A Birth of My Own - Kenzie's Birth Story
We got snowed in!! This doesn’t happen often in Seattle, we don’t usually get snow in the lowlands, but when we do it shuts everything down. It’s a joke that when we get a dusting of snow the world stops, but we have a lot of hills and we don’t just get snow we get ice too. My kids are hugely in favor of a day off school, and it got me thinking about writing their birth stories. So, I’m starting with my oldest. Hers was a traumatic birth, one that I wasn’t prepared for even though I had gone through birth classes and was very knowledgeable about the birth process.
I started having Braxton Hicks contractions at about 34 weeks, nothing uncommon, just aware that they were there and that my body was prepping for birth. At 36 weeks I started having pretty consistent contractions, some that made me stop, and then they would go away. It was a couple days of consistent and inconsistent contractions, nothing that alarmed me. On the evening of March 18th the contractions became more consistent, closer together and intense. I called in to talk to my doctor and she blew me off, told me not to head into the hospital and just to head to bed. I should never have stayed with this doctor, she wasn’t willing to listen to me, wasn’t willing to allow me to guide her through what my body was doing in the birth process. BUT I didn’t feel like I could advocate for myself because I wasn’t a birth professional, something I now know is a huge mistake for any and all birthing women!
When I couldn’t sleep, and the contractions became too much to handle I headed into the hospital in Bellevue against her advice and I’m thankful every day that I did. When I got there I was dilated to a 4 and after they hooked me up to listen to her heart tones, they found that her heart was decelerating through each contraction. One nurse came back to check my cervix again and was fairly aggressive breaking my water in the process. At that point the discussion went from medication to stop contractions to a C-Section. A C-Section was the last thing I wanted; it wasn’t even a consideration in my birth plan. I had wanted to labor at home as long as I was comfortable, head into the hospital and go natural. Sometimes life, labor, pain doesn’t go the way we plan. Ultimately, I wanted a healthy baby, I wanted her to be o.k. so I agreed to the C-Section and they administered a Spinal. From the time I got the Spinal block to being wheeled back in to the OR it was about 30 minutes. My doctor did one thing that I was thankful for, she stopped just before beginning the C-Section to check my cervix knowing that I did want to have more children. She wanted to give my body one last shot at doing things as naturally as possible. When they checked me in the OR I was complete. However, they had given me a Spinal and at this point I couldn’t feel much below my boobs. When they asked me if I could push I said I would try, but I really wasn’t sure I was doing anything.
I closed my eyes and focused on how it would feel to push, not sure how but it worked and within a few minutes Kenzie was born. The nurses took her to the side to work on her because when she finally did make it earth side she had a 0 Apgar and needed help to come to. The nurses and doctors wouldn’t allow my husband to film or take any pictures, it was a tense few minutes. Her sweet little cry broke the silence in the room, it was such an amazing sound.
When they wheeled us back to our room Kenzie was doing well. I on the other hand felt like a heavy weight boxer had used my back for practice, Spinals are no joke! I had the shakes like crazy, my whole entire body was shaking to the point where the nurses asked me if I was o.k. They threw a few more heated blankets on top of me and went about taking care of my new baby. I felt like somewhat of an afterthought. When they finally allowed me to get up and walk to the bathroom for the first time I felt like a wobbly little deer on new legs, it was sketchy. Because I had gone into preterm labor my milk hadn’t come in and wouldn’t for a few days, which was stressful because the nurses and lactation specialists made me feel like the lack of milk was my fault and I needed to keep feeding constantly so that I didn’t let her starve. Sore, cracked, bleeding nipples be damned!! She had jaundice, which meant that feedings became that much harder because the energy she used to eat was wearing her out and she would fall asleep mid feed. Again, my doctor made it clear it was my fault and that I should be feeding her unclothed in the sunshine. This was mid-March in Seattle, we don’t usually see the sun here until mid-June or later, so hearing this was maddening because there wasn’t much I could do to change the weather. Finally, bilirubin lights were ordered which was a sanity saver for me. She had to stay on the lights unless she was feeding. That was hard, but it was a welcome change to the stress of trying to get her tiny 5-pound body into the light near a window and watching her shiver the whole time. There is so much stress put on mothers! I think this stress created a situation where post-partum easily crept in and took over. I didn’t really realize I was in the middle of postpartum depression until she was around 4 or 5 months old.
Looking back, I can see all the small miracles that got my sweet, spunky daughter to us. I kick myself all the time for not hiring a birth photographer. 17 years ago, I’m not sure they would have allowed a professional photographer in, and in this particular birth I’m not sure one would have been allowed to stay through the whole crazy process. I enjoy being there for my clients, through the good, bad and crazy. It allows them to see themselves in a new light. The pictures I capture as a birth photographer help some women to heal through trauma, or feel like they are a part of the birth during a C-Section.
I love my job and the clarity it brings to couples and moms!!