Well, hello there! Long time no real talk, huh? It’s 6 weeks postpartum and trying to carve out some time to share Baby’s journey here has taken a bit longer than anticipated. In between learning how to feed a mini human from my own body parts, how to soothe him when he’s hysterically screaming, how to put him on some sort of “schedule”, and mixing it in with my own survival skills ie: eating, showering, changing my own diapers (TMI I know but I really didn’t know about the diaper part so I thought I’d share for interested parties) and working, I’m realizing that time as I knew it has changed. Life now works in a set of designated time windows. Baby feeds every 2.5-3 hours, Baby opens his eyes for as long as he can, or rather, we try to put him down whilst he loudly contends before Baby sleeps, and repeat. And during those windows I have between 0 to + or – 2 hours to get everything I need to get done, and that includes running a business. Ai ai ai.
SO, what are we waiting for? No more time for chit chat, the countdown to the next feeding has begun…let’s go!
In all honesty, I wasn’t planning on sharing Baby’s birth story–I didn’t think it was any of your business. HA!!! Well, that’s not entirely true, sometimes I just don’t think that people are truly interested in hearing yet another blogger’s story that no one asked for. BUT, that all changed when I gave birth and realized that birth is the greatest story ever told BECAUSE A HUMAN COMES OUT OF ANOTHER HUMAN. It’s truly a miracle. And yes, I know, billions of women have done it and that fact continually shocks me, but it’s still such a novel idea even now that I’ve experienced it. The fact is that I was really hoping for such a serene birthing experience that I wouldn’t have anything to talk about because I wouldn’t want to make anyone jealous about how peaceful it was.
But before I dig in, I want to preface it by saying that the fact that nothing went according to plan shouldn’t deter you any of you pregnant and future pregnant ladies who are reading this from prepping for the experience you’re hoping for. I fully believe that those experiences are possible. In fact, I believe my preparation for the birth was what got me through my experience and that’s why I’m sharing it here. It’s not to scare anyone or to provide a negative view on birth, but to encourage you to be prepared and be informed. I hope you gain the confidence you need to have a wonderful experience.
Ok, is that enough prefacing?
As you know, I miscarried a couple of years ago and we were really hopeful to get pregnant again. Thankfully, miracles happen and I did and I had a WONDERFUL pregnancy. I mean, the first trimester I didn’t want to eat much and/or nothing sounded good except for a 3 week stint of Taco Bell rice and beans and then another stint of French fries and other forms of potatoes.
The second trimester was a delight. My energy was back and I worked the whole time like normal. I really enjoyed it and tried to soak it all in, always hopeful that this pregnancy was going to last because once you’ve miscarried there’s always that pessimistic thought of “what if…”
At about 22 weeks I started attending a prenatal yoga class, one of the best things I did for my pregnancy. I didn’t miss a week if I could help it. I found it to be a wonderful way to stretch my body and focus and be around other women who were preparing for the same life event. My instructor was a great source of peace and energy and it was contagious. One time a week wasn’t enough so I would watch videos on YouTube during the rest of the week (these were my favorite). Cat/cows were a daily requirement. Listen, I’m no yogi, but it was just what the doctor ordered in order to feel like I was doing something good for both baby and me.
Then at about 33 weeks Paul and I took a hypnobirthing class. I had first heard about hypnobirthing about 10 years prior and it had always stuck in my brain as something that I’d want to do when the time came. For those of you unfamiliar, hypnobirthing is basically a way to mentally prepare yourself for birth by using your own biological tools as natural anesthesia. The classes taught me how to meditate, which I did on the daily, and practice positive birth affirmations to help me prepare psychologically for this life changing event. And you know what? It worked! Well, by “worked” I mean, I left feeling confident in the big event ahead. I didn’t feel nervous or anxious so I considered it a success. My goal was to implement those meditative tracks during an unmedicated birth at a birthing center with my midwives.
The third trimester was also just great though by the last month I was a swollen blimp. I just woke up one day and I couldn’t see ankles anymore. Hello cankles! The midwife group I was going to said that the only cure to the swelling at that point was to have the baby, which thankfully wasn’t too far away so I was fine with that answer. At one appointment they noticed that I had high blood pressure, but then they checked it again on another machine and then it was normal and it never read high again. A couple of times I noticed that my eyes were a bit blurry, but only a couple of times so I didn’t think much about it. I’m sure some of you are reading between the lines and thinking that these are signs of preeclampsia. My midwife, too, thought the same thing and kept tabs, but nothing else manifested so, no one thought much of it.
My due date came and went and I was a bit relieved as I was racing against the clock to complete some work assignments before he came. When you run your own company, you do the best you can, but there are always things that need to be done no matter how many check-off marks on your to-do list. Nonetheless, I tried to pack it all in as much as I could. I kind of think that that had some role in delaying my due date. Thankfully I have a wonderful team who has helped me prepare for this transition over the previous many months. Personally, it had always been a goal of mine to have a team in place when I got pregnant so that I could easily transition between working and babyhood. I feel really proud that that over the last few years the foundation has been set in place for that to happen. I’m so lucky to have such great people by my side who make things happen!
Once I sat down at church at 9am on Sunday, January 28th, I started feeling contractions. I was about 5 days late so it wasn’t out of the blue and honestly, I was excited. I knew I had gained the tools I needed to go through the experience. I knew that Paul had the tools that he needed to help me get through it and I had confidence in my midwives. I labored throughout that day until that night while we were watching Emma (the Gwyneth version 😉 and the contractions became stronger and I could no longer speak during them. I sat on my birth ball and focused inward before transferring to our bathtub for a good portion of the night. Thank heavens for bathtubs, God’s gift to pregnant blimps like me.
I actively labored throughout the night but didn’t feel ready to head over to the birthing center quite yet. As I write this I’m trying to think of a way to describe the pain of the contractions, but honestly, it’s only been 6 weeks since and I’m having a hard time thinking of how it works. Ha! I guess that’s how people have more babies….I will say that the meditations I learned really helped me focus and alleviate some of the pain. I mean, it wasn’t gone for sure, but it helped me get through it.
We finally headed over in the morning and arrived at around 7:30am on Monday, January 29th. I immediately threw up upon arrival–hello!–and quickly asked for a bath, surprise! I was measured at 7cm at that point so I was pretty far along and felt encouraged and ready to keep on going. I threw up a couple more times, but ain’t no thang! There are worse things that can happen…
…and that’s the last thing I remember.
I “woke up” a couple of hours later in a sun-lit hospital with a swarm of doctors and nurses around me. Nothing computed because, come to find out later, I was on magnesium sulfate, which makes you super groggy. One doctor explained what was going on and then Paul’s face showed up and translated: I had had a seizure.
Apparently, I had been transferred via ambulance to the nearest hospital for further treatment and in talking with Paul afterward, I was flailing my arms and legs like a crazy woman. I cringe to think about those poor EMTs who lifted a large, naked, pregnant lady.
It didn’t really make much sense to me as I had no experience with seizures or any medical issues, to my knowledge, that would lead to a seizure. That and I was really out of it so I already wasn’t thinking too clearly. The doctor explained that a cesarean might be necessary so it might be best to get an epidural, of which I approved. Then I was alerted that Baby Boy was turned posterior and kept on turning around so doctor said that the c-section was looking more and more likely, of which I wasn’t pretty insistent I didn’t want. Thankfully, Doctor also did not want that and did his best to do what he could to avoid it. He had a lot of experience with forceps and said that might be the next best option. Ummm, sure! I didn’t know at this point. Whatever you think is best, doc.
I was out again until 4pm that day when all of a sudden, from what I can remember, I’m encouraged to start pushing. I saw my midwife and doula and Paul putting pressure on my pressure points while I started to push. I didn’t really know what I was pushing because I wasn’t feeling much but “push” I did! I pushed for about 3 hours before he started to crown. Once that head appeared I reached down to feel and it became much more real and very motivating so I really started to go with all my might. Weeks later all I can envision is the doctor, whose name I didn’t learn until afterwards, inserting these medieval-looking tongs up my who-ha as if steering a race car turning this way and that around each corner. I mean, he looked like he was in his element and I appreciated the confidence. A bit later, a little human emerged and as you can imagine, I’m elated and relieved and just so thankful to be done.
Well, if it’s not one thing it’s not another, because once baby arrived he had to be rushed over to the respiratory unit because there was a worry that he had swallowing meconium in the womb after seeing feces come out of me prior to delivery. Once he was feces-free, he was all mine. Get that baby on me and let me give him all the snuggles in the world! Welcome home little buddy, you’re mine now whether you like it or not!
I spent the next few days in the hospital, as opposed to the 4 hours allotted at the birthing center, and I can’t imagine it any other way. Listen, I LOVE staying in hotels and though the hospital is no luxury experience, it certainly felt that way after what I thought was going to happen. I had nurses attend to my every need and soon my mom, who had driven from California that morning, arrived, I now had my mother’s touch, and Paul, of course. I felt spoiled. Ha! These nurses were God’s angels. I was so impressed with each set of nurses that visited, each better than the last.
The next week I spent on our sofa at home propped up on one side. In addition to the normal pain and soreness of a vaginal delivery, my arm was somehow sore and I couldn’t move it well, which I’m assuming was because I hit something or twisted it in a funny way during the seizure episode. Additionally, I had bit my tongue during the episode so it was severely bruised with a lovely shade of navy and plum for a good few weeks. Then weird postpartum after effects like getting hangnails on every single finger and then them getting infected–who knew that was a thing?! It felt as if every part of my body was somehow affected. I mean, a bruised tongue is really the least of all my worries, but it looks bad, eh?
ANYWAY, I’m now finishing this post 7 weeks postpartum and I’ve learned more about what went down that day because it comes out in piece meal the more I discuss it with Paul. Ultimately, I’m just grateful that baby and I are healthy, alive, and thriving–that’s really what matters. People ask if I was scared and well, no! Because I didn’t know what was going on. I was unconscious for the traumatic parts and when I was conscious I had confidence in my medical care providers and the help I was receiving. I wouldn’t say that I was anti-hospitals before this event–I just tended to have a “less is more” attitude when it came to medical care. This event changed the way I view hospital care. The doctors and nurses who tended to me were exceptional. Absolutely exceptional. I wanted to give them all hugs and kisses as if they were family. What a blessing for modern medicine and the ability to keep women alive during child birth.
At this point in the story, I have to give an award to Paul. He’s been the best partner anyone could ask for and approached the birth preparation and child rearing as an equal team effort. Well, as equal as we could be without him actually giving birth. When I say that I wasn’t scared, it’s because I was out of it but he was witnessing the situation and could see the the unknown and it was much more frightening and threatening. Fun fact: At the same time that he was caring for me, he was also updating everyone on my condition, but he only did so with short sentences through texts like “birthing center”, “7cm”, “seizure”, “ambulance”, “hospital”. MY POOR PARENTS! That’s no way to live!
Turns out, my seizure was an eclamptic seizure. Eclampsia is the most severe form of preeclampsia and it’s symptoms show up in the form of seizures. If you’re a Downton Abbey fan (I haven’t seen it yet personally), I’m told that Lady Sybil died of eclampsia, after a fit of seizures where she was unable to breathe. I’m just reading about her experience right now as I type and I’m realizing that what I had is even more serious that I thought–ha! Turns out, eclampsia is the the world’s #1 killer of mothers and babies in childbirth. Awesome. According to ABC News, “it is a multi-system disorder than can shut down the kidneys or liver, cause blood vessel spasms and even cause the placenta to detach from the uterus. In its worst form — the eclampsia that the fictional Lady Sybil suffered — it goes to brain and causes life-threatening seizures.” In addition, severe complications and injury such as massive blood loss, permanent disability, and premature birth or death of their babies may occur.
After reading about many cases of eclamptic seizures, I acknowledge that my case was not severe. I didn’t experience a shut down of kidneys or liver and my baby was not affected in any way so I was lucky. It’s still unknown what causes preeclampsia so unfortunately, it’s tough to know how to avoid if I become pregnant again. It’s not a helpful thought to know that I can’t necessarily do much to avoid it. I would suspect that they will keep closer tabs on my blood pressure and check my urine for proteins and other signs. I know I will definitely be more aware of what to look for and after telling other people about it, they will be more aware of it as well. Like myself, most people I’ve talked to hadn’t heard of it so it’s been a great learning experience.
More than ever, I feel particularly blessed to have a little baby, especially one that’s healthy and doing well. I feel empowered by my experience even though it didn’t go as expected because, I have said it before and I mean it more than ever, birth is a miracle. It’s absolutely miraculous. Every single one. I’m grateful for the preparation I made for my birth experience. I feel stronger than ever. I’m in awe of women everywhere who have given birth. I can’t help but think of the women throughout history who didn’t have the medical care we have today and still produced billions of babies. Women are incredible.
So, there you have it! There’s my story as of now and I’m seeing it unfold even more day by day. I have found the process of writing it down to be a nice way to make amends with everything that unfolded so I may pop in every now and again to update my situation as I go along.