The following is Rachel’s story. It is a long journey, traversing many difficulties. It is a story in which one woman gracefully grapples with many things which don’t go according to plan . Many of us have pregnancies, births, breastfeeding relationships, or postpartum situations which do not go according to plan, and we can find strength in sharing our stories. Sometimes we cope well, and other times we don’t. The journey is what makes us beautiful, and strong. Thank you Rachel, for sharing your story with us. We grieve with you the sad parts, and celebrate the joyful ones. You are brave and wonderful.
Overcoming Post partum and becoming a mommy!
My story starts almost five years ago. It was our wedding day and after a few months of me trying to convince my husband Pat, we were ready to start trying to have children. He finally agreed! We lived in the small northern town of Wawa, Ontario. It is a beautiful place, a wonderful place to raise a child. My husband was starting out his career as a police officer there and I was working at a daycare. Things couldn’t be better. We tried for approximately 6 months there and nothing happened. We did not have a family doctor there, so discussing any fertility issues just didn’t happen.
Pat was given the opportunity to join the Timmins Police Force in Jan 2008, so we embarked on our new journey; although Pat is originally from Timmins, we were starting our life in this new town; I was more than happy to move where he grew up, where his family is. We continued to try for a baby, but nothing.
After being referred to a specialist, Pat and I both did various blood work and tests. One such test revealed I suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which can sometimes lead to infertility. I was crushed. I wanted to be a mother. How could I explain this to my husband? I would not be able to give him any children; all he ever wanted was to have children, to be a dad. After talking with the OB/GYN he gave me a prescription for Clomid, a fertility drug known to help women with PCOS. After taking it the first month and going for more blood work, the doctor was optimistic that this would work!
Fast forward three more months, and I found myself pregnant! It was a few days before Valentine’s day in 2009. So I figured I would wait to tell my husband; I bought a bib that said “I love daddy”, some little booties, a rattle and left a positive pregnancy test in a box. I couldn’t wait and my husband has never liked early gifts… lol, I just couldn’t wait, I told him that he needed it the day before and that it was so important. When he opened the box he had the most confused look on his face, he did not know what a pregnancy test looked like and didn’t realize what I was giving him until I said I was pregnant. We both shared tears and we so thrilled to finally have this happen for us after trying for 2 years.
I had some morning sickness, just nausea really; I was excited because if you felt nauseous that was a good sign. I had an early ultrasound to date the pregnancy; it was so amazing to see the little life inside me, the heartbeat of this new being that my husband and I created! I was helping this little baby grow. We told everyone, we were so ecstatic to finally have the chance to be parents! Everyone was very so happy. We were all just so happy.
I was about 11 weeks and had very, very light spotting, and no other symptoms. I called my midwife Amy and told her, she said she would be right over to see if we could hear a heartbeat although it was still early. I told her it was okay and that I would see if it continues, I really didn’t think that anything was happening. I had no other symptoms of miscarriage, and this couldn’t happen to me! That night I started to have back pain and some mild cramping, I finally told my husband, who tends to be a worry wart, and he immediately told me to go to emergency. I did reluctantly; something like this was not going to happen to us. They did some blood work and a pregnancy test and told me they would call me as soon as a spot opened up for an ultrasound. I went to work the next morning, told my boss that I would need a couple hours off but I would be back after my ultrasound. She insisted I take the day off, and I was kind of mad because I didn’t want to miss work. I was fine… I really was sure nothing was happening.
Going to the ultrasound I felt fine, the spotting and back pain were very little. The ultrasound tech told me I was not allowed to see anything, and that’s when I got nervous. I then had to go and wait in emergency again to get my results. I called my husband to let him know that I was waiting; he asked if I wanted him there, but I said no that I was fine. Everything was fine, he had just finished a night shift and he hadn’t had any sleep and was supposed to work that night. He showed up five minutes later, despite me telling him not to. I am so thankful he did!
We waited in the little room; the doctor came in with the report and had to leave but left the report. I looked at it and couldn’t understand a thing. As I was looking at it the doctor walked back in and asked if I understood anything. Of course I didn’t, the page was all these numbers and abbreviations, so we sat down and he just came out and said sorry there was no heartbeat… We were crushed, we saw the heartbeat, how could it no longer be there? Why would this happen to us?
We both grieved at the loss of our unborn baby; we went from being on top of the world to the bottom of a muddy pit. Getting out was going to be the toughest journey yet.
Of course I saw the specialist again and he just said sometimes these things happen. (These things weren’t supposed to happen to me). I started clomid again as soon as I could, I needed to be pregnant again, and the month came and went and no pregnancy… I couldn’t do this. You are always let down every time you start your period and you are reminded that you lost that baby. I took the Clomid another month and told my husband that if I did not get pregnant this month I didn’t want to try again. It was too hard. When the time came for my period; it wasn’t there… I reluctantly took a pregnancy test. I was pregnant! I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband… I wasn’t sure if it was worth telling my husband. I couldn’t carry a child… so why bother him with the grief and if we lost another, I would do it alone.
He came home that night and I felt extremely guilty but did not tell him. I couldn’t keep it in for long though, and after 3 days I just sat beside him and showed him a pregnancy test. I didn’t say a thing, we hugged, and I think we both felt the same way, happy but very scared. We kept this pregnancy a secret from everyone until I was 4 months. Everyone was overjoyed. We were terrified that something was going to happen, that this baby would be taken away from us, too.
The pregnancy was great, I had no complications, everything was wonderful, and at the end of my pregnancy, all I wanted was to hold my baby.
I felt like a whale, like I couldn’t possibly grow any larger. At 40weeks 4 days I went to see a naturopath to have acupuncture to try to induce labour, I was fed up! The day went on and at some point my water broke. At first I was in denial, but was getting contractions every 5-8 minutes. We went to the hospital because I was group B Step positive and needed antibiotics during labour. Contractions continued every 3-4 minutes for 12 hours… My midwife checked my cervix, and I was only 1 cm. I was devastated, I couldn’t possibly go any longer, the pain was intense and my hope of having a natural labour was given up, and I requested an epidural. At this point my labour had stalled and I was needing some relief. Once the anesthesiologist came and left I finally felt great.
I tried to rest a bit knowing I had a long time to go. Then the pains started again~ my epidural was not working, or not strong enough but I continued to pull through, breathing through each contraction focusing on what was to come, my little baby!
Contractions continued for another 14 hours, Amy and Pat right by my side the whole time, after being there with me for 26 hours Amy had to transfer my care to the on-call OB, and as soon as she told me this, I asked for a c-section. I couldn’t possibly go on without her and I was physically exhausted, emotionally exhausted and disappointed. At this point everything becomes fuzzy; I had given up and lay there in the hospital bed waiting to be rolled into the OR.
When they pulled my little boy out of me I was so drowsy, I just remember them saying it’s a boy, and then he was gone and I went to recovery. I was in recovery for awhile and when I was allowed to go into my own room to see Maksim.
He was tired and didn’t want to nurse. I was feeling sick, tired and sore, so he went to the nursery, my husband kissed me goodnight and that was it. Maksim was brought to me in the morning and I looked at him like he was a stranger… Who was this child and what was I supposed to do with him?
As time went on I developed post partum depression, I truly believe that it was because I didn’t have a natural birth and was ripped of the opportunity to bond with him right after having him. All I wanted, was to be able to nurse him, knowing that this was the best I could give him, but with the PPD, I had given up on breastfeeding and pumped instead. I thought that this would help but it didn’t, I felt like I wasn’t able to bond with my baby. I pumped for 5-6 months and then quit. I still feel bad to this day for doing this but am grateful for the breast milk he did receive.
There were many days I just did not want to be a mother. I never felt the urge to hurt my child but I didn’t want to be around him, I wanted my old life back, I wanted someone else to take care of him. I saw a counselor and this helped a bit, I went back work and things seemed to look up.
Maksim was almost a year old and my husband mentioned wanting to try for another, at that time I only wanted another baby to experience a vaginal birth, to nurse my child and to be a mom. Again I needed to go on fertility drugs as my cycle was not regular and I was not ovulating. After two months of the Clomid I was pregnant. I called my husband right away, he was training and couldn’t come home so I told him over the phone, you could hear the happiness in his voice. This time we waited about a week and started to tell close family and friends, then really made it known to everyone at 12 weeks. I still wasn’t sure about wanting another but the pregnancy was here so I just went with it.
This pregnancy was so different, I had a lot of morning sickness that lasted all day, at 14 weeks I had unexplained bleeding. We had emergency ultrasounds but all seemed okay. At 20 weeks the baby was showing two cysts on his brain. This really worried us, we didn’t want to have something wrong with the baby. At 30 weeks the ultrasound tech said he was a really big boy and that the cysts were gone! We were thrilled.
At 40weeks my water broke, but I did not have any contractions. My sister and I went shopping as I continued to leak fluid all day! I walked and walked and walked and still did not get any contractions. The ob did not want to induce me because of my prior c-section; I should have fought for it but for some reason I didn’t. After 24 hours of ruptured membranes I was given another cesarean.
This was different! My midwife Amy was in the room with me, she let my husband hold the baby close to me right after he was taken out, and I saw him for some time before they took him away.
I wasn’t in recovery long this time and my little Feliks 7lbs 6oz was brought to me as soon as I entered my room.
I was able to have skin to skin time with him and he ( with help from Amy) latched on no problem. My doula, Kayleigh DeCecco was there to capture those moments and to assist with breastfeeding when Amy left. What a different experience! What a positive experience. I healed so much faster and was so happy to be a mom.
Now fast forward three months, I still long for that vaginal birth, but feel very blessed to have two healthy and happy children. Having a positive birth experience the second time around has made me love being a mother and appreciate the little things so much more. That first smile, those 3am feedings and when your toddler says Je t’aime maman, you couldn’t ask for more!
Proud mommy of two handsome little men!