Ep 119: Heidi’s Birth Story – Complicated but Beautiful

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This is a delightful birth story episode. Today Heidi joins me to share the story of her vaginal birth. In her own words “Nothing went as planned for my birth but it was still beautiful.”

Heidi endured many scares in her first trimester including an episode of heavy bleeding and alcohol exposure before she realized she was pregnant. She also discovered that she had something called a velamentous cord insertion which would go on to affect her birth. Despite the complications Heidi and her baby wound up healthy and happy.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • How difficult the first trimester was both physically and emotionally
  • What a velamentous cord insertion is
  • What complications the velamentous cord insertion caused during birth
  • How Heidi didn’t find a doula as helpful as she thought she would
  • How a vacuum assisted delivery helped her to have the vaginal birth she had hoped for
  • How Heidi was able to overcome difficulties with breastfeeding

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Ep 119: Heidi’s Birth Story -Complicated but Beautiful

Nicole: Hey, Hey, this is a delightful birth story episode.

Nicole: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to well, hello. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 119. As always, I am so, so glad that you are spending some of your time with me today. On today's podcast, I have Heidi. Heidi lives in Northern Utah with her husband and her son Oliver, and their two golden doodles Remy and Walter. She's from the Seattle area, but she recently relocated to Utah for her husband's job.

Nicole: When they moved, she left her corporate job at Amazon, and now she is currently living the life of a stay at home mom and realizing that it is a lot harder than most people think. Heidi enjoys cooking, working out on her Peloton, traveling and exploring, especially in the beautiful state of Utah. Heidi joins me to share her story of her vaginal birth and from her own words, nothing went as planned for her birth, but it was still beautiful. She shares how she had a lot of scares in the first trimester, including an episode of heavy bleeding and alcohol exposure before she realized she was pregnant and by alcohol exposure, I mean, she drank alcohol before she realized she was pregnant. How she had something called velamentous cord insertion, and what that meant for her pregnancy. Also how she didn't find that having a doula was as helpful as she thought it would be.

Nicole: There is tons of great useful information in this episode, and as always, you're going to enjoy it. Now, before we get into the episode, let me do a quick listener shout out. This is from 4 7 1 0 4 6 2 4 6 M E. All right. And the title of the review says love, love, love and the review says Dr. Nicole Rankins is living out her purpose and serving women so well. I love all of the resources she shares from birth stories to evidence-based advice. She always keeps respect for women at the core, and you can tell she deeply cares for fixing the problems in our birthing systems in the United States. If you are a birth worker, a mom or dad, or hope to give birth one day, you need this podcast in your life. Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you 4 7 1 0 4 6 2 4 6 Me for this lovely review, it is indeed my passion and my purpose to serve.

Nicole: And I'm grateful that I get to do so through this podcast. I also love serving folks through my free online class, on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works. So many people think that a birth plan is a written piece of paper. And actually that written piece of paper is the least important. Part of the birth plan process. Making a birth plan should be a process that happens during your pregnancy, where you learn information about whether or not the two most influential factors in your birth, the way your doctor approaches birth and the way the hospital approaches birth. A birth plan is about learning whether or not those two things are in line with what you want for your birth and in my free online class on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works, I give you questions to ask so you can understand just that. You can sign up for the class at drnicolerankins.com/register. Again, it is completely free. It is on demand offered several times a day. So be sure to take that class. All right, let's get into the episode with Heidi. Thank you so much, Heidi, for agreeing to come on to the podcast. I'm super excited to have you here and share your birth story today.

Heidi: Yeah. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to chat with you.

Nicole: So why don't you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your family?

Heidi: Yeah, so I'm from the Seattle area, but I recently moved to Utah with my husband, Mike, our son Oliver, and our two big golden doodles, Remy and Walter. Yeah. My husband is a project manager, so he moved here for his job. And I usually worked in corporate PR, but I'm currently taking a little break because my old job at Amazon was Seattle-based only. Um, so I'm just really enjoying, soaking up this extra time with my son right now.

Nicole: Nice, nice, nice. Nice. Did you move, like how did the move work in timing with like your pregnancy? Moving is the worst? So were you, was it after you had your baby? Before? I'm just curious.

Heidi: Yeah. So after my son, we actually moved on his first birthday. Oh, wow. Wow. So that was exciting with COVID and flying and everything, but he did great. He was a champion.

Nicole: Good, good, good, good. So why don't we start off by talking about what your pregnancy and prenatal care was like, just because that helps inform how things go and going into your birth. So, um, did you have a physician? Midwife? How'd you feel about your pregnancy? Any problems let's get into that for a bit.

Heidi: Okay. Um, my pregnancy had a couple small hiccups in the first trimester, um, in the beginning when I found out. So I, I knew I was going to find out I was pregnant around this time. I was going on a work trip to Austin, Texas, and I was super excited and I brought a gazillion of those cheap little pregnancy tests with me. And, um, while I was there, I started to get like this really heavy, what I thought was a heavy period. And so I figured, you know, it didn't happen. I'm not pregnant. So I kind of let loose with my colleagues and like drank wine and had sushi and went in the hot tub, like all the things you're not supposed to do when you're pregnant. Um, and when I got back from that trip I have on a Monday, I just randomly felt like I should take a test and it was positive. And so I was very surprised and very excited.

Nicole: Were you scared at all because you knew what, like you had done the hot tub and had some wine and all of those things.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah. I was actually at, I, I called I, I was seeing midwives throughout my whole pregnancy as I called them. And they're so wonderful. They spend so much time like talking to as much as you want. And they reassured me that it was okay. Like it was so early that, um, it was totally fine. Um, and we set up my eight week appointment to do like, you know, the first ultrasound and all that stuff. Um, kind of all in that call. Um, and I did the blood work and found out I was actually pregnant and kind of went on from there. Um, so at the eight week mark, I went in for that appointment and the ultrasounds, the midwives pulled out the ultrasound to kind of like, you know, see what was going on. And they couldn't find the embryo on the ultrasound. They just saw the sack and the midwife I was seeing, I think she was kind of more new at her job.

Heidi: And she explained to me that it was most likely having a miscarriage. And she said that I'd probably pass the sack in the next week. Um, and if I didn't have any symptoms, then come back well regardless to come back and do a follow-up and my husband and I were devastated and we went that whole week, just like, so like big pool of emotions, but we both had this feeling that it wasn't a miscarriage. Like, we both felt very strongly that she was wrong. And, um, we went back in that next week for the followup and I hadn't had any symptoms of the miscarriage or anything. So they did another ultrasound and there he was in his heart was beating strong and he was doing great. So I think I had gone straight from like, I ended my birth control pills and I got pregnant like really quick after that. And so I didn't really know what my cycle was and, um, they were kind of guessing. And so I think that's what happened is they just assumed I was at my eight week mark when really, I was only like six weeks when I went to that appointment. So they couldn't see him. Yeah. So,

Nicole: Gotcha. Yeah. Very relieved. That's a lot to go through and like the first few days, few weeks of pregnancy like what a, a rollercoaster.

Heidi: Yeah, yeah. That was very hard. And I, I have so many friends that have had miscarriages and so I was really leaning on them and for their support and like, it's, you kind of get this community that rallies around with you. Um, when you have friends that have gone through something like that. And thankfully that isn't what it ended up being, but I was so thankful for all my friends that were so vocal about what they'd gone through and it just kind of helped me feel like I wasn't alone, even though that's not what I ended up being. Um, but I definitely think having that community helps.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. For sure. So then how did the rest of your pregnancy go?

Heidi: Um, so around 10 weeks, I, again started bleeding pretty heavily. I just like went in to go take a shower and I just saw like tons of blood. And I remember it was on a Sunday and I called the midwives and I was bawling. And, um, the midwifes talked to me for like 30 minutes, maybe an hour, like kind of just chatting me through some things and seeing how it was getting better. And she stayed on the phone with me and then she ended up offering to come in on like Sunday night into the office and do an ultrasound. And thankfully it turned out to be completely fine. Again, it was just a blood vessel that had like popped at my search by my cervix. Gotcha. I didn't even know that was a thing. Like, but again, I was okay this is a little intense, like I just want to get through this first trimester and be okay.

Nicole: Right, right. Had you had sex recently or anything or did it just come out of nowhere?

Heidi: That's a good, we might have actually. Um, now that I think back to it, that could have been what it was. I don't remember. Exactly.

Nicole: Yeah. And when you said that it was something associated with like your service cause the cervix is very vascular and even more so during pregnancy. So it can bleed, um, a lot, especially if you have some prominent blood vessels, obviously you don't know that cause you can't see inside your body and see what your cervix looks like, so I can imagine again that, that was like what in the world is going on, but that's really cool that your midwife came in on a Sunday evening to do an ultrasound.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah. They were wonderful and so thankful for them.

Nicole: That is great. That is great. Okay. So then how, how did the rest of the pregnancy go?

Heidi: Um, the rest was great. Um, at my 20 I got through the first trimester and then at my 20 week ultrasound, they found out that I had a velamentous cord, which isn't a huge deal most of the time. And basically like instead of the cord going straight into the placenta, I mean, you know this, but I'm going to yeah. Go ahead and do it and explain it. Yeah. Um, so instead of it going straight into the placenta, it goes kind of like into the sack and splits off into different strands that eventually make it to the placenta. And the biggest issue is that the umbilical cord isn't protected by that protective jelly anymore. And they said that, um, as long as he keeps growing fine, he'd be okay. And they are going to do one more ultrasound, kind of towards the end of my pregnancy to make sure he was growing fine and not slowing down. Cause he was starting to push on the umbilical cord. So yeah. Other than that, everything went went well. He was growing fine. He was a big baby. I'm six foot and my husband's six one. So he was measuring very big.

Nicole: You guys are going to grow big babies just cause you're both tall people.

Heidi: For sure. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And that was a perfect explanation of what a velamentous cord insertion is I couldn't have done it any better myself, but exactly what you said. It just doesn't, it, it inserts in a way that puts the pregnancy potentially at risk. So I'm glad that now that there were no issues there with that.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah. I was very out it wasn't, it ended up catching up to us at the end, but um, throughout the pregnancy it was fine.

Nicole: Gotcha. And we will get to that for sure. So what are some things you did to prepare for your birth?

Heidi: Well, I'm definitely a planner and since this was my first baby, like I was like so nervous about the actual birth part. Um, I didn't know what to expect. Um, so I took, I took a birthing class, which was so incredibly helpful for both me and my husband, uh, just learning the different stages of labor. And then one of the biggest things that helped us was learning the different tools that they might need to use in there in the room. So like a vacuum and like the fetal heart rate monitor that like screws into their head, things like that.

Nicole: Gotcha. And that was an online class, I assume.

Heidi: No, that was in person. It was, this was right before COVID hit. So we were lucky enough to be able to meet in person. Um, just before it all kind of got crazy. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. I was going to use a different expression, but I guess children are maybe listening. Before things hit the fan. How about that? And then, um, how was it offered by the hospital or did you find it through a local childbirth educator who taught the class?

Heidi: So I actually, we hired a doula to help as well, just because I wanted somebody else in the room. I get impatient with my husband when he's like not helpful. I mean like any woman does of course. And so I hired, we hired a doula because I wanted, if I was like not sure. And he wasn't sure I wanted somebody that was like confident and could kind of help me make decisions and know what was going on. So we hired a doula and she actually, um, directed us to that birthing class specifically.

Nicole: Gotcha. Yeah. And at what point in your pregnancy, did you hire a doula?

Heidi: Well, we hired her right around my, like right when the second trimester started, um, just cause I knew I wanted to another resource in hindsight. I think my D my midwives were, um, perfectly helpful without having a doula. So for me, I didn't think it was as necessary, but it, she was helpful like for like random questions and stuff along the way that I didn't want to like bug the midwives about.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And did you meet with your doula like a couple times during the pregnancy?

Heidi: Yeah, we met, so we met, you know, at the, like when we were hired or we did like an interview in person. And then in the third trimester, we did like two in-person meetings where she came to our house and she walked us through like options for our birth plan, which we pulled together. Um, and then she kind of showed me and my husband like different positions and things we could do when I was in labor. Like she helped show like, like hands-on how we could do things before like I actually was in the thick of it. And, you know, you don't want to learn it then necessarily. So, um, yeah, she came over twice and then she ended up being there for the birth as well.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. And then, so you did the childbirth education class. You had a doula, um, you said you are a planner. Did you read any books also?

Heidi: Um, I, I was more into listening to birth stories, like on podcasts, like yours. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and just kind of seeing all the different, like ways that pregnant or, you know, birth stories can go. And I think that was really helpful too.

Nicole: Yeah. See, get, get a range of, of what to, what to expect. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So what are some things you wanted for your birth?

Heidi: Um, I really, so I had this vision in my head. I definitely wanted a vaginal birth, although I knew like the velamentous cord, there was always a chance of a C-section and, um, it's so funny. I kept telling my husband going up to our birth. I was like, I'm going to have a C-section I know I'm going to have a C-section. So I mentally was prepared in case I did. Right. And I just, I didn't, I was just one of those things. Like I had this feeling that it was going to happen. Um, but I really wanted to try for a vaginal birth. I really, I didn't want to commit to getting an epidural because I wanted to see what it was like and have that as an option. Um, and yeah, I, like, I had this big plan in my head. I had like my, my playlist of music. I was gonna play like, I brought snacks, I was like, ready to just hunker down and like be there a while and have our have our baby. But, um, it's so funny because things change, but not how it went at all.

Nicole: So that's interesting that you were both like mentally preparing and physically preparing. It sounds like getting all the things for a vaginal birth, but something in your mind was like, C-section is there also.

Heidi: Yeah. And it might've been like what the experiences in the first trimester, just those things, like things didn't go according to plan then. And, um, with the, and just core, like I just had a feeling something else was going to go not so well. So, um, I just had a feeling. Okay. Okay. All right.

Nicole: All right. Well then let's talk about what happened exactly during your labor and birth, and let's get all the way from the beginning to the end.

Heidi: Okay. So let's see on, I was 30, around the 36 week mark. I went in for my old, my regular appointment and they told me that my son hadn't really grown much from the week prior. And then my 38, 7 week appointment, the same thing they told me, like, you hadn't really grown. So I was starting to think like, okay, is this the velamentous cord causing an issue and he's not growing. Um, so they're going to do another ultrasound at 38 weeks, but I never, um, or no 39 weeks, but I'd never made it to 39. He came at 38 and a half. He came early. So, um, on I started getting contractions on a Saturday and they were very mild. I could like walk around and talk, but you know, they're just every once in a while they were like actual contractions, not just Braxton Hicks.

Heidi: And, um, I was texting my doula and she's like, didn't seem very concerned. She's like, this could go on for weeks. Just kind of hang in there and, um, just, you know, go about your day and try not to stress too much about it. And, um, Saturday night they completely went away and I was like, okay, this isn't happening. So we went to bed just like normal and Sunday at like midnight, I woke up and my contractions are really strong and they're really consistent. And I laid in bed for a little while and I just kind of tried to see if they were going to go away again or could be consistent. And I was timing them in my bed under the covers, trying not to wake up my husband at 2:00 AM. I ended up waking him up and I was like, I think this is happening.

Heidi: Like, my contractions are really strong. So we were texting my doula and she was like, okay, well just like take a bath and hang out and eat some food and, you know, just keep me posted. But at that point they were really consistent. Like they were probably like right on the dot every like three to five minutes and they were really strong. And I was like, I feel like I needed to go to the hospital soon. And she eventually, they convinced her to come over at three o'clock in the morning. So she comes over and she's like, I don't think you're ready to go to the hospital. Um, let's do some different positions and things and, you know, try and get through some of these contractions. So I did lots of different positions. The contractions were really strong and I was like, when do you go to the hospital? If not now, like, this seems like pretty intense. Right.

Heidi: Um, she eventually told me to, we should just go lie in bed and try and sleep. And she was gonna do, um, the hip compressions or like squeezes while I laid in bed and, um, try to get some rest. And so she came into the bed with me. My husband was like, there's no room so I'm going to sleep on the couch. And not even 15 minutes into that. I was like, I have to go to the hospital now. Like I can't wait. And, um, she was like, okay, well we can go, but I'm worried they're going to turn us away. I was like, I don't care. Like I need to go. I feel like I could use an epidural like now. I stood up and my water broke all over. Um, and it was just such a, I was such a hot mess trying to get ready for the hospital, but my husband was like calling the midwives and saying, we're coming. And they're like, well, how far are the contractions? And how is she? Asking all the questions, and he was like, I don't know, we're coming now. And they're like,

Nicole: We're just coming.

Heidi: And they're like we'll see you when you get here.

Nicole: Right. Right. Right. So what time was that then? Around about, you said?

Heidi: We, I think we are heading out the door around like 4:30. Okay. Um, so, um, and then I was like, my water was breaking. I was trying to like, not get all over the carpet. And then I was like having to have lay down every contraction. And then I was like getting back up and trying to put my pants on. And I was just like, it was bad. It was like a really big mess. So on the way to the hospital, I remember just like sitting there, like being like, I need just, I need an epidural right now. Like, I was really in a lot of pain because I was getting a lot of back labor too. Right. And, um, I remember we got to the hospital and they're like asking me all the questions. And I was like, I don't know, just like, I need an epidural.

Nicole: Like just stop. Yeah.

Heidi: And they took me into triage and I was five centimeters dilated and a hundred percent effaced, which is an excellent start. Especially for first time. Yeah. I was like, I was like, are you sure I'm not like 10? Like maybe yes. It took them an hour to give me the epidural. Cause I had to do the blood work and I had to get a bag of water, like the, um, the bag that they give you the water. And then they finally gave me the epidural. But throughout this whole process, they kept like checking my son's heart rate. They have like the heart rate monitor on my, on my belly. And like every contraction they're like, okay, we need you to flip over because we're losing his heart rate. And so they make me flip in the middle of the contractions to my other side. And then they had me flip again on the next contraction and they're kind of like getting a little worried.

Heidi: And so they, we got into the room, I got my epidural. Um, it never kicked in until he was, I was pushing. So it was like kind of pointless to even get it. But, um, so during the, each contraction, they noticed his heart rate kept dropping. Um, and so they, they ended up doing that fetal heart rate, monitor that screws into his head. Um, and they had me like sit on this like half circle, blow up thing. And so I was like on my own, my knees, I'm kind of laying on that just to get the weight off of him or to get him to kind of move. So he wouldn't to try and get his heart rate to stay normal. And his heart rate kept dropping and kept dropping every contraction, like going down, like dropping half, like really low. And so the nurse told me, she's like, we have to push this button and you're going to see a sea of people coming in, but don't worry.

Heidi: I just need some support. So she pushed it. And like 15 nurses came in, the NICU, people came in, um, an OB came in with my midwife and they're like all trying to monitor and check out things are going. And they felt like it got kind of stable again, they're seeing his heart rate. Okay. And, um, they all left the room and not even like two minutes later, she pushed it again and everyone had to run back in. And, um, they, I remember laying there on that ball, all there, all these people are running in and like seeing my contractions go up has every contraction and his heart rate dip down. And I had the oxygen on my face cause they're trying to get more oxygen to him. And I just was so terrified. Like that's something was gonna happen. And, um, the OB ended up coming over to me and said, um, you know, I think we're at a point now where we just need to get this baby out.

Heidi: So I think we need to do a C-section. And I was like, I don't care. Like whatever we need to do, I just want him to be healthy. And so they, um, ran off, he ran off to the, or to get ready and my midwife was there and she said, you know, like, I just want to check you one more time. Like, I feel like you could be close. Right. And she checked me in, I was 10 centimeters and I was like ready to push. And so she called the OB back to the room and he was like, we can do this. Like, we're going to use a vacuum though, because he needs to come out quick. So he got the vacuum on and um, he cranked my bed up really tall. And, um, they had me practice a couple pushes, but he was like, I was pretty strong at getting them out. So they're like, okay, slow down, like stop for a second. And I had got him out in three pushes one when the bed was up one, when he dropped the bed down and you used the vacuum to help pull from that angle. And then he was out the third push.

Nicole: Nice. You were a strong pusher indeed.

Heidi: Yeah. Thankfully having the vacuum I think helps too.

Nicole: Probably. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, well the vacuum, I mean, it, it, one of the important things I say about a vacuum birth is that really it works best when it's just adding to your own effort. And if it was just a couple poll, I mean, you were doing fantastic. You should be proud of yourself.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole: So let me ask, so what was the period of time from when you got the epidural, when you first got there to then when you delivered, like how many, how much time had passed?

Heidi: Yeah, we got to the hospital around 4:00 AM. Um, so we left at three 30 and he was born at 9:00 AM.

Nicole: Oh. So it wasn't very long at all?

Heidi: No, it was really, it was very quick and it felt like I'd been a whole day because of all the stuff that happened.

Nicole: Sure, sure, sure. And you said the epidural wasn't really doing a whole lot during that time?

Heidi: No, it kicked in. Um, as I remember, I could feel him putting the vacuum in. Right. Um, and then I think right after that is when it might've finally kicked in the midwife, kept pushing the button to make it stronger because I kept telling her I could feel everything. And um, so I think it finally kicked in right as I was pushing.

Nicole: Right. So like, so like you said, pretty much useless. And then, um, what, what were your husband and doula during doing during that time?

Heidi: Um, my husband was right by my side. He was, you know, holding my hand and holding the oxygen on my face. And, uh, when I was pushing, he held one of my legs. Um, and, or like supported me. I was trying to hold my own. But, um, my doula, she mostly took pictures because she, when we got to the hospital, she kind of took a step back cause it was more serious. Like then I think any of us expected. And so she was kind of just more in the corner. She was supporting Mike, my husband, um, more probably than supporting me. Um, but I feel like both of us felt like we got the most support from our midwife, um, who was there. She was incredible. And she just, I felt I was terrified, but I felt safe with her. And also with the OB, like when he came in, it was so cool to see, like he obviously was the person in charge at that point, because of all the stuff that was going on and it was more serious, but he, 100% was working with my midwife and like taking her recommendations and like, you know, conversing with her as like a team.

Heidi: And that made me feel so much more comfortable too. Just knowing that, like I had two amazing people looking out for me and my baby. Um, and it ended up working out okay.

Nicole: Yeah. I love that. I love that. And had you, you had, I presume you hadn't met this OB before?

Heidi: No, I hadn't met him. I'd met the midwife. Obviously they tried, they had me meet with a different one every appointment so I can know all of them, but I didn't know him at all. And I sent him a thank you card because I was just so impressed with him. He was so calm and, um, just immediately gave me the confidence in him when he walked into the room, just because of how you talk to me and valued, like valued everything I was saying and what my midwife was saying. So I appreciated it that alot.

Nicole: Nice. And that is exactly how it should be. We should work together to help the person who's giving birth feel exactly how you describe. So that's really great to hear that you had that experience.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah. I was, it was definitely crazy.

Nicole: I was going to say in the midst of being terrified, you were still able to feel like you were saying.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole: So did they bring him right up on your chest after he came out?

Heidi: So yeah, the OB put him on my chest, but he wasn't crying or anything. He was very shocked. Um, he was kind of just limp. And so I was actually, my doula got a video of the second they put him on my chest and I just had this like fear in my eyes because I was worried, something was wrong and my husband was worried. And so they, the NICU people were there still from when they came in the room with all 15 other people. And so they took him right over and were working on him and, um, it turned out like he was just kind of shocked. And he immediately after, you know, 30 seconds or so he was crying and like, everything just flooded. And like inside me at that point I was crying and, um, I had the NICU people invited my husband over to see his son and the second my husband went over there and talked to him, he stopped crying. And that was just so incredible to see like that bond already.

Nicole: Right. Aw, that is so special. That is a lot that you had going on. I mean, in a short period of time.

Heidi: Yeah. So we didn't use our playlist. We didn't eat our snacks until afterwards. Right, right, right.

Nicole: Yeah. I guess. Did they bring him back over to you fairly quickly then?

Heidi: As soon as he was crying, they brought him over. Um, and I like held him for what felt like the entire time we were there. I didn't want to let him go. Um, and yeah, he was, he was perfectly healthy, um, at that point.

Nicole: Good, good, good. So, gosh, I mean, when you look back, well, actually let's talk about for a second. What was the postpartum period like for you both in the hospital and then once you got home?

Heidi: Um, in the hospital, I was just so excited to have him there and I didn't sleep at all. I just wanted to stare at him and now looking back, I probably should have got as much sleep as possible because those, that first week was really hard. Um, he, since I had the velamentous cord during the delivery, he was pushing on his umbilical cord, which is making his heart rate drop. Um, so that's why it was the issue. Um, but he had also stopped growing around that 36 week mark. So he was born really small. He was only six pounds, 11 ounces when he was supposed to be huge. And so he was always hungry, like always hungry. And so he ate like probably every hour, 90, every 90 minutes. And, um, so I was not getting any sleep ever and I loved it, but I was also like very sleep deprived.

Heidi: And I think that was the hardest part is, um, I think some, like you're always encouraged to breastfeed and like they say breast is best and like really encourage that. But I, I felt like a failure because I really wanted to supplement just so I could get some sleep. And, um, if there was just nobody that really helps you feel comfortable with formula feeding. Like they always, every time I called like the lactation consultants or like even the midwife office, they're like, well just, you know, it gets better, just try a little bit longer and you know, it'll get better. And, um, I didn't end up supplementing until like the three month mark. But, um, I think that was the hardest thing for me is I wish somebody had told me like, it's okay to supplement with formula if you need to. And he's going to be completely healthy. And I think that was the hardest part for me in postpartum.

Nicole: Yep. We have to find a balance between breast is best and like you have to have some sanity and be able to like exist so that you can take care of this baby. And it's perfectly reasonable if you need to, to supplement. Yeah. We don't do a great job postpartum. We still have work to do so. Um, um, it's good that you found your own sorta way to reconcile with that, but it sounds like it took a little bit for you to get there.

Heidi: Yeah. My, my husband actually was the one that really, uh, worked with me through it. I was, I remember sitting in the rocker just crying one night cause I was so tired and I was breastfeeding and he was like, we can supplement it's okay. Like do not, you're not a failure. He still loves you. He's going to love you. Like it's not going to change your bond with him. And he, I can't tell you how many times we had that conversation and he just was so supportive. Um, and I think that made a huge difference too.

Nicole: Yeah, for sure. For sure. So when you look back, when everything, how do you feel about it?

Heidi: Um, I honestly, I think it's such an incredible story and an incredible experience and I regularly just think back on that whole experience and I'm just, I'm so thankful it worked out the way it did. Um, I'm so thankful for the team that I had, like the midwives and the OB. Um, so I know a lot of people, um, love having a doula and I know that there for some people, but for me, I feel like, um, the doula didn't really help my experience. And, um, I, I feel like had she not been there, I probably would've gone to the hospital sooner. And I feel like I would have been a little less stressed because they would have found out like about the heart rate issue, his heart rate dropping earlier. And I feel like it would've been a lot less stressful.

Nicole: Yeah. And I think, um, I appreciate you being honest about that. Like everybody is gonna have a different experience and I want to be able to present like everyone's experience. Not everything is good for, for every person. So I appreciate you, um, being comfortable sharing that.

Heidi: Yeah, I think for sure. Um, I thought it would be the best thing for us and in the end, I think it was more important that I had a team of physicians that were on my side and made me feel comfortable.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. So is there anything else that you weren't, and that's not to say that you weren't happy about the doula, but is there anything that you weren't happy about or you wish was different about your experience?

Heidi: Um, no. I, I feel like my story was perfect, how it was like I look back and I just I'm, I'm thankful it didn't go as planned and in a way, because it, it kind of set me up for the rest of motherhood.

Nicole: Ain't that the truth. I'm trying not to laugh, but once you have a baby, like nothing can prepare you and guys, it's not bad, we promise, but nothing can quite prepare you for what it's like to have a tiny human being that you're responsible for and the ups and downs that go with that and being able to like navigate that.

Heidi: Totally. And I think one of the biggest things I learned since I've had a baby, is that nobody is going to tell you how to do anything the right way. Um, it's all, you mean, you're the mom and you get to like the one that decides everything. And you're the one that advocates for this little baby. And I think that's kind of the summary of my birth experience too, is like I hired a doula because I wanted someone to be able to tell me what to do. Um, and feel comfortable the whole time when really it's just kind of go with your own instinct. Like I knew my body better than anybody else. And I think I would have been just fine, not having to do a lot because of that.

Nicole: I love that. You indeed, we each know ourselves and just like developing that, that trust in yourself is, is part of it, which it sounds like you've, you've come to a realization that you, you can trust yourself and your body and know what's what's best for you. And what's best for that little human.

Heidi: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it is.

Nicole: So if you had to pick one piece of advice that you would tell other women as they are getting ready for their birth, what would that be? What would your favorite piece of advice be? And you may have said it already. So certainly, say it again.

Heidi: Yeah, I think it's, it's that it's just knowing that, you know, yourself and your body the best, and if something doesn't feel right, like you can always ask questions and advocate for yourself and, um, having, you know, a care team that's on you has your back and like is going to advocate for you as well. Um, just having that combo really, uh, ended up making my birth a success, I think. Um, but you definitely have to be involved in speaking up for yourself because if I hadn't said I was ready to go to the hospital when I did, I don't know what would have happened. Um, cause he came pretty quickly after that, so yes.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. For sure. For sure. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come on and share your story. I really, really appreciate it. And you just have so many lovely elements that I know people are going to relate to and find helpful. So thank you.

Heidi: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

Nicole: Wasn't that a great birth story episode? I love how Heidi was able to find beauty in her birth, even though things didn't go exactly as anticipated. And I also appreciate her honesty and candor about her experience during her birth and the postpartum period as well. Now, you know, after every episode, when I have a guest on, I do something called Nicole's Notes, where I go through my top three or four takeaways from the conversation, and here are my Nicole's Notes from my conversation with Heidi. Number one or actually two quick gentle reminders. Number one, you can get pregnant pretty much as soon as you stop birth control.

Nicole: Heidi mentioned that she got pregnant pretty quickly, right after she stopped her pills. And that can happen. The only method that delays return to fertility is depo Provera. Otherwise you can theoretically get pregnant right away. There's no like wash out period or anything like that. So just know and keep that in the back of your mind. If you stop using birth control, you can get pregnant. I talk more about contraception in episode 114 of the podcast. The second gentle reminder is that epidurals take time. And although they usually work, sometimes they don't, they take at least 30, sometimes 45 minutes of preparation before you can get the epidural. And then there's another 15 or 20 minutes where it has to settle in where the medicine has to take effect. So it's not something that happens right away. And again, although they usually work, sometimes they don't.

Nicole: Recently at work. e had a woman who actually got three epidurals placed and not one of them worked for her during her birth to relieve pain. Again, that is not typical that that happens, but it is a possibility. And like Heidi said in her story, it wasn't working up until the very end. So sometimes they don't always go exactly as planned. All right, number three, it can feel scary when things are off during the birth and a bunch of people come into the room at once, but this is actually the benefit of giving birth in the hospital. Hospitals don't always do great at low intervention birth, but what hospitals do well at is emergencies and responding to emergencies and having those things available. So even though it can feel scary, um, it can feel overwhelming like five, 10 people come in the room at once when things happening and understand that that is actually the benefit of being in the hospital of having all of the things there for an emergency and to be able to respond quickly if needed.

Nicole: And then the final thing I'll say is you always have to advocate for yourself. I love, love, love how Heidi advocated for herself. And it doesn't matter who it's with. In her case, she had to advocate for herself with her doula. Sometimes you may have to advocate with your doula, with your midwife, with your doctor, maybe even with your husband or partner. Now, one of the things that can help you be better able to advocate yourself is having information and knowledge about the process of labor and birth. And you do that through childbirth education. Of course I have great option the birth preparation course to help you, um, with childbirth education, but there are other great options out there as well. Do your research find something that works for you. And of course, check out my option and drnicolerankins.com/enroll. Can't believe I've had like over a thousand folks through the course at this point now.

Nicole: So I'd love to have you there as well. All right. So there you have it, be sure to subscribe to the podcast in Apple podcast or wherever you listen to this podcast, Google Play, I guess, is Google Podcasts now, um, Spotify, and I would love it if you leave an honest review in Apple podcast and helps other women to find the show helps the show to grow. And I do shout outs from those reviews from time to time on the podcast. Also be sure to check out my free online class on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works. You will learn a step by step process in order to make a birth plan that actually works to help you have the birth that you want. Check out that free class at drnicolerankins.com/register. I'd love to see you there. So that is it for this episode, do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth.

Nicole: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.