Last summer we had new neighbors move in. Being in a postpartum fog & being wrapped up in all Little Kid's feeding issues, I honestly wasn't very neighborly and never went over to introduce myself. It wasn't until Halloween that I really meet our new neighbors and wait- they have a tiny baby! How did Doula Danielle miss that? Randi and I hit it off right away and shared our breastfeeding difficulties. Later on she shared her birth story with me. To say Randi and her husband went through a lot is an under statement. When I asked for women looking to share their stories and I was thrilled she wanted to share.
Well there are many scary moments in her story, it ends with an incredibly happy ending. For those with preemie babies or a long NICU stay, this story might have some triggers. But I think it's such an important story to share. Also it is a dedication to what strong wonderful mothers we are! And how important it is to listen to your body and trust yourself.
I found out I was pregnant on January 26, 2017. It was as early as you could find out. I took a pregnancy test as I was getting ready for work. I was surpised I was actually pregnant. I took 3 tests to make sure. Driving to work I felt excited, scared, it felt surreal.
My pregnancy was actually very easy. I had no morning sickness, no real food aversions. I loved and appreciated every day I was pregnant, especially when I could start to feel the little guy moving around. It was the first time in my life I felt comfortable gaining weight, it was for a purpose and it felt freeing. By the third trimester, sleeping of course got harder. As my pregnancy progressed my platelet counts started to decrease. I was sent to a hematologist and the doctors started to tell me if the count continues at what it was or lower I would run the risk of not having an epidural as an option and potentially worse if the numbers got really low. I started to mentally prepare myself, through mediation and looking into hypnobirthing, for natural delivery.
With all the mental preparation I had done, I sadly didn't experience any labor. The days leading up to Ryan's birth I was away at a work retreat at Mohonk Mountain House. I was 34 weeks and a few days. The day before Ryan was born, that morning I found a beautiful spot by the lake and meditated. All my mediations during that period of time focused on preparing myself for the birth. I remember the meditation that morning, I set the intention to be open to whatever my birth story would be, for mine and baby's highest and greatest good. I had no idea what was to come. Later that day I did a light hike up Mohonk mountain. I came home mentally and physically tired from the retreat. I went to bed and woke up at about 2am with a dull ache in my lower back and lower abdomen. I figured I had overworked myself on the hike. I started to stretch and changed positions. I went into the living room. The ache wouldn't go away. During this, I kept trying to feel Ryan move in my belly. He was right at the forefront of my belly. But he wasn't really moving. When he was sleeping I felt bad to move him around, to not disturb him. So I ate and drank water, then laid down to see if he'd move. But he didn't. Finally, I started to push him a bit. I felt something slight, but it just didn't feel normal. I felt really anxious something was wrong. So I decided to wake my husband. Tim was calm, but we both agreed I should call the doctor. I called the my doctor office, and it was the answering service since it was now roughly 4am. I told them my concerns and they said they'd call the doctor, who would call me. As I awaited the doctors call, which felt like eternity, I all of a sudden felt the urge to use the bathroom (number 2). I used the bathroom and while still there all of a sudden there was a rush of fluid. I looked down and it was blood. Panic took over me. I screamed out to Tim. I called the doctor answering service again, this time with panic in my voice. The woman patched me through to the doctor immediately, who told me get to the hospital. I felt frantic and overwhelmed. Neither Tim or I had a bag packed. We got dressed and ran to the car. The first few minutes in the car I were spent with me hyperventilating and Tim telling me to relax. Relax?! I was able to regulate my breathing. But I couldn't regulate my intense fear that that morning wasn't going to end well. We didn't talk much in the car, it was the longest drive of our lives. My hand remained on my stomach where I could feel Ryan the entire drive, hoping so hard that I would feel him move. But I didn't. We got to the hospital at 5:40am. We knew exactly where to go and what to do, because we had taken a birthing class when I was 6 months pregnant. Every minute counted. When I got out of the car, another rush of blood. We got upstairs to triage. I was hooked up to the machines by 5:42am. A weight was lifted, Ryan had a heart rate. It was 158. Tim stood in the corner watching the heart rate. He later told me he could see it dropping. My doctor came in shortly after I arrived. Of course, this was the only doctor I didn't meet of the 8 providers at the practice. As soon as she came in, she saw the blood and Ryan's heart rate and called a crash. Emergency c-section. All of a sudden, a rush of staff came in. Panic came over me again, Tim who was calm the whole time, now visibly was scared. The anaestheologist was talking to me, but I couldn't process anything he said. I said what about my low platelets? The doctor expressed that wasn't their concern at that time. All of a sudden they started rolling me out, with no chance to hug and kiss Tim. We looked at each other and said “I love you”. Tim was left in the room by himself, he said for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, they rolled me into surgery. I was so scared, shaking. I was saying “oh my god”, “oh Shit”, but none of the staff said a word to me. They were all working frantically around me, moving my limbs. No one saying anything to me. Almost like I wasn't even in the room. I understand why they were the way they were, but it's still not easing when you're on my end. They put a mask on me to put me out (which is why Tim couldn't be in the room). All of a sudden I felt something go across my abdomen. I moved and said something. A staff member said something about starting, then all of a sudden I was out. I was told I was rolled into surgery at 6am and at 6:07am, Ryan was pulled from me and born into this world. I was, obviously, later told that Ryan wasn't breathing when he was born. They had to do a couple of mouth to mouth resuscitations and he came too. He was sent to the NICU. I remained under and open. They had to complete an x-ray on me before closing me to make sure they didn't leave any instruments, since they didn't have time to count the equipment before the c-section.
I don't remember much of that day, I was heavily drugged. Tim said he saw me in recovery about 2 hours after they rolled me out. He said I was the only one in the room, but didn't realize it was me. Over the course of the day (and days to follow) we were given more details as to what happened. They said I had a 100% placental abruption. Something quite rare. They had no idea why and to this day we still have no idea why. The nurse who triaged me, came to visit later that day. She said what happened to me is stuff you learn about in school, but don't usually see and don't ever want to see. She cried with me and Tim,and told us Ryan was a miracle. One of the other nurses in the surgery room said she'd done this work for 22 years and never saw a c-section happen this fast. We were also told another nurse posted on facebook that day that she witnessed a miracle at work. They said if we came in a few minutes later, we would have had a different outcome.
I didn't get to meet Ryan until about 4:30pm the day he was born. I was in such pain from what happened, but I couldn't wait to meet my son. Tim rolled me over in the wheelchair to the NICU. And there he was in the isolete, hooked up to all these wires/machines. I didn't care, he was here and alive. I cried. Ryan stayed in the NICU for 2 weeks and 2 days. We liked most of the NICU nurses that took care of Ryan, but one stood out for us inparticular. We truly appreciated what they all did for Ryan. He really had been progressing well. He had a slight slip back, but he proved to us how strong he is and the will for life he has. And we are beyond grateful to my doctor and the Vassar triage team that saved Ryan's life that morning.
Ryan is now 7, almost 8 months old. He continues to prove how strong he is. He's a happy and ADORABLE baby. I've talked a lot about what happened the day Ryan was born, with Tim, and with anyone else willing to listen. When I look back, it all really seems like a dream that didn't happen. It happened so fast, but was so intense in that short period of time. I've talked about it a lot, because I need too. Which is why I do this blog. Part of me wants to re-live the miracle that happened. Why did the stars align just right for Ryan and for me? What was the purpose of what happened and of the outcome? I need to process this still after so many months. It feels like it's something I'll be processing for the rest of my life. What an odd experience to have something so traumatic happen, but it ended well. Since Ryan's birth, I've heard numerous stories about other women who've had abruptions and the ending was totally different for both the child and the mother. I still am unable to process, and don't know if I ever really want to process, what could have happened to me. I struggled for a short while with PTSD and had so many thoughts of what if. Sometimes I still think that, but I can't let myself go down that path. I let the feeling pass and feel grateful for Ryan, his health, as well as my health. I've also dealt with feelings of loss that I never got to experience labor, to experience what mother nature intended. I still grieve over the fact I didn't have a choice. The same goes with my struggle with breastfeeding Ryan. But I again remind myself of my gratitude that me and Ryan are here and healthy.
In a nutshell I'd have to say to mommies-to-be, listen to your body. Trust your instincts and act on anything that doesn't feel right to you. Only you can advocate for yourself and for the child you're carrying. I would also say if things don't go the way you hoped, try your best to not shame or guilt yourself, be open to the process. There's help and support out there. Over the years I've utilized therapists for anxiety/depression. After my birthing experience, my therapist came to my house to meet me to help process what happened. I am so incredibly grateful to her for all the support and guidance she's given me over the years. For introducing me to my meditation practice, which prepared me for this journey. For the support she gave me after Ryan was born. I also encourage reaching out to your loved ones. My heart explodes thinking about the support I got and was open too from my family and close friends. But first and foremost, my husband Tim. As cliché as it sounds, he is truly my rock. He was and has been absolutely fantastic through out everything. I am incredibly fortunate to call this man my life partner and father to our son.
To the mommies and the mommies-to-be that have or will experience any kind of struggle with coping with any part of their journey through pregnancy, the birth and the whirlwind after the birth, or anyone reading this, I'll end with a quote, “In order to heal you have to allow yourself to be broken. You can't always put on the brave face. And you shouldn't feel like you have to. It's wrong that there's this expectation in the air to always be okay, to always feel on top. Life just isn't like that. You can't always speed up your recovery, your healing, your faith in life once again. Anything precious takes time. So go easy, sweet soul. Everything you feel is valid. Trusting the journey is about allowing those moments of weakness too.”- SC Lourie
I'm so thankful for Randi sharing her story! Not only do I have an amazing neighbor, but a great new friend. Watching her with Ryan I can see the love she has for him and the lengths she goes to do what is best for him. She is a strong amazing women, who I look up to.
Hi I am Danielle. I am a doula, childbirth educator, placenta encapsulation specialist, mother, wife & passionate about birth in the Dutchess, Westchester, Rockland & Orange County, NY area.
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Danielle Bianco, (She/Her)
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