor then came in and looked at me like her biology project, like I have to get this done before the deadline so let me just do anything so I can turn it in. Again just that look left me feeling more anxious and broken. She had not been back in the room since she had broken my water until now. She then said in a dispassionately fashion “I think we need to do an emergency cesarean…I mean it’s up to you…” I instantly began crying and was quickly told by her to stop because the baby could feel that and I would stress the baby more. I did the best I could to pull it all together because I didn’t want my baby stressed (another reason you need a doula). My mom was pissed as all these people flooded around me and started stripping my clothes off, removing my jewelry and shaving me from the waist down. My husband was asked to stay behind and then I was whisked away…alone. I entered this big cold sterile room with bright lights with people in medical contamination suits with masks on. I remember it being extremely cold. I felt like I was in a horror movie. People kept introducing themselves but everyone sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher (muffled and unclear). After what seemed like forever my eyes locked on some familiar eyes and my husband grabbed my hand…tears started to stream from my face. Then I was given meds and was told I would not feel anything but pressure. Shortly after a curtain was put up and I felt tons of pressure. I could hear the doctor at one point yelling for help….”Help me get the baby out!!!” I thought oh no is my baby okay…am I okay? Are we dying?  My son had to be pushed back through the pelvic bone and pulled out through the incision. He was out; he was safe…so I thought! They quickly showed me him which was less than 1/2 a second and he was taken to the table to be examined. I told my husband to follow him and don’t take his eyes off him.

Finally I heard a cry! And breathed a huge sigh of relief and also began to cry. My  baby boy Amari was born November 18th 2014 at 11:17 PM. My husband was given the option to leave with the baby or stay with me. The look in his eyes was heart breaking…the fact he had to choose who to stay with. I reassured him I would be fine and to go with the baby (another reason you need a doula)! They didn’t even let me hold my son or attempt to breastfeed (yet another reason you need a doula). I had lost a lot of blood and I remember shaking and shivering. They put what seemed like some heated foil over me to quickly warm me up. It felt like hours before I was wheeled into recovery were I saw the most perfect sight. My son was bundled up so peacefully sitting with his daddy. Not only was my son born that day but so was a mommy and a daddy. I was so nervous to hold him but eager to due to being hooked up to what seemed like 100 machines. Plus I was still shaking since the meds were wearing off. The nurse came in and handed me the baby and he was latched for breastfeeding. He was perfect!!! I cried my eyes out! I didn’t realize I had been up and had not ate for over 24 hours. I felt so weak. We finally was taken to our room and was met by our parents who simply kissed us and said congratulations and headed home. It was 4 AM by this time. The nursing staff was great. However I got so many different directions for what to do in regards to breastfeeding . I saw like 3 different lactation consultants and they all had something different to say….so frustrating (another reason to hire a doula)! So I ended up pumping, latching and giving formula! WTH?! Ugh! In hindsight I would’ve done things so much differently. I was in the hospital for 3 days and even then had to beg to go home.

Once home the recovery was long. Isolation set in. Miscommunication ensued between me and my husband. Visitors stopped coming. No one asked how I was doing only my baby. Sleep was a distant luxury memory. And eating became a delicacy. Amari wouldn’t latch and so pumping became my new life. Day and night…night and day. So is this what having a baby is all about I thought to myself?? I loved my baby and was so grateful for him…and there is no buts about it. However my birth journey had left me feeling broken. I was the first of my close friends to have a baby so I felt I couldn’t talk to them because they wouldn’t understand. Because of my background as a mental health clinician I was able to find my way through the fog and things got better….eventually. Amari had a hard first year. He did not go to daycare until 8 months but as soon as he did ear infections were endless so much so he had to have surgery for tubes right after his first birthday. He had the flu, was diagnosed failure to thrive but through it all he was such a happy baby! Mom guilt set in something serious! I had started a new job and it was super taxing (I won’t even get into that here). But so much so I quit and I started my private practice. Mainly because I needed more flexibility as I felt my family was suffering because of the lack of it. I started to be more intentional in my actions and thoughts and things slowly began to improve. I was able to take Mari out of daycare again and my mom was able to watch him which was perfect and just what he needed to get back on track.

Now fast forward to my last birth and pregnancy with my daughter Kyleigh. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant we knew to immediately hire a birth doula. I remembered my childbirth educator Libby mentioned she was also a doula so I found her number and called her up! I had to have her as my doula! We were so excited when she accepted us as clients. Libby told us she had a trip planned for her daughter the same day our baby was due however we started praying and believing from the beginning that she would be by my side at my daughter’s birth. Libby made sure I had all the resources I needed to make this pregnancy go as smoothly as possible. I filled her in with everything that happened with my previous birth and it’s effects on not just me but my family unit as a whole. I was back with the same practice I had my son with and I was adamant and vocal about wanting a VBAC. My doctor said okay although she was not excited about it. She ended up going out on medical leave for the duration of my pregnancy and I hopped from doctor to doctor. I recall one of the 2 male doctor’s with the practice came in to our appointment and said “I think you should have a repeat C-section…” he crossed out VBAC on my paperwork, patted my back and he was out of there. No kidding…like he was in there 6 minute tops…I called my doula and she continued to encourage me and asked if I thought I should get a second opinion. I told her I would just stick it out. Well the straw that broke the camels back was when I was about 29 weeks pregnant I went in for my visit and it seemed the closer I got to my due date, the language around my desired VBAC changed. They kept asking about scheduling one “just in case” and said if I did not have my baby by 38-39 weeks they would go ahead with the C-Section and “if any little thing is off like their heart rate we are going to take you for a C-section.” I thought to myself okay something is off and now that this is not my first rodeo I know the baby’s heart rate will go through changes however typically that does not warrant a cesarean. I was quite most of that visit. Those familiar feelings of helplessness and brokenness started to creep back in. I called Libby after my appointment and she heard it in my voice. She was very gentle with her words and said all the things in those broken minutes to help me find my strength. She suggested do a consultation with Dr. Bradford Bootstaylor with See Baby Midwifery. I thought to myself at this point what could it hurt. I immediately called his office and set up a consultation. I did my research, watched his YouTube videos and I liked what I saw. When I met him as soon as I walked in his office I felt, light, at ease, peaceful…I was home! And after speaking with him for over an hour the deal was sealed! We went over my first birth and he confirmed some of the doubts I had about how things were done during the birth. I was 30 weeks and switching care but I. Did. Not. Care. I had never felt like this about my births and I felt like I had been robbed! We are able to pick out everything else we want in life so why when it came to having a baby was I letting someone else make unnecessary decisions for me?! The team at See Baby welcomed me with open arms and everyone was so warm and positive! It was a drastic difference from my previous practice and providers. I felt like an individual and not a number and a mere job. I felt empowered and like I would be successful with having my VBAC!  Because I was told my “pelvis was not positioned correctly or too small” at my first birth and that is why I had issues I was connected with Dr. Jamie Michaels and Dr. Patrick at Michael Family Chiropractic who were both amazing! I started seeing them at about 15-20 weeks. My doula also connected me with Allison Fernandez with Placenta Services of West Cobb for me to have my placenta prepared for consumption (blog post about this experience coming soon).

This pregnancy felt so easy. No sciatic nerve issues, no hearing loss, no swelling…I felt great and had so much energy! I had a different perspective and daily I manifested the vision of me giving birth to my baby girl the way I wanted to. After talking with Libby all day on July 4th  and doing the exercises to help with labor, my contractions became regular and more intense. I called Libby and my doctor and I was I headed to the hospital. We got there at about 12:30 am July 5th and we had a baby girl by 1:56 am. My husband caught her and laid her on my stomach; we all cried great big crocodile tears of joy….WE DID IT! She came naturally and we had a unmedicated birth. I did not think I could do it at one point but once I followed my doula’s lead it was a cakewalk; not really LOL but it wasn’t that bad! The room was dimly lit, Dr. Bootstaylor let my body do the work and was not forceful or invading, my husband was reassuring and knew the words to say to keep me focused. Fireworks were still bursting over the Atlanta skyline. She latched immediately…and has not unlatched since LOL! If perfection was such a thing this birth and pregnancy journey was it. It. Was. Perfect. I felt like I could fly across the moon if I wanted. God’s timing was everything as Libby was able to be present at our birth and make her baby girl’s trip. Even after our birth Libby came to visit us. She was available through phone or text for all questions well after the birth. Libby has become a part of our family as well as my doula mentor. I am forever grateful to her and for her. I thank God daily. I wanted to share my story for many reasons but one being to show how the vast difference having the right team makes on your birth journey is astronomical. I know it was God’s plan for things to go the way they did. As if I had not had the experience I had with my first birth I would’ve never sought out Libby for my second birth and I would likely not be a doula today. Always find your silver lining. Be empowered. No matter what you have gone through or have been told you can birth the way you want and with love surrounding you. It makes all the difference. HIRE A DOULA! We all deserve one and you won’t be sorry!

Love & Light,

Kim

 


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