by, Andi Ludlam, CLD
This birth story has taken me almost 2 years to write. There are many reasons why it has taken me so long but I was having trouble processing what all had taken place. I chose to pretend I was fine. As long as I didn’t think about it, I was fine! I’m now expecting my second little one in a couple of months so I’ve been forced to face my birth story again and now I’ve chosen to write about it, to talk about it, and get answers for what I need. It has helped me more than I knew was possible. So, I’m now ready to share my birth story… a story of prayer, tears, disappointments and the greatest joy I’ve ever known.
It all began about three and a half years ago. I had just gotten married to my amazing husband and we were ready to immediately start our family. Being a little older, we knew we wanted babies right away. After a few months of “trying” we weren’t pregnant and I knew and felt that something was wrong. I know trying for a few months is not uncommon, but I knew how and when to get pregnant. I mean, my mom is a Nurse Practitioner at the OBGYN office, so if anyone knew how to and not to get pregnant it was me, right?!
So I went to the doctor. Actually to many doctors. My husband and I both did.
And after 2 yrs of actively trying many infertility methods we gave up. No baby. No happy ever after (with children that was). Many Broken dreams. I was devastated.
I mean, I’m an only child. I needed. Wanted. I was supposed to have babies. That was the only thing I knew without a doubt I wanted my whole life. I decided we would get a convertible. Have a “fun” life. We would travel. See the world. I mean, our love was enough…right?
This was August. We got off EVERY medication and canceled every other future appointment. I discovered essential oils and acupuncture and knew if I was going to get pregnant, it would be naturally. Through a lot of prayer, I was going to be ok if it never happened.
Then came September…
Then came Halloween…
Then… wait…We WERE PREGNANT!! What just happened?? All by ourselves. No medicine. No Drs. Just us and God…We did it!
My whole life as I thought about having babies, I never, EVER questioned BIRTH. I never really even thought about it much. Except I knew I wanted as much medication as I could get..…I mean, A LOT of medication. People have babies all day long. How hard can it be when you are numb from the waist down?
Then it happened. Literally the second I found out I was expecting it was like a light switch went off and I was in “mommy protective mode”. I started looking around on sites and was reading all about birth. But, I found that it was positive, beautiful, inspiring things. I was reading about side effects of medication. And I was shocked!! You mean epidurals can have negative side effects? You mean I have choices during birth? I have choices I can make about how my baby enters the world and what it’s exposed to?
I couldn’t get enough information about it. I read… and read… and read…ALL DAY LONG!!
I called Joy-N-Birth and scheduled a meeting to meet a doula (whatever that was…I knew I wanted one!) I was only 8 weeks pregnant and Katie told me maybe I should call back when I’m around 13 weeks to set my appointment. I was ok with that, but told her DO NOT book up for my birthing time!!! We met them a month or so later and booked Katie as our doula. I was on the way to having a Natural childbirth.
That’s really not my thing, but I had decided I COULD do this. I HAVE to do this for my child, it’s what I want. This thing growing inside me, this little life, was the most precious and important thing I had ever done and I wanted everything to be perfect!
Skip on down through my pregnancy. Everything was wonderful! I was so comfortable being pregnant. I was always happy. The fatter I got, the better I liked it! I cherished every kick, every tickle, everything! I had no discomfort whatsoever! I don’t know if it was because I didn’t care as long as I was pregnant or because the normal discomforts weren’t there but I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. My back felt fine, my pelvic area was great, no heartburn, no morning sickness… nothing. I LOVED pregnancy!!!
My perfect little world started turning grey at around 36 weeks. I had stumbled upon a birthing method known as Hypnobabies during my readings, and I knew this is how I wanted to bring my boy into the world.
Calmly. Easily. Comfortably.
My doctor, at that time, was reviewing my birth plan and saw an issue. This particular doctor didn’t want me to be able to “push” my baby out in any position I desired. Wait, I thought that was my decision?
I knew that I needed at least the option of moving if I was uncomfortable during my birth and I wouldn’t have that. So as much as I loved my doctor I made the decision to change.….yes at 37 weeks I changed doctors! Let the Drama Commence!
Did I mention my mom works with my doctor?
How did that go you ask??
Not pretty! Not easy! But again, I kept telling myself; my baby, my body, my birth. That was my decision.
So, my doula was out of town (I was only 37 weeks at that point, but I was determined to not have this baby until she returned, even though I was not yet due, I knew he HAD to wait because I couldn’t do it without her!) my “New” doctor probably thought I was “hard to deal with”, my mom was mad at me, oh and I forgot to tell you that my house had just sold. Yep, 1 day before we were going to take our sign down, it sold.
Out in 30 days. Huh, come again???
I truly believe at that point my body retracted. It stopped working. It may have even gone backwards. My medical providers think my body never opened up to birth….I think, how could it have possibly?! Birth is VERY mental, I was in fight or flight mode. I was in total turmoil. My baby was fine where he was. And I remember saying that, more than once.
He was safe. He was out of the way for moving. He was protected. And I was happily pregnant, so what’s the rush?
40 weeks came…. He didn’t.
It was hot July and I was HUGE. We were now in a rental house. Stuff everywhere! No nursery. No space for my little one. No cute room, nothing. This was NOT how this was supposed to be. The week of 40.4 everyone started the pressure of “lets do something”.
I was not dilated. At all. And my boy was at -3!
I had gained 15 pounds of fluid, that week. They started doing many ultrasounds saying
Wait! Hold on! What was going on!?!?!
I did not understand all of this. I had to have NST every other day and every morning when I got to the office my blood pressure was sky high…I wonder why?? I was terrified to go into that place! I literally dreaded walking through the doors. The place I had grown up running around and playing. The place I felt safe and the place where I trusted everyone.
That’s when I first heard the word.
OMG, What?!?!?!…I think I just Hallucinated, what did you say again? It just wasn’t time yet. My baby will come when he is ready, right?!
My world just crashed. A Cesarean? That’s not natural. That’s not good.
I took some time and eventually had no other choice I could live with than to schedule it.
I had lost.
They had won.
I fought for my birth and it didn’t help. I knew if I made the choice to wait and something happened to my miracle baby I couldn’t live with myself.
I could LIVE with a disappointing birth.
I could LIVE with my birth not going exactly as planned.
I could LIVE knowing my body failed…… I failed.
But at least I would have my baby. Healthy and alive. So that’s what I chose. What other choice does a mother have?
Every detail was already hospital “policy”. They didn’t allow for any “wiggle” room to accommodate birth wishes. No one was allowed in the Operating Room but my husband, and he was only allowed immediately before delivery, not during prep, my spinal, anything. I was alone.
No doula in the Operating Room.
No Hypnobabies earphones to settle my nerves.
No cameras to capture those first moments.
No clear drape to see the birth of my baby.
No skin to skin.
No immediate breastfeeding.
No holding my baby.
I was just supposed to be thankful that he was alive. That they were there to save him. To get him out since, obviously I couldn’t. I wasn’t supposed to care about anything else I had spent months deciding on, wishing for, planning for. Anticipating.
I went in, they did the surgery. My hubby came in, he held my baby, swaddled in a blanket, over my head, and then…. they left. I heard his little cries going down the hall and then silence. The door closed, and that was it.
I was left in a cold, scary room… alone with a bunch of people busy doing things to sew me up. In their world it was wonderful and the delivery went perfectly, but in my world…I wanted my baby. I wanted to hold him, to see him, to comfort his scared cries. The last thing I recall was the anesthesiologist saying, “Your face is a little flush, I’m going to give you something to help you relax.” That’s it. That medicine wiped away every memory from that point through the entire next day or so.
I have picture memories in my mind over the next 24/48 hrs. I remember seeing a giant light over my head as they wheeled me out. I remember pushing the music button on the wall at some point. I kind of remember seeing people. I’m not really sure if they are memories or pictures I’ve seen and my mind says they are memories.
I don’t remember seeing my baby for the first time. I don’t remember the first time I got to hold him. I don’t remember breastfeeding him. I don’t remember the recovery room. I don’t really remember anything until the next day.
I did develop a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with my little man. I recovered well from surgery. And the Postpartum section of my Birth Plan was an amazing success. The staff and nurses were amazingly helpful and I loved the way the made me feel like my choices were important. I had a healthy… HUGE as they anticipated…all 8lb 2oz LOL baby boy!! He was here!! Finally! And he was perfect! He scored a 9 and 9 on his apgar and he didn’t need any help after delivery.
He was beautiful and exactly what I never knew I was always missing.
I truly felt like a prince had arrived because EVERYONE kept coming and coming to see our miracle baby. The day he arrived was not how I expected it, but it’s “Our Story”. It was the most joyous day of my life because it left me with him. My soul mate. My love.
If I heard it once at that time and since, I’ve heard it 1,000 times….just be glad you have a healthy baby. Just be thankful. Of course I was thankful. Grateful. Glad.
What mother in their right mind would wish otherwise?? But still I grieved over the loss of what was supposed to be. What was imagined in my mind. And what I desired.
Flash forward to today. I’m a mommy to the most amazing 19mth old, and a doula myself. I just received my CAPPA certification and I also just sent off for my HypnoDoula certification as well. We are expecting boy #2 soon. Yep! And he was a surprise! Haha, tell the Lord your plans and hear him laughing. I’ve always heard this saying but I believe it to be so true!
I’m still in love with birth. I LOVE encouraging and inspiring other women to ask for and achieve the birth they desire, no matter what that birth may be. I want my experience to help people in any way possible. I love educating women on their options for birth. It’s amazing to see the empowerment it creates. Since my birth, ECM now allows for a Trial of Labor after Cesarean (TOLAC) and Vaginal Births after Cesareans (VBACs)! I am planning to try for a VBAC this go around. I’ve already hit some walls with family and health care providers, but that’s okay, I love a challenge!
Do I believe I’m the best VBAC candidate?…NO! I didn’t have a breech baby or one in distress, But I do believe in my right to hope for a chance to have the birth I want. If again my pelvic bones are too small, un-corporative and my cervix proves unfavorable….at least I’ll know I tried to achieve what so many said I couldn’t and I will know I never gave up! Because birth is a new beginning. Every birth different in so many ways, every situation it’s own.
If another cesarean is in my near future, I pray I have the strength to change the things I was unhappy about and embrace those I can’t change. ECM is constantly changing to become better and offer more to the families they serve! They now offer clear drapes and I have some options up my sleeve I plan to ask about!!
I can’t wait to see what this next little one’s story will be!
Wish me luck!!!
You can read a blog by Andi’s husband, Bill, about doula support here: https://shoalsdoula.com/page/10