September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) awareness month. Today we’re sharing Laura’s beautiful PCOS birth story of her sweet Hannah Rae.
I am sharing my story because I found great comfort in reading the memoirs of other mommies who had delivered naturally, especially women considered plus-size. I had several obstacles to overcome, but was able to deliver my healthy daughter completely naturally. You CAN do it. Our bodies were made for this. Trust in yourself and you can do anything!
Shortly after getting married, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I consulted with the nurse practitioner I was seeing through an OB office, as well as my primary, and started taking Metphormin and a prenatal vitamin daily.
We tried to conceive for nine months. A very short time compared to many women, but every month was brutal. I was convinced we were never going to be blessed with a pregnancy.
Thursday, May 9th, 2013. I realized I was a few days late, which is very typical with PCOS. It was the evening, and I was home alone while my husband was at work. I decided to take a test, and ended up forgetting about it for a few minutes. I went back and looked on the bathroom counter. Two beautiful, life-changing pink lines stared back at me. I jumped upped and down, praised God, cried, and laughed hysterically (I never knew there would be a point of happiness that would make me laugh uncontrollably). I hadn’t really planned a special way of telling my husband. I had assumed he would be home when I would take the test. I couldn’t wait for him to get home, so I drove to our nearest dollar store and got a baby balloon. I drove to my husband’s work and called him, asking him to come out. I met him outside, gave him the balloon and said, “We’re having a baby!” He was quite confused, but equally elated when he realized what I’d said.
My pregnancy went well. The nurse practitioner I’d been seeing would have been unable to help deliver, so we started looking into other options. It was very important for me to spend adequate time researching and finding what would be best for me and our baby on her birth day. This was a big deal, and as much time as I spent planning our wedding I figured this deserved as much, if not greater respect. I decided on a natural birth, assisted by a midwife, in a birthing unit located within a hospital. I was immediately met with horror stories and fear from several people, but was able to ignore it, seeking positive, encouraging hope from blogs, videos, and birth stories. I ended up developing gestational diabetes (GD), and had to switch midwife practices halfway through. My GD was completely managed through diet and exercise and I never required any medications or insulin. We chose to find out the sex, finding out on my 28th birthday. We were having a girl and were very excited to meet her. I tried a hypnosis-assisted child birth home course but found myself unable to use some of the techniques. We took a childbirth class through the birthing center and found many of their techniques helpful.
My due date was January 4th, 2014. The holidays came and went as well as many bad winter storms. My prayers always included safe travels for us when the time came to go to the hospital that was 45 minutes away in good weather. I prayed for our daughter to come on her own time, but always added a little note that I would like to have her during winter break (I’m a special education paraprofessional). The night of Wednesday, January 1st, I prayed again for our daughter to come when she was ready, but told her we were very excited to meet her, and would love for her to come before the bad winter storm that was expected to come arrived. A few hours later I woke up, needing to use the restroom. I stood up to a gush of fluids, and knew immediately what had happened. I excitedly woke up my husband, and called the Alternative Birthing Center. The roads were pretty bad already and it was still snowing. We decided to pack the car, take quick showers, and head out. By the time we got to the car, there was several inches of snow that had accumulated over the already snowy ground. In our small, two-wheel-drive sedan, we headed out over the slick roads to the birthing center. The anxiety of the drive was only making me more nervous, seriously affecting my contractions. They began coming one on top of the other, with at most a minute or two between. It being my first birth, I assumed I was nearly fully dialated and called the birthing center again, in a panic. My husband was wonderful at staying calm and focused on the drive, but it was terrifying seeing over five accidents on our trip. We nearly stopped at a different hospital that was on the route, but the nurse I was speaking with said unless I felt like I had to push, she was sure I could make it. She calmly talked me through my contractions and told me they’d be ready in the ER to bring me up.
Over an hour after leaving home, we arrived at the hospital. The ER nurse wheeled me up to the birthing center where once I got settled, my contractions became much more manageable. My husband updated our families while I took great comfort in the shower. My parents arrived and my mom joined my husband and I in the birthing room. I spent most of the time in the shower, it was the only way I felt comfortable during the contractions. I was able to talk through some of them, bust mostly chose to stay quiet. About nine hours into my labor, I decided to get into the birthing pool. The birthing center I was at does not allow for water births, but I found comfort in the tub. My cousin, Lesley Mason, is a talented professional birth photographer and arrived shortly after I got into the tub. I mostly chose to be on all fours, moaning through most of my contractions.
When transition hit, I was quite unprepared for the intensity. It truly was the closest to an out-of-body experience that I’ve ever had, and humbled me like nothing else. I cried out to God for a five-minute break over and over again. I begged to go home. I begged for drugs. I knew this would be very short-lived but felt I couldn’t make it. Transition lasted less than fifteen minutes. As intense as it was, it has taught me strength I never knew my body had and has given me great confidence in myself and my abilities. I would go through it again not only for the positive benefits I received from it, but because I feel it was what was best for my daughter. Shortly after, I felt an urgent, sudden need to push.
The nurse encouraged me to start pushing as she drained the tub. My mom, husband, midwife, and nurse assisted me to the tub from the bed. I remember standing at the foot of the bed feeling like crawling into it would be harder than climbing any mountain. I was exhausted and couldn’t get the strength to lift my knee up. I stood there for a while, meditating on what was about to happen and how my life would change. The room was silent, and peaceful. The midwife pushed on either side of my hips, offering sweet relief. I finally worked up the strength to climb into bed. I don’t remember what position I was in when I started pushing, but we tried many different positions throughout my two hours pushing. I squatted, leaned over a ball, laid on my back, and leaned into my husband. I was getting exhausted, but was so excited to meet our daughter.
I never asked her about it, but the midwife assumed we were dealing with shoulder dystocia. She had me scoot to the edge of the bed, laying on my back. She consulted with my husband, instructing him to follow exactly what she asked of him. They had my hold the end of a blanket, with the nurse holding the other end. I pushed with everything I had left in me. It took every ounce of energy I had, and then some, but finally she began to crown. I don’t remember who mentioned it, but every time I would push, Hannah would slip back even more. I didn’t realize it, but her cord was wrapped twice and it was acting as a bungee. After some time and careful monitoring, I was able to birth her head. I do not remember the “ring of fire” but I do remember relief once her head was born! The midwife told me I could not push at the next contraction. She was carefully unwrapping her cord and checking her. The next few pushes were much easier, and suddenly she was out and on my chest.
She was beautiful, had gloriously dark hair, and was alert. I held her to my chest, sobbing. I cannot find the words to describe that moment that doesn’t sound cliché. I was so, so, in love, and totally unprepared for it. She was toweled off and checked over by the nurses as she lay on my chest. She was healthy and absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and am so thankful I was able to hold her for so long after she was born. I nursed her, and she ate fervently. Everyone except my husband left the room to allow us to bond with her. We laid in the queen-sized bed, savoring every sweet moment. She stayed awake, gazing at each of us, studying our faces. I will never forget seeing my husband hold her for the first time. Seeing him so gracefully embrace the role of fatherhood made me fall in love with him for a new, different reason. He held her so naturally, looking her over as she studied his face. I was just as moved watching my parents embrace the roll as her grandparents, both more teary-eyed than I’d ever seen. One of my brothers was able to make it in that evening as well and she stayed awake to meet all of them. We said goodbye to my family, and snuggled in the bed together with our sweet new girl in the bassinet next to us. It was an experience I will never forget. Taking charge of my birth and actively participating in it gave my daughter and me a gift that I truly consider invaluable. I have never felt so empowered and impressed with my body’s abilities. I am so grateful to God, my family, and the incredible midwives and nurses for their major part in a safe, healthy delivery of our sweet Hannah Rae.
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