Ep 262: Birth Trauma With Licensed Clinical Social Work and Birth Trauma Survivor Kayleigh Summers

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It’s a miracle that today’s guest, Kayleigh Summers, is even alive. She is an amniotic fluid embolism survivor and went into cardiac arrest twice during labor! When you hear her story, you’re going to be blown away.

This lived-experience led her to center her career around perinatal trauma. As a licensed clinical social worker, she is supporting families experiencing perinatal trauma and has created a thriving community where survivors can feel less alone.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • What birth trauma is and what causes it
  • What the symptoms are
  • How to determine whether or not an experience qualifies as “trauma”
  • How to work through traumatic experiences
  • What EMDR stands for and how it works
  • What role medication plays in treatment
  • How a postpartum plan can help prevent birth trauma

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): What happens when your cervix does not change for 12 hours during labor? You will find out in this Birth Story episode with Nicole.

(00:15): 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 OB GYN, 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 261. Whether this is your first time listening or you have been here before, I'm so grateful that you're spending some time with me today.

(01:10): In this episode, we have Nicole. Nicole resides in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband, daughter, dog, and cat, formerly employed as a cook in Philadelphia restaurants. She transitioned to running a home baking business during the pandemic, which is currently on hold while she takes care of her sweet baby on her Instagram account, curly Coilly. She shares content related to curly hair care and aspects of her life. As a mom, Nicole went to labor in the evening of her due date. She labored all night at home, and by morning her contractions were coming every two to three minutes. She really wanted an unmedicated birth, so she definitely waited a while to go to the hospital. When she went to the hospital and she was admitted, she was stuck at five centimeters for 12 hours. You will hear the twist and turns that things took after that.

(02:07): In this episode, I will give away that she did have a vaginal birth, but it came about in a way that was nothing like she had planned or anticipated. Now, even though it's possible that things may not go as planned for your birth, that doesn't mean you shouldn't make a birth plan. In fact, a birth plan is what helps you deal with the unpredictability of birth, but you want to be sure your birth plan is done the right way. That's why I've created my free birth plan class, make a birth plan the right way. It's happening this month on June 20th. It's live. We get to interact. I stay at the end and do a q and a where I answer questions for about 30 minutes after the class. Just a lovely opportunity for you to learn how to make a birth plan in a way that helps you have the birth that you actually want. You can sign up for the class at drnicolerankins.com / birth plan. All right, let's get into the birth story episode with Nicole. Thank you so much, Nicole, a fellow Nicole for agreeing to be on the podcast podcast. I'm excited to have you here and share your birth story. Thank

Nicole (03:20): You for having me, Nicole. This is really so cool since I listened to you my entire pregnancy. I'm excited.

Dr. Nicole (03:26): I'm excited. So why don't you start off a bit by telling us a bit about yourself and your family?

Nicole (03:31): So I live in the Philly suburbs with my husband, my daughter, Cecilia, who is seven months old now, and we also have a hound dog and a cat. I am a professional cook and also own a baking business that was out of my home currently on pause with that while I take care of my baby, and I actually met my husband in culinary school.

Dr. Nicole (03:58): Isn't that so both of you all can cook? Yes.

Nicole (04:00): Yes.

Dr. Nicole (04:01): Okay. Alright.

Nicole (04:01): We're both chefs. Yes.

Dr. Nicole (04:02): Nice. I love it. I love it. So let's get into your birth story, and of course, as you know from listening to the podcast, in order to understand what happens during the pregnancy, I mean during the birth, we got to understand what happens during the pregnancy. So why don't you start off by telling us a bit about what your pregnancy and your prenatal care was like?

Nicole (04:20): My pregnancy was pretty easy. No major complaints. I did have a lot of nausea in the first trimester. Yeah, I mean, that was definitely not fun. But other than that, it wasn't too bad. And then I guess it only got annoying in the third trimester when I had really swollen legs and ankles and feet. Oh my gosh. It was so bad. I was on my feet all the time, so it was just so bad. My feet, I couldn't even recognize them. It was bad. Yeah.

Dr. Nicole (04:56): Did you have to buy new shoes?

Nicole (04:58): I did. I gave birth in September, so I had kind of, the whole third trimester was in warm weather, so I got a pair of these slides and that was all I wore everywhere, even to my baby shower.

Dr. Nicole (05:16): Yeah, yeah. It's amazing. Unfortunately, people's shoe size can go up a size, a full size even. Oh, man. Just from the swelling and you're like, whose legs are these? And baby, get out of my body,

Nicole (05:29): Because it was the weirdest. I remember the week after my birth, when it finally started to swell down, I was like, I have ankles.

Dr. Nicole (05:39): Yes, it is definitely a weird thing when it happened. So then for your prenatal care, did you see a physician? Did you see a midwife? How did that go for you?

Nicole (05:49): Yes. It was a practice of physicians. So I saw I think four different ones in total, but mainly there was two that I switched off on and one ended up not exactly delivering my baby, but she, because it was a teaching hospital, so Got it. One of the students, I forget what they're called,

Dr. Nicole (06:10): Residents. Yes,

Nicole (06:11): Thank you. One of the residents delivered my baby and the one that I saw the most ended up overseeing it.

Dr. Nicole (06:18): That was cool. Okay. So the residents weren't involved in the prenatal care, but they were involved in the birth part? Yes. Okay. All right. Well, how did you feel about the care you received during your pregnancy?

Nicole (06:30): I thought it was no major complaints. They seem to be pretty up to date with the current practices and evidence, so I was pretty happy about that.

Dr. Nicole (06:44): Okay. Okay, good. Did you know that residents were going to be involved in your birth before you got to the hospital?

Nicole (06:51): Yeah, so I did know it was a teaching hospital, and I'm one of those people. I just feel like people need to learn. So absolutely. Until I, well, we'll get to that, but say until I got stitched up and I was like, oh, no. Okay. I saw my doctor was teaching her how to do it, and I was like, problem for another time.

Dr. Nicole (07:14): We will get to that. Indeed,

Nicole (07:17): Everything was fine. It was fine. Gotcha.

Dr. Nicole (07:19): But it wasn't like a surprise that you No. Okay. Good, good, good. All right. So sounds like pregnancy, prenatal care, pretty straightforward, no major issues. Yeah.

Nicole (07:33): Yeah. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (07:34): Okay, awesome.

Nicole (07:34): I was very lucky.

Dr. Nicole (07:35): Okay, good. Good, good, good. So then what did you do to prepare for your birth?

Nicole (07:39): Well, first I got a doula, so yes, and I basically just went crazy on research. I listen to podcasts such as yourself, evidence-based birth is also my favorite. Listened to that a lot and followed a ton of people on Instagram read books. I did it all. I just gathered as much information as I could. I also had a birth class with my hospital as well as with my doula.

Dr. Nicole (08:12): Okay. Okay. All right. So at what point in your pregnancy did you find your doula or hire your doula?

Nicole (08:19): I believe it was right before the third trimester.

Dr. Nicole (08:23): Okay. Okay.

Nicole (08:24): All right. So I knew I had wanted one, but then it was just a matter of getting one then.

Dr. Nicole (08:28): Gotcha, gotcha. And how did you feel about all of the education? Did you feel good about things going into your birth?

Nicole (08:38): I was very nervous about the birth process. I didn't even want to think about it really until the third trimester. I listened to some stories and some stuff, but I was like, I really don't. I just don't want to think about it yet. So the research was to just help me feel like I am prepared, which I did feel like I was prepared at that

Dr. Nicole (09:04): Point. Yes. Okay. So what made you decide, Hey, I got to come out of my shell and realize that this human has to come out of my body, so I got to start thinking about it.

Nicole (09:17): I think it was the third trimester. I was like, well, we are here. Got it.

Dr. Nicole (09:22): Got it, got it. Okay. So what are some things that you wanted for your birth experience?

Nicole (09:29): Well, I wanted to go unmedicated. That was my plan, and that was my biggest thing. I didn't really want a lot of medical intervention. I wanted to birth in a hospital. I was just nervous about, I don't know anything that could happen. So I figured if anything happens, I'm right there. So there was that, but I was just nervous about side effects to literally everything. I listened to all of your episodes about induction and the epidural and all this stuff, and I'm like, I would like to try to not get anything. So that was my plan.

Dr. Nicole (10:07): Okay. Okay. And we'll hear how things ultimately work. So it sounds like, so you wanted to be in the hospital because you liked the availability of having anything there, if anything happens, but then didn't necessarily want any interventions unless it was necessary, it sounds

Nicole (10:26): Like. Exactly.

Dr. Nicole (10:27): Exactly. Yeah, and that's definitely, I think a lot of people fall into that category for sure. You said you were afraid about things. Was there anything in particular that you were really scared about when it came to giving

Nicole (10:40): Birth? Definitely, as we said, general side effects of things I was worried about, and just not knowing of how it would go. Wasn't sure would I have tearing, would anything happen. I was terrified of having to get a C-section that I was like, anything that I can do to not get to that point, I will do. Honestly, I was worried about the car ride to the hospital.

Dr. Nicole (11:15): I mean, living in the Philly area, I guess. Did you worry you'd get stuck in traffic or anything, or just

Nicole (11:21): Yeah. Well, I was worried about traffic because my hospitals could be 25 minutes away, or if it's during a really busy time, it could be 50 minutes away, and so I was just like, I don't know. Sure.

Dr. Nicole (11:35): Yeah, absolutely.

Nicole (11:36): And I've heard also the car ride could slow down things, and I was worried about that as well.

Dr. Nicole (11:42): Gotcha. All right, so then let's get into what happened with your labor and birth experience. How did things start?

Nicole (11:50): So it started on, I was due on September 11th, and once we finally hit that date, I was like, I didn't really want her to be born on that day, but once we were in the afternoon, I was like, okay, we're ready. Let's get this going. Once again, I did not want to get induced.

Dr. Nicole (12:10): Sure. And I was going to ask, had your doctor brought up induction at all?

Nicole (12:16): So I had a doctor's appointment that morning and they were like, well, we can schedule an induction date for the following week. And I was just like, I really don't want to do that. So they were like, alright, well wait a few days and then call us and then we'll see. And I was just like, I don't want to get to that point at all. I was like, I will do literally anything. I was thinking, okay, if I don't give birth, it was on a Monday, so I was like, if I don't give birth by Wednesday, I'm going to go find an acupuncture. I was like,

Dr. Nicole (12:48): You were going to do all of it. Yes, yes.

Nicole (12:51): So I ended up that day, my husband got home from work. We took a very long walk and then Are you familiar with the miles circuit? So I ended up doing that. If anyone doesn't know, it's just a few movements. They're not really hard. Yeah, it's supposed to get the baby in the right position to get things going. So I did that, and then a couple hours later I started getting contractions. Okay. So I actually had a lot of Braxton Hicks prior, I think it was two months before my due date. I started to get 'em really bad because I was on my feet a lot also. So I had a few, is this it a couple weeks prior? But this time it was like, this was actually it. I ended up, so that was around I think nine o'clock when that happened.

Dr. Nicole (13:54): And then wasn't there a big difference in between? Oh, I thought that might've been it before and this is it, didn't you? Oh yeah. You have that aha moment, like, oh, okay, this is what they mean.

Nicole (14:05): Yes, yes, it is. Definitely. I had a lot of tightening of the stomach and during the Braxton Hicks and everything, but this was very different. I also had a lot of, it was light cramping, I guess up to a week prior that it started, and I feel like it was a mixture of the cramping and the tightening that was really, and then stopping it definitely was different. Gotcha. But yeah, so that started around nine and then I ended up, I was like, alright, let's go to bed. So I tried to get some sleep. I think I slept for two hours before I was like, all right, I, so I just got up and let my husband hang for a little bit, and I dunno what I did. I feel like I went downstairs and just did dishes or I don't know. And I was timing it on an app on my phone, and it had started, I think it was around 4:00 AM They were getting a little close.

(15:16): So I called my doula and I was like, ah, this is what's going. Or I texted her, I think, and I was like, this is what's going on. And she's like, alright, let me know when things progress more. And then around 6:00 AM my contractions were coming. I know there's the 4 1 1 or 5 1 1, depending on how far you're from the hospital. And my contractions were very weird. So they were coming in two to three minutes apart, but only lasting around 50 seconds. So I was not quite a minute, but two to three minutes apart. And then I'm like, oh my gosh, I do not want to have a car birth. Sure. That's exactly where mine meant. I was like, I don't know. I don't know what is going on. I've never done this before. So I was like, I dunno. So I called my doula and she was like, I don't know.

(16:10): I don't think you're an active labor yet, but I would maybe call your doctor and see what she has to say. She was like, yeah, I haven't really dealt with anyone that was like that, so I don't know. So I called my doctor and she's like, okay, that's interesting. How about you come in, we'll get you checked out, and then if it's not time, we'll just let you go home for a few hours and you can come back. So I'm like, okay, cool. So I did not rush to the hospital because another thing I was worried about, I didn't want to go in too early. That was like, I've heard all these things. If you don't want to be medicated, it's best to wait until the very last second to go in, not the last second, but because they start ticking down the time once you're there.

(17:06): So I was trying to avoid that, but I was just really, I don't know, two to three minutes apart. That's like what is happening? So we took our time to get to the hospital. I did not like the car ride. It was fine though. I was getting in the zone. I was like, it was very uncomfortable though. And then we got there and I was brought into triage, and right away they hooked me up to the baby monitor and the, what is it actually called? Baby monitor? No, I mean, yeah, fetal monitor. Yeah. Is that what it fetal? Yeah, sure. So I had the monitor on, and then I don't even know what happened. It was just so fast. It was like they were like, oh, huh. And then I had all of a team of nurses, there was 10 of them that just rushed all in, and then everyone's poking and proud and they're like, all right, well, you just had your baby had a little heart rate dip with that last contraction.

(18:09): It was like as soon as I got there. And so they were hooking me up to, they were getting an IV in me, and I was like, what is going? Because I didn't even want an iv. I wanted the saline lock so that they could access it, but I didn't want it right away. But there was no toxin birth plan yet. There was just like, I just got there and it was just like, and yeah, they're taking blood, taking my blood pressure, doing all this stuff. And I don't know what that was, but it happened.

Dr. Nicole (18:43): Okay. I mean, I'm guessing the baby's heart rate was low when they put you on the monitor and then they were trying to do some things to get it back up. But I think we don't always do the best job of explaining all the things that we're doing.

Nicole (19:01): I think I know what happened, which is related to some stuff later in the story, but for now, we'll just leave it there. So it was just crazy. They rushed in and then they were like, well, I think because of that, we're not going to let you go home. And I was like, oh. So I was at a four. Yeah, I was at four centimeters at that point. So they checked in whatever, they're like, eh, but we'll keep you

Dr. Nicole (19:31): Because the baby's heart rate dropped just to

Nicole (19:33): Make sure everything's going fine. So I was like, dang, now I'm stuck here. So we were in this teeny tiny room too. It was not ideal, but eventually they moved us to a bigger room before even we were, they waited a while to bring us to an actual labor and delivery room. I guess they knew nothing really was going on. So I just kind of labored in the hospital for a while, and I was pretty chill. And at this point, my contractions actually had slowed down a lot. So at some point, I guess from getting to the hospital and all that stuff, I guess, I don't know, it was just we slowed down, so we just kind of were chilling. I was sneaking snacks. I didn't even ask. I was like, they probably would let me at this point, but I was like, I'm not even going to ask. I'm just going to

Dr. Nicole (20:28): Get a little energy.

Nicole (20:29): Yes. After all that, we went through my birth preferences. They were able to take my IV out, which was really nice for that time. I did want to move around, and actually I was finding just swaying through the contractions were really helpful for me. I did not want to stay still at all, so I was not going to work. So then I think it was about four hours later or so we were just hanging out there when they came in and they checked me again, and at that point I was five centimeters dilated, 70% of face and negative three station. This is important. This is very important information for this story.

(21:21): So we were like, okay, we're getting somewhere. Then we continue on another, I don't know, four hours or so went by of just doing the thing. And they came in and checked again, and I was five centimeters, 70% of face and negative three. My constructions had also slowed down to seven to eight minutes apart. So at this point, I actually had two doctors that had come in and out that were telling me, Hey, the first one came in and was like, Hey, so this has been going a little while. You might want to think about speeding it up, whether that's Pitocin or breaking your waters, because of the risk of infection from me being in labor, which I was like, I've done enough research that I know no. So I was like, no, I'm good. I'm good. We're just going to do this.

(22:34): At this point was they were like, I didn't know any of these doctors. So I think one was definitely a resident and the other one, because it was all whoever was there at the time. So I was just like, I'm good. And I had the best nurse, actually I had two really awesome nurses through the labor process. She was spinning babies certified. So she noticed this stuff. And then my doula actually hadn't gotten there yet because we were just going to wait until I'm in active labor until things are really moving along for her to get there. So I think we were two o'clock or something, she's going to come down and be with us. And so all these doctors were coming in before she had even gotten there. And I was like, no, leave me alone. I'm good. And then not too long after the first doctor came in, the next one came in and was like, so you actually qualify for gestational hypertension? And I was like, what?

(23:41): And they said that I guess I had two high blood pressures within a four hour period that would then qualify me for it. So I would suggest that you do something to move it along. And I was like, I really don't want to do those things. I was like, can we just wait until my doula gets here and we figure out what we want to do? And they're like, alright, all right. So I think I had an hour to wait or something before she got there, but my nurse was actually, she was like, your blood pressure has been perfect since you've been here in her room. So she was just like, I don't know what's up with that. Looking back, I'm assuming when I got to the hospital and I had all that crazy stuff going on, that was when I probably had the high blood pressures. And would that cause my baby's heart rate to

Dr. Nicole (24:51): Drop it

Nicole (24:51): If I had high blood?

Dr. Nicole (24:52): No,

Nicole (24:53): I don't know. There was something someone said there was a correlation, but I don't know. But I was like, I don't know. And her heart rate was also fine the rest of the time. So I dunno whatever happened when I first got there, I don't know. But I'm assuming that is what probably caused the high blood pressure,

Dr. Nicole (25:10): Just the stress of having so many people come in and all of a sudden and what's happening. For sure. Yeah.

Nicole (25:16): And also the doctor that I had the following day after I'd given birth, she actually said to me, oh, you're probably fine. You were in the gray area of the high blood pressure. I was like, but it's what it is. So they were trying to get me to move things along for all these reasons. Then, so when my doula finally showed up, we were just like, okay, let's try. We were, give us an hour to do movement and try some things with the nurse who is spinning babies certified. So we were like, let's try to work it out and see if we can get it going ourselves. So we tried some things. We did some crazy exorcist looking, I don't know what it was. I was holding onto the bars and they dropped the bottom of the bed. So my legs were hanging and I'd hold on for deal life with my arms. That was very difficult through a contraction. But also I was like, I feel kind of a badass.

Dr. Nicole (26:28): Absolutely.

Nicole (26:32): So yeah, so we did all that and an hour goes by and they come in to check me again, and I was still five centimeters, 70% and negative three. And I was like, okay, alright. So we were like, alright, let's figure out what the best way of doing this. I was like, I definitely didn't want my water broke. So we were like, let's do a little bit of Pitocin, whatever the lowest dose is. I did all this research and I was like, I know that Pitocin is going to be painful, and that's not exactly what you want when you're trying to go for an unmedicated birth. Sure, absolutely. Yeah. So I go on, we are at the last four hours of it at this point. So I went on the low dose of Pitocin, everything got a little bit worse. I was breathing through it.

(27:31): I was also in the zone. I really, I felt like I was doing really well. My nurses were like, oh, I have a good feeling about this one. She is doing really well with your breathing. And so I was like, I'm going to do this. But yeah, so we did two hours of the low dose of Pitocin. They were like, we want your contractions to be, my contractions started to get closer together. They're, we 'em a little bit more close. So they're like, can we do just one notch up? And I'm like, sure, fine. I've got this so far, let's just whatever. So we upped the Pitocin a little bit and then it gets horrible. It gets pretty bad. So my contractions were getting pretty bad and I was moving through it. We were doing counter pressure and all of that stuff. And I also found it was very comfortable to labor on the toilet, which is, I know something I had heard a lot from listening to other podcasts and everything, but that was very comfortable

Dr. Nicole (28:45): Sitting backwards or sitting forwards on

Nicole (28:47): The toilet, just sitting forwards. Just literally even just, I would empty my bladder because having anything in me was, it felt horrible. I was like, I don't want to put it all out. So I would just sit there for a little bit longer and I'd be like, alright, this is fine for a little bit. So on the 12th hour of waiting at five centimeters at the 12th hour, that was hour four of Pitocin, I was sitting on the toilet, I peed, and then I was like, I finished. And then I heard a trickle of a little gush trickle of fluid, and I was like, I know that's not peed. I just peed. So we were like, oh my gosh, my water.

(29:43): This was great news for us because we were waiting for something to signal that this was moving along. So we're like, all right, this is it. We're all feeling good about it. They're like, all right, let's test it to make sure my nurse does a little test. And was like, yeah, it looks like it probably is. And then the doctor came in and checked me and was like, oh no, your water didn't break. I was like, what do you mean? What do you mean? So what we think happened was my doula was saying that it's possible that it could break somewhere other than the

Dr. Nicole (30:25): Bottom. Yeah, it can be a highly,

Nicole (30:27): And then it trickles out and then the head, and then the head probably corked it so that when the doctor's looking, it's like,

(30:37): Looks like it's not broken, but it really did. So that's what probably happened. But yeah, so she checked that. She was like, your water didn't break. And we're like, alright, well how far along are we? Because at this time I was like, I was like, I've got to be at a seven because of the pain. I was like, it's getting so painful. I was like, it's at a seven. I was even a six, whatever. It's fine. But I was like, seven, I can do this almost to transition. I can do this, whatever. And then they came back, we were like, it is your five centimeters, 70% and negative three. And I was like, what do you mean? Literally? I was like, I don't know, I just lost it. I was like, what am I supposed to do? There was nothing. I'm in so much pain, nothing is happening and it's only going to get worse from there. So they're like, what do you want to do? I was like, just give me a minute everyone. So I, I went to the bathroom with my husband and I was just like, I can't do this anymore.

(32:00): Listening to a lot of podcasts and everything, I heard a lot. It's a lot of people saying, is it pain or is it suffering? And I was at that point where I was, I feel like now we are getting into the suffering part of this. That was 12 hours of being at a five and nothing happening and not including the time before. So I was like, I, so I was like, I think I'm going to get an epidural. And my husband was like, okay. And we both cried for five minutes in the bathroom, which it's so weird. But it was one of the most beautiful parts of my birth because I was just like, I felt so seen. He knew how much I wanted to, and it was just, I don't know. I felt very supported in my decision and it was just really special. Well,

Dr. Nicole (33:14): That's good. Lemme ask, how were they doing your monitoring? Were able to, it sounds like you were able to get up and move around. Yeah. Did you have a wireless monitor?

Nicole (33:24): I, I wanted one. Apparently the hospital that I was at, all of the hospitals in that group, they had gotten them in 2020 right before the pandemic happened. And they were the last hospital to get them and they just never did.

Dr. Nicole (33:41): Oh, that sucks.

Nicole (33:43): Yeah.

Dr. Nicole (33:44): Okay. But it does sound like you were able to still get up and move around though. So were they just moving the monitor with We did

Nicole (33:50): Kind of in a intermittent.

Dr. Nicole (33:53): Okay, got it.

Nicole (33:55): So I wore for a little bit and then it would take off. They made sure that they had it on me for a little bit, but yeah, that was one of the things that I wanted. I was like got, because I was just like, I want to move.

Dr. Nicole (34:07): Sure, sure. Okay, okay. Okay. Sorry, I didn't mean that just kind of popped into my head there. So you made the decision to get the epidural and it's really nice that you felt seen, supported, validated, and you were making the best choice for yourself in the moment.

Nicole (34:25): Yes, yes. So one of the other things I was nervous about was actually getting the epidural because I knew you had to be extremely still, which I was not having any of it. So the anesthesiologist came in and who was like, he was great. This guy was awesome. I was like, how long do you think this is going to take? I was like, I don't know how long I can sit still. And he was like, well, it could be 10 minutes, could be 20. It really depends on your back. And I was like, oh my God, I don't even think I could don't think I could do that, but we'll see. And then he put it in, it was like three minutes, five minutes, not even. It was nothing. I think I had maybe one to two contractions during that time. I was like, it was not bad.

Dr. Nicole (35:23): Sometimes a good anesthesiologist, I swear, they come in and they're just like, do do. And it's just in and it's like, oh, thank God.

Nicole (35:29): It was crazy. It was crazy. I was so happy for that in that moment. And then once it started, I had a great epidural as far as feeling. I couldn't feel anything. And oh my gosh, it was such a nice break in the moment. I feel like I couldn't stop smiling. Everyone's like, how are you doing? I'm like, I'm so great.

(35:54): Yes. That was a big selling point we'll say to get the epidural was that I was like, at least I can get some rest to prepare for pushing. Right? Well, not for me. So what would happen once I got the epidural, I would lay on my back, baby's heart rate would drop, they'd move me to my side, heart rate would drop again, move me to the other side. It'd be okay for two minutes. Each time they moved me, heart rate would drop again, and then I'd end up on all fours. So I was on all fours with an epidural, so I couldn't feel my legs. It was a little challenging. I really felt like I had a really great arm workout that whole day. So I was on all fours for a lot of it. But then every time that they had to come check my blood pressure or check them, monitor them, you can't monitor my contractions when you're in that position because of the way that I guess the spring works. So they'd have to put me back on my back and then baby's heart rate would drop. They'd move me to my side, it would drop again. They'd move me to my other side and drop again, and then go on off horse. And this was over and over and over the entire night.

Dr. Nicole (37:21): Oh, okay.

Nicole (37:22): They literally attached to 800 things. So they had to keep taking both. Every time they moved me, they would have to take all of the stuff off and then put it all back on. And you needed a couple people to help turn me because I can't feel my legs. So that was basically how it all went. And the next time they checked me, I was at a six. Okay. From there, it just moved right along. Okay. Yes.

Dr. Nicole (37:55): So how long do you think in between when you got the epidural and then when you were ready to push when you were completely dilated?

Nicole (38:07): I really have no idea. I know it literally was like, I don't know what, we had a terrible storm outside that night apparently, and I was just like, I don't know, but this was all night when this was happening, so I'm not sure. But it was like every time they came in and checked me, it was like, oh, I'm one more centimeter dilated until I got to eight. And then the next one I was at a 10. It was crazy how quickly it went in comparison to the 12 hours being stuck at a five. It was insane. I've actually heard from some doulas and other health professionals that have just been like, oh yeah, I've seen that. Where someone is really stalled and then they get an epidural and it actually speeds things up.

Dr. Nicole (39:10): So then how long did you end up

Nicole (39:12): Pushing? About two hours. Okay. That's not bad. No. So my epidural actually, it ran out when I started pushing, which I am sure some people would be upset about that, but I was happy because I was very worried about not being able to push or be pushing for three hours, four hours and then end up c-section situation. So I was actually very happy about that. So it started wearing off when I first started pushing. And the nurse though, I didn't really want to have coached pushing. I wanted to kind of figure it out myself, and she was like, that's not how we do it. And I don't know, she was kind of a bully, but so I was not really happy about that, and I was not even, I was just get this out of me even, I was like, I don't even want to deal with you.

(40:18): I'll just do whatever, because I don't feel like I can't even think about saying anything to you at this point. So I was just like, whatever. So yeah, it definitely took a little bit for me to figure out how to push hold your breath. And I was like, every time I do that, it felt like my eyes were going to pop out of my head. So I was like, this is not working. And so I just had to figure out how to breathe myself while pushing. And then I didn't want to push on my back either. And she was also kind of trying to get me to do that, and I was like, no, I don't want to. So I ended up going on back on all fours and she was like, oh, you can't do all fours since you have an epidural. And I was I on all fours all night.

(41:05): So she's like, all right, you can try it. And I'm like, so yeah, it was just crazy night and day from the nurses, the two nurses I had before and then this one, but I was actually felt like on all fours was the most comfortable, but then I was there for a little bit and they're like, alright, we need to switch it up to get things going, whatever. So I ended up going on my back, but they lifted the bed up a little bit. I said, thrown position. I don't know, it was not as comfortable as being on all fours, but I was at that point, I was like, whatever. It was funny. It's the only time I yelled at my husband, the whole

Dr. Nicole (41:49): Labor.

Nicole (41:50): And it's a funny situation because I was pushing out this head, which I knew is what I was doing because I kept seeing everybody's face. I don't know, we had a couple nurses, the doctor, we had a resident, then we had a student who was just observing in the room. So there's a lot of people. Sure. And every time I would push, it was like this. They all would start cheering and they'd be like, once the head was coming out, they were all, I could see in their face how excited they were getting, and I knew what was happening in every push. I'd be like, this is the last one, and then it wouldn't be. And I was getting so frustrated. And so one of those pushes, my husband just turned to me and he's like, she's almost here. Her head's right there. And I was like, I freaking know what's going

Dr. Nicole (42:38): On.

Nicole (42:49): But at this point, because I didn't have my epidural at that point, I feel like it was like I could feel everything. I felt everything. I felt the ring of fire and something I did not want and did not even, it was just probably the one thing that I was just like absolutely not about my birth was I did not get a warm compress. I instead got a Perea massage when the head was coming out, which they were just like, oh, this is our peroneum massage. It'll help the help prevent tearing. Which I listen to evidence-based birth, and I know that that isn't really, that is not necessarily true, but it was the most pain thing. It was the worst part of my birth. It was so bad, so would not recommend. Okay. Yeah, it was really painful. And at that point, I remember just, I couldn't even push effectively anymore because I was so distracted by how much it hurt. I was like, I can't, and I couldn't even figure out how to say anything out loud because anyways, it was horrible. Did not like that. But once the head did come out, that was amazing.

(44:21): Yeah, she was born. So for a timeframe, we went to the hospital, I think around eight o'clock in the morning on the 12th. And then she was born at nine forty nine on the 13th.

Dr. Nicole (44:37): Okay. Okay. So

Nicole (44:39): That's how long all of this was

Dr. Nicole (44:41): Happening. Everything. Got it. Got it.

Nicole (44:42): Yes. I'm like, I don't know how long everything took,

Dr. Nicole (44:45): But Right. Old timeframe. Yes. And then did they do delayed cord clamping and skin to skin contact?

Nicole (44:53): We did skin to skin. We did delayed cord clamping. We had our nice golden hour, which was so special except for the nurse at one point when I was just letting my baby do the breast crawl to see if she would just latch on her own because I just wanted to see if she would do it before helping her out. And this woman just comes over and just like, oh, you have to shove it in her mouth. And I was just like,

Dr. Nicole (45:26): Okay, give me a, okay. Okay. She just was not great. It sounds like

Nicole (45:34): She was not on the same page with me and she did not ask.

Dr. Nicole (45:38): Okay.

Nicole (45:39): Yeah. Not happy about that. But the rest of the golden hour was wonderful.

Dr. Nicole (45:43): Okay. Oh, let me ask, how was it? The stitches, and did they do numbing medicine? Oh, yes.

Nicole (45:50): Yeah, so they did have to numb it because I could feel it at the time. And yeah, I had a second degree tear, and they're not terrible. Not the best.

Dr. Nicole (46:01): That's not bad for first baby. That's pretty typical.

Nicole (46:05): Yes. So yeah, so the resident who ended up delivering my baby, she also sewed me up and it was fun. It was fun. I just had that one moment where I was like, oh no, my doctor been so next you. And I was like, ah,

Dr. Nicole (46:21): Gotcha. It's fine. I can totally understand that. Yeah, I can totally understand that. And then what was the rest of the postpartum period for you?

Nicole (46:29): Well, the first three weeks were very hard. So the second day that she was here, my daughter, her blood sugar dropped just randomly, and they decided they were going to give her donor milk to try to bring it back up, which in hindsight, I'm like, oh, I didn't even know that I should have just pumped for them because after that I ended up having to pump and I was pumping five milliliters of colostrum, which apparently is a lot. And so it was a whole thing. But after she was given that bottle, she ended up having flow confusion and nipple confusion, and she would kind of latch, but she wouldn't suck anymore. And so we were stuck giving her bottles while I pumped.

Dr. Nicole (47:30): Got it.

Nicole (47:31): And the lactation consultants in the hospital, I feel like they just didn't have enough time for me. And the one literally before we left, she's like, ah, it'll probably get better once your milk comes in this weekend, she'll probably figure it out. And I was like, that's not what happened. But one of the best things that my doula did for me was while I was in labor, she was like, do you have a lactation consultant set up when you go home? And I was like, no. And she was like, let's do that right now. So she went on the lactation network and basically just took my insurance card, got all my information, filled it out for me, so I didn't even have to think about it. Then the next day I got an email from a lactation consultant that took my insurance. I didn't even have to do anything. Okay,

Dr. Nicole (48:25): Nice.

Nicole (48:27): So it ended up working out perfectly because when these things came up, I just made an appointment for, so this was, wait, we left on Friday, and I had a lactation consultant come to my house on that Monday.

Dr. Nicole (48:44): Okay. And then did that help with resolving the breastfeeding

Nicole (48:49): Issues? Oh my goodness. Yeah. Well, so we had such a horrible time. The first three weeks we couldn't get it figured out. The lactation consultant came twice a week for those three weeks, and we tried everything. We did nipple shield syringe, little tiny feeding tube. We did a bait and switch technique with the pacifier. We did everything. And on the third week, something just clicked and my daughter figured it out, and it was really crazy.

Dr. Nicole (49:26): Nice. Nice.

Nicole (49:27): Well, I'm glad I'm still breastfeeding her.

Dr. Nicole (49:29): Okay. Well good, good, good, good, good. Yes. So then overall, how do you feel about your birth experience?

Nicole (49:37): I definitely have mixed feelings on some of the aspects, but overall I feel pretty good about it. We got my daughter here safely. Nothing really crazy happened. I was able to make a lot of decisions, educated decisions, because I made sure that I educated myself. Absolutely. Absolutely. So I felt really good about the choices that were given to me. And when I was like, no, we're not doing anything. And when I decided to have some intervention, and I definitely do not regret getting the epidural, I think I definitely made the best decision given the circumstances that

Dr. Nicole (50:32): I had.

Nicole (50:33): And so with that, I feel pretty good. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (50:38): Okay. Then what is your one favorite piece of advice that you would give to someone who's getting ready to have a baby right now?

Nicole (50:45): Definitely educate yourself. Definitely. Definitely. It is very important so that you can make these informed decisions, but also keep an open mind and know that nothing is going to be set in stone. Your preferences might change. Just make sure you educate yourself on all of the choices that you have so that when and if the situations come up, you can make an informed decision.

Dr. Nicole (51:18): Absolutely.

Nicole (51:19): And also get yourself a lactation consultant before you give birth half one lined up, because I cannot explain to you how if I hadn't done that, it would've been so stressful to do while I had my baby. Absolutely. Who wasn't feeding well. And yeah, it made all of the difference.

Dr. Nicole (51:39): Gotcha, gotcha. Love it. Love it, love it. So then where can women connect with you? You can say nowhere.

Nicole (51:44): I'm on Instagram at Curly Coley. I share some curly hair tips, and now I'm doing some mom stuff, but I definitely, I'm not as active as I used to be, but I'm there. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (52:01): Okay. Alright. We will link that in the show notes. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come and share your story. I think it's representative of how there's some not so good parts, but there's also some really beautiful parts. And that's kind of how birth often works, quite honestly.

Nicole (52:19): Yes,

Dr. Nicole (52:19): Definitely. And actually parenting, even that theme continues into parenting for

Nicole (52:26): Sure. I definitely feel that. Yeah.

Dr. Nicole (52:28): So thank you so much for sharing your

Nicole (52:30): Story. Yeah, thank you for having me. This has been really nice.

Dr. Nicole (52:40): Okay. Wasn't that a great episode? I'm so glad Nicole came on and shared her story. And after every episode I do something called Dr. Nicole's notes where I talk about takeaways from the conversation. And here are my Dr. Nicole's notes from my birth story episode with Nicole. I keep getting confused because we both had the same name. All right. Number one, social media can kind of glamorize birth sometimes, but honestly, I think most birth falls into the category of there are some good parts and there are some not as good parts. And overall it's a good experience. There are just going to be some bumps along the way. One of the ways to prepare for that and ride that unpredictability of birth, of course, is childbirth education. I have an option with my childbirth education class, the birth preparation course. You can check it out at drnicolerankins.com for recession enroll.

(53:37): But I encourage everyone to do some sort of childbirth education. There are many, many, many, many options out there. Just find something that works for you. Okay. Next thing I want to say is that one of the best tools in our toolbox for helping with labor is time. Labor just takes time, especially to get into what's called the active part of labor. So six centimeters or later from zero to six centimeters can take some time. Now it can feel frustrating because it takes so long and you're like, oh my God, I'm never going to be over with this. But once you get past six centimeters, then things generally pick up. So don't think that just because the first part took so long that the last part is going to take so long because that's not the case. But in general, one of the best tools in our toolbox is time.

(54:30): Sometimes that time may be waiting at home for as long as you can and wait until those contractions are really uncomfortable, really painful, really, where you cannot talk through them before you go to the hospital. Our general sort of guidelines are five minutes apart or less for an hour. They're lasting a minute. That's like the bare minimum. Okay. Bare minimum for when labor may be starting. And when we say for an hour, those contractions need to be intense for an hour. If they start to get intense and then they go back down in intensity, then the clock starts over again. It really needs to be consistently all intense for an hour. So time both before you get to the hospital and then time even after you get to the hospital, are going to be some of the biggest tools in our toolbox. And of course, I have to say, everybody's going to be different.

(55:24): Listen to your own body. If things tell you to go to the hospital quicker than do so. But in general, you want to give things some time. And then the last thing is, I just want to piggyback on that really important point that she said of pain versus suffering during labor. Pain is a normal part of labor. Most people will experience contractions as painful, but she was so right to say that no one should have to suffer during the labor process. And if it is to the point where you are suffering, then an epidural may be the right thing to do, even if that was not part of your initial plans. Because although you may be in pain during labor, really no one should be suffering. And as you heard in her story, sometimes an epidural can actually help speed labor up. It can just help you relax, help you get some rest, help that labor happen in the background, and it can actually help speed labor up if things have been slowing down.

(56:27): So an epidural isn't necessarily the enemy, and again, you just should not be suffering during labor. Alright, so there you have it. Please share this podcast with a friend. Also subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening to me right now. Apple Podcast, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, wherever it is, please subscribe so that you never miss an episode. And I would love it if you left me a review an Apple podcast. I love to hear those reviews. I love to hear what you think about the show. And I use those reviews to do shout outs from time to time in episodes. Do come join me in my free birth plan class, make a birth plan the right way. That's drnicolerankins.com/birth plan. It is a great class. Next live class is happening on June 19th. So that's it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.