As I write this, my son is turning 5. I’m not quite sure how to sum it up, but having a son has exceeded what I ever thought it would be. If you know me at all, I am a total girl mom. When our daughter was born, I had the largest collection of bows, little dresses, and all things with ruffles. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office with an envelope in my hand with the blood results for our second baby. When I opened the envelope, I was in disbelief that we could possibly be having a boy, and it wasn’t until I saw the ultrasound that I was fully convinced that our son would be joining our family. I remember our doctor saying that every year on his child’s birthday, he sits his wife in a chair and brings her flowers because just as much as it’s the child’s birthday, it’s also the mother’s “birth” day, too. And every birth has a story.
I was the little girl growing up who played house every day. My dream in life was to be a mom. My husband is in the military and so we were stationed in California when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I loved being pregnant and never had any issues. I actually felt the best when pregnant. I didn’t drink, ate healthier, exercised, and prioritized rest. We were in a small town, and the healthcare provider options were very limited with most practices being single doctors, not groups like here in Jacksonville. Seeing the same provider had its positives, but I lacked having a second opinion and someone to hear me out.
In the latter part of my pregnancy, I began to have pain underneath my rib cage. I thought maybe I had pulled a muscle as I was picking my daughter up one day. I gave that information to my doctor, but he assured me all was good. I suffered from “white coat syndrome,” so my blood pressure was always elevated during my checkups, too. But, my doctor still assured me all was good. I was finally down to once-a-week appointments, and it was at that check-up that my blood pressure was super elevated and in the risk zone for preeclampsia. Up until this point, I really had no idea what preeclampsia was. I had heard the term but didn’t know all that it entailed. I was sent to the hospital for a non-stress test and never left until several days later. With my daughter, I was able to naturally go into labor at home, and when I checked into the hospital, I was already 5 cm dilated. It was pretty seamless, and I felt like everything went the way that I wanted it to go. I was up walking just an hour after she was born. When my doctor told me that I was going to be induced with my son, the tears started flowing. Not only was I not ready, but I had nothing packed or prepared. I immediately went to the worst-case scenario that I would have to have a C-section. I was terrified and didn’t want to have to recover from a major surgery. I remember being in the hospital room and starting Cervidil and Pitocin while watching Titanic to pass the time. Fun fact: With commercials, the movie Titanic ends up being a five-hour-long movie. It was a decent distraction from all that was going on (and the signature chocolate milkshakes the hospital offered, too). In addition to being induced, I was also diagnosed with preeclampsia which continued after birth as well and was terrible. The best way to sum it up was the feeling of a hangover and the flu mixed together.
Unfortunately, my body did not want to progress. I walked the halls constantly to try to get labor going, and unfortunately, as soon as I stopped walking, my contractions stopped. My goal of having an unmedicated birth was slowly slipping away. With an increase in the Pitocin and the pain that came along with that, I decided to get an epidural. With my daughter, I never had Pitocin, but I am definitely here to testify that Pitocin contractions are way more painful than regular contractions. Once again, I was never against having an epidural — it was more that I wanted my birth plan to go like how my daughter’s birth went. But I quickly learned that no birth story is ever the same. I remember laying and waiting for the time to pass and for me to dilate so we could get the show on the road and meet our son! At 9 cm, my water still hadn’t broke, and so my doctor made the decision to break my water. That’s when everything went south.
Little did we know that the cord was wrapped around my son’s neck, and his heart rate was quickly decelerating. I was taken to the OR for an emergency C-section, and that was just the beginning. By the grace of God, my son was born with no issues at all. I, on the other hand, was a different story. After delivering, my body began hemorrhaging, and I lost half of my body‘s blood volume. My placenta had essentially disintegrated due to the preeclampsia diagnosis being missed, and the doctors were unable to sew me back up. I was put under general anesthesia and for the next three hours, doctors worked to save my life and allow for me to keep my uterus. As they were stitching me back up, my uterus continued to bleed and would not contract, which is a condition known as uterine atony, likely related to preeclampsia. At this point, my platelets were also running low so my blood was not clotting. I was re-opened and a D&C was performed as a precaution to ensure there were no placenta parts left. While I don’t remember any of those hours, it was the most excruciating time for my family as they did not know the ultimate outcome. My son was given his first meal from a bottle by my mom, who thankfully had flown in from Florida to be there with us and help with our daughter. As I write this, the tears are flowing, and I’m not quite sure why this year hits a little bit differently. I think I am so proud of my son, and I’m so thankful for the miracle that he is and that I am alive and healthy today. By the grace of God, my life was truly spared.
As he turns 5 this year, something is different. He’s becoming a young man, discovering what he loves, and I couldn’t be more proud. He’s smart, handsome, and athletic, but most importantly he is loving, kind, and loves helping others. It’s moments like these that I can’t even begin to fathom our life without him, and I’m so thankful for modern medicine and the blessing of his health.
I felt compelled to share this because I think we forget how much of a miracle children are and how many things have to go right for them to make their entrance into the world safely — and unfortunately not all do. Every child is special. As a mom who knew her body and felt like something wasn’t right, I encourage you to advocate for yourself and speak up at your appointments if something isn’t right. While I will never know for sure, most of my issues could have been prevented with more testing and a scheduled C-section. Moms are superheroes, and we know our bodies, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!