Birth Stories

Birth Story of Billie Joyce Roberts

My daughter was born via scheduled c-section on Oct. 26, 2018. Nothing about having her went the way I expected. Not even her conception. My husband and I struggled with infertility for years before finally conceiving Billie on our third round of IUI.

I had placenta previa from my first scan, but was always assured it would resolve itself. It never did. There were a couple scary moments when they thought she also had a velamentous cord insertion (they thought her cord was exposed and going over my cervix, which is very dangerous). Fortunately, that wasn’t the case upon visiting the perinatologist.

But I still had placenta previa, which meant I was grounded from flying at 25 weeks, and had to cancel my big family Hawaiian vacation (scheduled for 30 weeks). I was fortunate to never have any complications with the previa, but all my visions of having a beautiful, unmedicated delivery vanished as quickly as they came.

Kristen during her birth

The surgery itself was uneventful, aside from the horrible gas pains afterward and the world’s worst first postpartum BM (sorry, TMI). But the struggle really began once we were home.

We left the hospital exclusively SNS feeding my daughter, because she wouldn’t latch. She’d just open her mouth over my nipple and furiously shake her head back and forth.

She had tongue/lip ties, which we revised when she was 6 days old. She still didn’t latch. During this time, I was exclusively pumping. She had really bad jaundice, because she was born at 37 weeks, so we had to feed her every 2 hours around the clock, which meant that’s how frequently I was pumping. But it took me 30 minutes to empty, so I never slept.

The side effects of sleep deprivation were extreme for me, and manifested as depression and anxiety. The depression hit me hard and fast, and I remember moments when I would daydream about getting in my car and driving as far away as I could and not coming back. This led to feelings of extreme guilt and more anxiety.

Not to mention, nobody tells you that delivering a baby requires you to completely relearn how to live in your own skin. Nothing about your body feels like yours. Things feel discombobulated, and after major surgery, those feelings are compounded.

2-week old Billie and Kristen

Then, my baby developed reflux and colic. She would scream day and night. She never slept, and refused to be laid down on her back without vomiting or crying. She would frequently choke, and I was already a frazzled mess. My husband had to go back to work at 2 weeks postpartum, because he’d just started a new job. I was so scared to leave the house, because we were still SNS feeding her, and setting up the syringes, tubing, etc., all felt too much for me.

We finally medicated her (ranitidine, which has since been recalled—imagine the guilt I carry now.), despite me trying literally EVERY natural remedy under the sun. All of the natural blogs I was reading basically said the same thing: Babies don’t NEED reflux meds, and if you give them to your baby, you clearly didn’t do something right. So, I was even more anxious and depressed for “poisoning” my baby with reflux meds.

Kristen, Billie, and Obachan, which is Japanese for grandma

But, she hit 8 weeks old (about 1.5 weeks after we started medicating her), and she became a different baby. She latched! I stopped pumping, she started sleeping (I finally got my first 3-hour stretch of sleep at 8 weeks old), she allowed us to lay her down. I do credit the meds to making her feel better. Despite there being a recall, I was so grateful she was eating and gaining weight.

Eventually, my anxiety and depression started to fade, too. Mostly as I started sleeping more. But also thanks to therapy. I just want all the moms out there to know that having a baby is SO hard. Feeding a baby with only your body is SO hard. Learning to live in your skin again when another being is 100 percent dependent on you is SO hard. But, even under the hardest circumstances (I definitely had it rough), it DOES get easier. It just takes time, which is so hard to hear when you’re literally living hour to hour with a newborn.

She’s now 14 months old, and we’re still nursing. I have come to terms with the fact that it is OK that I did not enjoy the first few months of my daughter’s life and was just trying to survive. Seeing her personality now, it’s no wonder. They really do come out of us as little people with their own likes/wants/desires. She still, to this day, cannot be told what to do. She has to come to it on her own.

Written by Kristen Roberts

Birth Stories

Birth Story of Brooklyn May

Brooklyn May

On Feb. 9, 2016, at 8 a.m., I went in for an induction at 41 weeks pregnant. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 30 weeks, and was experiencing very high blood sugar, which concerned my doctors. After I was given Cervadil to start labor, my husband and I went for late breakfast at Denny’s—so far, nothing was happening. We went back to the hotel where my labor finally got underway. I was able to use the shower to help with pain. I didn’t realize when my water broke—I felt a pop, but no amniotic fluid came out.

I couldn’t sleep that night, but contractions weren’t regular yet. My blood sugar was still high and I wasn’t feeling very well. I went in to the hospital in the morning with more frequent contractions and found out I was 5 cm dilated, but I didn’t feel “ready” to have my baby. The staff gave me insulin for my blood sugar, Pitocin to help keep labor going, and I  had an epidural at 8 cm.

Mariclaire and Brooklyn May

Finally at 5 p.m., I was pushing, but  progress halted and the baby’s heart rate was not coming back up after contractions as it should. My blood sugar was still high and I was really, really exhausted. I had been in active labor for a while and that baby just wouldn’t come out!

We (medical staff, husband and I) were worried: baby needed to be born soon because of her heart rate decelerations—a few times it was really low. My daughter, Brooklyn May, was born via c-section at 8:02 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2016.

My husband’s first words when he saw our daughter were, “She’s beautiful!”—with a lot of enthusiasm. She weighed 7 lb., 11 oz. They brought her to me during the rest of the surgery. I remember a tear rolling down my cheek when I greeted Brooklyn. She didn’t cry when she was born, and she was a beautiful sweet baby.

I remember feeling confused, fearful, and irritable at some points during labor because of the level of interventions needed throughout the process. I think I just didn’t feel good, physically, and it made me grouchy. But I remember feeling so overwhelmed when I saw Brooklyn. I was so relieved and in love. When I finally saw my daughter, it was a euphoric moment.

Written by Mariclaire Ruttan

Birth Stories

Beach Day: Birth Story of William Alexandros Tuddenham

It’s Sept. 28, 2010, and it’s a perfect 91 degrees F in Athens, Greece, a great beach day. I mean, why not? So what if I’m 85 lb. over my normal weight and have high blood pressure and I’m 9 months pregnant—a beach day is a beach day.

I arrange to pick up my sister and head for the beach, which is a 20-minute drive. I go by her house, go upstairs, and all of a sudden I start seeing the little sparks that my doctor had warned me about. I, of course, ignored them because it was a beach day.

The sparks went on so I decided to call my doctor and, of course, he panics and yells at me, shouting the name of a pill that I have to take as soon as possible—that, of course, I do not have—and he says to get to the hospital.

I told my sister that I had to go to the pharmacy but she went to the beach instead. So there I am, in a tiny car (not because I’m big, it actually was tiny) sweating, fat, seeing stars, and I start driving on a crazy-busy road looking for a pharmacy. I found one and ran in—no luck, they did not have the pill. Back in the car again. Well, four pharmacies later, I found it.

Then, it’s off to my house, I get the pill, sit on the balcony with my husband, chat a bit, and decide to go have this baby. I called my mom and told her that I was going to have the baby and I will see her later. Of course, she yelled at me and requested to come with us.

Finally we got to the hospital. I was about to get the epidural but had to have an emergency C-section because of the high blood pressure.

My biggest concern was my husband who was stressed out, in a hospital waiting with hundreds of people, and a person announcing the births over a mic in heavy Greek. Lucky for him, around 20 family and friends—who are drunk and smoking—are with him. My doctor was asking if we were gypsies.

Kony and William

For me, it was simple. I got my epidural, went into the operating room with my doctor and another doctor, no nurse, (no one else was allowed in) and listened to Enola Gay and U2 while they cut me open. All of a sudden, I had a perfect baby boy laying on me. The way I had been and who I was changed forever in a second, but once that baby left my arms to get cleaned up, I thought, “Shit, my husband?!”

I told the staff I needed to see my husband NOW. After trying for a good amount of time to put some decompression socks on my spaghetti legs, they put me in a room next door to see my Nate.

All of a sudden, the door opened and 20 drunk people came in (Nate wasn’t drunk, he looked frozen), and they were all taking pictures and saying congrats. This all happened at 7 p.m. I sent Nate home to rest and sent my mom home, too, because she was too drunk and being rude, and could not stop commenting on the decor of the room.

It took 48 hours to walk again, a big fight to keep my catheter in (yes, I wanted it in), and a lot of phone calls from my doctor telling me to behave well.

My friends and family saw me suffer but I was truly having the time of my life with my new friend, William Alexandros Tuddenham, even if I missed the beach day.

Fin!

Written by Kony Filippou