I have a pretty awesome friend who left Colorado (TEARS!) and moved back to her home state a few years back. Despite the distance, we keep in touch and she happens to have just had baby numero dos. Here, she writes about encapsulating her placenta. There are so many things to say about this. First, I think the idea behind doing this is awesome. If there is a way to prevent postpartum depression/anxiety, increase milk supply, decrease bleeding…why not? The idea of eating ones placenta, however, is not appetizing so I am grateful for the amazing women who have figured out a way to make them into vitamin-like capsules. I will write a more detailed post about this with more research and links at a later time. For now, enjoy reading about a personal experience.
I am SOOOOOO excited to share this birth story with you all. I have been following Sally and her little family since way back when I still used blogger and had a different blog name. This birth of her third boy is beautiful, but it involves a pretty scary postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). I irony in reading her story this weekend was that last week I had a patient have a PPH. It does not happen very often but when it does, it sticks with you. I find myself reflecting on every moment, each little step we made to help the patient feel calm, safe, and stop the bleeding. As Sally mentions in her post below, the care a patient receives at any time is critical but especially so when something scary happens. Feeling like you’re going to die after giving birth is probably one of the scariest thoughts anyone can have. Thank you, Sally, for allowing me to share Theodore’s birth story.
Theodore Atticus (Teddy) arrived on Wednesday morning at 11:13AM after almost twenty-four hours of labor. I want to go ahead and give the heads up that, much like my other two births, this labor and delivery did not go exactly as planned. If you’re looking for a natural birth story where every thing goes to a T, you should probably skip this one. However, unlike the others, I had such a better experience when it came to feeling supported and listened to during my experience. My hospital staff was absolutely incredible. My nurses were amazing. The OB who delivered Teddy was perfection. Here’s our story:
Monday was Memorial Day. At our CrossFit box, the gym was running a hero work out known as “Murph.” Taylor and I got there with the boys around 10:30AM to cheer on the athletes and get a little work out in ourselves. I headed to the squat rack and started doing a slow triplet of three squats, three pull ups, two sled pushes. I added a little weight every round, and I had just done my second squat at 115lbs when I felt a thump. I stood back up, and water gushed down my legs like someone had turned on a bath tub faucet. I racked the weight, turned to look at Taylor, and said, “Um, Tay, my water broke…we need to go.” He started laughing, and we gathered up the boys while I waddled to the car with a towel between my legs.
We were supposed to show our house that morning, but obviously, that wasn’t going to happen. I hopped in the shower while Taylor fed the boys. We made calls to the people who were coming to help watch Sully and Arlo while we were at the hospital and before our families arrived. I went back and forth between the birth ball and sitting on the toilet trying to get some contractions going. They were there, but very mild and not at all consistent. At about 2:30PM, we decided to head on to the hospital. I was GBS+ again, and honestly, being at home was far from relaxing between the kids and the dog. Our good friends arrived to watch the boys, and we made our way.
When we checked in, I was still not having any contractions and was at about 2cm. I walked and walked some more, bounced on the ball some more, and four hours later, still nothing. At this point, I agreed to being put on the lowest level of pitocin in order to hopefully get contractions going. The nurses and OB were all absolutely fine with me walking around, taking a shower, doing whatever I could to try to get things moving. Eventually, the contractions picked up. They became incredibly uncomfortable, but they still were not regular. After about six hours on pitocin, they took me off and checked me again. I was at 3cm. We decided to let me try to labor on my own for awhile off the pitocin to see if I could try to progress some more. For several more hours, I labored in the shower, on the ball, in the bed, whatever I could try to do. The contractions were steady, and I would say they were very painful. It was intense pressure with each wave and very little rest in between. I asked to be checked again, convinced I had to be close. I was only 3.5cm. After being in labor this long, looking at the middle of the night, and recognizing that I just wasn’t progressing like I wanted, I asked for the epidural. I needed rest, and my mom and Taylor were exhausted, too. I hoped an epidural would bring some relief and let me sleep. I honestly could have kissed the anesthesiologist. I told him my epidurals before had never really worked, and I always ended up with “hot spots.” He had to place it twice, but he finally got it working, and I could rest.
I expected to be disappointed by this choice. After all, I really wanted to go naturally. But after having been in labor for so long with no change, I felt like I was only torturing myself. Labor should an experience where you feel in control and on top of all the decisions made. I truly feel like I was in control this time. Every decision made was passed by me and approved by me, and the nurses and OB were so amazing at ensuring my experience was the best possible one for me. I laid down and rested and by 10:30AM, I had a little lip of cervix between me and baby. The anesthesiologist had to do another dose of medicine when I started getting hot spots, but it fixed the problem. My epidural was light enough that I could feel all the contractions and pressure, and I could move my legs, but I was no longer fighting against the contractions. When it came time to push, three pushes, and Teddy joined us, screaming and pink.
Now, here’s the hard part. My labor and delivery went so well. I had one tiny tear that required a few stitches, and I was able to get up and walk around almost immediately after Teddy was born. He latched like a champ and took to nursing right away. About six hours after delivery, while we were settled into our recovery room and after my shower, I got up to use the bathroom. As I walked into the bathroom, I felt a ton of pressure and cramping. Suddenly, blood gushed everywhere. Huge clots covered the floor, and the walls looked like a horror film. I yelled to Taylor to get the nurse, and more blood gushed again. I stood there completely shocked, and the nurses rushed in. They put me in the bed, where the gushes kept happening. Soon, my room was filled with nurses and my OB. They gave me percocet, a shot of some of sort, and cytotec to try to stop the bleeding. The OB then explained to me she would have to do a manual extraction, where she would have to reach up into my uterus to pull out the massive clots that were preventing my uterus from contracting back to normal size and containing the bleeding like it should have.
I have never had anything done that felt so horrific. I was screaming and crying and begging for them to stop, but they were pulling out baseball sized clots of blood, and I knew it had to be done. I think this was the point where I honestly thought I might die. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life, and I have certainly never seen so much blood come out of someone and them still live. The OB explained that if they couldn’t stop the bleeding, I would have to go under anesthesia for an emergency D&C and then possibly a hysterectomy if it continued. Once the manual extraction was over, they began a blood transfusion. I received four pints of blood because it was estimated I had lost about two liters (the human body generally has 4.7-5 liters of blood). They pumped me full of fluids. This part is pretty hazy, but I remember being cold and not being able to stop shaking. They kept asking me how I felt and random questions to keep me alert. Poor Taylor and Teddy had to be there the whole time.
Once they had me stabilized, they inserted a postpartum balloon. It was basically a massive balloon that they filled with water to put pressure on my uterus and hopefully help the blood vessels seal. They kept it in overnight, and in the morning, they removed it. I had no more clotting, so I was asked to stay in bed twelve more hours before I started moving around. They kept me another couple of days, but I was finally in the clear.
They speculate that my long labor exhausted my uterus, and when it was time to contract back to normal size, it was contracting but not shrinking. Blood vessels never sealed, and it started a vicious cycle of clotting, releasing the clots, and clotting again. There is no real way of knowing WHY this happened.
I can tell you a few things about this experience:
1) Teddy was our last baby. I can’t risk something like this happening again. Thinking I was about to die was the most terrifying thing in this entire world, and while he is so, so, worth it, I want to be here for Taylor and my babies.
2) I appreciate my little family so much more.
3) I am so incredibly grateful for my medical team. Had I given birth at home or had I been released earlier than 24 hours, I would have bled to death. An ambulance would not have made it in time for me to survive. Which means, if I had birthed anywhere but the hospital, I wouldn’t be here today. That does not mean that I am against home or birth center births, but this experience made me realize how grateful I am that I personally did not chose that path.
4) Having a good hospital staff and OB makes an absolute world of difference. My labor and delivery could not have been more precious to me. My OB that had privatized me the entire pregnancy was actually out of town. I ended up with another female OB, Dr. Jones, who is my new best friend. She was so incredible, and I am so grateful I had her. My nurses handled our labor and following emergency so well. No one panicked or made me feel like they were not in control. Even at the worst moment, Taylor says he did not really think he would lose me because everyone was so competent.
We are home and settled now. I feel pretty rough, but I guess that is to be expected. Teddy is nursing so well, and the big boys are loving him. Teddy has a little jaundice, but we are staying on top of it, and his numbers are lower today, so we feel better about that. I am so grateful things turned out the way they did, and now we are just hunkering down to enjoy this newborn phase.
It’s no surprise to anyone in the birthing community that breastfeeding is being more heavily encouraged. More hospitals are obtaining an official “Baby Friendly Hospital” status, which means that baby will be placed skin to skin, encouraged to nurse within the first hour, room in with mom, and breastfeeding encouragement throughout the mom’s stay. She is given a pumping kit to use and take home as she tries to help her milk come in. Sometimes, mom may use a spoon or syringe to feed baby the tiny drops of precious colostrum while they both continue to learn how to latch and nurse. This all sounds wonderful, right? Sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, breastfeeding is just not going to work. Or maybe it does, but mom feels frustrated or is in pain. There are a laundry list of reasons why breastfeeding may or may not work out. Here is the one thing you need to know, my friends, that ANY amount of breastfeeding is awesome, even if it is only for one day! You did it!! Don’t you let ANYONE discourage you or tell you that you “failed” at breastfeeding.
Below, is a story that a mom shared on a motherhood group I’m apart of on Facebook. This group has nearly 1000 members. Of all the stories and questions I’ve ever seen there, this story struck my heart. Right to the core. I was instantly weeping for this woman. With her permission, I am sharing her story below. As a warning, this may trigger something you’ve experienced. It involves breastfeeding, three-stepping, and post-partum depression. I have talked with Chelsea a few times since she shared her story and she’s an incredible mother!! I feel honored to share her story. I know she is not alone. If you or someone you know has experienced something similar, please share this post.
This is the saddest thing I will ever write…ever. It makes me even sadder that I want to share it because that means that someone else is just as sad and needs to hear this to validate their sadness and hopefully feel understood. I felt completely misunderstood and like a flat our terrorist in my community of Colorado Crunchy Mothers when I “failed” at breastfeeding.
It all started out so well. I am a yoga teacher, fit, fertile, and was READY to have a baby! I got knocked up on my first try after getting my IUD yanked and man was I ready to be a Mommy! My husband and I moved out of the city back to our small town “community” of friends and family and my other family known as my “yoga family.” As the cosmos would have it we all got pregnant within WEEKS of one another. A bunch of us would gather at our studio for our prenatal yoga classes then waddle down the block to gorge on ribs and cake, feeling blissful about being able to indulge during our pregnancies. Ahhh, bliss! We all talked about our plans to chant mantra during our contractions and some of us wanted home births some of us too scared to do so BUT, would totally have a Doula there, no matter what to tell our Doctors (who have a PHD not a Doula Cert) to shove it when we beg for pain meds. Yes, we all had a plan…
Then we all signed up for a “Goddess Breastfeeding Course.” Wowza was this some crazy informational stuff; there was even a PowerPoint presentation! I bought a copy of Ina May’s “Guide to Breastfeeding,” and read it cover to cover. I was ready. Ready for my “as natural” as possible childbirth and my breastfeeding success! I even went as far as being a bit of a snark to new Mom’s in my “Welcome to Motherhood” Facebook group who were “struggling” to nurse. I think I even said something like…”read this book and it will fix all your problems,” or “don’t you know how easy this should be? It is our gift to our babies..blah blah fuck me, blah.” So yeah, I was a psycho preggo bitch who had not a CLUE what the hell I was up against. So that is how it went for my second trimester. Prenatal yoga, ribs, boobs, birth, yadda yadda. I felt good.
Then my crotch started to hurt, like hurt nonstop and I started to not be able to walk as easily then one day I fell. My back went out and I fell on the floor and was stuck there for hours before my husband came home and found me. This was the beginning of the end…the end of all of my prenatal dreams, my mental health, my nursing efforts…my everything. I was diagnosed with SPD, which basically means my vagina was expanding too much. Ouch, huh. So, I was put on pain meds for the remainder of my pregnancy and was also restricted from yoga, exercise and existing in the world altogether. Depression set in, and it got really scary.
My midwife was concerned and wanted to put me on anti-depressants during my 36th week but I refused, worried that it would get passed along to the baby in my milk, because I was still going to nurse damnit! I knew deep down I was headed for a C-Section but I kept it secret and kept up with my crunchy friends and their amazing pregnancies. They all felt sorry for me but told me to hang in there, they will BE THERE FOR ME. Famous last words.
After 3 months of misery I went in for a prenatal visit to find out that we needed to go ahead and get baby out. My fluid was low and I was in so much pain it wasn’t really worth the wait anymore…we were a bit scared. I went in the next morning with all of my loving family by my side, my amazing husband who had put up with my craziness (crazy was just starting by the way, he had no idea what was yet to come) and checked into the hospital, ready to go. Within 45 minutes my son was out, squealing and totally folded in half, frank breech and 7lb 8oz. I was so happy to have him OUT! I was reunited with him in recovery very fast and we started nursing right away. It didn’t even hurt and I got this insane drunk love feeling that rocked my world…I was hooked.
That first day would be the only day that I felt this way…
In Colorado, we had the flood of the century the day my son was born in September. It was national news and my doctors were running around like chickens with their heads cut off treating patients from surround hospitals that were not accessible. We began to fall through the cracks. I had amazing nurses, amazing! They all helped with the latch which was not going well and were all sympathetic to my fatigue and even showed me how to use my breast pump which we were seeing some colostrum come out of. However my son was not amazing, he was miserable. He screamed nonstop for the first 3 days of his life, only stopping out of sheer exhaustion and what I can only imagine defeat from not being fed. He began to turn yellow and look thin but I was in such a haze I didn’t really notice. Then the nurses started to raise their eyebrow at my mental condition. My midwife stopped my husband in the hall and said “watch her, I am worried…” I was a mess…my mother came to my side and begged me to rest but no, I had to get this nursing down, I had to it was vital. Everything else had been ripped from me; I had to get this right.
A new nurse came in the last day I was in the hospital. She was pregnant and so sweet. She took one look at my situation and suggested we “supplement.” I had been warned of this phrase, RED ALERT! NO! My husband was beginning to get angry and he is cool by nature. He made the call, he gave my son his first bottle of formula. My son sighed and cooed and drank it up like his life depended on it, which it may have. Meanwhile, I had not gotten a weight on my son since his birth, and we were about to be discharged. I asked the nurses to weigh him and I heard gasps from all of them. “That cannot be right, weigh him again.” Silence. “Oh, my, god.” The lactation consultant came over and said he had dropped 20% of his body weight to 6.4lbs and we had to alert the pediatrician right away. The pediatrician who had signed our discharge papers, the one who SAID we could go home. My poor baby, he had morphed from a healthy glowing bundle to a yellow, eyes clenched shut, stiff, stressed infant that was not happy…I decided to give in. We gave him formula the rest of the day and they let us go home, and we had a follow up the next day. I snapped a picture of him at the hospital on our way out in his going home outfit, and to this day it haunts me. He looks terrifyingly unhealthy and I save it as a reminder of how far we have come.
At the follow up they gave me what is called a 3 step plan. This plan means you nurse, supplement and pump…EVERY single time you feed. Around the clock. So, I had my hospital grade pump rented from the pharmacy and that is what I did for 3 weeks. I was delirious, I was so drained I couldn’t even muster up the energy to leave the house, eat or shower. I sat on the couch with my boppy, baby, pump and tiny bottle of formula. The rare times my son was satiated from nursing only gave me small triumphs that kept me going. Meanwhile, my Crunchy Mom Friends were all having their babies and their boobs were turning into Pam Anderson boobies and flowing milk and oxytocin bliss all over the place. Mine were not. Mine were pitifully producing hardly anything and that blissful feeling of drunk love was lingering and then soon gone.
This went on for another 3 weeks…It was then I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. My midwife took one look at me and said here is a prescription and you need to go buy formula, lots of it and use it. This has to stop. You cannot sustain this. I had just come to terms with this on the long ride home when my family arrived to see the baby. I heard a knock at the door and my neighbor bum rushed me and grabbed my son and looked dead into my eyes and said, “How is nursing going?” I quietly replied that I was trying but was having a tough time. “Awe, well don’t give up, it is the best thing you know. You have a good looking husband, a beautiful son why are you so sad?…blah blah blah,” I tuned out after that. My sister in law braced me and I excused myself into my bathroom where I wept for the millionth time, cursed god and grew even further from my son emotionally.
Meanwhile my friends were also giving me the same guilt trip but not a ONE came over to check on me or ask me how I was doing emotionally. I was falling apart. I even received an email from a friend (a man friend) saying I was a child abuser for using formula and that I was setting my son up for failure…this person has a Master’s Degree…and is an asshole.
This was it, I shut down I lost it. I was still 3 stepping my nursing and it was becoming exhausting. The only time I actually saw my son was to nurse him. Other than that my husband would take care of him or me…which was exhausting for him. I would send him to buy formula because I was too ashamed to do it myself. I would hide in my car and mix bottles of formula and hope people would think it was pumped breast milk I was giving to my baby. I started seeing a therapist at this point and taking medication.
I had become a total stranger in my body. I didn’t even recognize myself. I also gained more weight than I had during pregnancy because I was eating all the crap my friends suggested, taking supplements that made me sick and was NOT sleeping or taking care of myself. I was a train wreck for the first 3 months. On the day my son turned 3 months old I sat in bed and looked my husband in the eye and said, “I need you to tell me to stop, I need you to say Chelsea, stop this and it will all be ok.” So he did and I cried and died a little inside.
Later my friends and family would say things like, “you tried harder than anyone I have ever seen! You did your best.” The only people who told me I was a success was my husband my mother and my new friends who were not crunchy. “You did it for 3 months! You did it! You succeeded, not failed!” I still didn’t buy it until around 6 months postpartum. The fog started to lift a bit and I was dried up so my son wasn’t screaming every time I held him and I started to make bottles like it was second nature. They no longer felt like hot torches of failure in my hands, they felt comforting! I thought how amazingly lucky I am…to be able to have access to formula for my son. I am thankful to have the means to afford formula for my son. How thankful and blessed I am for that.
I changed myself forever during this process. I purged the judgmental, know it all person and turned into a humble, kind, grateful person who wants more than anything to advocate for new mothers struggling with mental illness and breastfeeding challenges. That shit is no joke. I was on the verge of being put into an institution and my doctors thankfully decided I was sane enough to go home and safely take care of my baby after they saw me at my 3-month postnatal checkup.
I have made new friends who feel for me and can appreciate my struggle and not judge me for how I feed my child. They judge my character, my authenticity as a person, as a mother and for the love I show when I feed my baby and when I do all the things Mommies do for their babies. I am a mother, I may not be perfect but I fought someone else’s war. I fought a war not meant for me. I fought out of fear, the fear of not fitting into everyone’s ideals of motherhood. That is my only regret. I do not regret switching to formula, I do not regret ditching those crunchy nut job friends and I do not regret the negativity I got from others…I regret the fear and letting that rule my first few months of motherhood.
That is the saddest thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve written it now, and I hope that someone out there reads this and I hope you are not as sad as I was. Know that you are loved, so loving and amazing. You create your reality with your baby; do not let fear create a chaotic, judging environment. I am happy to say that today my son is awesome, in every way possible! He is 18lbs 4 oz and is almost 9 months old and is the light of my life. I am hoping by sharing this story I can shed the last of my pain, let it go…air it out. My son said “ma ma” today and looked at me. I cried and knew it was time to share this.
Now go mix up that bottle Mama, and love that baby.
It’s been an INSANE few weeks, hense my lack of posts recently. Since I switched from working nights to days, I have been more busy with family on my days off and when I’m working I barley have a moment to drink my coffee hot, let alone type out a post (which I was able to do at night). Anyway, I am sporting a brace on my left wrist/thumb for a few weeks thanks to tendonitis in my thumb. Why/how you ask? From lifting my children, of course! No seriously…this pain had been coming and going for a long time. Nothing worth really worrying about until it became constant and then BAD. Like, WTF is wrong with my hand bad. So now I’m supposed to “rest” my thumb for 2-4 weeks to help the tendons heal. This is impossible without the brace and with it, I am so annoyed by it and I can’t even get gloves on over it without looking like a fool! Hopefully not much longer….
I’m loving that I have taken the summer off from school. Last summer, I had a baby the end of May so I had the whole summer off of school AND work. Pretty choice if you ask me. This summer has been packed full of sunny days to the splash park, working, late thunderstorms, and a butt load of sunblock. Seriously, we are almost out of all three of the bottles I bought back in May. But I can safely say that we have only all had one minor burn each (minus the baby, thankfully!).
Wanna really know what I’m up to all the time? Follow me on instagram. @midwife101
And just for fun, the internet has been so full of win lately, so here are my favorite links I’ve been loving.
This America’s Got Talent audition. You guys, I did NOT see that one coming and both B and I were in tears from laughing so hard!
All you fans of birth will love this video. It’s incredible. Dad is racing to the hospital with a GoPro on his head as his wife labors and delivers…where? Watch to find out!
This post about what happens after you have a baby. If anyone is truly wondering what my job entails, read #10. That is me, squating in front of you! 😉 I love it. I love taking care of women in such a precious, delicate time in their life!!
Do you like the Sam Smith song Stay With Me? Well, my buddy from college, Tyler Ward, is kind of a big deal on youtube and this is his cover of the song. Beautiful!
And lastly, because it’s Thursday, here is a throwback post about what defines a term baby.
Have a great day!
Hello readers!! I am now 37 weeks pregnant and ready to have a baby whenever he/she is ready!! This is the last week of school, only two more assignments to go and then I’m DONE. And my last day of work will be May 17th unless I or baby decide otherwise. I’ve been painfully tired lately so blogging and just about anything else productive has been on the back burner.
However, I still try to get some reading in. Here are some links to check out that I found interesting and beneficial. Enjoy! Next time I write will most likely be after I have a new baby in my arms!
Breastfeeding in Public article.
Cesarean Sections broken down part by part on Birth Without Fear