My Birth Story

Rebecca, we need to take the baby. Right now.

I had, what I would consider, a textbook pregnancy. We had been trying for over a year and had suffered loss, so to say I was a little cautious and apprehensive when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter is putting it lightly. I wanted to make the right choices and follow all of the “rules” and for the 39 weeks that I carried her, I did. I took my prenatal vitamins, stayed active, made healthy food choices, and cut caffeine cold turkey (even though I knew small amounts of caffeine was perfectly safe). Sure I indulged occasionally, but I was never healthier than I was when I was pregnant. Over those 39 weeks, the consensus was the same at each doctor’s appointment: She was healthy, growing, had a strong and steady heartbeat, and all tests for her checked out perfectly. So, when my water broke on July 25th, 2018, I was ready. We were ready.

My water broke at 3:10 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom and when I stood up, it was as if someone was popping a water filled balloon. All I managed to say was, “Oh my God.” My husband woke up in a panic asking me what was wrong and I just simply told him my water broke. I was calm and relaxed and feeling excited because I was finally going to meet my baby girl. Dave was less calm. Lol. Watching him run around trying to pack a bag (that I had told him to pack weeks prior), was pretty entertaining. I leisurely brushed my teeth and got changed, grabbed my bags that were already packed, and went to get my phone to call the hospital and my doctor.

After a brief conversation with the doctor, I decided we would wait at home for a while because I knew we had time based on the timing of my contractions. My doctor told me to make sure I was monitoring the baby’s movements because she should have been more active than ever. If he hadn’t told me that, I am not sure what the outcome could have been. The truth is, from the time my water broke to the time we got to the hospital, I only felt her move once. It was so unlike her; she was a very active baby in the womb. Dave was the one who pushed for us to go to the hospital when we did because he wanted to be on the safe side of things. I am so thankful he did.

After we arrived at the hospital and got checked in, they took me to triage for the initial work-up. Within minutes, the nurses were on edge. They started telling me to roll on my side and kept having me switch positions. My little one’s heartbeat was low, very low. At one point her heart rate dropped to 50 BPM and one of the nurses left to call my doctor. After several position changes and an oxygen mask placed on my face, her heart rate was back up to a decent rate and everyone calmed down.

They took me to the room where I would deliver and instructed me to stay on my side and leave the oxygen mask on my face for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t a comfortable position to be in, especially with my contractions becoming closer together. The nurses were in and out of my room frequently, checking on her progress. Each time a nurse came in and looked at the fetal monitoring paperwork, they would show me where things weren’t progressing the way they wanted. Her heart rate was all over the place and each time I had a contraction, her heart rate would dip lower. I stayed as calm as possible and just continued doing as I was told, hoping that things would even out and that we would labor naturally and get back on track to having this baby. Unfortunately, my little one had other plans for me.

I had just told Dave to make the calls to our families that I was at the hospital. The plan was to keep them updated and have them come to the hospital once I was dilated a bit more. Dave was on the phone with my mom when a nurse and my doctor came in to check on my progress. After several hours, I was only 2 cm dilated. They reviewed the seemingly endless printing paperwork coming from the fetal monitoring machine and didn’t seem too thrilled with what they were looking at but my doctor said she would be back soon to check on me and started to leave. Just as she reached the door, the nurse called out to her and told her to come back and look at what was happening. I was having another contraction and apparently my little one’s heart rate dropped drastically. That’s when the doctor looked at me and said the one sentence I am still having nightmares about:

Rebecca, we need to take the baby. Right now.

That was it. The nurse pushed a button and medical staff started pouring into my room. There was no explanation and no dialogue other than my doctor instructing everyone on what to do. I had so many hands on me as nurses were sticking things on my body, inserting IV lines, and moving me to a portable bed. It all happened very quickly. I managed to look over at Dave as he hung up the phone mid-sentence and saw him suiting up to accompany me to the OR. We didn’t even make eye contact as I was being pushed out of the room; nothing was said between us because there just wasn’t any time.

They pushed me into the OR and there were a ton of people already in the room. It was cold, the lights were incredibly bright, and every single person in that room was running around, gearing up, and getting things ready. It was an organized chaos all around me and my body was being pulled and tugged in every direction as I listened to my doctor yell out instructions to everyone. I can’t really describe my feelings in that moment. I was confused, I had so many questions, and I was scared. For the first time, I was really scared. Terrified actually. It was all happening so fast. They were all communicating with each other but nobody was really talking to me. I had no idea what was happening or why (it was all explained to me after the fact). The medical staff worked like a well-oiled machine which I am forever grateful for. But it was an awful feeling not knowing anything.

As they transferred me to the operating table (metal slab is more accurate), one of the nurses told another to roll me over for the epidural. I heard my doctor say, “No. There’s no time for that. Get her under now. We need to take the baby.” At this point I am looking to anyone for some guidance and comfort. I was so cold and shaking so hard that my teeth were chattering, and I felt so alone. I remember asking where my husband was as they put the mask over my face and I was told that he wasn’t allowed in the room. That’s when I finally broke. Up until that moment I had kept my shit together, but that was it. The tears started falling and, in that moment, a doctor took my hand. I don’t know her name, but I wish I did. She was my angel in the OR. She leaned over and said, “Rebecca, I am the in-house doctor. Look at me. Focus on me and look into my eyes. I am here. Everything is going to be ok; we are going to take care of you both. Just stay with me.” And I did. I have never searched someone’s eyes like I did in that moment. I was filled with so much fear and I needed something, anything, to hold onto. The last thing I remember is saying a silent prayer and then I was asleep.

My daughter was brought into this world at 1:29 p.m. on July 25th. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice. I didn’t get to witness her coming into this life but I am told she passed all of her tests with flying colors in those first moments of life. She was healthy and strong. She got to feel her daddy’s arms first and spent the first several hours of her life with him as I was still on the operating table.

I was in surgery for hours due to internal bleeding from two ruptured arteries. From what I have been told, two doctors stood on either side of me and each held an artery closed for over an hour while they waited for a specialist to come in to try and stop the bleeding because they couldn’t. I lost over 1/3 of blood in the process. Thankfully, the specialist was able to get things under control and stop the bleeding. Apparently, my uterine walls were completely broken down. When they opened me up they said everything looked as if I had been pushing and in labor for over twelve hours. The tissue was disintegrated which didn’t make sense because I only labored with contractions for a few hours and never pushed. I was only the third case in twenty-five years where this had been seen and they have no explanation for it. Yay me! Lol.

I woke up from surgery alone. There was a nurse standing over me and all I kept saying was, “Where is my daughter?” They ensured me she was safe and with Dave but I was so on edge. I was agitated because my brain felt foggy and I was trying to piece together what had happened. I was wheeled to my room where my doctor met me to discuss everything about the surgery. I didn’t care to really listen because I just wanted my baby. I can’t really describe that feeling either. It’s a feeling of hopelessness, confusion, panic. I just kept asking where she was and my doctor said that Dave would be bringing her to me shortly. But I wanted her right then and there. I had already been awake for over thirty minutes and I hadn’t even met my daughter.

I think that has been the hardest thing for me in all of this. The entire experience was nerve racking and stressful. Not having Dave next to me, not being able to say I love you before I was taken away, the feeling of complete and utter aloneness as I was being put under, all of it was awful. But not being able to watch my daughter come into this world and hold her in those first moments has been hardest of all. It was all like a dream, really. I went to sleep pregnant and I woke up not pregnant. I woke up and had no idea where she was or if she was ok. I woke up and she was no longer curled up nice and warm in my belly; nestled right under my heart. And I didn’t get to experience the first moments of skin-to-skin bonding with her and that was so very important to me.. I’m not sure the depth of my feelings could ever really be put into words because they are just so raw and deep. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

When I finally got to hold her for the first time I was so overwhelmed with it all. I wanted to be alone with her. I wanted the world to stop so I could get back what I felt I had lost. I sadly needed assistance holding her at first because I was so weak from the blood loss and the drugs had me in la la land. But I finally had her in my arms and I got to see for myself that she was ok. It was the single greatest moment of my life. To look down into her little face after carrying her with me for 39 weeks was incredible. She was my entire world. Everything that had happened didn’t matter in that moment.

I started writing this weeks ago and I am just now at a place where I am ready to share my experience with the world. I wasn’t even sure I was going to because it was such a personal experience for me and I don’t like feeling vulnerable. But I am sure there are many mamas out there that have had their own scary experiences and I wanted them to know they aren’t alone. And writing it all down has helped me cope better with everything we went through. I am just so thankful for my beautiful, strong, and healthy little girl. We are extremely blessed.

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6 Healthy (and Easy!) Pregnancy Snacks

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Eating healthy is something we should all do but I am very much a flawed human being and I like carbs, and sugar, and Moscow Mules… You get the point. But this whole pregnancy thing means I should be extra conscious of what I am putting into my body. It’s not just me after all and I am kind of responsible for the growth and health of this little bean for almost 10 whole months.

The first 12 weeks were hard for me because I couldn’t even think of food without wanting to vomit. But after I got over the initial “food is enemy” phase, I kicked my butt into gear and started thinking about all the ways I could add nutrients to me and Baby T.

I find that I am ravenous in the mornings. Which is so not normal for me because I have never been big on breakfast. But now I wake up and want to eat all the food. I find that I am less hungry around lunchtime and dinnertime is a complete crapshoot for me. Some nights I am starving and other nights I just really have no desire to eat. This yo-yo appetite isn’t the best for baby so I have started buying/making smaller snacks that I can eat throughout the day. The key is making sure they are healthy and filled with nutrients but I also need them to be yummy.

Here are my go to healthy pregnancy snacks.

Apple and Cheese

We know we should stay away from soft cheeses but there is nothing wrong with a hard cheese like Cheddar or Monterey Jack. Snacking on an apple and cheese can give you the much needed fiber and calcium you may be missing. I love a Granny Smith Apple with some Sharp Cheddar. Check out Wegman’s or your local grocery store for the single snack size cheese packs. They make it so easy!!

Fruit and Cottage Cheese

I keep a tub of Cottage Cheese at work and usually pick up whatever fruit I am feeling when grocery shopping to add to it for a quick snack. I prefer strawberries usually but occasionally I will grab blueberries or pre-cut mango chunks from Wegmans to throw on top. If I am really tired, I will buy those 100 calorie Breakstone Cottage Doubles so I can grab and go without the added fuss. Fresh fruit is always a better option but I am not opposed to easy. This snack can offer a great source of calcium, folate, and protein.

Hummus and Carrots

Pick and choose your favorite fresh veggies but I almost always reach for baby carrots. Wegman’s (clearly my fave grocery store), carries to go packs of hummus that are super easy to throw in my bag and eat on the run. It is one of my favorite work snacks and with all of the different flavors Wegman’s carries, I haven’t gotten bored with it yet. Hummus and Carrots can provide fiber, iron, Vitamin B6, and protein to name a few very important nutrients you and baby need. But don’t stop there! Throw in some broccoli, tomatoes, celery… Whatever your stomach desires.

Banana and Yogurt

So this is kind of my go to breakfast. These days it isn’t enough to fill me up so I have to add another addition, but this is kind of a staple in my diet. I typically eat two bananas and a yogurt of my choice every morning. Most people will tell you to reach for the Greek and they are absolutely correct that it is healthier for you. And while I do buy Greek occasionally, I usually stick to Activia Yogurt because I like the flavors and it’s just enough yogurt for me to feel satisfied. It is still a great source of calcium, it’s a probiotic, and I find other ways to get my protein. Bananas offer a great source of Vitamin B6, B12, and potassium (which can help with that dreaded heartburn).

Egg Sandwich

Oh Eggs… Eggs are known as a magical food that can make everything better. Unfortunately for me, I have never been a huge fan of them. I don’t dislike them but I am also not running to my nearest farm begging for fresh eggs either. However, eggs are an amazing source of Vitamin D which is super important in pregnancy. It helps build your little bean’s immune system, bones, and teeth. Eggs are also a great source of choline which helps with the brain development of your little one.

So I have found the best way for me to consume eggs is on an English Muffin with cheese. Not the absolute healthiest way to eat them but I simply run down to the little café in my building and they whip me up an egg and cheese English Muffin and I am good to go. It’s filling and I am still getting the nutrients I need.

Pickles

I feel like I don’t even need to explain this one. Pickles are delicious. And while they don’t offer too many benefits in the nutrient department, they are extremely low-cal and crunchy and juicy and just so so delicious.

There’s my list! I would love to hear what your favorites are so leave a comment! I am always looking for more yummy foods that can also be considered healthy so I don’t feel so bad when I eat an entire bag of Salt and Vinegar Chips.

Rebecca


First Time Pregnancy and Mommy Advice

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It happens to all first time moms and it’s a tale as old as time. The second you announce to the world that you are pregnant with your first child, every single person who has ever carried and birthed a human being has advice they dish out whether they are asked for it or not. I always knew my day would come but I guess I wasn’t prepared for the amount of unsolicited advice I would receive.

Most people offer advice because they genuinely want to help and I am the kind of person who will listen gracefully and smile my way through it because I know it’s a natural conversation piece when you become pregnant for the first time. This doesn’t mean it isn’t a little frustrating at times.

I will be 32 in August and my little Bambino is due August 1st. I am the oldest of four and I played a huge roll in their infant to childhood upbringing. My youngest brother is 16 so I had all kinds of fun practicing my mom skills on him. I have been surrounded by moms and babies since I was a little girl. And the older I have gotten, the more family and friends have gotten pregnant before me and some are even on their second and third children. I have spent more time at Baby Showers and Kid’s Birthday’s than I have bar hopping. I have always loved kids and I am the first one to offer up my babysitting services to anyone who will hand their little bundle of joy my way.

All of that isn’t to say I am an expert on all things baby and pregnancy. I’m not. But I don’t think anyone ever really is. I have a lot of experience with babies and children. I have changed hundreds of diapers, fed many hungry mouths, been up all hours of the night (baby brother was a screamer), dealt with snotty noses, and even some snotty little brats (they were still cute though). Babies, toddlers, kids, teens… They are all unique and each one carries their own personality and needs. Having a child is definitely like a box of chocolates. You really never know what you are going to get. So I often find it funny how parents think what worked for their children will work for every other single child that comes into this world. It just isn’t realistic.

I have been very mindful over the years to not offer up my two cents or words of advice to expecting mothers or mothers trying to survive their demonic threenager. One, because I didn’t have children of my own yet so why would I list all the things they should/should not do. And, two, because I knew that I would someday want a child of my own and that I would not appreciate anyone telling me what I was doing was “wrong” or “not necessary.” I have carried the same motto over the years when it comes to moms and their children: “Whatever works for you and your babies is all that matters.” And I wholeheartedly stand by that sentiment.

I am well rounded enough to understand that every single one of us are different and that means the way we choose to parent will be different. I think this is a beautiful thing. Your family is your family and as long as you have a happy and healthy child, that’s really what is most important.

Of course, having mommy friends to help you along the way when things seem overwhelming and bleak is also something to give thanks for. I am the first person to ask a question if I have one and there are times I reach out for some wanted advice/mommy faves so I have another perspective. Because perspective is key! If I have a list of things that I want to follow for my child/pregnancy and every single one of those items on my list is a total fail, going to one of my trusted mommy friends for another take on how to do something is a blessing in disguise.

All of the aforementioned applies to first time pregnancy as well. Everyone has an opinion on what you should or should not be doing during pregnancy. And there are so many women who think that what they experienced during pregnancy is exactly what every woman experiences. Like how their body reacted or changed is how every woman’s body reacts or changes. This one has made me LOL a few times. I just nod and smile.

So what do you do as a first time mom-to-be? I say take everything with grace and a grain of salt. Some advice will work for you, and some of it will just make you laugh… or shake your fists in a fit of rage while you sit in the Target parking lot crying. The beauty of advice is that you get to pick and choose what works for you, and then let the rest of it go.

This is your life, your pregnancy, your motherhood. Whatever works for you and your babies is all that matters.

Rebecca