Hello, my name is Deanna. I want to share with you my story. As a mom of 3 beautiful children, my story has many twists and turns, many that I am incredibly proud of, but some that I very much am not. From a traumatic birth, through breastfeeding struggles and triumphs, through domestic abuse and out the other side; every piece holds importance in building me into who I am today. I will start with my birth story which brought my oldest daughter into this world. Obviously being a first time mom, I believed wholeheartedly that doctors and nurses had me and my baby’s best interest at the forefront of their minds and influencing every decision they made on my behalf. Now, looking back, I very much felt like an animal being put through the process, enduring the process… not like a human, I was not enjoying the experience at all. Now, I understood that childbirth is painful, and it’s messy. I was prepared for that part, and even so, I still feel like I was robbed of the birth experience I deserved. And there were parts that couldn’t be helped, but there are so many parts that could have been. But I was not a part of my own birth experience. I was merely a bystander to it all. I felt the pain, yet I wasn’t a part of the experience.
Jan 28th, I was 7 days overdue. My husband and I had chosen to stay home from a large family gathering. I was so uncomfortable, I had hardly slept the night before, and was just exhausted. Instead we decided to stay home and have a movie marathon, in hopes I could relax and hopefully catch some sleep. I dozed in and out a bit, but for the most part, I was still unable to sleep. So that evening we headed to bed. I still could not sleep. He was passed out snoring in bed next to me, and with every hour that passed that I watched him sleep peacefully next to me, with my frustration growing more and more, I wanted to smother him with his own pillow. I can not be the only woman to feel this way. But anyways, I had decided that maybe a warm shower would ease my discomfort enough that I would be able to sleep. I’m sure 20, 30, 60 minutes in a hot shower had passed, and I was feeling somewhat better. So I climbed out, dried myself off and climbed back into bed. I tossed and turned, again so uncomfortable. Once again I climbed out of bed and back into the reprieve of the hot shower. Now, I’m sure you’ve already figured it out for yourself, but I was in labor. But because I wasn’t having hard pain yet, I still hadn’t figured this out. Looking back, I laugh, because I can clearly see what was going on, but I was oblivious then. After I finished my second long shower, and once again climbed back into bed, it was nearing 2 AM, on the 29th, the day that would ultimately be my daughter’s birthday.
At 2 AM my contractions started. They came on hard and fast. From the very first contraction they were so painful, and started close together. I laid, sat, tossed and turned next to my sleeping husband for 2 hours, timing my contractions. Then I decided, if I wasn’t sleeping, his sleep was over too and woke him. By about 5 am we went to the hospital, where I was put on a monitor and checked for dilation. My contractions were confirmed to be coming on strong and 5 minutes apart. I was in so much pain. But, I was not dilating, I was only at a 1. The nurses had me get up and walk the halls for an hour, then checked me again. I was at a 1. I could hardly stand, but they wanted to send me home. I didn’t want to go home, this is where I needed to be, I knew it. They offered me morphine. I had no interest in pain meds at this point, but I was told I could get the morph one, then they HAD to keep me to monitor me for another hour, OR I had to go home. I took the morphine. (Which I later found out, they did not add to my chart that they had administered it) I stayed for the hour. By this time, my water had broken. YES! They will take me seriously now… or so I thought. I was there at the epitome of shift change. Every time I saw a nurse, it was never the same one. So when my water had broken, (again it wasn’t charted) my sheets had been changed, the soaker pad under me changed, so I was on a nice dry bed now. Which was great… except no nurse I saw after this point, believed me that my water had broken! They actually told me it was just discharge. Now, you know in movies when it’s like a water balloon popped at the pregnant mamas feet… my water was like that. One big gush and it was gone. I KNEW IT WAS MY WATERS. But… I was sent home. I got home, I vomited the entire way there, because of the morphine, which did nothing for my pain, had only made me sick. At this point, I’m back on my couch, labouring. My contractions are 3 minutes apart and a minute long. My husband phones L&D and tells them what is going on. He then gets scolded for allowing me to leave the hospital. Back to the car we go and back to the hospital. They gowned me up, got me back on monitors, and checked me. Still at a 1. They leave me to continue labouring. The alarms on my monitors keep going off. No one is telling us what is going on. The alarm sounds again. 6 nurses/doctors/I don’t know… run to my bedside, they are jostling me around, turning me this way and that, a hand goes up inside me, it wasn’t communicated with me that was about to happen, no words are spoken to us, the alarms silence, and just like that, everyone leaves my bedside. I am scared, what just happened? My husband calls a nurse in to give us some answers. She says, “nothing is wrong, you would know if something was wrong, because you would have many people around you to handle it.” My jaw dropped, we fell silent. Neither of us knew what to say, as the nurse turned and left. I cried. I was scared, and we were being told nothing. This was not the last time this would happen. Finally they decide I’m not progressing, it’s time to “induce me.” I’m wheeled down the hall from my observation room to the room in which I will deliver. In the time it took to wheel me down the hall, all of 5 rooms over, I went from a 1 to a 4. They didn’t need to start the drip. And finally they actually believed I was in labor. I was now given an option, but not really an option. They were going to insert an epidural into my back, “Just in case we need a C-Section” I could choose to have the pain medication in now, or wait until I was in the OR. I took the medication. They gave me a full spinal block, as if I were now having surgery. I couldn’t feel or move anything from my sternum down. My alarms still kept sounding. My room would be full of staff again, and again, and as quickly as they came, they were gone. Still offering no information. Hours passed, I finally got a few minutes of sleep. Finally it was time to push. After every single push, my nurses would turn and walk away from me. I was so frustrated. I just wanted my baby out, and I had to keep telling them I needed to push, and they were always on the other side of the room. I was then given an episiotomy without warning, they used forceps for her birth… now I have no problem with either of these happening if they were truly needed. But given that I was never asked, or even informed until I saw it happening, this is where my problem lay. But what could I do? Until now, I have not been human in any of this. My daughter was born in a room full of onlookers.
Considering “there was nothing wrong” there was a neonatal team ready and waiting in my room, there were emergency staff ready and waiting in my room to whisk me away to the OR in a moments notice, there were 2 or 3 nurses, the doctor, and a student doctor, in addition to my husband and both Grandmas. We were NOT allowd to take any pictures of the birth itself. We were NOT allowd any pictures at all until my baby was out and crying. My mother-in-law snuck some pictures anyway. How were we told “there was nothing wrong” they obviously felt like something was wrong. My baby did not cry right away. I felt like a horrible mother, because I honestly thought I was just too out of it to remember. But really, I remember it all. I remember every last traumatic moment of my labor and delivery. I didn’t forget her first cry. She just didn’t cry right away. She was placed on my belly long enough for my husband to very quickly cut her cord, then she was whisked to the other side of the room to a warmer. She was cleaned up and given oxygen, this is where she finally cried.
She was brought back to me for a couple photos, then she was whisked away to the NICU. My husband was supposed to follow, but he didn’t hear the nurse tell him to go. So he went to the hall to tell those waiting in the waiting room that at 6:52 pm our daughter was born, with a full head of hair. Meanwhile, I was left ALONE in my delivery room. I was numb from the sternum down, covered in blood and afterbirth, scared out of my mind, ALONE. The nurses had gone, my family was out of the room (thinking I was being cleaned up.) Finally the wife of my husband’s friend/coworker came in to see how I was doing. This woman was a stranger to me, but she grabbed a washcloth and water to help me start cleaning up. Only then, did a nurse come back into my room, and scolded her for entering the bathroom. Because it is for patients only. She entered the bathroom to access the pile of washcloths and towels, that the nurses should have been using to help clean me up. But where were they? Not here, not helping me. I had just experienced a traumatic birth. Then left completely alone. This nurse could go suck an egg.
Finally, only once I was finally cleaned up. I was told that my baby’s heart rate kept decelerating dangerously low. That is why my alarms were going off. That is why the nursing team was jostling me around, that is why they were “tickling my baby’s head” through my cervix. My baby had aspirated meconium. My waters had broken earlier and they didn’t know. (Well duh) My baby had an unusually long umbilical cord, she was pinning her cord during labor, which was depriving her of blood flow and oxygen, causing her decelerations. I now had to go back to my room to recover, and once I’ve been checked 3 times to make sure my uterus was doing as it was supposed to, I could go see my baby.
I really thought my nightmare was over and I’d see my baby soon. Not exactly. The nurse came in once… twice… all was well. Then hours had passed, I called the nurses station. My nurse had not returned the 3rd time… she had gone home, and I was not passed on to another nurse. Finally I got checked a 3rd time and was able to go see my baby.
She was hooked up to many monitors in her little isolet. But she was otherwise ok. But because I wasn’t taken seriously, I had not received a full round of antibiotics, which I needed being GBS positive. So now my baby was at risk due to this. She needed to be monitored. She has already been given a bottle of formula and a pacifier in the hours since her birth. I wanted to breastfeed. She wouldn’t latch. I spent as much time in the NICU with her as I could, but I had to return to my room for meal times, and med times, and to sleep. I wasn’t allowed to sleep in the chair next to her isolet. When I would be gone, I pumped to provide her milk, but requested to be paged if she needed to nurse while I wasn’t there. They kept giving her formula. Next I was told she was struggling with “regurg ” she was spitting up her formula, or breastmilk I was providing. It wasn’t until I overheard a doctor talking to our nurse about my baby, did I learn, my baby wasn’t struggling at all. They were over feeding her, and she was throwing up because they were trying to make her drink more than her tiny tummy could take. These are NICU nurses… why was this a problem? Why were they so unaware of what they were doing? Why was I being made to feel like there was something wrong with my baby? Why was I being discounted because I was a new mom? WHY!?
The best day of our lives, was the day we got discharged and aloud to start finding our normal outside of the hospital. I got to bring my baby home on my birthday.
But now, my newborn had nipple confusion, I had no support system as far as breastfeeding went. I was told time and time again, it’s ok to formula feed, it’s ok to supplement too, it’s ok to quit. But no one was telling me that it was ok to seek help, it was ok to ask for help, no one was offering help. I was pumping, because my baby would take a bottle. But now, I had a clogged milk duct. It was getting bad. I realized it was getting bad, when I had gone to make a bottle for my daughter, and I woke up on the living room floor. I had blacked out, I had stumbled from the kitchen to the living room, I passed out and hit my head on the coffee table. It was time to see a doctor. My clogged milk duct was infected. I was prescribed antibiotics. They weren’t helping. I returned to the doctor, they gave me something else, and said if it gets any worse go to the ER. WELL, IT DID. I went to the hospital the following day, I was out on an IV antibiotic drip, 3 times per day for a week. It took over an hour each time, I was not allowed to have my baby with me. My infection had abscessed. The IV wasn’t helping. The next step was multiple ultrasound appointments and then surgical drainage. Twice, I had to go through this before it finally cleared up. At 5 weeks postpartum, my supply had dried up. The meds made it hard to keep going, my doctors seemed so pro formula, that never was it discussed how to help me continue breastfeeding. Later I learned about medications I could have taken to help me. But my doctor was unaware, or unwilling to try meds to help me thrive.
Bring on my first experience with depression. I had failed. I had failed at breastfeeding. My body had failed to do what I so badly wanted it to do. Now, enter mom shaming. My first experience with mom shaming came from an older woman, she may very well have been a grandma. I was shopping with my mother in law, she was pushing the cart, and I was cradling my daughter and feeding her from a bottle as we went about our business. This woman went out of her way to approach me, and tell me my baby should be at my breast, and not drinking garbage from a bottle. I ignored her, and walked on. I silently cried through the remainder of our shopping trip. I had failed my daughter. Or at least, that’s how I was feeling.
What I now know, that I wish I knew then… I was not alone. There are so many, too many women who have experienced what I had. From the birth trauma, to struggles with breastfeeding, to mom shaming and post partum depression. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Reach out. If you aren’t finding the support you need at home, reach out to your friends. If you still are not getting the help you seek, it is not weak to reach out beyond your circle. I finally found help and healing… too late to change what I had gone through, but it’s never too late to heal a broken heart. I found help online, via Facebook groups. I found other women who went through my struggles, they could relate. And it was so helpful. I only wish I had reached out so much sooner. But from then on I made it a mission to always be open and willing to help any friend or soon to be friend in any way I could. Even if it was just through conversation. I was there to grab onto any hand reaching out for help.
This is a good spot to hit pause on my story. I look forward to sharing the next chapter with you soon…