Hurricanes, Hemorrhage, and Cleft Palate: The Birth of Eden
Pre-birth story: On August 25th, at 36 weeks pregnant, we left home. A hurricane was headed for our area but we actually weren’t worried about it at all. Some friends of ours had booked an Airbnb in Waco to evacuate to and invited us. That sounded like fun so we decided to go ahead and go. We left our home thinking we would be coming back on Saturday and the storm wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
Two days later, the storm hit as a category 4 hurricane, only just a few mph away from being labeled a category 5. Our city was ripped to shreds. After the storm, some family of ours that stayed updated us that our house was fine. It was still there! We thought everything was good to go. It wasn’t until we made a quick trip home to grab some baby items that we discovered we wouldn’t be returning to the place we knew as home. There was now visible black mold in both of our kids bedrooms. Holes on the outside that were letting water in. What used to act as the roof had blown off and now it was only left with a very old, very sad excuse for a roof. It was a mobile home and it was already old to begin with. There was no fixing it, it was totaled. We had to accept the fact that the place we had called home for our 8 years of marriage wasn’t home anymore.
One month before the storm, my brother and sister in law moved two hours away. The storm didn’t hit them at all. So, after a little bit of Airbnb hopping, we decided to go stay with them. The kicker is that I have homebirths and that’s very hard to do when you don’t have a home. My brother and SIL did not even hesitate to say that I could give birth in their home. My midwife also said that she would be more than happy to make the two hour drive for the birth.
Birth Story: On Friday 9/18, I started having contractions. They were insanely inconsistent, but definitely real. My husband would have to push on my back and I’d have to breath through them. But I’d have one, maybe two, an hour. I’d go for a walk and they would stop, but if I sat on the couch I’d have a hard one. It was so strange! I knew they felt like “dilated to a 5” contractions though.
This happened all day long. I was also exhausted and took two naps that day. I continued to have them randomly while I napped. I told my sister in law that I wondered if that was my body’s way of letting me rest before laboring that night. I was right!
I went to bed around 10 o clock and kept waking up with hard contractions sporadically. I constantly woke Patrick up to push on my back but they still seemed so spread out. I never checked the clock so I’m not sure how far apart they were. Around 3:30am, I had one that was hard enough that I wanted to go get in the bath. This felt like a “dilated to a 7” contraction. I had wanted to get in the bath sooner than that but thought that would be silly if I was only have one contractions every thirty minutes to an hour or so. The funny thing is that I had no clue how close or far they were since I never checked the clock. Once I had the one that was hard enough to make me want to move to the bath, we started timing them. When I was in the bath, we timed them for maybe 10ish minutes and they were 2-3 minutes apart. Call the midwife! Especially considering she was two hours away.
We called Carissa and let her know that this was the real deal. We woke up my sister in law so she could push on my back while my brother and Patrick started to set up the pool. I stayed out of the pool a little bit longer to walk and squat and felt like my contractions were getting more to “dilated to an 8” type contractions.
Patrick and Tabi were a dream team. We accidentally made the pool water too hot so once I got in, the heat felt amazinggg on my contractions, but I was way too hot. They took turns adding buckets of cold water and scooping out hot water and squeezing ice cold wet rags onto me when I needed them. All while also pushing on my back during contractions and taking care of all the kiddos as they woke up (one six year old, two five year olds, and two almost two year olds).
Carissa texted us around 4 to let us know that her ETA was 6:10. In that time, my kids began waking up one at a time. My daughter was SO excited that it was finally time! My 1 year old got to have a popsicle at 5 am to keep him from waking everyone else up. My son and nephews woke up right around when Carissa got there at 6:10ish. She checked me and I was dilated to a 9. Oddly, though, my contractions stayed pretty inconsistent the entire time. I would get good breaks in between where I could just chat and laugh, nap, sing along to the worship music, or talk to my kids. It was amazing. The pain was not amazing but the inconsistent contractions and breaks definitely were. There was one break in particular that I remember just laying in the pool, dilated to a 9 with my eyes closed, smiling. It was long enough for me to drift to sleep a little bit and it was exactly what I needed before it came to the hardest parts.
Probably around 7 or so, I went ahead and asked her to break my water. It was extremely hard for her to break my water and I’m so glad I asked because she described it as feeling like leather. She thinks it would have been nearly impossible for it to break on its own. Once we finally got it broken, I expected to feel the need to push pretty immediately but I didn’t. And that was okay. I knew I was in control. My contractions absolutely intensified at this point and I was very obviously dilated to a 10 now. I continued to labor through the insanely intense pains that came. The contractions felt like way way more than I could handle but there’s no other choice. I could do this. I got into a squat position and started pushing. I hoped pushing would feel like a relief like it had with some of my other births but it absolutely did not. It felt overwhelming, but my baby girl was coming. I pushed for maybe ten minutes and her head was out! Two minutes later her body was out and I was able to catch her myself and pull her up to my chest. I remember saying “she’s here, she’s here, she’s here!” as I laid back to embrace her. There nothing quite like that feeling when you realize all the pain is finally done and your baby is here!
September 19, 2020
8 pounds 2 ounces
Unfortunately, the pain wasn’t done for me. Birthing the placenta was painful like it is for most people. It took maybe 20 minutes to finally birth mine which didn’t seem like much of a big deal. But for some reason, it was causing me to bleed more than it should have. We did not know this yet.
I got out of the tub and moved to the bed. I laid there cuddling my baby girl for probably over an hour, and everything was perfect. My best friend who was supposed to be at the birth, but didn’t make it, had showed up. My dad, who was already planning to come visit us that day (before knowing I would be in labor) showed up. It wasn’t until I decided I was ready for an herbal bath that we realized something was wrong. Patrick helped me stand up and as soon as I did, I passed a massive clot and knew we needed to get Carissa in the room. I was extremely dizzy and she had me lay back down. She started to evaluate me and my cramps (that I thought were normal) were horrendous. They say those after birth cramps get worse after each kid so I just thought WOW that’s SO TRUE. It was absolutely horrific. I was feeling them down into my tailbone and lower, and Carissa knew that meant something was wrong. For what felt like a lifetime after that, she was elbow deep inside of me pulling out blood clots. This was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life, undoubtedly. She gave me the necessary meds and was finally done getting it all out and I was SO GLAD. I took a nap better than I’ve ever taken in my entire life and Patrick was right next to me holding our baby girl the entire time so that she could be close to me. We call this my “resurrection nap.” I woke up feeling like a new human.
Carissa came to check and it shocked me to hear her say, “I was scared.” I said, “I wasn’t. I trusted you.” Honestly, it never even crossed my mind to be scared. Not even for a moment did any of it feel scary to me. It just felt PAINFUL.
I could’ve left this part of the story out but I didn’t because I feel like it’s proof of what midwives are capable of. I was in the absolute best hands. There is nowhere else I would have rather been under those circumstances and I’m so thankful that God trusted Carissa to be the one to handle it.
After that, we spent all of our time cuddling our sweet baby girl. We knew she had a tongue and lip tie and were able to get her scheduled with a pediatric dentist in Baton Rouge for just a few days later. Such a blessing that we could get in that fast! She hadn’t been able to latch at all. Maybe for 1-2 seconds at a time. I sent Patrick to buy me a hand pump and we started syringe feeding her. On day two, I was taking an herbal bath with Eden when Carissa texted to check on us. Because of my answers to some of her questions, she asked me to run my finger down her palate and see if I felt a hole.
This was the moment we discovered: cleft palate.
I sat in that bathtub and sobbed. I didn’t know what it even really meant at this point besides the quick google search I did while waiting for Carissa to respond. Seeing the word “surgery” on google in reference to your 2 day old baby who hasn’t been able to breastfeed and needed tongue/lip tie revision after you lost your home to a hurricane and were technically homeless was a lot to handle.
That’s where our cleft journey began. She got her tongue/lip revision done and an official diagnosis of her cleft palate from Dr. Juban. They referred us to a cleft team there in Baton Rouge who got us in insanely fast. For cleft palate babies, you meet with a “panel” of doctors and surgeons so they can evaluate the best route for treatment. This includes oral surgeon, audiologist, orthodontist, pediatrician and pediatric dentist, feeding specialists, geneticists, etc. We were there for around 4 hours meeting with all of these people. I called on Tuesday to see about getting in with them. They only do these panels once a month and happened to be doing it that Thursday. Such a God thing because at this point, we had been approved for a house in Colorado and were set to move about a week and a half later.
Dr. Hetzler was the oral surgeon and she may have been the nicest human being I’ve ever met in my entire life. We told her about our move to Colorado and she let us know that she had a colleague in Colorado! She left the room to go find out which city she worked in. She raved about this colleague and told us that it’s actually who she learned under. Everything she knew, she learned from this other surgeon. She came back in the room and told us she’s located in Colorado Springs...exactly where we were heading! There’s no doubt in my mind that God had this all worked out for us.
Now, we are here in Colorado. Eden is beautiful and thriving, we will get set up with the panel here soon, and we are loving every bit of having her. This was more of a birth and first two weeks story, but her life has been adventurous so far. And that’s without even mentioning the second hurricane....