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
A collection of posts from different humans all over the world, sharing their stories about the struggles they have faced in their individual journeys to motherhood.