The Love of a Mother Conquers All
My husband and I tried to conceive for 10 cycles. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement.
We had no known medical reason for not easily conceiving, especially with me fervently tracking my ovulation. On our 11th cycle, we became pregnant with our sweet daughter. After trying for so long, I honestly didn’t believe I was pregnant, so we actually went on vacation without me even thinking about bringing a test. I was due to start my cycle while on that trip to Yellowstone National Park… our favorite place on earth since we met there in college. I had recently started using an ovulation tracking bracelet device that I wore at night. On that trip, it was consistently saying my heart rate was higher, which my husband chalked up to us being at a higher altitude, but the device was saying that would be a sign of pregnancy.
We returned home on a Sunday and I decided to take a test Monday morning. Negative. Completely negative. So I decided it was time to start researching our options, to see if there was something medically going on with one of us. Looking up doctors was overwhelming for me.
On Wednesday morning, I had yet to start my cycle, at this point it was 5+ days late, so I took another test...
I’m not sure if the test on Monday was a dud or what, but this test was 100% positive, no denying it. I immediately called my husband at work and then my parents. It took a few days to sink in, I was extremely nervous about potentially suffering from morning sickness and sure even, the sickness set in around 7 weeks and lasted until about 11-12 weeks.
My pregnancy was not exactly the way I pictured it would go. After getting through the first trimester and regaining some of my appetite back, I never really gained weight or a round bump.
I suffered from extreme antenatal depression and although my doctor urged me to seek treatment, I declined because I believed it was best for my baby. If I could go back and change anything, it would be to have trusted my doctor and sought treatment. Sometimes your own mind can be your biggest obstacle.
Later in my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Although, I failed two tests with high blood sugar readings, I never once experienced high blood sugar again for the rest of my pregnancy. In fact, I had more low readings than anything. I truly believe I actually had reactive hypoglycemia, the opposite of gestational diabetes. I have an extreme needle phobia, so checking my sugars so often was pretty traumatizing for me, but I’m proud of myself for doing it.
As I got closer to my due date, my blood pressure began creeping up. At 36 weeks, it was pretty high one day and my blood sugar was around 60 and not coming back up. I was advised to head to labor and delivery to see what was going on. After a pretty traumatizing experience being catheterized for a urine sample, it was determined that I did not have pre-eclampsia thank goodness, so I did not have to be induced that day. However, they scheduled my induction for a week later at 37 weeks. I was sad about this, because I wanted a natural birth and to go into labor on my own, but I knew it was best for me and for babe. I truly felt like utter crap and that my body was just giving out on me, so I enjoyed the last week of pregnancy as best I could. They estimated her to be about 7-8 lbs at this point, so I hoped that would equal an easier delivery for me.
That horrible experience at L&D was just the beginning of something I never expected to feel. It’s important to say that I am a survivor of sexual abuse, it’s a part of my life that I keep private, however, it was the biggest factor in why my birth experience went down the path it did.
My labor was 36+ hours before I asked for a cesarean. During those 36 hours, my mind tortured me every single time I was touched or thought about how labor would end… being seen by tons of people and being touched more than ever. The pain didn’t matter to me at all, I blacked out for about 12 hours of it because I was so out of my mind with fear. I only ever made it to 3cm dilated, I wasn’t in “active labor,” my water broke on its own (my greatest victory) and because I didn’t have a round belly, the monitoring devices wouldn’t stay in place. So after 24 hours of my waters being broken, they were worried about little babe’s heart rate declining and not being able to get good readings on her.
They attempted to place a heart rate monitor on her head while she was still in the birth canal and that was the last straw for me. I screamed at them not to touch me ever again and said I wanted a c-section right that second. I would not continue the torture of vaginal birth for another second.
My c-section was amazing. Yes, it was scary being awake for a major operation, but my anxiety surrounding giving birth drastically reduced after they left me alone while I waited for the OR to be ready. Going back to my needle phobia, I refused an epidural in the delivery room opting for a spinal block, so I was able to walk into the OR while having contractions every couple of minutes and leaking fluid everywhere. I felt like such a warrior doing that! Seriously I did! Breaking my own water and walking into that room were my favorite parts of giving birth to our daughter. I still think about those moments fondly.
Brighton Elias Ward was born at 10:46 am on February 4th, 2019. Weighing in at a tiny 4 lbs 13 oz and 19” long. I remember the small gasp from my doctor at how tiny she was… totally unexpected! She did not come out screaming, as she needed some help breathing for a bit, and since she was such a tiny thing, she spent a few days in the NICU while she chugged down some high-calorie formula and was such a good girl for her nurses. She wore preemie clothes for a month! Like a tiny babydoll.
I did breastfeed for four days, ultimately deciding to stop, as it was traumatizing for me for my breasts to be touched so much. That was another thing I wasn’t expecting to feel at all. We only had two bottles and nothing prepared for bottle feeding, so several emergency trips to the store had to happen immediately. Drying up my milk was much easier than I expected and it was so much better for my mental health to bottle feed. Brighton really needed that high-calorie formula for the first month, so it worked out well for both of us. I wasn’t then, but I am now proud of my short breastfeeding journey and proud of myself for making the choice to do what was best for us by switching to formula.
I did seek treatment for my PPD/PPA (Post Partum Depression) at five days postpartum, and I’m so glad I did. I’m a much better mother because of it.
My mother moved in with us for the first 8 weeks of Brighton’s life and kept her at night while I recovered and my anxiety came down enough that I felt confident in myself to take care of her throughout the night. I will never be able to repay my mother for what she did for us, but now that I’m a mother as well, I totally get how and why she did it for me. I would do the same for Brighton in a heartbeat without a second thought… that’s what a mother’s love does.
Two years later and I’m just coming to the realization that my labor stalling was my body’s way of protecting me from the trauma a vaginal birth would have brought me. It’s so incredibly amazing what our bodies are capable of, especially when our adrenaline is high. My body was fighting to protect itself and my little one... my natural intuition was spot on.
And now for the million dollar question... would I like to experience pregnancy and childbirth again?The answer is: maybe! I’m not scared to have another little one. In all honesty, I would be so excited and confident in my choice to experience another empowering belly birth. My current scar is now one of my favorite physical aspects of my body. For now, I’m enjoying mothering just my toddler, but who knows what the future will hold.
Special thanks to the wonderful @raisingbumblebees (Megan) for sharing her story.