Monday, February 28, 2011

a birth story.....20 months later

Every now and again, I'll stumble onto a blog post of a birth story.  I love reading them because they are all so different and unique to each person.  After reading one a couple weeks ago I thought about my birth story.  I realized I had never really written down the actual birth story of Lincoln.  I know there were posts to keep everyone updated on he and I's status during that rough time but nothing close to a "birth story."  I thought about it for a few days wondering if I should even attempt to write anything.  Mainly because it's not really something I care to remember a whole lot about and to be blatantly honest, I was disappointed.  I hate to say that because how can I complain and be disappointed about something that led to two miracles?  But I was. 

Well as almost all of you know, my water broke extremely early, at 24 weeks pregnant.  Thankfully I did not go in to labor and was put on strict bedrest in the hospital until I delivered.  Lots of tears, fear, and anxiety later it was 52 days after the fact and I was still in my hospital room on what had become a new "normal Sunday."  My sister Hope was with us for the summer so she was there, Tyler and the Neills had come over to keep me company and play games for the evening.  We had lots of fun and I was actually feeling pretty good that day. My blood pressure had been tipping the scales lately and so it was being closely monitored.  I could usually tell when my blood pressure was higher if I was feeling different and that night I just KNEW when they came in to take it that it was going to be closer to normal, because I felt really good!  Man, talk about not being able to read my body well.  It was my highest reading yet 180/119 (just for a benchmark, normal is around 120/80).  My nurse had me lay on my left side and took it again, no change.  She tried to hide the fact that she was seriously concerned and left the room to call my Dr.

31 weeks 
(this is as far as I could go, the door to my room. If I left the room it had to be in a wheel chair)
Wow my skin was so pasty white!  You can tell I hadn't seen the sun in 7 weeks!

At this point, I was 31 weeks 4 days pregnant and since I hadn't been having contractions and Lincoln was doing as good as they could tell inside me, I wasn't even thinking about his coming anytime soon.  It was around 8 or 9 that evening when my Dr. came into my room and announced that she knew when Lincoln's birth date was going to be.  Still a little confused, I asked "when?"  She said today.

I wish I could've seen myself in the mirror after she answered the question because I probably looked so surprised.  I kind of thought she was kidding around with me (remember I felt SO good!).  The first thing I told her was, I wasn't ready.  I didn't have any time to prepare myself mentally.  Ummm....hello Marie you just had 52 days in the hospital to mentally prepare yourself for this.  Kind of a "duh moment."  But this was for real. 

She said a few other things about what was going to happen next, I don't really remember, left and right after that the new nurse on night shift came in to start prepping me for the c-section.  I couldn't believe it that my nurse for the c-section was going to be a friend of ours from church.  She was on call that night and called in specially for the emergency c-section.  I remember her asking if this was going to be too weird for me since I knew her but I was strangely ok with it and actually it made me feel more at ease instead of weird.

We called our parents in Nebraska and a few close friends to tell them the change of plans.  Pretty sure my mom was in the car ready to head our way within 5 minutes!

Being as this was my first pregnancy, I had no idea what to expect with a c-section, let alone an emergency c-section with high blood pressure!  I had just eaten only a couple hours ago and so they wanted to wait as long as possible before starting the c-section for that reason.  They wheeled me to labor and delivery, I put on my lovely gown, got all the heart monitoring straps put on, an IV started and was told I was being put on Magnesium Sulfate.  I am so glad that I had no idea what Mag does to you because boy was I in for a long couple days!  The Mag was to help lower my blood pressure but it's side effects are absolutely horrible.  They told me it was probably going to make me sick, but I was about to meet my son, who cares if I get a little sick, right?! 

So here we were sitting and waiting.  I was so nervous.  I just kept telling myself, "so many women have c-sections and they are fine."  I had come to the realization that my ideal birth of having him naturally wasn't going to happen way back at 24 weeks when we learned Lincoln was breech.  I remember sitting there trying to soak in the last few minutes of being pregnant.  I loved being pregnant, even though my body apparently sucks at being pregnant. 

Well we weren't waiting there for very long as my Dr.'s had decided that it was too dangerous to wait any longer for my food to digest.  When blood pressure gets as high as mine was, they start to worry about it causing a stroke. (so glad they didn't tell me that)  I remember the spinal wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  It's such a strange feeling not being able to move your body.  They brought Tyler in and they started right away.  It wasn't long before Lincoln was born.  I was told not to expect to hear him cry because they feared his lungs were going to be too underdeveloped.  I heard him cry.  I  heard.....him....CRY!  They quickly showed me a quick peek of him before he was put directly into the incubator and whisked off to NICU.  He weighed in at a whopping 3lbs 6.8oz and was 15 3/4 in. long.

Lincoln, right after he was born and before he was hooked up to all his monitors and IV's

So now after a baby is born via c-section, what do they do?  They put you back together.  Well, all of a sudden, I felt like I was going to throw up and I told the anesthesiologist.  (He gave my doctor the look of, "I told you we should've waited until her food was digested), grabbed me a bowl and held my head while I threw up.  Weird thing was, I kept throwing up.  And throwing up, and throwing up.  I later learned that it was a relfex I apparently have to them trying to sew me back up.  Fun huh?  So they would start and then have to wait while I threw up and then have to start all over again.  Finally they saw that it wasn't going to stop so they had to just keep going while I kept, at this point, dry heaving.  (Sorry if you have a weak stomach, you probably shouldn't read any farther).  They finally got me put back together and got me to recovery.

I was told I would be in recovery for a couple hours and then on the way back to my room they would wheel me through the NICU to see Lincoln.  I'm still trying to process what just happened during the surgery and the fact that I'm now a mom, when I have this incredible pain right below my rib cage but above my stomach.  I mean excruciating pain.  I kept asking the nurses what was going on and they had no idea.  It felt like they were just writing it off.  I just remember not being able to get comfortable and not being able to move because I was still numb.  After this I can't really remember a whole lot.  (we found out later it was my liver that was hurting so much.  I had hellp syndrome and my liver enzymes were out of control, making my liver triple in size.)
In recovery, this was right before the liver pain started

Eventually they decided I could leave the recovery room, I remember waking up in the labor and delivery room and really believing that I was still pregnant and still in my original hospital room.  I didn't believe anyone when they told me Lincoln was already born, and then I threw up and fell back to sleep.  It was the mag that was making me hallucinate and throw up so much.  I remember the nurses bringing Lincoln out of the NICU to see me and for me to hold him for the first time (this is unheard of, for babies in the NICU but Lincoln was doing THAT well!)  I remember how much effort it took to sit up and hold him.  I remember having to hand him off to Tyler after only a couple minutes because I had to throw up again.  I remember feeling no connection to him.  I hate typing that because that just breaks my heart but I was on so many drugs to keep me alive, that I was in no way, shape or form in my right mind at that point. 

Me holding my precious Lincoln for the first time....I threw up right after this picture.

After that, I was throwing up so much that I wouldn't let someone take my bucket from me without giving me another one.  I remember throwing up on myself and not being able to move or do anything about it.  My nurses were amazing and changed my bedding and gown without getting me out of bed.

I got updates daily about my platelet levels, kidney levels and liver enzyme levels.  My blood pressure was being constantly monitored (which every time the cuff tighten I swore my hand was going to explode from all the swelling) They took 3+ vials of blood every 4 hours for 4 days to keep track of my numbers.  My arms were so bruised and swollen, it was hard getting harder and harder for them to find new places to poke me.

It got a lot worse than this but, you get the idea

Lincoln was born Monday morning at 12:56am and I didn't get out of bed until the following Friday.  A sweet nurse came and washed my hair for me one of the days (not sure which).  Slowly my numbers were turning the corner.  My first time to go see Lincoln in the NICU, the nurse went too fast pushing me in the wheelchair and I yelled at her to stop because I was going to get sick.  It was like my body had to relearn how to adjust to movement again. 

My first time to the NICU (2 1/2 days after Lincoln was born)

 First time to the NICU

All the while I desperately wanted to pump so my son had the best nutrition offered to him.  I got hardly anything.  I kept trying and kept trying, it took over 2 weeks for my milk to come in.  Slowly I regained strength.  All my muscle was gone.  I literally had to relearn how to walk.  I got good at walking behind my wheelchair down to the NICU to see Lincoln.  It was just down the hall and it took every ounce of energy I had.

I was released from the hospital a week after Lincoln was born.  I had to leave the hospital without my baby.  If our situation had been different, I would say how hard it would be to leave the hospital without your baby but I was prepared.  I knew since day 1 after my water broke that he would require a NICU stay so I had been able to mentally prepare myself for that.  Yes it was still sad but I was in no shape to be taking care of a newborn baby anyway so it was a blessing in disguise I guess.

The next 6 weeks my life revolved around getting my strength back and whenever my body was physically capable, being at the hospital with my baby.  Now, don't go thinking, "well at least you were able to get some good sleep and be well rested before Lincoln came home," nope.  I was up every 2-3 hours to pump in the middle of the night and throughout my day.  It was like I had a newborn but no baby.  It was really hard but so worth it.

So that's Lincoln's birth story.  I had to come to the conclusion that it DOESN'T define me.  My c-section doesn't define me.  The fact that I wasn't able to breastfeed my baby doesn't define me.  This has been a hard conclusion to reach but I've reached it.  For so long I felt worthless and that I let my baby down.  I had so many articles and research thrown in my face about how c-sections are bad and if you don't breastfeed your baby you are a horrible mother etc.  It was hard but it doesn't define me.  My worth is found in Christ alone, not how I birthed or fed my baby. 

This story is just a part of the bigger story of our lives.  He and I went through a lot but I learned so much through it and I've seen numerous ways how God has used it in my life. I am thankful, everyday. 

If you want to read more, here are some links:


  1. wow! what a story! at first when i had my c-section, i felt like i was less of a mother than those who had a vaginal delivery. but i soon came to the realization that in order to have a healthy babe, we only had one choice. (i still have dreams to have a VBAC in the future....if my body will let me)

    to think you and lincoln have come such a long way is so amazing! what a might God we serve :)

  2. thank you for sharing! your story is inspiring! i think all birth stories should be told, you never know you you might affect :) as far as not bf, you definately were able to breastfeed your baby! (breastfeeding is more than just a breat to pumped and your baby reaped the benefits!) i LOVE how you dont let any of that define you! thank you for sharing :)

  3. Marie! What courage you have. I had no idea how hard this all was for you besides the obvious things that most of us knew. You are so gracious. I didn't know how disturbed you were by not being able to breastfeed, or that having the C-section was such a disappointment, though I definitely understand the latter because of my C-section with Jeremy and Kendra. I am so glad you stated that your worth is found in Christ. Look how HE has defined all this: He defined it by saving your baby's life, by saving your life, and by bestowing on you a depth of love for your son that others will never approach. How's that for a defining of your worth, all nested within His gracious, miraculous, life-giving Spirit! You are awesome, Marie, and I'll bet many others did not know your struggles. I'm glad you shared them, because out there is someone else who needs you as a confidant and a comforter. Because of your experiences I think you have a better depth of understanding of how Christ suffered for His children. What an awesome legacy you have endured and also created for Lincoln. Blessings to all of you!

  4. what a story, marie - he is a miracle indeed.

  5. Oh man, the memories. . . you both are miracles! Praise God! And DANG girl, you rock at being pregnant! You held on for so much longer than you should have been able to. . . and you gave birth to such a strong preemie for his age! You rock at nursing. . . not many of us could've done what you did. It's fairly easy for most people to give their babies mama's milk. You went way above and beyond friend! Don't sell yourself short, you did an amazing job with everything!

  6. Marie, you are inspiration to all of us! :) I remember being so shocked when I read Hope's facebook status on that Monday because I had just talked to you the day before and everything was fine!! So proud of you, your courage, and your faith. Love you!

  7. looking at this with new eyes marie...not gonna lie, i'd love to have a few words with those B's who pushed breastfeeding/C-section dogma in your face. :( :( BOO FOR CRAZY MOMS. you are an incredible woman and an incredible mama...and being a mom should and will never define you. you're you, a woman, MARIE, first! and you rock! lincoln may not have had breast milk, but he has a mama who is STRONG and walks with jesus! i'd take the latter if i had to choose. love ya.

  8. Wow - I've never heard anyone say EXACTLY what I've struggled to find peace with since birthing my baby 5 months ago. I had pre-eclampsia and a traumatic, unnatural vaginal delivery, which turned into post-partum pre-eclampsia and I couldn't take care of my baby or myself for two weeks. The meds that were keeping my blood pressure down and getting the fluid out of my lungs killed my milk supply. I had some very unsupportive people who pushed a lot of stupid research at me about breastfeeding, etc. Hate that you went through this, but wow... it was so comforting to read this blog and know I'm not the only one who has struggled. Praying for a drama free birth and recovery for you with baby #2!