One thing I’ve realized through my journey through pregnancy and motherhood is there is no one size fits all birth story. My birth story is something I have struggled to come to terms with, and I felt it is the right time to share that story with the world. Just remember, there is nothing normal about my story, and while this happened it’s still not okay…
Before I popped…
During my pregnancy I had placenta previa, which means the placenta is blocking the birth canal and almost always ends in a c-section. After months of repeated doctor’s visits I was told my previa cleared and I was free to give birth naturally. I was excited, but nervous as I had come to terms with a programmed cesarian. Now all I had to do was wait for my October 5th due date.
One visit changed it all
Baby was pretty comfortable, so I was still pregnant six days later. On Friday, October 11, 2019 I went in for my weekly sonogram where they noticed my amniotic fluid was low and I was sent to the hospital where I had to be induced.
I could not believe that baby was on his way! It was a strangely calm, but nervous realization. We got to the hospital that afternoon and I was placed on Pitocin & had a balloon-like contraption placed in my cervix to help it dilate. Everything moved so slowly and it wasn’t until about 24 hours later that I asked for an epidural, which is where things started going wrong.
I just want to mention that my fear before labor was that I would have an epidural but it would run out before I had to push. I was assured by my doctor and midwife that this won’t happen, as the epidural medicine can be refilled if it ran out.
Oh the epidural
I was given an epidural 24 hours after labor started. I wasn’t in too much pain, but definitely uncomfortable and I was told the epidural will help. Well the tech didn’t place it correctly, and I was numb on one side of my body.
After a few hours of being in pain on half my body, I was told they would need to remove the epidural and redo the procedure. Fantastic. Although it didn’t hurt as much as I was told, it’s an uncomfortable process to have to do twice. Once it was placed correctly I could no longer feel anything and I thought it was great, until active labor that is.
The moment I feared….
Around 8 PM on Saturday my epidural ran out. The machine holding the medicine started beeping (a sign there is no medicine left), and not to mention the intense pain I started to feel from the contractions. I was the most uncomfortable I have ever been. I called the nurses multiple times and was reassured “I was fine,” and this went on for two hours. Between 8-10PM, I was denied a refill of the epidural medicine numerous times. Each time I was told “I was fine,” and each time my concerns were ignored.
By 10 PM I was 10 cm dilated and was told I could no longer ask for medicine as it was time to push. Wait what!? Seriously I must have spoken my fears into existence because now I had no other choice. From 10 PM to 1 AM I pushed, and pushed, and pushed. I pushed laying on my back, I pushed in a squatting position, I pushed on my side, and I pushed by pulling on a sheet like tug of war. My husband could see my son’s head, all I needed was one good push, but my mind and body were at war.
Mentally, I was so scared to feel my son’s head burst through. I knew he was measuring large and that’s all I could think about. My mind was working against my body when ultimately my doctor decided a c-section was necessary to prevent further stress on myself and baby.
Then my doctor said “Whatever you do, don’t push”
Except that’s all my body wanted to do. Now I have no medicine, I feel every contraction, and my son’s head was in the birth canal. As if things couldn’t get worse, there was a wait for the c-section because I needed my body to process the Pitocin. For hours I was laying there in the worst pain of my life, screaming at the top of my lungs for some relief, & telling my husband Santiago was going to be an only child because there was no way I could go through this again. These hours unmedicated and in pain were the longest of my life.
Around 6 AM (I’m estimating based on the time my son was born), I was wheeled into the operating room. Patrick (my husband), was provided scrubs and told to wait until they came to get him for the surgery.
I was placed on the table and given local anesthesia. The doctor told me that I would feel some pressure as they cut, but to let them know what I felt. I felt that first cut as if they were cutting me from end to end. The doctors held my skin together (as I was obviously bleeding from the cut) until the anesthesiologist gave me a second dose.
Then came the second cut, and I felt it all. That’s it, there was nothing more they could do and I was put under general anesthesia and put to sleep. Since I was put under anesthesia, Patrick was no longer allowed in the operating room to see our son be
ripped out of my body born.
At 7:01 on October 13, 2019 Santiago Alonso B was born. I didn’t get to see his first breath or hear his first cry.
I didn’t get skin to skin and I don’t know if they delayed cord clamping as I wished.
I didn’t get to see my husband’s reaction to becoming a father.
I missed it all and it was heartbreaking to realize I missed my son’s first moments of life. I didn’t wake up from the anesthesia until around 11 AM. All I can remember is having extreme chills & saying to my husband was “are we parents? Where’s the baby?”
At least the baby is okay…
The first thing people told me after hearing my birth story, without fail was “at least Santiago is okay” but that’s not okay.
What about if I’m okay?
What about what I went through was okay!?
The first thing people forget about after baby is born is the mother. The 4th trimester is probably the hardest for a new mom, for any mom really, but everyone’s focus is now on this new little human. Yes, obviously we are happy that baby is healthy and arrived safely. However we can’t negate or deny the trauma that some mothers experience while birthing.
C-sections are especially scary for women of color. Did you know in the United States 32% of all births are c-section. Yet there are huge racial disparities in the quality of care women of color receive. Black, Brown, and Indigenous women in the U.S are three times more likely to die from c-section and birth related complications (Source: The CDC). While worldwide maternal mortality rates are on the decline, in the United States they are on the rise (Source: Unicef). THESE NUMBERS ARE NOT OKAY. We need better maternal and postpartum health for our women, especially women of color who run the greatest risks of complications.
The healing process is still on going. For two weeks post c-section I was terrified to move. For months after I felt like a stranger in my body. It was hard to come to terms with the fact I did not give birth as my body was made to do.
I rarely could look at myself naked, and I didn’t want to touch my scar. It wasn’t until I was about 6 months postpartum that I fully processed what I went through, what I survived, and what my body created.
As the days went on and I became more comfortable being a mother, I became more at peace with my birth story. No, it wasn’t what I envisioned – but it happened. And yes, the end result was worth it, I have my beautiful, happy, chunky little boy. My little one who always wants his mamita. Who is stuck to my breast for food and for comfort. Who is ticklish under his neck and in his thighs.
Breast feeding helped my healing journey tremendously. Not only with physical healing, but with my emotional healing as well. The bond I have created with my son is incredibly strong, and that is largely due to breastfeeding. Aside from labor, breastfeeding is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I have ever done.
Supporting new moms
It’s important to support the mother after birth. New moms can easily lose themselves in the new routines of motherhood. Theres postpartum depression and anxiety, mom guilt, and fear that are new and scary sensations when tasked with the responsibility of maintaining a life.
There are some easy things you can do to help support a new mom in your life:
- Call for a chat & check in on her mental/emotional health
- Bring some food over – Moms, especially those breastfeeding, need calories and will forget to eat/not have the time to cook for herself
- Offer to watch the baby so she can shower, eat, get her nails done, read a book – moms need time for self care and “me time”
- Give her space – yes, everyone loves to see a newborn baby but moms need bonding time and time to recoup
- Start cleaning – dirty dishes, laundry, and more pile up and just aren’t priorities for a new mom and simple ways to show you care
- Take pictures of her and baby (without asking) – I can’t stress this enough. I have 274382 pictures of my son alone or with my husband (or dogs), but only a handful with me – and no selfies don’t count
- ASK HER WHAT SHE NEEDS – some women want space, some want company. You won’t know until you ask
Not your “typical” birth story
There is nothing typical about birth. Every birth is different, although not usually as traumatic as this. When I was nervous for labor all the mothers in my life told me “you’ll forget the pain when you look at your son.” While I don’t think I will ever really forget what happened, that’s okay. I now know my strength from going through this experience. I also compare everything to birth.
Oh hubby you cut your finger? Well did you labor for close to 40 hours which ended in a c section!? No? Then suck it up!
I get asked all the time if I plan to have another child. God willing I will be able to, but despite the risks I will plan my c-section. While the risks scare me, so does attempting a VBAC and being forced to end in a c-section again. However, one thing I would do differently is hire a doula. A doula, in my opinion, is a necessary force for a mother when giving birth.
I was not able to advocate my wishes and fears throughout my birth journey. If I had a doula I feel I would have had more of a fighting chance. As a first time mother you go with the flow and say yes to whatever the doctor says, even if thats not in your best interest. A doula will fight for your best interest and help the new mom in a myriad of other ways.
For now, I am enjoying watching Santiago grow, laugh, learn, and explore the world around him. Grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be his mom and I love seeing the world through his eyes.