M A R C H . 0 1. 2 0 1 9 . 8: 5 5 P. M.
A lot like Jonah’s personality, Jonah’s birth & entrance to this world was just that,
D R A M A T I C.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I developed complications. At my 30 week prenatal appointment, my blood pressure had risen to a severe range. I was placed on bed rest, got weekly labs and weekly ultrasounds to ensure the well being of the both of us.
It was quickly decided in my third trimester that I would be induced at 37 weeks at the latest to prevent the onset of severe preeclampsia.
I arrived at the hospital the morning of my delivery to be induced. Everything seemed to be going as planned. I was receiving pitocin to stimulate contractions, my water had been broken and I received the epidural. Everything went as expected until it didn’t.
As my cervix dilated, my contractions were beginning to put too much stress on Jonah. Jonah’s heart began dipping to a dangerous level with each contraction. This meant we needed an imminent delivery. We were faced with a difficult decision . Things had progressed too far and it was just to late to have an emergency cesarean without taking additional risks.
As a result, Jonah was born on March 1st, 2019 at 8:55pm via vacuum assisted delivery. Unfortunately, this resulted in unpredictable complications for myself. Many of you know, I suffered a 4th degree tear and had subsequent hemorrhaging.
Once Jonah was born, time stood still. I fell in UNCONDITIONAL love. But, because I was so focused on this precious little miracle we created, I was incredibly naive to what was happening around me.
Things changed rapidly. I quickly became too weak to even hold Jonah on my chest. Then it literally took every ounce of strength I had to even keep my eyes open. It was unexplainable. The room was suddenly cram packed with nurses and doctors. By this point, my blood pressure was only 60/40s and I was struggling to stay awake. I was hemorrhaging. And I was hemorrhaging badly.
My OBGYN was having a very difficult time repairing me. The stitches were not holding due to swelling as I continued to bleed. I was in denial that anything bad was happening.Everything was happening so fast. I just did not have time to process it all.
My OBGYN quickly asked the nurses to take Jonah from me. As much as I wanted to hold my baby I had never been apart from, I knew it myself– I did not have enough life to hold him. I was completely out of it. I could sense the worry in her voice as she asked the nurses to take Jonah. They immediately trendelburged me and placed oxygen on me. I remember looking over at the monitor and seeing my blood pressure and heart rate. The nurse in me knew this was bad. That is when I realized things were going south.
I got bolus after bolus. They even placed an emergent second IV for more fluids. Anesthesia showed up and they cranked up my epidural. They placed a foley catheter which would drain my bladder. I had a nurse devoted to monitoring my blood pressure and pushing life sustaining pressors.
Fortunately, after a couple hours, they were able to finish my repair and stabilize me. I finally became more alert after the repair. I was told I had suffered a 4th degree tear which is what caused the severe hemorrhaging. I had lost over 1.5L of blood, give or take. I went on to receive 3 blood transfusions. I was SO swollen, my legs felt like elephant trunks. I could barely walk. The swelling was so bad, I had to be on IV lasix for a week. But, I never second guessed if it was worth it. Jonah was worth EVERYTHING.
Exhausted beyond belief.
The next morning, Jonah was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for hypoglycemia and respiratory distress. I was reassured that his issues were just 37 weeker issues and he would have a short NICU stay. Like any mother would be, I was devastated he was in the NICU but I knew his problems were minor.
Everything changed the day Jonah was suppose to be discharged. Jonah spiked a high fever and was diagnosed with a bloodstream infection. He had neonatal sepsis. Jonah went through 7 lumbar punctures to rule out meningitis. They were unsure where his infection stemmed from. I blamed myself. It wasn’t till my OBGYN stepped in and told me this infection was not from me that I thought otherwise.
Shortly after, we found out his infection stemmed from a line that was placed through his umbilical cord. It was absolutely infuriated. After I was made to believe it was something I had done or caused, that was not the case at all. Jonah had a hospital acquired infection.
I tried to stay positive but I knew how sick this infection could make him. Despite the countless antibiotics he was given, Jonah was only getting sicker. As days passed I could only blame myself for everything that was happening to him. My thought was none of this would be happening if I didn’t have to be induced early at 37 weeks. I felt like my body failed me, in more way than one. The mom guilt was real.
The worst days of life my were the days I spent in the NICU. One day specifically. This was Jonah’s sickest day. He was beyond exhaustion and I could tell he was hurting in many ways. He didn’t even have enough energy to let out a cry, he whined in pain. There is nothing in world more painful than seeing your child suffer. After this painful day, I was expected to leave Jonah with complete strangers in the NICU. Being discharged from the hospital without him was bad enough but now he was very sick and just needed his mama by his side. I felt completely hopeless. I just wanted him to feel better.
While this was all happening, I was trying to recover from my 4DT .
Fourth-degree vaginal tears are the most severe. They extend through the anal sphincter and into the mucous membrane that lines the rectum (rectal mucosa).Mayo Clinic
So needless to say, I will leave it at that and let you imagine how painful a 4th degree tear repair is. Most have hundreds of stitches, which is why it often referred to as a vaginal c-section. Unlike a C-section, the incision in located near the vagina, urethra and rectum which really complicates things. Even with the pain medicine, sitting was still pretty unbearable.
I could not sit at a 90 degree angle. How was I even suppose to use the bathroom? It felt like my whole pelvic floor was on LITERAL fire when I did. I will admit, that pain honestly put me in tears a couple times. That in itself, was worse than any type of labor pain I had experienced.
Everyone was so impressed with how well I was recovering and coping with the pain, but let’s be honest I never really had a choice. I had to be strong for my son. This was not how I imagined my first couple weeks of his life. This was not how it was suppose to go. I was numb from the trauma.
Scars are beautiful when we see them as glorious reminders that we courageously survived.Lysa Terkeurst
I quickly reached out and found a facebook group which was full of mothers that had survived a 4DT. I realized a few things. First being, I was not alone. There were many other mothers fighting the same battles. While I would never wish this upon anyone, it brought me comfort knowing other mothers survived this and lived to tell their stories. And lastly, I was one of the lucky ones.
Despite a few complications I had after my repair, I have full function and have no significant incontinence issues. I did attempt a couple months of pelvic floor physical therapy and had a second repair surgery months later (thankfully not nearly as big as my initial repair). There are somethings that will never be the same. But, I still consider myself fortunate.
My OBGYN was a phenomenal surgeon, doctor and advocate. She allowed me to make an informed decision while we were faced with a complicated situation. She saved my life during a life threatening hemorrhage. In that moment when I was unable to advocate for myself, she was my voice. As if that was not enough, she lifted me up during a time when I was at my lowest. During my son’s NICU stay, the NICU team had me convinced that his infection was my fault— she made me believe otherwise. She just really genuinely cared about me and my family. She will always have a very special place in my heart– along with everyone involved with my labor and delivery care.
I have always been a believer in “everything happens for a reason”. Although, nobody should ever have to endure what we did. I realized my son turned me into a warrior, he made me stronger than I ever imagined I could be.
To this day, I still support the decisions that were made during Jonah’s birth because it was to save my son’s life. Being a mother often times means making sacrifices for your child. I made the ultimate sacrifice and I would not change a thing.
I share my story because I know there are mamas struggling and their stories have not been heard. Having a traumatic birth is not something that is talked about. It seems very taboo in society. But every story matters. Every story should be heard. It is so much more than having a healthy baby and healthy mama. Birth trauma is real. I still live with ongoing pain and trauma from that day. But. Life goes on after trauma.
And Jonah Eric , you were worth it.