The end of my pregnancy was supposed to be peaceful. My partner Josh and I had just moved into a new house Valentine’s weekend, my pregnancy was going great and I was not due for two weeks. “Plenty of time to nest!” I thought. So I went for a regular appointment with my CNM that Monday, notably stressed from the move, and my blood pressure was high, way too high for me: 167/90. I kept my cool, and kept Josh in the dark about the thoughts running through my head. I just knew they suspected pre-eclampsia. Then the urinalysis came back positive for protein. Deep breath. After being monitored I was sent home on bedrest (did I mention I had a house to unpack?) and a 24 hour urine collection order. The next day I turned in my bucket-o-urine while wearing Josh’s size 13 slippers because my swelling was so bad. I was called back an hour later by my doctor and things didn’t look ideal, but I wasn’t in imminent danger, so we went in to be monitored again. And this is where my birth plan went out the window.
I showed up after dinner and overheard a nurse saying I was there to be induced. Say what? I was given 3 doses of Cytotec on my high, firm and closed cervix, then pushed to start Pitocin. My requests for a Foley Bulb to encourage dilation were brushed off. I wasn’t feeling anything though, it was great! I also was not making progress. So after a laundry list of interventions, multiple tubes in my vagina, and a nap I woke up to a team of doctors and nurses rushing and scared, and off to the OR I went. They flooded my epidural, I could not control my breathing, I was vomiting, Josh was not going to be allowed in the room, and baby’s heartbeat was gone. I was so numb physically and mentally, after being poked and prodded for hours, that I did not even realize the gravity of the situation. Josh was allowed in once I stabilized and just in time to see our gray and silent baby girl pulled into this world. I had uterine hyperstimulation that cut off her oxygen supply, but after a few minutes of work my baby girl was feebly crying and in daddy’s arms.
Josh and Zoey left for the NICU and I was transferred to recovery, but I still could not breathe. I kept begging for my baby, and no one would bring her to me. So finally, I held my breath and said I would not breathe until I had her. That worked! (PS I do not recommend this to anyone, just a disclaimer.) Josh helped me latch her on and she nursed for about 15 minutes before needing to go back to the NICU to be examined once more. After this I have no memory, and what I will share was told to me by nurses, my family, friends, and amazing partner.
Post c-section I was a mess guys. I was absolutely out of it and do not remember a single thing from my daughter’s first day on earth after that initial latch. Josh, seeing how sick I was, went through my labor bag and got out my breastfeeding information, got on youtube, and latched my baby girl. Again and again, every feed, held her in place while I lay recovering. He switched sides, he switched holds, our lactation consultant showed him methods and he asked for gel pads for my nipples. Yes, he cared for my nips while I was passed out. I woke up the next day to a breastfed baby, sore nipples, and a new respect for him as a father and partner. He videotaped the lactation consultant visits so he would remember how to position my broken body. He set up the SNS, and grabbed the lanolin, and I swear he did not wear a shirt the first month of her life because he was all about skin to skin.
As a family, we recovered, and breastfeeding became a passion because we worked so hard to get it. It was as much a family effort as anything else we have done. All of that could not have been possible without the preparation and communication we did while I was pregnant. We went to classes together, we watched youtube videos together, and we researched the health benefits of breastfeeding. Josh knew how important my birth plan was, and he knew that had been thrown out the window. So he fought for the one thing on that list I could still do, feed my daughter. He fought for me when I could not fight for myself.
My advice to mothers who want to breastfeed is to make your wishes known. Include your partners in your research, and make sure you learn as a team how beneficial it is. But most importantly, make sure your partner knows how important things are to you, and how vulnerable you will be those first few hours, days and weeks, and that you will need their support to get you through. I had the unexpected happen, but in the end I was able to use my experience to help others, and to deepen my relationship with Josh and establish our family.