Searching for Peace in the Unexpected

  I was debating on whether or not I should share a little bit about my birth story for a while. After much thought, I decided I would appreciate being able to look back on this post someday and typing all of this out would help me with emotional postpartum healing. My prayer is also that this post can encourage any woman who needs it. That she will realize that she is not alone. 

I have been struggling. Struggling with all of these ‘what ifs’ that flood my mind at night. As I lay my precious girl to rest, I try to grab whatever amount of sleep I possibly can get. Despite being so utterly exhausted and sleep deprived, I can’t help but think back to the birth of this child. I had everything figured out. I had my mind made up for a long time that my labor would be natural and unmedicated and I would do anything in my power to avoid any sort of medical intervention.

At my 39 week appointment, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. My blood pressure and my baby’s heart rate were dangerously high and my doctor said that I needed to be induced immediately. We began the induction process and they had me on magnesium to prevent seizures due to the elevated blood pressure. I labored unmedicated for 15 hours. My contractions began immediately and were 2-3 minutes apart, lasting 1-1.5 minutes. The magnesium only made things more intense, as it made me incredibly nauseous and I was bed ridden and unable to move during labor. After 15 hours and no progression, the doctor decided to begin pitocin and mentioned an epidural. She knew I was not wanting to receive medication, so she explained that it would help to lower my blood pressure and possibly help me dilate quicker. I agreed to it because I realized the dangers of my blood pressure being high for so long. 

The epidural made me feel so dizzy and it knocked me out. However, my blood pressure dropped immediately and I knew I had made the best decision for me and the baby. After only three hours, I was fully dilated and ready to go. I was so ready to push my baby out when it came time. I was incredibly exhausted and just wanted her out and in my arms. 

I pushed for 4 hours. I was so terrified and knew that I needed to get her out soon or things would not go the way I wanted. After already needing medical interventions, I was determined to deliver my daughter vaginally and have the most important part go as planned. But that was not the case. She was not in a position to come out and my pushing was only wedging her head even more. I ended up needing a c section and this tore me apart.

As they wheeled me away and prepped me for surgery, I was a wreck. I knew this meant I would not get to deliver my baby myself the way I had imagined and to be honest, I was also absolutely afraid of the idea of surgery. When my husband was finally allowed in the room, I could hardly see him. My vision was so blurred and I couldn’t comprehend much. I had hoped to hold his hand, but my arms were strapped to the table. I focused on his calming voice as I felt my body being tugged and jerked around. 

After just a few minutes, we heard our baby cry for the first time. I was overwhelmed with emotion. We were so thankful to hear her cry and know she was okay, but I was still crushed that I didn’t get to see her face and hold her right away. They called my husband over as they weighed her and to cut the umbilical cord, and there I was; still strapped to this cold, hard table, as organs and layers of muscle and skin were being stitched back up. Unable to move. Unable to see my little girl. Unable to touch her. It was the most exciting and disappointing moment of my life. Part of me felt like I wasn’t even there. The most difficult thing was not even remembering the first time I held her. 

To be transparent, I am still dealing with a sense of mourning. Mourning the loss of the birth I wish I had. Mourning the loss of those precious moments that I will never get to experience with my little girl. I felt like a failure as a woman and a mother because I was not able to deliver her myself. I tried everything I possibly could to have her naturally, but I wondered where I went wrong. I never expected any of this to happen and therefore was not prepared for the lengthy recovery process. The first time I was able to change my daughter’s diaper, she was already a week old. She will be one month old tomorrow and there are still many things I am unable to do with her that I wish I could. I am still dealing with not only recovering physically, but emotionally as well. 

Before I went to my doctors appointment and all of this happened, I was at lunch with my parents. My mom said that she needed to tell me something and to not be offended by it. She told me that another woman said to her earlier that day that I needed to not be afraid of a c section. Of course I rolled my eyes because I had this grandeur plan of how my labor would be and a cesarean was out of the question for me. When the doctors came in and told me my baby was likely not going to be delivered vaginally, my mom leaned over and reminded me of this woman’s words. As I laid on that table in the OR, I kept thinking to myself that God knew what was going to happen. He had a plan all along and He knew I would need to hear those words, ‘to not be afraid’.

This whole experience has made me a stronger woman and has taught me so much. Although I still wish things would have gone differently, I must remind myself that I am no less of a woman or a mother. My body did not fail, nor did I fail. My baby entered the world in a way that was not what I had planned and that is okay. I became a mother the moment I had decided to put her needs above my desires and get her here safely. She is perfect and healthy and there is nothing more that I could ask for.

To all of the women who may have experienced something similar to my situation, it’s okay to mourn. Childbirth is supposed to be a beautiful and memorable experience and having unexpected complications can be traumatic and disappointing. Just remember that ultimately, it doesn’t matter how your baby enters the world. As long as you are able to hold them, at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. You are not a failure. Trust your body and trust that God has a plan. He gives me strength on the days that I am haunched over in pain feeling like my insides are going to fall out, trying to care for a newborn and running on no sleep. God gives mothers a love strong enough to conquer anything that may come up in their journey. I am so thankful for all of the things I am learning as I love and care for this precious little girl He has entrusted to me. 

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7 thoughts on “Searching for Peace in the Unexpected

  1. Thank God both you and she are okay. And thanks for sharing as I never thought about mourning a birth that didn’t go how you had visualized it. It makes sense because for nine months (and for some women, maybe much longer than that as they dream for years about having a baby) we are encouraged to envision opening up and meditate on riding with the waves and have so much already ingrained in our minds regarding the upcoming birth. And then when it doesn’t happen…
    You are so strong and congratulations.

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  2. You ARE so brave! I’m so proud of you. I have had 3 c sections and I plan on having my last one this September. I remember all those emotions as well. Now, I can look back on it with tender feelings but I experience some sadness that I would never know what it is like to have vaginal birth. But I am also so thankful that my kids are healthy. 2 of my 3 spent 3 weeks in the NICU 24 hrs after they were born… one I didn’t even get to hold till he was 4 days old. During that time I was so broken and couldn’t even think how I would cope with the loss of that time with him or how lonely he must have felt being in that incubator not being allowed to be held. He went from my cozy womb to a bright, sterile environment and no mom. But God is good and gave me wisdom and some how after the trauma of the last birth I am able to joyous look forward to the birth of our next. Unafraid because I know HE got this! Alyssa, you are so amazing, thank you for sharing what and how you feel and felt. CHARM I will have a brave strong mommy to look up too.

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  3. I’m so sorry you had to go through your delivery that way. I know exactly how you felt because I too had a similar experience. It’s heart breaking but your attitude towards it is encouraging. I have had 3 children all with very different experiences. Fortunately one of them went the way I wanted lol, the second was the worst experience of my life and the third was my c section (way too large to fit through the birth canal. After going through hours of labor I ended up getting a C section to deliver my 10lb 3oz bouncing baby boy. I’m always thinking about the what ifs. However it doesn’t matter because God is in control and he knows what’s best. You are a wonderful mother and your daughter is blessed to have you!

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    1. That was a beautiful and endearing read<3. It is a good reminder that to give up control is actually being "in control". I will not be surprised if you have that delivery that you planned for in the future. God is so faithful and Charlie is so perfect💕

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  4. Alyssa, I am sure the story of Charley’s birth is going to help many mothers who will have the same feelings you felt. It brought back memories of the birth of my first born (Jordan). I too was diagnosed with preeclampsia after I went into labor. After nine months of eating healthy foods, giving up caffeine, taking Lamaze class and breast-feeding class, thinking I had done everything properly only to be told that I may need a C-section. I went through the same protocol of magnesium, pitocin and an epidural. They broke my water and discovered meconium (Jordan had pooped). They told me to be prepared to not hear him cry because they were going to prevent him from crying until they suctioned him so he wouldn’t aspirate the meconium. The internal fetal heart monitor was showing he was in distress. At that moment, I just said whatever or however they needed to deliver him I was fine with. I just wanted him out and safe. They dressed Steve in scrubs while walking down the hall as they were wheeling me to the surgical suite for an emergency C-section. My 10 lbs 3 oz and 21-3/4 inch long baby boy was delivered safely. It was the longest seconds of my life waiting for him to be suctioned and then the joy I felt after hearing that first cry. They handed him off to his dad to go to the NICU to be checked and get his matching name bracelet. They finished putting my organs back in, stapled me up and then took me to my room. As I am in my room waiting, alone, I asked the nurse if everything was okay and where was my baby? She said, “Your husband is out showing him to all your family in the waiting room.” Shocked at her answer, I asked to her to go find him because we had NO FAMILY in the waiting room (or in Florida) and he was showing strangers my baby before me! Having no family in Florida was difficult. I couldn’t have the baby in my room when I was alone. I wasn’t allowed out of bed. Steve had to go back to work. The nurses felt sorry for me so they would come in my room to eat lunch and bring the baby so I could spend time with him. Then they would have to take him back to the nursery until Steve could come after work. I was unable to nurse him due to being on the magnesium. I had to be off of the magnesium for 24 hours before I could begin nursing. They gave him sugar water to sustain him until I was able to nurse, which was not until after being discharged and going home. This was the first battle between Jordan and I. He had had a bottle in the hospital and was not latching on. He was screaming and crying because he was hungry. I was crying because he wasn’t latching on to nurse. What a mess things were. Steve asked our brand new neighbor to come over and help me. How embarrassing to meet my new neighbor while bawling my eyes out as she tries to help my baby latch on to my engorged boob! Eventually I won! He latched on. I nursed him for 11 months.

    After having two C-sections and then adopting my daughter, I can say that even though my daughter was never a part of my body – I am her mother just the same as I am to the two I carried.

    So throw out all the books and all the expectations you may have. Just go with it. It will all be fine. Cherish each experience. You didn’t fail. Having a vaginal delivery does not mean a better mother. You didn’t let her down. She is a beautiful little girl with a wonderful loving family.

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  5. Well the tears poured as I read this entry. You are still the soldier you wanted to be for your precious Charlie….. But now you are a honored hero in her honor. When insane you and your little family for the first time all I can remember is Tyler working hard to cater to Charlie as you were still barely able to walk even a week later. But there you have this gleaming joy in your eyes as you speak of your little girl and watch your family enjoy the greatness you have brought into the world. I know how much you wanted to do everything right for Charlie….. And you did….. You may be wounded…… But you were victorious. And I am so proud of you. Charlie is going to love reading this one day.

    I love you.

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