Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dear Diary: I'm Done

I just need to vent.
A while back my husband and I ran into a retired physical therapist (she was at a neighbor's who we were visiting). She said she'd seen and worked with quite a few Erb's Palsy babies. "Only the parents that don't do what they're supposed to be doing have children who don't heal the way we hope to see." Yeah... I wish.
Well, I worked my fncking @ss off everyday for 5 months doing therapy with Colsen AT LEAST 3x a day. I worried about him and which motions I was forgetting and how many reps we'd done and how many times a day we'd done it. Then he had his surgery at 6 months. (the first month he had a broken clavicle and we were instructed to keep his arm pinned up and still.) The pediatric neurosurgeon doctor said, "He should be back to where he was just before the surgery by 3 months post-op."
I'm killing myself (not literally) because I give up. I feel awful and guilty, but I can't drive myself crazy doing all this for nothing. It's not working.
I give up. I want to ENJOY my baby. Not worry about him 24/7. I am struggling. My brain is playing tricks on me. I'm depressed. I have gender disappointment. I have PTSD. My brain says, "Put him up for adoption so a stronger family can help him and love him the way he deserves."
We're going to St. Louis to see Dr. Park tomorrow. It's bringing back all the feelings. I'm just so done with this. I'm done with the stress. I'm done with the financial struggle. I'm done with the "Was the surgery successful?" questions. I'm done with the physical therapy. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lilly Bridge History and Explosion

     Today, on the 15th of November, 2015, the old Lilly Bridge was demolished. What an event for all the people of Summers County! Our map is changed by approx 60 ft. This bridge was the link between Hinton and Pipestem, WV.
     It was built in the early 1900's before the Bluestone Dam. The Lilly Bridge was named after Robert and Frances Lilly who moved from Dublin Pulaski, Virginia to settle here in the 1700's - 1800's (different info from different sources.). Their new home soon became a town, Lilly.

"Lilly continued to thrive until the mid 1900s when the construction of the Bluestone Dam began. Construction calculations predicted Lilly would be underwater, and residents were forced to move. Cemeteries were exhumed and moved to new locations. Buildings, churches, and homes were all destroyed or moved to new locations. A few of their foundations still remain, offering a tangible link to the families who once struggled to survive here. While walking through the old settlement of Lilly today you can still see foundations of old structures scattered throughout the area, or a coal bucket laying on the ground offering one of the only clues that a once thriving community was based here."

Here you can see a compilation of photos and videos of the bridges history and destruction:
Lives were lost during the construction of the Lilly Bridge with this horrific incident.

A view going toward Pipestem from Hinton just before the construction of the new bridge began.
Photo by Loyd Lowry 
Photos of the details of the bridge can be found here. Due to copyright, I cannot post any of the photos on the blog, however, I urge you to click this link.

Crossing the Lilly Bridge in both directions June 13, 2015. Thank you for this video, Matt Nowak. Check out his website,

Check out these cool videos of the demolition!

BRIDGE DEMOLITION! Check out this video of the historic Lilly Bridge in Hinton coming down today! That story and more tonight on 59 News
Posted by WVNS 59News on Sunday, November 15, 2015
Here is another view of the demolition by Seth Gatewood.

Lilly bridge goes bye bye
Posted by Robert Moretto on Sunday, November 15, 2015

Just Wow! the take down of the old Bluestone " Lilly Bridge" this morning. Be sure to turn on sound for full viewing pleasure. Thanks Leah Zellmer and Jason White for sharing!--Courtesy of Bluestone Lake Marina
Posted by Carolyn Aust-Vance on Sunday, November 15, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Wondering About Camelot

     Thinking back to my Camelot days. I miss a lot of people. I wish I could just see how they're doing. I wonder about what happened after I left. I wonder about that day and about those people I didn't get to say goodbye to. I wonder about the woman who treated us like family. I wonder if she got in trouble for being the only family we had. I wonder about the rest of the employees who treated us with respect. I wonder about the girl who was too much for even Camelot to handle. I wonder what happened to the homeless girl. I wonder what happened to my friends. I wonder what happened to the youngest girls. I wonder what happened to the elementary kids. I wonder if Camelot is even still open. I hope they got shut down. I wonder how the best therapist is doing. I wonder how the girl is doing who risked her job by giving me a full hug the night I found out my dad was NOT on his way to come get me even though I was dismissed. I wonder what happened to the girl who wouldn't take a shower. I wonder what happened to my roommate. I wonder what happened to my WV girls. I wonder what happened......
     Wondering makes no progress. I have no idea why I started thinking about Camelot tonight, but I did. You know the WORST thing about that place? No hugs. Only side-hugs. So now... when I'm upset and I can't get a hug, it hurts. It is a trigger. I can't handle not being able to have a hug. It puts me in a dark place. It's awful. I thank god my baby will give me a hug when my husband won't. I don't think putting 30 girls on the exact same medication and diagnosing us all with the exact same things is going to make everything better. Did we all show the same behavior? No. We're different people. How about you treat us like it. PEOPLE. INDIVIDUALS. HUMANS.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week 2015

     Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week is October 18-25. During this week, I, and several other people affected by brachial plexus injuries work extra hard to spread awareness. I am passionate about sharing awareness for a couple of different reasons. 1) AWARENESS - I had never even heard of a brachial plexus before my son was born, much less on how to prevent a brachial plexus injury. 2) Acceptance - I want people to know about the condition, what it means, and how they can help so that they can still see my son as Colsen, not "the boy with an injured arm."
     This week, what I am doing to help raise awareness is tagging images with an "Erb's Palsy Awareness" ribbon. I'm doing these for anyone who wants one. I hope to make at least 100, and I love to see them used as a profile picture on Facebook... or anywhere.
     So what IS a brachial plexus injury? A brachial plexus injury is an injury that happens to the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus consists of a bundle of nerves located on each side of your spine near the collarbone. The injury is caused when nerves of the brachial plexus are stretched.
     What does this mean? When the nerves are damaged, there are a variety of things could happen.
Depending the severity and individuality, the arm  could be paralyzed, numb, tingly, painful, etc... Often you'll see children with a "waiter's tip."
     There are different kinds of brachial plexus injuries. Obstetric brachial plexus injuries are brachial plexus injuries that happen at birth. - often associated with shoulder dystocia and/or incompetent OBGYNs. OBPIs usually heal within the first couple years with the assistance of physical therapy.
     Traumatic brachial plexus injuries are brachial plexus injuries that happen later in life. These are sometimes related to motorcycle accidents. Traumatic brachial plexus injuries are much less likely to heal.
     How can we prevent an obstetric brachial plexus injury from happening? Since most obstetric brachial plexus injuries happen with shoulder dystocias, our goal is to prevent a shoulder dystocia. Talk to your doctor. Ask him how often he comes across shoulder dystocias and his way of releasing the dystocias and ask about ways to prevent it from happening. Do not give birth on your back. This decreases the vaginal walls by up to 30% increasing your risks of a shoulder dystocia.
     If you'd like to help spread awareness, feel free to share this post and/or some of the photos provided. These are NOT my property. I've seen them around the Internet and collected them over time.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Austin's Birth Story

     This blog post and birth story are provided by a sweet fellow brachial plexus mama. Thank you Melanie Jesuele for sharing your story and Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness. You rock!

     I had a normal and super healthy pregnancy, I ate clean and worked out until I was in labor (literally) and gained the "normal 25lbs". With my 1st son I gained 65lbs ate whatever I wanted and stopped working out the day I took the pregnancy test. My l
abor with my first son (not my bpi son) was horrible and long. It was 26hrs and he got stuck for almost 3 hours. Thankfully he was healthy and happy when he finally came out but I promised my self the next time I got pregnant that I would be more health conscious and work out so I had a nice smooth labor.

     Fast forward to 15 months later it is the afternoon of march 27th and I was out to lunch with my best friend and son and she asked me what my biggest fear of labor is and with no hesitation I said something going wrong and something happening to my baby. 

     Later that afternoon I was having bad cramps but chalked it up to Braxton hicks. I had no idea what real contractions felt like because I was induced with my first. A few hours later I still felt pain so I figured I would work out to make the cramps go away I figured there was no way I was in labor because I was just checked the day before and 0cm dilated. The pain still didn't go away and I found my self screaming at my 15 month old for giving me a hug at that point I knew something was wrong. It felt like I needed to poop really bad so I tried and nothing happened so my husband took me to the hospital because by this point my "poop pains were 5 min apart"

     I got to the hospital and the nurse was so mean she pretty much yelled at me for going to the hospital for poop Pains and said labor is a really long process if your not dilated I'm sending you home I was like thanks I know this isn't my 1st rodeo.. but it hurts so bad idk what else to do. 

     I got on the bed and I could tell right away something was wrong they couldn't find my babies heart beat I flipped over like an acrobat and heard nurses and drs coming in and telling me to do things to find the baby or were touching my stomach for what felt like a million years until finally they found him and then rushed me into a room. They were going to do a c section but the anesthesiologist was in Surgery .. it was at that point that my guilt started and I wished I would have demanded one to this day .. once in the room they stabilized my son and gave me an epidural and broke my water and that's where I found out that he was drowning in amniotic fluid had the cord wrapped around his head and i was 6cm dilated (thank you bitch nurse who said I was prob going home that night) and that if I didn't go in when I did that my son would have died. 

     Two hours later the nurses came in again because his heart rate dropped again .. at this point again I regret not asking for a c section .. Instead I asked if it's ok to push him out .. the nurse checked me and said I was at an 8 and one good push could get me to a 10 so I did that one good push and 5 minutes later my baby was out. 7lbs 12oz he never got stuck and he wasn't pulled out. He was healthy and I was told that his right arm was just a little slower than his left and after all that could have happened I didn't care at the time I was like ok no big deal it will catch up.

Austin Alexander Jesuele
Birthday: 3/28/15 12:17am

7lbs 12oz 19 1/2 inches
     Well once I was in the room with him I realized that it didn't move at all. I was pretty much told that it will fix it's self within 3 months and not to move it that it would be ok. I am so happy that my mommy instinct popped in a few weeks later and I knew that wasn't right and that I was able to get us on the right track. I later learned that my story is diff than most .. a Dr didn't hurt my baby, he just came out way to fast and twisted weird and I think the cord wrapped around his neck may have some factor in it. 

     The moral of my birth story is is that it doesn't matter how "healthy" you are or how much you do things right .. anything can still happen and sadly my biggest fear came true. 
     Also to never second guess your self, I should have went to the hospital sooner and I should have asked for those c sections maybe my situation would have been different.. but this is the hand we were dealt and honestly if it wasn't for austin I never would have known how strong I really am and I never would believe that miracles really do happen.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Birth of Colsen - RAW

     It has taken me a while to conjur up the guts to post the good, the bad, and the ugly version of my birth story. This is the raw, un-sugar-coated version. Please be advised that this contains a lot of very personal information and photos.

     After a traumatic birth with my first born child, Trace, in the hospital, I planned, what I had hoped would be, a healing home birth with my second child, Colsen. 

     Pregnancy, and even labor went well. 
     ...until I began to push. Colsen's heart rate began to drop.
     We had to act fast in order to save his life.
 I changed positions. I went from lifting up from a sitting position to push to a hands and knees position. 
     He still wasn't coming, so I had to get on the birthing stool. It was extremely scary. I knew the stool was "the ripper". I had ripped with my first which is where the majority of the trauma came from HIS birth. I pushed while my husband was lying on the nearby bed about to pass out due to the stress. Although he was crowning, the baby STILL wasn't coming.
     My midwife had to work her hands into me, perform Wood's corkscrew maneuver and pull the baby from me. He was quiet, blue, and expressionless.
     While we were preparing for resuscitation, he began to whimper and then cry. He was alive!! ...But not okay.
     During his newborn exam, my midwife realized his arm was paralyzed except he could still make a fist. Unfortunately, due to the double shoulder dystocia she had to release, his neck had been stretched too far which caused him to have a fractured collarbone and a nerve injury also known as a(n) (obstetric) BRACHIAL PLEXUS INJURY. 
     Our midwife did what was necessary to save Colsen's life and we cannot be more thankful that she was there for us.

     Many OBPIs are caused by OBGYNs negligence. I consider myself lucky in knowing that it was GOING TO HAPPEN no matter what or he wouldn't be alive. But it hurts.
     Two births. Neither of which I was in charge of. I was severely hurt both times, and the second time I hurt my son becuase I was unable to do it. I feel my body is incapable of giving birth. *Insert positive affirmations here.*
     Colsen's fractured collarbone (clavicle) healed within 3 weeks of birth, but he still could not move his arm. This is when we were 100% sure he had an OBPI. The doctor and our midwife said this would probably take a year or two to heal. I was in denial. I heard that wrong. That can't be possible. 2 years? Not me. Not my baby. That's far too long. When I finally came to terms with it, it hit hard. I developed the baby blues and post partum depression really bad. Thank goodness I had my placenta capsules. They helped tremendously! After a while the baby blues subsided, but I still suffer with post partum depression.

     Colsen's arm has improved so much since birth, but he has a long way to go. He just had surgery Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. He is still wearing a brace. He doesn't seem to let it get in the way of doing what he wants to do.
     I am excited to start physical therapy again and watch his body heal and improve and do things it never could before, but it still breaks my heart not knowing the future and knowing that he may never be able to spread his arms wide for a big hug. 
     I, on the other hand, as stated above, still suffer with post partum depression. I also have suffered with vaginismus. Vaginismus is vaginal contractions triggered by penetration. It makes penetration of anything excruciatingly painful. It is linked with anxiety, but it is hard to determine which came first. The anxiety or the vaginismus. For a while even I struggled using the bathroom and with sitting in certain positions (even after 10 weeks post partum). This is when I knew I had a problem. I've had to go to physical therapy for this issue. I've cried so many nights over missing my husband and his "loves." Birth has destroyed me emotionally and physically. My body is improving physically, but I will never be able to go back and re-do my first birth and not rip. I will never be able to undo the scar tissue. I will never be able to undo the trauma. I have sooo much scar tissue from my first birth. I didn't rip as bad the second time around when my midwife had her hands in my vagina as I did when the OBGYN  ripped my first baby out of me for no apparent reason. Thank you Dr. Flowers. ;) Please feel free to justify what happened.
     Thankfully though, I have managed to tolerate my husband's penis inside me a few times in the past couple of weeks. This is huge and I think it's worth celebrating. Yay!!!
     Due to having two gone-wrong births that have damaged me so much physically and emotionally, I cannot see myself EVER planning or having an ideal birth. My midwife assures me that this was just a rare and chaotic hiccup and that I AM CAPABLE of giving birth naturally, but I can't even imagine taking the risk again. I'm so scared and broken-hearted.

     What is on top of all of this is that my heart still longs for another little one, a girl. My family isn't complete and I don't know what to do about it. Could I ever even fathom conceiving again? Will I ever heal emotionally even if my family is complete? Will I be fine then? Will I forever long for the perfect birth? 

     I would like to clarify that the care I received from my midwife and all of my birth attendants couldn't have been better during Colsen's birth. I truly believe there is nothing we could've done differently for a better outcome. I love my midwife.
     I would also like to give a special shout out to my birth photographer, owner of Shutter Bloom Photography, who is responsible for all but the last three photos of this post, Brandi Hurley. These pictures are priceless and I'll never be able to pay her for what these are worth. She and I met through our midwife, +Joanna Davis . She was there for me during the birth while 8 months pregnant with her own. How amazing, strong is she? A lot? Yes. Even more. She climbed the giant hill in front of the house with SPD in a SNOW STORM for me. Yes, she's THAT incredible.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

First Day of Pre-K

     FINALLY!!! While other moms sob about sending their babies to school I can finally exhale. FINALLY I can go to appointments without depending on family to watch him. FINALLY I won't have to drag him home with tears streaming down his face for "Nanny." FINALLY he'll eat something other than sugar during the day.
     Trace and I have both been looking forward to this day for a long time. For the first day, Trace got to get on the bus with his best friend who is in the same class. How special is that!?

     We made signs for school because we'll never have this day to do over. Hand prints for keepsake (and pictures.) He chose red and his friend chose purple.

     They were both as excited as ever to get on the bus and go to school.

Later, when they both got off of the bus I was eager to hear about their day and chimed the words, "How was school?" Their response was, "Good." Oh my gosh. How could I forget? Threenagers.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Safe Meds for Breastfeeding Moms

     I sometimes get headaches or belly aches and need something from the medicine cabinet. Who doesn't? I don't want to call the doctor everytime I have a question about a medication and whether or not it is safe to take while I am breastfeeding. Who has time for that?
     I found this really cool tool that can tell you what is and isn't safe. Go to You can type in a medication to search and it will give you many details including, but not limited to, drug levels, effects in breastfed infants, and so on. I found this tool to be VERY useful and informative. If you ever wonder if a medication is okay to take during lactation, definitely go to for a sure, supported, and detailed answer.
     Today, I searched diphenhydramine. This is the Kroger Nighttime Sleep Aid you see above. After gathering information from the site about the medication, I've decided that I will be taking a dose tonight, but that I will not be making a habit of it. 
     Ultimately, the decision is up to you and it is you that needs to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks and make the final call. There is no black and white answer.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Colsen's Bake Sale Prep

     My husband and I have been struggling financially. As much as I hated to, I finally caved and decided to ask for help. I opened up our GoFundMe Page and my best friend has decided to prepare a bake sale for Colsen. She has gone so far above and beyond for me. There is no way

     I'll never be able to express my appreciation to her and to everyone involved with this event. 

        My Nanny is making no-bake cookies. My best friend and her family are cooking and providing, hot dogs, fried apple pies, chili, soda, slaw, bbq sandwiches, and nachos & cheese (and I'm probably forgetting some). My mom has supplied us with brownies and pepperoni rolls. My four year old, Trace, calls them "Mickeroni rolls." Gotta have a little Mickey Mouse branding in there, right? ;)

     Tonight is the last night before the bake sale and we've all been working our @sses off. I hope to goodness that we'll be able to make at least a little profit between tomorrow and Saturday. Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy World Breastfeeding Week

     I am so happy and thankful that I, not only, get to acknowledge breastfeeding holidays, but now I actually also get to participate.
     I formula fed my first to to lack of knowledge and pressure from the hospital nurses not to "starve" my baby. My heart hurt for so long and I felt so much guilt for giving up so easily and formula feeding my son.
     Before I even got pregnant for the second time, I knew I was going to make breastfeeding happen unless I was given IMPOSSIBLE circumstances. I even bought a pump before I got pregnant because I learned that if you can't breastfeed, you may be able to exclusively pump.
     My second son was born and I was in excruciating pain. I couldn't breastfeed. It hurt so bad. I was blistered and chapped after the first 24 hours. The second night I had 30 minutes of sleep in two 15-minute intervals. I couldn't continue like this.
     My back-up system was ready. I have my pump and a couple of bottles that came with it. I even had a few bottles left from my first-born. I pumped through the pain. It was still hard, but I wasn't giving up. I continued to put him to the breast 1-4 times a day and it still hurt so bad. My nipples were taking forever to heal.
     After about five weeks of pumping and healing, I decided this was it. Make it or break it. This is GOING to happen. I decided to switch the process around. Instead of having him to the breast 1-4 times a day, I would be on the pump 1-4 times a day.
     The first time my son had a good latch, my husband was sitting the rocking chair in the corner of the room while the baby and I were on the bed. I looked at him and said, "We did it! He latched!" and I began to cry. I was so happy. After everything we'd been through, it was worth it to have this moment.
     Beyond that point, the baby still had some trouble latching, but I knew it wasn't impossible, and he was learning and we were getting better. After about a week of weaning off of the pump and onto the baby, we did it. We finally made it! We met our goal! We arrived at our destination. He was exclusively breastfeeding!

     What used to hurt and make me jealous now brings me joy. I can participate in International Day To Normalize Breastfeeding and World Breastfeeding Week. I can participate in Latch Ons and so on. It really makes me happy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What is a BPI?

The term Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI) refers to an injury to the complex set of nerves that control the muscles of the fingers, hand, arm, and shoulder. The nerves originate at the spinal cord and are formed in 3 trunks located in the upper shoulder: the upper trunk from spinal cord segments C5 and C6, the middle trunk from segment C7, and the lower trunk from segments C8 and T1. Other Terms for BPI.
Terms used to describe a BPI include Erb's Palsy (an upper trunk injury), Klumpke's Palsy (a lower trunk injury), Brachial Plexus Palsy, Erb-Duchenne Palsy, Horner's Syndrome (when facial nerves are also affected), and "Burners" or "Stingers" (usually associated with sports-related brachial plexus injuries). Torticollis is another term sometimes used in conjunction with brachial plexus injuries.

Types of Injuries

Injuries to the Brachial Plexus can involve:
1. tearing the nerve from the spinal cord (an avulsion)
2. tearing the nerve but not at the spinal cord ( a rupture)
3. scar tissue where an injured nerve has tried to heal putting pressure on the nerve and disrupting signals to the muscles ( a neuroma)
4. stretching but not tearing of the nerve where the nerve is able to heal itself (a praxis).
This a temporary condition where the muscle regains complete function.
Denervated muscle can cause imbalances resulting in muscular and skeletal deformities in the elbow and shoulder. Also, the development of the affected arm can be compromised resulting in a shorter limb.
Injuries to the Brachial Plexus can result in full to partial paralysis of one or both arms with a temporary or, when the nerve cannot completely heal, a life time injury. While compromising muscle function and the ability to grasp, extend, and reach with the affected limb, the injury can also affect physical appearance.

How Injuries Occur

The Brachial Plexus can be damaged in a number of different ways including accidents involving high impact conditions (automobiles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, sports) but most brachial plexus injuries occur during birth with a condition called Shoulder Dystocia (SD). The baby’s shoulder becomes “stuck” against its mother’s pubic bone changing the otherwise normal delivery into an emergency situation. Various SD maneuvers may be used to complete the delivery; but, in the process, excessive force can be applied to the baby’s neck and head resulting in stretching and/or tearing of the Brachial Plexus nerves.
More than one Brachial Plexus trunk can be injured in any of the above conditions, resulting in unique set of nerve injuries for each individual. Thus, diagnosis of the injury requires a careful neurological examination by a brachial plexus specialist to determine which nerves have been affected and the severity of the injury. Such diagnosis should be completed as soon as possible.

Medical Treatment

Brachial plexus injuries are treated with neurosurgery to repair damaged nerves (primary surgery), surgeries to transfer tendons and muscles thereby improving functionality (secondary surgery), physical therapy (PT) to improve strength and range of motion, and occupational therapy (OT) to deal with issues of every day living.

Surgical Treatment

Primary surgeries are usually performed 5-12 months after the injury when it is apparent that the damaged nerves are unable to heal themselves. Secondary surgeries are typically done when skeletal and muscular development has matured to the point where surgical intervention has been demonstrated to be beneficial. This may occur in ages from toddler to adult depending on the injury and the proposed procedure.

The Importance of Therapy

Physical therapy is very important to strengthen partially denervated muscles and other compensating muscles to improve range of motion of the hand, arm, elbow, and shoulder. Also, PT helps to minimize contractures and “freezing” of joints due to under use. Occupational therapy is also important to help with adapting to every day activities such as tying shoes, buttoning clothing, and personal hygiene. Parental participation in PT and OT is necessary to ensure a prescribed regimen is maintained and steady progress is achieved.

The Importance of Medical Experts

The importance of having experienced medical experts treat brachial plexus injuries cannot be over emphasized. The treatment objective is to achieve the maximum possible recovery and that could mean a range of surgical procedures and applicable therapies over a period of time, often years. Specialized surgical and therapy techniques are being used for BPI’s with success. However, surgical procedures (both primary and secondary procedures) used with brachial plexus patients are complex; and, like any medical procedure, can have varied results. An understanding of proposed procedures and their results, use of second opinions, and confidence in the medical practitioner are important considerations for parents and injured adults before initiating a course of treatment.

This post was provided by united brachial plexus network, inc.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bean's Not-Quite Home Birth Story

This blog post is provided by the amazing mommy who writes her own blog, The Cozy Den. She wrote her little's birth story on her own blog and has allowed me to share it on mine. Thank you so much, Catrina!

Tuesday, June 10th, was my little man’s due date. I had been hoping that he would come a little early, though not too early, but he was content to stay in for the allotted 40 weeks. Our midwife said early on that we would go full term like most first time moms, but I was just convinced that he would come a week or two early! 

The day before, Bear and I drove the 6 hour round trip to see our midwife. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks, and they had been getting stronger and more frequent. The morning we went to see our midwife, however, they disappeared almost completely, and I was very disappointed. Both Bean and I did great at our check-up; all of my vitals were fantastic, and Bean’s head was engaged and he was in perfect position. I was happy, but still a little disappointed when our midwife informed me that we could easily go another week or two, as I did not look like a woman about to give birth! On our trip home, I had 7-8 contractions, but they petered off again once I went to bed. 

The next day, they were stronger and more regular than they had been to that date, and by the evening I was having 4-5 contractions an hour, most lasting about a minute or so. I waited a couple hours before calling my midwife; I didn’t want them to calm down again if she was going to make the 3-hour trip. She told me to take some Benadryl and go to bed, and she was going to take a shower and then get on the road. She got to our house at about 1am, checked my vitals, and went to sleep in the guest room. My contractions weren’t picking up any, and she told us to wake her if they did. 

Wednesday morning, Bear had to fill out some paperwork at work and run some errands, which he hadn’t felt comfortable doing before someone was home with me. The contractions had slowed down again, so we just chilled and waited it out. Once Bear got back, we went for a nice long walk with the puppies, and the contractions picked up again. Our midwife suggested I see the Chiropractor to see if that would help move things along. While we were waiting for the Chiropractor to see us, I started doing squats in the adjustment room. Bear laughed at me and told me that it would be at least another week before Bean got here, because there’s no way I’d be able to do that if it was time! The Chiropractor was surprised to see us, said I was about as good as I could be at 40 weeks along, and even felt the baby’s placement and said it couldn’t be better for the home birth we wanted. That night, the contractions still weren’t getting any closer than 10 minutes apart, so another night of Benadryl and sleeping as much as possible before labor started. 

Thursday, our midwife offered to strip my membranes. I had heard about this, but really had no idea what that entailed. It was far more uncomfortable than I had anticipated, but I was so ready for labor to start that I was willing to do pretty much anything she suggested or offered. I rested for a while, and then Bear and I took a walk down the road to see the Chiropractor in his local office. If he was surprised the day before, he was nearly in shock to see us again! That night the contractions were still no closer than 10 minutes apart, so we went to sleep. Midwife offered to go to stay with a local friend for the night, since “a watched pot never boils,” but I honestly did not feel watched at all and was completely comfortable with her being there, so she stayed. 

Friday morning the three of us watched the History Channel and had interesting discussions on religion and other theories. Midwife decided to go out to get a few things she needed, as well as some food. I think she brought me back some flan, but I never had a chance to eat it! 

By late afternoon, the contractions were getting stronger than ever and I was getting uncomfortable. We went to bed about 9, and the contractions were only 4-5 minutes apart. Midwife checked my vitals every hour or so, and I tried to sleep between contractions. About 3:15am, I was in the middle of a contraction and felt a little “pop” in my pelvic region. At first, I thought my water had broken, and waited for the typically talked about “gush”, but never felt it, so I figured it must have been something else. I waited through 2 more contractions before I got up to go to the bathroom. When I stood up, I realized that my water had broken! I made it to the doorway of the bedroom before another contraction hit me and I called Bear over. I told him that he might want to get the midwife up, since my water had broken! Within an hour, the birth pool had been set up and filled, both of the midwife’s assistants were at the house, and the contractions were coming faster.

Everyone was very quiet, except for the mocking bird that still doesn’t know the difference between night and day, and the house was calm and peaceful. I labored in bed as long as I could, kneeling with pillows under my chest, listening to the song I had picked as my labor song. After about 30 minutes, I got sick of the song and turned it off! Shortly after, I asked midwife, “Can I pleeeease get in the pool now?” She told me that I could do anything that I wanted, and I almost jumped in! The warm water was such a relief. Bear held my hands, fed me ice chips, and kept a cool cloth on my neck and face for hours. He was (and is) my rock, my partner, and the best support I could ever hope for. Midwife checked my vitals and baby’s heartbeat regularly, and around 9am she announced that I was at 6cm and that I was progressing beautifully. Bean’s heartbeat was steadily in the 120-140 BPM range, both during and between contractions.

My labor was like nothing I could have imagined. The contractions felt like they came from the deepest part of my being. I did my best to keep my moans and groans in the lowest register possible. I quickly learned the progression of the contractions, and started coaching myself through them. "Another is starting... and it's getting stronger... I can do this. It's peaking and it hurts so bad, but that means it will be over soon." Eventually, the pain became too much for me to talk myself through, and I asked Bear to do it for me. Through each contraction, as I squeezed his hands, he kept his head close to mine, telling me quietly that I could do this, I was strong, it was almost over, that I was doing wonderfully. In all honesty, I felt like a huge baby, especially with the number of times I whined, "Can you just get it out of me?" and, "Is it over yet?" Between contractions, Bear encouraged me to drink my water and even eat a few grapes. I counted time by the sky as it grew bright through the window by the pool.

A little after 11am, my contractions were stacking on top of each other, and the midwife told me we were heading into transition. She said that I was at 8cm, and that my cervix had a bit of a lip that she could slide back to let Bean’s head come through. I decided I wanted to let my cervix dilate completely on it’s own. Midwife checked baby’s heartbeat again, and it was beautiful. She told Bear to get ready to get into the pool, since he wanted to catch the baby, and she stepped out of the room for a minute. At that point, I was reclining in the pool with Bear behind me. Suddenly, I felt a jerk in my stomach. Bear saw it, and said the whole pool moved. I guess my moaning changed, because the midwife was back by my side asking how I felt. I said, “It burns, it hurts so bad.” Labor had certainly been painful to that point, but this was a completely different pain. 

She checked for baby’s heartbeat and couldn’t find it. She had me flip over in the pool to all fours and still couldn’t find his heartbeat. She checked my cervix again and found that it had swollen back down to 6cm. Calmly but firmly, she told me to get out of the pool now. I struggled, as the contractions were right on top of each other at that point. Bear and Midwife got me onto the birth stool, which was right next to the pool. She finally found baby’s heart rate, which during contractions was dropping dangerously low into the 50’s. She immediately turned to her assistants and told one to call 911, and then had the other put the oxygen mask on me. As soon as she said that, I prayed out loud, “God, just give me my baby.” 

My whole labor to that point had been surreal, on a different plane, primal and grounding. As soon as I said my prayer, I was in a completely different space. Part of me was vaguely aware that I could be panicking, but I wasn’t. I was enveloped in God’s peace and love, which continued through Bean’s birth. I could hear the fear in Bear’s voice (his mother had almost lost her life during her cesarean section with him), and I wanted so bad to comfort him, but I had to concentrate all of my energy on Bean. 

As soon as she had given her instructions to her assistants, the midwife and Robert got me onto the couch and on my side to try to slow the contractions. Thankfully, Bean’s heart rate was recovering into the 130’s between contractions. Midwife coached me to breathe through the contractions, to breathe for my baby. The paramedics arrived within minutes, and everything was a whirlwind from there. Midwife rode in the ambulance with me, tracking Bean’s heart rate the whole time, and Bear drove the car right behind us. Midwife kept eye contact with me, constantly reminding me to breathe, and I could feel love and strength emanate from her and fill me. Bean’s heart rate was recovering faster by this point, so that’s what I focused my energy on. Contractions that had moments ago had me near screaming, I was now breathing through with barely a moan or two. Thinking back, God was extremely present with me. I didn't flinch, and was even able to watch, as the paramedic flawlessly placed two IVs in my left arm (I have a terrible fear of needles).

We quickly arrived at the hospital, and I was immediately taken to Labor and Delivery. Midwife stayed by my side, and Bear was there shortly after we arrived. I was informed that they would need to perform an emergency cesarean section, and right away. I was presented with a handful of papers that I was instructed to sign, and was whisked away to the OR. The OB on call, along with a nurse or two, helped me onto the operating table. While the anesthesiologist informed me of the medications she was already beginning to give me, a nurse inserted the catheter while another nurse prepped my stomach for the surgery. I vaguely remember feeling a burning sensation around my IV site, and then nothing.

Bean was born at 12:14pm on June 14, 2014, less than an hour after he decided to flip. His protests on being removed from the womb were heard in the waiting room. It breaks my heart that neither Bear nor I were able to see him being born, but I am so thankful that he was healthy! Bear got to see and hold Bean while I was in recovery, and took some pictures for me so that I could see my beautiful baby boy.

When I woke up, Bear and Midwife were both there. Since we had waited until birth to learn the gender of our child, Bear was super excited to tell me we had a boy! At first I was shocked (I come from a family of 6 girls, no brothers, and have 2 nieces), and then overwhelmed with joy. Shortly after, they wheeled me into our hospital room (hitting every corner and wall on the way, haha!), and I requested a breast pump, as I had been informed that Bean was not to be brought to me for several hours yet. Within a few minutes, Midwife entered the room and announced, “Well, we weren’t able to find a breast pump, but we found the next best thing.” And Bean was brought into the room in his bassinet! 

People say that you don’t know real love until you have a child. I already loved him so immensely, so beyond measure, from the moment I knew I was pregnant, but even that love paled in comparison to what I felt when I held him for the first time. My beautiful son.

I am so happy and blessed to have my sweet boy with me, healthy and growing like a weed. But, his birth was not my ideal. In fact, it ended in almost the least anticipated or desired way possible. My heart still breaks 5 weeks later when I think about Bear not being able to be in the room when Bean was born, not being able to see him arrive earthside, not being the first to hold him. I feel guilty when I see the pictures of him with all the wires and IV, when I remember the multiple IV sites, when I think of our 1-week hospital stay because he caught an infection in the nursery. I get frustrated because I am still unable to do things physically that I should have been able to do weeks ago. “At least he is healthy!” Yes, but that is only part of it. Sometimes, even a mother forgets that she was a huge part of the birth experience, and she has a right to feel good about the process.

I have been so blessed with family and friends coming and helping with the baby, with the chores, with food. Bear has been my rock, he always knows when I’m upset and helps me work through it instead of bottling it up. My midwife continues to check on and encourage me. I’m healing physically and getting more active. I am hurting, I am grieving, but it gets a little easier every day. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Joshua's Birth Story

This birth story is provided by Jeanette Tolmie. Thank you so much, Jeanette!

On the morning of January 8th I woke up and was getting ready for the day. I was walking up the stairs and felt a gush. I went to the washroom and saw lots of blood. I stood up, and then a big clot fell out. I called my midwives and she told me to go to the hospital to get checked. While on the way I could feel contractions. 
 When we got to the hospital I was hooked up to monitors right away. Joshua's heartbeat was perfect and my contractions were 2-3 mins apart but my blood pressure was super high. They were checking me for preeclampsia. They said I didn't have it. The doctor said that we both looked good. They gave me morphine for the pain so that I could rest. At that point my contractions were every 4-5 minsutes, so they said they would keep me over night for observation. 
At 10 pm my contractions got stronger and closer together.  I was 2 cm at midnight and the pain was getting worse. I was dozing off and on between the contractions.  At 3 am I was 5 cm. And at 5:30 am I was fully dilated and was taken to the delivery room.
I pushed for an hour and then my baby boy was born. He was born at 6:04 am at 34 weeks 1 day. He weighed 5lbs 1 oz. His APGAR score was 9/9. 
He was taken away to the nicu because he was born with a dislocated left knee and hip dysplasia.  I was kept in the delivery room for awhile because I was hemorrhaging and and needed two stitches. I wasn't able to see Joshua until 11 am. He was in an incubator and he was hook up to all the monitors.
I finally got to hold him at 2 pm. It was the best feeling in the world. 
I was in the hospital for 5 days because my blood pressure was still super high. I found out that I did have preeclamcia and they didn't find out until an hour after Joshua was born. I left the hospital with blood pressure meds and iron pills for anemia. Keegan and I had to stay at a place called almost home so we were close to Joshua. He finally came home after 2 weeks.