I wanted to share a beautiful success story from a mom I recently worked with. Her name was Callie and she reached out to me as she was preparing for her second birth – but her story really starts when she was pregnant the first time.
If you need encouragement to believe that preeclampsia success stories are possible – her stories will speak to you. She went from uninformed and unprepared in her first birth to safely navigating birth with preeclampsia in her second.
I hope her story leaves you full of positive expectation and with a few more tools in your belt to navigate your own story!
Callie’s Scary Experience With Preeclampsia In Her First Birth
When Callie was pregnant with her first baby, she wanted a natural birth. She saw the pictures of beautiful home births and thought, I want that. But at the same time, the idea of being at home scared her. So, naturally, a natural birth at the hospital seemed like it would be the best of both worlds.
She was busy. Her high pressure job had her going going going, but, she kept her vision of her birth strongly in her mind.
Confident in her future, she moved with determination through her days. Until a surprise hit… 6 weeks before her due date, her doctor took her blood pressure at a routine appointment and said it was dangerously high. Something had to be done ASAP.
“Go from here to the hospital,” they told her. Don’t go home, go straight there. But, birth was natural, it was safe, nothing would happen to her, she thought. Her body was built to birth and knew the process of birth. She would trust it.
So she went home. She canceled her evening appointments, drew a bath and decided to have a relaxing day by herself, then went to bed.
Several hours later, her heart was racing, her head was pounding, she took Tylenol. It didn’t help. Then her vision became blurry and blink, everything became black.
Her husband rushed her to the hospital, and as soon as she arrived, she was put on a helicopter and lifted out of her hometown to a hospital that handles severe emergencies.
Her son was born 6 weeks early, via a truly emergency c-section. Everything in her birthplan disappeared in one of the scariest ways possible.
But, as in most stories that eventually find a good end, the sweet little girl grew day by day. She eventually left the NICU, came home, and 3 years later when I met her was a bright, smart beautiful little girl who could talk for days and was full of curiosity and excitement for life.
Callie Was Ready To Welcome Baby Two, But Had Doubts
Callie reached out to me because she was pregnant with baby two. She didn’t know what to do, her dreams of a perfect natural birth lingered in her heart, but her first experience left her with distrust of everybody.
Who told her birth was so natural and normal that she felt comfortable enough to ignore real warning signs?
Why were the doctors that took care of her so rushed, and rude that they couldn’t or didn’t communicate her situation to her clearly?
What should she do this time? How could she have a better experience?
This is not an unusual one, by the way. Many moms face situations they could never imagine happening to them in labor.
- 10 percent of babies are born too early
- One in 25 moms will have high blood pressure
- 2 to 10 percent of moms have gestational diabetes
- 1-5 of 100 women will hemorrhage after birth
While the process of birth can be a safe, natural and trusted process, it can also be one of the most dangerous and difficult processes a woman will go through in her life and can be a medical event.
One of these truths doesn’t make the other one untrue.
Many of these can be prevented and managed with diet and lifestyle – which is why we have clear and useful information about your body’s new nutritional needs during pregnancy and meal plans that were created with the help of a registered dietician inside our birth course. Prevention is powerful and we want you to have all those tools in your hand.
But let’s return to Callie’s story.
Callie Wants A Success Story As She Works Through Preeclampsia A Second Time
Callie called me as she was preparing for her second birth. She had a difficult road to navigate. And I was happy to help her create a beautiful beginning with the cards she was dealt.
Callie did something remarkable, she interviewed 7 OBs and doctors until she found one that she connected with and trusted. An OB that had tons of experience with high risk moms, worked at the hospital most equipped for medical emergencies and made her feel heard, respected and honored.
Callie and her OB negotiated well, the both spoke openly and honestly about their fears, their worries and their needs. I had the privilege of going to several of her appointments with her to help her communicate her fears and get the information she wanted to make decisions she would feel good about years to come.
When Callie came to her due date, she had a decision to make, to induce or not.
Her OB helped her gather medical information, encouraged her to begin an induction sooner rather than later, and helped her know if she was green, yellow or red with her current risk, knowing it could escalate, and when it was appropriate to watch and observe and when immediate action would be needed.
Callie eventually did agree to an induction. But on her terms. She wanted to delay an epidural or not get one at all, she wanted a say in her pitocin and have as many of the comforts of a natural birth as possible. Especially laboring in the water.
Callie’s induction started, she bravely faced her fears of needles and had her IV placed. As a pitocin drip started, we walked halls, chatted, laughed and kept our minds in a good place.
Eventually, contractions picked up, and we worked hard through them, using all the tools in our box.
She was making progress, it was wonderful.
But, it was also hard, hard work.
Over the hours, the pitocin went up, and so did the intensity of her contractions.
And that’s when another point of conflict entered.
She Doesn’t Have A Perfect Path, But Can She Find Her Way Through?
The nurse and doctor believed the pitocin needed to continue going up, but Callie felt like she was at her limit. So, the pitocin stayed where it was to give Callie’s body a chance to do its job. Callie labored close to, but did not pass her limit for a good 18 hours.
She faced each contraction with beautiful breathing, movement and utilized the tools she had planned for labor. Including time in the water.
At this time, she got a check and found that she was 6 cm dilated!!! Over half way there. She also felt like she was moving beyond her limits to cope with labor, and requested the pitocin be turned down. And it was.
We hoped her body would take over and keep contractions steady and consistent. But it didn’t.
Unfortunately, labor slowed down as well. Contractions spaced and though she enjoyed her break, she remembered that her goal was a vaginal birth, which meant she needed contractions to help her progress in labor.
While she had a nice break between contractions, she chose an epidural. That way, the pitocin could be turned back on and she could get her contractions back to that productive, forward moving pattern.
She got an epidural, took a long sleep, and as the nurse slowly turned the medicine back up over several hours, her contractions returned to steady and strong and she continued to sleep.
Another 13 hours went by. It felt like a long time, but she trusted her body and the work it was doing. We changed positions often, watched her favorite show, laughed and chatted, continued to do muscle releases and massages in the bed and eventually something changed.
That’s when the shakes and nausea hit! Could this be transition? Was her body telling us it was almost there? We suspected there was a good chance it was!
But, we had discussed laboring down, which is spending up to two hours waiting to push after being a complete 10 cm dilated, so that baby could move down and through most of the birth canal before she would start pushing. This was so we could limit the push time, the amount of stress on her baby and prevent tearing.
So we smiled, talked about how strange it was to feel that way and waited, electing to delay a check for another couple hours.
Well, another hour passed, she looked at me with startled eyes, I feel something different, it feels like something coming out of me, like I’m pooping maybe?
I quickly grabbed the nurse. Not only had her sweet boy come down, but he was crowning.
The nurse then grabbed the doctor, Callie gave 3 pushes through one contraction and his head was born. Then one more push with the next contraction and there he was, safely in her arms.
She didn’t even need a single stitch!
Callie’s Birth Ended In Tears Of Joy And Relief + No Tears!
Callie didn’t have the privilege of saying my pregnancy is low risk and nothing could possibly happen to me. But she had tools throughout her pregnancy to care for herself in a deeper way, tools to build a team that listened and respected her, she had almost all of the experiences she wanted from the labor process, and had a healthy vaginal delivery with almost no tearing.
She did it!
Sometimes it’s easy to think that there is only one way to prepare for birth. But, when it comes to creating a good birth, there are so many factors that you do have control over. Even if there is something like preeclampsia that is out of your control.
Where Can You Find Tools To Help You Navigate Your High Risk Birth Story?
I have a really big pet peeve – Childbirth classes that teach that birth is only normal and natural and never a medical event. These classes lead a good portion of moms to a sense of failure if and when something out of their control influences their birth plan. Nobody chooses to become high risk. But, having the right tools to handle the situation can make even a difficult situation an amazing birth.
It’s my belief that a childbirth class needs to go beyond black and white thinking and give moms tools for prevention, tools to navigate complex situations, and tools to cope with labor.
That’s why my class is built the way it is. Many of the moms who take my class go forward with natural births. But, other moms use the resources at hand without guilt or fear. They know how to weigh the pros and cons and make a choice that is right for them.
This is the evidence based, non judgmental way to prepare for birth that answers all the questions that most moms didn’t know they should ask.
I would be honored to help you prepare for your beautiful beginning.
No matter where life places you, you have the right cards to create a birth that is safe, special and meaningful to you.
Let’s get started today.
*Callie’s name has been changed to protect privacy. The pictures are only a representation of her.