Ep 252: Andrea’s Birth Story – Joy and Grief After a Traumatic Birth

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Andrea planned an induction at 39 weeks, but things didn't go as anticipated. She thought that her water broke just after 38 weeks and went to the hospital. It turned out that it didn't, but her blood pressure was high and her baby had turned to a transverse position - which is basically going across the uterus - and no matter how hard we try, a baby is not going to fit through the vagina that way. So she ended up having to have a C-section.

A lot of things did not go great with her experience. Quite honestly, some of the things she experienced were just plain awful. Most of the nurses were great but one in particular made her feel like she was failing as a mom. Plus there were some other not ideal experiences which she’ll explain in the episode. These experiences resulted in postpartum depression and anxiety.

Now, despite those challenges, she's also going to share how she’s taking care of herself now. Working with a postpartum coach and a pelvic floor physical therapist have helped her grieve the vaginal birth she wanted but didn't have.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why she referred to her prenatal doctor’s visits as “conveyer belt care”
  • How insurance limited what services she had access to
  • How connecting with other expectant parents, both online and in person, helped her through a difficult pregnancy
  • Which symptoms she experienced (basically every one you can imagine)
  • How she felt when she realized she wasn’t going to have a vaginal birth
  • What her C-section felt like
  • What made her unhappy with her lactation support
  • How medication has helped with her postpartum depression

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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Dr. Nicole (00:00): Grief and joy can be simultaneous. Plan for everything to go awry and trust your instincts. These are all things that Andrea wanted to convey by sharing Harper's story in this episode of the podcast.

(00:22): Welcome to the All about Pregnancy and birth podcast. If you're having a baby in the hospital, you are giving birth in a system that too often takes away power from women over what happens in their own bodies. I'm Dr. Nicole Callaway Rankins, a practicing board certified OBGYN, who's had the privilege of helping well over a thousand babies into this world. I've been a doctor for over 20 years, and I'm here to help you take back your power, advocate for yourself, and have the beautiful pregnancy and birth that you deserve. This podcast is for educational purposes only, and it's not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now, let's get to it.

(01:04): Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 252. Whether this is your first time listening or you have been here before, I am so glad you're spending some time with me today. In this episode, we have Andrea. She's 36 years old, and she gave birth to her first baby boy back in October. Shout out to fellow Libra Babies. She was a teacher for almost 10 years, and now she's a project manager and she works from home. She loves fitness and physical activity along with listening to podcasts and spending time with her two pups. Andrea planned an induction at 39 weeks, but things did not go like she anticipated. She thought her water broke just after 38 weeks. It turned out that it didn't, but her blood pressure was high and her baby had turned to a transverse position, which is basically going across the uterus.

(02:01): And no matter however we try, a baby is not going to fit through the vagina that way. So she ended up having to have a C-section, which was appropriate in that case. However, things did not go great with her experience, and quite honestly, some of the things she experienced were just plain awful. Most of the nurses were great, but one in particular made her feel like she was failing as a mom. And then there were some other not ideal experiences at the hospital, like where she didn't see her baby for a solid 30 minutes after birth, and this resulted in bad postpartum depression and anxiety afterwards. Now, despite those challenges, she's also going to share how working with a postpartum coach and a pelvic floor physical therapist have helped her so much in grieving, not having the vaginal birth that she wanted. Really appreciate Andrea coming on to share her perspective.

(03:02): Now, although a birth plan is no guarantee that you will get the birth that you want, it will undoubtedly help set you up for success, especially if you approach making a birth plan the way that I teach you how to make a birth plan. And at the end of this month, on April 30th, I'm teaching my birth plan class live. Make a birth plan the right way, and live is so much fun because we get to interact in real time both with me, but also with other pregnant folks who are in the class. And I'll also be sharing something super special that you can only learn about if you register for the class. Registration will open April 15th for the live class on April 30th. The best way to know when registration opens is to join my email list. That's dr nicole rankins.com/email. And it's not just a great place to learn about the class.

(03:57): It's also a great place to get lovely pregnancy and birth information. I send a weekly email that has great tips and information about pregnancy If you're trying to do less social media, but still want to get great information from me about pregnancy and birth, this is a great way to do that little bite-sized nuggets that are really helpful. And it's just once a week. I never spam folks or anything like that. So sign up for my email list, dr nicole rankins.com/email, and then you will be the first to know when registration opens for the live class on April 30th. All right, let's get into the birth story episode with Andrea. Thank you so much, Andrea, for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I am excited to have you share your birth story today.

Andrea (04:46): Hi, so nice to be here. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Nicole (04:49): Yeah. So why don't we start off by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

Andrea (04:54): Sure. So my name is Andrea. I live in New Jersey. I'm 36 years old. I was a teacher for about 10 years, and then I switched over recently over to project management. So I get to work from home now, which is quite the blessing. I am married to my husband, Nick, and we just had a baby boy Graham three months ago.

Dr. Nicole (05:15): Alrighty. So you are still pretty fresh postpartum.

Andrea (05:18): Yes, I am very fresh,

Dr. Nicole (05:21): Elegant

Andrea (05:21): Again and acclimated to this new life.

Dr. Nicole (05:23): Absolutely. And what did you teach when you were a teacher?

Andrea (05:26): I was K through six, so I taught fourth grade, second grade gift and talented, and I ended in the STEAM lab. So stem.

Dr. Nicole (05:35): Yeah. Everybody else in my family are educators, so my mom taught math for 50 years. My sister's a principal at an elementary school. My other sister was a principal, so I'm the oddball

Andrea (05:46): A little bit. See you. So you've heard all the stories. I've

Dr. Nicole (05:51): Heard all the stories, all the stories all. So in order to understand what happened with the birth, we have to, what happened with the pregnancy. So why don't we start off by having you tell us a bit about what your pregnancy and prenatal care was like?

Andrea (06:03): Sure. So it took us only four months, thankfully, to get pregnant. I was a little bit worried since I was advanced maternal age that it was going to take a long time. Thankfully it did not. I had regular care under a physician. I had looked up midwives in the area, but we kind of live in more of a rural area. So the closest midwife that I had heard great reviews about was about an hour away. And so for me, I didn't really want to take that risk. God forbid something had happened, I wanted to be close to a hospital, so we went the regular route for that. My prenatal care, I was very big into the apps. I downloaded about seven of them.

Dr. Nicole (06:46): Oh, what apps did you use? I'm curious.

Andrea (06:49): The apps I use, let's see. I did the bump, pregnancy plus What to Expect When You're Expecting. That One's really awesome. And then Baby Center and Flow. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (07:03): And they just all do, they send you information based on your due date and little daily or month or weekly things

Andrea (07:11): Really. Each one was a little bit different, which is why I kind of like to use all of them. They would tell you what your baby looked like that week. I really loved it because it told you how to eat nutritionally for the baby depending on his development. So I made sure that I was eating what I was supposed to be eating, the suggestions that they had made during those times in my pregnancy just to hopefully have the best results and kind of just seeing what was being developed in the baby, his eyes, and he can be able to open them soon and things like that.

Dr. Nicole (07:44): Yeah. Nice, nice, nice. So you used the pregnancy apps. What else was your prenatal care and pregnancy?

Andrea (07:49): I worked out throughout most of it. I did CrossFit up until about 33 weeks, very modified. Of course. I couldn't really move too much near the end there, but I really tried to stay as active as I could, just because I wanted to make sure that myself and the baby was healthy,

Dr. Nicole (08:10): Prenatal

Andrea (08:10): Vitamins from the beginning. The apps were great for that too. I would supplement with iron as I got later into the trimesters and things like that, magnesium for sleep, because I had really bad insomnia, but it was a normal pregnancy. I had a lot of anxiety near the end just because I guess this was my first one, and every time I went to the doctor my age was brought up, or any report that I had, it would say advanced maternal age. So I was just a little bit, is everything okay? Is everything going to be okay type thing. So I have a lot of anxiety around that. I actually got one of those at home ultrasound machines that really, really helped me just to make me feel better to hear his heartbeat and things, so I really liked that.

Dr. Nicole (09:02): Gotcha. Yeah, I think we create a lot of unnecessary anxiety around advanced maternal age, especially for you, someone who was otherwise very healthy.

Andrea (09:12): Yeah, I think it was a lot in my head and just the things that you look up. I mean, you look up something and the worst thing possible shows up and you're just kind of like, oh my God.

Dr. Nicole (09:25): Yeah. So how many did you rotate between different doctors or was it just one doctor that you saw?

Andrea (09:31): There were two doctors, two female doctors. It was really just whoever was on call at the clinic. I kind of like to veer towards one just so that I could have the same person over and over, so that I know knew who was going to be at the hospital with me for delivery, so I tried to make the appointments with just one, and that worked out really well for me.

Dr. Nicole (09:53): Yeah, that's an unusually small practice to just see two doctors together, because that's a lot of call to split between them.

Andrea (10:05): Yeah, they had very specific hours and certain days were their hospital days and things

Dr. Nicole (10:11): Like that. Gotcha, gotcha.

Andrea (10:12): They were really

Dr. Nicole (10:12): Wonderful. Okay. And you felt okay about your visits and things like that? They

Andrea (10:18): Were fine. From your podcast and other podcasts that I had listened to, I understood going in that I wasn't going to get an hour appointment. I knew that it was very conveyor belt, and to have my questions ready to go if I had them, kind of had to stop the doctor before they left the room to ask the questions because it's in and out. And that's kind of why I looked into the midwife experience, because I had heard such wonderful things, and they really sit there and take the time to get to know you and get to know your life and talk about how you're feeling, especially as a first time pregnancy, I could read as much as I possibly could, but still didn't really know what to expect, so it kind of was what it was.

Dr. Nicole (11:05): Gotcha, gotcha. Conveyor belt is a good way to describe it. Did you consider getting a doula at all?

Andrea (11:13): I had looked into getting a doula too. It was just kind of not in the budget. I went to this one place that was for moms and did prenatal yoga and prenatal classes and things like that, and they had a list of doulas, but it was really just something like, I figured I would be okay this time and see how it went, and if I wanted to spend the money next time, maybe look into it or save up at least.

Dr. Nicole (11:43): Gotcha, gotcha. Well, did you like the yoga?

Andrea (11:45): The yoga was awesome. Yeah. I really loved the yoga, especially near the end where I couldn't really move well anymore. We used a lot of props chairs and things like that, and it was really wonderful because it was a community and all the women were pregnant at certain stages, and sometimes pregnancy, at least in my experience, it could be a little bit isolating and a little bit lonely at times. So to be in a place with everybody going through similar things, want to talk that through and to laugh and like, oh, my ankles are so swollen because they understand. I loved it. They loved it. I recommend it. Yeah, for sure.

Dr. Nicole (12:24): Did you stay in contact with anybody from the class at

Andrea (12:27): All? So funny. So the class was an hour away, and one of the girls there actually lives 15 minutes from me. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (12:34): Okay. See?

Andrea (12:35): Yes. So now I'm friends with her and I see all her pictures of her baby that she had. Yes, it was cool to see somebody live close to me, and now I can spend time with her. Oh, that

Dr. Nicole (12:47): Is nice. That is nice. Okay. So what did you do to prepare for your birth?

Andrea (12:51): I took every class, every podcast I listened to. I mean, the apps I paid for things. I took free courses online, everything I could possibly think of to understand pregnancy and birth, I mean to know at least be some sort of prepared going into it. What does a vaginal birth entail? What does a c-section entail? What are the complications, what induction can be like? I tried to verse myself in everything I possibly could because I don't really have friends with kids. I don't really have family that I'm close with kids, so it was really just me.

Dr. Nicole (13:33): Gotcha, gotcha.

Andrea (13:34): So I tried to learn as much as I could. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (13:37): Okay. What other podcasts did you listen to

Andrea (13:39): Besides yours? One of my favorites is actually called the Mint Project, and that's for pregnant athletes?

Dr. Nicole (13:47): Oh,

Andrea (13:47): Yeah. Yeah. So the creators of the podcast are all athletic moms who are trying to promote a healthy lifestyle for moms during a pregnancy, but also postpartum, especially because a lot of us can't find a pelvic floor therapist or afford one. They have these programs that you can buy via your phone, and they show you breathing and exercises that you can do postpartum and a community of postpartum women to kind of support each other and to kind of have a healthy balance between life and fitness.

Dr. Nicole (14:27): Nice. I never heard of that podcast, so that's a good one

Andrea (14:29): To hear from. Yeah. Yeah, it was really great. A lot of the podcasts were around athletes, were also moms, so I could relate to that. And all the things that come with body changes and stuff like that is hard to cope with, especially when you're not able to do the things that you could do before either, for sure. Your clothes don't fit and all the things,

Dr. Nicole (14:48): All the changes that happen in the body.

Andrea (14:51): I had a plethora of symptoms from pregnancy also that I was trying to deal with, so it was nice to hear about all of that. Gotcha.

Dr. Nicole (15:01): I mean, what kind of symptoms did you have?

Andrea (15:02): I ran the gamut. So I mean, first trimester I had the normal, I was very tired, very nauseous. I had food aversions to the point where I would be craving something, I would cook it, and by the time it was done, I didn't want it anymore. And so our refrigerator was packed with leftovers, but into the second trimester, my ankles got very, very swollen that the doctors always made sure nothing else was swollen. Every time I went, I had to buy new sneakers. It was just very hard to manage, but I also got very severe carpal tunnel in both of my hands. I had to dangle my hands off the bed so that the pain would go away, but it was so painful that I would wake up in the middle of the night. Not to mention I had pregnancy insomnia on top of that, so I'm actually still kind of dealing with it. It's been three months, and now I have the, I don't know how to pronounce it, the date de veins, 10 ohs and Oh,

Dr. Nicole (16:05): Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andrea (16:06): So I have that in both of my wrists from the carpal tunnel, and the doctor said that that won't really go away until breastfeeding is done completely. So I have that. I had very bad jaw pain, and my last trimester, yes, chewing was very painful. That went away immediately after I gave birth hyperpigmentation on my skin. And then I developed some skin tags in places, which was weird to notice on myself. Of course, the stretch marks. And then I got gestational gingivitis also. Oh god,

Dr. Nicole (16:44): Okay.

Andrea (16:45): You

Dr. Nicole (16:46): Had a lot.

Andrea (16:47): I had a lot. I wouldn't say it was the most pleasant experience besides the bump and the kicks. I don't know if I recommend my experience to too many

Dr. Nicole (16:59): People. And the thing is, the response you probably got over and over was you just have to wait until pregnancy for it to end.

Andrea (17:08): Yeah, it's normal. It's normal. Yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately, that's a side effect. Exactly. It'll go away after the baby comes. Just tough it out type thing. I actually had gotten really, really bad poison ivy in my first trimester. I was gardening, and I couldn't take anything for that either. So that was another just tough it out type thing.

Dr. Nicole (17:33): Oh gosh.

Andrea (17:34): And I actually had to take the sugar test, the glucose test twice.

Dr. Nicole (17:39): Okay, so you had to drink the nasty you drink twice.

Andrea (17:41): I had to the first time I passed it, and

Dr. Nicole (17:44): Then the

Andrea (17:44): Second time you had to do

Dr. Nicole (17:45): The low,

Andrea (17:46): And I had to take the sugar drink the

Dr. Nicole (17:49): Second time. Yes. Okay. Okay.

Andrea (17:52): It was a fun experience.

Dr. Nicole (17:56): Oh, well, getting back to the, well, I just want to say, isn't it crazy the things that change in your body related to pregnancy that you would think, why are my gums now certainly sensitive, or why do I have carpal tunnel? I think we just don't understand so much about the physiology and the body and what happens.

Andrea (18:15): A lot of it I didn't know was a thing. You hear about the nausea, you hear about the fatigue, the stretch marks, the weight gain and all of that. But then I was just, things were happening to me and I was really looking up, is this normal? And it's like, yeah, that's normal too. I'm like, oh,

Dr. Nicole (18:37): Yep, yep, yep. It's pretty crazy. So getting back to your preparation, were there any particular reason? Oh, you said some other podcasts. I think you were to tell me some of the podcasts. Yeah.

Andrea (18:46): So it was yours, the Mint Project 40 Weeks is just this cute one that tells you the development of the baby every week, what to expect when you're expecting evidence-based birth, strong mama and then mommy labor nurse.

Dr. Nicole (19:00): Yep, yep, yep. Okay. Okay. Now, were there any particular resources that you, or classes or books or anything that you liked better than others?

Andrea (19:09): Well, I really liked your birth plan course that I really liked. And yes, so I followed that to a T for my birth plan.

Dr. Nicole (19:16): I didn't pay her to say that. I promise.

Andrea (19:20): That was really good. And then this company, Aero Pump, they actually have a ton of courses from breastfeeding to taking care of baby to all these things that are covered by insurance. Nice. I was able to take six free courses, and they were an and in a community of pregnant women, and just like everybody was asking questions, those were really wonderful.

Dr. Nicole (19:45): You said Arrow pump? Arrow Pump. Yeah. Okay.

Andrea (19:48): We have a bunch of courses by professionals, and you just log on and ask your questions and they answer all your questions.

Dr. Nicole (19:56): Nice. So you did a lot of research to find things that were readily available

Andrea (20:01): And things that you didn't have to pay money for? I initially paid for a course through the hospital that was $75 in my first trimester to be ready by the time I had the baby. And by the time that course came, I was like, I've had so many other courses for free, I hadn't paid for that one.

Dr. Nicole (20:19): Right. Gotcha. Gotcha.

Andrea (20:21): But yeah, I tried again, I tried to not pay for too many things and tried to find the free ones. Yeah,

Dr. Nicole (20:27): Gotcha. I love it. Love it, love it. So what are some things that you wanted for your birth?

Andrea (20:30): So I was aiming for a vaginal birth. Of course, I have a high pain tolerance. So I was playing with the notion of not having a medicated birth. I kind of went into it thinking open mind, so I'm going to try to have one, not medicated, but if things go awry, I'm okay with having the epidural. So that was my goal. I really didn't want to c-section of courses as most women, but I had in my head that it was a possibility because the first couple ultrasounds, he was actually transverse. And so very early on they told me that if he doesn't turn by this certain point, you're going to have to have a C-section. So that was in my head, so I was prepared for that, even though that was really something that I didn't want. I've heard that it's a harder recovery, and also because I was an athlete, that didn't really sit well with me either because of everything that goes along with that. But yeah, so just a natural birth with limited amount of pain medication if possible. Gotcha,

Dr. Nicole (21:46): Gotcha. All right. And was there anything in particular, you said you didn't want to have a C-section. Was there anything that you were afraid of? I

Andrea (21:52): Don't think I was afraid of anything. I think because I really did my homework and I did everything that I possibly could to make sure that I was healthy and that I was ready, and it was kind of up to the universe to whatever happened. So I was prepared or so I thought I was prepared until it actually happened, and then that was a little bit harder.

Dr. Nicole (22:20): Okay. Well, let's talk about it. What happened? Tell us about your labor and birth. How did things start? How did things go?

Andrea (22:27): So our little munchkin at our ultrasound at 37 weeks, he was measuring at 9.8 pounds.

Dr. Nicole (22:34): So not little munchkin then.

Andrea (22:36): So not munchkin. I call him a little checker. So the plan was to induce at 39 weeks and try to have a natural delivery and see what happened. So that was the plan. We had everything all set. We were going to go to this hospital that's about 45 minutes away that had rave reviews for the labor and delivery department. So I was looking forward to that, and we were all set and ready to go. Babies were ready. So I think in my head, I was prepared for that, and so that's not what happened. Oh,

Dr. Nicole (23:15): Okay. Okay. What happened?

Andrea (23:20): I was 38 and three, and I took myself out to breakfast that day. My husband was working, so I took myself out to breakfast that day. I went to the store to buy some things for the house preparing because I'm having a baby in a week or so, and I'm walking through the aisles and I feel like a trickle, trickle, trickle. I'm like, okay, well, that was a little weird. Let me just keep walking and see if it happens again. And walk, walk, walk and trickle, trickle, trickle. And I'm like, okay, well, I'm 38 weeks. It's very possible that my water just broke. So I put my stuff away. I don't buy anything. It's my car. And I drive next door to the convenience store to use the bathroom and everything soaked. So then the panic sets in and the nerve set in and the anxiety sets in. I start to get scared. I'm like, okay, this is real. So I walked back into my car and my car seat's wet. So there's no doubt in my mind that my water has broken and I have to go to the hospital. It was funny because that morning I had a feeling for whatever reason, I took all of my hospital bags and brought them downstairs. Okay. I don't know why. See,

Dr. Nicole (24:46): Something was telling you.

Andrea (24:47): So they were right by the front door. So I get in my car and I start driving to the hospital that's closer to us because I wasn't sure if I was making at 45 minutes, and I was also hep B positive at that point, and I knew that when your water breaks, you have to get the antibiotics in quicker.

Dr. Nicole (25:08): Oh, you mean GBS positive?

Andrea (25:10): Sorry.

Dr. Nicole (25:10): Yes. Okay. Yeah. You said hep B, which is hepatitis. Yeah, you said hepatitis. That's not right.

Andrea (25:16): That one. Yeah, that's not the right one to get wrong. So I had that. So I had to get the antibiotics as soon as your water. So I read, I think I was panicking because of that. So I call the doctor, right? I'm driving to the hospital that's closer to us, and she was like, I'm on call at the other hospital. I'm just not going to be able to make it so my doctor can't come. Like, oh, great. So I drive myself to the hospital. I'm crying, I think, because I'm all the things right? It's early. My doctor's not going to be there by myself. At this point. I'm driving myself to the hospital.

Dr. Nicole (25:55): Okay. So did your doctor tell you maybe try and drive to the other hospital, or was she, I don't

Andrea (26:02): Think she said no. She was like, maybe I could make it. Let me see, or something like that. She's like, but I'm probably not going to be able to be okay.

Dr. Nicole (26:12): I mean, did she tell you that you could drive to where she was, or was she just like,

Andrea (26:17): No, I don't think she said that. I don't know if, I mean, maybe that was offered. I can't quite remember. Right. Okay. But there was no way I was doing that anyway. I was just too nervous.

Dr. Nicole (26:25): Okay, got it. Got

Andrea (26:26): It. I wasn't, I wasn't sure what was happening.

Dr. Nicole (26:31): Okay. Okay. And then did you call your husband? Where was he during this?

Andrea (26:36): I didn't even call my husband. I was panicking. So I drove to the hospital. I park, I waddle my way into the hospital, and I was like, I think my water just broke. So they bring me upstairs, and this is when I realized I should have driven to the other hospital. I get there and I'm at the front desk and I'm crying, and I was like, hi, my water just broke. I think I'm in labor. And she looks at me and she's like, why are you crying? And I was like, because my water just broke and I'm really scared and I'm really nervous. It was my first baby. She was looking at me, and then she was like, well, we wish you would've called us. I was like, well, I drove here as soon as I thought my water broke, so this was as fast as I could get. This was time to call you to tell you I was coming. I'm on my way. I'm 10 minutes away. And I guess the doctor didn't have time, didn't get to call. Also to let them know at that point. So she was already a little bit annoyed that I was there, which didn't make me feel very good with everything that was going on.

Dr. Nicole (27:47): Was this just the front desk person, or was this the doctor that was there? She

Andrea (27:51): Was a labor and delivery nurse, but she had her desk. And then I was also nervous. She was so laid back that I was, what was it? gh,

Dr. Nicole (28:01): GBS,

Andrea (28:02): PBS positive that I was like, I need antibiotics, that type of thing. She was like, okay, we're going to put you in a room. We're going to take a test to make sure that it was amniotic fluid and nothing else. So just sit down. And it took about, I don't know, I want to say 20 minutes for someone to come in and take the test. And it turns out my water did not break. And I looked at her and I was like, what are you talking about? My pants were soaked. My car seat was soaked. And she was like, it was either fluid or some kind of incontinence, but it wasn't your water breaking. And I was like, I didn't have that problem throughout my entire pregnancy, and I don't have it now after pregnancy. So I was almost in disbelief that it hadn't broken, but apparently it didn't. But they had taken my blood pressure at that point, and it was very, very high.

Dr. Nicole (29:00): Probably. You were nervous, I'm guessing.

Andrea (29:03): That's what I thought. In my head. Everything was very elevated, and my blood pressure is usually very good. And so it was very high. And I think at this point I called my husband, were you on your way or getting there? So I kind of just let him know, Hey, I think my water broke. You should probably get here. The nurse was like, take your time. It's not happening anytime soon, even if, because I wasn't dilated at all, so my water had not broken. My blood pressure was very, very high. And that's when the doctor came in and he said he was very concerned that my blood pressure was very high. They said, I'm 38 weeks already. And so they came in with a portable ultrasound machine. And what I failed to mention before is the last two ultrasounds that we had, our little chunker was head down. So we were ready to go, we're going to have a vaginal birth, or at least we're going to try. And that's where my head was at, and he did the ultrasound, and that little stinker was sideways again. So that's when I looked at the doctor and I was like, that means I have to have a C-section, right? And he looked at me and he was like, yep.

(30:16): I was like, okay, here we go. So that's when it kind of started to sink into me that it was nothing like I was wanting it to be. Right. I think I took that very hard. I was very emotional over it and very sad. And on top of that, I had had a big breakfast, and so I had to wait six hours before they could perform the C-section. So I'm just sitting there trying to let this all sink in that I'm having a C-section, I'm not having a natural birth. And I think I really, really, really wanted it to be natural. So I was pretty sad over it. So it was time. So I walked with my husband down the hallway, and what really got me was the girl across the hall. I heard the nurses say, push, push, push, push. And that's when I broke down really crying.

(31:13): It was just like I looked at my husband and I was like, this is not how I wanted this to go. So that was really tough on me, and I didn't realize how hard it was going to be on me until it was actually happening. And then I think I just left my body because the rest of it, I remember I was looking at it from an outsider's point of view, kind of. It was like a movie. It was the bright lights and everything was just so, it's so medical, and so, I don't know what the word is, but it's not like, it's not natural and beautiful and all the things that you wanted it to be. I wanted to feel what a contraction felt like. Even though most women say, no, you don't. I wanted that for myself. Sure. The C-section went routine. I will say.

(32:09): It went really well. The, the anesthesiologist was really wonderful. She was wonderful. She talked me through the whole thing because I was very nervous. My husband was there, and I think he was a little bit nervous too. But yeah, I remember just laying there and I said to 'em, I was like, I'm not going to be able to feel this. Can you check that? I'm not going to be able to feel this. And she was just like, we're going to do the test to make sure that you can't feel it. Okay. You have that test. I had asked for a clear curtain so that I could see what was going on or as much as I could. So they had the clear curtain with the paper over it. We could bring it on at a certain

Dr. Nicole (32:55): Time. Yeah.

Andrea (32:57): Didn't feel a thing, which was great. And I just felt like a lot of, as they describe awkward pushing and tugging, a lot of my body shaking type thing. And finally he was out and I heard a cry, and I was like, is that him crying? I've heard that's the thing that tells you he's okay. And they're like, oh yeah, he's crying. And the doctor says, oh, he's not too big. Oh, yes, he is. This is a baby sous Rex in here. And I was like, well, they said he was going to be 9.8 pounds, and they weighed him and he was exactly 9.8 pounds. Usually they're like, it's a pound or two

Dr. Nicole (33:42): Off direction.

Andrea (33:44): Exactly. 9.8 pounds. And everyone in the operating room was like, are you serious? That never happens. Yeah. So the baby, so rest was born nine

Dr. Nicole (33:54): Pounds. Did they bring him over to you while you were still

Andrea (33:58): No. So my birth plan, of course, went a little awry, but I had had a birth plan. If I have a C-section, please do all of these things. I was so out of it that I don't think they did any of it. I delayed cord clamping. I don't think they did that. I wanted the golden skin to skin, which they couldn't do. What they did was they wrapped him up, they weighed him, they checked him, and then they brought him over, and I could look at him.

Dr. Nicole (34:26): Okay. Okay. So was your husband holding him or

Andrea (34:29): For part of it? Yeah, the nurse was holding him in between us so that I could see, and then he was able to hold the baby, and then they took him and the baby out of the room, and then they had to sew me up and everything. But then I didn't see the baby for a good 30, 45 minutes, and I was like, wait, what? Yeah. I was like to the point where I was like, where is my baby? Can I see my baby soon?

Dr. Nicole (34:56): I mean, wait, was this while you were still in the or was this when you were out of the or?

Andrea (35:00): I was out of the, or I was in the hospital bed and I was just like, where is he? I don't even know what they were doing for so long. They took his length, feet measurement. Yeah. Oh, wait, sorry. I dunno why I took that one.

Dr. Nicole (35:14): I'm sorry. What?

Andrea (35:17): He was very, I don't understand that. I was like, go,

Dr. Nicole (35:21): What did they say?

Andrea (35:23): Nothing. They were just like, oh, they're doing this, that, and the other thing, he'll be in soon and then soon was 10 minutes even after that. And I was like,

Dr. Nicole (35:31): Where's my blank? I mean, as I say, adult language to my children, where's my baby? You know what I mean?

Andrea (35:37): I just, it's like, can I please have, because all I'm doing right now is it's just me in this state of emotion and I have nothing to show for it right now. Where is he? So that was a little weird.

Dr. Nicole (35:51): Well, where was your husband? Was he with you or he

Andrea (35:53): Was with him? He was with me where he was, yeah, so I guess they were doing all the things and they were taking longer than usual, I don't know. But then they finally rolled him in and I was able to hold him, of course, and I had to feed him and learn how to do all of that. So that was my next thing that I didn't have a good experience. And I think this was kind of the turning point that kind of sent me into a spiral a little bit. I was told that I was nursing him fine. They were that he was watching, I mean, it was very painful. And the nurse had said, if your toes are curling, you're doing it right. And I was like, okay, well, that's what's happening because I am in a considerable amount of pain while he's nursing.

(36:52): This is unbearable. So I thought that I was doing it right and that he was getting the colostrum and what he needed. I'm on 48 hours of no sleep at this point, so I am beyond exhausted and the anesthesia is wearing off and all the things. And so they bring him in every two to three hours to feed. I wanted him to stay in my room most of the time, but I was so tired that once in a while they would take him out into the nursery and let me sleep for a little bit. So I thought I was doing a great job nursing. I'm getting this mom thing and this breastfeeding thing down, and so they wheel him in one time, and I'm so tired and he keeps falling asleep while I'm trying to nurse him. So I'm trying to give him the breast.

(37:45): I'm trying to squeeze colostrum into his mouth because he is not taking any, and I was like, okay, I just need to rest for one minute. So the nurse comes in and she's like, how long did you breastfeed for? And I was like, oh, about five minutes or so right now. I'm going to try again. And she got very stern with me and she said, well, I just want to let you know that he's turning very yellow, and if you're not going to give him enough breast milk, then we're going to have to start supplementing with formula. We don't want to have to put him under the lights, so you need to try a little bit harder. And also, he is 9% lost 9% of his body weight. She's like, it's not a huge deal yet, but you need to breastfeed longer and you need to make this a priority because if he loses 10%, then that's a big deal.

Dr. Nicole (38:33): I swear to God, if I could

Andrea (38:34): Find her, I would slap her right now. So I'm just getting all this information. I think I'm doing a good job breastfeeding, and now she's telling me that I'm not doing a good job breastfeeding and that he's turning yellow and he's losing too much weight because I'm not feeding my baby. And so that's when I started to kind of internalize, I'm already failing. I'm already failing at this, so I'm hurt. I'm upset that I'm not feeding my baby. He's losing weight. He's all these things. And so I think that's the straw that broke my camel's, the camel's back, and I just mentally took a turn for the worst, and I was just a mess after that. Plus the fact that I was healing from the C-section, and I mean, like I said, I have a high pain tolerance. They made you get up the very next day. It was the most painful thing I'd ever experience, a black pain, and I got dizzy, and the nurse had to stabilize me. So that, and breastfeeding and taking care of a newborn and not being on zero sleep for days at this time, and then being told that I'm not doing this right.

(39:51): It wasn't a good experience, and I probably, unless something happened next time I had a child, I'm going to the other hospital because she just really just did me in. Right, right. And so I made sure that I would try to nurse him for 20, 25, 30 minutes at a time to appease her really, and to make sure that I'm doing my job as a mom. I was in the hospital for five days, and I mean, I could already feel like the depression starting. People would come in all happy and congratulations, and I'd start to cry. I was very emotional, and the nurse was just like, oh, you're just very weepy. You'll be fine when you go home. I was like, okay, I guess that's true. I don't know. Maybe I'm just a little weepy, so let's go home and see how this works. So we brought him home and we had a doctor's appointment the very next day, and he had lost more weight, so he was 9.8. By the time we got to the doctor, he was six days old. He was eight and a half pounds, so he was losing more and more weight. So immediately, I mean, I'm sitting there looking at the doctor, just crying, crying, crying, because at this point I'm just beside myself. I don't even know where the emotions are coming from.

(41:24): And so we had to supplement with formula right away because he was losing too much weight. I have in my head that I'm not breastfeeding correctly. So

Dr. Nicole (41:35): Did you see a lactation consultant at any point during this? Was there one at the hospital?

Andrea (41:40): So the lactation consultant at the hospital was, I hate, she was terrible. I mean, she came in for maybe five or 10 minutes, and I had seen videos on how to put the breast in the mouth and for suckling and things like that. And I tried it a bunch of times and she was just like, no, that's not right. No, try it this way. Okay, you want to check his cheeks? No, that's not right. No, that's right. Can you help her? And she left to one of the nurses. Oh, okay. And that was my experience with the woman in the hospital. We had hired a lactation consultant to come in, I think the seventh day when we got home. She was very wonderful and she was very professional and knowledgeable, but they all have different, I mean, she was saying that I had to nurse 45 minutes on each side until I was empty. I had to lay on my back, don't use the bies. They're crap. Just like all these things. It was just very, very overwhelming for me. Sure. So I decided in the end that we were going to supplement with the formula and I was going to pump.

Dr. Nicole (42:57): Okay.

Andrea (42:58): So that's what we ended up doing, and that's exactly what he needed. He gained weight real fast. By the time we got back, it did take some time for him to get back to birth weight, though I think it took maybe four weeks, three, four weeks for him to get back to the nine and a half pounds.

(43:17): But I definitely had at that point, postpartum depression. I was in a spot where I couldn't even tell you what happened that week. It was just like I didn't want to hold the baby in my head. I was like, I've been through so much right now that, not that I don't love him, not that he's not wonderful, but I don't want to put in anymore work right now. This is all too much for me. I need somebody else to care for him because I need time for myself. But it was just uncontrollable hysteric goal, crying every day and just going upstairs and laying in bed. So that was really hard, and a lot of that around the pain was really bad. They didn't tell us how much Motrin and Tylenol to take. And so my mother was here and she was trying to be conservative with the amount, and so I was just in so much pain because I was being underm medicated.

(44:24): Once we got that sorted out, I felt a little bit better physically, but mentally I was just not okay. So I immediately started reaching out to people on Instagram. I actually messaged the Mint project and they gave me a postpartum coach. So I reached out to her immediately and started talking to her. I'm still in therapy with her once a week. She's wonderful. I'm in regular therapy once a week. Also, I was able to access a mom group. It was like $25 virtually for an hour with moms that were in the postpartum phase. It was really just a group of mom just saying how we feel and what's going on. And it was so nice to hear that so many women are going through this in the exact same way. It was like music to my ears because they were saying all the things that I was feeling, all the things that I was going through, and I was very open with my experience.

(45:30): And whenever anybody reached out and asked how I was, I was very honest and I was like, not great. I mean, the baby's healthy and he's doing wonderfully. I'm not so much, I have a lot of PPD right now and just a lot of things going on. And 90% of the women I said that to said they were going through, they had gone through the same thing, but they just never told anybody, or they just never reached out for help or I wish I had reached out for help sooner because it was so, so hard for me. And nobody ever talks about this. I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that there was something going on with me that nobody experienced when in actuality, most women have gone through this.

Dr. Nicole (46:21): Oh my goodness. Was your OBGYN, when did you see go back to your OBGYN and were they helpful at

Andrea (46:29): All? I had called her probably the second week postpartum because I was not doing well, and she had me come in and she was very wonderful. Her and one of the nurses who I had become very close with, she took the time and it was the different doctor, not the one that was supposed to come to the hospital, it was the other one. She took the time. She sat down and she just said, tell me what's going on.

(46:56): And she was with me for a good 20, 30 minutes just talking to me, talking me through things, what to expect. And at the end, she did prescribe something to help me, which I will say really, really did help. So I'm very grateful for that. And then she called a couple days later to check in on me to see how I was doing. So I had to reach out for the help, but they were there me once I did opposed to the hospital though, they gave me some pamphlets on postpartum depression, and I had called the number on the pamphlet, and the woman who answered the phone just gave me a bunch of other numbers to call, and I was kind of just like, this isn't working for me. What if I was really in trouble? And really it took me all this effort to call this number, and then you're just giving me a bunch of numbers to call. That's not a way to do things when somebody's

Dr. Nicole (48:02): In. They could have just put all those other numbers in the pamphlet if that's what's

Andrea (48:06): Going to be like. Exactly. So my therapists have been really wonderful with the prescription has been really good. It took about seven or eight weeks for the fog to finally kind of lift for me and for me to feel somewhat normal again. Thankfully, I feel like I'm out of it. I'm still processing with my postpartum coach, like the birth. I think for me it was very traumatic, especially because of the participants in it who made me feel a certain way. So still working through that and getting used to this new person that I birthed and this new person that I am, it's a lot to take in.

Dr. Nicole (48:51): Absolutely.

Andrea (48:53): I did find a pelvic floor therapist, thankfully. She was wonderful. He was very low the whole time, and I remember laying on the table and she was like, girl, I can fit six fingers in between your abs.

Dr. Nicole (49:09): You're like, okay,

Andrea (49:11): How many whatcha

Dr. Nicole (49:12): Talking

Andrea (49:12): About? She's like, yeah, I could feel I'm not going to push really hard. She's like, but I could put my fingers in you in probably feel your spine. And I'm like, well, that's not good. She's like, no, it's not good, but we're going to work work to get that back. Right,

Dr. Nicole (49:29): Right.

Andrea (49:30): She was wonderful too. Finally, I'd say I'm almost three and a half weeks postpartum and my abs are almost completely back together. Thankfully. He showed me a lot of exercises and breathing activities and stuff, which was great. The only downside is that none of this is covered by insurance.

Dr. Nicole (49:47): Of course not

Andrea (49:48): Because

Dr. Nicole (49:49): We don't value women in America.

Andrea (49:51): The lactation consultant was $300 for the hour, the postpartum, the pelvic for an

Dr. Nicole (49:57): Hour,

Andrea (49:57): For an hour. The pelvic floor therapist was three 50 for the hour. She was wonderful, but I can't do that every week.

Dr. Nicole (50:07): Jesus.

Andrea (50:08): Okay. Yeah. So I mean, they were great and I would do it again, but it really hits your hard financially too. For sure.

Dr. Nicole (50:16): For sure, for sure. Yeah. Okay. Well as we wrap up then, I mean, there's so many things I'm thinking in my head, my gosh. What is your one thing or favorite piece of advice that you would give to someone who's getting ready for their birth or about to have a baby?

Andrea (50:35): My number one piece of advice would be that there is space for both joy and grief in this process and that they can live simultaneously within you and what's going on in your life. And that's okay. It's a beautiful thing to bring your baby into the world and to see that face for the first time and all those things. But it's also okay to be sad and to grieve other things that you've lost.

Dr. Nicole (51:06): Absolutely.

Andrea (51:07): Everything's new. And to give yourself grace because everybody's just learning and that's okay. And what you're feeling is valid, and if you're feeling a certain way, know that you're not alone and that there's help out there. And to not be afraid to reach out because you might be surprised with how many people are going through the same exact thing.

Dr. Nicole (51:32): Well, speaking of reaching out, where can women connect with you? You can say nowhere if you're not on social media or anything. I

Andrea (51:39): Just Instagram, it's @DreMarie87 D-R-E-M-A-R-I-E 87. Just a normal person with an Instagram account, but if they need any of those resources, I'm happy to share them. A lot of them are virtual, so feel free to reach out to me and I'm happy to pass along their information. Okay,

Dr. Nicole (52:00): Awesome. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come on and tell your story. That was very powerful. I can imagine a bit difficult also, but I know it's going to help somebody that you were so open and honest about your experience.

Andrea (52:14): Absolutely. Yes. I'm happy to be here and happy to share that. And I wish all you mamas out there a lot of luck and do what you think is right and trust your instincts and your intuition. I

Dr. Nicole (52:26): Love it. I love it.

(52:35): Wow. What a birth story episode that was. I so appreciate Andrea coming on to share her story. And after every episode when I have a guest on, I do something called Dr. Nicole's notes where I talk about my top takeaways from the conversation. Here are my Dr. Nicole's notes from my conversation with Andrea. One conveyor belt is unfortunately a good way to describe prenatal care in the traditional US system. It really is like short appointments. There are about five minutes each, maybe 10 minutes. There's just not a lot of interaction these days. You may not even see the same doctor from visit to visit. Some practices want you to meet all of the doctors, which mean you may meet a different person every single visit. So that's just the reality of how prenatal care is right now. You'll get a different experience with midwives, but even midwives are being pressured to provide that more like short visits, prenatal care within our system.

(53:37): And I say all that to say that you're going to have to look for other sources of information outside of your prenatal visits like this podcast. Of course, like my birth plan class, of course, it's coming up live at the end of the month, but unfortunately, the reality is that conveyor belt does describe how prenatal care is delivered in the United States. Number two, no judgment, no judgment at all. But in Andrea's case, her panicking about whether or not her water broke led to a series of unfortunate events where she went to the hospital where she wasn't intending to go, and then her blood pressure was higher. So she ended up having to stay. So when anything happens in your pregnancy, I want you to pause for a moment and just take a deep breath, pause and take a deep breath. There are very few things that are true, true emergencies in pregnancy.

(54:37): I would say heavy profuse bleeding is definitely a true emergency. You need to get to the hospital, whatever hospital as quickly as possible. But when your water breaks, as long as the fluid is clear, as long as you're feeling the baby move, then generally it's not an emergency. I tell folks if those things are the case, you may not even have to come to the hospital for six hours or sometimes even longer. Alright, so if your water breaks, take a deep breath. It doesn't mean that you have to rush to the hospital. And then when anything happens, just take a deep breath and gather yourself, center yourself before you proceed. Now, a great way to help work on that skill of pausing and taking a deep breath. And by the way, this is a skill that applies to life, right? When things come up in our lives that throw us out of whack or they come out of different areas, just pausing and taking a deep breath can be so instrumental in helping you tackle that.

(55:36): A great way to, or I should say develop that muscle of taking a deep breath, is meditation. Just 10 minutes. A few minutes a day can really help you develop that skill of pausing so that when things come your way, you can handle them from a place of calm and not from a place of panic. Okay, last thing I want to say is that there is no reason a baby should not be with their mother as soon as possible right after birth. If your baby is healthy and doesn't have any issues, to not see your baby for 30 to 45 minutes is just insane, ridiculous, completely unnecessary and just awful. Really, it's just awful. Babies need to be with their mothers, and yes, her husband could see the baby and was with the baby, but that ain't the same. Okay? You are the one who grew that baby.

(56:32): You want to see your baby too. Most of the things that need to be done for a baby can be done right in the room with the baby. For us, we have a policy where the nursery nurse comes to assess the baby. This is whether it's a vaginal birth or at 30 minutes after birth, they do some vital signs. Make sure the baby looks okay. That can be done with mom, with the baby on mom's chest. Okay? All of these things can be done in the room with mom and baby together, and then they come back again at an hour, and that's where they weigh the baby. And then offer vitamin K, hepatitis vaccine, things like that. But you really should be with your baby. To be separated from a healthy baby that's normal for 30 or 45 minutes is just really insane and completely unacceptable.

(57:26): All right. So there you have it. Please subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen to podcast, and please leave me a review in Apple Podcast. I do shout outs from those reviews, and those reviews help the show to grow. Also, be sure to hop onto my email list, drnicolerankins.com/email, so you can be the first to know when registration opens for my live birth plan class. That is happening at the end of the month on April 30th. So that's it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.