Ep 58: Savanna’s Birth Story – Listening to Your Body Postpartum

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I have another wonderful birth story episode for you today! This time, we're joined by Savanna, a Physician Assistant and mom of one who lives in Georgia with her family.

Savanna had a relatively uneventful pregnancy and scheduled her induction around 40 weeks. After being induced, her labor only lasted about 12 hours in total. Once her baby was born, however, things got a bit more interesting.

Savanna dealt with some postpartum health issues that we chat about in today's episode, including postpartum preeclampsia and mastitis. We talk about some warning signs to look out for and why it's so important to listen to your body and advocate for yourself if something doesn't feel right. We also chat about learning to breastfeed and the impact med students and residents had on Savanna's birth.  

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • How Savanna prepared for her birth and why she scheduled her labor induction.
  • What her pregnancy and prenatal care was like.
  • How her birth went and how medical students and medical residents were a part of the experience.
  • The health issues Savanna dealt with after birth and how she dealt with being in the hospital away from her baby.
  • Why it is so important to listen to your body and advocate for yourself during your care.
  • Why Savanna thinks going with the flow and being prepared for the unpredictable is key when thinking about your birth.

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

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Speaker 1: Today's episode of the podcast is a birth story episode.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified Ob Gyn physician, certified integrative health coach and creator of The Birth Preparation Course, an online childbirth education class that will leave you feeling knowledgeable, prepared, confident and empowered going into your birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and it's not a substitute for medical advice. See the full disclaimer at www.ncrcoaching.com/disclaimer.

Speaker 1: Well hello there. Welcome to another episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. This is episode number 58. Thank you. Thank you for being here with me today. Well, today's episode is a birth story and birth story episodes are some of my favorites, because they give me a glimpse into a birth in a way that I don't get when I'm practicing as an OB GYN. So I always love and appreciate women coming on to share their stories and today Savanna joins us to share her birth story. Savanna Perry is a dermatology physician assistant in Augusta, Georgia. She is passionate about the physician assistant career and she loves to help others discover the potential of being a PA and actually turn that potential into a reality through the PA Platform. Now after having her daughter and realizing how amazing it is to be a mom, Savanna went part time as a physician assistant to be home more with her daughter and husband.

Speaker 1: However she hasn't been able to sit still so she's now venturing into opening an online boutique for children's clothing called A Bow and Gal. Now Savannah had a pretty uneventful pregnancy and an uncomplicated birth but she did have some issues postpartum that really helped her to understand that even as a medical professional and she also happens to be married to a physician as well, you have to be flexible during your pregnancy and birth and you must pay attention to your body and be ready to advocate for yourself. So you are going to learn something for sure from Savanna's story today.

: Now before we get into the episode, let's do a quick listener shout out. This is a review left by KtotheQ and I love that name. The title of the review says, "this podcast is the real MVP" and the review says, "thank you Dr. Rankins for creating this extensive and relevant platform that is literally walking me through my first pregnancy. I love that I found this podcast early on in my journey, it's like everything I've been wondering or concerned about already has a recorded session. As a woman who is looking forward to being a mother, but terrified of the birthing process, this podcast has been exactly what I needed to calm my fears and get the knowledge I need to make informed decisions for me and my baby." And then there are four purple hearts. Well, thank you. Thank you KtotheQ for that lovely review. I really appreciate it and I am glad that I have been able to help calm some of your fears and give you knowledge so you do not have to be terrified of the birthing process.

: All right, so without further ado, why don't we go ahead and hop on into this birth story episode with Savanna.

: Nicole: Thank you so much, Savanna, for coming onto the podcast. I am super excited to have you come on and share your birth story.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to revisit it.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. So why don't you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your family, your work, if you want to.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Sure. So my name's Savanna Perry. I'm in Georgia. Born and raised, never really left. Went to UGA and I went to college in Georgia.

: Nicole: I went to Spellman, so I lived in Georgia for a bit. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Everyone has somehow usually come to Georgia or done something here. I like it. I've stuck around. I'm in Augusta, so I'm kind of in a smaller area, but I am currently a dermatology physician assistant. I've been doing that for the past five and a half years. I went part time this past fall because I have a one and a half year old and I really wanted to be home with her more after working full time for a year. And then my husband who, we met in high school, went to UGA together, he just finished residency this past summer, so he's a hospitalist, like a little medical family. And, so his schedule is kind of funky with working a week on, week off. So I also wanted more time with him. So that's kind of my day job on the side. I blog, I've been blogging for the past four years for pre PA students on a website called the PA Platform. And then over the past year I've teamed up with some other mom friends and we've started a little online children's boutique. So I'm kind of a, I guess everyone says I'm like a side hustler. Like I don't, I can't sit still. But I think my favorite job is definitely being a mom and that's, that's been really fun.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Awesome. Yeah, you do have a lot going on, like high school sweethearts who are both in medicine and then now helping other people get into medicine and the side hustle of this clothing stuff. That's pretty cool.

Speaker 3: Savanna: I like to do things and be busy, so, yeah.

: Nicole: Yeah, I hear you. I hear you. So before we get to details of birth, I feel like we always have to know a bit about what prenatal care was like. So tell us about your prenatal care. Did you have a physician or midwife? How did you feel about the care you received during your pregnancy?

Speaker 3: Savanna: Okay, so well first of all we decided, I guess we'd been married for Oh gosh, five years and kind of decided it was time to have a baby. I'm one of those people who always had the fear of not being able to get pregnant. And so, you know, I think as women we never know. And very thankfully it happened a lot quicker than I expected. Came off my birth control pills, got pregnant. And at the time I didn't even have an OB or GYN cause we had, mine had switched practices and my insurance was no longer accepted. And so I decided to, since my husband's in residency, all of my prenatal care was free because that was covered under his residency. As long as I went to that hospital, which was a big thing.

Speaker 3: Savanna: But I had to find someone. So I called and there were a few that I had heard great things about. And I decided to go with one doctor because he had the closest opening. But I'd never seen a male OB before so I was a little apprehensive about that. But I ended up loving it and loving him. I think he is awesome. So I think as far as prenatal care, you know, everything was pretty straight forward. I had a fairly what I would call easy pregnancy. I was tired the first trimester, which a lot of people are, I didn't have a ton of sickness. I think I threw up maybe three times my entire pregnancy, but towards the end, in kind of my third trimester.

: Savanna: About when I hit 32 weeks, we went on a family vacation to the beach. And I'd had a little bit of swelling, but after that trip, and it was June, my swelling just got out of control. I mean, I was so, so swollen. My husband said I had Shrek feet. I mean it was, I was having to wear his shoes to work untied. Like it was bad. And so my swelling was kind of getting out of control, but I didn't have any other symptoms really. And I mean, I wasn't ever particularly uncomfortable, but I just had regular visits. Ultrasounds were fine. We found out at 20 weeks that I was having a girl. So, we found out we were having a girl, which was exciting. But as far as like pregnancy, prenatal care, everything was pretty straight forward. I would say I kind of had a textbook pregnancy.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Okay, cool. And you saw the same person, like, throughout your pregnancy. Did you see him for all of your visits?

Speaker 3: Savanna: I did. Yeah, and since it was a teaching hospital, there were a couple of times where there was a student with him, which was a little bit unique, but I saw him the whole time. He did end up, like I didn't get, I feel like there's a lot of talk about like checking the cervix now and stuff and I only got that once at 39 weeks. And he did strip my membranes, which didn't work.

: Nicole: Did he ask you before he did it?

Speaker 3: Savanna: Yeah, yeah, we talked about it. Because being a Durham PA I had a clinic schedule and they had stopped my schedule at 40 weeks expecting I would have a baby. And because I was so swollen, everyone kept thinking, Oh shoot, you're going to go early, you're going to go early. I'm also a fairly small person. I'm about five feet. And so I just have this big belly and a lot of swelling. And so as it got closer and closer to 40 weeks, we started having the conversations like do we induce? What do we do? When he checked me, I was about three and a half centimeters dilated. And so there was some progress there. I was maybe having a few contractions here and there, but nothing too crazy. There was one night around 38 weeks where I had a bunch of contractions within the hospital and nothing was really happening. They stopped after I drank some water. But yeah, we talked about it and I said a few of my friends had had their membranes stripped and so I was like, let's try it. Everyone says it's super painful. I thought it was uncomfortable. I didn't think it was crazy painful. And that night I did have more contractions for about four hours, but by the next day they had stopped and again, nothing was happening.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And we'll get to, I think you ultimately decided to be induced.

: Savanna: Yes.

: Nicole: So we'll get to that in just a second. So when you were thinking about your birth, was there anything that you wanted in particular? Any particular wishes that you wanted for your experience?

Speaker 3: Savanna: I'm a fairly laid back person. And so really my only thought was just with outcome, like healthy baby, healthy mom, whatever it's going to take to get that I'm okay with. Part of me was kind of like, oh, it'd be so cool to do a natural birth and not have an epidural. But I was also, I mean I was very open to having an epidural and I ultimately did. Maybe I think if I'd gone into labor on my own, or progressed more on my own, that might've been different, but I was just kind of open to that. I, you know, was open to having a regular vaginal birth. I was also open to a C-section if necessary, but I wasn't necessarily wanting that. When I was in PA school, I had a rotation that was a month on OB GYN. And we kind of had a record month of births. It was in October, and while I was there for four weeks, I saw 14 births. They joked that about nine months before there'd been this big ice storm in Georgia. And I mean, it was crazy. So I saw a bunch of C-sections, a bunch of vaginal births, good experiences, bad experiences.

: Savanna: And so I think seeing that made me more open to just kind of realizing that no birth is alike and it's always going to be different. And then also being in medicine, sometimes you can know too much. And so I kind of wanted to just trust my OB, trust that they are making the best decisions for me as much as possible. And just have conversations about making those decisions along the way.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Gotcha, gotcha. So did you do it, did you read any books or do anything to prepare for your birth or you kind of just trusted what your OB was saying and you felt like you could trust him?

Speaker 3: Savanna: I trusted him, but I also talked to my mom friends. I just have a lot of friends. I was one of the last ones of my friends to have a baby. And I feel like I had friends who had every different outcome. So I'd had friends who had gone into labor naturally and had natural births, ones who had gone into labor naturally and had epidurals, ones who had been induced and had vaginal births, ones who'd been induced and ended up with C-sections. I had all these different people that I could talk to about their own experiences. And of course I was in the mom groups on Facebook, but I feel like in there you have to take some of that with a grain of salt. And so I liked hearing kind of the personal experiences from my friends. And that kind of prepared me for, you know, this. There's a lot of different options here. There's a lot of different things that could happen, but I don't think I read any books or like watched any videos or anything particular. And we didn't do child birthing classes. With my husband's schedule, it just wasn't possible.

Speaker 1: Nicole: And did you guys felt comfortable with that approach?

Speaker 3: Savanna: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

: Nicole: Yeah. So let's talk about what your labor and your birth was like.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Okay. So I have to like think back and try to remember everything cause you really do forget. So I'd seen my doctor at 39 weeks. My due date was on the following Tuesday, I think that was like a Thursday and that's when we had the conversation about do we just keep waiting or do we induce? Because I was not very excited about sitting at home without my baby because my maternity leave was starting that following week.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Right. And we have terrible leave policies in our country, but that's another discussion for another session.

: Savanna: That is a whole other disussion. And I may get into a little bit of that just because I had planned to take, the way it worked out, cause I was due in June, I'd planned to take 11 weeks off, come back the week of labor day, so it'd be like a short week with just a couple of days and then start back full time the next week. And then they would come up with some issues at work where some people were saying, I couldn't do that. Some people were saying I needed to come back earlier and we had to kind of clarify all of that. But essentially it had to start that Monday. I mean, I offered to come in and just answer phones since I couldn't see patients. And they were like, no, you need to go on. You need to go on leave. So we talked about it. My husband and I and my doctor, he had told us, you know, just text me if you, when you make a decision, let me know.

Speaker 3: Savanna: And so we texted him and said, I think we want to move forward with getting induced. What does that look like? And he told us to come to the hospital Tuesday morning. I think we had to be there at like 5:00 AM. And so I actually, I mean, it would've been nice to go into labor on my own, but it was kind of also nice to have that deadline because the day before my husband was able to take off. And we just enjoyed each other and kind of knowing that that was like the last day of just us, it was really cool. So we just went shopping, we got things ready, we went out to eat, and kind of had that nice time together. And so we are very lucky to have both of our families in town with us. And so they were able to come to the hospital with me.

Speaker 3: Savanna: So Tuesday we all go to the hospital early in the morning, they get me all hooked up to things. So IV stuff and monitors and all that. And I think, I guess the first thing they did was start some Pitocin.

: Nicole: Cause you were already three centimeters.

: Savanna: And I think by then I was, I was four, like dilated and like, I mean I was kinda goin. So they started the Pitocin, I started getting contractions fairly quickly. They're getting pretty steady. After about an hour, I'd reached the point where, you know, I couldn't talk through them. I was, you know, when a contraction came, everyone in the room knew. Cause I would get this look on my face and just kind of have to breathe and get through it. And that's when they said, all right, if you're going to do an epidural, now's the time. And it's interesting our situation, cause we were in a teaching hospital and my husband knew a lot of the other residents and in a teaching hospital I actually really enjoyed having residents throughout my birth, like I felt very supported.

Speaker 3: Savanna: I didn't allow medical students just because they like work with my husband. But he's in a different area so I was fine with the residents. And so, there was one in particular and she was amazing. Like I wish she could be my doctor all the time cause she, I just thought she so great. But between my husband, the nurse and then two different anesthesiology residents, they all were like, listen, you can get an epidural now and choose not to use it. Like you don't have to do anything with it, but now's the time. Like if you don't get it now, it's going to be too late later on. And so I kind of took their counsel and I was fine with it. So I got one. My epidural experience was fine, like it really didn't hurt.

Speaker 3: Savanna: The only weird thing was right after I got it, I had this intense itching all over for about two minutes, which was bizarre. And they said that was part of, I guess what they initially put in. And I know like some people's, I guess don't work well or are too strong or whatever, but mine, I could still move my legs fully. I just couldn't feel everything that strongly.

: Nicole: And so that's the perfect epidural.

: Savanna: It was perfect. I thought it was great. And so the resident was the one who did it and had an attending watching. So I got my epidural was feeling good. About 30 minutes after I got my epidural, the nurse came in fairly quickly and I could tell something was kind of off. The monitor sounded a little strange. And instantly she had these little walkie-talkie things. She got her walkie talkie and within one minute there were four residents and an attending in my room, I feel like, yeah, I was like, something's happening. Like I need to stay calm. And it was around lunch time at that point, cause my mom and mother-in-law had been hanging out in there with me in the room. My husband's in there and they had all just gotten their lunch, which of course I wasn't allowed to eat. And so they're all eating. And I looked at my husband, I said, can you, can you clear the room? And so he asked our moms to step out. So it was just me and him and all the residents. So essentially the baby's heart rate had been kind of going down with each contraction. She was having some D Cells and so they repositioned me.

Speaker 3: Savanna: They stopped the Pitocin. They got me, you know, on all fours. Had me roll from side to side trying to get her, I guess, I don't know if they're repositioning her or what, but she did calm down, but they told me not to do any more boluses in my epidural, which I hadn't done any, but they weren't sure if, I guess something like that messed with her. So everything was kind of fine from then. And then they kind of stopped all the meds. About an hour later I told my husband, I was like, I don't think the epidural is working, can you ask if I can bolus it, like it's not working. And the nurse came in and checked me and she goes, you're at 10 centimeters. Like, it's time. And so then they got, I had a team, so my attending was kind of coming in and out.

Speaker 3: Savanna: And then I had two to three residents in the room at a time, and they were like the best coaches ever. They would be like, try this, like pull on this washcloth when you push. And so I started pushing. By then it was probably around like three or four o'clock.

: Nicole: So from the time things started to when you were pushing was how many hours?

: Savanna; So I got there at five. They had broken my water at one point too, like right after the epidural or before. I don't even remember. But, so they, I got there, they gave me Pitocin, I think then they broke my water, I got the epidural once contractions got worse, baby had heart rate stuff happening. And then, so they stopped stuff. I became dilated to 10 centimeters and then I started pushing.

: Nicole: So not even 12 hours.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Oh no. Yeah, it was very quick. Like they said I went from four to 10 cause they had checked me again and they said I went from four to 10 in like almost an hour. Like it went kind of quickly. And so they were kind of surprised I think. But yeah, so it was time to push and I mean I was, I was trying, I was pushing. My doctor, my OB, his shift ended at five. It's kind of interesting. His wife is also an OB at the same hospital and she was taking over after him. And I had seen her for something at one point, but essentially he came in at five was like, listen, I have to go pick up my three boys, but my wife's going to take over. You're in great hands and I was like, that's great, as long as somebody is with me.

Speaker 3: Savanna: So she came in, kinda after five, we pushed some more and it wasn't, I mean it wasn't particularly painful. They said they could like see her head and everything and, but around 6:30, I mean, it was evident that I was tired from pushing for about three hours. And so the doctor said, you know, at 6:45, she said, I want you to give me everything you've got for the next 15 minutes. And if we can't get her out, she's tired, you're tired. I think we need to go do a C-section. I just looked at her and I was like, okay. And I think she was surprised, like I think she expected me to push back or like have questions or something, but I mean I was tired. Like I really was and, and so I did that. We pushed, she was trying to rip things open and all kinds of stuff and get that baby out.

Speaker 3: Savanna: But she wasn't coming. So, and they said I was swelling a lot by then too, just from the pressure. Yeah. So we headed to the OR.

: Nicole: Oh, did they talk about forceps or vacuum at all?

: Savanna: It was even, I don't think she was even close to far out for that. I think she was kind of doing the turtle thing where like head would come out and then like pop back in. Um, and so we went about, it was seven o'clock, we rolled to the OR and they kind of got me strapped to the table and everything. And, I guess so I kept asking questions and I don't know if it was because I was nervous or tired or the drugs they were giving me or what, but I kept talking to her like she was doing it in the residents and she was like, no one has ever talked to me or asked me this made questions while I'm doing this.

Speaker 3: Savanna: And again, I think that comes with like knowing too much. Like when they started, once they got her out, once they started talking about like boggy uterus, I was like, Oh no, no. But anyway, so the whatever they I guess give you to paralyze you or whatever, or the anesthesia, that did mess with me and I started feeling like I needed to vomit. Which I hadn't eaten all day, so there was nothing in there for me to throw up. But the anesthesia resident who was monitoring me was really great. He held a bag next to my head and let me just kind of dry heave into it. I would get, I got kind of like, I got really cold and was shivering. And so they would keep putting blankets on me. It was a little, I guess it was a strange sensation where I couldn't always feel things that much and I started to get a little bit anxious.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Like, I can't feel anything. Like this is weird. And so he would kind of pinch my arms and I would barely feel it. And he'd say, do you feel this? Do you feel this? And I was like, yeah, I feel it. Well, afterwards I had bruises all up and down my arms, like he pinched the heck out of me and I could barely feel it.

: Nicole: Oh, so yeah, your anesthetic must have been a little bit high, a little strong.

: Savanna: Cause I mean, I was, yeah. Yeah it was a weird, really weird feeling. But they did the C-section, when she came out, I think by that point I was just delirious a little bit, but she didn't cry right away. And so they took her and had to kind of rub her a little bit and then she started crying. But my husband tells me that, there's a baby, I had a baby. And they were like, yeah. And I was like, that's my baby. And they were like, yes, you just had a baby. Correct. And so he came to me and told me she was okay. And then I think the OB at one point said like, Oh, this will look so nice when we do it again as she was stitching me up. And I said, Nope. Which I take back now, but my husband's still holding it over my head. And so at that point my husband came and he said, you know, they want to take her and look at her, do you want me to stay with you or go with her? And I said, go with her. Like, leave me, go with the baby.

Speaker 3: Savanna: And so they were stitching me up and I remember asking the anesthesiologist, I would say I'm so tired, can I go to sleep? Will I wake up? And he was like, yes, you can go to sleep. You'll wake up. So as they were kind of finishing up and I do think, I think I was bleeding a good bit and my uterus wasn't firming up the way it should, so they had to give me some extra medicines, but I fell asleep and woke up in the recovery room, it was about about nine, 9:30 when they got me in there and I got kinda woken back up and that's when I got to meet my baby, which my husband didn't want to give her to me, which was funny cause he was very like apprehensive about having kids anyway.

Speaker 3: Savanna: But like I found out later, he wouldn't let any of the grandparents hold her. And then I was like, can I hold her? And he was like, yes, but be very careful, be very careful. I was like, okay, like I will, that's my baby, he went into protective dad mode instantly. Like the meaning of love at first sight. Like that was them. And so anyway, but yeah, I got to hold her and love her.

: Nicole: Awesome. Awesome. So then, were you in the hospital for two or three days? How was that?

: Savanna: Yeah, so I went in on a Tuesday and I think I got discharged on Friday. It was good. I will say that first night, the room they put us in, I guess they didn't know, but the air conditioning didn't work and it was the middle of June in Georgia. And so, you know, I was thinking I'm sweating because of hormones. I just had a baby. Like that's probably why I'm so hot. But then my husband was like, no, it's really hot in here. And so we called maintenance a lot. We were calling the nurses a lot and they got us moved to a different room, but that was like a little hiccup. But I felt really well supported. The nurses were wonderful. They came in, they were helping me, you know, learn how to breastfeed and just kind of walking me through the steps of being a new mom and having a baby. But it really is crazy. How much of that just kind of comes to you and you just, you do just know how to love the baby. So yeah, we were there by the second day I got, I mean I was pretty sore. I was still very swollen. I got, I guess they call it an abdominal binder.

Speaker 3: Savanna: And that helped tremendously. Like, yeah, like it's one of my friends who had had one kind of told me about it and told me to ask for it. Before then I was like hunched over like an old woman walking around. But as soon as I got that, it just kind of made my organs go into the right spots and gave me some support that my ab muscles couldn't do at the time. So that was, you know, life changing. And then, my mom helped me take a shower, which was, it's like I have a new baby and she's still taking care of her baby. And that just made me feel like a new person. But I was feeling great, honestly. Like, I really didn't take any pain medicine past the first 24 hours. Pain medicine makes me feel wonky. And so I stuck to just Advil and Tylenol and just did those, I was excited to eat again, after not being able to eat for a while.

Speaker 3: Savanna: But yeah, it was great. And so we stayed there just until kind of everything had settled down. I don't know, I guess since it was my first one, they wanted to keep me at least two nights to make sure everything was good, and then went home. We went home Friday. By Saturday, I mean, I know not everyone does this, but like we went out to eat for Mexican for lunch.

: Nicole: Oh wow. Did you take the baby with you?

: Savanna: We did.

: Nicole: Lord have mercy, Savannah.

: Savanna: Yep. In her carrier, all covered up. But I, yeah, we just, we went and then, the next Tuesday I went into Bible study. I drove myself to Bible study. I didn't have any driving restrictions cause I wasn't on pain medicine and they were all like, why are you here? But my husband had the baby and I was feeling good, like I'm trying to get my word in y'all. So they were all like, this is not normal. You should be like in pain or doing, and I was like, no, I'm good. And so I kinda, we just fell into this new normal of, it felt like the baby had been there forever and, you know, we were, we were doing good. And I mean, yeah. So after birth was great.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Okay. So that immediate period was great, but then I know you had some, some complications after that. So tell us about what happened.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Okay. So I was still very swollen, which everyone said, you know, one day you're gonna wake up and it's just gonna be gone, it's going to go away. So I was kinda holding onto that. And, so it was exactly two weeks after my C-section, the week of July 4th and it was a Tuesday and I'd been feeling a little off, like maybe like I had a cold or something. Which of course I'm like, I don't want to get the baby sick. And I was also feeling like maybe this is just exhaustion setting in and you know, I have been, haven't been sleeping as much as normal. That's what this is. But I woke up on Tuesday just really not feeling good. I called my husband, because he'd already gone to work at the hospital and I said, you know, I just don't feel great.

Speaker 3: Savanna: I feel like I have shortness of breath. Like I couldn't walk up the stairs and catch my breath cause I was like a little bit alarming. I felt like I couldn't take a deep breath. And so he was like, okay, well just lay low today. I'll when I get home in a few hours I'll check you, and just make sure everything's fine. But by that afternoon I had developed a fever. And so, I just felt awful. Like that day I couldn't get off the couch. I couldn't, I mean I couldn't like watch TV. I couldn't look at my phone. I just sat there with the baby, kind of in her little boppy next to me and I would feed her when needed and then she would sleep. I would sleep.

: Nicole: Oh, were you breastfeeding?

: Savanna: I was, and so I called him back, I think it was like three o'clock, and I said, I have a fever. And I was like sobbing because I was freaking out that I was gonna pass something to my baby. And he was like, listen, you had surgery two weeks ago, this doesn't sound normal. You need to come into the ER. And so I called my parents, luckily, and that they were able to come and they came, my dad stayed at home with the baby. My mom took me to the hospital and I did not leave for four days, so that was unexpected. But I got there and my blood pressure was crazy. It was, and I didn't even think to check that at home. Like, that wasn't even on my radar. But my blood pressure, I think it was like 190, over 97 like it was, it was not good. Which my baseline before I got pregnant was like, and even now it's like a 100/60, like it's really low usually.

Speaker 3: Savanna: And so that's probably part of why I felt awful. So they, at first when I first went to check in at the ER, they were like, you probably just have a cold. And I was like, I don't think so. And so then they sent me up to the GYN floor cause they actually have their own kind of separate emergency area for patients, which is cool. So they admitted me, started doing all kinds of tests. My concerns at the time were like, do I have a pulmonary embolism? Do I have, you know, endocarditis or apathy? Like something's not right. And so pretty...

: Nicole: Your medical brain was like, blood clot, something's going on with my heart, like what's going on?

: Savanna: Yeah. Like something's not working. And so they did, they checked my veins in my legs for clots, didn't see anything. They did a CT, didn't see anything. My husband was actually on cardiology, so he came with his team and they did an echo and my heart looked fine. And so ultimately everything was working fine. I was just still very swollen and having these blood pressure issues. And so they were basically called it postpartum preeclampsia. And I mean, my OB said it, they see it, you know, once or twice a month. And he was like, I'm so glad you came in. Like if you hadn't, we probably would have found you seizing at home. And that's why, I mean, I think it's hard sometimes for us to listen to our bodies and like, it's just, it's very important to get checked out then to not. And so even though I didn't want to go in, it was a good thing. So at that point it was a little difficult because usually the treatment for preeclampsia is delivering the baby, which I had already done.

Speaker 3: Savanna: And so they gave me Lasix at night and I overnight lost 10 pounds of fluid. The before and after pictures are amazing.

: Nicole: I bet, I bet. And guys, Lasix is what's called a diarrhetic medicine. It just makes you pee like crazy.

: Savanna: Oh yeah, they're having me monitor, I mean it was like liters and liters. It was crazy. But I felt so much better just having that off. But my blood pressure was still high. So they decided to give me magnesium for 24 hours and I just, if anyone has ever had magnesium, I feel for you and I can't even imagine having it pregnant because it was miserable. I mean it, it basically, from how it was explained to me is like the ultimate muscle relaxant. And so I, they started it and everything was fine. They told me I might start feeling a little weird. By about four o'clock, I felt like I couldn't take it anymore. I was like, this is not, I don't feel normal. I couldn't lift my hands. I was having to make myself swallow pretty much make myself breathe. I had had to ask for a catheter because I couldn't make myself go to the bathroom.

: Savanna: My mom and one of my best friends were switching off kind of being there with me and helping me. They would hold my breast pump on for me and pump my milk because I literally couldn't hold it. And so this is where I learned to advocate for yourself. And this is not something that I'm very good at, but my friend who was with me, her name's Emma and we were college roommates. She is amazing. And she would call the nurses, she would be like, listen, we need to see a doctor now, or can you check her levels? Like this is not normal because I just wasn't in a place to do that for myself. And so ultimately they checked my mag level and it was getting, it was like at 13.

: Nicole: WHAT?

: Savanna: Yeah, yeah.

: Nicole: That's high y'all. It should be like between six and eight. It was way too high.

: Savanna: And I was supposed to be on it for another like six hours. So as soon as that came back, they stopped it. And I mean, I went back to feeling normal, but I was at the point where I felt like if this keeps going, I will not be able to breathe. Like that's about to shut down very soon. And so, yeah, magnesium is not my friend. I think it was very scary for like my friend and my husband who was coming to see me and my mom, like they were, it was very scary to see me like that.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Like they said, I looked completely drunk, like I couldn't hold my head up, my eyes just kind of were drooping and yeah, just very scary. So ultimately that happened, my blood pressure went down a little bit, but I was still having fevers. And so, one of the OBs came and kind of really, really pushed on my abdomen and she was like, you're way more tender than you should be. And so they wanted to treat me for endometritis and just like having an infection. So I started antibiotics and within 24 hours I was a new person. Like I was back to normal, ready to go. The nurses who had seen me when I first came in versus then were like, Oh my gosh, this is crazy. I wouldn't even think you were sick.

Speaker 3: Savanna: So everything, I mean, it turned out fine. My baby never came to the hospital. I would pump milk and send it home for her. But I didn't see a reason for her to be there. Possibly getting sick if anything was going around. So, my husband, his mom and my dad kind of took shifts with her and then my mom stayed with me in the hospital the whole time and my friend Emma switched off with her. They took care of me. They were very sweet. My other friend Abby went home and made a little footprint thing from my baby and brought it to me. That was very hard to be away from her, and once I got home, it almost felt like I restarted my maternity leave and we were right back to where we started.

Speaker 3: Savanna: I will say, and I didn't mention this before, right before I went in the hospital, we were having a lot of trouble nursing. Like I couldn't get her to latch. I was getting frustrated. She was getting frustrated. I had a lactation consultant come to my house and she was so great. And I mean if it wasn't for her, I would have given up right when we started. But as soon as I got home, everything was normal. She did great. She latched every time. My milk supply was great and we just kind of rocked and rolled from there until I kind of lost my supply around seven months when I was working and pumping. But, but yeah, so.

: Nicole: Did you have to pay for that lactation consultant or was it?

: Savanna: So actually when I was, when I gave birth, the lactation consultant they had on staff was on vacation. After I went in the second time, the baby wasn't there with me. I went and saw the one in the hospital and that one was provided. But like when I went in, of course she did great and it looks like we didn't have any issues, but then we are still just not not connecting. And I mean it was such small things that we needed to fix, but she, I think she filed with my insurance, but I think they denied it. And so I just paid out of pocket. But it was worth it. I mean, I think it was like $180, but it was, I would do it again.

: Nicole: Worth every penny.

: Savanna: Yep.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Okay. Okay. Okay. And did you have to go home on blood pressure medicine at all?

Speaker 3: Savanna: They never started me on a blood pressure medicine. And by then it had come down a lot. And so, yeah, that's kind of interesting to me. I guess I would have thought that they would have started. I think I was still on Lasix when I went home for a few days. But that was, that was really it.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Okay. So I guess looking back on your whole experience then, how do you feel about it?

Speaker 3: Savanna: I think I had a great pregnancy and I think I had a great birth experience. The postpartum stuff was unexpected, and it's made, I think I've gotten past it. It's made my husband very apprehensive about another pregnancy, because he had to kind of watch me go through that. I also ended up getting mastitis at six weeks. And so my OB would joke like, you did pregnancy so great and birth, so great, but like you can't handle postpartum. I have no complaints really as far as the care I was given, and I think pregnancy is just such a weird thing and it taught me that you have to, I'm a very controlling person and you can't control pregnancy and I had to learn how to do that and be okay with that. Which I think was good for me.

Speaker 3: Savanna: I think that has kind of carried forward with me a little bit, just learning that sometimes I don't need to be in control of everything. But yeah, if I have another baby I probably will just have a scheduled C-section if she couldn't come out. Like she couldn't come out on my due date. So I'm glad I didn't wait longer to get induced or to try to go into labor naturally cause I don't think she would've come out had I waited. And I think she was like six pounds, five ounces on my due date, which was smaller than they were expecting. And so, but yeah, but I think if I have another one, which I would like to, I will probably just do a scheduled C-section.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. So you want to have another one, but your husband is maybe like, I don't know.

Speaker 3: Savanna: He's thinking about, he's like give me time. He's like, you know, you always get what you want. Right. And I was like, yeah.

Speaker 1: Nicole: So just to wrap up, if you had to think about like one most important piece of advice that you would give to other women as they get ready for their birth and getting ready to become a mom, what would that piece of advice be?

Speaker 3: Savanna: I think just watching myself go through pregnancy and birth and watching a lot of my friends, I think it's so valuable to research and know your options, but also be flexible and make sure you have a team of people that you do trust, whether that's your OB or midwife or doula or whoever who can kind get of help to guide you and just know that there's so many unexpected things in pregnancy and birth and postpartum, that you have to be an advocate for yourself and your health. But also just really trusting those people to help you along the way. I think it can be hard when people are very, like they want something so badly, to go a certain way and this is just not a situation where that always happens. And then I've just seen that, in a lot of friends, lead to frustration and kind of sadness when this is like such a happy time. And I mean, I was just so happy to hold my baby no matter if I had, you know, stitches in my belly or not. It didn't matter to me because she was there and she was healthy and happy and I was too.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. I'm still like, I can't get over your magnesium level.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Yeah. I don't know what would've happened if they didn't stop it honestly. And I kind of almost wish my family had taken a video of me so I could see, cause I remember how it was, but I mean it, yeah, it kind of was shocking and I guess I thought they like monitored that regularly or I don't know.

Speaker 1: Nicole: We do. Like we should, we check things like your reflexes and some indicators to see like if people are getting toxic on magnesium. And I will say folks, most people do not have issues with magnesium and getting at this level. But clearly you were showing signs that you do or you did.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Well and so it was, yeah. And also like, and I don't know how much this contributed. But it was July 4th, like week when I was in the hospital. So a lot of residents, brand new folks, brand new residents. They initially sent in a med student to check my reflexes after I'd been on the magnesium for a while and he was like, can you just swing your legs over the side of the bed so I can check your reflexes? And I mean the look I gave him, it was a death stare. I was like, no, I cannot. And my friend Emma was like, can you please go get the attending? Like I'm so sorry, and so he tried to kind of check reflexes with my legs flat on the bed and I was like, I don't think you've ever like, I think this is your first time touching a real patient. And so again, just like advocating, asking things, but they also, because of the July 4th holiday were doing a lot of inductions and scheduled C-sections. The hospital was at capacity. So I think a lot of those things kind of played into it. Bu yeah, and that level like they were, they were pretty ridiculous honestly.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah. That is pretty, pretty high.

Speaker 3: Savanna: But they turned it off and I just went completely back to normal. I mean that was very weird.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah, I bet. I bet. I can see why your husband probably has some reservations if he saw how you were.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Yeah, he was not happy with it.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah. All right, so where women connect with you if they want to, you know, if they're interested in becoming a PA or physician's assistant or they want to look at your clothing site, where can women connect with you?

Speaker 3: Savanna: Sure. So my PA stuff is www.thePAplatform.com and on my Instagram I post a good bit about family stuff and my baby stuff and being a working mom and all that.

: Nicole: Oh sure. What's your Instagram?

: Savanna: It's @thePAplatform.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Okay. And we'll link to that in the show notes of course, all of this stuff.

Speaker 3: Savanna: Follow me there and then if you want to see our baby clothes, which is, it's so much fun and has given us like this creative outlet, which is awesome. It's at www.beauandgal.com, so like B E A U and gal.com and we have a Facebook group and stuff. Just, it's fun to dress babies, more fun than dressing myself.

Speaker 1: Nicole: All right, well thank you so much Savanna for coming on and sharing your story. I really appreciate it.

: Savanna: Thank you so much.

: Well, all right. Wasn't that a great story? I'd love to hear what you think about the episode in the Facebook group. I have a free Facebook group, for those of you who don't know, it's called All About Pregnancy and Birth. It's a great place for us to connect after the episode and continue the conversation. You can search for it on Facebook, All About Pregnancy and Birth and of course I'll link to it in the show notes. And this is just a great place to connect with me and my community manager, Keisha, who's a doula and then really the best part is the women in the group, so definitely check that group out.

: All right. You know, after every episode I do something called Nicole's notes where I do my top three or four takeaways from the interview. So let's get into Nicole's notes from this first story episode with Savanna. All right.

: Number one, and this is a bit more of a rant, but the way our maternity leave system in this country works is just embarrassing. It's a shame that Savanna had to go ahead and schedule her induction because she didn't want to lose any days of her maternity leave. You know, while waiting to deliver. We just have awful maternity leave policies in this country and they are so much worse when you compare it to countries that have similar resources. We really should be embarrassed by the way we treat women, and parents really, after birth, and this is one of the reasons why I try to remain active in politics in the sense that I advocate for reproductive rights and health issues at the local, state and federal level because it's really going to take policy changes at those levels in order to improve maternity care in this country.

Speaker 1: So that's just my little bit of a plug to pay attention to things that happens for women's reproductive rights and making sure that we advocate for the things that women need and extended maternity care that's paid leave or extended maternity leave, rather that's paid leave, should be something that we should all work towards for sure. Okay. That's the end of my rant on that.

: All right. My second takeaway is again, the importance of just listening to your body and going in if something is wrong. You know, one of the things that has gotten a lot of buzz in the news and a lot of coverage and it should be is maternal mortality and how that is rising in the US and how there are significant racial disparities. And black women have a maternal mortality rate that is three to four times that of white women. And one of the things that people don't necessarily know is that a full 60% of maternal mortality actually happens after birth. And that's just not something that a lot of people realize, that a lot of this maternal mortality actually happens after birth. So I want you to go to www.ncrcoaching.com/warningsigns and you can grab a free guide that you can download, Warning Signs to Look Out For After Birth, just to make sure you know what to be on the look out for, what you need to call for. So grab that free guide at www.ncrcoaching.com/warningsigns. And I'll link that up in the show notes as well.

: And then the third takeaway from this episode is Savanna talked about how she was in a teaching hospital and she was there in the early part of July. And that is a time when there are new medical students. There are new resident physicians. And I'll be honest, there's kind of mixed research on whether or not that has an impact on the quality of care that people receive.

Speaker 1: Some studies show that rates of things like medication errors go up or surgical errors go up. Some studies show that there hasn't been a difference. So I'm saying that to be honest and say, of course you need to advocate for yourself all the time. But sometimes in situations when you're in a teaching hospital, you may need to advocate for yourself a little bit harder to ask for someone who has more experience. If you feel like the person that you're talking to, the student or the resident, isn't giving you what you need or you have some concerns about the care that you are receiving. All residents and medical students are always supervised by what's called an attending physician. So an attending physician is someone who's completed their training and they're able to practice on their own. So if you are ever in a teaching hospital and you have medical students, you have residents, of course I say, you know, if you can help them to learn and be better doctors, please do so because we all have to learn.

Speaker 1: I'm not saying for you to be a Guinea pig or anything like that, but if you can participate in medical education and helping people learn, great. But if you have some concerns, then for sure ask for a more senior individual. And I have another resource you can download if you happen to be in a teaching hospital. That's www.ncrcoaching.com/med-students. And that just gives you a list of questions you can ask about how medical students and residents will be involved in your care during your birth. So you can grab that free downloadable guide as well.

: All right, so that is it for this episode of the podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in Spotify, Apple podcast, wherever you listen to it. And if you feel so inclined, please leave me a review in Apple podcast in particular. Number one, I love, love, love, love, love reading reviews, love hearing what you think about the show. It always just warms my heart and gives me the energy I need to just keep making this podcast. And it also helps other women to find this show and helps the show to grow. So leave me that review in Apple podcast if you don't mind. I appreciate it. And then of course I'll leave you a shout out on a future episode.

: Also, if you want to share your birth story on the podcast, I'm definitely looking for more women to share their birth story. The only requirement is that your birth has to be in a hospital. So you can go to www.ncrcoaching.com/birthstory and fill out the form because I would love to have you come on and share your birth story on the podcast. Now, next week on the podcast, I'm kind of answering sort of a hodgepodge of questions that I get that aren't long enough for a complete episode. They require sort of short answers, so I'm going to put a few of those together in the episode next week. So come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a healthy and happy pregnancy and birth.

Speaker 2: Today's episode is brought to you by Women's Wellness by Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins. Head to www.ncrcoaching.com to check out my free one hour mini course on how to make your birth plan, as well as my comprehensive online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation course, with over eight hours of content and a private course community. The Birth Preparation Course will leave you knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and empowered going into your birth. Head to www.ncrcoaching.com to learn more.