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Monday, January 2, 2017

Lily Autumn Graham's Birth Story

Lily Autumn Graham
Born 11/1/2016 at 12:03 pm
7 lbs 11 oz
18 ½ inches
I’ve waited two months to write Lily’s birth story, because I have needed time to process it all. She is my last child. My last pregnancy. The last time I get to feel the miracle of a baby moving inside me. The last chance to experience what I always longed for, planned for, prepared for, dreamed for. An unmedicated, calm, hypnobirth, where I felt powerful and in control of my mind and my body. Hands that would hold and help me through the waves, rising above any discomforts, being relaxed in my body and mind. Skin to skin immediately after birth. Delayed cord clamping. An hour with no interventions, just me and my precious baby to bond. I wanted to feel the rush of endorphins you get when you’re able to feel your body deliver a baby. I wanted to be in that group of women that had the opportunity to achieve this. I wanted to believe that my body was capable. That I was inherently strong enough. I told myself I can do hard things. What I discovered, was something I never expected. And it has humbled me, healed me, cradled me, and shook me to my very core.

It was Halloween night. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Very ready for this little lady to come. My body was in constant pain due to Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, and I was stuck in a wheelchair most of the time. I had planned and prepared, in body, mind and spirit for the birth of my last child. I was able to have the most beautiful, spiritual, loving sisterhood experience of my life; a Mother’s Blessing. I was surrounded by so many women in my life who loved, supported, and held me through this pregnancy. I felt so much support and strength, and I knew I would never be alone. It was a blessed gift.
Here I am surrounded and touched as all these women laid their hands on me and gave all their love, hope, wishes and blessings to me. I was truly surrounded by angels.

Being a Hypnodoula, and attending 25 births I was already trained in Hypnobirthing, but had taken Lauralyn’s class again, and practiced religiously.  I did a lot of visualizations, and hired and asked for the people that I needed and wanted there to be present. I hired a birth photographer and a birth videographer, as well as a doula, and invited my mother and sister to be there to witness and support. I had a wonderful midwife, and the most hypnobirthing-friendly hospital. I purchased and selected items I knew I wanted in my birth space to help bring peace and calm. I printed out beautiful birth affirmations that I wanted hung in my birth space. I even had a “Hypnobirth in progress” sign I wanted hung on the hospital door. I purchased some beautiful nursing gowns to deliver and wear while at the hospital. I had a prenatal photo shoot done with the autumn leaves, because I knew her middle name would be Autumn.
I knew exactly what I needed. I created my nest. My bags were packed, my mind was ready, and my body was tired.

That night, I was able to go trick or treating with my kids by borrowing a jazzy from my mom. It was such a gift to be able to experience that with my children. I took a photo that night, not knowing if it would be the last.

At about 3 am, I woke up to more water coming out of me than I thought was humanly possible. I tapped Scott on the shoulder telling him. He was just as surprised and shocked as me to see all that water. I was immediately awake, and excited that this was finally happening. I decided to jump in the shower and get ready, since I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. The surges started up pretty quickly, and by the time I finished my makeup I knew we needed to get to the hospital quickly, even though I thought I would labor at home longer.

Something was wrong. I was experiencing pain in my sacrum and lower back, that was increasing with every surge, which was about every 90 seconds. We left for the hospital, and checked in fairly quickly. Things were getting too intense too fast. I didn’t have a chance to get settled, to go to that healing place in my mind. It was like I hit a cruel, shocking, and solid brick wall. At this point, it is hard for me to recollect much of what happened.

I got into the tub, hoping that would bring some relief, but there was none to be found. I remember thinking what was this? This was not labor. I felt no sensations in my uterus, not a single contraction, just breaking, searing pain in my sacrum. She was posterior. I'd never felt that before. I was prepared for uterine pain, for normal labor. I could do that. I knew how to handle that. To relax through it. But this wasn't normal labor. Was this labor? What was this horrible experience that held no joy? So fast, hard. Excruciating pain. Back labor that felt as though my sacrum was being torn apart. Delusional pain. Level 10. Nothing helping. No technique, no script, no touch, that helped so much during my pregnancy. It was as if I wasn't a person anymore. I couldn't see. I could not be. All there was, was pain.

And I tried, so hard to live in that. To let myself suffer. To overcome it. But it was bigger than I could ever surmount. I begged for an epidural. When it finally was available, I found strength to refuse it and try longer. I wanted that experience of a natural birth. The euphoria you experience. I wanted to trust that my body was made for this. That I was capable. That I was strong. This was my last labor, last birth, last chance. I did everything right, I prepared. I had a wonderful birth team. So many hands willing and wanting and trying to help. Why was nothing helping? Why was there no relief? I made it another hour, or so, without the epidural. By that point I was begging, pleading for relief. My head shaking back and forth. I felt like i would pass out from the pain.

The epidural came. When it kicked in, it was heavenly mercy. I cried. I slept. And she came. I pushed her out in three pushes. My pushes were strong. She was in distress. They said she needed to come now, so I got her here quick. I felt strong in that moment. I didn't tear at all. When she came, she wasn't breathing. They had to clamp and cut that gorgeous, spiralling blue cord that was exceptionally long, full of her precious blood she would never get. No immediate skin to skin. She was intubated, twice. She had to have an IV of fluid. They were on Skype with UVRMC to determine if they needed to transfer her. My heart was breaking. I was trying to stay strong and hopeful, but I just wanted to hold my baby. They let me say goodbye quickly before they took her to the NICU.
My husband followed.I felt empty, although I was not alone.I had many women who loved and supported me.

Someone said, "You're done, it's over." But I quickly responded that no, I was not done. It would not be done till Lily was in my arms. Scott texted pictures of her to me. My heart was aching. I needed her. When she finally came, I felt love and relief. I held her so close, smelled her, breathed her.
After a few moments, we started skin to skin. She felt like heaven. I was complete. Then, the greatest moment, the most tender mercy, the miracle, the gift that ended the hardest experience of my life happened. After all the trauma she experienced immediately after birth, after all the medication I was on through pregnancy, after surviving at 8 weeks old when I had Severe Septic Pneumonia and was hospitalized, almost dead, after everything, here she was, latched onto my breast, and nursing perfectly. My first time. After 3 children who would never latch, this was nothing short of a miracle! That moment will live in my memory forever. She is everything. She is my first co-sleeper, first baby to latch, first time to never have formula. She takes a bottle, a binkie, and me, with no problems. She is heaven.

Since then, I have gone through a series of emotions. I was in mourning. I felt like a failure. I felt less than. Less than those stronger women. A wise friend suggested I have a Closing of the Bones ceremony. I looked it up and knew that was exactly what i needed. I was surrounded by a few women whom I love and felt very safe with. They listened to my whole story. They witnessed my pain, my joy. They watched my birth video and helped me process it all. They helped me see the strength and the beauty I possessed. That my labor wasn’t just that night, but the entire pregnancy, and I never gave up. Because of my experiences, I am able to appreciate every second of the beauty, and the gift that I have to be a mother. I cherish it. And I empathize and am able to relate to many types of birth experiences. In 7 years, I have had 6 pregnancies, 6 births, including a vaginal, miscarriage, c section, vbac, miscarriage of twins, and my last vbac. I have gone through Hyperemesis Gravidarum, heart complications, Hydronephrosis, severe depression and anxiety, Vasa Previa, postpartum hemorrhage, Severe Septic Pneumonia and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction twice. And I have survived ALL of it. I have 4 beautiful, perfectly healthy children and a husband that stood by me, supporting me through it all. And it was all worth it. It was beautiful, and glorious, and I AM a triumphant warrior. I survived and conquered, and even through everything, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have learned that life is beautiful not only because of love and joy, but also because of the pain and sorrow. It is all a gift.
Here is my birth story video. It's rated G. :-)

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