May 7, 2021
As many of you know, I had my first baby (boy) this month and wanted to share my birth story. I’ve had so many clients, friends, and family + fellow mamas just reach out and share an interest in hearing about our experience. I’m here to share MY experience/point of view. I have shared a bit about the complications Maverick endured after birth on Instagram and that detailed experience can be found HERE. I’m typically a very private person and really try not to blur the line between personal/professional. But I feel this experience is important to share as it isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. We have some tough times ahead and I think they should be acknowledged and celebrated. Every birth is so different and miraculous in its own way.
For context, I had a very healthy pregnancy and experienced minimal sickness (minus heartburn and mild discomfort at the end). I worked all the way up until 35 weeks before I had officially taken “maternity leave” from physically shooting events. My original due date was 4/23/2021 but I was convinced he was going to be early. I had joked that he was good to stay in and cook until 37 weeks and I’d be ok with him making his entrance into the world. Well, he was listening. Born on 4/2/2021 at EXACTLY 37 weeks.
I woke up the morning of 4/1/2021 (yes, april fools day) to go pee and I was climbing back into bed when my water broke. I thought “there is no fucking way I just pissed myself” I stood there for a second, looked down at the carpet and started to waddle into the bathroom where more water came out of me. I stood over the toilet in disbelief and then stood in the shower as it continued to trickle. I remembered what the midwife told me and made sure the liquid was clear and that it didn’t have an odor. So before bothering my husband at work I called my best friend and doula (Olivia) freaking out in complete shock. She calmed me down, I told her I was going to call Jake since it seemed to be legit and then call her back. Well after calling him multiple times and him not picking up I started to freak out and called her back. For her to say, “are you joking with me? I just realized it’s April fools day.” I was like “uhhh no” and snapped her a quick photo of the water and some mucus in the shower. She asked me what she could do for me and I replied to keep me company until we got ahold of my husband.
When she arrived I felt immediate comfort. I tried him a few more times and sent him a few texts. One of his coworkers wives just happened to text me/check on me and I let her know that my water broke and I was trying to get ahold of Jake. So she contacted her husband who is a boss at another job for him to get a hold of Jake’s boss. (He is an iron worker and apparently, leaves his phone in his damn lunch box. Even though he has JUST reminded his boss the day before that his baby was due this month, you would think – he would carry his phone on him!) About 35/40 minutes later he calls me back frantically. “THE BABY IS COMING?!” I could tell he was running to the car. He arrived about 20 minutes later a little scatter brained and ready to go. Just to be met by me and Olivia calm as cucumbers in the kitchen sitting on a birth ball. I informed him I wasn’t ready to go to the hospital yet, that I wanted to try and labor at home as long as I could before we went. I didn’t think/feel like I was in active labor and I really didn’t want to go in and be put on pitocin. My water broke at 8AM and I told Olivia and Jake that I wanted to stay home until about 1PM before going to the hospital. During that time frame I had lunch, went back over everything in the hospital bag, and Olivia sat us both down to formally go over our birth plan and put our minds at ease/answer any questions that either of us may have had. We checked some boxes on a worksheet for Jake on the phone so that he could help advocate for what I wanted in the event that he needed too. About 1PM I called the hospital to let them know my water broke and asked them what they suggested I do. Of course they said to come in immediately because I was at risk for infection. I still didn’t feel like I was in active labor so Olivia suggested doing some nipple stimulation. We used my breast pump and I could actually see some colostrum come out, I was in disbelief my body was actually ready/doing the damn thing! Around 2 I decided it was probably a good idea to go in and start the process since the day prior I took my GBS test/declined to find out if I was dilated yet. So we packed up the car, kissed the pups goodbye and headed to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital I walked myself up to labor and delivery, they stuck us in triage to make sure my water had really broken. We had the sweetest nurse who got all prepped to open me up, just to lift my gown and see the trickle. All she did was swap me and see it turn blue “YUP, your water for sure broke!” In my head, I’m like “I know” LOL. So they admitted us and escorted us to our room. (My lucky number, 7) we actually had the biggest room in the unit as well! Right away they started me on antibiotics and Pitocin. Antibiotics because we didn’t have the results of the GBS test I had taken the day before – so they treated me as if I had it. I asked multiple times if the Pitocin was necessary and if they could wait to see if I dilated a little more (I was at 4CM upon arrival) and multiple nurses told me no because my water had broke early in the morning and I was at risk for infection. So of course, I let them do it. My original plan was a natural birth. I actually wanted to labor in water and that is the only reason I chose my hospital because they had birthing tubs. But because I was 36 weeks and 6 days and my water broke it wasn’t even an option for me. Neither was laboring in the shower because of the antibiotics. We just sat around watching TV and I would get up/on the ball until about 11 PM when my contractions started to get closer together and more consistent/painful. I was about 6.5 CM at this point and was absolutely exhausted and so was my husband. I asked the nurse “when do you know you want an epidural?” she laughed and said “you will know. Before you think you do, ask me about 30 min prior, because it takes time for them to come up and give it to you.” I wanted to wait 30 more min and see if I could hold out – but I just wanted to sleep. So around 11:30 I asked for my epidural and we got some rest. Throughout the night my nurse kept switching my positions and baby boy did not enjoy my right side at all. His heart rate kept dipping low. The second time it happened the nurse came in a little frantic and was like “I need you to flip over as fast as you can” I had been watching the monitor prior to her rushing in and already started to pull myself over. Once she got him stable again she took me off the Pitocin and told me he wasn’t having it. I hadn’t progressed anymore either. 7 AM rolled around and my nurses switched shifts. I had my nurse and a nurse in training (we loved them both so much by the end) my midwife had called and wanted an update on me. They assured her to give them a few hours to get me progressing again especially after I was asking how long they would let me labor before suggesting any more medical intervention (like a c-section) they told me to not even worry about it, they would get me going again and they did. With my bitcoin back on and level, upped labor started again. I was starting to feel pressure as they described and I was gaining feeling back in my toes, feet, and lower legs. Which was really nice. Being super numb wasn’t my favorite. I called them in after several checks and let them know I thought I was ready to push. We did some practice pushes (with me holding my legs) but I still wasn’t fully thinned out/dilated yet. About an hour later I really felt I was ready but started to have horrible back pain during some more practice pushes, to the point where I couldn’t even concentrate, I asked for another dose of epidural a light one, just to get through it. I felt like someone was sitting/stabbing me in the back repeatedly. I got a second dose pretty quickly, laid on my side for about 45 min, took a nice little nap, and when I woke up I called them in and said OK I’m really ready this time and I was. We did a few pushes and they had me bare down with some handles on the bed VS me holding my legs and that made a HUGE difference. I was starting to crown and the nurse was like you have to stop, we need to call the doctor. I didn’t think I was going to make it – at this point, it was harder to not push than it was to just wait. They joked and said they didn’t want to do the paperwork and the second my doctor walked in I could push. This is exactly what happened about 15 min my midwife walked in and 5 pushes later baby boy was out. It was such a surreal experience surrounded by so many people in the room. I forgot to mention once pushing started I welcomed in a paramedic to observe for training as well. By the end of pushing there had to be like 10 people in the room excluding the 3 of us. We had my two nurses, the student, the charge nurse, and another nurse, plus the midwife, labor/NICU nurses in the back to examine the baby. We did delayed cord clamping and the little guy was having a rough time breathing so they stopped at 3 minutes – which I was happy with. They whisked him off and I told Jake to go watch them that I was fine. They thought he had fluid in his lungs by his cry (they were right) I pushed my placenta out and the midwife showed me it/where the baby was. Everyone was congratulating me and telling me how great I did while the doctor finished up. I didn’t tear and only had a small laceration. They were all shocked that it was my first baby because pushing went so quickly and no tears. I was very lucky and on cloud 9. The NICU nurses came over and placed the baby on my chest for some skin to skin and let me know we had one minute before they needed to take him for further examination that someone would be back in to tell us if he was being admitted to the NICU and what for.
Jake came back to my side and we put in our lunch order with Olivia. I was dying for a port of subs sandwich after 9 months and Jake didn’t eat a full meal (only small snacks) during my 30 hour labor process in solidarity to me even though I told him multiple times to eat. We enjoyed our lunch and the NICU doctor came in to let us know he was indeed being admitted for fluid in his lungs and something else. Which caught me off guard. He explained to us that they were going to order imaging because he believed that Maverick had spina bifida. Of course, I had a million questions as to what it was and wasn’t even aware that he had a fluid sack on his lower back since I had only seen/held him briefly before he was whisked away to the NICU. Literally, the time frame and blur of being explained a possible condition was horrifying. But somehow I still was incredibly calm/had peace about it as it was being explained. He let us know imaging would confirm and he would be back that we could go visit him in a few hours when he was back from imaging. I sent Jake to the NICU first and I tried to pump, rest, and reply to a million texts from everyone who knew I was in labor/make calls to our families informing them of what was going on. He came back with photos of the little guy all hooked up to a breathing machine, feeding tube, in a tiny incubator with IVS and it broke my heart. The doctor came back shortly after and let us know they needed to do an MRI and put the request in immediately/had consulted a specialist who believed Maverick had a mild form of spina bifida and had a tethered cord as well. Jake wheeled me to the NICU where the nurses told us it was likely that we wouldn’t have additional imaging because of the holiday weekend (easter) and we weren’t able to hold him the first 24 hours as they were unaware of how stable his fluid sack was. Stable as in – the skin around it was thick enough/would stay thick and full of the fluid/make sure it didn’t travel anywhere else. They have him sleeping on his sides as well. We just soaked in holding his little hands and looking at him multiple times throughout the night until the next morning.
Another NICU doctor told us the following morning we could hold him that evening and I could try to breastfeed if things didn’t change throughout the day. It was really important to me that Jake did skin to skin since he didn’t get to right away. But they insisted that evening I try to feed so that my supply would come in. He latched right away and I was so excited/emotional because pumping wasn’t going very well but I discovered that it was very normal to not have a lot within the first 3-5 days and being away from the baby wasn’t helpful but he was getting any/all “liquid gold” I could muster up and we had to put it in little syringes for the nurses to give to him. The next morning (day 3) we would be leaving the hospital. Baby boy was off his oxygen support within 24 hours and they were weaning him off of his IVSs They let me know that he could be out sooner if I let them bottle feed since I didn’t have a supply yet and as long as he maintained food we would have a chance of him coming home sooner, of course, I said yes. It was nice that we could now hold him/feed him. Being weaned off the IV fluids and being fed actually gave him jaundice (which is really common) so they were going to put him under light therapy for the next 24 hours and see if his numbers improved. At shift change, we had to leave. It was so hard. But we both put on brave faces to each other and kept optimistic. I didn’t actually break down until Olivia’s face timed us to check in. I was scared of the unknown, frustrated my birth plan didn’t happen according to “plan”, and just overall exhausted. My husband is such a saint he was such great comfort. The CNA helped us downstairs and loaded our car. We decided to go eat next door and make the next feeding before heading home. The next day I headed back to the hospital and they were going to take him off light therapy to see if his jaundice would stay stable. The day we switched off and waited for the specialist to review his MRI. They confirmed their suspicions and let us know he would need surgery and a consult would be scheduled in a week from his discharge, so it was just a race to make sure he kept weight and numbers down so we could bring him home. During that time we traded off NICU shifts and got housework done (jake nested so hard LOL) it was really cute to watch. Mostly everything was ready in the nursery minus just cosmetics like pictures being hung and damn wall decals (which still aren’t finished BTW) when I received the call that after 5 long days of NICU torture we could pick him up. I of course bawled my eyes out, we loaded up his diaper bag and headed to the hospital. Before taking him, they made us take a CPR class/watch a video. Put him in his going home clothes and a quick car seat check and we were on our way home. So many emotions. But so happy!
If you are still invested to know more about what the surgeon said/Mavericks story + recovery you can read this post HERE.