Am I the only one who cries reading other people’s birth stories? Today’s story comes from Aimee who has her own blog – Momma Needs Some Coffee. I think her story is one that too many women have, but a great reminder that you HAVE to listen to your gut! “Mom Instincts” are real, and they start prior to giving birth!
Don’t forget to catch up on all this week’s birth stories (links below) and come back for the final two stories of this week’s Improving Birth features. (I am going to be continuing to share stories each month for as long as I have stories submitted to share! You can submit your birth story (please include 1-3 pictures) at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Below is Aimee’s Birth Story:
There is something so therapeutic about sharing a birth story. In a world where everyone talks about their “perfect” births and healthy babies, and their natural birth plans that will be followed at all costs, it can be disheartening to look back at your own frightening experience and wonder, “What if?” When I was pregnant with my oldest (now 3), I researched EVERYTHING. I read everything I could about car seats, sleeping, circumcision, vaccines, you name it, I had Googled it to death and bought every book out there. I was put on bed rest at 24 weeks due to preterm labor, so I had plenty of time on my hands! The one thing that never crossed my mind though was a birth plan. I scoffed at the women on the forums discussing birth plans and couldn’t understand what they were so up in arms about. In my mind, it was simple. I would go to the hospital when my contractions were close together or my water broke, get an epidural, and everything would be great! My husband’s whole family wanted to be there, sure, why not? I’ll be in Happy Land with my epidural, so I won’t mind! They say your best-laid plans are not God’s, and I was about to find out how true that was.
Around the same time that the preterm labor started, I also began spilling protein. I was hyper-alert to the signs of preeclampsia, as my mom had nearly died with me and had been on hospital bedrest and induced early with my brother. My OB, however, kept insisting there was no problem. At 35 weeks, I began experiencing what can only be described as The Worst Headache of My Entire Life. Coming from a chronic migraine sufferer who has had some epic ones, that should have been the first red-flag. I returned to my OB over and over, but since my blood pressure was not staying elevated, he would give me Demerol and send me home. This continued for TWO WEEKS. In my heart, I knew something wasn’t right, but I felt trapped and helpless to do anything about it. My husband had been laid off right before we found out I was pregnant, so I was lucky to even have an OB at all. Right before I hit 34 weeks, after 8 months of searching, he had began a new job with a Department of Defense contractor in Las Vegas, 4 hours away from home in California. I was trying to convince myself I was overreacting and that nothing was wrong. The day I reached 37 weeks, I was back at Labor and Delivery insisting to the doctor that something just didn’t feel right. That morning, instead of just brushing me off, he had the nerve to play to my anxieties, telling me that it was “my choice”, but if he induced me, there was no doubt it would end in a c-section. He then turned around and told my mom(who also couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong) that he thought I was “faking” because I was tired of being pregnant.
At that moment, my mom’s own inner “Momma Bear” took over, and she gathered me up, walked me out of that hospital, and started making calls. She called the OBGYN she and I had seen years before while still covered on my dad’s insurance, and begged them to take cash if she could see me that day for a second opinion. In what I cannot possibly believe was anything but God’s plan, they told my mom that she was on-call at the hospital next door and to take me in right away. By this point, I was convinced I was going to once again be told I was overreacting, so when my husband asked if he needed to head back to California, I told him of course not, they were just going to send me home. Imagine his surprise when my mom called less than 2 hours later and told him to come back immediately. The new OB had immediately done blood work and found that I was in the early stages of HELLP, and needed to deliver as soon as possible.
All at once, I went from wanting to deliver because I knew something was wrong to being terrified of the actual process. I wasn’t ready for the contractions, wasn’t ready to push, and most importantly, wasn’t ready to actually BE a mom. I settled in, and they started the pitocin while I waited for Rian to make the 4 hour drive from Vegas. He walked in right as they were breaking my water around midnight, along with the rest of his family. That was also right about the time things started to get real. The pain was intense, and I was begging for an epidural, anesthesia, anything to make it stop! I couldn’t remember the breathing exercises from the childbirth class, and I was beating myself up over and over. Why did I ignore all the suggestions to take Bradley method or Hypnobirthing? I would know what to do right now! Then I would tell myself I just had to get through 2 more centimeters, then sweet relief would come in the form of an epidural. That 2 centimeters took all night. At 5:30, they finally relented and brought the anesthesiologist in. By 6am, I was sleeping peacefully, having long since kicked everyone out of my room in a pain-induced rage. Unfortunately, the relief was short-lived, and by 8:30, I was once again wishing I was better prepared. The epidural that had taken so well at 5:30 was already worn off, and I was told there was nothing they could do. By 10:30, when I began pushing, it was as if I had never had one at all, and I had no idea how to cope with the pain. I was a wreck, trying desperately to keep myself together and focus on what I needed to do. My husband and mom did their best to stay calm for me, but they were struggling with seeing me in so much pain. At 12:30, the OB decided to let me rest for awhile while I “labored down”, and they finally gave me a small dose of pain medicine in my iv, only because the stress of the pain was causing my blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels on top of the pre-e. At 1, we were back at it again, and I was confident I could get through it. At 1:35, the doctor spotted cord, and told me if I didn’t get my son out on the next contraction, I would be heading to the OR. That must have been the motivation I needed, because in that moment, it was all of a sudden instinctual to me exactly HOW I needed to push, and I got my baby out. But instead of happiness and laughter and those sweet first cries of a new baby, I heard nothing. No cries, no laughter, my mom and Rian trying to keep straight faces. Why wasn’t my baby crying? Didn’t every baby cry at birth? I could tell they were trying to keep me from looking, and I heard the doctor tell Rian to hurry and cut the cord if he wanted to as they whisked Lane off to the NICU. The next hour before they let me go was easily the longest hour of my entire life. No one could tell me what was wrong, no one would let me see my baby. When I finally was allowed into the NICU to see him, all I saw was perfection. Despite the monitors and wires and IVs, my baby boy had his eyes wide open and looking straight at me as he wrapped his tiny hand around my finger. In that moment, it was all worth it.
I now know that the his cord was wrapped multiple times, cutting off his oxygen supply, and that he was white/blue when he was born and it took the NICU team almost 2 minutes to get him to take a breath on his own. Additionally, although I delivered at 37 weeks +1 day(and was absolutely positive of the conception date), due to IUGR(intrauterine growth restriction), an effect of the preeclampsia, he had only developed to about 35 weeks and was born weighing only 5 lbs, 6 ozs.
We were able to come home when he was 1 week old, and today the only lasting effect from everything that happened is some lingering growth issues, although I also believe his Sensory Processing Disorder is related to all of this. His little brother’s birth was MUCH less dramatic, and although I did get an epidural again, I was prepared otherwise and felt much more empowered to make the choices that I felt were right for ME, not trapped into doing what everyone else told me I should do.
Momma to 2 boys, ages 3 and 9 months
Catch Up On All This Week’s Birth Stories!
Why I care about Improving Birth – Including links to both my boy’s birth stories