I married Josh, October 2015, after dating for 3 years, and since my sister and husband took a while to conceive we thought it would take as long. Turns out it didn’t, and I was pregnant 2 months later. We were ecstatic. I knew from the start that I wanted to have as natural of a pregnancy, and birth as possible. I knew I wanted to avoid a c-section and epidural, if at all possible. I found a birthing center right next to a hospital in Cary, NC, only 15 minutes from our house. I found a Hypnobabies class to join and we did our center’s birthing class and lactation class. We thought we had it all figured out. Labor was exciting and something I was looking forward to.
We only had one ultrasound at 20 weeks per our birthing centers outline. At first our ultrasound tech was very outgoing and smily, however her demeanor changed pretty quickly into the ultrasound. It was evident that she was concerned about what she was seeing. My husband and I were waiting to hear whether it was a girl or boy! And yet we eventually had to ask the question ourselves. She said “its a girl” in a non exciting way and left the room. She went to get the doctor and we had to wait for what seemed like a long time. He came and checked things over himself. After no comments from the doctor or the tech the doctor finally broke the silence by asking us to come to his office. Now we were really worried. The doctor told us that they saw a hole in Finley’s brain. He told us that our little girl had a 33% chance that she was T18, a condition that causes severe developmental delays due to an extra chromosome 18, which is often life threatening, or most commonly leads to still borns. He also was concerned that she had a black shadow in her stomach that looked like it could be Cystic Fibrosis. Both were terrible diagnosis’ that we were not expecting. Josh would have to get a blood test to show if he had the gene for Cystic Fibrosis (both parents must have this gene). We’d have to wait a week and a half to know if both conditions were possible. They performed a test on the amniotic fluid to test for the T18 and Josh had his test done as well. After a long 10 days, thankfully all test came back negative, and we were told the hole would mostly likely close up on its own. This had her odds of having an issue from 33% to 1%, normal odds. This episode with the ultrasound preceded the passing of my father by a month. Which goes to show, we cannot plan on things we cannot control. With all those stresses thankfully Finley and myself were healthy at birth.
At 39 weeks I decided to treat myself to my last pedicure before baby. The nail tech felt bad for me and my big belly, and said he was going to do a nice long leg and foot massage. He must have hit all the right pressure points because 3 hours later, at 10 pm, I was walking to my bed and I felt a small gush of water. I yelled out to Josh “I think I peed.” Turned out to be my water breaking, and while getting ready again for bed, I passed my bloody show (mucus plug). Knowing it could still be a long time until baby I went to bed to rest. By 1 am the contractions started and we went out to lay on the couch and relax. I knew I wanted to wait as long as possible to go to the birthing center. I did my hypnobabies tracks while laying down. I thought every thing was great and even murmered to Josh “I can do this no problem.” Josh did warn me that it could be a long night and day. And I should try to relax. Contractions were steady until 6 am, even getting to the point of needing to go into the birthing center, until they completely stopped. We called the midwives and told them my contractions were 1 minute long and 3 minutes apart, and when my water broke. They told us to come in to be checked and monitored for some contractions. I hadn’t had any for 2 hours by the time we went in. Sadly while getting checked we noticed meconium, this meant no birth center for me and we would have to go to the hospital. I was very disheartened by this. I had dreamed of a beautiful tub birth for 9 months and knew that was not going to happen. The midwives sent us home to pack and would meet us at the hospital. I went home, packed for a longer stay which was tough to swallow since we would only have to stay at the birthing center 6 hours after birth. We now would have at least one overnight.
We got to the hospital around 3 pm, still no contractions. I asked the midwife “ok what natural things can I do to get things moving?” She told us it was past that point and now we would need medical intervention. Again I was very upset with this. I felt let down that they hadn’t prepared me for this situation, and I wish I was coached better previously on what steps I should have taken. At this point I was desperately wishing we had hired a doula. I prepared the sterile uninviting room the best I could, made it dark and hung my hypnobabies quotes. I used headphones and listened to my tracks but I never could get back into my deep hypnosis that I was in at home. I was too anxious and uncomfortable.
The Pitocin kicked in and my contractions started again hard. I had two herniated disks 4 years prior, that never fully healed, and the back labor pain was getting too intense to handle. I couldn’t stop crying out in pain with every birthing wave. I begged to get in the tub and get the relief I had always heard about. Within 2 minutes of being in the tub and no relief I begged to get out. In hindsight I probably should have toughed it out but the pain was so intense. After 12 hours of Pitocin and being in tremendous pain I finally caved and got an epidural at 4 am. Part of this was also due to our midwife being very distant and not willing to assist in any way. Both Josh and I felt very alone in this with no direction, other than pressure to get an epidural. I was still only 5 cm and hadn’t gotten much sleep in 48 hours. Josh and I passed out until 10 am, after getting the epidural, when they woke me to check. They told me I was fully complete and it was time to push. 24 minutes later Finley made it earth side at 11:08am. The room was silent anticipating her first cry since she had meconium in her fluids. They had the NICU team in the room on standby since she was a meconium baby. We held our breath for 28 seconds until she let out a scream. To much relief she was fine and put directly on my bare chest. I couldn’t believe after 36 hours of my water breaking she was finally here at 6lbs 15 oz and 21 inches.
To my dismay the midwife pulled out my placenta while I focused on my new love. I had a tear, which meant I needed stitches. Finley immediately latched and we thought the hard part was over. Josh’s family including his; mom, aunt, grandparents and cousins got to visit and love on her that night.
First night with the baby was what we expected, she slept on and off while nursing. By the morning we were expecting to go home with our new babe, but at weigh in we discovered she had lost 11% of her birth weight, above the 10% limit, which required us to stay another night. They told me to increase my feedings and just attach her constantly, which I was already doing. That night Finley screamed most the night. She would not latch for more than a suck or two, and would pull off and scream. All the nurses just kept telling me that was normal and that it was fine. The next morning’s weigh in we found she had lost more weight. They checked her over for tongue and lip ties and wrongly told me she had none. I tried telling them I thought it was my milk supply, but they didn’t want to hear it. They kept encouraging me to feed on demand. The next day we were saddened to see she was still dropping weight, which meant another night in the hospital. The next day we insisted on supplementing with donor breastmilk and started using a supplemental nursing system (SNS) which is basically just a tube I taped to my nipple that supplied additional milk while she breastfed. It sounded like an easy solution but it was incredibly difficult to get the tiny tube in Finley’s mouth while trying to get a good latch. It was especially difficult in the middle of the night with a screaming baby and no sleep, and it also required Josh help. So neither of us got any sleep the first couple weeks. Finally after 4 nights, Monday morning they agreed she hadn’t lost more in 24 hrs and we could make it to the Pediatrician appointment.
At the peds appointment I was able to talk to another lactation consultant. She too was concerned with my milk output and confirmed my suspicion that Finley did have a tongue and lip tie. She encouraged me to find some milk donors from Facebook groups if I was insistent on using formula as little as possible. She educated me on never paying any donor for milk, only donating baby related items like wipes or milk bags, and what questions to ask. She also told me to eat as much oats as possible with flaxseed and brewer’s yeast and to chug water all day. These things helped me to produce enough milk that Finley could nurse throughout the day (and I pumped every 2 hours), just to get some added nutrients and antibodies, but not enough to fully satisfy her. I am thankful for every drop I was able to produce even though the process was very difficult.
Things didn’t go as expected at all but in the end I had a beautiful and healthy baby girl, that we couldn’t have loved more. I ended up finding 3 milk donors that helped me supplement her until she was a year old. They were such a blessing to my family.
With all this craziness I still couldn’t wait to have my next child and try again for the natural birth I was so desperately hoping for.