Ep 255: Amy’s Birth Story – Bonding After a Critical Care Birth

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Amy had what she calls an "easy pregnancy". The birth was the difficult part. Her labor came on quickly and then stalled. While hospital staff nudged her along by breaking her water and administering Pitocin, it became clear that something was wrong.

Amy was sick - she was showing symptoms of infection. As she faded in and out of consciousness, her family and care team discussed the options. Eventually it was decided that a C-section was the best choice.

After birth, Amy didn't get her “TV moment" with her baby. Her son was taken to the NICU and she had to spend a week in the hospital. Once they were reunited, it was still difficult to feel connected. She wanted to share her story to help others feel less alone. I guarantee you, you are going to be on the edge of your seat and really learn a lot from Amy's birth story.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • How long Amy and her partner worked to get pregnant
  • What a “push prep” class is and why Amy recommends it
  • Why she describes the attending physician as “not friendly”
  • How infection symptoms can affect a pregnancy
  • Why she considers her breastfeeding experience “a miracle”
  • How therapy helped Amy cope with difficult postpartum feelings

Links Mentioned in the Episode

Come Join Me On Instagram

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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Dr. Nicole (00:00): This is a birth story episode and hearing her intense story actually gave me palpitations.

(00:13): 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 Calloway 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 drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now, let's get to it. Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 255. 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.

(01:10): In today's birth story episode, we have Amy. Amy is an architect living in the Bay Area with her wonderful husband George, brand new baby Nico and two kitty cats. Amy loves creating space for learning by focusing her professional career on modernizing public schools. In her free time, Amy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Now, Amy's labor started fast, however, once things got going, she actually got pretty sick, and it was her description of how sick she got that gave me those palpitations. While recording her episode, it was actually difficult for the doctors to figure out what was causing her to get sick, and ultimately it was discovered that she had an infection that had gotten into her bloodstream, and it led her to having a c-section because of the baby being under distress. Amy wanted to share her story because she felt like there's too much cultural shame about being in the hospital and interventions in the hospital like getting an epidural.

(02:19): She believes that it ignores what it feels like to be in the midst of a complicated labor. Even though she didn't want a cesarean, her body knew that's what it needed in that moment. She also didn't have a TV moment of joy at her son's birth. Her love for him had to grow over time. She herself desperately needed to know that other moms experienced the same thing, and that was hard to find right after birth. So she wanted to share her story to help others feel not so alone. I guarantee you, you are going to be on the edge of your seat and really learn a lot from Amy's birth story. Now, before we get into the episode, let me do a listener shout out. This is from Madison NW 86, and she left me this review in Apple Podcast. The title of the review says Info Good, and then the review says the actual information contained within the podcast is good, but so much of the time is spent listening to ads and self-promotion.

(03:28): It's a little frustrating. Well, thank you so much, Madison, for taking the time to leave me your honest opinion. I totally get why that's frustrating. So lemme just take a second and share with you all why I do have ads in the podcast. Making this podcast is not free for me. There's a lot of time labor that goes into writing, editing, disseminating the content, and people of course deserve to be compensated for their work that goes into this. And I really never want to put any of the podcast content behind a paywall. It's important to me that this podcast remain completely free and accessible to all, although I may give some consideration to putting ad free episodes behind a paywall. If that's something that you think you might be interested in, then definitely let me know. But in order to help cover the cost of making the podcast, I have ads.

(04:21): And just like all of my content, I'm very intentional about what ads I have in the podcast, and I choose sponsors for the ads that I read that are products that I genuinely think folks might want to hear about. And I also make it clear when the ads are coming so that if you want to skip them, you can. So I'm sorry that it's frustrating, but I hope that gives you some additional context into why I have ads in the podcast and then ask for self-promotion. I don't really consider it that I'm really coming from a place of sharing the resources that I have outside of the podcast that I know many, many, many other folks have found incredibly helpful. Speaking of one of those resources, one is my birth plan class, and I'm doing that class live on Tuesday, April 30th at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

(05:09): I love teaching this class live. It's a great way to interact with me, and I'm going to stay at the end for a 30 minute q and a to answer any questions you have about pregnancy and birth. Go ahead and sign up for that class@drnicolerankins.com slash birth plan. I would love to see you there, and if you want to leave me a review for the podcast, also do that. You can do that in Apple Podcast. I really do read all of the reviews. I really do love to hear what you think about the show. So please leave me those honest reviews just like Madison did in Apple Podcast. I really do appreciate it. Okay, let's get into the birth story episode with Amy. Hey, Amy, thank you so much for agreeing to be on the podcast. I'm really excited have you share your story.

Amy Fisher (05:58): Thanks. I'm really excited to be here and meet

Dr. Nicole (06:00): You. So why don't you start off, start off by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

Amy Fisher (06:07): So my name's Amy. I live in the Bay Area with my husband and our son. We also have two cats. I'm an architect and I design public schools.

Dr. Nicole (06:19): I think that is the coolest thing to do. Do you enjoy

Amy Fisher (06:23): It? It's so much fun. I just think education is so important and the buildings that you learn and have a big impact. So I really enjoy it and I like seeing what I create being built.

Dr. Nicole (06:34): Yeah, that's awesome. Just from my own curiosity, do you end up doing new schools or is it a lot of renovations of older schools or a little bit of both?

Amy Fisher (06:42): Most of it's modernizations of old schools is the Bayer is pretty built out. Gotcha,

Dr. Nicole (06:49): Gotcha.

Amy Fisher (06:49): Sometimes we get a new building, which is really fun, but most of them are renovations.

Dr. Nicole (06:53): Yeah, I would imagine. I would imagine. Okay. Well, let's get into the pregnancy and birth piece. In order to understand what happened during your birth, we got to understand what happened during your pregnancy. So what was your pregnancy and prenatal care?

Amy Fisher (07:06): I actually just wanted to start about getting pregnancy. Oh, sure.

Dr. Nicole (07:09): Yes, please. Yes,

Amy Fisher (07:11): It was, we had a really hard time, so eventually we did fertility, we did four IUI cycles, two ache retrieval cycles, and we did two transfers before I finally got pregnant. So I feel like my pregnancy was just really long. There was a lot of hormones, a lot of attempts to get us to day one where the absolutely stick turns pink.

Dr. Nicole (07:38): Yeah, yeah. So how long was the process of trying and then during fertility treatments before you got pregnant?

Amy Fisher (07:46): Yeah, so we tried naturally for a year, and then we tried for another year, and I was really lucky that it was just one year. So it was about 25 months before we were lucky enough to have a baby on the

Dr. Nicole (08:01): Way. Okay. Okay. That's a long time. Was it hard, I mean, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but how challenging

Amy Fisher (08:09): Was it for you? I mean, it was extremely hard. It's just really isolating and painful, and even though you're in it with your husband, it's still hard for us to go through it together, and it just costs a lot. So I'm really lucky that we were able to do that and even have some embryos frozen for the next baby.

Dr. Nicole (08:32): Okay. Nice. Nice. Well, that's great. That's great. So then when you found out you were pregnant, obviously there was some joy there. When did you feel, were you worried about miscarriage or when did that settle in if this was actually happening?

Amy Fisher (08:49): Yeah, we definitely were very cautious to celebrate. We thought maybe our journey wasn't over, definitely worried about miscarriages. So it wasn't until the 12 week ultrasound that we started getting really excited. Everything was coming back normal. Obviously we got past that initial couple of weeks where miscarriages are likely or more so yeah, I was at the 12 week ultrasound where we just left on a high, so excited, and the nausea ended. I didn't have a lot of nausea, but I did have a little bit. So by 12 weeks it was gone. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (09:27): Okay, good. So then what was your pregnancy, the rest of your pregnancy light? What was your prenatal care?

Amy Fisher (09:33): I loved being pregnant. I had a really easy pregnancy. From that point on, the prenatal care was a little bit more difficult. I went to a big teaching hospital here in the Bay Area, and just scheduling with them was really hard. Really? I never like, yeah,

Dr. Nicole (09:52): You would

Amy Fisher (09:52): Think scheduling was hard,

Dr. Nicole (09:54): Just because they didn't, you would think a big place would have a lot of options, but no,

Amy Fisher (09:58): They have a great reputation and they take really high risk cases. And so I think they had just have a lot of demand.

Dr. Nicole (10:05): Gotcha,

Amy Fisher (10:06): Gotcha. I mean, the pregnancy care, they were great. So it was UCSF. Okay. So the first part was a little hard. I never saw the same midwife or nurse practitioner. So every time it was somebody new, it was hard to get the appointments. In the beginning, they didn't seem really friendly. As I got bigger, they got friendlier. I think as you get closer to delivering, it's more important, I guess the relationship. At first, I don't think they were like, oh, she's doing fine right

Dr. Nicole (10:40): Next. Gotcha, gotcha. So you were seeing midwives mostly.

Amy Fisher (10:45): They have a really strong midwifery program, which I really liked that they think every birth should have a midwife, and I liked that philosophy that they had.

Dr. Nicole (11:00): Gotcha, gotcha. And you feel like, did they spend time with you or were the visits still rushed?

Amy Fisher (11:08): The visits were definitely rushed. I feel like I had to get all my questions in at the beginning, and I feel like they were always pushing us out the door. I also didn't have a lot of questions, so I wasn't too concerned yet.

Dr. Nicole (11:24): Gotcha.

Amy Fisher (11:24): But yeah, the prenatal care wasn't as

Dr. Nicole (11:29): Warm and fuzzy

Amy Fisher (11:30): As I would had hoped. I know now that I know the system, I know that you can see the same person over and over again, which might've helped, but at the time it was just so confusing and so hard to schedule, and the people who answer the phones weren't as nice as the people providing the care.

Dr. Nicole (11:50): Got it. Got it. Got it. And so every visit you saw something different, but still within the midwifery model, what did you do to prepare for your birth?

Amy Fisher (12:00): I tried to do everything possible. I definitely listened to this podcast. I listened to the hypno. What podcast? I read a lot of books. The

Dr. Nicole (12:08): Hypno, what was it you said?

Amy Fisher (12:10): Hypno. What? Oh,

Dr. Nicole (12:11): I haven't

Amy Fisher (12:11): Heard of that one. It's about Hypnobirthing. She's Irish, I think, or British, but very similar to the books I read.

Dr. Nicole (12:22): Got it. And you said, what books did you read

Amy Fisher (12:24): Expecting better, what to Expect When You're Expecting? I read a Mother, which I thought was a really good one. I talked a lot about the postpartum experience, which I don't feel like the other ones did as much.

Dr. Nicole (12:41): Okay, okay. That's another one I haven't heard of a mother. Okay. You said

Amy Fisher (12:46): I took a push prep class, which they did exercises and then they taught you about how to push, and I found that to be the most helpful.

Dr. Nicole (12:56): So it was only just related. It wasn't a full childbirth education class, it was just focused on pushing.

Amy Fisher (13:04): I mean, a lot of it was about childbirth. We did take another childbirth class and they covered a lot of the same things, but this was a lot about the mechanics of pushing and what it might feel like and getting you strong with the exercise class that it starts with to be prepared. I highly recommend it.

Dr. Nicole (13:25): Okay. And this was an in-person class?

Amy Fisher (13:27): No, that's the bad part. It was online.

Dr. Nicole (13:29): Got it, got it, got it. Okay. Okay. Okay. So you read books, you did classes. What are some things that you wanted for your birth?

Amy Fisher (13:38): I wanted to outsmart the birth plan. I wanted to have a birth plan that was so flexible when I was done, I could say yes, I accomplished it, which I learned impossible, but we'll get there. I wanted to really experience labor. I wanted to feel the pain. And then as soon as I was done with that, I was okay with drugs, but I didn't want to be pressured into any

Dr. Nicole (14:11): Drugs

Amy Fisher (14:12): Or epidural.

Dr. Nicole (14:13): Got it.

Amy Fisher (14:14): And I really obsessed over the golden hour. I just wanted my baby to come out and I wanted to hold him and not have anybody bug me for as long as I possibly could.

Dr. Nicole (14:25): Yeah. Yeah, that's totally normal. Totally normal. And was there anything that you were afraid or scared of about your birth?

Amy Fisher (14:34): I didn't have any fears. I was kind of naive. I thought I got this. I have a really high pain threshold, so I figured I was in really good hands. I had a strong plan. My husband, my mom and my doula were going to be there. I thought I had covered all the options.

Dr. Nicole (14:56): Got it. Okay. All right. And at what point did you hire a doula?

Amy Fisher (14:59): It was at the end of the second trimester. And at the beginning of the third, one of the things that I found really helpful is they had a question, and one of the questions on there was, what would make a ces? What about a cesarean would be a good experience? And I freaked out. I was like, there's no cesarean. That's going to be a good experience. I don't want that. That's not happening to me. And I had a therapist and we walked through it and knowing the options about what you can ask for, cesarean made it a lot better. And so then I was like, okay, we're just going to add that to the plan. If it happens, I know how I want it to happen. And it became a lot less scary

Dr. Nicole (15:49): To me. Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. And then I guess, how many times did you meet with your doula during your pregnancy?

Amy Fisher (15:57): So we went with a company, so they had four different doulas. So we met with two, one time around 32 weeks, and then we met with the other two at 36 weeks. So I just met with them once. Of course, they gave you their phone number, and there's one person that I could ask all my questions to. I could call. She was going to be on phone support. And then whenever we went to the hospital, they would send whoever was on call. Okay,

Dr. Nicole (16:30): Got it. Got it. So that's interesting that they had a system where they had their own kind of call system sort of thing.

Amy Fisher (16:36): Yeah. I think it takes the pressure off if you're expecting that one person and they can't make it now, there's like three, and if you didn't hit it off with one, they would try to send somebody else. But they were all really nice and caring, and I would've liked any of them to be there.

Dr. Nicole (16:53): So then what happened with your labor and birth?

Amy Fisher (16:59): So it was actually my six year wedding anniversary, and my husband had agreed to watch the Barbie movie with me. And it was in the middle of the Barbie movie that I realized I was having contractions, and I was probably having them all day, and I just thought it was pain. He was getting ready to come out. I didn't realize they were contractions. And so we finished the movie and I was like, I'm going to take a bath, you pack the car, and I know you're not supposed to. But I started timing my own contractions, and we were like, wait,

Dr. Nicole (17:31): You have to have some idea of how far along I was.

Amy Fisher (17:33): So curious. Yeah. I couldn't wait for my husband to be done. Right, right. So they were three minutes apart for 45 to 90 seconds each. And so I went from zero to 60 really, really fast. And as soon as that bathtub was cold, I was like, we're going to the hospital. Okay, I'm ready.

Dr. Nicole (17:57): So you feel like the intensity ramped up pretty quickly?

Amy Fisher (18:01): I didn't have time to prepare or get used to it. I felt like, oh, now we're in labor.

Dr. Nicole (18:06): It's go time. Yeah. Got it. Got it. Okay. So how far was your drive to the hospital?

Amy Fisher (18:12): It was like 25 minutes.

Dr. Nicole (18:13): Okay, so not too terrible.

Amy Fisher (18:16): No. And it was at night.

Dr. Nicole (18:17): Oh, that's helpful.

Amy Fisher (18:18): There was no traffic.

Dr. Nicole (18:21): Yeah. Yeah. So what happened when you got to the hospital?

Amy Fisher (18:24): I was crawling at the walls.

Dr. Nicole (18:29): So it really hit you full on? Yeah. Okay. Yeah.

Amy Fisher (18:33): Okay. I couldn't lay down to have them check me or get me into be able to admit me. So the nurse was like, do you want fentanyl? And I was like, before I would have said no because of all the things about fentanyl and the media, but it's medical use. And they explained how safe it is. So I said yes, and that definitely took the edge off, and they were able to check me and get an IV in. So

Dr. Nicole (19:01): That's interesting. Before they even tried to do a cervical exam, they're like, let's get your pain under better control, because right now we can't do anything.

Amy Fisher (19:10): I could not lay on my back. I was showing up. Got

Dr. Nicole (19:13): It. Okay.

Amy Fisher (19:14): All right. There was no,

Dr. Nicole (19:16): It wasn't happening. Got it, got it. And then, oh, I should ask, were you before your due date, where were you in relation to your due

Amy Fisher (19:22): Date? So this was the day before my

Dr. Nicole (19:24): Due date. Okay. Okay. So it wasn't completely unanticipated that you could go into labor? Yeah. Yeah. And had there been any discussion about induction or what was the discussion there?

Amy Fisher (19:37): I had an induction scheduled for 40 and a half weeks. So I think it was on the Wednesday. And this was a

Dr. Nicole (19:43): Saturday. Got it. So you went to labor. Before any induction talk, were you comfortable with induction? I should ask that.

Amy Fisher (19:52): I mean, I didn't want to because I wanted to be natural. I know there's some, when you, I didn't want to have the cascade of interventions. I wanted to be as natural as I could, so I really didn't want, but I was very uncomfortable. And so every day I was more and more Okay with

Dr. Nicole (20:11): More and more open to it.

Amy Fisher (20:12): Maybe we'll just get 'em out.

Dr. Nicole (20:14): Yes. Yeah. The end of pregnancy can be a challenging time. You're just like, I want my body back, please. It's time for you to get out. Yes, definitely. Alright, so you get there, you get the pain medicine that helped. And then is that when they checked your cervix?

Amy Fisher (20:31): I was four centimeters and thin, so not as far as I had hoped,

Dr. Nicole (20:39): But still in good shape. So you're definitely in good labor. So what happens after that?

Amy Fisher (20:44): Next they offered me epidural and I was like, I'm going to take it. So they get me in my room. The resident comes in very nice, gets all the paperwork, explains everything, gets ready, and then we're waiting. She kept paging the attending to supervise, but he wasn't responding. He didn't show up, and so we were just waiting. My mom thinks it was about an hour. I have no sense of time at this time, but he eventually shows up and he's

Dr. Nicole (21:19): Not friendly. Did it feel like a long time to you?

Amy Fisher (21:22): It did not. I was shocked when my mom thought it was an hour because I was just like, every contraction we're breathing, we're getting

Dr. Nicole (21:28): Through a contraction, getting through the next one. Gotcha, gotcha. And so he showed up and you said he wasn't nice?

Amy Fisher (21:36): No, he was very short with the resident. He didn't introduce himself to me at all. She at one point asked, is this long enough? And he said something about the problem's, not the length, the problem's her. And I'm just sitting there like, oh my gosh, I'm not going to say anything because there's a huge needle back there somewhere. But he was just really rude to her. And I don't know if he was sleeping or in another procedure and he got pulled away, but he was not friendly or nice. Oh, that's

Dr. Nicole (22:05): Terrible. And it doesn't make you feel good about this person sticking a needle in your back

Amy Fisher (22:12): Who I had had a lot of confidence in until this guy came in

Dr. Nicole (22:17): And Right, right.

Amy Fisher (22:19): I was like, I could hear you. Yes,

Dr. Nicole (22:20): Yes, yes. So then how did the procedure end up going after? I mean, hopefully it went in and it was straightforward.

Amy Fisher (22:27): I mean, it was really smooth. I didn't feel anything. And when they laid me back down, it was really strong at first. Eventually it weared off enough where I could help them move my legs, but at first I couldn't feel anything and I couldn't move at all.

Dr. Nicole (22:44): Okay. So it was pretty dense. How did you feel? Some people find that it's weird, your legs are there, but you can't feel 'em. So what was that like for you?

Amy Fisher (22:57): I mean, I didn't find it that weird. I was also sleepy.

Dr. Nicole (23:06): I was going to ask, you said it was the middle of the night, so had you gotten any sleep at all?

Amy Fisher (23:10): Yeah, so I got the epidural around 1245. And so I think I was just tired and glad the pain was gone. I went to sleep quickly after

Dr. Nicole (23:18): That. Okay, good, good. All right. So then what happened with the rest of your labor?

Amy Fisher (23:24): So they came back at three 30 and they checked and no progress till four centimeters, and they wanted to break the water. And so I said, okay, I don't feel anything. We got to move this along. The birth plans out the window, and there was a lot of meconium in the water. But then I went back to sleep and at five they woke me up again. They're like, no progress. We want to start Pitocin. I was like, great. Again, I'm sleeping. I can't feel it. Why not?

Dr. Nicole (23:58): Right. Okay.

Amy Fisher (24:00): And I had a headache at that same time. So they gave me compassing and Benadryl and I went back to sleep. And then this is kind of where the birth turns. I wake up around 7:00 AM just shaking uncontrollably, and the doula is like, this is normal. This is the epidural or labor, just take deep breaths. You're going to be okay. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (24:28): Oh, at what point had the doula got there? When did she get there? She

Amy Fisher (24:31): Got there right after my epidural. Okay,

Dr. Nicole (24:33): Okay. Okay. So that's good. And you said your mom was there, the doula and your husband? Husband, yeah. Okay. So you woke up shaken uncontrollably and

Amy Fisher (24:42): It just kept escalating. And no matter how many deep breaths I took, I could not get it under control. And I don't remember a lot what happens next. But I know from the medical records and talking to everybody, I had extremely high blood pressure, a high heart rate. My kidney wasn't working, I had a urine problem. I went back to sleep and they came back in and woke me up and were trying to figure out if I was having an allergic reaction to the comping,

(25:16): Which they rolled out because the antidote for that is giving Benadryl. And I had had them together. And so then they were thinking, maybe it's preeclampsia, but eventually they realized that I had an infection. They thought it was chorio. And of course the baby's not doing that great now either. So they gave me antibiotics and fluid and hope once I get better, then he'll do better and we'll be back on track. This also happened right at shift change of course. So there was double the doctors trying to come in and out and figure out what was going on. And at this time I was sleeping. I did not know how serious it had gotten. I had just woken up and everybody, my support team looked terrified and I, I feel like my emotions and my thinking brain had turned off, and we were purely on my body's intuition. And so I wasn't even scared. It was noted, something's going on. I'm going to go back to sleep.

Dr. Nicole (26:21): Okay. Okay. Did you have a fever?

Amy Fisher (26:25): I had a fever. I was from the Pitocin contracting constantly. So they turned that off of all the stress. It was just too much.

Dr. Nicole (26:37): Okay. Were they concerned that you kept going back to sleep? Did they think you were out of it, or, it's just interesting to me that you feel sort of, you don't remember necessarily a lot of the details because you were kind of out of things. Is that fair to say?

Amy Fisher (26:59): Yeah, I mean, I definitely think part of it was because I was sick. I kept going to sleep. I mean, they were waking me up fairly regularly. And I know they came in to ask me a whole bunch of questions about the allergic reaction. So I was able to respond to them even though I couldn't open my eyes. Really.

Dr. Nicole (27:20): Oh my goodness. Okay. So what happened from there?

Amy Fisher (27:25): So next, my heart rate plummets or not, my heart rate, my blood pressure plummets to like 85 over 50. And then I think that's when they realized it wasn't just an infection. They were sepsis. I had sepsis, I don't know how you say it. And so then they got really concerned and started monitoring the baby more often. And of course he went into distress, had late D cells, and that's kind of time for time to recommend a cesarean.

Dr. Nicole (27:57): Okay. And how were you feeling? I mean, when they talked about cesarean, what was your thought process?

Amy Fisher (28:05): So actually right before they came in to recommend that I had woken up enough to hear my husband and my mom saying, oh, we're going tomorrow. She's not making very much progress. I was only at five centimeters, and in my head I was like, we're not going tomorrow. As soon as they offer us hysteria, I'm taking it. We definitely need to get this baby out. And I felt like really at peace with it. That's the only way forward is a hysteria.

Dr. Nicole (28:33): And then what time was this?

Amy Fisher (28:35): It was at 9 20, 9 30

Dr. Nicole (28:37): In the morning. In the morning. Okay. Alright. And how was your family with the decision? Were they also,

Amy Fisher (28:45): I mean, everybody was on board. I think everybody was really scared. They were getting the updates in real time and the doctors had come in to tell them that there's a good chance the baby has an infection too. And so I think they were more scared than I was. I didn't know to be scared yet.

Dr. Nicole (29:05): Right, right. Wow. Okay. So then you go back for the cesarean, and then what was the cesarean process?

Amy Fisher (29:15): I mean, I was definitely stay calm. We are not panicking during the cesarean and they topped up my epidural really good. So I didn't feel anything. I felt like this huge rush of blood and I thought I was going to faint, but it was because they had pulled the baby out and all my organs had more space and said the baby's out. So of course it's silent because we're all waiting for him to cry. And he gurgles and then I'm assuming they suctioned any liquid out and we heard a good cry. Yeah. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (29:58): And then was it just your husband in the or could your doula come back too? No,

Amy Fisher (30:03): It was just my husband and one person. Alright,

Dr. Nicole (30:04): Alright. And then was the surgery itself straightforward?

Amy Fisher (30:08): Yeah, I mean, that's what I remember. They took the baby to the incubator. I didn't get to, they showed him to us, but it's a really far ways. I don't know. It's impossibly far when you have that curtain in front of your face and they're trying not to drop it and not show your husband. So that kind of snapshot, my dream of this golden hour. But the rest of the cesarean was pretty normal. I mean, it's stressful. I don't speak surgeon or doctor and they're talking about all this blood and I'm like, oh my gosh, am I bleeding out? It feels much longer. But after it was done, the surgeon came over and was like, yep, that was pretty normal. You bled a little bit more than normal, but everything looks good and we think you can try for a VBA the next time. And I was kind of shocked, there's not going to be a next time.

Dr. Nicole (31:06): Did they bring your baby over to you while you were still in the or did he stay in the warmer the whole time?

Amy Fisher (31:12): So they let my husband go over there while they were still sewing me up when we were both, when I was done and sewed up, they brought him over to me and I got to see him very briefly. And then they took him to the ICU or the intensive nursery.

Dr. Nicole (31:30): Oh, why is that? Because of the concern for infection

Amy Fisher (31:34): And the meconium. They wanted to keep him on positive blood

Dr. Nicole (31:38): Pressure. Got it. Yeah.

Amy Fisher (31:40): Okay. And they were really concerned about the infection.

Dr. Nicole (31:43): Okay. Okay. All right. So then what happened for you postpartum for both of you postpartum?

Amy Fisher (31:51): Well, I went to the ICU too, so for our first 24 hours, we were apart.

Dr. Nicole (31:59): You were really sick. I mean, you had to be really sick to go to the ICU.

Amy Fisher (32:05): I mean, I was on pressors, and so, oh my God, you can't go to the PACU if you're on pressors. And so yeah, I mean, I was the healthiest person in the ICU. That's what my nurse told me. But you're still in the ICU?

Dr. Nicole (32:22): Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So you were there for 24 hours, you all were separated, unfortunately. And then how long then you were able to come out of the ICU and then what was the remainder of your postpartum course after that?

Amy Fisher (32:39): We stayed a week in the hospital. It took them, I had to be upgraded on the antibiotics because my infection wasn't responding to the first set. I got an ileus because of the, so that was hard to get through. That was probably the hardest part. And then at the end, because they thought I had preeclampsia too, they wanted to monitor me on blood pressure medicine before we went home.

Dr. Nicole (33:07): Okay. So you were in the hospital for a week after the birth? Geez. Okay. And then what happened with your son? How long was he in the nicu? He

Amy Fisher (33:18): Was only in there for 24 hours and he did not get an affection and he was completely fine.

Dr. Nicole (33:25): Okay. Well, good, good, good. So once you came out, you both came out and then you were back together?

Amy Fisher (33:31): That's right.

Dr. Nicole (33:32): Okay. How did all of the things that were going on with you impact breastfeeding?

Amy Fisher (33:36): I mean, that's kind of a miracle. It took six days for my milk to come in, but ever since we're going strong, I'm still breastfeeding him a hundred percent. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (33:48): So then you got home. How were you feeling when you left the hospital?

Amy Fisher (33:55): I mean, I think I was still in shock. I think my emotions and my thinking brain had turned off when I got my epidural. And so I got home and was like, now I have this baby, what do I do? I had over-emphasized this TV moment where the baby gets flopped on your chest and you're crying with joy and love and euphoria, and that never came. So it was a really hard time, so sad for myself that I don't have that joy am so sad for my baby. He has this weepy mother that doesn't feel these strong emotions for him. So it took, luckily I had a good therapist from the fertility journey and she helped me a lot. And it took about four to six weeks for that love, the love and the obsession to start and to really have those strong feelings for him and start to connect with him. Right,

Dr. Nicole (35:01): Right.

Amy Fisher (35:02): And I had no idea that that could happen. I just thought as soon as the baby's out, you have this strong connection, they're your baby. I didn't realize that you could be in shock and that it would take some time to turn back on your feelings and have those

Dr. Nicole (35:21): Yes, thank

Amy Fisher (35:23): Those Mama love.

Dr. Nicole (35:24): Thank you. I'm so grateful that you're being honest about this because I think it's something that a lot of people don't talk about is that you may not have that immediate connection and that it took some, not just a couple days, but for you, it took weeks to find it. And especially, I'm guessing too, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but do you feel like because you have waited so long for this baby that it was like, why am I not having this moment? Did you think any of that?

Amy Fisher (35:56): Exactly. I thought I had struggled enough with the infertility and then with this crazy birth that I was like, I'm due, I'm due. So good luck. This is not fair. Gotcha.

Dr. Nicole (36:14): Gotcha. Okay. So then how was your physical recovery from the C-section?

Amy Fisher (36:19): I feel it went slightly better than I expected. I know I was still cut in half, but it took about three weeks before I felt like I could stand up straight and then another three weeks of like, yes, this is in pain, but I'm still getting back to my normal routine.

Dr. Nicole (36:39): Okay. Okay. Okay. And then when did you go for your postpartum check?

Amy Fisher (36:45): I mean, I went early. I went two weeks after because everybody was so concerned. So in two weeks and six weeks.

Dr. Nicole (36:53): Okay. Okay. Did they ever give you an explanation as to what they think happened with you, why you got so sick?

Amy Fisher (37:05): I mean, the surgeon has a belief and I kind of feel that it's accurate. She thinks that it was the membrane sweep that I got the week before I went into labor that there might've been a little hole in the amniotic sac that the infection got through. I mean, it's a little gross, but I lost my mucus plug and then mucus just kept coming out and it started to get to the point where I was like, this is green. This looks like a sinus infection color. I don't think this is right. So I was about to, because I had told them, oh, it's green, yellow. At my OB appointment a couple days before I went into a labor, but I wasn't like, I'm concerned like, is green yellow okay? And they were like, yes. But then I was like, oh, I think that was definitely green.

Dr. Nicole (38:11): Okay. Wow. Oh my goodness. Okay. Did you have the GPS bacteria?

Amy Fisher (38:17): I did.

Dr. Nicole (38:18): I forgot to ask. You did. Okay. Okay. Which can definitely increase the chances of infection. Okay. So how are you feeling about the whole thing?

Amy Fisher (38:33): I feel surprisingly really at peace with it. I don't think there's any other way it could have happened, and I feel like my body really saved me. It got the baby out before he could get an infection. And I feel if I wasn't so sleepy and out of it, I would've questioned more and debated the pros and the cons and what if we do nothing? And I really wanted to be natural. I'm going to fight longer. And I think for our recovery sake, it was just better that it all happened quickly and we can get the individual medical care we needed and get back on track.

Dr. Nicole (39:23): Okay. I'm curious, what did your husband, your mother, your doula say? Did they say anything about their perspective of what was going on?

Amy Fisher (39:35): The doula had the most opinions. She thought that the care was a little hectic and she was constantly wondering who's in charge, who's going to come in and know what's going on. But I think sometimes medical things are a problem to be solved, and you can't just get the test and say, oh, it's preeclampsia. Oh, it's an infection. It happened all so fast that they were just doing the best with the information they had. And because I wasn't awake when they were hectic and scrambling, I feel like at peace and calm where they saw this scary moment where nobody really knew what was happening.

Dr. Nicole (40:20): Okay. Okay. Oh, and were you under the care, did you start under the care of the midwives in the hospital and then transitioned to physicians? Or was it the midwives up until your c-section or how did that work?

Amy Fisher (40:33): No, I think from the beginning I had a doctor.

Dr. Nicole (40:36): Okay. All alright.

Amy Fisher (40:38): As soon as I entered the hospital.

Dr. Nicole (40:39): Gotcha, gotcha. But somebody you hadn't met before. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Alright. So then I guess as we wrap up, what is your one favorite piece of advice? What is the one thing you'd like to leave listeners with?

Amy Fisher (40:52): I mean, I just want to leave them with trust. Your body, your body's going to get you through this. Your mind might have all these other ideas about what's happening, but your body knows what to do and it will get you through. I don't want to add anymore. We already do enough

Dr. Nicole (41:14): If you're

Amy Fisher (41:14): Listening to this podcast or doing enough.

Dr. Nicole (41:18): Alrighty. So where can women connect with you? You can say nowhere if you want

Amy Fisher (41:22): To. If they want to connect, I'm happy for you to give them my email. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (41:26): We'll put that in. We'll put it in our show notes because spam bots pick up all kinds of stuff or people can reach out to us and we can connect them with you. So how about that? Alright. All right. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come and share your story. Certainly not typical, but some really important things that people I know we'll learn from. Thank you. Yeah, thanks for having me.

(41:58): Wasn't that a lot? Thank you so much, Amy, for agreeing to come onto the podcast and share your story. 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 Amy. One, I think her body was so focused on fighting infection and that's why she was so sleepy. Obviously, I don't know, I don't have her records in front of me and I wasn't there, but I really suspect that her body was just so focused on that infection that she really did not have energy for anything else really. That's what I believe what was happening. Number two, I want to thank Amy for being honest that it took four to six weeks for her to connect with her baby. That bonding, that connection is not necessarily instantaneous, and it doesn't mean that you're a bad mom, it just means that you are human.

(43:02): You are getting to know this person on the outside. Your baby is getting to know you too, and sometimes that is going to take time. It doesn't mean that you're any less of a mother or a parent because it took you some time to connect with your baby. Again, it just means that you're normal and that you are human. The next thing I want to talk about is the membrane sweep and green discharge. One green discharge is generally never okay in pregnancy. Sometimes yellowish can happen clear, but green is not a good sign. So if you ever have a green discharge, do make your doctor or midwife look at that. And then as far as membrane sweep, a membrane sweep is a process where we put one or two fingers inside the cervix. So you have to be a little bit dilated and just run our finger around in circles.

(43:51): It helps to separate the membrane from the uterus and it can help bring on labor. This is something where there should absolutely hands down without question, there should be permission first. This should be described before it's done. Unfortunately. I see OBGYNs who are like, well, I'm in there checking your cervix anyway. I might as well just strip your membranes. That is a cultural problem that we have in our specialty that is considered okay to just do the membranes sweep while we're in there. That is not okay. We need to describe it to you. We need to get your explicit permission first before it happens, and we need to tell you that it is happening. Okay? This should never be something that just, I just swept your membranes while I was in there or that you don't know it happened at all. So definitely, definitely, definitely permission first before a membrane sweep.

(44:41): The way you can guarantee that there's some permission is if your doctor offers to check your cervix towards the end of pregnancy, which isn't necessary by the way. Then you can say, Hey, what about a membrane sweep? Are you planning to do a membrane sweep? Just bring up membrane sweep and whether you do or don't want it before the cervical exam happens, okay, before the cervical exam happens. And then the final thing I want to say is it's really impossible to be prepared for every single thing that can happen during labor and birth. That is what healthcare professionals are trained for. That's what we train years for. But of course, education and preparation help a lot, and they help conquer a tremendous amount of fear. Although you may not understand every single thing that's going on, you'll have a general idea and you'll just feel a lot better about things.

(45:45): Although you can't be prepared for everything, please invest in some education because that education is going to greatly reduce fear. Another thing that's going to reduce fear is my birth plan class. Make a birth plan the right way. I teach you how to make a birth plan well before you get to the hospital. So this discussion happens under calm circumstances and so that you're not having to feel rushed, you're not having to feel pressured. You're doing it under a nice calm environment of your prenatal visits. And then well beforehand about things you can expect in terms of the support for what you want in your birth plan well before you get to the hospital. And you can prepare for that. So I would love to see you in my live class on Tuesday, April 30th. Again, it's drnicolerankins.com/birthplan to sign up. So there you have it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening to me right now. Also, leave me an honest review, an Apple podcast. I do read them and I do love to hear what you think about the show. And that is it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.