Happy day to you! The icicles started to MELT in Alaska this weekend – it was amazing. It’s a huge tease to me that break-up season is on the horizon. For those that don’t know, we get so much snow and ice in Alaska that it takes almost the entire month of April for it all to “break up” and melt. So we call it break-up! I did some snow blowing and salting to help extra ice melt – here’s to hoping!
We get to start off this week with the story from one of my dear friends from my time in Virginia. I also used to do long runs with her while training for marathons – when someone is willing to run 16 miles with you in the cold rain to get a long run done, that’s true friendship!
Abby has the kindest heart and spirit. Her journey into pregnancy and mamahood wasn’t one she expected – but is the journey ever what we expect?
She tells it best…here’s Abby’s story.
I will start this by saying: I am a labor and delivery nurse and although biased – I have the best job ever! I love being a part of such a special moment in family’s lives. I melt every time I see the look on a dad’s face when he sees his child for the first time. I look forward to encouraging women during their most vulnerable experiences of their lives. And most of all I love educating new parents on all the things about bringing a new baby home. All this to say – I also have two amazing birth stories of my own. Labor and delivery nurses are notorious for setting the bar high for dramatics but also pretty eventful births. So here we go….
In November 2016, I found out I was pregnant the day I ran the Philadelphia marathon. Fast forward to December after ornaments were made to order to announce the upcoming addition to our family and we found out that our first pregnancy was ending in a miscarriage. No words can help you navigate the thoughts during this time. My brain bounced from feelings of sorrow to crippling anxiety – was running the marathon the reason for my loss? It had to have been that drink of wine I had when I did not know I was pregnant! My brain searched and searched for reasons to put blame, but all it ended me with was a terrible knee injury and a huge mental breakdown in my shower asking God why?. This season I stormed through was by far a journey I’ll never forget and one that I can say only led me to know how to rely and trust in God. It was in this season that I realized when God is all you have – You discover He is all you really need.
Fast forward to a Friday in 2017, I discovered that I was pregnant and on that following Monday I got slammed with a non-voluntary move to Japan. Talk about a huge turn of events for my immature faith. Not only was I going to have to trust Him during this season with a pregnancy but also to rely on Him for a move not just across the country but across the world. That July I moved away from my home town and my comfortable first assignment to embark on the next best journey of my life. The day I flew across the world I was 30 weeks, it was our 3 year wedding anniversary, and I was pinning on Captain (whew what a day! – thank you wonderful husband for buying me a first class ticket). I remember hugging my parents goodbye and knowing that this life that we shared was never going to be same ever again.
Next thing I know, I was in Japan and learned all the new things like driving on the opposite side of the rode, ramen, daiso (the best dollar store in the world), super crowded trains and festivals. All this time trying to find comfort food in the aisle of the Japanese Costco (which is surprisingly still very American). I had a breech baby that I was dealing with on the inside. I kept going in for scans and in my head I knew oh this baby has time to flip. Then it got real at my 36 week appointment when we started talking about ECVs (external cephalic versions). I had of course seen the good, the bad and the ugly, so naturally I went to my spinning babies knowledge and did anything I could to get this baby to flip. The days were counting down until my ECV and I did all the tricks, forward leaning version, the cold water trick, the flashlight trick, and stand on your head and say mother may I trick (this was when I getting closer to insanity!).
Then it was time the ECV date. I came to work and checked myself in – opted out of an epidural and received some nubain in the OR. Two of the doctors I trusted the most tried their hardest to flip my little nugget upside down or I guess in this situation right side down. She. Did. Not. Budge. I then had to come to terms with my 39 week scheduled C/S (cesarean delivery).
My unit spoiled me on my last shift with a surprise baby shower and then I had three days off to prepare for this nugget’s arrival. I went off base with my friend Holly to get my nails done. I learned the hard way about the physical and literal pain it was to get beauty treatments in Japan. 7 hours later, and numb feet, and burning a hole through my japense yen, we managed to eat cold cilantro noodles – which in our defense we thought was warm basil pesto noodles (oh Japan- that was only the beginning of more to come with my friend Holly).
September 15, 2017 was a day I will never forget. I went into my unit and picked out my room and had my friends check me in. I had one friend blow my veins twice trying to get an IV (I think she was more nervous than I was). I remember walking down the hall with my SCDs (sequential compression devices), non-skid socks, and my own nursing hat with angels. I was placed on the OR (operating room) table to get my epidural. The plan was to try another ECV in hopes that my nugget would flip this time. Now sitting still for an epidural in labor is one thing…. Sitting in the correct position for an epidural when your baby is breech is a totally different story. I couldn’t breathe! After they finally placed it I was then placed on the OR table to prepare for the ECV. This time my baby reacted but not by flipping – this baby said no way jose – and dropped her heart tones dramatically. I was immediately turned onto my side and then we prepped for a C/S pronto.
I’m a sucker for surprises and we chose not to find out the gender of our little nugget. I remember Trevor telling me that we met Eleanor June that day. We had planned for skin to skin in the OR but the next thing I knew (saving you from some graphic details) I went under general anesthesia and ended up meeting my sweet girl in the PACU (post-anesthesia care unit). Perks to working on the unit I had a team prepared to take some really sweet photos of my birth. These photos made up for my eventful birth and now are just sweet memories. My little girl was able to do skin to skin with her dad until we got the chance to breastfeed. To this day they have an incredible bond and I do think this is because she got to be with him first and, of course, she pooped on him.
Let me tell you my birth experience was not what I had envisioned for myself. I had labored many natural deliveries and it was beautiful! However, it is my story, with my sweet girl, and knowing her sassy little 3 year old self, I love our story.
However, my recovery felt like I was hit by a Mack Truck. I was a new mom in a foreign country with a huge learning curve ahead of me. Little did I know that God had good plans ahead for me to learn to give myself grace (still battling that one) and to embrace the humbling moments of being a parent.
Looking back now, I can definitely say I did not enjoy being a mom at first. I absolutely loved my daughter and wanted the best for her but I actually didn’t like the new role I was in – I loathed it! It was so hard, I never got to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it and all I got in return was a screaming crying newborn demanding more of me. Selfishly I learned another God lesson I’m sharing this only because I feel that more moms have been vulnerable with me over the years on their struggle adjusting to this new role. I now love being a mama and wouldn’t trade it for the world. While back at work 3 months postpartum, I was talking with a pediatrician who told me something I needed to hear while I was complaining about this new unappreciated role of motherhood. He told me that we are just getting to know one another and that my new baby was just learning to know if she could trust me to meet her needs.
However, breastfeeding was what saved us. This sweet little babe LOVED breastfeeding. She was a champ and couldn’t get enough. Even though I am a labor and delivery nurse I didn’t grow up with a mom who breastfed, so I was really on the fence if I was going to do formula or breastfeed. It was breastfeeding that made me feel like a hero in my daughters eyes. She saw me as her life source and, technically, breastfeeding moms are.
What an amazing story! Every time, I still get all the feels. To me, that means you’re doing what you were called to do. I love that we got to go through every step along the journey of Abby becoming a mama with a sassy breech babe. Like Abby said, there are lessons every where we look in life.
Abby also asked me a while back to write about miscarriage because I knew her while she went through that part of her journey. It’s on my mind often and I think a lot about how to write about that from my perspective. In truth, I haven’t found the right words to say everything I would want to say yet. I’ll keep thinking and praying about it though.
Do you have a breech babe? About 3-4% of babies are breech at term and there is a whole host of risk factors that can predispose a babe to be breech. We’ve talked about Spinning Babies before, but the resource is here again if it’s new to you, as well as a few other breech resources.
Abby has an amazing second birth story as well – and her stories couldn’t have been more opposite! Birth and labor are funny like that – hopefully we’ll get to hear it soon! I hope her story brightened your day.
If you’d like to share your story of pregnancy, birth, postpartum or motherhood, please do. Email me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to read it!