Katie's birth story is not one that's too uncommon in the birth world, unfortunately. An array of interventions and days on end of slowly progressing labor. Add in a low platelet count that denied her an epidural and things get hard and exhausting quick! So many factors of her birth could have been prevented if the lines of communication between her and her provider were more open. She felt so removed from her own body and that made this whole experience even harder. Her message is important. We need to ask questions. We need to know our options. Katie ended up asking for her medical records after this whole experience and she recommends you do the same if you have any questions at all. Thank you for sharing your story with us Katie, I hope that it can help us pave the way for more empowered and informed births.
When I found out I was pregnant, my husband Luke and I decided not to find out the gender. This is still one of my favorite parts of the whole thing. We were cautiously excited to share the news of the pregnancy with family and friends, still recovering from an early miscarriage the month before. My pregnancy was smooth. I was under the care of an OB, and decided to switch to a small practice in my area in hopes of more personalized care. We had our monthly, then bi-monthly, then weekly checkups as everything progressed!
Although I was under the care of an OB, I was focused on having an intervention-free, unmedicated birth. An acquaintance of mine told me of her success using the Hypnobabies techniques years before I became pregnant, and I decided that this was definitely something I wanted to try. I also took prenatal yoga and a natural-focused birth class led by a doula. During my pregnancy, I switched to a vegan diet from vegetarian.
My husband was super supportive of my approach to the pregnancy. He picked up extra chores around the house so that I could fit in Hypnobabies or prenatal yoga during the evenings. I poured over books and blogs and websites about childbirth, especially unmedicated childbirths, successful birth stories, really anything I could get my hands on! I could not get enough of learning about how amazing our bodies are throughout this entire process. During the childbirth class, we covered all aspects of labor, delivery, and breastfeeding. While interventions and cesareans were covered, I was so incredibly confident that my birth would go according to my plan, I just didn’t pay too much attention to those parts.
As my due date drew closer, my doctor began discussing an induction. Still, I was completely convinced I would go into labor on my own. Finally, at 41 weeks and 2 days, I scheduled my induction at the hospital. My husband and I switched our thinking as quickly as we could, trying to make the best out of this new situation. We downloaded “The Walking Dead” to watch in the hospital, decided an epidural would be the best route, and started planning. My husband was working out of state at the time, so part of our decision was knowing that if we didn’t do this now, the chances of him being out of town if/when I went into labor would continue to increase. We were scheduled to go into the hospital on a Thursday night, and we were as ready as we could be! Then, ONE HOUR before we were scheduled to arrive, the hospital called and said they were full. We were shocked, no one said this was even a possibility! Our options were to have the hospital call when they had a bed open that night, or go to bed and try again the next day. We chose the later. The next morning, we touched base with the nurses and were told that we’d get a call at some point that day. At this point, I was really starting to doubt the decision to go with an induction. If this was so necessary to a safe delivery, then why could it be pushed back and rescheduled? However, I knew that everyone was ready to get this baby out, and we decided to just keep with the original plan. Around 11:30 the following morning, the hospital called and we were all set to go in. The hospital is about 15 minutes away, and our bags had been packed, so we arrived around 12:30 in the afternoon.
This is when everything really gets turned upside down. My husband and I got into a room, I changed into a gown, and the nurse drew blood and I was hooked up to a monitor. I will never forget this next moment… our nurse walked into the room with a very disheartened look on her face and said that my platelets were too low to have an epidural, and we would have to continue with the induction without one. I was very surprised and disappointed that my doctor had not come in to discuss this or any of my options moving forward. There is an increased risk with bleeding if you get an epidural with low platelets, and my platelet count was below the threshold that the anesthesiologist was comfortable with. This is something we were not prepared for. I have since requested copies of my medical records from my pregnancy and delivery (something I highly recommend!!!), and low platelets were noted in my records, but never shared with me during any prenatal visit. This is a condition called gestational thrombocytopenia that can occur during pregnancy. All I knew about pitocin at the time was that the contractions were strong, close together, and your body was not able to “deal” with the pain in the same way as it can with naturally occurring contractions. I was terrified. My nurse hooked me up to the pitocin, started at a low dose that increased throughout the afternoon, and we were on our way to meeting our baby. I was not even 1cm when I was induced, and due to the induction being pushed back, my OB decided to skip any other induction medications and go straight to the pitocin. Maybe 30 minutes later, an anesthesiologist came in looking very somber. He shared that I had signs of preeclampsia and would need to have an emergency cesarean under general anesthesia because of the low platelets. Ok, now even more terrifying! Luke and I decided to just go through with the emergency cesarean and tell our families after the fact as to not add additional stress. We then called our nurse, and she came in looking very confused. The doctor had the wrong patient. Apparently there was another person with the same first name who had this situation occurring. After that we got a slew of apologies from the nurse and the charge nurse, but never from the anesthesiologist.
I was laboring for a few hours on the pitocin and handling the contractions well. I tried using Hypnobabies, but honestly at that point everything had just been turned around and changed up so many times I could not concentrate enough for anything to be effective. My husband and I were halfway through a Walking Dead episode when I felt my water break around 5pm. We were very excited that labor was moving along! However at that point, the contractions intensified immensely. This is definitely when things start getting very fuzzy in my memory. I have very few memories of the entire night as I labored. My husband was amazing, and only left my side to get refills on my ginger ale. When Luke would walk down the hallway to get me a refill, he said the nurses kept their heads down and didn’t look him in the eye. At that point they had been hearing me throughout the night. I remember the only way I could get through a contraction was to “catch” it as it was beginning. I developed a breathing pattern that worked as well as it could. If I didn’t get ahead of the contraction, I would just bear down and scream through it. Due to the pitocin, the contractions would come a few at a time, and I do remember watching the monitor and seeing a new contraction starting and just feeling completely defeated. As the pain and intensity of the contractions increased, the nurse offered a pain medicine called Stadol. She said that this would help take the edge off of the contractions, but I could only get 2 doses so I had to really wait until I was ready to use it. I was progressing, and at 4cm at about 7pm. Luke was so fantastic supporting me during this time, I honestly don’t remember most of it. I did decide to go ahead with the Stadol at some point, and Luke said I would be very out of it in between contractions, and then wake up and begin working and breathing through them. At around 9pm I was at 6cm. Things continued on, I was at 7cm at 12:30am, and at 9cm at 2:30am. The nurses were fantastic, but Luke did so much work. I was bleeding and passing clots throughout labor, and he changed countless chuck pads. He helped me walk to the bathroom, we very quickly learned how to unstrap and restrap on the fetal monitor. I stayed at 9cm for hours and hours, and my OB decided to turn off the pitocin around 8am to just take a break and see what was happening. I had been stuck at 9cm for about 6 hours still having intense contractions. At that point, Luke and I were both exhausted, I was in so much pain and the contractions were so non-stop, I couldn’t even talk or form a thought until the pitocin wore off. In between contractions, the pressure from the baby’s head in my pelvis was so intense, it hurt just as much as the contractions did. My OB decided to take my blood one more time to run the platelet count to see if there was a change. This time, they had gone up slightly and there was an anesthesiologist willing to do the epidural. Our amazing nurse waited outside of the OR to grab him as soon as he was out to come to us. I will never forget him walking in and saying “Normally I’d have the patient just tough it out at this point”. Wow. So I got an epidural around 9:30am, and my OB decided to let me rest for a few hours and then come back and check for progress. Luke and I slept for 4 hours and it was one of the highlights of the whole experience. At 3:00pm, I was finally at 10cm and ready to push.
I remember being so excited and determined when it was time to push. Our nurse was great and coached me through how and when to push. At that point, I was loving the epidural and didn’t want to feel anything so I was relying completely on the nurse and monitor to tell me when to push. The machine that gives the epidural stopped working at some point, but was fixed quickly. So one hour passed, still pushing, then two hours, then three hours. At 3 hours, the OB came in (she had been checking in periodically) and gave me 30 more minutes to get this baby out. In retrospect, I think she knew he wasn’t coming. Due to the epidural, I was on my back in the hospital bed and did not try any other positions to push. After 3.5 hours of pushing, the OB called it and said it was time for a cesarean. Luke texted our family, who had been in the waiting room since I started pushing. There was an emergency cesarean who had to go in before us, so we were pushed back a little bit. We were well known in the L&D unit at this point since everyone on the floor had heard me screaming for the past 24 hours. A few nurses on the floor came in to say hi and check in while I was being prepped for surgery. We went through our third and final shift change, which made for our 4th nurse, and then it was time to go to the OR. The cesarean went fine, and our sweet baby BOY was born at 9:10pm. He was 9lb. 1oz. Luke texted pictures to our family, but waited to tell them the gender until he went down in person. Our baby boy, Cole, had aspirated some meconium so he went to the NICU for an hour for monitoring. We are incredibly grateful that Cole was so healthy after such a long, traumatic labor and birth. Luke split the next hour between Cole, our family in the waiting room, and me in recovery. After about an hour, the nurse brought Cole to me and the three of us made our way to the recovery room. It breaks my heart that Cole spent the first hour of his life away from me and Luke. I still look back on Cole’s birth and just feel sad that I don’t remember most of it. I don’t remember him coming out, or his first cry, or who said, “It’s a boy”. I was so looking forward to skin to skin, and breastfeeding for the first time, and those other precious first moments, and I didn’t get them. Luke remembers, so I still ask him questions about what happened from time to time.
Once Luke, Cole, and I had settled into the recovery room, our families visited for a few minutes around midnight. I remember asking repeatedly when I could nurse Cole, it had been 4+ hours since he was born, and the nurse kept saying his sugars were too high or low (I can’t remember), so he kept getting heel pricks until they were stable. Then I could finally nurse, which I also don’t remember. Another nurse came in a few times throughout the night, and would wake me up to ask when she could take Cole for a bath. At some point I just said to take him. None of those first hours with him went like I had imagined or hoped.
Recovering emotionally from my birth has been a process that I am continuing to work through. I feel like so many things were taken away from me during my birth, and with information from the medical records, I also feel like I wasn’t given all of the information necessary for me to make a completely informed decision regarding the induction. Once I was in the hospital and in labor, I was unable to have any sort of conversation with my OB regarding interventions being used or any questions or concerns that arose due to the pain. There is so much that I wish I did differently looking back, but I am getting to the point of feeling that we made the best decisions we could with the information we had, and after going through so many interventions. The night following Cole’s birth is a complete blur, I remember so little of his actual birth and the first few hours of his life. I was so physically and mentally exhausted that I just wanted to eat and sleep. Requesting my medical records is something that I really recommend for anyone who has similar feelings. I requested records from the hospital, and my prenatal records from the OB office.
I recently read an article in support of women whose births did not go as planned. She drew the comparison to a graduation ceremony. No one would ever tell a recent graduate who missed graduation that it didn’t matter because they still graduated. It is acknowledged that the act of walking across the stage is a hugely significant, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even though you still have a degree, you still missed that moment in time that you can never get back or recreate. That is how I feel, that the birth I wanted and the first hours of my son’s life were taken from me.
I am able to look back and think of some of the things that went well. Even though I disagree with a lot of the decisions our OB made during the whole process, I do remember her putting my hair in a ponytail, which was nice. The nurse that was with us during the cesarean asked me what Pandora station I wanted to listen to during Cole’s birth. This is one of my favorite memories. He was born when one of my absolute favorite songs was playing - “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show (originally by Bob Dylan - fun fact). Our nurse that was with us while I was pushing came and visited a few days later when we were recovering. This quote has also helped me process through many of my feelings regarding my birth experience and how I am moving forward. “Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created” Esther 4:14. I am in the process of starting an ICAN chapter in my area, and look forward to connecting with other mothers who are also recovering from their birth experiences. So while everything did not go as planned, and there are moments that I regret and moments I will never get back, I continue to focus on healing from the experience, being proactive in planning for future births, and growing a community of support in my area. My goal in writing this is so that other mothers going through a similar experience feel supported and understood. It’s so frustrating to hear repeatedly that a healthy baby is all that matters. While this is true to a degree, what happens to a mother during birth is also an important, life altering experience that should be respected.
I'm Katie! I live near Annapolis, MD with my husband (Luke), son (Cole, 1.5), dog (Patrick), and 6 chickens. I was a special education teacher for 8 years, and am now a behavior specialist for a local school system. I'm also a vegan and all about that lifestyle, while my husband is an avid hunter and fisher. When Cole goes to bed, I enjoy crocheting, drinking wine, and watching "The Office". Instagram: @theherbivoreathome Facebook: Katie Peternel
Today I'm doing a spotlight on The Noble Paperie. Similar to the one I did a while ago with I Had a Miscarriage, Kate created a company of greeting cards targeted towards parents of loss. Kate has been through a lot of trauma in motherhood and in dealing with her heartache she noticed the same void in the card market that Jessica noticed. Instead of ignoring that void, Kate turned her heartache into something beautiful and purposeful. She created a line of support cards for The Noble Paperie.
Kate was kind enough to send me some samples of her products and I cant enunciate enough how well made they are. The quality is so high and the details are so thoughtful (the back of every card has a custom design!). You can tell that she takes care and pride in each design that she creates.
Some of her cards are filled with heartfelt words and other use humor to help mend the wound. And if you're like me, humor is the way to my heart. And also adult beverages ;) So the options are a welcomed detail of her shop.
A portion of the profits from these cards goes to Miracle Babies, a charity whose mission is to provide support and financial assistance to families with critically-ill newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; and to enhance the well-being of women, children and their families through education, prevention and medical care. If the cards weren't great enough on their own, I'm all about supporting am amazing cause.
In the next coming days I will be sharing more of Kates personal story that lead to the creation of these cards. I'm so thankful for people like Kate who use their own personal struggles to help others. I hope you check back and follow along with her journey and that you use her shop to help comfort parent in need. Sometimes just a small 'hey, I'm thinking about you." can make a huge difference in someone's grieving process.
With that I will leave you with The Noble Paperie's mission statement
"Our mission is to spread joy and hope to those with a mama’s heart, who are struggling through miscarriage, infertility, and other pregnancy-related issues. We believe that becoming a mother starts when you prepare your heart to have children – not the actual manifestation of a child. Our paper products are designed with love and care to support, advocate for, and inspire a community to live with joy through the journey."
Lately Iv been getting more and more people coming to me wanting to tell their story of postpartum depression and I think that says a lot. It says that it's so common that even in the small sampling of women this blog has reached, the majority of the stories on here talk about postpartum mood disorders. It says that while you might feel alone in what you are going through, there are in fact so many other women and mothers where you are right now. It tells me that the recent influx of celebrities speaking up and telling their story has made an impact. It tells me that we are making strides to normalize postpartum depression.
Agatha is currently fighting postpartum depression. She has recently found the light at end of a very long very dark tunnel and she hopes that by sharing her struggles she can help someone else who may not see the light just yet.
I’m sharing today.
I’m sharing to combat the numerous stigmas our society associates with postpartum depression. Let me just say I’m not crazy, haven’t lost my mind, I’m not going to hurt myself and I love my little ones very much. It so happens to be that growing a precious baby and experiencing birth, has created deficiencies in my body and a chemical imbalance in my brain that require treatment.
I’m sharing because many new mothers choose to internalize their struggles with postpartum depression and instead, opt to “ride it out”. Left untreated, postpartum depression can ruin so much time. It can take the most special time, particularly that first year when there are so many amazing milestones to savor.
I’m sharing because I realized that postpartum depression was stronger than I was. And I wanted to win. I wanted to look back at this time as a warrior victorious. I wanted to feel better so I could enjoy moments with my little ones and so I could be proud of the mother I am.
I wanted to share because I craved the confirmation of knowing I wasn’t alone. I shared because I was tired of trying to keep my life glued together in an intricate façade while the most precious moments of motherhood passed me by.
I wanted to share, because I knew in my mind that one day my experience would be history. And though this experience was very painful it was valuable, significant and very important to share.
Six to eight weeks after my baby arrived, postpartum depression also arrived. An unwelcome visitor that came with an influx of thoughts and emotions that persistently had me occupied. Being struck by PPD was shocking. I thought I was too strong, independent and motivated to be “touched”. I’d been around individuals with postpartum depression before and I just never understood why it was so crippling. I realize now.
I was constantly assessing thoughts, fighting emotions, working to make sense of it all and trying to keep calm. My thoughts suddenly felt like an enormous “traffic jam”.
Suddenly, any outside pressure or problems seemed more than I could handle. If you’re a mom, you would know how many silly, ridiculous things happen in a single day of tending to little ones. Spilt milk or snacks, messy crafts or naughty adventures I would find my little ones in the middle of…you get the drift. Anything small tipped me over the edge and I found myself losing patience and crying, often for insignificant reasons that seemed colossal in the moment. I found myself flustered and overwhelmed in the simplest situations and I frequently felt a great deal of challenging emotions for no reason at all.
These made me react to problems and situations in ways that I’m not proud of. Although I knew better, PPD made me believe my little ones were better off and happier with someone else. I have never felt such strong feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem and inability to raise my little ones.
No matter how inadequate I felt, I had no choice but to continue caring for my loved ones. I spent my days filling bellies, wiping noses, breaking up fights, cleaning little hands, folding laundry, tidying typical kid messes and trying to keep them content. In my emotional state it felt like an undefeatable stream of never ending needs that wouldn’t subside. I felt like I was failing my family on all fronts. The pressure was more than I could bear, and the resulting guilt was just another contribution to the mountain of emotional stress I was dealing with.
On rare occasions my emotions felt like a physical weight, bearing me down. The pain was so heavy emotionally that it felt physically debilitating. I felt completely incapacitated. To cope, I focussed on the bare minimum. I took care of my kids. I limited housework, stopped business work and didn’t engage in any social interactions with others. On these days I was unable to reach out to sisters as I sometimes did for a dose of positivity. Although these times were few, I was always left worrying when the next time would come.
Increased stress came from trying to fulfill my own expectations. I felt like I was losing myself slowly and couldn’t understand why I was feeling so emotionally out of control and why I had lost my motivation.
I felt ashamed to show my tears and weakness to anyone. I was ashamed that in the midst of a blissfully perfect life, I was struggling. I was embarrassed and scolded myself inwardly for not being more optimistic and content with the many blessings I was granted. I was worried I wasn’t meeting other’s expectations just as I wasn’t meeting my own.
During my struggle with PPD I noted, that my worst critic was myself. Being a perfectionist, it was shocking to suddenly find myself incapable of completing simple tasks I believed I should be able to complete. I wanted to take perfect care of my two toddlers, breastfeed the new baby, look presentable, take care of my husband and tend to my household. I found myself frustrated and humbled; realizing I just couldn’t do it all. Being fiercely independent, it was difficult to step back and acknowledge my postpartum depression and accept help. It was a turning point and essential to my wellbeing.
I’ve shared today because, as mothers we need to be more open about the challenges we face. Motherhood is wonderful and amazing and the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but motherhood is also much harder than I ever thought it would be. I believe that as mothers, we owe it to other moms, especially new mothers, to be authentic and real about our experiences; the good as well as the bad so that others can be equipped with realistic expectations.
I’ve shared today because postpartum depression is not a condition to be ashamed of. It’s common, treatable and short-term if treated correctly. If left untreated it can develop into a lifelong, chronic mental disorder. It’s not necessary to suffer in silence.
Since seeking help and treatment I’ve started seeing the light. Although extremely difficult, this journey has made me realize more than ever, how blessed I am. I’ve been surrounded in love by my husband who’s held my hand and patiently waited for me understand myself and my experiences.
I’m surrounded by an amazing family and a wonderful support network. Although I’m still dealing with PPD symptoms, my family has been pivotal in helping me in my recovery up to this point.
My life is amazing, and I’m looking forward to returning to it.
Most of all, I look forward to finding myself again.
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression please reach out and get help
or call 1.800.944.4773
I’m not really into writing about me. But here’s just a little tidbit.
Becoming a mother is most beautiful experience but also the most difficult experience I’ve lived through. I’ve done it three times with no regrets. Each of our littles has a special place in our hearts, and together with my husband we are trying to raise them to be good little humans. Martina (3), Rowan (2) and Alana (4 months). We live in lush, Fraser Valley, BC where we are surrounded by incredible landscape and mountains.
To keep myself challenged daily I run an online shop called @shopmartinas where I aim to bring mothers the best natural teething remedies. It’s a delicate thing, to balance motherhood and work, and it brings unique trials, but it’s also very rewarding.
Motherhood can be trying, and I’ve shared my thoughts and experiences about Post-Partum depression to create awareness about this incredible mountain that many mamas face. Post-Partum depression is a mental illness that can be treated promptly if it’s identified, discussed and properly treated. This can only be done, if we as a society battle the stigma surrounding PPD and educate ourselves to become suitable supports for those dealing with postpartum depression.
Agatha's Website is Shop Martinas
And you can follow along with her on Instagram @shopmartinas.
Katie had two vaginal births and had no reason to expect anything different with the birth of her most recent daughter. But the funny thing about birth is that it's always unpredictable, even if you've done it 12 times before. So when her labor failed to progress at the speed of her OBs liking, she was told that her baby would need to be delivered via cesarean. An unplanned cesarean mixed with an unexpected NICU stay makes for an emotional postpartum healing process.
The birth of my third child 6 weeks ago was a complete 180 experience and emotional roller coaster compared to my first and second births in 2009 & 2011. With my first two children, I ADORED my obgyn, trusted her 100%. Both pregnancies were essentially perfect with zero complications (not even a moment of morning sickness) and both births were full-term hospital inductions with pitocin, vaginal deliveries, about 12-14 hours start to finish with zero complaints or complications. I was younger, and didn't know a ton about birth, but I have no regrets with either of them. All I knew back then was that I did not want a C-Section.
Late July of 2016, the day before I was starting a new position with the bank I worked for, we discovered we were pregnant with our third child (funny thing about my pregnancies- I have always found out the day before an 'event'. With my first, it was thanksgiving, and my second, it was Valentine's Day). We were a bit surprised because we weren't actively trying, we were taking precautions at the time, but we were happy and excited to finalize our family (3 was always our 'number'). I am older now so I started to do a bit of research on birth options, I watched 'The Business of Being Born', and listened to pregnancy podcasts galore. I was beyond inspired about the possibilities of this birth. Honestly, I knew that a completely pain-free birth wasn't for me, so I decided my goals were to go into labor on my own, avoid an epidural until 6cm, have a quiet, low lit, emotionally supported birth, and have immediate skin-to-skin with delayed chord clamping (this was a HUGE want of mine), and of course a perfectly healthy baby girl.
Out of 8 birth goals, I got 1. It's still difficult to emotionally process.
Aside from being borderline GD, my pregnancy was easy. My previous dr moved away after my second was born and although I didn't dislike my new doctor, I certainly didn't feel the same connection, and sometimes my appointments felt like a long wait for 5 minutes of time, but it didn't weigh on me too much during pregnancy. At 36 weeks, I was checked and was about 1 cm, and the baby was low. I was excited at the thought that things were getting started and maybe I would go into labor on my own close to my due date. I was walking a ton at work, and was planning to begin red raspberry tea at 38 weeks. At 37 weeks, I was still 1 cm but baby's head couldn't be felt. I had a suspicion that my daughter was posterior, based on the movement I was feeling, and asked how that affects L&D. My dr told me it can stall labor or make it more difficult to push the baby out, but she mentioned we would do an ultrasound at 39 weeks to see where she was at. That Saturday night (37+3) I realized I was beginning to lose my mucous plug, but I didn't think anything of it because I knew that losing it doesn't determine that labor is beginning. I didn't know it at the time, but I was having contractions occasionally up in my ribs, I just thought that I was being kicked or that her foot was sort of 'jammed' in my rib cage. The next morning, around 11 AM, I started to notice very small trickles when I would walk around as I cleaned the house, but I assumed it was still my plug. Turns out, my water had broken!!! At 11:30am, I called my mom and said "so, please tell me that I haven't been peeing on myself for the past 30 minutes. That's not possible, right?" Because I was in disbelief that my water was breaking. I called L&D and they told me to come in. We told our older kids what was happening and started getting things ready. They were so excited, and It was crazy timing because I had taken the next week off of work for my kids spring break to spend extra time with them, while giving my MIL her own week 'off' from the big kids before the craziness of a new baby began. By the time we headed to the hospital, I had soaked through 2 pads, so I KNEW this was real and I had gone into labor at home (that's my 1 that I got). I never felt anymore contractions or discomfort other than the leaking of my water.
We arrived around 1pm and we were checked and in a room by about 2. I was 3cm at that point. I was told that the on call dr would be notified, and I didn't love that at all but understood the reality of it. The on call dr was a male which I was also not used too, but didn't mind much. I just hoped he would be kind, patient, and not make me feel like I was interrupting his weekend lol. Although my nurses were awesome, they were definitely ready to get the pitocin going and get this baby out!! I was on board with that as well because I haven't experienced any issues with that course of action during my previous births, and I was excited to meet my baby girl! Things were progressing slowly and I got my epidural around 6pm. By 7pm, I was only at 4.5 and we were trying different positions, including using the peanut to try and help open the cervix. We couldn't attempt it for very long because baby girl did not like it, and her heart rate would drop. By 9 pm I was only 5cm dilated and her heart rate would drop from time to time, but nothing seemed to be a problem. At 10pm, the doctor came in and said "well, things aren't progressing, and with her heart rate dropping, I don't think it's going to happen....we're going to need to do a C-section". Two things I noticed in that moment.
I had thought about the possibility of a C-section because I thought she was posterior, but I hadn't actually prepared myself (is it even possible too?). I was TERRIFIED of the recovery while having a newborn and two older kids at home. I've never had a surgery prior to this and had no idea what to expect. My husband and mother were at the hospital of course so I immediately wanted my mom while I CRIED about what was about to happen. 3 more nurses came in the room at once, one to shave me, one to give me the nastiest thing I've ever consumed, and another to do whatever she was doing. My assigned nurse was amazing to me through all of this and she did her best to comfort me.
Being wheeled into a surgical room-alone-for the birth of my child, was surprisingly one of the scariest moments of my life and I didn't expect that feeling. From the moment I was in that room, any ounce of excitement or joy for this birth completely left my body and i was filled with fear and discomfort. It was just a bright, cold, metal room. I had the shakes from meds, I was freezing cold, and I simply felt like I had so much happening around me and to me, yet I wasn't even there. I was given more meds to further numb my stomach, and I remember crying when they laid my arms away from my body. It all felt SO out of my control and I couldn't do anything about it. After I was 'situated' I started coughing a little and because I was numb up to my chest, I couldn't get any power behind my cough, which was maddening. I then began to throw up about 5 times. The doctor confirmed her posterior position to me while delivering her and At 10:50pm March 12th, my daughter was born. I heard her cry, and I cried. That moment was a mixture of joy and sorrow for what was happening to me. The loss of almost everything I wanted for myself and her birth hit me in that moment. My husband was of course by my side but wouldn't have been able to stomach watching a c-section, and I didn't think to ask anyone to record, so I have no images of the actual birth. The first picture we have was once she was being cleaned up by nurses and my husband was with her. He brought her over and I was able to kiss her and calm her down. I was so upset that I wasn't the first person to hold her, and have those first few minutes of skin to skin. We got back to the room, my mom was able to see her and then she left shortly after because it was so late. My epidural had been removed, I was a bit groggy and so uncomfortable. Within 15 minutes of being in my room, my uterus was massaged (SO painful), I was asked a handful of questions about my pain and General status, and I was attempting to breastfeed which was a bit of a struggle. I was beyond tired and the nurse wanted me to football hold, and I don't do football holds. They don't work for me. The next 24 hours was essentially typical, breastfeeding, diaper changing, the family and sibling meeting the baby, and I also learned about using a binder around my stomach-that thing is a god-send! At 11pm that Monday, my night nurse came to take my daughter for her newborn screening. Thankfully for my nurse (Liz), she noticed that my daughter was making what the dr referred to as a grunting noise, and she took her straight to the NICU. I was woken up shortly after to be told that she had brought her there just to be checked out, and by 5am, the nicu dr (who I loved) came in and let us know that our daughter had a tension pneumothorax in her left lung and they had to give her a chest catheter to relieve the air and pressure in her chest. The first 48 hours in the nicu were a bit rough for her and we weren't able to interact too much with our daughter, but the nicu staff was amazing and they took great care of her (and us)! Knowing she was in the best hands made it a bit easier to go home without her. I was excited to see big sister and brother again, took advantage of the extra rest when I wasn't at the hospital with her, and I pumped around the clock to bring milk for her when she was able to eat again. The catheter was removed after 4 days, we held her again the following day, and she came home on march 22nd.
We are now 6 weeks PP. Life with 3 kiddos is currently crazy, but I'm thankful that the big kids have school, which give me more time to bond with Ellie and rest! Physically, I have healed quickly and well (although I really hate the numbness above my incision and I'm wondering if I'll ever wear anything but maternity pants again). The emotions surrounding my birth experience are still a bit all over the place, but I feel that I'm navigating them well. Our breastfeeding journey luckily was not too rough after going 8 days unable to breastfeed. I used a nipple shield for a few days when needed, and supplemented with breastmilk in a bottle when I was unsure about how much she was eating. When my husband went back to work, I was convinced I couldn't do it all and I thought I would do half formula, half breast milk and begin bottle feeding, but I realized I wasn't emotionally ready to stop breastfeeding her. We both quickly got back on track and we are exclusive breastfeeding successfully now! Ellie healed up beautifully while in NICU and doesn't require any follow ups in regards to her lung issue at birth.
Hey there! I'm Katie, 29, I am myself, an IVF triplet born via c-section at 31 weeks and a nicu grad. I am a mom to 3 awesome kiddos (7yrs, 5yrs, & 6weeks old). My husband and I have been together for 10 years this coming September. We live about an hour north of Houston TX and we both grew up here. I've worked in banking for the past 9 years, but now I am embarking on the crazy/awesome stay at home life, while working my home business (thank you baby#3 )!
Facebook: Katie Hertsenberg
Sometimes you have a really easy pregnancy and labor. Sometimes you have a rough pregnancy and a difficult labor. Sometimes one thing goes wrong, sometimes a few things go wrong, and sometimes, like with Alex, pregnancy and birth can't quit throwing you curve balls.
I'm Alex I'm a 28 year old first time Mom to my wonderful 11 month old daughter Fawn. I got very lucky with her, she is insanely sweet and mellow, and although she is a wonderful baby, we definitely have had our share of curve balls, starting very early in my pregnancy...
All I ever have wanted in my life was to have a family. All throughout college I was working toward a degree in Fashion Merchandising and in the back of my head I was like "yeah yeah, I just want babies". Everyone that has known me for a while, or even not that long, knows this about me. I have loved pregnancy, babies, birth and all things related to these subjects since long before I was becoming a Mom. My cousin recently told me "you know so much about babies it's almost weird". Which I take as a major compliment! I was a nanny for a number of years and absolutely adored working with those kids, I loved my job so much! I also am a trained postpartum doula, which I became over a year before getting pregnant myself. So needless to say, I've always surrounded myself with babies, because that's my idea of fun!
So fast forward, I get married to a wonderful man, I get pregnant the first month trying. Crazy lucky. I was on, the, ball with figuring out everything that needed to happen, hired a doula, looked in to birth techniques (I decided on Hypnobabies, and I cannot say enough positive things about it!), started researching home birth and birth centers. I was basking in the glory of finally being a Mother! I did a half marathon rollerblade race at 4 weeks pregnant, I felt great. I was thinking I was going to be one of those super annoying pregnant women that's "never felt better" and "forgets she's pregnant". Oh how wrong I was! I had a little nausea and woozy feeling but nothing that isn't to be expected. Then, at 5 weeks pregnant I started throwing up about 10 times a day and couldn't sit up without puking. Good times. I tried evvvvvvveryyyythiiiing! I swear if I heard another person say "have you tried ginger?!" I was going to hulk out on everyone. What I had was called Hypermesis Gravidarum, or persistent vomiting due to pregnancy, it effects 1-3% of pregnant women. Lucky me! So I was basically bed ridden, was throwing up blood because my esophagus was so torn up, I had lost 8 pounds that I couldn't afford to lose. I couldn't even sit up to read, I had to be flat on my back. I'm not one to watch much TV but that's basically all I did, and listened to books on tape while staring at the ceiling, thrilling stuff. I was desperate and REALLY didn't want to take medication, I just kept thinking of Thalidomide babies. So, I decided to try acupuncture (which, during the 15 minute drive to my first appointment I had to pull my car over twice to puke) and that day, I felt human, for the first time in weeks. I was still throwing up but not nearly as much, so I was able to go out and do things again, albeit everywhere I went I had to scan the room and see what I could throw up in, if need be, because when the feeling hit, I had about 5 seconds to find a vessel to contain it. There is kind of a loneliness to pregnancy already, you can't do everything you want, your body is changing every 5 minutes, hormones galore! But the fact that I spent the vast majority of my first few months pregnant actually alone, constantly puking, I've never felt more isolated in my life. I remember thinking, "WHAT THE EFF?!?! What did I do to deserve this?! I recycle, I don't swear much, I rescued 2 dogs, I give good hugs, whatever happened to karma?!" Also, thinking that this wasn't the greatest way to start off something I've been looking forward most of my life. I finally stopped throwing up at 18 weeks and felt so great after that! I never had a single token pregnant woman meltdown (I credit Hypnobabies and my stellar prenatal chiropractor). I remained very active after I gained my weight back (which wasn't a problem for me because I looooove food, and I had to make up for lost time!)
Then at 37 weeks I go to my midwife and baby had developed an irregular heartbeat. Super. I leave the appointment in tears, naturally. So I schedule an appointment for a late pregnancy ultrasound 2 weeks from then to get her heart checked out. In the meantime I went to another midwife appointment the following week and hear "we are concerned because baby isn't growing". Fantastic. I never measured past 36 weeks. At this point I remember saying to my husband "maybe I've had it all wrong this whole time and I'm not meant to be a Mother. These things don't happen during 'regular' pregnancies". I was feeling rather defeated. Wondering if these problems happened because I don't eat meat so I wasn't giving her enough protein, if I was eating too much sugar so her heart got all wacky. Of course you blame yourself, because you are the only one with any semblance of control over what happens to a baking baby. But in fact, I likely could have done everything completely different and everything would have turned out the same.
We go in for the ultrasound and the doctor says "well your baby is just packed in really efficiently" so size wasn't a worry anymore (she was 8 pounds at birth, so booya!) but her heartbeat was still a bit of concern so we had to realize that we may have ended up in the hospital (I gave birth at a birth center) to have her heart checked out, and she may need a "simple procedure" to fix it. No thanks to that! But it turns out that the vast majority of babies that have an irregular heartbeat in utero have them go away during birth, and that's exactly what happened, huzzah!
During all this stuff I had 3 family members that were pregnant at the same time as me, 2 sister in laws and my cousin. All three of them threw up during the beginning, not as much as I did, but they were still sick, which sucks. But that's it, everything else went just as planned for all three of them. So knowing that everything was hunky dory for them and I was having all this stuff come up, made me pretty confused and wonder why. I never got an answer to why, some of us just have more complicated pregnancies than others for no reason at all.
Now fast forward to me at 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Everyone constantly asking "haven't you had that baby yet?!" I just wanted to say, "yes I have, can't you see, she's right here and I am now clearly no longer pregnant you FOOL!". I start having contractions (in Hypnobabies we called them "waves"). When they started I thought they were gas pains, because that's exactly what they felt like. They were very irregular and my midwife said they were just "practice", and I was having "prodromal labor" which means they are labor contractions, but you aren't technically IN labor yet. That evening I thought my water had broke while I was on a walk, it turned out it was a "high leak", whatever the hell that is. My midwife said "there is lots of fluid involved, this isn't amniotic fluid and that's what we are looking for". Cool, not I'm having fake out contractions and had a fake out water breaking. Why not?! Turns out I'd have prodromal crobtractions for 3 days straight, yikes. Some were short and barely felt like anything, some felt like my entire body was being squeezed. They weren't painful, but after a while they became quite uncomfortable, because my body was so sore from so many of them. I went to the chiropractor, which helped an INSANE amount with my discomfort, I trotted out of that appointment like I've never felt better. (Seriously, get adjusted while you are pregnant! It helps with the baby's positioning too!) Then my water broke. But I wasn't technically in labor, still. Yeah, that happens. But now I was on the clock. They give you 48 hours after your water breaks to have the baby naturally and after that you get induced because you start being at risk for infection. Nope, not happening, I did NOT want to have her in a hospital! I did more acupuncture, then my doula came over to try and get things moving, and did they ever! I went from having irregular contractions to involuntarily pushing in my living room (spinning babies FTW)! We pack up lighting fast. I try as hard as I possibly can to not have the baby in the car for the 20 minute drive, because once she decided it was time, she was coming out FAST. We called my Mom on the way and she didn't answer the first time so we called her again and she picked up and my husband says "The baby is coming" and she responds "well I know but what is going on" and he responds "no, she is coming RIGHT NOW". Meanwhile I'm having a conversation with my unborn child to stay in for another half an hour, which she listened to, good baby!
At last, we get to the birth center, when we got there the tub wasn't filled and I said "WHY isn't the tub full?!" And they said it fills up in about 2 minutes and they had to check us both out. When they said they wanted to see if I was dilated enough I laughed and thought, "you've got to be kidding me, of course I am!" Then I hear "fill the tub, baby is crowning", I get in the tub, I pushed on my own terms (with no pain, none, I'm still shocked, hooray for Hypnobabies) for 40 minutes and my baby was in my arms. So I was technically only in "real" labor, for 2 hours. Ta da! I had my baby, everything is perfect and lovely and now we can cuddle and have the loaf of bread the midwives bake you. NOPE! I hemorrhaged. So I have to get out of the tub, get in the bed and be given medication to stop the bleeding, which it did. I deliver the placenta. Then I try to nurse for the first time, perfect latch, we decided to name her Fawn, everything is now good, bring on the bread! NOPE! I had adhered placenta and had a 4th degree tear, so would be transferred to the hospital to get my tear fixed, the midwife said "I could fix it here but you'll be more comfortable and they will do a better job at the hospital", yeah, I don't want to mess around with that area, I want the "better job". I was going to need a procedure to get the placenta removed, but it ended up coming out on its own. Fawn was put in her car seat just over 2 hours after being born. Pretty wild. Luckily the hospital was right across the street so we didn't have far to go. I was in that post birth blissful haze. So I went in to get my tear fixed, separated from my daughter just hours after meeting her. They gave me an epidural since I was supposed to get a d and c for the placenta, but didn't, so I didn't need the epidural. They said the epidural would make me numb from the waist down and last 2 hours. I was numb from the neck down for 7 hours and my arms were convulsing the entire time because my nerves were so messed up. Thank God I didn't have one of those when I was pushing Fawn out! That would have been horrible! I go in to recovery and my husband comes in with my midwife and Fawn and they tell me that she needs to be monitored overnight for a slow resting heart rate and we will have to be separated for 12 hours while she is in the SCU and I am in recovery. So her irregular heartbeat went away, but now it's slow... really?! Give this kid a break! I nursed again, they gave her her vitamin k shot, and she didn't even flinch. The midwife checked her heartbeat afterward because she said in all her years she has never seen a single baby not react to that shot. I'm telling you, my kid was born chill. Her heart ended up being totally fine, just very efficient.
I healed really well. I took 2 full weeks of doing VERY limited activity, just focusing on bonding with Fawn, figuring out breastfeeding, taking 40,000 sitz baths and resting. Which I am very very lucky to have had the ability to do. My husband and our family and friends could not have been more stellar. I was nervous about postpartum depression because I had 2 risk factors working against me, I had PMDD (really bad PMS) years ago and Fawn's birth was considered traumatic, well, her post birth was I suppose. I didn't end up having any sings of PPD or PMAD, I credit my amazing husband and all the help we received, and Fawn for being an amazing sleeper right away. But it took me a very long time to not start sobbing when I thought about that first night with her being hooked up to all those wires in a room completely alone, she slept for the vast majority of it luckily, I would go in to try and nurse her every 3 hours and she wouldn't even wake up for that. Every time I look over our birth pictures and I see the images of Fawn being held by my parents and my Mother-in-law for the first time, getting her first diaper changed, being weighed and measured, and knowing I wasn't there, I burst in to tears, still. I was SO worried she wouldn't bond well with me. Well she loves nothing more than being carried around in my arms and is a very affectionate and cuddly baby, so my worry was all for not. I still am processing the whole thing, I probably will be for a long time, maybe forever. But talking about it helps, especially to people that have had a similar experience. That's why I'm so glad to be a part of this blog. Since becoming a Mother I have found how incredibly important it is to be connected with other Mothers, swap stories and advice. I had so many things happen during my pregnancy that weren't "supposed to happen" but isn't that Motherhood? Being thrown stuff from every direction and learning to adapt and catch it all while also making dinner, nursing, wearing your baby and doing calf raises LIKE A DAMN BOSS! Being a Mom makes me feel so strong it's unbelievable, I've never felt more sure of myself. I'm definitely in the part where I feel like, yep, this is what I'm meant to do.
P.S... I never did get my loaf of bread.
Alex lives with her husband, daughter and 2 mutts in Minneapolis, MN. She works part time on a podcast with her parents and brother, and the rest of the time she is Momming it up, working out, eating or talking to herself. She is a baking and cooking enthusiast and tree hugger.
Ive been following Katie and Christina on Instagram for awhile now. They have the most beautiful little family and I love being able to take a small peak into their world. I reached out to them about this project because not only did they have to go through IVF to meet their sweet girl, but because they have the unique perspective of going through it as a same sex couple. I'm so excited that Christina got back to me and allowed me to share their story on here and I hope it gives hope and support to both IVF families as well as those in the LGBT community!
Before Kennedy, Katie and I started out as a couple in love. It was 2012. Girl meets girl. I was 22, Katie was 24. We met online through a dating website. We were so embarrassed to tell anyone we met online that it wasn’t until this year we finally came out with the truth. Some of our friends had already suspected we met through the internet, but we never confirmed it. Instead we had so many confusing, made up stories of how we met. It was hard to keep straight what story we had told people.
The first time we met was at a park by my house. I walked over there after I finished work at a restaurant I worked at in town. I made her a milkshake before I got off of work to bring with me to the park. I wasn’t sure if there was chemistry at first. It wasn’t until our next meeting that I knew Katie was the one. She showed up with flowers on my doorstep and that is when I knew. After that, our weekends were spent taking turns driving an hour back and forth to each other’s houses.
After we met, we just couldn’t stop seeing each other. One date led to another. We just clicked. We were married about a year after meeting each other. We moved in together. We started to save money for our future. Last year, we moved to a bigger town and bought our first house. It was time to start our family.
Katie and I started our Reciprocal IVF journey thinking we would make our dreams become a reality. I had always wanted to have kids but Katie didn’t want kids until she met me. She told me she wanted to carry my egg so we could both be a part of the process. We agreed this would be the best way to have children. As we embarked on our baby journey, we came across the saying, “her bun, my oven.” We thought this was an easy and clever way to explain how we wanted to make our family.
After our first IVF appointment, we already had in mind what we wanted. We wanted to implant two embryos and we hoped to have one boy and one girl. We also wanted to implant two embryos and hoped at least one would take. We never imagined implanting two embryos would cause problems later in our journey.
Our first round of IVF was exhilarating. We were so excited during the entire process. The day we received all our shots in the mail was like Christmas morning. We couldn’t wait to get started. It’s a long process of medications before we have embryos ready to implant. I mapped out who had what shot on what day and if we were supposed to take it in the morning or evening. In the beginning, it was mostly me who did the all the shots. This prepared my body for an egg retrieval. Meanwhile, we started looking for a sperm donor online. This took us several days. It’s hard to pick someone that will play a genetic role in your child’s life. We tried to find someone who resembled Katie as much as possible but also had similar interests. This sounds easier said than done.
The day of egg retrieval was terrible. My body was in so much pain. I was told many women feel moderate pain but of course I felt intense cramping. The pain continued after my surgery. It hurt to stand up, walk, and go the bathroom. I wasn’t focused on the pain though. All we could focus on was a phone call to see how our eggs fertilized. We were told we wouldn’t get a phone call until the following morning. However, Katie got a phone call from the embryologist later that day who asked if he had permission to open our second vial of sperm. The eggs weren’t fertilizing and he wanted to try the second vial. We both went into panic. What if our eggs didn’t fertilize? What if our dreams were crushed? The dreams of us holding a little boy and girl in the hospital vanished from my head. My heart sunk. We were left wondering what happened until the following morning.
The next morning we got the phone call we weren’t hoping for. Out of the 13 eggs that had been retrieved, only 2 had survived. The embryologist had to perform rescue ICSI on the two remaining eggs and hoped they would fertilize. He informed us of the low percentage of eggs that survive this surgery so late after retrieval. Immediately after our phone call, we starting searching the internet for any information we could on surviving embryos from this procedure. We found more sad stories than happy ones. We hoped these two embryos would be our miracle babies and our dream could still come true.
The following day, we got the news we didn’t want, one of our eggs didn’t make it. We still held onto hope for our last remaining egg. I was still giving Katie shots of progesterone each night preparing her body for our embryo. Every night we went to bed wondering what would happen tomorrow. This process had lost its excitement.
Sadly, we got the phone call that our last egg didn’t make it. The news was devastating. Day after day we had been holding out hope that we could still have a healthy baby from this procedure. We were left feeling empty inside. We broke down crying on each other after we got that last phone call. We didn’t know what to do. All we could do was cry. Katie had to go to work the next day but I was on summer vacation. I was left with my thoughts the days after this disappointing news while Katie had work to occupy her mind during the day. I don’t know how many hours I spent crying. I tried to not show how depressed I was and tried to get all my crying out during the day while Katie worked. My body felt weak from being depressed.
I turned to the internet for answers again. I had come across another option, embryo adoption.
Embryo adoption seemed like it could be the choice for us. What I liked about embryo adoption was that we could get 3 embryos and we could get our money back if it didn’t succeed in a pregnancy (if your health/age/history qualified, which we did). Unfortunately, this process is so expensive that money played an important role. We would have to borrow money from my mom to even do this procedure. We also considered that Katie’s body was ready for an embryo. We were still doing progesterone injections each night, not sure of our next decision. Our time was running out and we needed to make a choice. This could be our answer.
We moved along with the process of embryo adoption. We signed papers. We went back to our clinic for implantation. That morning we sat in the waiting room of our clinic. We weren’t smiling. We sat, staring at other couples in the waiting room wondering why they could have their dream and we couldn’t. Our names were called and we were walked back to our exam room. We sat, waiting. We didn’t even speak to each other. We were both consumed with our thoughts. Our nurse walked in. She was our nurse from our previous procedure and wanted to be with us during implantation. We had grown close with her and she was devastated as much as we were when our first round of IVF failed. As soon as she walked in, I burst into tears and she hugged me. I looked over and Katie was crying too. This was supposed to be a happy day so why were we both so sad? After talking with our nurse who consoled us, we decided to try IVF one more time.
We tried to stay positive but this time we were cautious more than ever. Katie looked to the internet for support. She found many blogs about IVF and other fertility stories. We both found this helpful. Hearing from other people who have gone through we went through was comforting. They had success and we would too. We looked into more detail when it came to a sperm donor. I found out as much as information as I could from the company after we narrowed our decision down to three donors. We were going to choose the right donor this time. The last donor we chose had problems during fertilization. This would not happen to us again.
We did the same needle routine. We prepped our bodies with shots. Egg retrieval day came again. I was in pain, again. After, we waited for that phone call the following morning, again. We were relieved when we didn’t get a phone call the day of egg retrieval as we did during our first round of IVF. The next morning, the embryologist called with great news. 18 eggs were retrieved, 9 went through ICSI the day of retrieval while the other 9 were left for regular fertilization. In the end, 11 embryos were fertilized! Two of those embryos were grade A embryos. The embryologist rarely gives out an A on embryos but she said these two were fantastic.
Embryo transfer day was so exciting. It was like Christmas again and we could celebrate! We sat anxiously in the exam room eager to have our two embryos implanted. We watched the ultrasound screen as these two little flickers of light were implanted into Katie.
Just as we had our minds filled with excitement again, we were faced with turmoil. Our second embryo miscarried. It was a morning I would never forget. Katie panicking and crying in the bathroom with blood all over the floor. I tried to stay strong and hopeful that we didn’t lose both babies. We were able to get an appointment with our IVF clinic that afternoon. The worked dragged on, followed by an hour and half drive to our clinic that seemed to take forever. What a relief it was to hear our one baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound. The huge blood clot we saw on the ultrasound sitting next to our tiny baby was terrifying. Our baby was still so small and the blood clot was four times the size of the baby. We were told the blood clot could take over the baby and end the pregnancy. It was unlikely our baby would survive.
However, the day came where our pregnancy had progressed enough to transfer to an OBGYN and leave our fertility clinic. That was an exciting day but we tried not to get excited. We knew the risk of losing our baby was still there. Yet, we had gotten far enough along to transfer to another doctor. It was hard to not feel a little bit of happiness.
Luckily, our baby got bigger and the blood clot kept to itself. We spent the entire pregnancy very cautious. I know parents worry but we were beyond worried. We worried about every little thing. We tried not to get excited about anything. Every ultrasound we had was a focus on the blood clot. We didn’t want to buy anything for the baby because we weren’t sure we would have one. We tried not to talk about all our fears because it wouldn’t ease all our worries.
As Katie’s pregnancy progressed, we started to feel little moments of joy. I remember feeling Kennedy kick for the first time. I wanted to cry. I couldn’t believe a little baby was inside there. A baby we both created. It was an amazing moment. All my worries and fears faded in that minute.
Our gender reveal party was an exciting time in our pregnancy. We had made it this far to find out our little baby was a girl. We had friends and family all around us as we all anxiously waited to find out the gender.
Finally, Kennedy’s birth day was here. Kennedy had been facing the wrong way the entire pregnancy so we scheduled a caesarian section. We scheduled it for her estimated due date. It was a date we had memorized already and we felt it was meant to be that day. We checked into the hospital to only find out Katie shouldn’t have drunken orange juice earlier that morning. It was frustrating, yet comical, that the day we were so anxiously awaiting for would now be delayed. We went from having a planned caesarian at noon to have a caesarian at five o’ clock that evening. We had to leave the hospital, go home, and wait around the house.
After we checked back into the hospital everything seemed to happen fast. Before I knew it, it was time to go in. Everything felt different. It’s hard to explain the feeling of being in a room, sitting by Katie with a mask on, holding her hand, expecting a baby to come out at any time from behind that curtain. Then, the doctor stated the baby was out. I didn’t hear crying at first which worried me the most. I had so many worries going on in my head that day. Luckily, it wasn’t long after I heard crying. I was walked over to see her and it was amazing. I can’t explain how it feels to see your daughter laying there. It was overwhelming. This little girl you had once seen as an embryo. This little baby was created in a tiny dish. She was amazing and she was a perfect product of us. I just couldn’t believe this baby was ours and she was actually here. I felt a huge relief. I was no longer thinking about the pain from fertility procedures and needles, the mental pain I felt when our first round of IVF failed, or all the money we had spent on the process. Kennedy was all I could think about. We had our family now and our dream had become a reality.
In the days following after Kennedy was born, I thought back on our process when I held her. It’s amazing to think she started in a dish and grew into this baby. I can’t believe what science has allowed two moms to do. I feel she is the perfect combination of me and Katie and we both got to be a part of making her. I also thought back to our little one we lost. The one that put Kennedy’s life in danger at the beginning. I thought back to the very beginning feeling we had when we finally had a successful egg retrieval, successful fertilization, and a successful implantation. I remembered the feeling of finding out we were pregnant and picturing us with our two babies in our family photos. I remembered the morning Katie had lost so much blood I thought we lost both babies. She was crying but I tried so hard not to cry so she was less worried. I remembered anxiously driving to our IVF clinic an hour and half away to hopefully find out if we still had a baby, but also knowing they might not be able to tell anything because they might not be able to pick up a heartbeat. Then I remember hearing the heartbeat for the first time and being so relieved. Every single day we were on egg shells, scared to even have Katie move, because we didn’t want anything to happen to our other baby. I remembered the day we walked out of the ultrasound room at our IVF clinic and all the doctors standing in a row in the hallway to say congratulations because we were far enough along to be transferred to an OBGYN, and giving us a gift. We were surprised because the blood clot was still very big resting right up against our baby. We just had to keep thinking positive and hope it didn’t bother the baby since it was continuing to grow. I remembered our first ultrasound appointment at the OBGYN and finding it hard to believe there was a baby in there because the pictures did not look like a baby, more like a seahorse holding a pool noodle. The most amazing ultrasound we had was seeing all her body parts and seeing her shove her face toward the camera (although it looked like a skeleton head shaking its head at the camera). There were so many moments I reflected back on to lead us to this moment in the hospital.
Katie and I have so much love to give Kennedy. We were already worried before she was born, but after she born, we worried about new things. Now we would watch her sleep, worried she would stop breathing. We worried over how she was put in her car seat. We worried about her weight gain. We were just permanent “worriers.” Even now I realize the worries will never go away. Being a parent means you will always be worried about your baby (no matter how old they get).
No matter what journey you take to make your family, we are all amazing parents doing what is best for our babies. Undergoing fertility treatments is hard. During our process, I always tried to push my thoughts toward the future. I thought about how hopefully, someday, we would have kids. I wondered what they will look like and what they will sound like. I wondered about their personalities. I thought of family pictures we would take where everyone would look so happy. The stress, heartache and money that was spent conceiving them would not even be a thought, but a thing of the past. My eyes would water thinking about these things but it kept me going. I just kept telling myself, one day happen. I didn’t know how long it would take, but it would happen for us.
We spent thousands of dollars making Kennedy. This is nothing compared to what some couples have spent to have a baby. Once we had Kennedy, the money spent just became a number and nothing else. There are so many options now to becoming a parent. Whatever road you chose to go down, be positive. Be there for one another. Having a baby has created a tighter bond between the two of us. We are now a strong team and teamwork has become a key part to our marriage. Teamwork was something that still needed improvement in our marriage before Kennedy was born. However, the process to create Kennedy tightened any weak areas in our marriage.
To every person out there who had done IVF, it truly changes who you are. The journey we go on is like no other. I am so happy we decided to try again because if we didn’t, Kennedy wouldn’t be here. I do still think about the “what ifs” with embryo adoption. We almost went through with it and I wonder if we would have two babies by now. I wonder what they would look like and how they would be quite a few months older than Kennedy is now. I think about our little boy or girl we lost who was supposed to be here with Kennedy right now. I think about all the tears, worries, and stress in this journey. I think about all the joy we will have now that she is here. I don’t know how it feels to be a mother who has a baby the male/female way without any labs or doctors helping you make your baby, but I do know the feeling you have seeing a baby you once saw a picture of in a dish. That feeling is the most amazing feeling I will ever have. I am so grateful for the help of science and for being alive in a time that has a process such as this. Reciprocal IVF made our dreams a reality.
We had such a challenging road to get to where we are today. A year ago, I started to think the road was never-ending to have a baby. I know some of you who will read this are still on that road and have been on it for way longer than Katie and I were on it. I admire those who continue to go down this path and keep trying despite the emotional and financial turmoil it puts you through. Stay strong.
We started our Instagram account to help TTC couples and LGBT couples. When we were struggling to make our family, we sought out Instagram accounts and blogs of families who were undergoing fertility treatments to help make their family. Reading blogs and following many families on Instagram gave us hope for our family and got us through our toughest times. The online community we have found has been incredibly supportive in our journey. It’s amazing to find others who are feeling the same emotions you are during a hard process. We hope we can help others too.
you can follow along more with their story and their family over on instagrom @babybaillymamadrama
Unplanned pregnancies can be scary and emotional. It doesn't mean that you aren't thankful for this new life you're carrying, but hi folks, having a baby is a huge freaking responsibility. And so when that news of "here you go you're life is about to change forever' shows it's face with those two pink lines, emotions can be all over the place. Paige's third pregnancy was unplanned, so from the very start it was difficult for her. Throw in the fact that she was physically ill, had a hard birth, trouble with her breastfeeding relationship, it's no wonder that sings of postpartum depression started showing up. Thank you Paige for sharing your story, I know it hasn't been easy, but you're doing it right.
I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd baby a week before Christmas 2014. It was a shock and 100% unplanned, and unfortunately we were not thrilled by the 2 pink lines at first. It took us a while before we were actually excited for another baby. We have a 5 year old with moderate non verbal autism and a 3 year old non stop talker so adding another baby wasn't in our life plan AT ALL. My pregnancy with Lucy was a nightmare from the start. I was never sick with my first 2 but with Lu I was vomiting (and also peeing myself because mom bladder, whaddup!) at least twice a day for the first 4 months. I had lost about 20 pounds that first trimester and then my second trimester was pretty normal, other than extreme exhaustion. My third trimester hits and my blood pressure slowly starts to creep, but that's pretty normal for my last trimesters so we weren't too concerned until about 35 weeks when I started vomiting again and getting severe headaches. I was sent to the ER a couple times for monitoring but nothing was too serious until 39 weeks. I went in for my regular appointment and had a terrible headache and pretty bad swelling. My midwife came back from checking my urine sample and did my blood pressure and it was off the charts high, along with very high protein levels in my urine so we talked to the high risk OB and he sent me to be induced right away because I had pre-eclampsia.
The induction was fine, I was already 4 cm dilated when I got there but since I was high risk and a seizure/fall risk, I wasn't allowed to move out of my bed unless I had to use the bathroom. I held off the epidural despite being told it would help lower my BP because this was my last shot at a natural birth, but I stalled at 4 cm for 12 hours, and became exhausted and got my epidural. About 30 minutes after my epidural was placed, I heard a loud pop and felt my water break and instantly felt the urge to push. I had dilated completely in 30 minutes, which is crazy. The midwife barely got there in time to catch Lucy after a couple minutes of pushing. They took her right away to make sure the seizure medication I had wasn't making her breathing labored, but she was perfectly fine so we got a couple hours of skin to skin and breastfeeding right away.
Her latch was never a good, full latch and I ended up getting blisters on my nipples while in the hospital. I didn't realize how bad her latch was until a month after she was born when she was hospitalized for enterovirus and a LC came to help me. Lucy has a high palate, deep tongue tie, and a lip tie which was causing the bad latch and her colic. We got her ties fixed but ultimately she still had a shallow latch and we struggled for 13 months to breastfeed. I exclusively pumped for 3 months while she had a nursing strike, but she ended up nursing again.
I never had that peaceful feeling while nursing her like I did with my other kids. Everything with her feeding was stressful and labored for me. I had a really hard time postpartum with Lucy because of the constant struggles throughout her first year, on top of taking care of her siblings. I didn't realize how bad my PPD was until she was about 7 months old and I saw a candid video of myself and I didn't even recognize who I was. My midwife was great about helping me and is still following up with me, almost a year later. I chose to go on Zoloft and it helped me tremendously although there are still days that it creeps in and consumes me. I never knew depression could be anything other than just being sad all the time. I didn't know my depression was showing itself as anger and resentment towards my baby. You're always told depression is never wanting to get out of bed, or just always crying, but I wasn't like that. I didn't know anyone who had admitted to having PPD so I just assumed I was just having a hard time adjusting. I regret not getting help sooner. Lucy's first year was a fog to me. I don't remember a lot because I wasn't present in my mind for her, and that is heartbreaking for me. I plan on training to become a postpartum doula so I can help other parents transition through the rough patches and know that things will be ok even on their darkest days.
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression please reach out and get help
or call 1.800.944.4773
My name is Paige Carroll, I'm 27 years old and live in Arizona. I'm a mother to a son and two daughters and wife to Chase. I am an autism advocate for my son and a stay at home mom for all my kids. I also suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety. Paige can be found on Instagram @paige_carroll
As a doula, when I hear the phrase 'all that matters is that you and the baby are healthy' it makes me cringe. OF COURSE a healthy mom and baby are the ultimate goal, but your birth matters. Your feelings, and your voice and your goals matter. So when these things go wrong, or don't happen, or when you lose that voice and that control, it can take time to process and recover. And that's ok. Tricia had a traumatic birth with her first daughter and now that she's pregnant with her second, these feelings are flooding back. Today she's sharing her birth story and I know that so many of you will be able to relate.
My hope for a drug free birth started to vanish when, at my last OB appointment, my doctor wanted to schedule my induction because my daughter just did not want to join us in the outside world. When he checked to see if I was dilated, his exacts words were “I’ll give you a half a centimeter.”
I bawled all the way to the scheduling desk to schedule to be induced that next week. I had heard scary things about pitocin – how hard the contractions were to manage without pain medication and how quickly it could make labor happen.
We checked in at the hospital at midnight and by early morning, my contractions were almost unbearable. The hospital was supposed to have a birth ball for me to bounce on – it didn’t. I was supposed to be moved to a labor and delivery room – I wasn’t until almost ten hours of laboring in a shared room with another pregnant mama trying to not go into labor. I felt chained to my bed with a fetal monitor strapped around my massive belly, causing its own pain.
I wasn’t ready to relinquish my entire plan just yet so I asked for something to take the edge off of my contractions once I was settled in a L&D room. Instead of making the contractions manageable, it made me high as a kite. My husband still chuckles at the memory of me talking about the Muppets, the Berenstain Bears, and dancing through meadows. It didn’t help the pain and it made me feel loopy and completely out of control.
I felt helpless because I was exhausted and in so much pain from the intense pitocin induced contractions so, with a voice laced with defeat, I asked for an epidural. It was a teaching hospital so when the anesthesiologist came to give me an epi, he brought several students with him. I remember, hunching over, gritting my teeth through a few contractions, thinking, “Tricia, don’t say a word, you sound ridiculous right now.”
Hours later, when it was time to start pushing, I couldn’t feel anything. My epidural had left me without any sensation – and maybe that’s normal – but the nurses had to tell me when I was having a contraction so I could push with it.
I ended up delivering a beautiful, pink, healthy baby girl. I should have been elated and wrapped up in the beautiful moment that my husband and I were parents to this precious little bundle.
Instead, I was emotionally a wreck. I had envisioned her birth experience so completely differently and when I voiced those concerns in the weeks to come, I was shushed and reassured that the only thing that mattered was that she was here and in my arms.
That didn’t help the immense regret that I felt over a birth experience that was anything but wonderful. It was only magnified when I realized that my body, which was supposed to have been designed to easily nourish my sweet baby girl, wasn’t doing its job. She was born tongue tied and after she had that corrected, the lactation consultant I saw assured me that breastfeeding would be a breeze.
It wasn’t. It was so incredibly hard.
I can only remember a handful of pleasant nursing sessions with her but what I remember more of is her frustration with not being able to latch comfortably and seemingly to not get enough milk even though she was gaining weight just fine. I rented a pump from the LC affectionately nicknamed “the elephant pump.” It weighed at least ten pounds and so I lugged it to work every single day, pumping in a bathroom that was not private, praying each time that it would do
magical things so I could continue breastfeeding. I took supplements that made me smell like maple syrup. I was this close to ordering illegal things on the internet that promised to double or triple my supply.
I was a mess.
One evening, after a particularly difficult day, I rocked my daughter in her pink and green nursery when a dear friend stopped over with two gifts – a can of formula for my baby and a gallon of ice cream for me. She spoke the truth in love to me that night – that even though I had hoped to breastfeed and pump for many months to come, that neither of us were happy and that formula did not actually equal defeat. The most important thing was that she was well fed and thriving.
So, I gave my precious girl her first bottle of formula and she loved it. My meager supply dried up in a day. With tears in my eyes, I returned “the elephant pump” and threw out the fenugreek.
Now, seven years later, we are pregnant with our second and as we prepare for his or her birth in October, I am reliving this pain and regret again.
In the years since my daughter’s birth, I have realized that I set these hopes up on pedestals and let them define me in a way that I shouldn’t have. In all honesty, we probably should have been better educated at the hospital on what choices we had throughout my labor and I wish someone had said to us, gently, “these plans are wonderful but you never know what will happen.”
We are much more determined this time - we start a Bradley method class soon and we’re already talking about how much more vocal in advocating for what we want when it comes time to deliver this baby. I have hope that my body will work better this time in terms of breastfeeding but also understand that it might not.
To the mama reading this who had a birth or a breastfeeding experience that was the complete opposite of what she had envisioned – I completely understand how you feel and I grieve with you. Please know, though, that it doesn’t define you or the kind of mom you are or will be. You are the perfect mama to that beautiful baby or toddler (or teenager!). Peace and love to you.
Tricia Marchand is a former blogger and traded her piece of the internet webs for an Instagram account @thismessymasterpiece
Her IG bio reads “lover of art, books, God’s grace, interior design, travel & vintage.” All true
things - and when she can drink caffeine again, her survival method is coffee. She desperately misses coffee. She and her husband reside in the Chicagoland area with their seven year old daughter and their second is due in October.
Carey was one of my very first birth clients. From the moment I met her she exuded kindness and grace and she brought those traits into the labor and delivery room with her. She is gentle and caring and the epitome of what you'd expect a mother to be. But just because someone carries the traits of a good mother doesn't necessarily mean that motherhood will come naturally to them. Here is Carey's story of how she learned that sometimes becoming a mother takes time and that's ok.
When I was pregnant, I could never get enough of two things: strawberries, and birth stories. Luckily, it was summer and strawberries were easy to come by. But no matter how many birth stories I found, I learned eventually that I still hadn’t found the one I needed to read.
I devoured them in books about childbirth, sought them out on my favorite blogs, and even just straight-up Googled them, always hungry for more. In page after page of articles titled “The Story of Benjamin” and “Zelie’s Birth” and “How Cece Was Born”, I immersed myself in the tale as old as time of a mother’s labor and a baby’s first breath.
My favorite part of each one was the moment when the baby was placed in their mother’s arms for the first time. Whether by c-section or vaginal delivery, the journey was over and the joy of new life overwhelmed everything else.
It seemed like every single woman said that experience changed her life. They described feelings of overwhelming, unimaginable love pouring out for their babies in that moment, changing who they were and making them truly a Mother.
I couldn’t wait to meet the little October pumpkin kicking around in my belly. I wanted to have that special moment with him, too. We waited and waited and waited, but he was too cozy to move.
Eventually, my induction was scheduled and we arrived at the hospital, ecstatic that it was finally “baby day!”. Or, so we thought.
Forty-eight hours later, there was still no baby. Demoralized by boredom, discomfort, and disappointment that my dreams of natural childbirth were slipping away, it was a huge relief when I was finally dilated just enough for them to break my water and real contractions began.
Thinking about those hundreds and hundreds of women who had labored before me and lived for me to read about it, I tried to power through contractions that were unlike anything I had imagined. I tried to relax, moan, reposition my body, and use my husband and my doula to help.
Eight hours later, still no baby, and not enough progress. Feeling exhausted and a bit defeated, I accepted an epidural and was immediately thrilled with my decision. I was finally dilating quickly and felt incredibly cozy and relaxed, but I was still really tired and couldn’t sleep.
Four hours later, my dilation had completely stopped. My baby’s heartbeat was starting to drop the tiniest bit, and I knew that even if I were to finish dilating, I had no energy left to push.
My wonderfully sweet doctor made the decision, and I agreed. I only cried a little bit when she told me.
I couldn’t believe how quickly everything happened after that point. It seemed like they were still prepping me for surgery when suddenly, we heard our baby crying and they were showing us his tiny, red, screaming face. I craned my neck from the operating table to watch them clean, weigh, measure, and diaper him, then observed, mesmerized, as my husband pulled him close to his chest for his first kangaroo care.
Finally, it was time for my huge, life-changing, mother-making moment. Stitched up and back in bed, I was ready to hold my baby for the first time; ready to feel more love than I thought was possible.
It didn’t happen.
My little Rory glared up at me with enormous, bright eyes. I stared at him. He was the coolest, cutest, most incredible thing I had ever seen, but I felt numb.
I snuggled him close, shielded his eyes from the bright hospital lights, and tried to nurse him. We settled down in our hospital room for our first night with a new baby and my husband, exhausted, fell asleep quickly. I stayed awake almost all night, trying to process what had happened.
The next day, I typed in a note on my phone that I hadn’t expected a rush of love hormones to appear on Day 2. But they did. I started to feel a little better about having lost my ‘moment’ the night before.
We were released from the hospital and took our baby home. We introduced him to our friends and family and adjusted to being new parents. My scar slowly healed and began to fade.
People would admire my baby and then turn to me, gushing, “Isn’t it just the most incredible feeling of love? Like nothing you’ve ever felt before?”
“Oh, yes!” I would gush back. But it wasn’t.
Despite doing all the ‘right’ parent things and thinking my baby was just about the greatest human around, I still didn’t feel like a mother. I had worked in infant daycare and loved all the babies in my nursery. A couple of months in, Rory felt less like my own son and more like an extra cute daycare baby who just happened to be around 100% of the time. I almost expected his ‘real’ parents to show up, chat about his day, and disappear with him.
I hated that feeling. Why didn’t I feel the overwhelming, unimaginable love that it seemed every other mom had as soon as her child was born? Why didn’t I feel like a completely new person? Would the feeling of not belonging to Rory ever go away?
You hear stories about mothers with such powerful love for their children that they can move with superhuman speed and lift with superhuman strength and give up their own lives to save their babies from harm. I thought about these stories and compared myself to those mothers. I felt like the same selfish, self-preserving person I had always been. If something happened to Rory, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to react in the same way. The baby who lived with me deserved better.
But slowly, things started to change. Rory learned to smile and coo at us. I started to connect with him. We learned how to tell what Rory liked and didn’t like. I nursed him full time. We noticed how much more peacefully Rory slept in bed with us at night. I felt a twinge of pride when it became clear that Rory preferred me to anyone else. Somewhere in these little milestones, I became a mother.
My baby is now five months old and I can say without a doubt that I love him overwhelmingly, unimaginably, and impossibly. I would do anything for my little buggy and I can feel myself growing as a person and as a mom.
I wish I had read somewhere that sometimes, becoming a mother doesn’t happen in a moment. Sometimes it takes a few days or weeks or months of adapting and learning to love your baby.
Babies take time to develop. Now I know that moms do, too.
Carey Helmick is 22 and lives in Virginia with her husband, Kyle, and baby Rory. She likes to cook for loved ones, rummage through thrift stores, and play the ukulele. She also blogs at raisinghelmicks.com and puts cute pictures of her baby on Instagram at @careyhelmick. Please get in touch if you'd like to chat some more!
Jessie and I went to high school together and thanks to social media we have been able to keep in touch even though she's taken her roots across country. We both got pregnant with our first babies at the same time (due 1 day apart) and it's been so fun watching them grow up though pictures and videos. She has been pretty open about the struggles she faced postpartum after having her twins so I was really grateful when she reached out to me about telling her story for the blog. So why don't we let her take it from here.
Everyone who brings a new child into their home knows how overwhelming it can be. You have an insane mixture of emotions. Your hormones are all over the place if you have just given birth. You are now the most important person to this human being. I remember crying out of the unknown with my first - I had the "baby blues" as they say. It lasted only the first three days and then it was gone.
Then I had my twins. Long story short- I had my first ambulance ride since I was only 33 weeks gestation. They tried to stop my labor for 3 days. I was exhausted and done. I finally had my boys via csection At 4:25 and 4:28 PM on July 16, 2012.
Then the day I was discharged came and holy emotions. I was wheeled out to the waiting area for my husband to come get me and of course they wheeled me next to a new mom with her newborn baby going home. I lost it. I started bawling and I thought here come "the baby blues". I'm one of the lucky ones though, my boys only spent two weeks in the nicu before I brought them home. Many other nicu families can't say the same.
Home, right, I forgot to mention my husband just graduated with his masters in teaching and was looking for a job. We were blessed with a job opportunity the day after the boys were born and we took it. Only problem? It would take us three hours away from our family and friends and what was familiar. Oh and help. We were moving away from all help.
As you can see- this is a LOT to go through in such a short period of time. Add on the raging hormone change from being pregnant to having newborns- I can now see why I had such a hard time after birth. I remember posting on my family blog if any of my friends had experience with PPD and you can bet a lot of my friends posted the same things "get out of the house, go for a walk, try to make new friends, exercise, it's just baby blues" and the worst yet came from family (who I love dearly! Don't get me wrong) when they said "i hope you don't have to get on any kind of medication".
Fast forward 5 months postpartum. I go to my OBGYN for check up on my IUD. I ask my doctor if it was possible to have PPD 5 months postpartum. He said absolutely and pulled me into his office. There I sat crying to this man "I'm not myself anymore. My husband has asked me where has his wife gone. I sometimes think my family would be better off if I wasn't there because I can't seem to get a hang of this. Sometimes I wish I never got pregnant"
Here comes the ugly truth. I did not love myself. I would get so angry I would pull my hair out. I had bald spots. I would sit in the bathroom and cry counting down the hours till my husband came home. I would get so upset with myself I would hit my legs resulting in bruises. It was then I realized why some people who are depressed would cut themselves - it would bring some sort of relief to the pain you felt inside. Luckily I never got that far and I thank God every day that I didn't. I was a dead ringer for postpartum depression and I was put on medication right away.
They said it could take up to 6 weeks to kick in. I remember a week after i started I felt So much better. I wasn't angry. I wasn't lashing out and most importantly I was able to bond with my children. Why was I terrified to seek help? Because of the stigma that comes with it. I wish I would've heard stories from others about their experiences to feel better about what I was going through.
Currently I'm 4 years 8 months postpartum and I still battle depression but I'm not afraid to say I need help. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. I believe it takes someone strong to admit they need help! Now I know that I am a strong mom, a strong wife and a strong woman who happens to battle depression.
Jessie is a 29 year old mom of three. She has a 7 year old daughter and 4 year old twin boys. She been married for 9 years and her family is currently residing in Independence, Oregon
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression please reach out and get help
or call 1.800.944.4773