This past June I was invited to document the birth of baby Ethan. I have asked his amazing mama to share their birth story here on the blog. There is so much beauty in birth, even when there is trauma. Heather is such a warrior and has tremendous support in her husband.
**Trigger warning, blog post is a retelling of this mother’s birth experience, which includes a life threatening complication she experienced. **
Watch the birth video here: https://jamieromaezi.smugmug.com/Jamie-Romaezi-Photography-Videos/i-GzGzrFz/A
Thursday, June 29, 2017 two major events happened. I gave birth to the most beautiful, perfect baby boy and I almost died. I’m not saying that to be dramatic, but just as a fact that changed my life.
The day started with me going into labor through the night and heading to the hospital that morning. I had a c-section with my daughter, but really wanted to try for a Vaginal Birth After C-Section (VBAC), so I was given a trial of labor. Since I had high blood pressure during my first pregnancy, I knew that if I had high blood pressure during labor, I wanted to get an epidural. My blood pressure did start to go up as the contractions became more intense, so I got the epidural and labored comfortably until it was time to push.
After pushing for a little over two hours, a couple of things happened. I was starting to get discouraged. I knew the longer I pushed, the less chance I would have for the VBAC and then my epidural wore off. I turned into the crazy lady in the room next door screaming in pain and begging the doctors and nurses to do something. It was then decided that I would need a c-section because baby boy just wasn’t coming and I was in so much pain.
I had to be put under because they weren’t able to manage the pain with the epidural or spinal. Since I was put to sleep, I didn’t get to see when my baby was born. I found out all the details in the recovery room afterwards. Our sweet boy measured in at 8lbs, 7 oz and 20.5 inches long. He started breastfeeding immediately!
We let our family know that baby boy was here and had our daughter come to meet her baby brother. I am so thankful I was there for that moment.
A couple hours after being in the postpartum room, the doctor had noticed a couple of red flags that could mean that I was bleeding internally. He decided to take me back in to take a look.
What happened next isn’t completely clear to me, but this is what I have pieced together. Everything was still dry in the area of the c-section, but then it was discovered that there was another tear in a different location where I was losing blood. They repaired that, but during all of this I went into shock and lost a lot of blood. They gave me 6 units of blood. I was intubated and sedated over night. I was placed in the ICU. I had also developed postpartum preeclampsia. I didn’t even know it was possible to get it AFTER having a baby. Because of this, and all the blood, IVs and medication being pumped into me, my body was completely swollen.
From what I have been told, they woke me up on Friday and I was very agitated. I remember them taking the tubes out of my throat. I still had my contacts in and asked them to take them out and for my husband to get my glasses for me. I also asked him not to give our baby a bottle because I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I didn’t want it to be more confusing than it had to be when I’d be able to feed him. I don’t really remember any of this, but they also had me sedated for most of the day on Friday.
I can only imagine what my husband was going through during this time. New baby, wife in the ICU, the unknown of what was going to happen. Luckily, there were some amazing nurses and doctors that helped him, and me, get through everything. They didn’t know him or me, yet they did everything they could to try to help us. They showed my husband how to finger feed our son in hopes that it would be easier to transition to breastfeeding. They helped get my son to me in the ICU so we could have skin to skin time, which required a nurse to also come to the ICU for the whole time my son was there. They got the lactation consultant to me so I could start pumping while in the ICU. During this time, no one told me that I was not supposed to be able to breastfeed. I just assumed my milk would come in, no problem, never thinking this traumatic birth experience or the amount of blood I lost could affect my milk supply. Thank God no one told me. It would have broken me and made all of the events much more real.
Being in the ICU was a pretty awful, but a humbling experience. I couldn’t really do much for myself and had to rely on the nurses. It was extremely frustrating to be away from my baby and any time it seemed like something wasn’t going the way it should, I would get pretty down, thinking I would never get out of the ICU and be with my family.
But I did get out. On Sunday morning they got me out of bed and my legs felt like logs from all the swelling. They wheeled me down to my postpartum recovery room and, after 3 days I was finally with my family.
My son, since he was perfect for every check-up by the pediatrician, could technically have been discharged. My husband fought to keep him there. The pediatricians fought to keep him there. And he was able to stay and we were able to be together.
We spent the next couple days at the hospital, meeting with doctors, the lactation consultants, and getting taken care of by the amazing nurses. We were able to go home Tuesday morning and start our new normal as a family of 4.
Recovery has definitely not been a walk in the park, but I’m getting better everyday.
I am so incredibly grateful to all of the people who helped us during this time. The doctors and nurses helped us understand everything that was happening and made sure we were all taken care of. So many of our friends and family that made sure we were ok, had someone to talk to, and had something to eat. I feel extremely lucky that all of these people were placed in our lives.
Going through all of this has made me reflect on who I want to be and how I want to go about being that person. My husband deserves the best wife and my kids deserve the best mom. I want to be the very best version of myself, through actions to others and to how I treat myself.